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Ulric at the Court of the Elite

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posted on Jun, 28 2010 @ 03:13 PM
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Ulric was a member of the palace guard in a place far away from the country of his birth. He had been captured as a child and, because of his size and strength, been trained as a soldier in the elite force of his captor’s kingdom.

His life had been routine and boring for the most part, standing in on important meetings when foreign dignitaries came to visit or staying awake through the tedium of guarding the palace walls during long, uneventful nights.

There wasn’t much camaraderie in the guards’ lowly barracks. Most of them had started their lives here as young, foreign captives and saw nothing much beyond a short and fruitless existence. Occassionally, one would be picked out for special duties and the stories of their new experiences would keep the others entertained for months – if they survived their special mission.

One day, to his surprise Ulric was chosen for a special duty. As he had been growing up on the edges of the courts so too had a princess, slightly younger than himself. Now she was old enough to warrant her own special guards and Ulric was amongst those chosen to spend his days doing nothing more than watching her.

How he watched. How he ached as he watched. His days were filled with the sight of her and his nights were filled with dreams of her.

She hardly noticed him at all. Her interests didn’t range towards any of the rough men who stood silently at the doors or gates protecting her from she-had-no-idea-what threat to her existence.

In her sheltered life she had no knowledge of the outside world or its dangers, any one of which could come crashing into her apartments were it not for Ulric and his like.

She spent her days playing and studying in sunny courtyards. Her companions always ready to laugh at her jokes and join in whatever amusement she could think of for them.

How many of the guards watched her companions and dreamed of them, but never dared to give any more thought to the princess than to know they had to offer their lives in defence of hers?

Ulric continued to harbour his treasonous thoughts, because that is what they surely were. He grew jealous of her playmates and resented the fact that he could do nothing to earn her interest.

He spent many days longing for an intruder to leap over the palace walls just so that he could run him through and earn the praise and gratitude of his beloved. He imagined what she’d say to him and then he’d try to imagine what he would say to her. And that’s where his imaginations sadly failed him. He had nothing to say to her. What small talk had he to offer, what amusing gossip? How would he convey his feelings for her without ending up minus his head? What could he say in his gutteral, foreign accent that wouldn’t betray his lowliness?

As the princess blossomed in her safe and luxurious surroundings, so Ulric withered and grew bitter. The same beautiful palace, experienced from two very different ends of the social strata, grew very different fruit.

Life became worse for Ulric when an ambassador from a far-away land descended on the court , bringing strange and exotic items and creatures.

The princess was enraptured by the small dogs, who were presented to her as a gift, and the colourful silks that were used to adorn her person and her surroundings.

More beautiful she looked in her new attire, more laughter as she played with her new little friends.

Ulric watched those dogs as they were pampered. Cruel jealousy arose in his heart and bit deep as he watched her hold them close and feed them from her table. A table where he would never have been welcome. She threw toys for them that he wouldn’t have been allowed to touch, unless one was thrown accidentally over the high walls.
He spent his days wishing for the opportunity to retrieve one of those toys.

Unfortunately, the girls weren’t very good at throwing and the furthest the toys ever strayed was into the flower-beds or the fountain. His envy for the gardener grew as he, the gardener, was the one to fetch the soggy balls. The gardener was elderly and greatly resented this task. Ulric hated him for this resentment. Why couldn’t this stupid lump of a man be grateful for the opportunity to win the princess’s notice?

Other guardsmen found amusement from the dogs and found them to be a welcome diversion. They had no ideas of using them for the unworthy ends that festered in Ulric’s mind. The day that they had seen two of them copulating, to the great consternation of the princess, was a good day for them. How they’d laughed and even shared the joke with their fellows in the barracks that evening.

Nature took its course with the dogs and a short while later their offspring were tearing up the courtyard with a cuteness that saved them from severe scoldings.

Ulric looked with venomous eyes. His resentment knew no bouds as he watched her fondling the puppies. So many of them and she found time for all of them. And still no time for him. Her days were taken up with the little creatures and as her loving nature displayed itself before him, directed at others in a way that crippled his heart, Ulric started to lose his senses.

Day after day of this torture drove him to a recklessness that he knew would overwhelm him. With a heavy heart he asked to be relieved of his duties and requested a posting on the borders of the kingdom. Far away where he could do no harm.

His request was denied. He had always been reliable and quiet so he stayed where he was. Tortured with his feelings of love for her, envy of the dogs, lack of esteem and a hopelessness that threatened to shrivel him to nothing.

And always driven by that wish that one day, just one day, he could do something to make her even notice him. To touch his hand as a ‘thank you’ for some heroic deed. He watched her kiss those dogs, how sweet she looked. Tenderly, she continued to feed them from her plate. He saw their grateful little faces and it was hammered home even more how much sweeter their life was than his.

He was brooding on this, as usual, on the day that his wish finally came true. There was an attack on the palace. Stealthy assassins gained entry and eluded the outer guards. How did they know exactly where she was ? Someone must have talked. Not Ulric, he hadn’t the brains to think of such a plan, but here he was able to take advantage of this intrusion and save his princess.

He fought bravely and overcame two of them before the third cut him down. The other guards strove manfully and after much bloodshed the threat was averted.

Finally, the princess noticed Ulric. She saw his corpse littering her courtyard and shrieked in horror.

Quickly others removed it from her sight and, after the gore had been cleared up, she was able to play in her couryard again with her furry little treasures.

Ulric found himself in the afterlife before a panel of judges who looked strangely like himself. They pointed out, sadly, how he had wasted and diminished himself with his thoughts of envy and some of the less than savoury things he had imagined doing to the princess. He defended himself, no-one had ever taught him the finer arts of love. He’d imagined what would have made him happy.

The panel sighed. In all his life Ulric had done one noble thing – he’d died protecting the thing he loved. For that they were prepared to grant him a boon. What would he like?
Ulric, with his imagination limited as it had been by the circumstances of his life, could think of only one thing. He wanted o get back to her.

But how? She was still unmarried so he couldn’t be her child and, anyway, he hadn’t earned a boon as great as that.

He certainly hadn’t earned the right to come back as a handsome prince who would court and win her. Besides, she’d be old before he came of age.

Continued...


[edit on 28-6-2010 by berenike]




posted on Jun, 28 2010 @ 03:13 PM
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Continuation:

Suddenly, Ulric knew what he wanted. The perfect solution came to him, a man who had little idea of the value of being human. He asked, with great longing and humbleness if he could come back as one of the princess’s little dogs. There’d be bound to be a litter arriving soon.

The panel, some with compassion, some with barely concealed glee, granted his earnest wish.

So it was that the princess found a devoted, adoring puppy among her favourite dog’s new babies. A little one who followed her around, watched her and puddled with delight the first time she noticed him and stroked his fat, furry little tummy.

How she loved him and how he loved her. They spent their days together and Snoodles (now Ulric’s name) fetched his toy from the flowerbeds whenever it landed there and always managed to nip the grumpy old gardener. How the gardener hated him but never dared to take revenge.

Snoodles spent his puppyhood in sheer unadulterated bliss. He snuggled on her lap, was fed from her plate and was put to bed with a kiss goodnight. All his dreams come true, and he was happy in a way that he could never have achieved as a human.

What he hadn’t accounted for was the fact that little dogs grow up to have feelings and urges not a bit different from those of their human counterparts. And somewhere, deep inside, Ulric was still Ulric.

As he got older he started to get new, exciting sensations from the touch of the princess. All his old love for her returned but this time, he was close to her. This time she touched him, she fed him, she knew of his existence. What she didn’t know was that she was arousing in her little dog feelings that tortured him. He didn’t know what to do with them.

He paced about at night, sleepless and unhappy. He tried to play with her during the day but the feelings rose up and engulfed him. He started to skulk off to be by himself. And watch her from afar, as it had been his habit to do, in that other lifetime.

The princess worried about the change in her favourite and tried to find new ways to amuse him and show her love for him. Showered with even more affection, Snoodles squirmed and ran away.

He went to hide under her bed, the bed she slept in. The bed that, sometimes, as a treat he had been allowed to curl up in. Snuggled besides her warm, sleepy body in a paradise far beyond the imaginings of his former self.

On the floor was a cushion, covered in one of those silks that had arrived with the original little dogs.

Snoodles went to cuddle up to it to comfort himself. It smelt of her. It was soft, like her. It aroused him in a way that only a dog could be aroused by a cushion.

He got as close to it as he could and wriggled a bit in delight. He sniffed some more and then completely lost himself in the bliss that had eluded him throughout two lifetimes.

The maid who found him missed the ecstatic look on his tiny face because the thing that drew her notice was the incriminating evidence he’d left on a rare and beautiful cushion.

She scolded the dog for being the dirty little creature she was sure he’d always been and Snoodles guiltily slunk away.

The incident was brought to the attention of the princess by the outraged maid, but the princess had a more compassionate nature than her servant.

She wasn’t in the slightest bit bothered about the cushion but she was concerned for the frustrations of her poor little dog. Sweet as he was, he wasn’t quite right for breeding purposes. He was a little too big and his nose and tail weren’t quite the right size and shape to pass on to valuable offspring.

She had to find a way to make him more comfortable with his lot in life and took the only action that she thought would be kind for him.

Snoodles woke up to find that he had very little interest in his princess any more. It was probably just as well as he no longer had the means to express that interest.









[edit on 28-6-2010 by berenike]



posted on Jun, 28 2010 @ 04:25 PM
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Loved the story...

You are a natural story teller.
Thank you.



posted on Jun, 28 2010 @ 04:39 PM
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reply to post by berenike
 


Brilliant.
This was a touching and funny story.
It also had a passage that stood out in my mind for expressing a concept with elegance and simplicity:

As the princess blossomed in her safe and luxurious surroundings, so Ulric withered and grew bitter. The same beautiful palace, experienced from two very different ends of the social strata, grew very different fruit.




posted on Jun, 28 2010 @ 05:54 PM
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So Sad. pore Ulric.
good story.



posted on Jul, 1 2010 @ 09:50 AM
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Thanks everybody - your encouragement means a lot.

It's good to know you enjoyed the story.



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