The Haunted Castle of the Lost Count

Chipkins the Boy King rides alone all night,

through the wild and grim Mountains of Roskill.

The rain grows heavier and the night thicker,

but just as hope begins to fade

a towering castle looms out of the mist.

Chipkins bangs on the door.

“Ho there, kinsman! Your King requires shelter!”

The door creaks open slowly,

And a shadowed apparition stands in the flicker of candlelight.

“I am the Lost Count of Roskill,”

Intones the eldritch figure, bowing low,

“Welcome, My King, my domain is at your service.”

Just then, a bloodcurdling howl comes from the woods.

“Good grief,” shivers King Chipkins, staring into the dark,

“That sounds like a pack of slavering trust funds on the prowl.”

“I’m afraid I hear only the breeze,” answers the Lost Count,

Taking King Chipkins soggy furs.

“This way to the Guest Quarters.”

They pass by the steps to the basement.

An enormous crashing and screeching floats up

From beneath the ancient floorboards.

“Good grief,” blurts King Chipkins,

“That sounds like a monstrous package of Auckland International Airport shares, trying to escape.”

“Merely the creaking of these old walls,” winks the Lost Count.

“This way to the stairs, My King.”

A hundred and forty four steps later, they come to the attic.

But before the Chipkins can relax in front of the cheery fire,

a mad cackling echoes from behind the closet door,

sending a chill up the Boy King’s spine.

“That sounds like a horde of National Australia Bank,

Chorus and Spark skeletons in the closet!” he exclaims in horror.

“I must have missed that,” muses his preternatural host,

“But just to be on the safe side, perhaps best not to open anything.”

Yet the headstrong King, filled with the bravado of foolish youth,

Strides to the closet door and flings it open.

An avalanche of papers, deeds, accounts, gold doubloons,

Wads of used chewing gum, stamp albums and a model train set,

Pour out and bury the hapless Chipkins.

“Zounds, man,” groans the crushed King from the floor,

“What have you done?”

The Lost Count looks ruefully at the wreckage before him.

“Well,” he shrugs, “Anyone can make a mistake.”

Victor Billot has previously felt moved to write Odes in honour of such public luminaries as Whiney Luxon, Stuart Nash, and Wayne Brown.

Victor Billot is a Dunedin writer. He is the author of the poetry collection The Sets (Otago University Press, 2020), and writes a weekly satirical Ode each Sunday for Newsroom.

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