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Monthly Archives: February 2010

Kingdom Found part 4 (story #47)

Nothing like a little sickness to throw off the schedule by one day, eh, readers?  We were worried about postponing for a day at first, but then we figured in a hundred years, who’s gonna care, right?  So, we’re feeling better today, and we’re all off to the races again.

So, we had our first big battle last week and Doctor Desnipes showed up to taunt us all with a few mysteries.  Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of some of that together, shall we?

KINGDOM FOUND part 4

The council table in Gold Legend was massive.  The room it was in was massive.  But it was still packed to every corner when we all gathered at Mountainlost’s command to discuss what had just happened.  Fortunately, I was given a seat of honor right next to Amanda as her “chosen mate.”  Looking around the huge chamber I saw nothing but anxious faces, the most heart-breaking one belonging to Amanda herself.

“Father,” she said finally, when the troops in the room were calm enough to talk over, “please tell me what the doctor meant.  Please tell me it is just another of his tricks.  You can’t have known all these years…  all these years, what happened to my mother.”

Mountainlost stared at the table and then looked sadly into the eyes of his wife, Nestra, who I had just met for the first time moments before.  Nestra nodded as a tear escaped her eye.  “Yes, daughter, I know,” Mountainlost said.  A gasp escaped Amanda’s lips and she stood in what seemed an almost involuntary motion.  “Please, sit,” he continued, “and I will tell you all.”  Amanda hesitated, looked at me for a moment, and finally sat again to hear what her adoptive father had to say.  Neither of us could have guessed what he said next.

“Your mother arrived in Gold Legend a year before you did.”

“A year?” Amanda shouted.  “How can that be?  I plunged through the wall after her immediately!  I should have been directly on her heels!”

“Daughter,” Mountainlost said, “you yourself have observed many times that the Wall of Worlds is outside of time.  The time she spent here was meaningless to you at the wall.”

“That doesn’t make sense!” she replied.  “If time means nothing at the wall, then why have years not passed every time I have gone back and forth?”

“Because you no longer spend any time at the wall itself,” Mountainlost replied.  “The phrase I gave you to say has ushered you through the portal in the wall without leaving you outside of time and space.  It was not merely to move between your world and ours, but to confine time, that I taught you the phrase.  Nestra enchanted the words so that you never need be at the wall again.”

“But, when I returned to my world the first time, a year had not passed,” Amanda protested.  “Nestra’s magic words could not have changed that, could they?”

“I wondered about that myself,” the king said ponderously, “and had Nestra think on it long.  We believe that the Wall of Worlds is closest in time to your own world, so that time spent at the wall, while elongated here in Gold Legend, barely registers in your own world.  It may be that the wall originated from your world and that is why it’s time so closely resembles your own.”

Amanda seemed overwhelmed for a moment and dropped her head into her hands.  When she raised her head again, her eyes were fixed on Mountainlost.  “Very well,” she said, “just tell me about my mother.  How did she escape the trolls upon her arrival?”  She turned and forced a smile at Bibble-kins.  “Did you save her as well?” she asked lovingly.

“I wish I could say I had,” the cat returned with just as loving a smile,” but there were no trolls to greet her arrival.”

“No trolls?” Amanda asked.  “How can that be?  They have lived out in the field as long as I have known this place.”

“This was before you knew this place,”  Mountainlost replied.  Amanda summoned no verbal response, but the question on her face was enough for the king.  The sadness in his eyes was so profound it almost made me cry.  Then he spoke, and the story unfolded.

“When Mildred arrived here, we accepted her lovingly with open arms.  She told us she had left her daughter by the wall, and I dispatched soldiers to find the wall she spoke of, as we had never heard of such a thing.  Unable to locate it, my men returned after weeks of searching bearing the sad news.  Mildred cried and cried over you, daughter.  Please believe that.  It will make the rest of the story easier to hear.”

Amanda let a single tear slip down her face and waited to hear more.

