Tale of a King, The
1. The Tale of a King
Now I had one enemy who was very annoying. He was not the king of a neighbouring land, but a mere outlaw that wandered in my lands, the last survivor of a band of his likes. He was a desperate man who feared nothing and slew many of my servants, and though I had set a great prize for his head, he hunted my hunters and they ran away from him. Finally I sent an army against him, with my most trusted Servant in command, and the Desperado was forced to flee. I would have wished him dead, but as it was, I doubted I would ever see him again. For where he fled there were terrible lands full of monsters and horrors, end even though there was a Kingdom of my enemies beyond those perilous lands, it was a realm that would not welcome him. I always enjoy when my enemies rid me of each other.
But not a year had gone when the Desperado entered my realm again. My trusted Servant caught him and some others disguised as my subjects walking right past his tower. Clever as he was, he could not get their names out of them, so he threw them into his dungeons, torturing them and killing most of them, until only the Desperado was left. Of course I learned only later that it was him.
But then a lady came and sung a powerful song at the gates of that Tower, and when my Servant heard it he smiled, for he knew her by reputation: she was the Princess of that enemy Kingdom I mentioned before, and he knew I would give him a great reward for her. But he failed in his attempt, that loyal but foolish one, for the Princess was not alone: she had with her a monstrous Hound that fought my Servant and overcame him. And my Servant surrendered with tears in his eyes, that coward. And the Princess freed the Desperado and they left my realm together.
My Servant had gone to live like an animal in the wilderness, but nonetheless I heard of what had passed and it filled me with doubt. For the horrible Hound was still running loose, and the Princess had the keys to the Tower, and I still did not know the reason the Desperado had come to my kingdom for in the first place.
So I raised a great Watchdog that was no dog, but from a pedigree far more awesome. And I fed him with my own hands and took him for walks and groomed him, and he grew to be a huge and faithful Watchdog indeed. Never have I had a better pet. At first he lay at my feet in front of the throne, but then I put him to earn his meat and made him lay at the gates of my fortress.
But the day came that two entered my very throne-room: one of my female servants and one of my hounds, and the hound slid under the throne and I took no notice of it. Instead I looked at the woman and my gaze literally stripped her off her clothes (there are many advantages in practising magic and getting good at it). And as she stood there I saw she was not my servant after all, but the enemy Princess. She admitted as much herself, and offered to sing to me and entertain me.
She was a pretty one indeed, dark-haired and fair-skinned, and I was filled with desire thinking of all the kinds of entertainment she could offer. So I listened to the song, and I would have watched the beautiful singer too, but the shy little thing disappeared from my view, possibly to get her clothes back. Her song was the fairest thing I have ever heard, like the song of a siren. And just as treacherous, for this too had an enchantment in it.
I began to wonder how she had got into my castle past the Watchdog, and why was my hound keeping company with her, and why did there issue from beneath my throne a stench like something long dead?
But it was too late. All my guards had fallen asleep and my crown felt so heavy on my head it bent both my neck and my will. Then something soft and sweet-scented fell on my face, and I fell too, asleep and to the floor.
When I awoke I lay on the floor, my servants in a circle around me witnessing my embarrassment, and my crown had fallen from my head. And when I looked at it anger filled me, for one of my most precious jewels was amiss, one of the Three that I loved. But the thieves I could not catch, the accursed Desperado dressed in dogskin and his pretty girlfriend.
I don't know what I miss more, the jewel or the woman that took it. Blast it, who am I cheating? I know perfectly well. I have two jewels just like the lost one, after all.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.