Sir Roderick rode across the kingdom. He had memorised the directions given by the old crone at the border and had paid careful attention to her admonitions. Keep out of the woods at night. Never make eye contact with other road users. Boil water before drinking. Blindfold the horse and lead it across the swamp of horrors…
All that he had done and more and now he was in sight of the Tower wherein the Princess was kept captive. It rose from the ground like a defiant finger, casting a long shadow across the plain. Sir Roderick dismounted and made his approach on foot. The sunlight gleamed and glinted on his armour – anyone within the Tower could not fail to see the brave knight draw near.
He reached the base of the edifice. A quick tour revealed there was no door, no means of ingress. The walls were sheer stone. The only aperture was the window just below the turret. Sir Roderick gazed up at it in despair. There was no way he could gain entry to the building and rescue the Princess.
“Are you there, Sir Knight?” a melodious voice called down from above.
Sir Roderick stepped away from the wall and spread his arms. “I am here,” he said. “But it is bootless.”
“Fret not, bold Sir Knight,” said the sweet voice. Squinting against the sun, Sir Roderick caught a flash of golden hair.. “Catch this.”
Sir Roderick was astonished to see a handmade ladder, fashioned from cloth, launch from the window, unfurling until it touched the ground.
“Ascend, brave rescuer,” said the Princess. “But I must ask you to avert your gaze, for I am quite naked. I made the ladder from every stitch of clothing and bedding I possess.”
“Rest assured, good lady, I shall not peek, I swear it!”
With that, Sir Roderick began to scale the wall. The makeshift ladder was strong and even in his full suit of armour, the knight made swift progress.
He half-clambered, half-fell over the windowsill and into the Tower’s only room.
“Don’t turn around!” the soft voice urged him from the shadows. “Remember your oath!”
Sir Roderick, grinning, kept his face averted and awaited instruction.
The old crone stepped from the shadows and slit his throat.
What it is to be a fussy eater, she reflected, as she dragged the knight’s body to the corner with the others! But at least this little scam ensures only prime specimens of manhood end up on the table. The swaggering fools!
It may seem an elaborate trap, she cackled as she sharpened her knife, but at least canned meat lasts longer.