Once upon a time, an exceedingly long time ago (and in a parallel dimension too, so don’t bother trying to trace these characters, you won’t find them), there lived a beautiful princess.
She was beautiful.
And she was a princess.
All her life, people pandered to her because of her beauty. Her parents granted her her every desire- ponies, castles, playmates, golden shoes, pretty dresses- never once thinking that their actions could affect her in any negative way. But, like in all good fairytales, they did.
She became a spoiled brat.
Her name was whispered across the land by mouths that hid behind hands, travelled over the seas on tiny slips of paper surreptitiously folded in bottles. Soon, everyone in the entire world seemed to know what a detestable person she was. Some, they say, packed their bags and moved as far from her kingdom as they could get. Others- mainly princes, because princes are weird like that- packed their bags and moved as close as they could get.
You see, while the princess was a brat, a bully, a rascal, an imp, a wretch, a whippersnapper, a minx, and a monster, she was also rich and beautiful.
Hence the influx of princes.
Some were turned away at the gate to her lands, others were let through, while still others climbed trees and ladders to evade the guards and seek the princess in their own way. It was like a cloud of tadpoles swimming towards scrumptious tadpole food.
However- because there always is a juicy however in a fairytale- everyone seemed to have forgotten one person- The one person who would change everything, and bring this spoiled princesses’ good fortune to an end.
His name was Count Iniquitous. (For those who didn’t own a thesaurus, Count Iniquitous hung a sign on his gate reading: “Iniquitous |ɪˈnɪkwɪtəs| adjective: grossly unfair and morally wrong.” Count Iniquitous believed this very clever, and often sat in a large room by himself and laughed about it.)
Count Iniquitous fancied himself not a villain (although he is, for the purpose of this being a fairytale), but rather a bringer of justice, a thwarter of evils, and a diffuser of retribution.
He was wrong, but he had no friends to tell him so.
Count Iniquitous was among those who heard tell of the beautiful princess. A small ladybird, laden with the weight of the paper it was carrying, dropped a scroll on his head one afternoon, made a rude sign at him with its legs, and buzzed away. Being an avid reader, Count Iniquitous, of course, read the scroll.
Then he burnt it because he did so hate spoiled brats.
And there was lit the fire of retribution in his soul- he dropped to his knees and, after wincing a little at the sudden shock to his bones, made a vow to himself to rid the Earth of this princess. He vowed to make her so dead that even her own mother wouldn’t recognise her. He vowed to use her heartstrings to string his violin- well, he didn’t actually think that. I added that in for the story. He only thought the first one, but his objective was clear: kill the princess. (Or put her out of action nicely and humanely, because that’s the sort of man he really wanted to be.)
Vow made, soul shivering, Count Iniquitous packed his bags, cast a spell to make himself look like a prince, and set off for the princesses’ castle.
Not far away, and coincidentally wearing the exact same jacket, Prince Virtue was doing exactly the same thing, albeit without the urge to kill roiling in his gut. The only thing in there was an apple, and apparently apples don’t like to roil.
Two men- both with completely different objectives- set off towards the castle that day, one carrying a dagger and the other carrying a rose.
The princess, like all good fairytale princesses, was seeing off the hoards of princes and staring out the window, waiting for the one man who could truly win her heart of stone.