“It was perhaps two months after her arrival that the doctor came to my gate for the first time.  I had never seen him before that day.  He claimed to be a pilgrim on a quest of some sort.  Something trivial.  We gave him shelter for the evening and, at dinner, he began speaking with your mother.  They got along extremely well.”

"No," said Amanda. "That cannot be." Art by Eric jansen

“No,” said Amanda.  “That cannot be.”

“I’m afraid it is, daughter,” Nestra said, speaking for the first time.  “The doctor was younger-looking then, and quite charming.  She was quite enamored of him almost immediately.”

“No,” Amanda said once more, but with less conviction and she had nothing to follow it with.

“When Desnipes left the next morning,” Mountainlost picked up the story, “Mildred informed us that she was going with him.  We tried to stop her.  We told her she knew nothing of this stranger.  We reminded her that she had a daughter missing somewhere, and told her we would renew the quest to find you.  She said none of that mattered and she was going with the doctor.  Nestra thought immediately that Mildred must be enchanted and sought to break whatever hold the doctor had over her, but it was useless.  There was no magic spell.  I’m sorry to say it, my dear daughter, but…  Your mother had simply fallen in love with Desnipes.”

“That’s impossible!” Amanda yelped, “what about me?  What about my real father back in my other world?  She would not abandon us so easily!  After a few months?  I don’t believe it!”

Nestra shook her head sadly.  “I tried and tried to find an enchantment to break, but there was none.  No magic was working on her.  I have no other explanation than love, horrible as it may be.”

“But he’s a doctor,” I said, almost without realizing it.  Everyone looked at me and I realized I had spoken aloud.  “I’m sorry to interrupt,” I continued cautiously, “but if he’s a doctor, might he have used something other than magic to charm her?  A potion or something?”

“In all my days,” Nestra replied, “I have never heard of a love potion that worked.”

“Maybe it wasn’t a love potion,” I answered, thinking of the way Stella had thrown herself in front of Amanda’s blade to save Desnipes.  “Maybe it was…  Something else.”

“Something else?” Mountainlost said, rubbing his beard.  ” What sort of potion could have…  My word.  What a fool I’ve been not to have thought of it myself.  You may be right.  It would explain what happened next.”

“There’s more?” Amanda cried.  “Is it not bad enough that my mother has been living with your mortal enemy this whole time?”

Mountainlost looked up sharply.  “Oh, Princess,” he said, practically whispering, “were that the case, we would have quested to save her long ago.  No, daughter, she has not been living with him this whole time.”

I knew it.  I didn’t want to know it, but I knew what he was going to say before he even said it.  And I think Amanda did, too.

“She has not been living at all.”

All around the room, I could feel the unease everyone was feeling.  Whether they had known all along or not, no one in that room wanted to have been there when Amanda heard that.  Nestra burst into tears and Mountainlost seemed to have lost all color in his face.  Even his armor seemed dull.  Amanda just stared at him, waiting.  Waiting to hear more truths that she would later wish she had never heard.

“It was perhaps another month, maybe more, before the creature appeared on the horizon,” Mountainlost finally continued.  “The Man at Arms was first to see it.  We were in the middle of a feast when he sounded the alarm.  The thing was headed toward the castle and fast.  We donned our armor and readied ourselves at the gate.  It was a monstrous thing, much like the trolls you’ve known your whole time here.  But it was bigger, and somehow dirtier.  More ragged-looking.  Incomplete, you might say.”

“Incomplete?” I said.  Amanda hushed me and looked at the king for more.

“That’s the best way I can describe what I felt when I looked on the creature from the parapets,” he said.  “I know now it must have been the first.  The very first troll.  Or at least the doctor’s first attempt at a troll.  A failed attempt.  The beast pounded on the gate when it arrived.  Pounded and screamed and bellowed.  Finally I ordered the gate thrown open to save it being dashed in by the force of the beast.  With the gates thrown wide, the thing rushed in and looked around.  When it saw me, it came straight for me, howling fiercely.”

Nestra interrupted, “we thought it meant to kill him, Amanda, you must believe us.  We all did!”

