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More fiction.  First draft.  Not entirely sure how to present this chunk - I've got an idea that it should be another 'tell me a story' but I'm not done with the wrapper.

Blegh.  This seemed better when I wrote it - typing it in, it seems dull.  Long setup, poor joke.

Ok, very first draft.  you have been warned.  Needs serious edits.  That's the third time I've gone back and added to this line - I mean it.  This would be more imposing if I spammed the edit history, but I won't.  You have been warned. 

Also, I have no title for it.  And no names for the characters.  Placeholder names are emplaced.

The early part of the story is cut for picturebook format, the later part isn't.  This is what happens when you get interrupted by a gang of yobs when in the middle of writing - you start writing something different.

The rule of three is incredibly formulaic - but at the same time I find myself writing to it without intending to.  Interesting.  It's fun to try to not be rule breaking, for a change.  I like doing these.  Part of my MillionWords, which takes the pressure off ;) 

Humph to the rules of grammar.  'Well', 'And' and 'But' are perfectly good words to start sentence fragments with ;)  --Vitenka

Once, in a far off land, there were three princes.
Eddie, the eldest, had his fathers arms.
Strong.  Courageous.  Bold.  The people called him the big prince.

Yusuf, the youngest, had his mothers heart.
Smart.  Couth.  Generous.  The people called him the baby prince.

But the son in between, Mike, was neither.
He was merely honest.  The people called him names behind his back.

One day the king, in great wisdom, had an idea.  He sent out many spies - and asked each of them what the people really thought of his sons.

And the spies replied, each in their turn;

Your eldest son is as a giant among men.  All fear him.

The king stroked his beard.  "It is good for a ruler to be feared."

Your youngest son is as the morning sun.  All love him.

The king stroked his beard.  "It is good for a ruler to be loved."

But your middle son, well, no one likes him very much, actually.

Well, of course, the king had that spy executed.  But nevertheless, he stroked his beard thoughtfully.

The very next day, the king called upon his sons to attend him.  He said to them...
Well, what he said is too long to repeat - the speech of a king is layered like a box of puzzles.  But the gist of it was:

"Go my sons -" (And here he spoke at length about his family history)
"Go and bring back the greatest treasure in all the lands."

Well!  You can imagine the to-do that caused.

The brothers argued long into the night as to what that treasure might be - let alone how they might acquire it.

At length they decided to bring back three treasures - one each - to have the best chance of getting the right answer.

The eldest son said "I shall travel to the west, to the hall of the Ogre king.  There I shall beard the monster in its lair and take the gilded armour - for surely it is the greatest treasure."  And off he went.

The youngest said "I shall travel to the East, where many wonderous things are."  And off he went as well.

But the middle son did not go anywhere.

Soon enough, the three brothers met with their father, the king, to tell him what they had found.

Standing resplendant in his gilded armour, the eldest son span tales of heroism the likes of which have never since been heard.  He and his companions had braved many trials and had at last slain the Ogre and brought back the armour.

Well!  The king took a long time to give his answer, long enough that none but his sons understood him.  He did this because his reply boiled down to: "Very well done, but you are a fool.  That is not the treasure I wished you to find."  Eddie hung his head in shame.

The the youngest son stepped forward.  He told of how he had befriended the people of the east - and how in his honour they had constructed a marvellous bird entirely of brass, of such fascinating construction that it could always give the wrong answer to any question.

Well!  The king spoke for twice as long.  He allowed that this was indeed a marvel, but it was as wrong as the answers it gave!  Yusuf blushed in shame.

Finally the middle son gave his answer.  He spread his empty hands.  He explained that truly the greatest treasure in all of the lands must be in the king's own city, but he had been unable to find it.  Unless, and he smiled slyly, it was the city itself.

Well!  The king almost exploded with rage!  He was so angry that he spoke plainly!  "Your answer is too clever by half!  You didn't even try!"  Mike was so ashamed that he nearly died on the spot.

The next day the king had still not sufficiently recovered to speak to his sons again.  So it was their mother, the queen, who addressed them.

What she said was...  Well, it is too long to repeat.  Though the speech of queens is oftimes plainer than the speech of kings; still it is as the swirls in sand.

But the gist of it was "Go, my sons" (and here she spoke at length of her love for them) "Go and return with the finest flower in all the lands."

Well!  What could they do?  Their mother spoke for the king - and his word was law.  They would try their best and hope not to be shamed this time.  Again, they decided to split up.

The eldest son travelled to the east.  He sought the desert orchid.

The youngest son decided to stay home.  He asked his subjects to bring flowers to him.

The middle son travelled to the frozen north.  He went to find the beautiful snowdrop.

Soon enough, the three brothers met with their father, the king, to tell him what they had found.

The eldest told a tale of how he had confronted the riddling eagle-cat and bested it.  He presented his father with the great desert lotus that blooms only once in a lifetime.

Well!  The king was angry.  His speech took all day to recite!  But reduced to its bare essentials he said that it wasn't the right thing at all.  And that his son was as stupid as his horse.  Even the horse hung its head in shame.

The youngest son told of how the many great gardens of the noble ladies had given up their fruits.  He presented the king with a single red rose.

Well!  The king was furious!  His speech echoed from the walls and ceiling for a week.  And it was almost a month before the finest scholars worked out what he had said.  And when they did, many died of shame on the spot!

For he had said that this was not right either, and furthermore that his son was so stupid that he would not know what he was looking for if it was in front of his face.

Many days later, the king calmed down enough to call for his middle son.

As before, Mike was empty handed.  He explained that he had seen entire mountainsides covered with snowdrops and that he could have spent forever eacrhing for the perfect one, for they were all perfect.

