Counterpane

That great vestal kingdom spread wide
with three circular walls around its castle
and vast, unsown fields on either side
untouched by each virtuous vassal.
A young princess lived there, in love and duty,
and was fated to be the queen of that land
once the world had given equal to her beauty
a man, in marriage, to take in hand.
But until that time, when she was ready,
her father remained lord over that realm,
keeping it safe, prosperous, and steady
until she was of age to assume the helm.
Her father’s castle had four tall towers
like the four posts of a curtained bed,
and the outer walls had held off many powers
that sought to conquer their curtained spread.

But there soon came a conqueror whose strength
was unmatched, his forces crafty and cruel,
and he deployed a small force, who, at length,
breached the first wall with ropes from a spool.
Once over, they opened the portcullis gate
and invited the wicked army past the defenses,
the king’s loyal army realizing all too late
what had happened— and lost their senses.
The second wall was buttressed with earthen mounds
heaped up like luxuriant pillows, and archers
stood guard from atop those vantage grounds,
yet it did not detour the invading marchers.
The invaders used gunpowder, sulphur, and fire
to blow a hole in the second chastity wall,
then charged in, shields raised high ere
the arrows could be released to kill them all.
The invaders climbed each bulwark mound
and slew the archers, (having outflanked them),
then turned their bloodlusting eyes around
to the final wall protecting the inner sanctum.
This wall was tall and crenelated at its stoop
and the defenders poured hot oil down below
to boil the invaders into canned soup;
yet the warlord would not heed the word “No.”

The siege came to a standstill, then, neither side
able to overcome the other’s forces,
but the warlord vowed he would not be denied
and ordered the trebuchets fitted with horses.
They launched the dead horses, like jeers,
and the rotten creatures spread a disease
like the black plague, thought gone for years,
but which spreads with rats and mice and fleas.
They stripped the outer walls of their stones
and used them, too, as salvoes cast
to strike the wall and break its bones
until it crumbled with each subsequent blast.
The wall fallen, in poured the horde,
killing all save the royal family members
whom they took before their warlord
while they stripped trees of their timbers.
For they created a platform of dread
crowned with a headsman’s chopping block
and, one by one, each royal lost their head
until the princess began her final walk.
The warlord looked upon that beauty
and he coveted her for his own,
so, he said he would marry her, as a duty
to legitimize his right to the throne.

The wedding was over rather quickly
and the warlord took her upstairs with a grin,
pushing her forward, and talking thickly
with drink and lust and the promise of more sin.
He stripped her dress with fumbling haste
and shoved her upon the bed with a laugh,
then began kissing her chest and her waist,
working his way up and down, fore and aft.
Nude in the fateful bedding hour,
she slipped out a small, hidden blade
and, with one slash, toppled his tyrant’s tower
at the base—unmanned, thus unmade—
then slipped the blade back in its sheath,
watching him bleed out, with pleasure.
At length, she masked herself in grief,
and dressed herself at her own leisure.
As for the blood dripping between her legs,
no one said anything, knowing of beddings,
and so she left, free, untainted by his dregs,
having avenged her family and their beheadings.

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