“I ran it straight through with my blade,” Mountainlost continued with a flick of his wrist to keep Nestra quiet.  “I killed it.  My men cheered.  Nestra blew me a kiss.  I was proud for a moment.  But only a moment.  For it was only after the thing fell at my feet that I–” he swallowed hard– “that I recognized her.”

Heads all round the room were bowed.  I think even the Man at Arms was crying as Mountainlost finished his tale.

“I knelt down and took her in my arms.  I looked into that horrible face and saw who she had been before the doctor had changed her.  To this day, I don’t know if she was your mother when she burst through those gates or if he had changed her so thoroughly that she really was there to harm us all.  I’ll never know, and it tears me apart.  But when she died in my arms, I saw a last light in her eyes that bonded me to do right by her if I could.  That was the day that Doctor Desnipes became my sworn enemy.  And I also swore that day that if I ever found Mildred’s daughter, I would protect that girl from what the doctor had done to her mother.  Don’t you see?  When you arrived, it was my sworn duty to protect you.  The best way to do that was to take you in, make you my own daughter, and teach you to fight the doctor and his trolls.  I never told you what happened to your mother because I was ashamed.  Ashamed that I was unable to save her from him.  Ashamed that, in the end, it was I who took her life.”

Amanda crossed her arms on the table and rested her head there.  I couldn’t tell if she was crying or simply exhausted from the story she’d just heard.

“Daughter?” Mountainlost said.  “Daughter, can you ever forgive me?”

After a protracted moment, Amanda raised her head.  She looked at me.  She looked at Nestra.  Finally, she looked at Mountainlost.  “I forgive you, father,” she said through a choking sob.  “But I can’t stay here.”

“What?” said Mountainlost.  “Where will you go?”

“I don’t care,” Amanda replied, and with that she began to chant, “my mother’s heart beats in me strong–“

“No, daughter!” Mountainlost cried as she continued, “the wall is breached!  The worlds are merged! There is no barrier to cross!”

“–my mother’s heart lives in me long,” Amanda finished.

And then she was gone.

TO BE CONTINUED

Well, there’s another week of me thinking I knew what was gonna happen and being totally wrong about it.  I love this “letting the story tell itself” thing.  Can’t wait to see what it tells me next week!

See you in six,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2010 in Fantasy, Kingdom Found

 

sick sick sick

Sorry, boys and girls, but here at the club we’ve been sick all weekend and are just getting our strength back.  “How much strength does it take to sit in front of the computer and write a story?” you may ask.  Well, the answer is, “more than we’ve got right now.”  The plan is to get “Kingdom Found part 4” written by the end of the day tomorrow.  Here’s hoping.  And if you’re really angry that it’s not up today, well…  It actually would make us happy that you care that much.  🙂

See you in one,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2010 in Announcements

 

Kingdom Found part 3 (story #46)

Well, well, well, here we are back again for another installment of “Kingdom Found.”  Will the story end this week?  Your guess is as good as mine.  So, heck with the introduction, let’s just get back to it, shall we?

KINGDOM FOUND part 3

Striding out into the courtyard in my new and ill-fitting armor, I was greeted with a horrifying sight.  The castle gates had been smashed inward and the Man at arms and his troops were being overrun by trolls.  Bibble-kins was right in the middle of it all, a giant house cat fighting like an enraged lion.  I knew in an instant that Amanda’s story of his fighting prowess that had saved her upon her arrival to Gold Legend was not unfounded.

Amanda, also in armor and looking radiant in that colorful metal skin, stopped for a moment to take it in.  The change in her face from horror to great sadness to motivating anger was quick but striking.  What had caused her eyes to brim with tears in that first shocking glance quickly caused her lip to curl in a snarl instead.  She rushed forward, drawing her sword and screaming like a banshee.  Blade whirling, she entered the fray and Bibble-kin’s side of their story came to flashing, twirling life before my eyes.  She immediately began yanking trolls off of the men and throwing them to the side of the courtyard, where several soldiers waited with great burlap sacks to catch and imprison them.  I found myself wondering how she could tell our teachers and fellow students from the other trolls in that furious melee, and suddenly realized that she wasn’t bothering.  She was trying to save them all.

