Prompt Day #99: Torture a character who has been falsely accused of a crime.
I don’t know why exactly when I read this prompt I thought of the Hans Christian Anderson tale The Princess and the Pea. She was kind of tortured to prove herself worthy of the prince. A medieval children’s tale of S&M. So, I guess this could go under Terrible Tales for Deranged Children but its perhaps a little more 50 Shades of Prince Charming. I don’t know, its quirky and feminist and I like it. Although perhaps my Princess has not been “falsely accused of a crime” in Medieval times/Fairy tales, it seemed to be a crime just to be female. Perhaps it still is.
Twisted Fairy Tales
The Princess and The Gauntlet
Once upon a time there lived a prince who wanted to marry a princess; but she would have to be a worthy princess. He and his father, the king created a challenge that each eligible maiden would be obliged to complete to the satisfaction of the prince in order to become his wife. The prince travelled all over the world to find a princess, but nowhere could he find one who could complete the challenge to his satisfaction. So, he came home again and was sad, for he would have liked very much to have a real princess.
One evening, a terrible storm came. Thunder, lightning and hail poured forth from an angry sky. The weather outside was fit for neither King nor serf. Suddenly, there came a knocking upon the castle gate and the old king went forth to answer it.
A young maiden stood there outside the gate shivering in the cold. Oh what a sight the weather had made her. Water ran from her hair and soaked her clothes which had been torn and shredded from the hail beating down on her.
“If you please, good sirs” she began, her teeth chattering with every word “I have traveled far and am weary. The weather has added its toll and I feel that I must rest for the night. Have you any room in this big castle for a small girl such as myself?”
“Are you a princess?” the prince asked excitedly, for among the sodden mess that was the girl, he saw a great beauty.
“I do not know, sir” She hung her head shamefully. “I know not even where I began my travels, you see this storm has followed me for some time, pelting me and knocking me about with its cold wind. I fell and hit my head and now, I cannot remember who I am or where I am going.” She began to cry. The prince and the king looked at each other. It was likely that she was a princess from a far off land sent to accept the challenge and become the price’s wife. She had survived this terrible storm for some time it seemed and so they decided to test her. A true princess worthy of such a prince as he would pass his test and become his wife.
The old King had a plan to find out if she was a worthy wife for his son. He had an idea how to find out but said nothing of it.
“Of course, my dear, you must come out of such dreadful weather and warm yourself by the fire. Let us prepare you a bed.”
So the King and Prince went to prepare a bed. In the dungeon was the Bed of Nails, an iron piece of horror projecting 3 foot long spikes vertically row after row. They lay a thin blanket over the spikes.
“A true princess and one worthy of a man such as yourself, will have porcelain skin that stays beautiful under even the stressful circumstances.” The king said and prince nodded eagerly. They called the girl down and showed her the bed upon which no princess yet had been able to sleep one night. The girl climbed onto the coverlet, curled up and closed her eyes.
The next morning, she was asked how she slept.
“Oh, simply wonderful! I stayed warm and cozy and the bed gave much support to my back.” She said smiling. Her golden hair shone in the morning sun. The prince’s heart beat a little faster upon hearing that this girl who might be his one true princess, was able to pass the first of the seven royal challenges.
“Please, enjoy some breakfast” The prince said holding a plate. The platter held a myriad of spoiled and rotting foods. A grey mold covered all the items like a bridal veil. Beneath the fungal webbing, crawled several species of worms and insects over the sticky malodorous meat and the slimy greenish potatoes. He grinned at her expectantly. This meal had broken all other princesses. He sat it on the floor.
“I’m very sorry. We do not have enough flatware to give you, nor is there room at the table which is reserved only for royalty.” He said. The young maiden looked at the food not fit for a dog, and then assuming a similar position as the canine who was too good for the food, she bent her head and ate.
When the platter was clean, she looked up at the prince standing above her obviously pleased at the successful completion of the second challenge.
“Did you enjoy your breakfast?” He asked.
“Oh yes, your highness, I found it indelibly sweet.” She smiled complacently up at him. The prince was very happy as only a true princess possessed a tongue that only knew to speak of sweet things, never a sour word would be articulated. He could barely contain his desire for her but he would because more than finding a beautiful princess, he loved watching her suffer in such humility. Now for the next test of her resiliency.
“And now I must ask a favor of you, my sweet girl” the prince said “I am sure you won’t think to deny a kind soul who has provided you with warm, comfort and sustenance”
“Anything you ask of me, dear sir” she said and smiled
“I need you to follow me to the well. The thing has taken many a life. Children have fallen in never to return. We need to fill it, but have no one small enough to send down to the bottom to drop off the bricks and stones which will fill the deathly hole. No child can carry much weight, you see.” He said as they walked out to the deep, dank well. She simply nodded.
The prince tied a rope to her hair and filled all her pockets with stones and filled her arms with bricks. He pushed her over the edge and she hung by her hair, the weight of the stones and bricks adding strain to her scalp. He watched her hang suspended by her golden locks. Only a princess worthy of his grandeur, could withstand that torture. She said not a word, uttered not a sound of pain. He wanted her, he wanted to do more things to test her. He lowered her to the floor of the well where she left the stones and bricks. He pulled her back up thinking how she had now passed his third challenge. A real princess had hair of spun gold that would not snap or break.
Her eyes sparkled with tears when he released her from the rope but she still did not cry out for mercy. A true princess’s eyes sparkle at all times he thought and asked her to follow him to the castle where she could prove herself yet again.
