All was quiet in the King's court as the castle guards roughly ushered in the town blacksmith, known to others in the village as Samuel. Before this moment, he had only seen the king from afar, and now his guards were hustling him to His Royal Majesty himself.
"Blacksmith, my tax collector tells me that you have failed to pay your fair share of the Royal taxes. Do you not wish to please your king?" King Alexander said with a haughty tone.
"Your Majesty, of course I wish to please you, but I have no money, and it is known throughout the land that your taxes are by far the highest and some of your subjects feel this policy is quite unfair." Samuel spoke and his voice shook a bit, as he feared the King's reply, and rightfully so.
"Do you wish to see your King impoverished? Do you think that I would place a burden upon my people that is too great to bear? Certainly, you are aware that I am a fair man." The King bellowed.
"You call half of our earnings a fair tax? I think not." Samuel was beginning to get his courage back.
"To show you I AM a fair King, I will NOT cut your tongue cut out for that last remark! I know full well, that you have enough funds to pay your fair share of the Royal Tax. You are just refusing to pay, a crime usually punishable by death. I wish you not to die...I will prove my generosity to you. Simply pay your share of the Royal Tax and I will let you go."
Knowing that the King did not want to see him perish, Samuel persisted in his defiance. "Nothing you can do to me will make me reveal the secret place in which I have hidden my coins. They ARE my coins! I toiled with my own sweat and muscle for them, and you do not deserve half!"
The King was outraged, but he still felt obligated not to have this man beheaded. The King studied Samuel longingly. He was massive-- about six foot two, with dark, wavy hair that just missed being shoulder length. Through Samuel's open shirt, the King could see that Samuel had dark curly hair all over his rugged chest. A beheading, the King thought smiling, might be a bit extreme at that. "I will not harm one hair on your head, but you WILL surrender your purse to me. Guards!!! Take him to the dungeon and have him locked in the stocks." The King had an idea for making dear Samuel reveal the location of his tax money...he would have him mercilessly tickled until he begged to give him all his money.
"Instruct the dungeon master to have this peasant stripped naked while he is in the stocks...also, fix irons upon his wrists and fix his arms in a position above his head, so that he may become weary from the discomfort of not being able to lower them."
Samuel was now getting nervous as six guards led him out of the Royal Court and down into the depths of the dungeon below. When he reached the dungeon, two guards held his hairy arms as the dungeon master removed his clothing and his boots. Samuel struggled, but it was no use against six strong men, bent on following the King's orders.
The dungeon master place Samuel's feet in the stocks and he saw them close down--he locked them in place, and he began to feel a great fear. His wrists were indeed bound in irons, and then the irons were fastened to a large thick rope which hung from the low ceiling of the dungeon. Then the dungeon master withdrew from his sash a thick black cloth which he tied around his head, covering his eyes. All was dark.
At that moment, Samuel became aware of a familiar voice. It was the King!
"Thank you for preparing this man for me, Claudius. I shall interrogate the prisoner personally." The King announced as a flicker of a smile ran across his face. "Leave at once!" The dungeon master obliged and the King walked over to where Samuel was helplessly bound, hand and foot...whereupon his tone became sinister.
"So, you think you're so strong...you cannot be broken...we shall see, my little serf. You shall not be so boisterous upon your departure from this place. You have the King's Oath upon that!
"You know not what discomfort is...but you shall!" And with that, Samuel began to feel what seemed to be a feather caressing the inside of his arm. He giggled a bit, but as the feather continued to trace lower and lower, he knew it was going to reach his armpit. He was shocked. "Is this how the King will try to make me divulge the location of my coin bag?" he thought to himself. Indeed, the King had a very full day planned for the strapping Samuel.
The King's feather was now making small circles in the crux of Samuel's armpit and he was finding it to be most uncomfortable.
"Your Majesty...that tickles! Please stop! Haaaa....Hooo."
To Samuel's horror there was no reply, but the feather continued down his sides, ever so lightly grazing over his nipples and hairy pectorals, tickling more his skin than the ribs themselves.
"Oh Sir, I beg you, you will drive me to madness! Please stop!" He did not. Samuel felt that feather gliding over his nipples ..from underarm to underarm...traveling over his nipples on the way. His skin was crawling...it was most unnerving to Samuel not to be able to pull his arms down...but there was nothing he could do about it.
The King then started to work the feather around Samuel's navel...gliding it over his rippling, but heaving stomach. This was almost more than Samuel could bear! As a strong man, Samuel was not used to being subdued, especially by just one man with a feather!
"Oh PLEASE!!! STOP!! HEEEE HEEE HAAAAA HAAAAA..."
This pleased the King, but he knew full well he had not yet played his trump card. While continuing to tickle Samuel's stomach with the feather, the King began tapping on the stocks. Samuel knew this was a hint of the awful torment to come...and sure enough, it did.
Samuel felt the feather leave his stomach...all he saw was darkness, his blindfold allowed not a ray of light to pierce it, so he certainly could not see what the King was doing. All of the sudden...Samuel felt the feather gliding across the points of his fleshy toes.
This was sheer, unadulterated torture!!! Samuel's feet were by far the most ticklish part of his body...and the King was just starting on his toes!
"NOOOOOO! HEEEE...HAAAAAA....OOOOOOHHHHH! STTTTOOOOOOOPPP!"
This response pleased the King greatly...as he began to run the feather over the hairy tops of poor Samuel's feet...and down the outside edges of both his feet as well.
"OOHHHHH....HAAAA HAAAA HAAAA, NOOOO MOOOOOORE!"
The King was rather enjoying himself at this point, he had no idea that tormenting his subjects in this way could be so enjoyable. He had been saving the best for last and he decided now was the time to employ the grand tactic. The King turned the feather around, so the hard, pointed edge was poised just inches away from the center of Samuel's twitching soles. Furiously, he applied the instrument of torment to his feet. Samuel's body arched and he curled his toes, screaming with laughter at the top of his lungs. The stocks creaked as he desperately tried to pull his feet through the small openings, to no avail. Samuel screamed again and again in helpless gales of laughter.
The King had never heard such a sound in his long life.
"AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! NOOOOOOOO!!!!! HAAAAAAA! HEE HEEE...HAAA! NOOOOOO!!! PLEEEEEEEEEEEASE!!!! STOP! HEE HEEE HAAAAAAAA!"
This was indeed the reaction the King was looking for. The pointed end of the feather kept running up and down poor Samuel's soles for what seemed like days, but was merely four hours.
The King stopped only once--long enough for the poor man to catch his breath. His muscular body collapsed and was still for a moment. His massive chest heaved up and down. His head was pounding. Samuel had never felt so helpless. It was a fate WORSE than death...Samuel indeed believed he would just cease to exist from shortness of breath due to laughing harder than anyone had thus far in history.
When Samuel had endured a total of five hours of feather torment, the King announced it was time for the Royal dinner. HIS dinner, not his prisoner's. Samuel heard the thick wooden door to the dungeon close behind him. He soon fell into a deep sleep as his mind, body and spirit were spent.
Samuel awoke to the harsh reality of what felt like FINGERS running up and down his stomach...he began to laugh even harder than before as the fingers REALLY TICKLED! The feather had tickled his skin...but THIS was a TOTALLY DIFFERENT sensation! MADNESS!
"I decided to ask the dungeon master and some of my men to join me his on this great occasion...where you will finally concede to pay the King's Tax." The King said in a tone that scared poor Samuel."
"I WILL pay, I will pay you NOW your Majesty...my coin bag..." and with that he felt another pair of hands beginning to scratch at his underarms...this was NOT like the feather...MUCH worse!
"OOOOOOHHHHH!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! HEEE HEEEE HEEE"
Samuel thought he had reached his limit with the feather, especially on the soles of his feet, but no, this was not the case. He jerked like he'd been hit by lightning as yet another pair of hands had started digging into his hypersensitive ribcage. Six hands! Oh God, he thought, my life is over. Another pair of hands grabbed Samuel right above the kneecaps and he jerked hard on the stocks, it felt like his ankles separated from his feet, but they did not. He was VERY ticklish above his knees and on his inner thighs, which that tickler soon found out.
"Oh, I wish to join the fun too" Samuel gasped as he tried to draw his breath amid unbelievable bounds of laughter...he realized that the King had spoken...he hadn't even started his tickling yet. Then he knew that he was going to approach his feet, and sure enough he did. Now, the King had nicely manicured nails, befitting a king, and they made devilish instruments of torture. The King stuck hard, fast and with a vengeance in the center of Samuel's soles...he ran his tickling fingers up and down his squirming feet and Samuel now realized that he had a total of ten hands, tickling furiously upon his now weakened body...
"HEEEEEEEE....HAAAAAAA....OOHHHHHHH GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!! NOOOOOOOOOOO MOOOOOOOOOORE! HEEEEE HEEEEEE HEEEEE HAAAAAA!"
This torment continued well past midnight as the King, the dungeon master and three trusted servants tickled the poor blacksmith into oblivion. Eventually, the torment stopped and Samuel began to regain his faculties.
"Samuel, I have decided that you shall be exempt from all of the King's Taxes from this day forward, for your kind service to the court." The King said as he removed his blindfold.
"I don't understand...?" Samuel replied.
"You are so ticklish and handsome, and my men seemed to enjoy this a great deal...so I hereby decree that you shall endure tickling for no less that EIGHT HOURS a day until your years number FORTY."
Upon hearing this, Samuel slipped into unconsciousness.
After all, he was only nineteen.
M/M adaptation by