17. THE EMPTY THRONE

17. THE EMPTY THRONE

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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So Kevvy, weakened by his long journey, meets a frog...

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Kevvy was about to give up the ghost, lie down and dream of death or some other mind-blowing non-experience, but he decided instead to struggle on for one more day. He was going to get there. He knew he must. After all, by reputation the castle he was aiming for was a pretty gigantic affair with more rooms than there were hovels back in his own village. And the king who sat on his throne inside it, he was a mighty important person, and important surely meant big and powerful?

Compared to him, anyway, for he knew he was small in the scheme of things. Wasn’t everyone back home?

The struggle seemed to be becoming easier and he sighed his relief when he came, unexpectedly and totally out of the blue, on the herb garden. He knew that’s what it was because the overwhelming fragrance of herbs of all kinds, a heady mixture that seemed to blow, to his mind, from the gods, wafted from it.

He stood and gazed in awe at the perfection of that garden, and then, when he lifted his eyes up and saw the castle, he gasped. Huge it was, a stone creation, blotting out a great deal of the sky and most assuredly the work of the gods who must have created a great deal more than the heavenly herbal aroma.

“My oh my,” murmured a voice.

There was only a frog there, in sight, sitting on a post by the gate to the garden. He expected to see a woman, for the voice had about it a great deal of attractive female qualities, but there was no woman anywhere near, unless she was hiding somewhere.

“Where are you?” he asked, uncertain of anything.

“You’re a right creature to be asking that of a beautiful young frog like me! But we’ve met before, don’t you know?”

He felt like falling down, passing out, taking that uncertain journey into whatever followed on after life, for there could be no doubt that it was the frog who was speaking, and he’d never, not in the waking world or in his nightmares, experienced a frog doing anything more communicative than croaking.

“Frogs can’t speak,” he said, “and I can’t have met you before because if I had I’d know all about the speech of frogs!”

“Of course they can’t!” confirmed the frog, “but then, I’m no ordinary frog. I’m the sort that can be anything she chooses, and at this moment in time I choose to be a frog. It’s a comfortable body to inhabit, for one thing, and for another ordinary peasant humans don’t take much notice of frogs. If I was a pig, on the other hand, they’d see bacon and think of eating me there and then, or if I were a song thrush they’d make me join their church choir. But I wasn’t a frog when you met me, no I wasn’t, and you called me Angel...”

Then a whole lot of memories collided together in his brain and he just had to sit down.

“Over here,” the frog invited him, “inside my garden where there’s a lovely seat for weary travels to rest their bottoms on when weariness almost consumes them.”

“But Angel...” he stammered, following her directions, finding the seat and sitting on it, “Angel was a woman, a beautiful woman with magic in her veins, come from the gods themselves to tease me and help me...”

“Angel was me, you strange old man,” giggled the frog, and then, before his eyes, its outline wibbled and wobbled and morphed into the shape and size of a beautiful woman with an exaggerated bosom, fine ankles as far as he could see, and long flowing hair that seemed to cast the fragrance of roses all about her.

“See?” she said.

“Oh my,” he said, subbing his eyes.

“I thought I suggested,” said she called Angel, “if you don’t mind me reminding you, I thought I suggested that you would be very silly to come to the king and hope for any reward save for death?”

“I thought...” he began, but decided that to say that he hadn’t believed the visitor in the forest, the one he called Angel, and had made up his own mind to do precisely what he wanted to do whilst ignoring her advice would sound a bit ungrateful.

“You thought you knew best,” she said, grinning and showing her perfect white teeth that shone in a mouth that he had a sudden urge to kiss, “and you thought that no king would be foolish enough to knock the head off one such as yourself! But he would, you know, he does it all the time, so it’s just as well that he isn’t home but is in the wilds suffering reminders of his own, shall we call it inadequacy, as he tries to come to terms with being a king whose throne is miles away.”

“Oh. And I wanted to join him in the fight,” muttered Kevvy.

“I know,” she sighed, “I can read it in your eyes. You wanted to take a spear and plunge it into the hearts of the babies in your village, the little ones who have yet to think a thought, lest they become grown up with thoughts of their own...”

“No, not them, I wouldn’t harm them!” he replied, angrily. Is this how Angel sees me? As a child-murdering thug?

“And the womenfolk, the dear ladies who do all the things you men like to have done for you, feeding you, clothing you, snuggling up to you on cold winter nights when Jack Frost is everywhere… it is nearly winter now, isn’t it?”

“No! Don’t say that! I love women!” he stammered, shocked.

“And your sons. The lads who toil to feed you and their wives, the jolly young roisterers who sing songs of love because they are in love with life and everything in life… You’d have a sword for them, I suppose, a sharp blade skilfully used by you.”

“No! No! You don’t understand!” he stammered.

“But you wanted to join the king in battle! You told me! And joining the king in battle means slaughtering every living soul if that’s what he tells you to do, and believe you me, the King of this castle, Jasper the Terrible, would do just that. And when the battle was over and your friends, the women and men, the children and babies, are all lying in a hideous pile ready to be consigned in fire to be forgotten, your head would follow! Soon, before the flames have died down. Very soon: for that’s the way he is.”

“I must go!” declared Kevvy, “I didn’t think, I didn’t understand, I thought it would be all right to just help him to become overlord of our village, and then everything would be just like it was before he came because, I thought, he’d not want to live in the wild outback where I live because he’s a king and would need to return to his throne!”

“He would,” agreed Angel, “but leaving a wasteland behind him. So what do you plan to do now?”

“I’ll go back whence I came,” he sighed, “I’ll warn the people there.”

“If they’re still alive and kicking,” she murmured darkly.

“They are, aren’t they?”

“Possibly. But hey, I’ve got another plan…”

“You have?”

“Let me look at you … yes, it could be … with the beard you’ve grown, all rough and manly, with the certainty in your uncertain voice… You could be a king yourself!”

“Not me! I have no great lineage! My bloodline is pure, true, but not that of kings!”

“There’s a throne in that castle,” breathed Angel, “and no bottom sitting on it. Waiting, it is, for a great man to come and take it, and you are here, it seems, weary and looking for somewhere to sit...”

“Me? Nah! I’m no King! I could no more than chop heads off as I could … I could … could fly to the moon!”

“Then it seems you’d make a fine king,” smiled angel, “all the job needs as a man who understands… or a woman, of course but you’re a man, which is quite enough for the time being. The great hall’s through that door over there, let me show you the way...”

© Peter Rogerson 03.12.18



© 2018 Peter Rogerson


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Added on December 3, 2018
Last Updated on December 3, 2018
Tags: forest, wilderness, frog, Angel, castle, throne


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing