• Dzama


The king always wore his largest fur coat, which was filthy because he wouldn’t let anyone else touch it and it dragged on the floor, even through the mud in the stables. He slept in it. It made him look like a wild animal himself, like a giant wolf, his unkempt hair and beard adding to this appearance. Lately he stayed out of the public eye, allowing his servants to make all the pronouncements for him, in front of the throngs. The king would only venture out into the public to watch a hanging or to order someone to be hung. The rest of the time he paced the halls or spent time throwing raw meat to his dogs.

The court jester took to following him around and cracking jokes, even pretending to fall down or juggle while riding a unicycle, but the king paid little attention. He was at the king’s side when together they discovered a giant frog sitting in the middle of one of the towers’ hallways. The king turned to the jester, who had been doing an imitation of a marionette. “Pick that up. I think the royal dogs will have some fun with that.” The jester stared at the frog, turning his head as though it had been pulled by a string.

“Go ahead, fool. Bring it. We’ll have a laugh.” And the king spun around, heading toward the royal kennels. The jester walked over to the frog, the biggest one he had ever seen, itself the size of a small dog. He put his arms around the bloated creature and lifted it, inhaling its terrible stench. He was partway down the hall when the frog spoke to him. “If you throw me to the hounds I will kill all of them,” it croaked.

The jester stopped and put the frog down. “Hey king! Bad idea!” he called. The king stormed back down the hall and grabbed the frog himself, carrying it down the spiral stone stairs to the royal kennels where about fifteen dogs fought or paced in a fenced-in run. He lifted the frog over the railing and dropped him in. The dogs immediately set up upon the frog and tore him to shreds. The king laughed and turned to the jester. “You see what they did?”

No sooner did he say this but the dogs all began to lose their hair and their skin grow green and mottled. Before long the kennel was full of giant frogs instead of dogs. “This is exactly what I was afraid of!” The jester said, trying feebly to make light of the situation. The king turned and slapped the jester, knocking him off his feet. The frogs grinned, bearing sharp, dogs’ teeth. They hopped out of the enclosure and attacked the king, tearing him limb from limb until the kennel floor was covered with a soup of blood and half-digested human flesh.

From there the frogs hopped throughout the castle, eating everyone. Soon the castle was empty of royalty and servants, knights and guards. Only the jester escaped, running on foot to warn the nearby villagers.

He stepped into the village tavern, disrupting the quiet with the bells and tassels on his green jester-suit. “GIANT FROG-DOGS!” He shouted. “GIANT FROG-DOGS ARE GOING TO ATTACK THIS VILLAGE!!” Everyone in the tavern stared. Then a couple of burly farm-hands grabbed him and threw him out into the street. He was still lying down there in the dirt when the frogs attacked the village. There were no survivors and the frogs went hopping on down the road.

The jester, shaken by all the violence, moved back into the empty castle. He took to wearing the king’s old fur coat and pacing the halls as the king had, the coat dragging in the dust and grime and dried blood. Occasionally, the jester stood on the castle balcony and made nonsensical pronouncements down to an empty square. The rest of the time he rode his unicycle through the empty halls or went on pacing, the fur coat becoming filthier and filthier as it dragged over the remains of the royals who once lived there.

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