Mountainlost was trying to follow her lead, but was clearly unhappy about not killing the trolls.  “Daughter!” he cried, “you were meant to help us choose which to kill and which to spare!  We can’t save them all!”

“We must!” Amanda shouted back.  “If we find a way to un-doctor my friends, we may save the others as well!  If Doctor Desnipes’ army fights for us, how much better our chance of winning?”

“I will try, daughter,” the king said, clearly frustrated, “though I know not how this can end well!”

What was I doing?  I was standing there watching.  Amanda and her adoptive, fairy-king father were able to fight and carry on a conversation at the same time, and all I could do was stand there watching.  Princely?  I think not.

Bibble-kins scooped up three trolls in his mouth and spit them across the courtyard.  The man at arms had somehow lost his sword and was literally punching trolls off the backs of other soldiers, not worried about himself, simply expecting the same protection from others.  King Mountainlost strode through the crowd, knocking trolls this way and that.  Amanda jumped and turned like she was still dancing, her sword sparkling in the sunlight, the flat picking out trolls from the backs of the men and flinging them.

She was beautiful to behold.  And inspiring, thank goodness.  Wanting to do my part, I finally rushed forward.

Pulling my sword from its sheath, the first of many revelations about combat struck me; swords are heavy.  I immediately dropped my sword on the stone floor of the courtyard, and then proceeded to trip over my own feet in my attempt to regain the blade.  I somersaulted right into the middle of the fray with no blade in hand.  In a panic, I tried to leap to my feet and emulate the man at arms, punching the trolls away.  I stood up right into Bibble-kins furry belly, though, knocking him over and sending myself back to the ground again.  Bibble-kins managed to roll over and spring to his feet again, cat-reflexes being just as nimble in giant cats as the regular ones, it would seem.  I was not so lucky.  I rolled over on my side accidentally tripping two of the king’s soldiers down onto the ground with me.  As they fell, a shower of trolls jumped off of them and onto me.  I screamed and continued rolling, hoping not to knock anyone else over.

I suddenly felt a hand grab me in  my right armpit.  I was hauled to my feet in an instant, staring into Mountainlost’s eyes.  “We need you, Prince Morty!” he shouted.  There was a genuine affection in those eyes, even though he was clearly still frustrated.  “Stop fighting to help!  Stop fighting to save yourself!  The trolls want Amanda more than anything!  Fight for her!”

And that was all it took.  Fighting for the right reason put my feet underneath me again, and fired my reflexes.  I pushed my way to Amanda’s side and punched two trolls from her shoulder.  She looked back at me and smiled.

“You okay?” she asked, scooping a troll from my shoulder and flinging it back over her own.

“Yeah, I think so,” I replied, and returned her smile, “you?”

“I’ll manage,” she said.  Then, pointing with her blade, she indicated mine.  “I think you dropped something.”

“Why, so I did,” I returned and, mirroring my unintentional entrance, somersaulted out of battle, rolled over my sword and came up standing.  I was ready for anything.  I thought.  Famous last words, as they say.

There was someone standing in the gateway.  Someone tall and dark, an improbable silhouette at mid-day.  He was smiling without warmth, and moving lightly, gently into the courtyard with an authority that rivaled the king’s.  His hands seemed to float almost independent of the arms attached to them, conducting the battle like a symphony of violence.  It only took a moment for that violence to cease, though.  The conductor’s mere presence had caused an end to the music.

"The conductor's mere presence had caused an end to the music." Art by Holly Knevelbaard

The trolls that had not been captured clambered down from their opponents and rushed to stand behind the tall, wispy-haired man I knew must be our true enemy.  Doctor Desnipes.

“Lovely,” he said softly, “just lovely.  I thank you for not killing my trolls.  They are so hard to come by these days.”

“What are you doing here?” Amanda said just as softly.  “You are not allowed within these gates.  My father has been very clear about that.”