“This barn needs swept out and the dust bothers me so. You survived a storm so I am sure it will not bother you to stir up so much dirt.” The prince said, knowing full well, that as soon as she started, he would open the doors at each end of the barn so that a breeze would blow through filling her eyes with dust and dirt. When she was done, he would check for that sparkle, if it remained even when irritated by grit, she would pass the next part of the test. Without a word, she picked up the broom and the prince opened the doors. The wind picked the dust up into the air and the prince watched with growing satisfaction as it scratched at her diamond orbits. Tears ran, leaving pale tracks in the layer of dirt on her face but she swept until the stone floor beneath showed not a single speck of dust.
“Is there anything more I can do to thank you for all your kindnesses?” The submissive maiden asked.
“There is, in fact, one thing” he said staring at her bare legs through the ruins of the rags she wore in the storm. Back in the castle, the king had prepared a room full of broken glass. A princess, he had taught his son, should have strong knees so that she can worship her husband and kneel before him. The fifth challenge had left many a bloodied maiden cut and broken and dismissed from the castle. He pointed to the shards of glass and told her to pick each one up carefully, one at a time until the floor was safe to walk upon again.
“You will likely have to crawl on your knees and get close to the floor in order to see each piece” he said. “I would do it of course if I hadn’t injured my leg in a riding accident last week” He lied. He would stay of course and watch. Each wince she made as her knee fell upon a sharply edged piece made him gasp with pleasure. He watched her crawl across the floor, leaving streaks of rose-colored blood as sweet as honey. He imagined her in the stocks, on the rack or in the hanging coffin, naked and begging him for mercy. Only a princess who could live a life like that could make him happy. As his fantasies brought him closer to release, she stood and came to him, a bucketful of glass bits and knees bloodied and bruised. Yet still she not a contrary word.
He held his hands out to her. “Come to me, my dear. You must be tired. I fear I have asked too much of you.”
“No, My Lord. I have not begun to repay your kindness. There must be more that I can do to prove myself worthy of all you have done for me.” She said smiling. Just then, the old King came into the room.
“Son, you have worked the girl far too much. Now, let me take her upstairs so that she can be washed and clothed properly for dinner” He winked at his son, knowing this girl had but two more trials before she would be declared the only woman for the king and a proper princess. She was led up the winding staircase where an old, blind woman sat awaiting her.
“Remove your clothing and throw it in the fire, then when you are clean, come to me so that I may make all the proper measurements for your dinner dress. The girl did as she was instructed. The prince watching from behind the bed curtains as the old woman instructed the girl.
“Now, come over to my caldron” the old witch said—for she was indeed a witch who would perform the last of the two rights and have the final say on whether the girl was indeed a princess capable of withstanding the sadistic prince’s perverse desires. The caldron bubbled with a thick black tarry substance.
“Dip your hands into this mixture” The woman instructed. The boiling tar would stick to the girl’s hand scalding them raw by the time it cooled. “Only a true and deserving maiden whose hands are meant to please the prince will not fear the pain of servitude” The crone declared and the girl, showing no fear, dunked her hands into the sticky potion. “Hold them up now, Girl” the old witch croaked and the girl did as instructed. The shaking of her hands betrayed the calm countenance of her face. “When they are cool, I shall peel them off and using the coating as a mold, I will make you the finest pair of gloves the kingdom has ever seen. These you will wear until your burns have healed.” She declared and the girl nodded silently.
The prince, who wanted nothing more than to marry the girl that very instance and ravage her unmercifully until her spirit broke and she cried out in pain and begged for release, awaited the last of the morbid tribulations so that she would finally be his to do with as he pleased. The girl stood motionless until the time came to peel away the outer coating on her hands. The witch peeled each away quickly tearing the burned and blistered skin with the tar. Still the girl stood motionless. Her radiance shining stronger with every successful deed completed.
“Now, you shall be measured for your gown” The witch said and pulled a pair of red-hot iron circlets from the fire. The girl’s eyes showed no fear as the old woman clamped each around a breast. The skin seared under the heat of the circlets as they cooled and molded to the size of her perfect breasts, each of which now outlined in a red ring of wounded flesh. “A princess has perfect breasts so that they may please her husband, the prince. Your breasts, I find both perfect and tough enough to endure the passion of your prince. You are indeed a noble and deserving princess and you have passed the last of the 7 royal challenges.” With that the witch bowed to the prince who had leaped from behind the curtain and was currently inspecting the cooling red branded skin of his wife-to-be’s chest and hands. His pantaloons could no longer restrain his excitement.
“You are everything I wanted in a princess. Have no doubt, you are a princess for only a woman of royal blood could survive all that I have put you through this day. Trust that I shall never again ask you to complete seven such horrid tasks in a single day. No my dear lady, I want to savor you as long as I can. Once we are married, you shall undergo only one procedure a day for my explicit pleasure.” He kissed the back of each damaged hand and then turned them over and licked each palm wet with serum released with the burn.
They were married that very night. The girl, who was called The Princess, wore the gown and gloves made specific to her body measurements by the old seer. That night, the prince, who had watched her suffer all day with restraint, tore open her gown and off his royal britches. As he eased himself into his new wife, he gasped in pleasure.
“Oh, My Lord!” she said suddenly. “I remember what I am called.”
“What is that, my love?” he panted as he inched deeper into her.
“I am called The Iron Maiden” she said smiling “by those who beg me revenge them”
The prince laughed and thrust himself fully inside. “Whatever do you…” he began but his own scream of pain interrupted his musings as the maiden flexed her muscles and the iron spikes pierced his manhood and sunk deep into its flesh.