My entry for this month...cutting it pretty close. This time, I thought I could focus on getting my image count down. It's still over 50 pictures, but I think that's progress! But...looks like the length is still around the same orz.
Once upon a time, there was a girl and a princess who became the best of friends. They were inseparable, like long-lost sisters that fate had finally brought together. The girl introduced the princess to all of her friends and they played in the fields underneath blue skies and warm, golden light. The princess brought the girl to her castle, where the scholars taught them how to read and write and why dragons didn't like pickles. Every day was fun and rose-colored, an endless dream that tickled their hearts.
But then, calamity struck. An envious witch cursed the princess, sealing away her smile and laughter. The devastated king forbid the princess from leaving the castle and kept her under constant guard within its stone walls. Magicians, sages, heroes, and doctors were brought to the castle, but none could find a way to restore the princess's smile. Refusing to give up, the king offered any one wish within his power to grant should anyone be able to make his daughter smile and laugh again.
And so, the royal Joke competition came into being, drawing in thousands of comedians across the kingdom in hopes of one day breaking the witch's curse.
The contest still continues to this day.
"Did you ever hear about the Red Indian chief, Running Water? He-"
"What is a Red Indian chief?"
"Eh...? Uh...it's the leader of a Native American tribe..."
"...I see. I'm sorry for my interruption. Please continue."
"Oh...no...it's of no consequence, your Highness. Well...so the Red Indian chief...uhm...He had two sons...one was called 'Hot' and the other called 'Cold'..."
"I see. The Red Indian chief is aptly named. I'm sure being involved in such a terrible joke has left him a weeping, broken man."
"...Eh...huh!? It wasn't that ba-"
"Uwah...they don't hold back with that do they?"
"Well of course. It is called the Hand of Punishment. If your joke fails, then you get hit with something that could knock out an elephant! According to the rules, you can continue saying jokes as long as you're standing, but the Hand of Punishment's never left anyone on their feet."
"What did the lawyer name her daughter?"
"Yeah, how'd you kno-"
"...I can see why."
"Speaking of which, you look pretty serious about this. A suit of armor, huh? I don't know how it'll stand up to the Hand of Punishment but it's good effort..."
"Oh, no. I received this from my teacher. It's kind of like a uniform."
"Really? And here I thought you were a suitor. You look like you could be a knight."
"A suitor? No, no, no. I'm a girl after all."
"You'd be surprised. The princess is pretty popular with girls too."
"Eh...? Who would be the king then?"
"The world's moving on, you know? There's talk about a new system called democracy, where everyone gets to elect officials and vote on issues concerning the state. Pretty soon, we won't have a king."
"Oh, that's a good one. You should use that in the contest."
"No way! The princess is too sophisticated for absurdist humor!"
"If the next contestant would please come forward-"
"Princess! It is an honor to be at your feet. Today, I have a joke that I have crafted carefully and lovingly for over twenty years! It is guaranteed to make you laugh until you turn blue! So, your Highness, once I have broken that accursed witch's spell on you, I have only one humble request: please become mine!"
"Duly noted. Now, if you would please start."
"Wow...even Snowmen want to marry the princess."
"Like I said, you'd be surprised. It's not like there are any other princesses around this entire kingdom."
(thought) You've really grown, Inori.
"Very well! This is my joke! Prepare to explode into stitches!"
"Actually, I'm not just an ordinary snowman. I'm a snowMAN!"
"Disgusting. Please die."
"...I think the Hand was too lenient that time."
"He had guts, I'll give him that."
"Guts for thinking that someone like him could marry a princess..."
"Well...I mean, there's always a chance..."
"Huh? What are you talking abou-"
"Looks like someone else here is a dreamer too."
"I-I don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh, you're so cute, you little lovesick puppy!"
"I-It's not like that, ok!? I mean...since this contest is open to anyone, I thought I'd give it a try but normally I wouldn't even think about it cause she's the princess you know? I mean, there's no way the princess would go for a guy like me, I mean...it's just wishful thinking, I'm doing this on a whim, it's not like I have real expectations...I want to dig a hole and die now..."
"Haha, ok, ok. Well, I'll just let you know, I'm rooting for you."
"Thanks, but save the jokes for the stand. I know you have your own wish too."
"Well, I never said I'd root for you to win. Who knows, maybe destiny has some unexpected plans for you two."
"E-Enough about me! What about you? What's your wish?"
"...Me? ...It's nothing special."
"What is it? And don't try to back out on me, I spilled my guts to you (sort of)!"
"...My best friend and I got separated three years ago. We always had fun together...it was almost like we were sisters. Sometimes we got angry at each other and sometimes we couldn't stop laughing together. But it didn't matter how things were. I just didn't want anything to change.
But when it did, there was nothing I could do."
