King Thrushbeard

Fairy Tales with a Twist

"You will pick one!"


"Yes, you will!"

"No, I won't."

The old king took a deep breath and stared at his son, "Justin you must choose, you are nineteen!" the king bellowed. "I was married with a child at your age!"

"Why must I marry?" Justin asked as he flopped onto an overstuffed couch.

"It is your duty, you're my only heir. My kingdom will be yours when I'm gone."

"I don't want to marry," Justin all but whined.

"Justin," his father's voice softened, "you must have a partner. That is the way of the world."

"But you... you know... I don't... women..." Justin mumbled.

"Yes, of course I know, that is why at the presentation tonight you'll have your choice of the finest of both sexes."

"Really?" Justin asked, suddenly he was more interested in the evenings events.

"Yes, I may be old fashioned my boy, but there is precedence for a consort of the same sex."


Justin stood on the raised dais with his father watching as those hoping to bind themselves to the young prince entered the keep's great hall.

With a nod from his sovereign, Chamberlain Emmett rapped his wooden staff on the marble floor causing the entire audience to quiet, all but the rowdy court jester, Michael.

"Michael! You will be silent!" The Chamberlain roared.  Michael quickly ended his dance and slinked away. "Now," Emmett began, "those here to seeking the hand of Prince Justin will step forward."

Several dozen people, both male and female, stepped out from the crowd.

The old king motioned his arm towards the stairs before him, encouraging Justin to go meet his suitors. Justin sauntered down, and stood before the first of his would be mates. He studied the man before him in detail without saying a word; when finished, he moved to the next, repeating the same pattern with each person. Finally he arrived at the last of his would be suitors; he spun around on his heels and took in the whole lot of them. Marching down the line of them he pointed to each as he announced his verdict, "Fat, smelly, too tall, too short, breasts, drunkard, too poor, cross-eyed," he continued until he arrived at the first man he had inspected moments earlier. "And you, you sir, your chin, by the gods, your chin is bent in every which way but that in which it is supposed to go!"

All the suitors left, some in tears, a few chuckling. Only the crooked chinned man remained.

The king and his Chamberlain made their way down the steps and stood in front of Justin. The king sighed and looked to his son, "very well, you leave me but one choice. The next person who comes to our door, be they beggar, saint, or king, will have you in marriage."

Justin chuckled at his father, not believing a word the king had said. Other than Emmett, the only other person to have overheard the conversation was the crooked faced man.


The next morning while the king was looking over the yearly financial reports, the doors to the great hall flew open with a clatter. A tall man wrapped in a dirty brown cloak strode forth, not even bothering with the courtesy of pulling off the hood which obscured his face.

Emmett strode forth to intercept the intruder. "What business do you have interrupting his majesty?"

"I'm an apothecary; I came to offer his majesty herbs and potions."

"As if the king of all..."

"Silence Chamberlain, you are dismissed," the king said as he stood and watched the visibly confused man leave the great hall. The king approached the newcomer, "you came here offering me these goods?"

"Yes, sire."

"What would you say if I offered you something instead?"

"I'd be honored," the cloaked man bowed slightly and held his arms to the side.

"Very well, I made a decision last eve. Whoever came to my door first would have my son. He is yours."

The man wasn't sure what the appropriate response to the gift should be, "As you wish, sire."

"Justin!" the king hollered.

The blond gingerly approached as he eyed the filthy man standing before his father, "Yes sir?"

"This man," the king said, "do you know him?"

"No, sir. Should I?"

"I would think you would, he is your husband."

Justin's mouth dropped open.

"Your name sir?" The king asked as he looked to the Apothecary.



Brian and Justin had been wed and sent on their way with little fanfare. Justin couldn't believe that his father had truly washed his hands of him.

Justin sat next to Brian on the bench of a rickety horse drawn cart, admiring the scenery as it passed them by. "The fields, the mountains, everything is so beautiful," Justin said.

"Yes, the king likes them very much." Brian said noncommittally.

"I've never been to this land before, I don't know who rules."

"A very kind man, wise, but lonely." Brian said.

"You know him?" Justin asked in surprise.

