WARNING: some gore
The Prince of Frogs was not always called a prince. He had earned that title by being brave and quick-thinking…This is his
Ernesto the frog lived in a moat. The moat surrounded an immense castle. This majestic castle, somewhere in France long ago, had a heavy wooden drawbridge, a front gate twenty feet tall, and battlements encircling each of its four stories. This castle had four five-hundred-foot towers, each one pointing out the directions of east, west, north and south. Each of the towers had a lookout guard in the top and a flag bearing the royal Cafardo family sigul- that of two red battleaxes crossed on a field of black. The castle was made of pale pink granite and was so huge that at any time of the day, half the moat was in shadow. Because the moat was a defensive one, it was full of alligators. Men approaching the castle for nefarious reasons would find their lives end violently, in the jaws of the deadly alligators.
Once, a man dressed all in black, wearing a long flowing cape and a mask, tried scaling the wall with a grappling hook. He had smartly waited until the alligators were on the opposite side of the castle. He was most likely a thief in search of the sacred vault where priceless religious artifacts were kept. The man in black got his cape tangled in the rope as he attempted to climb the wall. He fell into the moat and as he struggled to free his feet from that darned cape, his splashing had attracted the gators in a hurry. The rest…is history.
“A cape? Really? What people do for fashion can get them killed it would seem.” Ernesto said to the moon.
Once, a handsome but naïve prince from another village came to woo the lovely Princess Connie Cafardo. He didn’t realize that she didn’t like men. In fact, she seemed to hate them. She told him to pole vault over the moat and that she would pull him over the wall.
He hung on to the castle wall for nearly six hours, cruel Princess Connie watching him from her tower the whole time. She watched as if it was a humorous puppet play. At one point she even ate popcorn.
Both these men suffered horrible deaths, they were torn limb from limb, by the scaley beasts of solid muscle and razor-sharp teeth.
It was far and few between men falling into the moat, so the alligators fed on the frogs who had very little shelter. Ernesto and his frog family hid deep in the mud every time a large submarine shaped shadow fell over the water. He could hear the biggest gators grinding their teeth in frustration, as they paddled overhead. There were many clans of frogs living in the moat. Ernesto’s clan consisted of him, his parents, his twenty tadpoles, and his thirteen cousins. Plus, one great aunt and her son who was the black wart in the family, it was rumored that he was half toad. His small clan of 38 were desperate for shelter and tired of hiding in mud and moat weeds for most of every day.
One night an entire army of Vikings stormed the castle by surprise. They came in the dark very slowly, camouflaged as bushes. When they reached the drawbridge, they shed their disguises and tried to make it over the drawbridge before it was raised. The few that did enter the castle yard were butchered by the castle guards. The rest of the hairy, bearded men were confronted by a portcullis that had been dropped just in time. Several men were skewered in half by the wicked iron prongs. They were the lucky ones who died quickly.
Their body parts splashed into the moat and the hungry gators came at once to feed. The rest of the Vikings fell off balance, as the drawbridge was raised. The alligators had a feeding frenzy. As usual, they left not even bones.
By morning the waters had calmed. The gators were full and sunning themselves on the shore. They would be sated for at least a week. Ernesto ventured out with little fear. He discovered that the floor of the moat was littered with Viking helmets and gold and silver
jewelry. Most of the helmets were made of steel. Some had horns, some fur and some covered with leather. Many had ancient rune type symbols engraved in them, made to protect the wearer.
“Haw.” Thought Ernesto sarcastically, “Those silly little symbols worked well, didn’t they?”
He continued around the moat, not in any hurry, and came upon the biggest helmet yet! What a ginormous head this man must have had! The beautiful helmet was made of pure gold. It was engraved with a stunning depiction of peacocks, each one with jewels for feathers. Ernesto suddenly had an idea.
For the entire week that the gators were recuperating, he’d assembled the helmets into a village for his clan. His own new home was the grand golden helmut that could only have belonged to the King of Vikings. The frogs were overjoyed! The gators did not come near the helmets because they had sharp spikes and long horns and antlers. They were just too painful to eat. The enterprising young frog was dubbed Prince Ernesto by his great aunt, the eldest frog, with a tap to each shoulder with a silver thistle kilt pin. The entire frog population had great faith that they would now survive and prosper under the guidance of the Frog Prince Ernesto. They called their new digs Helmut City.
The alligators had a hard time finding any frogs to eat. They were thankful that the boy-prince, who lived in the castle, fed them occasionally. He fed them leftovers from hunting expeditions with his dad, King Cafardo. Sometimes puppies or kittens were tossed in.
