A Royal Pain

The following short story was presented at the Jersey City Writers’ monthly genre event–Terrible Princess: A Celebration of the Fantasy Genre. Please enjoy.

Tatiana was indeed the most beautiful and most terrible princess in all the land. Her auburn curls fell past her shoulders and over her violet satin dress that flowed from the throne to the floor. She looked as a wild orchid, ludicrously held within the verdant hue of a gargantuan bean chair, which signified her seat of power. It was a throne with a wide berth, which snugly fit her royal tush. She would yawn ceaselessly at the drivel of her subjects, and look gorgeous still despite the ever-present expression of her “resting bitch face.”

Peasants gathered at the foot of her throne and pleaded, begged, and lead impassioned, heart-swaying speeches that only flew in the face of her disinterested and terrible heart. Her attentions went off elsewhere, like on how her cuticles were in need of work or what new inconvenient motion she could inflict on the hapless peasantry.

She stood up from her seat and waved away the pleading peasants at the foot of throne, as a dozen servants took their places at her side to hold her long dress.

“Shoo peasants. I am done for today with my royal duties!”

“But princess, have you not heard our pleas?” An old peddler shook his arms in disbelief.

“All I hear is, ‘Princess this!’ and ‘Princess that!’ How am I ever too keep up with every single trifle in my realm?”

“But you had an entire street of shops dismantled! And all the bakers, butchers, and candlestick-makers are out in the streets without work!”

“How else was I to make renovations to the palace, extend my wardrobe, and store all my fabulous pumps!” she said, revealing her pumps, which most fabulously matched her ludicrous yet beautiful violet dress.

The old man stood stupefied, hardly able to comprehend what he was hearing, when he finally came around to reply, “The king surely would not be pleased this!”

“The king has taken an extended vacation! And while he is gone I am sovereign in this realm and you will abide by my laws!” she said, throwing her hair back.

“But –” She motioned her hand and the ground displaced itself beneath the old man sending him to the dungeons below.

She summoned her companions to the palace garden, and awaited their arrival while dining on top of pillows beneath the cool shade of a willow tree. Exercising her palate on brie cheese and rosé wine.

“I must thank you, Mathias.” She said as he entered with his automaton bodyguard, and knelt in front of her before taking his place. “That addition in the throne room makes sending peasants into the dungeon so much simpler than before.”

Mathias Ward was the Master of Cogs. An engineer well versed in the arts of technomancy. He was outfitted with his numerous and odd looking tools, such as cogs, sprockets, and whizzlegears tethered onto his person. His hands were covered in oil and brows slightly scorched. He tried with difficulty to mask his discontent with being taken away from his current projects.

“I am happy to be of service to you, Princess. But I must admit, we are running out of space in the dungeons.”

“Then perhaps, you can design for me a more spacious dungeon. Wine and cheese?”

“No thank you, Princess. I will have a beer instead,” he said turning to his automaton bodyguard, as a hatch flew open from its torso, and dispatched an ice cold beer. He pressed it open on the automaton’s metallic nozzle, took a sip, and hesitated before speaking up. “Too tell you the truth, Princess. At this rate you will be ruling over an empty kingdom. Based on my calculations, half the city’s populace will be in the dungeon by the end of next month.”

Princess Tatiana sighed deeply, and swirled her rosé wine in thought. Just then Serene walked in, her green cloak swaying over her brown leather attire in her every step. Her large ears were similar to the desert foxes of the east, falling limp down her shoulders, and her skin was the otherworldly hues of grey and blue.

“Moonchild!” Tatiana said gleefully. “We were just discussing a most distressing conundrum indeed. Apparently, our realm is want of space for a larger dungeon. Perhaps your powers of accessing other dimensions may be of use to us.”

Serene enjoyed most of all things, the solitude of her ethereal studies, yet her new duties to her royal sovereign were becoming far too much to bear. Conjuring the Princess’s great bean chair throne required a considerable amount of effort and summoning wild cats and moon bears upon the Princess’s enemies, of which there were many, was hard work. Her expression did not mask her obvious discontent.

“Yes, Princess.” She spoke most sarcastically. “How may I, Serene, Moonchild, and Conjuror of the Aethereal be of service to your royalness.”

“Is there something that you want to bring to my attention?” Princess Tatiana raised her eyebrow.

“No not at all,” Serene continued her spiteful tone, “It’s just a custom of my people on this month to be asinine, but, take heart, every thought in my mind is filled with utmost adoration for her royalness.” She finished taking a flask from her belt and taking a deep drink of her moonfire whiskey.

“Well I like to consider myself a reasonable and open minded individual of those from a foreign land.” Tatiana said shrugging. “Anyway, I was wondering, do you have any suggestions for our current predicament?”

Serene looked at Mathias, and, even without the wonders of telepathy, their minds were on the same wave-length. The bitch had to go.

The days that followed, the Princess continued her usual routine. Snugly sitting atop her giant bean throne, sending scores of peasantry to depths below. She was contented to know that the dungeons had become much more spacious.

Yet behind the scenes, Mathias piloted the scores of automatons disguised as whining peasants. They would follow a rail down the tracks, coasting down to the depths and back around to the door of the throne room. It was all thanks to the Princess’s heartlessness and myopia, that she was unaware of the occasional short circuit, mechanical whine, or cog like wheels around the bodies of her serfs. Yet, it was only a temporary solution to the constant royal pain that hounded Serene and Mathias. There was only one true solution, finding the king to put his royal brat in her place.


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