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princess pearl  

Princess Pearl rode the spear like a witch down into the baying fiends. Her sword sliced and the giant wasted into smoke. She ducked she dived, swerved through time, appearing at the city gates, Pearl’s sword swung and the mighty battering ram fell without a hand to hold. Her archers on the ramparts let loose a killing hail, black smoke writhed an answer to their aim. Princess Pearl carved a path of death through the monster horde but the more she slew the more they seemed to be. The runes were waning she turned but too late, a fiendish arrow pierced her side. As she fell she saw a massive army heading from the north, ‘Oh no there’s more.’ But at their head she caught a flash of gold; she briefly smiled ‘The Golden Prince’ before her senses faded.

She was at peace, no questions, no answers, just serenity. A piercing light intruded, annoying and insistent dragging her back to pain. Princess Pearl returned to life so bright she squinted. It was her own bedroom, everything known, everything but the splendour radiating from the left of her. The Golden Prince was reading, he was blinding, his armour seemed not to just reflect light but to be made of it. Pearl’s movement cut through his attention.

‘Give praise you are back.’ The Prince grasped her hand. ‘I feared that we had lost you to the place beyond our knowing.’ His smile his sheer charisma was like a magnet pulling Pearl towards him.

‘What happened? I was fighting the Fiendish horde when I was pierced and fell.’

‘Luckily our vanguard saw and fought away that filth before they could harm you further. When I bought up my army the Fiends turned tale and fled.’ The Prince felt her forehead. ‘You have a fever you must rest.’

‘Rest, but there is much to do I must arrange for such a distinguished guest.’ Pearl got out of bed and collapsed.

The Golden Prince caught her and settled her back in bed, scanned her sleeping form then swung his cloak and vanished. 

The Princess thrashed in tormented sleep, nightmare visions of the wars cursed her as a callous killer, caused her anguished cries. Now she was dying, she gasped for air. She fled the horror of her sleep to greet the dread before her eyes. The one eyed fiend loomed, his massive paw gagging her.

‘Bad dreams Princess? That’s the price of being a bitch.’ The fiend settled himself upon the bed. ‘Let us create a little covenant between us you and me, I will let you breathe and in return you do not scream. Its best that you comply for my dirk sits upon your throat, nod your head for yes.’ 

The Princess nodded.

‘Good. Come close we must make a little journey, I doubt you will be bored.’ He grabbed her to him, turned to smoke and solidified in a merry place. The Great Hall was clothed in flowers, tapestries of the seasons flowed down the walls, a fine golden carpet poured from one end to the other.

‘What is this?’ The Princess whispered, aware of the knife pricking her neck. ‘It looks set for a marriage.

‘And marriage there will be. You and the Prince are set to wed at noon.’

‘You are showing lies.’ The Princess spat. ‘I hardly know the Prince, there has been no time for the rites.’

‘Plenty of time, you fell in mid Winter, now we are deep in Summer. You will wed, no one can fight the glamour of the Prince’s golden armour. You will be spelled to do his will and if he wants you for a bride a bride you will be.’

‘Fiend you will have to do better, you expect me to believe such as you against the most honourable monarch in all the land.’

The Giant whirled and they appeared in bleaker place, a damp dungeon. Pearl had no thought for the chamber she was fixed upon a pile dumped in its centre. ‘Have a good look.’ The giant threw her onto the mound of dead bodies. ‘Anyone you know?’

The Princess knew them all. ‘Ellen, Robert, Finn the messenger, Alain, Grace and her sister, Monsieur Abdul the Treasurer, young Theo...’ The Princess wept. ‘Who? Why?’ She turned to the fiend. ‘Is this you?’ 

The giant returned her glare with a smile. ‘It might be, but I don’t find much sport in killing unarmed servants.’ He drew out a pipe and lit it. When the tobacco was smouldering to his liking he added. ‘Unless its really necessary.’

‘What is this Fiend? Why are we together, just kill me and be done.’

He looked coolly back at her. ‘Killing would be too quick. I suffered the long agony climb from the depths because of you. Now I shall enjoy watching you writhe.’

‘I think that’s the only honest thing you’ve said to me.’

‘You are most discerning Princess.’ The Golden Prince appeared. ‘I expect this filth has been spreading calumnies against my virtue. Well he shall trouble us no more. The Prince directed a blinding flash toward the fiend but he had disappeared to smoke before it struck?

In his presence the Princess once again felt the irresistible pull towards him. Was this love, or deception. ‘The fiend said you killed my servants.’

‘Sorry Princess I do not understand what you are saying.’

The Princess waived behind her. ‘These dead bodies.’

The Prince waved for her to turn. ‘Dead bodies where?’

They were in the kitchen with the cooks and the maids hard at work. Seeing the Princess the servants curtsied saying, ‘Your Majesty.’

Eyes and lies, what to believe? 

‘Come Princess you are still weak let me escort you to your chamber.’

The Princess called on her will and fought the Prince’s charisma. ‘Marriage, the Fiend said we are to be married?’

‘Oh my dear do not say you have forgotten all our moonlit walks, the hunts together, the balls, the games of making poetry. I think you must remember, must remember, say you do remember please.’

‘I remember.’

‘That is good, now here we are at your door. I will leave you to get prepared.’ The Prince guided her into a hive of activity many maids awaiting her presence to pamper and adorn.

Nobility from all the realms lined the pews as Princess Pearl walked the golden carpet to her Golden Groom. Still weak she leaned upon her Uncle’s arm. The light ahead spoke to her of love and joy but another voice was insinuating, Pearl recognised the harsh tones of the fiend. ‘Now my little horror know this to be true. The Prince desires just two things from this wedding. Your sword which belonged to the Great Hero and your courage which he intends to pull from you. So go along and wed I shall enjoy your wretchedness.’

‘Lies, lies again, just lies.’

The ceremony began, The Princess and the Prince laid hands upon the Hero’s sword, the Priest intoned the fascination. ‘Now whoever are joined by this brave sword are bound together for this life.’ The Prince was ripped from the sword and the fiends great paw set there instead. Intent on performing the litany the Priest blithely carried on. ‘I now bind you Werman and Wifman together.’ Pearl looked around, the Great Hall was full of fiends. The Prince had been forced to the ground a dozen swords upon him. ‘Now what have we here?’ The giant lifted his axe and hit a blow so deft it split the armour without touching flesh. The fiends tore the golden metal away and there inside spitting lay a scrawny fiend. ‘Well cousin you have played a clever tune and as such you are due some payment.’ He turned to those guarding. ‘Bind him well and throw him alive upon the dead, we will decide on his curse later.’ Pointing to the armour, ‘That is far too dangerous a toy, melt it down to coins and give them to the poor.’

The Princess sat upon the marble steps holding the Great Sword, bewildered by events. The Giant sat beside her. ‘Budge up Wife I need a little room.’

‘You do realise that if I swung this sword there is nothing could stop your death.’

‘Yes but you could not make that swing while my axe lies so far away. You were wrong Princess, the Prince was never the most honourable monarch in all the land, that distinction has always belonged to you.’

‘Call me Pearl.’