Once Upon a Scheme

This is a story I wrote for a flash fiction contest some time ago. I don’t usually write short stories of any length but this was an idea that popped into my head and I ran with it. Let me know what you think in the comments. Enjoy!

A mountain of a man clad head-to-toe in black slammed open the wooden doors and burst into the hall, ready for murder. Before Prince Friedrich could react, the man-beast dismissed him with a forearm to his chest. Friedrich stumbled and crashed against the cold stone wall while his assailant departed cackling. The prince moved to pursue, then dismissed the thought with a shrug as he laid his eyes on the open doorway.

Metal hissed against metal as Friedrich returned his sword to its scabbard. He dabbed at the line of blood that trickled from his temple, used one hand to cinch the gash in his tunic back together, and wiped green slime off his sleeve. After a deep breath and a silent prayer, he limped into the princess’s chambers.

Through a haze of veils, Friedrich saw Ashleigh sleeping above the covers of her four poster bed. Her hands, folded on her chest, gently rose and lowered with her breathing. She was more beautiful than he’d imagined.

The prince used his left hand to brush aside her hair; his right arm had been immobile ever since the troll. With his heart racing even faster than it had when he escaped from the banshees, he leaned in close and gently kissed her lips.

Ashleigh’s blue eyes came open in an instant. “Who are you?” she said.

“I am Prince Friedrich of Verona,” he said. “I am honored to have awakened you and to make your acquai–”

Ashleigh sat up with a jolt and looked him over. “I thought you’d be taller,” she said.

Friedrich blinked.

“And you had a rough time with the dragon,” she said, pursing her lips as she examined his eyebrows. He rubbed the fingers of his left hand across them, trying to determine how much of them had been singed away, and dropped them back to his side when he realized what he was doing.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m sure you’re nice and all, but this isn’t going to work.”

Friedrich’s mouth opened, but it took several moments for words to follow. “Do you know what I just went through to free you from the curse?”

Ashleigh sighed. “Excuse me, prince, for making the trials a challenge,” she said. She laid back down and tossed a pinch of sparkling dust across her face. “It was nice meeting you, Frederick.”

“Friedrich,” he said, but she was already asleep.

With a twitching curl in his lip, he stormed out of the room. Just outside the door, he pushed aside a dashing knight in battle damaged crimson armor and marched in the direction of the drawbridge. Before he returned to Verona, he was going to retrieve his shield from the stomach of that blasted sea monster even if he had to drain the castle’s moat to do it.

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