It was an auspicious day in Camelot, though perhaps all days were auspicious. Yes, it was especially auspicious, the bard even announced it.
“Today is the day!”
Or perhaps it was just dawn, the bard seemed especially efficient at announcing all things relating to King Arthur. It seemed the bard was especially effusive first thing in the morning, perhaps it was a Morning Bard, not the more common Nightscribbler.
Yet if today was the day he best prepare.
As King Arthur broke his fast, to the strumming lute and an ode to jam, the bard’s prediction was proven correct. The fanfare of a returning knight resounded around the courtyard. Then a gong. The fanfare was very beautiful, the gong was very effective. Lancelot had returned from his noble quest. Even the bard hurried away from his post, where he had been praising the yolk of eggs. King Arthur followed in short order, eager to hear Lancelot’s tale.
“What news Lancelot?”
King Arthur’s fettle was especially fine, his smile a radiant thing more dazzling that his burnished armour. Lancelot, his faithful knight would, at last, bring word that the symbol of his rightful governance had been found.
Peasants in this age were easy to impress, they did not need such things as due process or an election. A fabled sword from a watery wench would do.
“Alas Sire, we did not find the Lady, nor the blade of the Britons. I did, however, find one thing.”
A lesser man might have fallen into a tempestuous rage, had someone beheaded or wedded, or divorced. King Arthur could never remember which was worse but they all sounded like serious consequences. The sort of consequence he ought to mete out to a knight who brought him a frog.
“You have fetched me a… frog?”
“Yes Sire, the locals were very insistent there was something -strange- about this frog. Mystical even.”
Perhaps it was just his imagination but the frog looked every bit as impressed about the situation as he felt. Its bulbous eyes blinked in unison but its mouth was a long line of resignation.
“A frog, a magic frog…”
The reedy tenor of the bard roused, followed by an especially impressive lute rift.
“Now Lancelot, heed me well, a frog is not a lady, woman or maid. It’s an amphibian. It bares no sword, nor promises no Kingdom.”
Arthur knew his knight meant no harm, regardless of the whispers he heard at the well. Everything the man did was in earnest, every bone in his body was bent to courtly endeavour. Even now as Lancelot carried the frog away to his chambers the King could only see pure intent. A knight who would cherish small creatures would never cause offence to a King’s heart, especially not one whom he held in warm regard.
One day alit a brightly flame,
Within a heart of armour frame,
Love demanded to make a claim,
Upon whose hand I must refrain.
She was morning, all allure.
Yet roving eyes must demure,
When Kingly love must come before,
Held fast to knightly oaths I swore.
Does my heart now not beat?
Within the ice it must retreat,
Adour’s death, be it fleet.
Or let our trysts become discreet.
It was the third day of the sixth month and in that time the frog had heard every plea, each poetic refrain and one ballad played with accompaniment on the spoons.
“Oh Frog, you’re the only one who understands me.”
No mere mortal could understand the depths of Lancelot’s plight. How bitter sweet the taste of chivalry was each time he had to bury his love deep within. Only a frog, a magical frog could understand. Flinging boiled leather aside he lifted the frog, letting weak candlelight illuminate its speckled skin.
There in those beady eyes, he had so oft beheld Lancelot was sure he spied a glimmer of sentiment. Frog, his most trusted companion, shared his misery. A lesser man might have wept but in that moment Lancelot was seized by some fervour, some mad abandon. Frog had ever loved him. Guinvere might spurn him at every turn but Frog had never turned him away. No, Frog had awaited his return, patiently counselled his ill humour and even now stuck out its webbed feet to embrace his chin as he leant in.
Lancelot’s passion was not dissuaded even as clammy skin pressed to lips. Nor was he dissuaded when fingers grew warm and pressure grew firm. At last he desisted when a shove toppled him away from an agitated figure, unclad and unimpressed.
“My dear Frog!”
Frog it seemed, was not a frog at all. Not even a magical frog.
Once Upon a Time there was a Prince,
Then one day a witch kissed the prince, which came as a surprise to the prince because he wasn’t in the habit of being kissed by witches. It seemed the witch was in the habit of kissing princes, after all they had more teeth than the common folk. If she was going to kiss anyone it might as well be a prince.
The prince was not best pleased by this whole predicament so he cast the witch aside and called her a crone. Witches are very sensitive to the Witch/Crone dichotomy and she took umbrage at once and tried to turn him into a newt. Alas, a frog was the best she could do and before she could try to kiss him again the frog scurried off into the undergrowth.
One day the frog found a gallant knight. Things were looking up for the Prince. Camelot was a vast improvement to a fetid bog. If only he could attract the attention of Merlin, then perhaps something might be done about his situation. Night after night the prince listened to Lancelot’s woes, heard all of his complaints and bided his time. In the end the prince has started to think that perhaps the bog wasn’t -that- bad. It was in such a lull that Lancelot had pressed his lips upon the prince.
So it came to be that the prince was a prince once more.
It took a moment for Lancelot to recover, to heed the naked frame of the man. Gallantly he swept off his cloak and wrapped it around Frog’s form, ignoring the raised arm and wary look.
It was true, Frog -was- a man but now the emotion he felt made sense. It would take a little… adjustment, but Lancelot was sure that Frog would not spurn him. What was it the other knights said? Any hole was a… something, something. Seizing a hand he sunk down upon one knee.
“Dear Frog, I see you have been sent by God! All this time I have waited for love to grace me with its true arrow. Alas, I have been forlorn so long but now you are come! No longer will I be Tristan. You have freed me from my heart bound chains!”
“Unhand me! I’d rather be a frog than have to spend one more minute with you!”
Once Upon a Time there was a knight, the loneliest knight in all of Camelot, for not even a Frog would love him.