“Much has changed this morning, my dear,” Desnipes responded with a condescending grin.

“That may be true,” said Mountainlost, “but my house is still mine, and my family still the jewels in my crown.  You will get neither without a fight.”

“I am quite prepared to fight, my old adversary.  But this is not the ground for our fight.”  The doctor motioned the trolls behind him out the doors and into the adjacent field.  “I have only come to collect my trolls.  Their misguided attempt to start a war on your ground could have cost them their lives, and me my army.”  He turned once more to Amanda.  “Again I thank you.  You, too, are misguided if you hope to save any of them, but that has worked in my favor.  Perhaps your father will forgive you, if he lives through this day.”  He leaned close to her and practically whispered in her ear, “but I wouldn’t if I were him.”

Amanda snarled and swung her sword in a great arc towards the doctor’s neck.  One of the trolls let out a terrible shriek and, in a flash had leaped through the air between Desnipes and Amanda’s sword.  For the second time that morning, time seemed to move in slow motion.  As the troll sailed in front of Desnipes, I saw its face.  And I recognized her.  She was one of our fellow students.  Her name was Stella.  We’d had two classes together sophomore year, but I couldn’t remember which ones.  All I could remember in that instant was that she’d had strawberry blonde hair when she was human.  And she had been good at sports.  Maybe she was a cheerleader.  No, she was a runner.  Track.  That was what she did.  No wonder she had closed that distance so fast.  And for what?  To protect the very man who had turned her into a short, fat, stringy-haired troll.  But she used to have strawberry blonde hair.  I recognized her.  And then she was dead.

Amanda’s aim was true, but so was the Stella-troll’s.  As Amanda’s sword slammed home, no longer on the flat edge only, the Stella-troll landed on Desnipes’ neck.  The blade was instantly buried in her little troll body, a jet of black troll-blood the only testament to Amanda’s intention.  For a moment, I hoped the blade would cut straight through the troll and into Desnipes neck anyway, but it seems trolls are too thick-skinned for that.  He spun around from the impact, but was unharmed.  The Stella-troll fell to the ground with a great splatter, like a burst toad.  Desnipes completed a full turn and stared at Amanda for a moment.

“My mistake,” he said, rubbing his neck.  “I had thought we were fighting civilized warfare.”

“What’s civilized about breaking into my world?” Amanda demanded.

“I need not break in if I have a key,” he responded enigmatically.

“The Wall of Worlds is there for a reason.  You were never meant to cross it.”

“How do you know?” the doctor asked, still caressing his neck.  “Because your father told you?  What would you say, little interloper, if I told you I had crossed the wall before you were even born?”

“That can’t be,” Amanda said, her voice faltering.

“Why?  Because your father told you that too?”

“I am the first,” Amanda said, “I am the only.  That is why Mountainlost chose me as his daughter.”

“The first?”  Doctor Desnipes said, and his grin returned, this time even darker than when he had arrived.  “No, my dear.  You are not the first.  You are not even the second.  You’ve made valiant effort to keep the truth of your arrival from me all these years, but you needn’t have bothered.”  He turned to leave, and delivered his final words over his shoulder.

“Or didn’t Mountainlost ever tell you what happened to your mother?”

TO BE CONTINUED

Well, sheesh, maybe I should just rename this “The Kingdom Found Club,” because this story just keeps going.  It’s even taking on a new direction in the “soundtrack” aspect, in that the story might want to go somewhere the music isn’t scoring, but the story will still let itself be told through the veil of whatever emotion the music is playing to, whether it’s a perfect melody for what’s happening or not.  So the story is still being inspired by the music, but not led as much as in the first two chapters.  Don’t know if that makes sense, but it feels like that.  Anyway, I had no idea Desnipes was going to show up tonight, but there he was in the music, so there he was in the story.  I hope you’re as anxious as me to find out what happens next in this world.  It would suck if you were all bored and stuff.

