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Author Note: I was told by Ava that I need a character synopsis at the end. Spoilers

Richard, King of Ajax, poked at the logs in the massive fireplace in his private parlor.   Queen Elaine relaxed on the settee and continued her conversation with her brother.   Edmund, the Prince of Greystone, whispered into his sister’s ear. She looked at her husband then at her sister-in-law.

Edmund’s wife was no longer the young princess from Hervall. At twenty-five, Matilda’s face and figure had rounded, her skin was clear, and her auburn hair offset her emerald eyes. She made a fine wife for Edmund, and as the eldest child in-line for the throne of Hervall her five year old son, Henry, would be the king of both countries. It was too bad that Matilda had to die.

“Richard, this brandy has aged almost twenty years in my father’s cellar. We need to celebrate your thirtieth birthday. “Dear sister, would you be so kind to retrieve those beautiful crystal glasses?”

The queen walked over to Edmund to have him pour the brandy into all of the glasses. She then handed one each to Richard and Matilda. She raised her glass, “my husband and my king, you mean the world to me. Five years ago I came to your kingdom not knowing what to expect, but you gave me your respect and eventually our daughter, Anne. I love you to death.” They clinked the crystal, producing a middle c note that rang throughout the parlor. Richard drank his quickly and went back to stoke the fire. On the way he stumbled and could not catch his balance falling face down on the stone floor, barely getting his arms out to break his fall. He rolled over onto his back gasping.

Matilda screamed for help, but no guards came through the doors. “I sent them away, when we came in Matilda,” said Elaine with an icy cold voice. “No aid will come for my dear husband.”

“But he is the king. How could his personal guards just leave?” she asked incredulously.

“I kept raising the bribe. They will be long gone to some foreign land before anyone realizes what happened.”

“He is going to die any minute,” Matilda said rushing over to Richard’s side trying to clear his mouth of bile and vomit.

“That is obviously our plan, my dear.” laughed Edmund. “And you will be the one to take the blame.”

Five years earlier

“This is going to be our last day alone. Tomorrow, Elaine comes here to be your bride, and I have to go back with Edmund to be his wife. Why? We have loved each other so much for years. On her death bed last year my mother told me not to worry. Father promised her he would not let me down. I should be the one marrying you tomorrow.”

“It’s all politics, as you know,” he answered. “Elaine and Edmund’s father has built up quite an army and a navy. He has many friends across the Eastern Sea, especially in Tremble. Our fathers have decided they need his alliance.”

“But together couldn’t we stand against him?” she asked knowing Richard’s reply.

“Maybe for a while we could fend off advances, but eventually they would have an edge. And we would lose people. Do you remember the last war with them, eight years ago? I lost my uncles and my brothers. And your mother’s family was almost wiped out.”

She cut him off, “I know. We have to, but I love you so much.”

“Matilda, I am dying inside thinking of you with that oaf, Edmund. And Elaine does not have your heart. She is cold and calculating.”

“But she is beautiful. Blue eyes and that long blond hair.”

“Yea, just something I would want to cut off. You know all my predilections. Remember the first time I cut off your hair.”

“It was four years ago. I was sixteen and wanted to be part of the hunting party, but my father said it was not the place for a young lady. So, I came to you with an idea and a pair of shears.”

“At first I thought you were crazy, but the more I cut off the more…well you know.”

“Aroused you got?”

“Yes. I had a hard time stopping. At first I cut all around and you looked like one of my page boys. But I just kept going and you did not protest. Snip after snip with auburn wisps floating away in the breeze. Towards the end I put the blades right near your scalp cutting away the tiniest shards. By the time I finished you looked like one of the stable boys after a summer shearing from his mother.”

“But it worked. My father knew my commitment and let me attend the hunt. I even brought down an eight point buck.”

“That was some shot.”

“It was, but I also got you. We made love for the first time right here, and I kept my hair short for you over the years.”

He smiled broadly thinking of that day. “That has changed. It is almost to your shoulders now. Is that for Edmund?”

“Most men don’t appreciate my previous style, and my pixies are only for you. He will only have my long red mane.”

“Matilda, I know these marriages will hang heavy in our hearts, but we have to think of our countries. Let’s hope that King of Greystone is a true friend, and our arrangements bring peace. However, we need to watch out for treachery. “

Richard pulled her in close and they kissed. After trying to hold off the rush of emotion, they gave into their passion. He lowered her to the ground and pulled up her skirts. Removing his robe and woolen leggings he laid on top of her. The made love for the last time on the grass in front of the same oak tree, where they had lost their virginity four years earlier.