The boy prince fished in the moat for the catfish and gobies that also lived there. He sometimes caught frogs too. They were his favorite. He loved to eat their legs fried in fresh butter with herbs and garlic. This was a castle in France after all, and the legs were much
a delicacy and very delicious. Ernesto’s own grandpa, aunt, and uncle had been eaten by the young prince of the castle.
One day the boy prince was fishing from the bridge. He’d caught a couple of catfish already and was just about to call it a day, when his hook snagged on the golden helmut. It was heavy and he struggled to bring it to the surface. Ernesto clung fiercely to his home. He was not ready to give it up so easily. Alas, Ernesto was a mere frog and in the end the boy prevailed.
“Woooooah” the boy said in awe when he beheld the beauty of the Viking helmet.
He turned it in his hands and found our terrified Frog Prince clinging to the inside.
“Double whammy!” exclaimed the boy prince, “Frog legs for dinner!”
“Wait! Wait!” cried Ernesto frantically.
“What do you want, lowly frog who’s about to be my dinner? Part of you anyways. Hardy- har.” said the loathsome boy.
“You have caught the helmet fair and square.” Reasoned the wise Frog Prince, who actually felt that the boy was stealing from him. But he was small, and the boy a cruel giant. “You can have so much more if you let me go.”
“How so?” asked the human prince, with eyes squinted in disbelief.
Ernesto explained to the boy that his clan had accumulated, over many years, very much treasure indeed. Rings of silver and gold, with gemstones every shade of the rainbow. Chains with talismans. Bracelets rich with tiger’s eye and lapis. And so much more.
The greedy boy’s eye’s sparkled as if the diamonds were in his brain. Then Ernesto told him, “I will give you our treasure if you make the alligators leave.”
The foolish young prince agreed right away. He let the Frog Prince go back to the moat to fetch the bounty. While Ernesto adhered to his task, the boy prince called the alligators to a meeting. They came to him immediately, hoping for more hunt scraps, or maybe a kitten or two.
The boy said to them, ”You have lived in this moat all your lives. Maybe a fresh man drops in every couple of years or so. And scraps are only scraps. You must be hungry the rest of the time.”
The gators grunted their frustration, as their bellies rumbled with agreement.
Then he told them, “because you’ve been here all your lives, you do not realize that there is a huge wide river close to here! It’s right on the other side of those woods.” He said as he pointed west. “Many delicious animals come to that river to drink. Deer! Bobcats! Wild turkeys! Even bunnies, and they are much tastier than kittens!”
The alligators roared with excitement! They were eager to taste all this food awaiting them. They made their exodus to the river on the other side of the woods immediately.
When Ernesto saw that there were no gators left, he brought up the frog’s great treasure. This treasure, that had been useless to the frogs, had suddenly found great value indeed. To the boy prince it meant the world. The boy prince had stuffed some parchment and fur into the golden helmut so it would fit his little head. He wore it when he came to collect his riches. He wore it, in fact, all the time.
Ernesto figured he probably wore it to bed as well.
Ernesto moved in with his sister and her 8 tadpoles, since he’d given up his house. It was a little cramped, but he didn’t mind. He had lived up to his title of Frog Prince. Once again, his clan rallied around him crying, ”Yay Prince Ernesto! Hee-ray hee-ray!”
One day, a fleet of Vikings came. The leader was the son of the Viking king who had come years before. They had heard that the castle no longer had alligators in their moat. And they came prepared. They grappled over the moat with three pronged hooks that caught the top of the wall. They stormed over the moat on boats equipped with ladders and climbed up to the front gate. They flew fired arrows over the tops of the walls. The avenging Vikings were far too many, and the king’s guards too few. Without the fear of alligators, the relentless Vikings kept attacking.
The frogs and fish of the moat stared up to the surface with wondering eyes. Humans were so angry and destructive! “Why can’t they just get along?!”
Body parts fell like bloody rain into the moat. The moat inhabitants saw that they were mostly those of the royal guards, and hardly any Vikings. The massacre slowed to a stop by sunset. As Ernesto swam around the castle, he heard many Viking voices, they were singing and drinking and feasting. The Frog Prince swam past a great many human bodies, shields, axes, arms, legs, and even gauntlets still clutching swords. As he swam around a large section of castle wall, he came upon the face of his enemy! He cried out in alarm! Then he realized it was just the prince boy’s head, the golden helmet still stuck to it.
Ernesto called to the gobies and catfish to come help him, which they readily did as they were as grateful to him as his frog family, for getting rid of the alligators. Within an hour the fish had eaten the eyes, tongue and brains of the head in the helmet. It seemed that now, not only did he have his golden dome, but he now had two round windows over a front entrance lined with pearly whites.