Let me tell you how I became cursed so many times. The initial curse was accidental and no fault of mine. Even the gods weren’t involved. The second was a bit of a mystery to begin with. I thought I’d taken it on myself to counteract the first. It didn’t work. I was wrong too – that time it was the gods. I hate them.
It all began when I was the age of seven and innocent. I learned that I was related to the most powerful lord in the land. Obviously I had to kill as many relatives as it took to ensure my natural inheritance.
It wasn’t that many. It’s all a bit hazy now but I doubt if I offed much more than forty of the bastards.
With my future secure I relaxed a bit and let Lord and Lady D’Jecter live. But not for long. Dear gods, their lives were so boring. I mean there’s a limit to how many times you can have a polite game of croquet with some Princess Pointedly Particular and Baron Brainless Buffoon before you lose it and start whacking heads with your mallet.
Lord D’Jecter was a simpleton who would buy an orrery big enough to require a new castle wing built to accommodate it. Then he would drag me into the place and point to things. “That’s where the Sun is in relation to the Earth,” he would say in breathless awe. As if he couldn’t just look out of the window and see it for real.
Then he’d drag me to his stupid butterfly collection and tell me all their names. This was a surprise as I hadn’t realised butterflies could talk let alone give each other names. When I asked why they didn’t fly he said they were all dead.
I cried and wailed, “We’ll run out of butter!”
At times like this he would say I needed to be educated. This meant going to the city and talking to professors – well, listen to them mumbling stuff through sherry-stained whiskers. Professors are people who wear two bits of glass on the end of their noses. I think this is to stop their eyes rolling out and finding someone more entertaining to be in.
I couldn’t stand the idea of going to the city. It’s so busy and full of people being happy and interested in things. I don’t have time for that nonsense.
The incident involving magic mushrooms arose from boredom and the terror of my imminent departure and education. I didn’t want to kill my lord and lady but some things happen out of pure luck. He fell in love with a portrait of some long-dead princess and leapt off a balcony with it. I don’t know what the outcome was meant to be but it was a high balcony and the servants took ages to clean him off the flagstones.
My lady buried herself in the garden thinking she was a lavender bush or something.
So then I was lord. It’s actually less fun than eating ceilings. Perfect sculpted gardens are perfect sculpted gardens. The gilding on the statue in one room is exactly the same as the gilding in any other blasted room.
The tedium drove me into a gibbering wreck until I wandered around the castle wielding a halberd and muttering, “Blood, blood, blood…” in search of servants to skewer for fun.
Actually the servants took it all well and, having looked after my family for several generations, didn’t seem surprised at all. It only got a bit messy when they captured me in nets on the end of long poles when it was bath time.
That was the first curse: terminal boredom.
Then something happened. If there’s one thing I hate more than boredom it’s surprises. A knight turned up and was ushered by staff into the reception room. He announced he was looking for a squire. The conversation was a bit fraught because I thought a squire was a shape with four sides but, one way or another, I ended up riding behind him on a donkey.
This time it was the gods. They cooked this whole curse up and wound an oath into the conversation like you wind a chicken’s neck.
This was yet another curse, I’m not sure what number though; after counting to two I get a bit lost. No, the curse is not being a squire – it’s the sodding donkey. Oh, and the knight.
The donkey is a demon. Of this I am certain. No natural thing could contain so much hateful malevolence – there just isn’t room. It has several names, biter, gnash, move you ugly bastard and, stop for gods’ sake – that’s a cliff! Never has there been a more punishing thing to ride. For a start it’s so fat that I have to do the splits. When the cretin actually decides to move, vertebrae jab up and down at random angles exactly not in time with the spine-shattering gait. Its guts sound like the boiler and pipes in the castle but explode more often. Which leads me to its only saving grace. The knight won’t let it, and therefore me, anywhere near a dragon. The possibility of this donkey’s rear end being close to a dragon’s pilot light doesn’t bear thinking about. Anyway, I suspect the donkey has a special place to store its noxious conflatulations.
Next on the list of things I utterly detest is the knight. He’s a god but too stupid to know it. No mortal could experience the ferocity of a dragon’s attack without ending up looking like something put into a bun with fried onions. He comes back from every slaughtering not even steaming slightly.
It’s the horses I feel sorry for. He has to get a new one every time. Surely they end up in Heaven … no Hell probably – for having put their trust in a git with a pointy stick and a donkey’s fart for a brain. They end up in a frazzled ‘Oh shit, shit, shit’ stance like they see the light just before it turns them to petrified carbon. I’m pretty sure if I could extract their last thought it would be along the lines of working out how to gallop backwards.
What the knight doesn’t realise, what no one realises but me, is that dragons are immortal. He kills one as it attacks a village called Burningham and the next day it attacks Munchingwell. It’s got to the point the dragon and I have an ongoing conversation. I’m learning its life story, tedious though it is. I only get a brief episode before it’s killed each time: “So then I found this really shiny… arg!” and the next day, “necklace for my collection and … ow! You again?”
All that’s left to mention are the villagers themselves. Goggling and dribbling with glassy-eyed gratitude they shower the knight with gold – which I have to carry – and give him a new horse. He’s too dim to respond to all the adulation so they used to turn their attention to me on the ridiculous assumption that I’d actually want to converse with frighteningly inbred yokels who could provoke a whole new horror genre. Young women would flutter their eyelashes, though sometimes I think it was just the shockwave from the donkey’s digestive problems.
To put a stop to that I had a witch give me a first class wart. These things don’t come cheap but it was worth it. I don’t mind that it wanders around my body. Sometimes it looks like I’ve grown an extra elbow. I also don’t mind that it talks in its sleep.
Anyway where was I? Oh, yes. If there is a moral to this I haven’t found it yet. I just wanted to make you as wretchedly miserable as me.
©Gary Bonn 2020