See you in seven,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2010 in Fantasy, Kingdom Found

 

Kingdom Found, part 2 (story #45)

Okay so, true to our word, we have spent the last week trying not to think too much about last week’s first installment of “Kingdom Found” so that we could truly provide you, our faithful readers, with an improvised follow-up.  Of course that means we’ve only just read the story again a few minutes ago and are now saddled with the task of continuing while trying to remember what already happened.  We’ve done a mini-series once before, back in the old days (Jim and Jym and the Treasure of the Big Mountain – stories #10, 11 & 12), but it was much sillier, so there’s more pressure this time.  Also, we brought back Bobo the African Elephant.  Silly us.

All right, so we have the iTunes set to play random orchestral film scores (for an explanation of the improv game “soundtrack” that our current experiment is based on, see last week’s post “Kingdom Found – story #44”) and we’re ready to dive back into the kingdom of Gold Legend with Morty and Amanda, who have just met King Mountainlost.  Welcome back…

KINGDOM FOUND part 2

King Mountainlost beamed a rich and sincere smile down at Amanda.  “Your chosen mate?” he said.  “I’m so pleased.  The kingdom will finally have a prince!”

I squeezed Amanda’s hand so tight I thought I would break it.  “You’re a princess?” I whispered.

“I’ll explain later,” she said, patting my hand.  She then turned to Mountainlost.  “Father, the trolls are at the gate.  There are more than ever today.  But I must ask you not to harm the newest of them.  We must find a way to un-doctor them.”

“Un-doctor the trolls?”  Mountainlost’s smile turned into a quizzical frown.  “Such a thing is impossible.  It’s never been done.”

“The door to my world has never been breached before, either,” she replied, “yet this morning the doctor has broken through the Wall of Worlds while I was dancing to please you and your court.”

“My word,” the king said, his frown deepening, “he’s finally found a way through.”  Turning to one of the dancers nearest him, Mountainlost cried out, “Man at arms, go and get your armor!  Rouse the troops from their slumber!  The time to fight has come.  We must save our daughter’s other home.  For if her world ceases to exist, so too shall we.  Hurry!”

The man at arms nodded, bowed, and ran from the courtyard.  Mountainlost turned back to me and Amanda.  “Daughter,” he said, “I will give the order to capture rather than kill the trolls.  But you must now take your chosen mate and fit him with the prince’s armor if he is to fight at your side.”  Turning to me, he continued, “I am sad that we could not have met under finer circumstances, Morty, but tomorrow, are we yet living, we may exchange pleasantries.  Today we fight a war.”

With that he turned and, with a wave of his hand, summoned the rest of the court to follow him.  As they strode from the courtyard, I turned to Amanda.  When I did so, she let go of my hand and the sensation was like losing my life-line.  A panic started to rise in me, and all I could say was, “war?”

“I’m sorry, Morty,” she said.  “I couldn’t think of anything else to say.  If Mountainlost knew who you were, or really who you weren’t, then he would never have let you stay on the day we go to war.  He probably would have thrown you in prison as a spy, or out with the trolls.”

Nothing she said had anything to do with war.  I was totally confused.  “What are you… huh?” I said.

“What I said about you being my chosen mate,” she replied.  “Sorry about that.”

Suddenly the thought of war was quite secondary to the thought of losing that magic moment where she had claimed me as hers.  “I’m not your chosen mate, then?” I said, and swallowed hard.

“Don’t be silly,” she said, “I wouldn’t do that to you, of course.  I was just trying to save your life.”

“Of course,” I said.  I wanted to cry, but pride kept my tears silent.

Suddenly, there was a great hammering at the castle door.  A cry went up from the battlements.

“THE TROLLS ARE TRYING TO GET IN!”

We looked up as the doors bowed inward under immense pressure.  Bibble-kins rushed to the doors and placed his immense cat-body against them.  “Whew!” he said, “there must be a ton of them out there!  I won’t be able to hold this by myself for long!”

A noise behind me caused me to turn.  An involuntary shout escaped my lips.  Troops bedecked in multi-colored armor were streaming from several doorways on the other side of the courtyard.  They were led by the man at arms, no longer wearing colorful dancing clothes.  He was wearing the largest, most impressive battle armor of any of the troops.

