“Once upon a time, in the far away land of Qvendolia…”
“Come on gimme a break! I ain’t three years old anymore.” said I, exasperated.
“Will you at least hear me out first?”
“OK…ok… go ahead.”
“Once upon a time, in the far away land of Qvendolia, there lived a King, as prosperous as any other in his time, bold and courageous and just. As was a Queen, as is oft the case, and the pallor of her cheek had been much described by lyrical bards to be akin to the primroses that bloomed on the upper reaches of Mount Blavska. For many years they ruled and were adored by each of their subjects. However, the Queen hadn’t yet begotten a child to the King, and this remained a matter of grim concern for the Kingdom and grief to both of them.
Besides the Palace stood an orchard and garden of heavenly beauty, owned by a witch named Kariova. The mere sight of her cackling while weaving her way through the woods and the vineyards, as the farmers returning from fields or the sentry during twilight would sometimes catch, was enough to send shivers snaking down their spine. Even though luscious apples blossomed up on the boughs, and the perfume of hibiscus filtered in the houses nearby unadultered, nobody considered himself or herself blighted enough to venture within the perimeters of her abode. As for the King, he really didn’t care. Live and Let Live And Drink Mead While You Are At It, such was his Motto.
The Queen, however, once did chance to see the most succulent rampions in the garden, and she bade the King to get it for her, who is turn bade the soldiers, who simpered and defecated in their armoured pants at the mere prospect. The King, oblivious and unheeding of the portents, scaled the wall, yanked some off the root, and brought it to the much content Queen, all the while smirking at his knights. The Queen was so overcome by the taste of those wonderfully delicious rampions that she bade him to do her bidding a second time.
And so the King went again, and yelped in alarm at the hideous face that now leered at him. She could give Medusa a run for her money, thought the King to himself.
‘Scum of the earth! You dare steal the fruits of this garden fit for the Gods?’
‘Well, technically, my kingdom, my earth, if you get the drift…’
‘Silent you spluttering son of a snail! I give not the Slaigh Des Phaag to who you are! I shall toast you with the glance of my evil eye!’ And even as she said so, her forehead started to contort, an eyelid gradually materialising.
The King stood transfixed, horror struck, but then raised a hand as if to reason.
‘Wait O you Seer of the foulest ghouls, O you grotesque excuse for a woman! I shall pay you richly provided you let me go!’
Kariova weighed this. ‘I have no interest in those huge gold ingots that you possess. I merely wish to cradle a child within my bosom…’
‘Aah, is that so? Well I can’t say that you really enchant me, you Warthog Dressed in Human Skin, but should you amble by the tavern I have heard stories of drunk revellers mistaking livestock for their wives, if you know what I mean..’
‘Silence Imbecile! I shall allow you to take away the rampions on the condition that you deliver to me the first child that is born to you.’
‘Hah! I am impot..ahem ahem…alright, it shall be done.’
Now it so transpired that the rampions possessed some magical qualities, and therefore when the Queen brimming with joy puked royal vomit with her attendees gushing nearby, the King recoiled in horror, recalling the vow the wily witch had made him take. Imagine the Queen’s sorrow a few months later when Kariova came along, while the entire kingdom wept, to claim the beautiful baby girl, and as she exited with the baby in her arms the Queen collapsed on her throne.
Kariova travelled with the girl to the outskirts of the city, to the forest surrounding Mount Blavska, known as Merinske. It was here in this fearful forest that it was rumoured that she had a plot of land which she had purchased during the real estate boom a few years ago, and in that land she had a stone tower, made many years ago by none other than the Horrible Hag Helga. She had, for some strange reason, built the staircase outside the tower, which culminated in an open window.
It was in this tower that Kariova raised the little girl, whom she named Rapunzel. When Rapunzel was big enough to eat, walk and sleep without shouting ‘Momma!’ everytime lightning struck the weathercock of the tower, Kariova stopped staying there and went back to her home to care for her vegetables. However, she would visit Rapunzel every day, bringing with her rations and wine. One fine day, the staircase, out of sheer age, crumbled and broke down…”