The Ogres Ouroboros

Ogre Castlea fairy tale

Once upon a time, a prince wanted to marry a princess. He went to his father and said, “O Father, I want to marry a princess.”

“We have no princesses,” said the king, “except your sister, and you can’t marry her; that would be icky.”

“Are there any princesses in neighboring kingdoms I could marry?” inquired the prince, whose name was Stanley.

“The neighboring kingdoms have nothing but princes,” said the king, whose name was also Stanley.

“Then I shall ride off and find a princess to marry.”

The king provided him with a fine horse, saddle, sword, scabbard, raiment, golden cup, and many other things I lack the will to enumerate.

“Go with my blessing,” said the king, “and may you find your heart’s desire. But bring her back here to marry, because your mother would wring both our necks if you got married in foreign parts and she couldn’t attend.”

Stanley promised to do just that, and after kissing his father on both cheeks, rode away.

After he had ridden a day, a week, a month, and a year (in that order), he came to a great castle. Before it were encamped a dozen princes. Stanley dismounted, tied his horse to a tree, and crept to the edge of their camp.

“A dozen princes have tried to rescue the princess,” one was saying, “and the ogre of the castle has killed them all. I’m going home.”

“Thou art a coward if thou dost,” said a second prince.

“Why do you always talk like that?” asked the first.

“Force of habit,” said the second.

“So, there is a princess held prisoner in this castle by an evil ogre!” Stanley thought. “If I rescue her, I can marry her, for rescued princesses always marry their rescuers.”

Just then a raven flew down and landed amongst the princes. “Canst thou give thy poor servant somewhat to eat?” it croaked

“Why do you talk like that?” asked one of the princes.

“Force of habit,” said the raven.

“No,” they said. “Fly away. We’re busy here.”

The raven flew into the air, spotted Stanley where he was hiding, and landed by his side.

“Canst thou—” it croaked.

“Shhh!” whispered Stanley. “Let’s go over here.” He walked over to his horse, and the raven alighted on the saddle.

“Have you anything to eat?” it croaked.

“Sure,” said Stanley. He found a bit of bread, and poured some water into the golden cup for the bird to drink.

“Thank you,” said the raven. “How can I repay your courtesy?”

“I want to rescue the princess from this ogre’s castle, so I can marry her.”

“What if she doesn’t want to marry you?”

“Nonsense. Rescued princesses always marry their rescuers.”

The raven shrugged. “Here is what you must do. On the opposite side of the castle you will find a small hut. It leads into a secret passage that passes directly into the princess’s chamber. On the right-hand wall hang a dozen swords. You must take the ugliest one, cut the princess’s chains, and flee. Do not touch any of the beautiful ones, or the ogre will awake, and you will be killed. Take the ugly one.”

Stanley promised to do just that, and he set off to find the little hut. Soon he found himself in the princess’s chamber.

“I have come to rescue you!” he said. “Then we can get married and live happily ever after.”

“What if I don’t want to marry you?” asked the princess.

“Rescued princesses always marry their rescuers,” said he.

“We’ll see about that. How are you going to cut these chains?”

Stanley turned to look at the swords. One was inlaid with silver, and one with gold. Some were encrusted with fine rubies, some with sapphires, and one with diamonds. One was ugly and plain and had a pawn shop tag tied to the hilt.

“Why should I take the ugly one?” he said. “I shall take this beautiful gold one!”

But as soon as he touched it, a roar came from outside the chamber door, and before he could say, “Oops,” the ogre burst into the room.

“Who is stealing my golden sword?” roared the ogre.

“Um,” said Stanley.

“Prepare to die!” said the ogre.

“Is there no way I can save my life?” asked the prince.

“Well,” said the ogre, “If you go to the castle of my brother, and return the golden-maned stallion he stole from me, I will let you live.”

“How do I get there?” asked the prince.

“Turn to face the sun, walk 200 miles, and you will find it.”

“Can I ride my horse instead?”

“Fine. Now get you gone!”

When the prince returned to the raven and told what had happened, the raven was beside itself with anger. “You fool!” it cried.

“Sorry,” said Stanley.

Eventually the raven cooled down, and the two of them set out.

They journeyed to the second castle, and set camp. The raven told Stanley what he must do. “On the opposite side of the castle you will find a little hut. It leads to a secret passage that passes directly into the stable. There you will find the golden-maned stallion. On the left wall hang a dozen bridles. You must take the ugliest one, put it on the horse, and lead it back here. Do not touch any of the beautiful ones, or the ogre will awake, and you will be killed. Take the ugly one.”