“Remember!” he shouted, “the trolls are not to be killed!  Capture them!  Put a sleep on them!  Whatever it takes!  But the princess must be satisfied in this!”  As he came closer to us, the man at arms faltered in his pace.  “Princess,” he cried, “why haven’t you outfitted your man?  The trolls are at the door and the war begins now!  Hurry!”

“Yes, sir!” Amanda cried and, grabbing my hand again, rushed across the courtyard.

Entering through one of the arched doorways, we found ourselves in a cavernous room with a high vaulted ceiling.  Under any other circumstances I would have relished the sight of such grand accommodations, but there was no time to stop.  Amanda pulled me into a side room and we sat on a lush couch.

“Look,” she said, “there’s not much time to explain, but if you’re going to fight a war for me, you deserve to know what’s going on.”

“Yes, please,” was all I could think of to say.

“When I first stumbled into the kingdom through the Wall of Worlds and Bibble-kins saved my life–“

“He said you were fighting fine on your own,” I interjected.

She smiled.  “I told you, he tells it his way and I tell it mine.  Whoever did the fighting, he brought me here when it was over.  Long story short, Mountainlost and his wife, Nestra, had never had any children and he basically adopted me as his own daughter.  He’s always been sad to not have a boy-child, but he’s loved me well.  After that first trip here, I was able to find my way back through the Wall whenever I wanted by remembering a simple phrase he told me.”

“What was it?” I asked.

“I can’t tell you that,” she replied.

“You don’t trust me?”

“No, I literally can’t tell you.  If I say it aloud, I immediately pass through the wall from one world to the other.  Since the Doctor has broken through the wall and the worlds are now joined, I fear I would simply disappear if I were to say it now.”

“Well, yeah, then don’t do that,” I said, still pretty much at a loss for words.

“When we passed over the threshold between the worlds this morning, did you notice how I passed out?” she asked.

“Um, yeah,” I replied, “that was kind of hard to miss.”

She shrugged.  “I think it was because of passing through the Wall without saying the words.  I haven’t done that since I was eight.  Come to think of it, I don’t even know how I got back to our world.  I was dancing out there in the courtyard while Mountainlost and the court looked on, and then I found myself suddenly in your arms back at school.  Did you do something?”

“I just arrived at school and found everyone gone,” I said.  I was wandering the halls wishing to find someone, and then there you were.”

“Wishing?” she said.  “That may be it.  Wishes have this habit of getting answered here in Gold Legend.  With the two worlds combined, perhaps your wish was granted by…  Hold it.  What were you wishing for?”

“To find someone, I said that.”

“To find someone? Anyone?”

“Yeah, I think.  I mean, I might have thought about you, but…”

“Why would you think about me?” she asked, her whole tone softening.  I think she was on the verge of smiling, and she moved a little closer to me.

"His helmet alone was a work of metal art, lined and beveled into a mountainous sculpture on his head." Art by Holly Knevelbaard

Just at that moment, Mountainlost strode by the door and saw us sitting there.  If I had thought that the man at arms’ suit of armor was impressive, it was nothing compared to the outfit worn by the king.  His helmet alone was a work of metal art, lined and beveled into a mountainous sculpture on his head.  Great metal ridges bloomed at every joint of his armor, and the colors were so dazzling I really believe there were some new ones I’d never seen before in my life.  “What are you waiting for?” he asked her, in a huff.  “The trolls have broken through the gate and my men are doing their best to capture them!  We need your help to figure out which should be saved!”

“Yes, Father!” she said, and jumped off of the couch.  Crossing the small room to a wardrobe in the corner, she threw the doors of the thing wide.  Inside were two suits of armor.  One was smaller and lighter, and I knew immediately it was for Amanda.  The other was a huge, shining, multi-colored suit of armor much like the man at arms had worn.  It looked newer, though, and I realized suddenly that it had never been worn.  Mountainlost had been saving this armor for a son who had never come.  Now Amanda had told him I was her chosen mate, and I was to wear this armor.  And fight in a war.  With trolls and God knew what else.  To save a world I didn’t know existed until this morning.