"I knew that there was nothing I could do. Circumstances forced her into solitude. Even if I did something, it would only make things worse."
"But I couldn't accept that. There was no way I could accept that...
So...I made her a promise. I promised that we'd meet again. I promised that when that happened, I'd make up for all the time that'd pass. I'd take her away and show her everything she missed out on, never leaving her side ever again. Next time, I would always protect her, no matter what.
I want the princess to help me fulfill that promise."
"D-Damn it! You make me want to surrender! Y-You're unfair!"
"No...that wasn't my intention..."
"As an airplane is about to crash, a female passenger jumps up frantically and announces, "If I'm going to die, I want to die feeling like a woman.""
"She removes all her clothing and asks, "Is there someone on this plane who is man enough to make me feel like a woman?""
"A man stands up, removes his shirt and says, "Here, iron this!""
"Too sexist. Next."
"My mother-in-law fell down a wishing well. I was amazed; I never knew they worked."
"You should be ashamed. Next."
"Slept like a log last night........ Woke up in the fireplace."
"...I've done that once."
"Why did the boy drop his ice cream? Because he was hit by a-"
"Oh, I like the boy in this story."
"...a...a rabbit... A fluffy white rabbit."
"Ahaha, you pansy."
"Now, if the next contestant would please come up..."
"Oh, it's your turn! Break a leg! Err, not literally, I mean, I guess it'll break if you fail, but-"
"I get it. Thanks."
"Before you begin, please tell us what wish you would like to have granted."
"...I guess you don't remember me, do you Inori?"
"Contestant. Your wish?"
"My wish is to have the princess do me one favor."
(thought) ...That's the same thing, you retarded trash. "Very well. Please begin."
(thought) ...You might have forgotten me. And that's natural. It's been three years. But I haven't. I've never forgotten my promise, Inori. And I haven't forgotten you.
(thought) No one else knew, but I do. Your favorite jokes were dry humor. That's why...
"This is my joke."
"HAHAHA, THE DUCK WANTS GRAPES! Why would a duck want grapes!? HAHA!!"
(thought) No...that's not...oh boy.
"That was quite funny."
(thought) No...it wasn't enough?
"I also thought it was quite funny. But, I'm sorry. Rules are rules."
"No way...Sena got whacked!? But...that was pure gold!"
"Evidently not good enough. Now, if the next contestant would please-"
"Wait...I'm not done..."
"Sena...how are you still standing?"
(thought) Heh...those three years weren't wasted after all.
"Wah...what a stubborn low-class girl."
"Shut up and listen to my next joke! Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other si-"
"Excuse me, how many grandkids do you have to even think that's a joke?"
"...A rabbi, a priest, and a minister walk into a bar. The bartender looks at them-"
"A baby seal walks into a clu-"
"How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision-"
"Sena...that's enough, Sena! You've done enough!"
(thought) My legs are like jelly. My vision is blurring. I can't believe I'm thinking straight...
It hurts. Everything hurts. Why am I not dead? I should be dead by now...
I'm out of jokes.
"If you would please present your next joke."
(thought) A joke...I need a joke. I can still stand, but I don't have anything to say...
(thought) This is fine, isn't it? You promised her...but it was three years ago. It's not like she remembers you. Even if you do get her to laugh, then what? She's a princess. She's heir to the throne. You think you can justify taking her away? You think you can just do whatever you want with royalty?
"Your next joke, please."
(thought) Shut up. I know. I know! What am I thinking? It doesn't matter if she's a princess! It doesn't matter if she doesn't remember me! I'm her friend!
"I can't...I can't just stop here...even if it's just one more..."
(thought) Even if it's just one more! Anything! Just one more!
"...Listen to me. This is my last joke
...So listen well"
*Clap clap clap clap*
"Seriously...what the hell? I can't even feel resentful if you look so happy, you lovesick puppy..."
"But man...it's really frustrating losing after everything I said..."
"...What's with that face?"
"Stupid Sena...you lost."
"That's because you wouldn't laugh, you stupid princess!"
"Well, maybe if your jokes were funnier-"
"Oh my god, I'm going to go crazy! I can't believe I came all the way back here for you!"
"Me either. You spent three years training just to faint in the end."
"You know what, forget my promise! I'm never talking to you again! Stupid Inori! Jerk! Dummy!"
"Retard! Monkeyface! Pink-hair!"
"...That's not getting you off the hook. You know, I'm the one that encouraged your fiancee when he was down! If it wasn't for me, that witch's curse would still be on you."
"Ok, ok. I get it. I'm sorry for making fun of you Sena."
"...That's not good enough."
"Eh...What do you want from me?"
Well, you know I was knocked out during the rest of the competition. I didn't get to hear your fiancee's joke so..."
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