Edmund knelt over Richard’s body. “My dear brother-in-law, my father has planned the takeover of your realm, starting with your “heart attack.” Now that you have an heir, we can marry her off to one of my allies overseas. I would have thought about marrying her to my son, even though they are cousins.   However, it is quite obvious the boy is yours. He never had my temperament, and he never looked like me. But he sure looks like you.” He glared at Matilda, and pulled her away from Richard.

Edmund now had his back to the king and did not see the knife in Richard’s right hand being driven into his right kidney. Richard removed the blade and got to his knees. He grabbed the fallen Edmund around the head with his left arm. He brought the knife to Edmund’s throat and sliced deeply severing the arteries. Blood spewed from Edmund all over Richard and the cold stone floor.

“Edmund, no!” screamed Elaine.

She lunged at Richard, but he easily subdued her. After a few moments of sobbing for the loss of her brother, she calmed down. She realized her plans were foiled, and she calculated her only option. “Richard, I am so glad you are alive. I did not have anything to do with this.”

“Elaine, I have my spies. I intercepted the note Edmund sent you last month, then I had it resealed so you would not be any the wiser.”

She tried another way, “my father and Edmund made me do this. I love you, Richard. He threatened our daughter.”

“I don’t believe you. I read your other correspondences. You seemed quite intrigued to play the queen regent till Anne came to her majority. That is if your father hadn’t sold her and my country off to the highest bidder. You are treacherous. I have been onto you plans for months. Those guards you bribed have been dealt with, and I have my most loyal retinue just outside the door. They will enter on my signal.”

“What about the poison? How did you survive?”

“You could only have used a couple of different ones, so Matilda inserted the anecdotes when she came to clean my mouth of the vomit.”

Down to her last move, Elaine begged for his mercy. “Richard, you can’t put me in the tower. I am still Anne’s mother.”

Matilda answered for him, “you are correct. The tower would spoil our plans.” She took the knife from Richard’s hand and plunged it under the ribs of a startled Elaine. Matilda drove the knife into her victim’s heart. Elaine slumped to the floor, and Matilda was now covered in her blood.

“Are you ready, Matilda? These next few months will test all of your strength physically and mentally. I will do my best to mitigate some of your duress, but we need to set everything in motion. She came to hug him. Richard and Matilda kissed ignoring their spouses’ blood still on their faces.

Richard whistled and the guards entered the room. “Take Princess Matilda to the tower. Her husband tried to poison me, and she just killed the queen.”

Matilda screamed, “I am innocent.” Her pleas fell on deaf ears as the guards dragged her away.


She was not sure how many days she was in the dungeon, but she knew this was part of the plan. As much as the torturer wanted to apply all of his methods, Richard placed limits. While he could not maim her, the torturer could inflict pain to illicit responses to coconspirators. She said nothing, as she had to play an innocent victim with no knowledge of Edmund’s and Elaine’s plans.

On the third day Richard came to see her in the cell. “I see the doctor attended to your torn flesh. He said it would heal in a few weeks. I have arranged a bath and some decent food. Tomorrow starts your trial. Your barrister has no idea of our plan. He will come to talk with you in an hour. Go along with his plan, as much as possible. And your son, our son, will be safe. He is with your sister for now. When this is over he will come to be with us.”

Matilda spoke, “Our main goal is still to make sure my father was not part of the plan and to see who else may have been involved.”

“We still have many months ahead of us, and you will experience more despair. Just know at the end of it we will be together and our countries will have a better chance at survival. Right now George only knows both of his children died in my parlor. He is demanding answers and your head on a pike. Your father is defending you. Both of them will be here tomorrow for the start of your trial. They can only come to court with small entourages, and they cannot have any soldiers near my border.” He kissed her lightly on the lips and whispered in her ear, “remain brave my love.”

They allowed Matilda to wear her finest dress and jewelry. Her auburn hair had been washed and styled. However, she still ached from her flogging, and sitting in court all day would tax her stamina.   She hoped Richard would be able to uncover the truth in the coming days, and she could just lie in his bed. “All rise,” sounded the master-at-arms as Richard entered the court. As king he presided as judge and jury, and he alone would render any verdict. Normally, his decrees were quite fair to all parties, but this time he was intimately involved in the events. Moreover, he had an agenda. He had to find out all the conspirators in his court.