The king was apoplectic!  "Your philosophy is so sharp, you may cut yourself!  Why do you not ask the dogs in the street the answers instead?  They have more sense!"  Hearing his words, half of the philosophers in the city died of shame.

But the king was forgiving.  Despite his harsh words he had high hopes for his sons.  (And, truth be told, his wife - the queen - talked him around.)  But a king has the pride of a whole kingdom to worry about.  He could give his sons only one more chance.

At this last meeting both the king and the queen spoke.  They held hands often.

In a speech, which to this day kills any bard that tries to learn it, the king said...
Well, only the queen understood what he said.  But she explained that what he meant was that they had one more chance.  That this time they had to bring back the most precious jewel in all the world.
And then the king spoke long and earnestly.  Even the dragon of water, who invented speeches, cannot tell you what exactly he said then.  (Or so it is said)

The queen, in a speech scarcely less complex explained that he said that he would not give any further assistance.  And that he then said that the answer might not be the same for each of them.

For the speech of the court is not like that of normal people - it can say one thing and mean quite another.

Spring had begun by the time she got to that bit.

And at the last, the king spoke plainly.  Saying that he was fed up of them gallavanting to the four corners of the globe, he wanted to hear what they were going to fetch before they went off to get it.  "For, if you are all to be shamed, " he said "I should rather have it happen before I am too old to have more sons."

Worried, the brothers argued long and hard.  At last they gave their opinions.

Eddie suggested the ruby that burned at the heart of the world.  But he did not know how it could possibly be reached.
The king let out a sigh of disappointment.
Thinking quickly, the chief executioner had himself beheaded by the deputy executioner.

Yusuf talked of the stars - the jewels of the heavens.  But he also did not know how they could be reached.
The king groaned in dissapointment.
Thinking even more quickly than the first, the deputy executioner got himself cut him into tiny little pieces by the spare executioner.

Finally it was the turn of the middle brother.  He thought for a very long time.

At last he answered.  "The greatest jewel I can think of is the gem which created history.  But I cannot get it for you, father."

The spare executioner looked around desperately for someone who would help him kill himself.

"Unless the king of the south would consent to give it to you as his daughter's dowry."

The king opened his mouth to speak angrily - but the queen whispered in his ear.

"Oh, close enough, then."  He decreed.

And thus two things came to pass.
The first is the quest of the three brothers for the hand of the princess.
And the other is the creation of the phrase "Close enough for the king."

Some titles:
The stupidity of Princes?

The lands involved are all stereotypical - the mountains to the west, the desert to the east the snows to the north.  The kingdom seems to have become vaguely oriental, mainly because I was having fun killing servants left right and centre.  Since it was heading that way, I added a bit more.  I think I overdid it.

This (story) has to be seen as the triumph of editing, by the way.  I was setting out to write the story which continues from where this one left off.

This one can be entirely edited down to: "In a far off land, three princes set off to wed the princess."

But I started writing and ran away with it.  The basis for this, if such can be said to exist, is inverting every FairyTale? cliche I can think of.  From the three princes with the three quests, to the goal of those quests.  I started to get a little bit political after a while, but I figure since I was already aiming at adults as well as children, what the heck.

Amusing typos:  "It is goog to be..."  Goog!  Sounds like an enemy of Thudarr :)

... I realised that I didn't even USE the setup of the three princes personalities - or at least didn't bring it to any kind of a conclusion.  Again, that is the fault of this originally being started as a couple of paragraphs prelude to a story which just kinda got out of hand.  But it's not an excuse.  I still like the slight difference of misordering the princes and personalities, and having the third get it right at the end - but he never exhibits much of a personality at all.

... AND I'm now feeling constrained by being an intro.  Think I could get away with having this story and the next one not fit together at all at all?  As in, the two other brothers being dead in this one, and alive in the other?
I'm thinking of an 'interrupt the narrator' scene, something like "So maybe they aren't the same princes at all.  Look, do you want to tell this story?"

I also don't like the "What the did all day" bit.  Maybe I should change the middle child to "didn't do anything very special at all"?  The link I am aiming for is that he saves both of their butts by recruiting the help that the other two scorn (you know the FairyTale? tradition of that, I assume) but dies.  Maybe I should post the synopsis of the main story seperately.

It might help if I'd heard of the line "close enough for the king"... --ChrisHowlett
It's a play on "Close enough for government work".  Not exactly a wonderful one, is it?  --Vitenka
Ah, that makes some sense. I might have got it if I hadn't heard that phrase from precisely one location beforehand (GrimFandango?, the tube switcher repairman).

StuartFraser is reminded of 1001 Arabian Nights; the syntax is simpler, but the style is very close...

Kazuhiko finds it quite amusing but is mainly left feeling confused as to what the right answer to any of the requests might be...

Uhh... CrudMuffins?.  People appear to not be getting the joke, which is that the thing they are being sent out for in all cases is "Go find yourselves wives"  The king gets progressively more exasperated that he can't just say this.  And progressively more blatant in his hints.  --Vitenka
So he does. I also failed to realise this until you pointed it out, however. It's a very cute story, but I think the allegories are too subtle. --AC
I got it. I liked that story. Tell us another one Uncle'Tenka. --Edith
Uh, thanks.  Cool!  I'll upload the other thiung I've written and have been sitting on because I don't like the format, see if the wiki can kick it into shape.  --Vitenka

CategoryFiction | LegendsOfFrome | OP=Vitenka

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Last edited November 11, 2004 11:44 pm (viewing revision 23, which is the newest) (diff)