"Oh yes, very well as a matter of fact. You know him too."

"I do?"

"Yes, as I understand it he was a suitor that you turned down last eve."

"Ah," Justin said in confusion.

"You're wondering who it was, aren't you boy?"

Justin ignored the indignity of the term 'boy', he really did want to know which of the men he turned down the previous night ruled over these glorious lands. "Yes, I'm curious."

"The man with the crooked chin rules these parts. You made such a fuss over his poor chin that I heard people in your father's town call the man King Thrushbeard."

Justin remained silent, absorbing the information. The man he'd turned down, his chin was crooked, it did look like a thrush's beak, so perhaps the name was appropriate after all.


"My home," Brian said as he pointed to a disheveled dwelling, partially built into a hillside.

Justin made an audible gulp, not believing that mere hours ago he was a prince, with all the luxuries entitled to such an office. Now, now he'd be living like a commoner.

"I'm cold and hungry," Justin said as the two of them entered the shabby dwelling.

"There is a fire stove there," Brian said pointing to the corner of the room. "As for food, prepare whatever you'd like."

"Prepare whatev... no, wait, you don't understand, I don't cook."

Brian looked at the blond and contemplated this for a moment, "Well, you're going to get mighty hungry then. There are no fancy servants here, boy."

Justin stared at the fire stove, not sure what to do. He tapped it gently with his foot, hoping that would magically start the roaring fire, it didn't. Brian watched in silence and chuckled to himself.

"Here, like this!" Brian assembled some kindling and began to coax a spark from a piece of flint. Within moments the kindling had caught and a small fire was going. "Now, feed the fire wood when it needs it, and prepare dinner. I need to rest."

Before Justin could object, Brian disappeared into the depths of the home.


"Grrrrr," Brian groaned, stretching his arms as he came into the hovel's main room.

"Are you hungry?" Justin asked.


Good, sit, I'll get you some dinner."

Brian was surprised by the blond's apparent new attitude but he wasn't about to argue. He sat at the table and waited.

"Here you are," Justin said as he placed a steaming bowl before the taller man.

Brian picked up a spoon and splashed it through the bowl's contents. "What is this?"

"Onion soup!" Justin said cheerily, pleased with his accomplishment.

Brian took a taste, "What's in it?"

"Onions and water."

"Onions and water?"
Brian asked in disbelief.

"Yes, is it good?"

Brian growled and tossed his spoon to the table. He noticed for the first time since awakening that it was cold. He glanced to the fire and saw that it was out. "Oh," he groaned. "This isn't going to work."


The next morning came quickly for the young prince.

"Today," Brian said as he pulled back the curtains, allowing sunlight to poor into the small makeshift bedroom he'd arranged the previous night for the man. "We discover what your talent is."

Justin groaned and tried to pull a blanker over himself, but to no avail.




Yes, chop. Chop the wood, like so." Brian picked up the axe, placed a large log on top of another, swung the axe up and brought it down, splitting the top log in two.

"I can't do that!" Justin nearly shouted.

"Why not?"

That," Justin said as he motioned towards the axe, "is a servant's job."

"Maybe, but the wood must be split if you want to stay warm. You get started; I'll leave you to it and check back in later."

Several hours passed before Brian returned. He rounded the corner of the house to see Justin leaned against the pile of wood, eyes closed, and snoring loudly.

"What the devil!" Brian shouted.

Justin startled and awoke, "Wha... uh?"

Brian picked up the axe of the ground, marveling at the fact that it was now in several pieces. "You broke the axe?"

"Yes, I don't think this wood chopping agrees with me."

Brian fumed but did his best to hold his temper in check.




"You will scrub these floors until they are clean enough to eat from!"

Justin pursed his lips and looked at the floor; he doubted there were any real floors under the dirt and mud that had accumulated. "Maybe we should keep looking, I'm sure I'll find something that agrees with me."

"Look here boy, you will scrub these floors. No more arguing." With that, Brian handed a wire brush to Justin.

Justin took the brush and began to work it back and forth over the floor. Brian watched for several minutes, satisfied that the blond might be able to do this.


Brian returned home just as the sun began to set. He stomped into the living area and saw Justin leaned against a table leg asleep.

