I smacked my knight in shining armor on the head with a heavy skillet. He wasn’t wearing his armor at the time so he grimaced, but I digress.
On our wedding day, my father, the king, gave us a ton of gold, a full two thousand pounds worth. He also gave us a castle in a neighboring kingdom. The evil gleam in my step-mother’s eye and smiles of glee on the ugly faces of my step-sisters quickened my heart. Let them rejoice at my departure. My knight and prince had vanquished all the dragons, rejected my sisters and chosen me to be his bride.
The following day we loaded the horses. We took only the basic necessities as luxury awaited at our castle.
My champion mounted his white steed and I rode a sure-footed mare. He led the string of horses that carried his belongings and the gold. For the journey, he selected two sets of armor, as one was severely dented and probably had but one good battle left in it. He also packed three swords, including a broadsword and a longsword and two jousting lances, one war hammer and a mace. He packed three suits, one for appearing at court, one for lounging, and the other a full suit of mail.
I packed three exquisite gowns plus two for every day. Even though underwear is never mentioned in such tales, you only have to look at the illustrations to know I wear a push-up bra and an enormous number of petticoats. In addition to these, I took five pairs of glass slippers and three tiaras. A single pack-animal sufficed to carry my belongings.
We journeyed through the Hundred-Acre Woods, where there’s so much to do, then over a mountain range and into the Dark Forest. As we neared the edge, a group of marauders approached on foot. My defender dispatched the gang in short order.
No sooner had he banished the mercenaries when we were assaulted by rampaging boars. He speared one as the rest vanished into the forest. We dismounted to admire our prey.
My prince planted his boot on the belly of the beast. “Dinner.”
We’d been traveling on the road for a couple of days and were quite hungry. Normally we only eat at feasts or bite the occasional bewitched apple. We looked around for the pit in which the servants would bury the boar. Not only was there no pit but no servants came running to care for our steeds and offer us mead. We were quite alone.
We decided to press on as we had only the River of Doom to cross before we reached our castle. Lance, as my defender was called for short, tied the boar to his string of horses. We would feast at the castle.
On the other side of the river, lush green meadows rippled in the breeze and in the distance the towers of our castle pierced a cloud of purest white.
“A rainbow would make it perfect.”
Lance said, “Where are my minions? I’m sure your father said there would be minions.”
“Little yellow-pill men?”
“What? My servants? Where are they? Why are there no cattle or sheep in the fields? No wheat.”
“Yes it is quite odd. Perhaps they’re napping.”
“All of them? And all the livestock?”
My perfect white cloud darkened. I bit my lip. “They must be here.”
Lance drew his sword. “Perhaps this land is ruled by dragons. I shall slay each and claim my bequest.”
I suggested we return to my father’s castle. Crossing the River of Doom did not seem fortuitous.
The thought of battle made my husband giddy.
He held up his sword. “By might and right, I claim this land.”
The weight of the gold almost drowned two horses, but through a heroic effort, my knight put each horse on his back and carried it to safety.
Arriving at the castle, we paused at the moat. The drawbridge was up. Lance removed his trumpet. He had been practicing in case there was no one to announce his arrival. His first toots didn’t arouse the hare sitting motionless five-feet away, then he gave off a mighty blast, reminiscent of the trumpets of Jericho. The drawbridge remained closed. We journeyed around the moat. An unpleasant one as the moat smelled like a chamber pot that had not been emptied in weeks.
Lancelot reluctantly decided to cross the moat on his trusted steed. He handed me the string of pack horses and encouraged the white stallion to put his front feet into the muck. The animal gathered his haunches and catapulted my knight across the moat. This horse, whose mane had been singed by dragon’s breath, turned to follow me to the drawbridge.
Eventually, chains clanked, gears groaned and the drawbridge dropped. Lance, always one for dramatic gestures, removed his hat, bowed low and welcomed me into our kingdom. His horse went first.
“Rubble.” My Prince cried.
Cobwebs like hammocks hung from a ceiling with jagged windows to the sky. An owl perched in the corner explained the floor covering.
“Nonsense, just needs a good cleaning.” I whistled a tiny trill.
“Why are you doing that?”
“It’s a family tradition to whistle while we work.” After some time, I managed to clear most of the cobwebs. The place still had layers of dust and my mouth was dry from whistling. No bluebird came to perch on my finger. No dwarfs came to my rescue.
When one writes to the erratic drum beat of Pileated Woodpeckers and the trill of wild turkeys, one either becomes a poet, or writes essays on self-reliance, or follows Alice into the rabbit hole. Amelia Steiner has chosen the last option. The words which she takes credit for were in fact channeled from creatures flitting by on their way to rendezvous in magical places. But in those hours between Woody’s opening overture and the tree frogs’ cacophonous calls of raucous courtship, she loves mysteries and works on her novel. A few pieces of short fiction are listed in her credits.