Stanley promised to do just that, and he was soon in the stable, looking at the bridles. One was inlaid with silver, and one with gold. Some were encrusted with rubies, some with emeralds, and one with diamonds. One was ugly and plain and bore a price tag from a discount tack and feed shop.

“Why should I take the ugly one?” said Stanley. “I shall take this beautiful gold one!”

But as soon as he touched it, a roar came from outside the stable door, and before he could say, “Drat,” the ogre burst into the stall.

“Who is stealing my golden bridle?” he roared

“Er,” said Stanley.

“Prepare to die!” said the ogre.

“Is there no way you will spare my life?” asked the prince.

“Well, if you go to the castle of my brother, and return the golden drinking cup that he stole from me, I will let you live.” He gave Stanley the directions, and the prince returned to camp to tell his tale of woe.

Quoth the raven, “Not again!”

They journeyed to the third castle, and set camp. The raven told Stanley what he must do. “On the far side of the castle, you will find a diminutive hut. Enter it, and you will pass directly into the king’s dining chamber. On the right wall hang a dozen velvet bags. You must grab the ugliest one, stuff the cup into it, and bring it back. Do not touch any of the beautiful ones, or the ogre will awake, and you will be killed. Take the ugly one. Get it right this time, okay?”

Stanley promised to do just that, and soon he was in the dining chamber, looking at the velvet bags. One was inlaid with silver, and one with gold. Some were encrusted with rubies, some with emeralds, and one with diamonds. One was ugly and unadorned, except for a label that said, “Joe’s Discount Bags.”

“Why should I take the ugly one?” said Stanley. “I shall take this beautiful gold one!”

But as soon as he touched it, a familiar chain of events took place, culminating in his explaining to the raven that they must find and return a stolen sword.

They journeyed to the fourth castle and set camp. The raven told Stanley to enter through the hut and into the chamber where the sword was. “On the left wall hang a dozen scabbards. You must pick the ugliest one. Okay? Do you hear me? Pick. The. Ugliest. One. Repeat it back.”

“Pick the ugliest one,” Stanley intoned.

“Put the golden sword in the scabbard, and let’s get this over with.”

Stanley promised he would do just that. Soon he was looking at the scabbards. One was inlaid with silver, one with gold, and so on. One was shabby and had “Scabbards R Us” spelled out in pony beads. He turned around and saw a wall with a dozen swords. He turned again and saw a princess in chains.

“You again,” she said.

“I—” Stanley began. But before he could finish, three ogres burst into the room.

“There’s the thief who tried to steal my cup and my bag!” said one.

“There’s the thief who tried to steal my stallion and my bridle!” said the second.

“This is the thief who tried to steal my prisoner, my sword, and my scabbard!” said the third.

“What do you mean your cup?” said the second. “Mom gave that cup to me!”

“What do you mean your stallion?” said the third. “Dad gave that stallion to me!”

“What do you mean your sword and scabbard?” said the first. “Uncle Bob gave those to me!”

“What do you mean Uncle Bob?” said the other two. “We don’t have an Uncle Bob!”

They began to fight, and before long all three were dead. Stanley took the golden sword, cut through the princess’s chains, and escorted her back to camp, where he and the raven told her of their adventures.

“You are so brave! You are so clever!” she said.

Stanley smiled. “Well, it was really the raven—” he began.

“Yes, that’s who I meant,” said the princess.

She kissed the raven on the head, and in an instant it was transformed into a handsome prince.

“Thou hast rescued me from an evil spell,” he said, “and I am a prince once more. How can I repay thy courtesy?”

“Wilt thou marry me?” asked the princess, whose name was Dove.

The quondam raven, whose name was Raven, agreed. They found the golden-maned stallion, and rode off into the sunrise.

Stanley stood and watched them go. A half dozen other princes came and stood around him. “Well, you blew that,” said one.

Just then a fox ran up and sat amongst them. “Canst thou give thy poor servant somewhat to eat?” it said.

The seven princes looked at each other. One by one they mounted their horses and rode away in silence. When they were all gone, the fox turned into a beautiful princess. “Darn,” she said. “I was prepared to marry whichever one of them offered me food.”

“Oh look,” she said, “there’s a castle without an owner. I think I shall claim it for my own.”

In time she became a mighty queen, and ruled all the lands around. Her eldest son married Raven and Dove’s daughter, and they all lived happily ever after.

Copyright © 2014 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “The Ogres Ouroboros

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s