"Justin!" Brian said as he nudged the smaller man with his boot.

Justin yawned and opened his eyes, staring up at the very angry looking man before him. He held out his hands, palms facing Brian, "blisters."



Brian shook his head not knowing what else to do, "You'll have one more chance tomorrow, Justin."


"The pub?"

Yes, you'll work at the pub."

"I don't think that is a good idea," Justin said as he bit his lower lip.

"Oh, you don't do you?" Brian asked.

"No, maybe we should find something else for me to do."

"Maybe... let's see... you don't cook, you don't clean, you don't chop wood, and you don't make fire." Brian paused and looked at Justin, "What do you do?"

"Oh, well, I enjoy riding, and painting, and lounging."

"Lounging? You mean sleeping?"

"Well, yes."

"Uh huh, well, tomorrow you'll start work at the pub or the brothel, your choice."

Justin was shocked at the idea, but he wasn't about to tempt fate again, "the pub it is."


The next morning Justin went to the pub and met the friendly proprietor, Debbie. He was assigned his job and began an earnest attempt at his duties.

As he was carrying a tray of ales towards a table, a foot stuck out and tripped him; he landed amongst the ales, soaking himself in the process. He stood; ready to order the person's punishment, when he realized his situation.

His father had sent him away, had given him away. His new, partner, master, husband, Justin couldn't help but chuckle; he didn't know what to call Brian, the man seemed as though he could barely tolerate him, he hadn't approached him sexually at all. He'd had it all and never appreciated it, and now, he'd give anything just for one or two luxuries... like hot water, or hot meals.

He tried to stand but couldn't. The laughter and emotion of his situation wouldn't allow it. Finally he pulled himself under control and stood, he smiled at the man who had tripped him and gave him a pat on the back.

He'd make the best of the situation; life is too short to do otherwise.


Brian noticed the change in Justin too. He couldn't help but be amazed at the total 180 degree change that Justin had made as the months progressed. He might not always be able to get the fire started, or get the wood chopped quickly, but he was persistent and dedicated himself until the job was done.

Brian finally decided that it was time to be honest and let Justin in on the secret that he had been keeping.


Justin arrived at Brian's home after his day at the pub, and was surprised to see the other man was already home. He was never sure where the man went during the day, but he was seldom home until late in the evening.


"How've you been today?" Brian asked as he placed the roasted pheasant on the table.

Justin looked at the bird and began salivating; it had been ages since he had seen anything so good. "Fine Brian, you?"

Good, I thought we'd celebrate."

"Celebrate?" Justin asked.

"Yes, celebrate," Brian said as he looked at the blond and smiled. "I've been keeping something from you."

"You have? What? Why?"

"I'm not exactly who you think I am." Brian confessed.

Justin laughed, though they hadn't been intimate he felt that they had grown close as friends, and he genuinely hoped that they would move to the next level some time. "No? And who are you?" Justin asked as he took his seat.

"I'm king Thrushbeard." Brian whispered.

Justin burst out laughing, "Good one Brian, but I'm hungry."

"No, Justin, I am the king."

"Uh huh," Justin laughed as he tore a piece of flesh from the pheasant.

Brian took the smaller man's hands in his own, "I'm serious."

Justin looked into the man's eyes and could tell that he was being truthful. "Wha... Why didn't you tell me?"

Brian chuckled. "After the way you treated me the first time we met?"

"But why did you disguise yourself?" Justin asked.

"If you chose me, I wanted you to chose me, not my looks, or my kingdom." Brian confessed.

"But... how..."

Brian laughed, "I overheard your father threaten to give you to the next person that came to his door, so..."

"You made sure you were the next person."

Brian nodded.

"But, Brian, why didn't you tell me, and why do we live in this house?"

"You needed some humility, to discover what was truly important in life." Brian said.

Justin couldn't argue that point. "You're right."

Brian reached out and hugged the blond. He whispered, "Don't worry, we'll move into the castle tomorrow."

Justin could only laugh, though he realized that it didn't matter where he lived, as long as he was with Brian.

And they fucked happily ever after...

The End.

Return to Fairytale