[SHORT STORY] The Lovesick Prince

The sun kissed the minarets and domes of golden Parthulah the day her Prince became a man, His 20th birthday; and He arose early in the morning, when the sun is still cold and its shades jut toward the West, and gathered all the councils and all the court, and every servant and every outstanding citizen into his halls of marble, where tapestry told stories of old and visions of the future, and the mosaics praised Parthulah’s gorgeous daughters. Then the whole place was filled with people, rich merchants and fierce warriors, and holy men and humble peasants, who rejoiced to the music and the food and the wine that the servants had provided them. But then the Prince came, and He wore not His crowned turban, nor He bore the bright jewels of his family, but only covered in crimson pantaloons He slowly walked across the hall and sat in His throne.

The marble echoed with clapping and laughter and shouting and wishes of a long and glorious life. But the Prince was left unfazed, with His sad lips and black bags below His eyes, and He raised His right hand to command silence. As He had done so, Sound left the royal halls of golden Parthulah, and ran away to the river and the markets of far cities.

“I am now fully man, but I feel no joy and no strength. I have no will, for I am lovesick.”

Thus spoke the Prince of golden Parthulah, and all the councils and the court, and every servant and every outstanding citizen was troubled, and dared speak not.

A highly regarded courtesan approached the throne, for she had deep knowledge of many a young man’s heart and thought to find cause and remedy of that sickness.

“O sweet Prince, You are everything and own everything. You are the blazing sun and the gentle stars. Tell me, who made You sick with love and how, You that no woman would cast away?”

“I cannot tell” said the Prince of Parthulah. “I do not know her and may be that she has never heard of me, and I do not know how she enthralled me, because today I just awoke and realized I was lovesick.”

Now the courtesan smiled in her heart because she thought she knew what the Prince desired.

“O sweet Prince, I will give You the cure from Your sickness.”

She went away, and everyone waited anxiously. But she soon returned and ran to the Prince and extended her arm toward the entrance.

“Let her come in!”

And behold, a young woman of unmatched beauty knelt to the Prince’s feet and locked her eyes into his. Her skin was like amber, her hair like silk, her eyes light as gems, her frame the work of a divine sculptor. She had the name of spring, and her voice was like placid rivulets flowing through pastures upon sweet hills.

The woman danced for the Prince and won over Him, and smiling He held her in His arms and carried her to His chambers. And they spent the day and night together, and they were merry, until sleep fell over them and they wandered together on the roads of Dream. But the sun rose again, and a new day had come, and the Prince told the woman to go away and never return, and that if He saw her again, He would have made her killed. She ran out of the chambers crying, and met the courtesan, who had come early expecting a happy Prince, and told her of how He had loved her the day before, and how He hated her now.

The courtesan entered the Prince’s chambers and saw Him lay on the pavement as a dead man, looking at the pictures of gods and heroes painted on the dome of His august nest.

“O sweet Prince” she said, “are you still lovesick?”

“I am still lovesick” he answered.

And then he ordered to summon all the courts, and every servant, and every outstanding citizen, and to gather them again in the throne hall. And the courtesan went to refer the Prince’s order, which quickly spread through the palace and out in Parthulah’s humbler abodes, and went to hid the young woman so that the Prince could not find her if some mad idea would come to Him. But in her mind she kept devising a new cure to His sickness.

“He thirsts for domestic warmth” she said to herself. “A warm fire and hot bread, and laugh and love and affection.”

So her feet flied through the roads of golden Parthulah and into the Prince’s palace, and she pushed her way through the throng amassed in the main hall.

“O sweet Prince, this time I really know what you need!”

And she took the Prince by her arm and led Him out of the palace and into the plebeian quarters of golden Parthulah, and knocked the door of a modest wooden building, and entered with him. They found themselves inside an inn and there a warm fire was lit, and the keeper served Him a jug of warm beer, and his wife the hostess cooked a commoner’s meal, of warm bread and tasty cheese and fried eggs, along with talks and laughs and warm affection. And the Prince ate and drank and was merry and heartened, and thanked many times His humble hosts, and prized them with gold and praise and friendship and many gifts. But when the meal was digested, and the honors had been given to the innkeeper and his wife, the Prince looked at the sunset and sighed again.

“I wish I could have shared that meal with my love, for I am lovesick.”

The courtesan worried again, but it was now late, and everyone was leaving for their homes. And later all but the Prince slept pleasantly, and had wonderful dreams, but the Prince strode right and left, up and down, and went around all the palace, restless as He was, until He was exhausted. But then the dawn came again, and He prepared and went to the hall where all the courts, and every servant and every outstanding citizen was waiting him.

“I am still lovesick” he said as soon as He had sat on the throne.

“O sweet Prince, this time I really know what you need!”

So the courtesan spoke, and then went into the crowd to gather all the actors she could find, and poets and musicians, and told them to arrange a great spectacle, a beautiful tragedy of passionate love. Quick and good they had to be, for the Prince must be cured soon, else He would grow restless and mad.

The artists toiled all day and evening, until the play was ready. And that very night in the theater the Prince sat to His honor seat and enjoyed the show, and praised it with enthusiasm.

“O sweet Prince” said the courtesan, “I am happy you feel better.”

“I do not” He replied, and His face became sorrowful again. “If anything, I feel worse. I wish I could be like the hero of that story, for I am lovesick.”

Thus the courtesan was distraught and called defeat. But the Prince put His hand upon her head.

“I am grateful for your help. I know that you really care for me, and that you felt no fear when I said to be lovesick. I will remember.”

And the next day the Prince woke up as the sun had peeked out of the eastern mountains, when the sky was still grey, and purified Himself and began to arrange His last resort. And then He called all the councils and all the courts, and every servant and every outstanding citizen, and brought them into His halls.

“I am still lovesick, but now I know what I need. And many thanks you all shall give to this courtesan, the one who helped me and trembled not when I said to be lovesick. Know now that she will be your queen, and that you shall be cursed if you do harm to her. But you, queen, you shall learn my next lesson and then be purified before sitting on this throne.”

As He had spoken, all trembled and asked questions among themselves, for those words had hit their pride and their hearts were now troubled. But suddenly the Prince arose, and took the new queen by His arm, and led everyone out into a great square in front of the palace, where He used to give speeches and receive praises and salutations. And He knelt on a white platform, and drew out an ornate dagger, a trophy of His youth.

“Each of you all shall stab me with this very dagger, else my curse will devour his flesh and soul. It’s my last order.”

All were scandalized, and the new queen wept, and the people said that the Prince had become mad, but He warned them again.

“Doubt me a second time, and I shall curse you. Disobey me, and I shall curse you a second time.”

So they were convinced, for the Prince of Parthulah had divine blood whose power could move the mountains. With sad faces and trembling hands, they stabbed Him countless times. And at last only the new queen was left, and she was weeping still.

The Prince was soaked in His blood of gold and crimson, which had filled the white platform like summer rain, but he was breathing still.

“Do it, future Queen of Parthulah, and your soul shall feel relief. I can see already the land where I will meet my love, and the temple where I will marry, and the middleman who will let each other meet.”

Then the queen stabbed Him, and His soul left His smiling body, taking Death by her hand, and was brought to where no living man can be.

One thought on “[SHORT STORY] The Lovesick Prince

  1. I tried writing something similar to a folk tale, and making experiments with rhythm of prose, as I wanted it to sound almost like a nursery rhyme and see if it felt too wearying. What do you think?

    Like

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