He was so beautiful
that they crowned him king
and forbade all the common folk
from touching him.
Which was fine. He’d rather they didn’t.
He was given fine thick carpets to walk on
and rich purple blankets for his bed,
Every morning he would be groomed and shined,
brushed and polished,
buffed and curried,
until when he stood before a mirror in his finest flowing robes,
there was no doubt (in his mind, or those around his)
that he was the prettiest thing there was…
No doubt at all.
But in spite of all that, he decided that he wanted to prove it
once and for all,
that he alone
So he issued a challenge, as all kings do, that everyone in the kingdom
should bring him an object of great beauty,
For a reward of gold.
"Sire, a flower," said the little girl.
"I picked it on the meadows this morning; see how lovely it smells?"
"A flower," the king chuckled,
amused by her gift as it was held to his royal nose.
"Surely I, with my shampoos and perfumes, smell better than this simple flower!"
And he smiled as he turned to his advisors and said,
"Throw it in the fire."
And the young girl watched
as her pretty flower
was singed to ash in the fireplace.
"Sire, a fine crystal!" said the miner. "It hasn’t a flaw!"
"Impressive," yawned the king. "But can it even compare
to the shine of my horn?"
"Crush it," he said, and laughed as the miner withered
as his fine crystal was smashed on the floor with a blacksmith’s maul.
The wise old man, with laugh-lines at the corners of his eye,
Smiled gently and said,
"Your highness, I bring you
a pair of young lovers. Surely nothing
is more beautiful
than young spring love."
The king was silent; he knew he had been beaten.
The old man was given his gold, and he bowed, turned, and left.
The unicorn king stared at the young pair,
trying to figure a fitting end to this thing of beauty better than him.
"Whip the man," he finally spoke from his moody silence.
So they took the man and beat him to a pulp,
and when they brought him back,
the woman cradled him and kissed his face
and promised him that she loved him.
And the king, in an angry voice, boomed, "Defile her!"
So they took the woman aside
and when they brought her back,
she was crying in sad shrieks,
her dress torn and her hair mussed,
but the man rushed to her and held her
kissed her bloodied lip
and swore that he would love her forever.
Outraged, the king slammed his hooves down as he stood
and shouted, "Separate them!" so that it echoed around the hall.
The lovers wailed as they were torn out of each other’s arms
and thrown into the dark dungeons
so far apart that they could neither see
nor hear one another.
The king smiled.
He thought he had won.
Three years later, he ordered them to be brought up,
and if they would deny their love,
he would let them free.
But they fell into each other’s arms
and kissed each other’s faces
just as they had the day they were taken away
and stood firm against the king.
The king did not know that absence makes the heart grow fonder.
When he saw this,
he flew into a rage and commanded,
"Behead them both!"
The woman let out a cry and the man set his jaw as he told her,
With a stare at the king that could silence the wind,
"Don’t worry. Once we’re dead, there is nothing HE can do
to keep us apart."
And the king shuddered as they were pulled away
and sent to the axe-man for a dance.
The rumors flew even as he slouched in his throne
and chewed pensively on one of his hooves,
and it was declared throughout the land
that there was no worse king
the an un-beautiful Unicorn.