Bastian met his new father-in-law, the King of Vertoo, in his chambers. The King smiled in the dim light cast by the fire and bid him to sit.
“I trust you slept well, sir?” the King said.
Bastian bit back a reply. The King’s eldest daughter, his reward for having rid Vertoo of The Scourge, had hardly let him sleep on their wedding night. It didn’t seem like a safe topic of conversation, so he merely smiled and nodded.
“Excellent. Now that you are my son and heir, you must become involved in the affairs of state. As King, I may not leave the homelands. Every time I step outside our borders, there is a chance the government might be overthrown. Normally, I send out Vizier Gyllen to attend parties, manage the campaigns, and treat with other governments. Those duties now fall to you.”
Bastian swallowed uncomfortably. He had expected his time as prince would be filled with parties, and coronations, and hunting. Bastian slouched in his chair as the weight of the world fell upon his shoulders.
“Every father worries about his son-in-law. Every prince is beset by amorous advances, especially when travelling. I certainly was. Young men and women would constantly vie for my attention. Eventually, I had my guards visit my room every night before bedtime to clear out amorous suitors who were waiting for me.”
Bastian sat up straighter. Perhaps being prince wouldn’t be so bad.
The King must have seen the look on Bastian’s face, and smiled knowingly.
“I love my daughters very much, Prince Bastian. I have raised them to be honest and true; each is well-versed in the arts and beautiful beyond compare. If anyone betrayed them, it would be a stain on their honor and mine. I would rather see them dead than dishonored.”
“I would never betray you, sire!” Bastian said, immediately.
“No, I know you wouldn’t. I have taken steps to ensure your fidelity.”
The look in the King’s eye made him shiver.
“Look at your wedding ring for a moment,” the King said.
Bastian held up his left hand to look at the gold ring. The King had given him and his wife identical rings at their wedding. They were both stamped with three symbols: a heart, a fire, and a sword. In the dim light of the fire, the symbols appeared flicker blood-red.
“May I have it for a moment? I’d like to show you something.”
Bastian pulled on the ring, but found he couldn’t get it off. No matter how hard he pulled, the ring wouldn’t budge. He looked at the King in growing dread.
“Neither you nor your wife may remove your rings. You are now linked through them, no matter where in the world you are. You remember what the symbols mean?”
Bastian remembered the King’s words at the wedding.
“Love, honor, and obey?”
“Love, honor, and obey. If you break those three vows, if you dishonor my daughter, even for a moment, your rings will both shatter, and she will die.” The King leaned forward until Bastian could feel his cold breath. “And then I will use every power at my command, spend every coin within reach, to hunt you down wherever you are and put you to the sword.”
* * * * *
Months later, in the courts of the Elf Lord of the Western Forest, Prince Bastian found himself talking with the Queen. Elves aged slowly. At three hundred years, the Queen was remarkably lovely, resembling a human woman in her early-twenties, albeit with mauve skin and pointed ears.
Both had had too much to drink, and the Queen began regaling Bastian with tales of her sexual conquests.
“Prince Bastian,” the Queen said. “Tell me of this monogamy you humans practice.”
But Bastian sobered up right away and said “We love being married, highness!” And that was the right thing to say.
Wha? Hey. Hello?
Hi! I’m fixing your story!
Wink? Wink deBivouac?
No, Wink DUH Bivouac. You always get that wrong!
How did you You installed a chat client in Microsoft Word?!
I just plugged it into my computer!
You don’t HAVE a computer. You just have a manual typewriter!
Well, there was this wire and a hole in the back, and I plugged it in! Now I can fix your story.
My story doesn’t need fixing!
Yes it does. You were going to have him sleep with that Elf Queen and die! That’s stupid!
It is not.
The name Virtoo is stupid.
It’s supposed to sound like “virtue.”
And there’s no unicorns!
Hey, it’s my story.
The Queen was so moved by Prince Basty’s love of his wife that the Queen made the elves give up their wicked ways. Then they gave him a unicorn for a pet.
Would you stop that?
But the unicorn was sad, because the King of Vernon was a big meanie poopy head. So Basty told the King to stop being a big meanie poopy head, and he did!
This is the worst story I’ve ever read.
One day, Basty was riding his unicorn with his queen.
I hope that’s a euphemism.
Is not! And they rode upon a field of beautiful flowers, and the flowers said “Owie! Owie! Owie! Your unicorn’s hooves are too hard!” So Basty’s unicorn grew wings and flew over the flowers!
Good God, is this going anywhere? Stop now. My ears are bleeding.
In the sky, Basty found a cloud princess, who was very sad, because there were no rainbows.
If I promise to kill myself, will you stop?
The cloud princess said she’d give him all the chocolate coins in the world if he made her a rainbow, so Basty said yes!
Why won’t my computer shut down? Stupid Windows 7. How come I can’t unplug this thing? You glued my power cord on?!
So Basty flew his unicorn to the kingdom of the crystal fairies and they made him a rainbow out of ice cream sprinkles!
Basty seems to have forgotten his wife, who is probably stomping on screaming flowers right now.
Then Basty carried the rainbow back to the cloud princess. She was so grateful, she kissed Basty on the cheek and
And then he died!
What? No he didn’t!
Yes he did! His kissed another woman, which broke the ring, which killed his wife, which the King of Ventoo avenged by killing Basty. Bastian. Ha! You ended the story!
I didn’t! He lived. There was a wizard. He. Uh. Oh. Shoot.