Over the course of the coming days the prosecutor produced evidence clearly indicting Edmund’s complicity, but never tying anything back to George. He had one of the guards testify that Matilda bribed him to leave the door. Richard had promised to take care of the guard’s family in lieu of his false testimony, but he still had the guard executed for his treason. No evidence came to light to show Matilda’s father had any complicity, but Richard could not tell the King of Hervall of his daughter’s part in his plan. There were still too many loose ends.

Matilda’s defender could only render that she was at the hands of an evil husband, who had designs on killing Richard out of jealousy. He set up his wife because he believed she still loved Richard. Matilda only wanted privacy at Edmund’s request, so she asked the guards to leave. Most importantly, she killed the queen out of self defense. Elaine attacked Matilda believing Richard had been unfaithful her.

After hearing all the evidence Richard retired to his study. He poured a glass of fine red wine and drank it slowly contemplating his strategy. Priorities: save Matilda, keep George from invading by claiming vengeance, and uncover other courtiers’ treason. He reentered the court. “I have made my decision. I believe Edmund acted alone to kill me. He duped Matilda into his plan. However, she did kill the queen.   I saw that with my own eyes. But I believe she was defending her own life, as Elaine rushed at her with the knife in her grief of her brother’s death and her own jealous rage.”

“Although Edmund and Elaine were incorrect about any affair between us, you still killed the queen. Therefore, you will remain in the tower for the rest of your life. Your son will be my ward, and he will be allowed to see you once a month. At those times you will be properly cleaned and dressed. In addition, I had never seen the need of a court jester. I always thought of him as a distraction and offering no value. However, I believe having you attend my court as my jester, will remind everyone of your treachery.”

The crowd murmured and George stood up “she murdered my daughter, your queen. She should die!”

“Her humiliation as a jester will suffice. Again, she killed Elaine in self defense.”

Guards bring Princess Matilda forward. Remove he clothes and have her put on this patchwork cloth. Matilda held her head high, as she donned her new jester’s outfit. “A jester should not have any jewelry,” came a call from the crowd. The guards unclasped her necklace and bracelets. They even unhooked her diamond earrings.

“She should not have such beautiful hair either,” bellowed another spectator. “cut it short.”

The guards put a chair out in the middle of the floor. A barber entered the room with a large pair of shears, a razor, and a soap dish. He unpinned her red braids and brushed out her hair. The barber started cutting her hair by her right ear. He worked around the back to the left ear. Then he snipped at the front creating short bangs.

“Matilda, I decided you will no longer have any hair. Starting today the barber will shave your head bald every morning. I don’t want you to bring any lice from the tower into my court he said with false contempt.” He was getting aroused again watching her lose her flaming mane. Richard directed the barber to speed up the process. He now hacked away at her remaining hair with no mercy. The crowd watched and cooed, until only short red stubble remained on Matilda’s head. The barber then used a brush to lather the soap onto Matilda’s head. Taking his sharp razor, he meticulously removed every last hair from her scalp. He applied some oil and vigorously rubbed it into her head. Her scalp now gleamed in the light.

Matilda was on the verge of tears, but she knew this was part of their plan. She had to endure this humiliation in order to assure the conspirators that Richard had shunned her. At least she could smile inside knowing how much Richard loved to see her with no hair.

Over the next few weeks Richard had the barber shave Matilda in open court in front of all the petitioners of the day. He would declare this punishment as a warning to those who crossed him, even if they came from royal blood. Richard would instruct the barber on every detail of the shave. On one occasion he actually used the blade on her himself. Matilda knew he got that arousal again, and she had to produce fake tears of anguish to disguise the love she felt for him.

Her father returned home after a month with an assurance from Richard she would not be harmed. He sent her son to Richard. Fortunately, Henry had been in Hervall visiting his aunt and not at home in Greystone. Otherwise, George would have kept Henry or possibly killed him, especially if he knew Henry was not Edmund’s true son. Matilda saw Henry in a room off her cell in the tower.  While having him close mitigated some of her loss, she did not take into account how much this part of the plan would hurt her. On the bright side Henry spoke joyfully of the time he spent with Richard and his cousin Annie. The boy was now making a true bond with his real father and sister.

