I Am Prince Ayden Who-Definitely-Didn't-Murder-His-Elder-Brother-to-Become-Prince. Asketh Me Anything!
Warning: Questions about my elder brother’s mysterious demise are punishable by death
This week in the town square, Prince Ayden of Short Marsh held the first AMA (Asketh Me Anything) of his six-year reign. Ye Olde Tyme News was on hand to record the unprecedented “Q + A” session.
Town Crier: Hear ye! Hear ye! Townsfolk, Prince Ayden will now address thee!
Prince Ayden: Hello! As ye know, I am Prince Ayden, Ruler of Short Marsh ever since Prince Reginald (God Rest His Gentle Soul) vanished at sea. For the next hour, ye may ask me anything. Fire away!
Your Highness? First question – why are you here in the publick square? Normally you just shout punishments from your balcony.
Prince Ayden: Well-asked! Whilst I prefer shouting at ye from “on high,” my advisors have urged a more “down-to-earth” style to assist my precipitous publick standing. So, here I stand. Next question?
Are we permitted to hold eye contact with Your Highness as we ask things? Because at Christmas, you had the troubadours drowned for “excessive staring.”
Prince Ayden: Yes! Sorry for not clarifying earlier. AHEM! Ye may all (temporarily) look upon Prince Ayden! Ye shall not be drowned today, I swear.
Your Highness, we gratefully appreciate that. But just yestereve, ye had Brother Barnaby drowned for translating the Bible to English, did ye not?
Prince Ayden: Aha! Glad you brought that up. No, Brother Barnaby was not drowned – he was merely dragged across the moat-bottom until sufficient apology was produced. Next question?
Your Majesty? Six years ago, your brother Prince Reginald vanished at sea, leaving ye as his successor. Yet there are new rumors that Reginald lives, and designs to return to Short Marsh. Are the rumors true? And if so, what does that mean for thy Rulership?
Prince Ayden: Rumors concerning my elder brother are abhorrent, false, and from here out, punishable by immediate strangulation. Come now, does anyone have a less idiotic question?
My name is Jayne, Your Highness, and I have an urgent question. All citizens of Short Marsh know that ye have raised taxes an un-Godly amount during thy reign. Many of our neighbors, bereft, have sought refuge in neighboring kingdoms – and more flee each day.
We who remain live in the ruins of a once-great land. Our farms are deserted and our shoppes are empty. We survive on pigeon-meat and foul water. In 13 months, no children have been born. We have lost hope, Your Highness.
What say ye, Prince Ayden? Will ye right thy wrongs, and restore our people to the prosperity we knew under thy brother?
-Jayne, Church Lady
Prince Ayden: [Gritting teeth] Okay, Jayne. See, this is supposed to be more like a fun, get-to-know-thy-royal kind of thing. So, let’s keep it merry, shall we? For feck’s sake, does anyone have a light-hearted question for me? Something about palace intrigue, or court fashion?
Hello, Your Highness! Edwarde here, from the Short Marsh Civic Association (SMCA). We have a question about castle groundskeeping.
Prince Ayden: Yes, let’s have it!
Great! So, the impaled heads of your enemies along the courtyard wall are beginning to smell like, erm, absolute death. Any chance you’ll be changing them out soon?
Prince Ayden: [Inaudible muttering, exaggerated sighing]
Ayden – I mean, Prince Ayden – what is thy favorite part of Ruling?
-Man in Fine Cloth
Prince Ayden: At last, a goode one! Let me see. Monetary tribute is awe-some. But so is being revered as a near-deity. Money or adoration… hmmm. I have to go with money – final answer!
Hey! That Man in Fine Cloth is no commoner. He is Count Wencifus, the Prince’s right-hand man. His Highness hath planted his own sycophants among us!
Prince Ayden: Okay, that’s more of a statement than a question…
[Loud booing and clamor as Count Wencifus is expelled from crowd]
[Slipping into trance] Hark! It comes – A VISION:
Six crows circle the castle.
A sword emerges from the forgotten sea.
The poisoned rain ceases.
And a blood-drenched sunset lowers for thee…
-Seer of Short Marsh
Prince Ayden: Again, that’s really more of a statement than a question. Come on, people… if you’re just going to be negative, then we won’t do this again. Does anyone have an actual question for me?
[Loud neighing and galloping as Hooded Horseman thunders into publick square and addresses Prince Ayden]
[In warm baritone] I have a question for thee, Ayden.
Prince Ayden: Another weirdo, eh? It must be a full moon tonight. What’s your question, fool?
Only this: Did ye not remember that I was always the better swimmer?
[Crowd gasps in disbelief as Hooded Horseman removes hood]
By God! It is Prince Reginald – returned at long last from seeming death!
-Jayne, Church Lady
Prince Ayden: Impossible! You were supposed to die! Err…I mean, you’re alive. Yayyy.
The dark sun sets!
-Seer of Short Marsh
[Raucous cheering as Prince Reginald dismounts horse, proceeds through crowd]
Prince Ayden: Guards! GUARDS!
Prince Reginald: Ayden! I declare: THY WRETCHED REIGN IS FINISHED!
[Clamor and mayhem as Prince Reginald hews through Guards, reaching Prince Ayden]
Regrettably, Ye Olde Tyme News had to file at deadline before the princely battle could conclude. We’ll continue to monitor and chronicle this developing story in Short Marsh.
Rian Casey Cork is the author and host of The Gargoyle, a newsletter and podcast exploring themes of authenticity, creativity, and curiosity. You can read his work at:
In other news, checketh out this story from a different Realm, written by thy favourite scribe, over at Greener Pastures Magazine: