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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2086202
Reminiscent of The Emperor's New Clothes a lord is tricked into getting a special painting
**WINNER** of the June 3, 2016 "Invalid Item with the prompt of a drawing of two paintings, one obviously a regal man of centuries ago standing with his short sword and the other painting was a very abstract one, possibly of a person.

Of Lord and Abstract Painting--1000 Words

"Come on. It'll be fine. It worked last time."

"Barely!"

"So we've learned some things from the experience...it will work. I promise."

"I don't like this. And why do I have to be the artist? You're the one who can draw."

"Precisely, Allister. I can draw. Thus, I could never do this. They would immediately see right through me. But you, young Allister, without a lick of talent, only you can pull this off."

"What if we get caught? We'll be hanged from the nearest tree, if we're lucky."

"We won't get caught. I've made sure of it this time. Just be sure that you don't actually try to draw this one. Abstract--completely, utterly abstract. If it looks like a poorly drawn example of him, it won't work. Purely, 100% abstract. Okay?

"Yes, Johnathan. But it's not going to work. I feel sick."

"It will--oh, hello, my lord."

"I'm told you have some special talent and special canvas."

"No, tis not I with the talent, nor the canvas. I only act as the go-between, the emissary, if you will, for the greatest artist the world will ever know. You've heard of the Duke of Arteese?"

"Well, no."

"Ah, well, he's painted the likeness of the Duke. Likeness the world will never again see. You're acquainted with Princess Charity?"

"I don't believe I've had the pleasure of making her acquaintance."

"Well, and you perhaps you never will, very secluded young lady, she is. But he's painted a likeness of her that made the Heavens weep."

"Master of your craft, it's a great honor--"

"No! He never speaks! The artist, as all great artists, has taken a vow of silence, my lord."

"Oh."

"Oh, yes, indeed. But allow me to introduce you to Al--fred, The Great Alfred. But please, don't try to engage him in conversation. It makes him queasy."

"Oh, my. Well, but he's a great artist?"

"No, my good lord, he is the greatest artist!"

"And he'll be able to paint me, looking handsome and adventuresome? I'm looking to send a gift to a young lady, Christine, with whom I'd like to engage. I'm not looking for something too, ahem, lifelike if you get my meaning, but something to make her heart be overcome...and her family's lands soon after."

"My dear lord, upon receiving this, she will endeavor to give you not only her family's land but every bit of land she's ever stepped foot upon. But, my lord, she is pure of heart?"

"The purist!"

"Good. Then soon you will own everything her eyes have ever crossed, my lord"

"What matter is her purity to you?"

"Well, you see, my wise lord, only those pure of heart, without deceit can truly see the beauty of The Great Alfred's creations. To everyone else, they are rotted fruit mashed against canvas. That is why I spend an hour each morning and each evening in contemplation and prayer, so that I may see the true glory of dear Alfred's work."

"Oh. It's that serious?"

"Indeed and more, good sir. But fear not. I can see that your love for this woman is of nothing but the nobleist feather. After all, you sent word that you wanted to pay for naught but The Great Alfred's best work, nothing short."

"I did? Indeed not. In fact, it was you who sent for me."

My dear lord, I was to keep this a private matter, but the woman whom you wish to bewitch, her father sent us to seek you. He said her heart is of the hardest stone. Her heart is like granite, nay, harder than granite...her heart is like...well, anyway, it's hard. But her father knows you have the means to pay for The Great Alfred's services as only this will win her over. You see, her father has no one else to leave his lands to..."

"What about his son, William?"

"Um, yes, well, William has become a bit of a drunkard."

"He has? I thought he'd taken a vow of chastity."

"Oh, he has, my lord, but you know, what with no women in his chambers, he's taken to the grapes as comfort."

"I see."

"Yes, as I mentioned, and this is of the greatest secrecy, you were chosen to be the recipient of all her lands, in exchange. You simply have to send a portrait of yourself painted by none other than The Great Alfred. Between him and his special canvas, which allows only the purist of hearts to view it, she will have no choice but to run to you."

"Run to me?"

"With fists full of gold, of course."

"Fists full of gold?"

"How else could she ensure you'd accept her, after all? Now, for the small matter of payment, it will be six gold coins."

"Six gold coins?!"

"I know, dear lord, you can hardly believe the price, but we won't accept a single pence more!"

"But six gold coins!"

"Okay, you're right. It's not fair. But not a gilder more than seven! After all, between her lands, her gold, and her thighs, you'll never miss a coin."

"Alright! If you're sure!"

"I'm as sure of The Great Alfred's talent as I am of your love for your Christine. But know this, my lord, if one's heart is not pure, the canvas will become as abstract as one's intentions, and as ugly as them too. Now, let me ensure The Great Alfred is ready to begin...Now, Allister, as we discussed, abstract."

"I can't do this."

"It's already done. Just paint."

******

"Dear lord, you see, a crowd is gathering as he's done...a small crowd which I have already paid."

"Exquisite!"

"Breathtaking!"

"My lord, you see, you are surrounded by admirers."

"Let me see. I want to see...it's...it's..."

"Yes, it is. Unlike anything you've ever seen. It brings tears to my eyes. I'm grateful I did my penance at lunch. Your welcome, my lord, your welcome. And now, The Great Alfred and I must go."


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