After six months the court regarded Matilda with contempt. She was no longer the Princess of Hervall; she was just a bald headed jester and the butt of everyone’s jokes. The courtiers dismissed her relevance and began to talk freely about their plans right in front of her. Matilda kept mental notes of any suspicious chatter. She learned all the secret passages of the castle and was able to spy on courtiers of interest from behind bedroom walls. If anyone questioned her about her whereabouts, she would say the children were playing “hide and seek” or some other game.

At the end of the summer the Duke of Chalk came to court along with a few of his barons and many minor nobles, freemen, and servants. The King of Tremble also came with his entourage. The Duke’s province on the shore of the Eastern Ocean provided a perfect launch point for Tremble to start an invasion on Richard’s eastern front. With Greystone on his western front Richard worried about being squeezed. He needed to disrupt any alliance before a war broke out.

After Henry left Matilda for his now weekly visit, Richard came to her cell for the first time. She sent him the signal in court that morning that she had significant information to tell him. “Hello, my love.” He rushed over and brought her into his arms. He kissed her deeply with an open mouth. Instinctively, he brought his hand up to her head, and he stroked her scalp.

“Are you happier to finally hold me in your arms or to feel my shaven head?”

“I hate watching you act out your disgrace every day and not being able to rectify the situation. This has taken much longer than I thought. But damn, I sure do like rubbing your head.”

Matilda tried to laugh. “At least we have them now. I heard Chalk talk with Tremble, while I was hiding near the garden. They discussed the message from George. If you go into his apartments in the castle and retrieve it, you can prove Chalk a traitor and a collaborator with the enemy.”

“Let’s say we can get that message, we then need to pull off the coup in both Chalk and Greystone. I can execute Chalk and have his province given to Baron Hex. I trust him to keep Tremble off the lands. But we still have to deal with George. I spoke with your father last month, when I took Henry to visit him. He has an assassin ready to eliminate George. He knows you are a hero.”

Matilda started to cry. Finally she could see the end of this ordeal. “And with George dead, and Edmund and Elaine dead that leaves Henry as the heir of the throne.” She quickened her speech. “Even if we come out and declare Henry as your child, I would be the heir to the Greystone throne through my mother. We can consolidate all the lands into Henry as an heir and prevent any war.”

Richard hugged her harder and pulled into her. “I want you now,” he said.

“Not here, on the grass in front of the oak tree, when the time is right,” she said as she knelt down in front of him. She lowered his hose and took his penis in her mouth. Richard placed both hands on her head and slowly massaged her scalp as his arousal grew larger. She looked up at him. The sight of her with her bald head, huge green eyes, and luscious lips bobbing up and down his cock led to a very quick explosion. “That will have to do for the time being. Now go get those traitorous bastards,” she said wiping the corners of her mouth.

Richard had his guards break down the door that Chalk had barricaded. Chalk tried to burn the letter in his fireplace, but an astute officer pulled it out with only a few singes. The letter told of George’s plan to assassinate Richard through one of Chalk’s men. That would leave Anne as his heir and Grandpa George could easily control her.

Without any fuss Richard had Chalk brought out to the courtyard. In front of all the duke’s barons he put a sword through the guilty man’s gut. As chalk doubled over, one of the officers slit the guilty man’s throat. Richard knew he could not execute Tremble, but he had the king escorted across the country to his ships on the eastern shore in Chalk. Any thoughts of invasion from Tremble would no longer come with any help.

Finally, Matilda’s father had his assassin poison George. Ironically, he used the same poison that Edmund tried on Richard, only this time Matilda was not there to save this king. That king was dead and Greystone no longer posed any threat.

Matilda and Richard married that next spring. She let her hair grow out to a short bob and would not cut it, until after she gave birth to their next child. She was not sure she would ever let Richard shave her bald again, but short pixies would always work for her.


Major Characters in order of appearance

Richard, King of Ajax, hair fetishist

Edmund, Prince of Greystone, Conspirator to kill Richard, Killed by Richard

Elaine, Queen of Ajax, Princess of Greystone, Conspirator to kill Richard, Killed by Matilda

Matilda, Princess of Hervall, married to Edmund, killed Elaine, Queen of Ajax, likes short hair

George, King of Greystone, master conspirator to take over Ajax, killed by assassin from Hervall

King of Hervall, Matilda’s father, had assassin kill George

Henry, Edmund (actually Richard’s) and Matilda’s son, heir to Ajax

Duke of Chalk, Duke of eastern province, conspirator, killed by Richard

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