Well, so be it.  I stood up and walked over to her.  “A prince’s armor?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.  “Will you wear it?”

I looked her in the eye and said, “for you I will.”

She helped me dress.

TO BE CONTINUED

Well, this story continues to surprise me.  I had this notion of finishing it tonight, but it seems to want to be told in chapters and, if I am listening to the story right, it wants to end there tonight.  Guess we’re riding the Gold Legend wave for at least one more week.  A couple questions answered, and a few more raised.  A few things brought up in part one that have yet to pay off.  All of that should keep it interesting for another week.  I hope.

See you in seven,

the SotWC

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 8, 2010 in Fantasy, Kingdom Found

 

Kingdom Found (story #44)

Oh, hey, look.  It’s time for another story.  You’d think with us not having a real job, we’d get around to writing the story earlier in the day.  Well, nope, we like to do things under pressure here at the club.  So, this week we’re going to have an African Elephant sit on us while we write the story.  Talk about pressure.

So, there’s this improv game they play at Vertical Reality Drama Club (check out the fan page on Facebook!) called “Soundtrack,” wherein music is played while the actors improv away, and when the music changes so must the scene alter tone to match the new musical choice.  Well, we’ve decided that sounds like a swell way to write the story this week.  So, if you notice an abrupt change in tone at any point, blame it on the shuffle function in iTunes ™.

KINGDOM FOUND

Okay, so I didn’t plan for any of this to happen.  All I was trying to do was get home from school without being eaten alive.  But now there are troops everywhere and a whole lot of people depending on me.  I’d better not let them down.  I guess it’s time to man up, step from my hiding place here behind the dumpster and take care of business.

The whole thing started eight hours ago when I got to school a little late and couldn’t find anyone.  I mean, there was literally no one there.  Papers were blowing around the halls and my own echo was all that called back when I shouted.

But, then I saw her.  She danced lightly from one of the empty classrooms and twirled across the hall like and angel.  Amanda Pfeffercorn.  I’ve known her since the second grade, but I’ve never had the guts to talk to her.  Well, today, she was the only one in school.  And she was dancing.  The world seemed like it was in slow motion as she pirouetted down the hall towards me.  And then she looked up.  Our eyes met for the first time.  It was the moment I’d always hoped for.  And suddenly she was in my arms and we were dancing, dancing.  The music in my head stopped, and I kissed her.  Just once.  Soft and sweet.

"But then I saw her." Art by Geoff Strout

She looked at me like a dreamer waking from a particularly strange sleepwalk.  “Who are you?” she asked.

“Me,” I said, ” I’m Morty.  Morty Rogerson.  We’ve been in school together since the second grade.”

She stared at me for a moment and her face grew solemn.  “Well, Morty Rogerson,” she said after a moment’s consideration, “you ought not to be kissing girls who are dancing to please a fairy king.”

“A fairy king?” I said.  “What are you talking about?  And where is everyone?”

“Come with me,” she said, taking me by the hand.  Walking back to the classroom she had danced out of, we came upon a lush green forest growing right inside the school!

Suddenly a cold fear gripped my heart.  Something was moving in the shadows of the forest.  Something big and dark and awful smelling.  I looked at Amanda for any help understanding what was happening, but she seemed to have gone catatonic.  I held tightly to her hand, not knowing if I did it out of an urge to protect her or as a manifestation of my own fear.  I didn’t care, though.  I was holding hands with Amanda Pfeffercorn.  Sure she was catatonic, but we were still holding hands, dammit.

My reverie was broken suddenly as the big dark thing crashed through the trees straight towards me.  As it broke through the forest I saw it to be some sort of giant black cat with matted fur, huge fangs and fiery green eyes.  It bounded up to me and, towering over my head, looked down at Amanda.  It licked its lips.  I was suddenly filled with a strange, uncharacteristically heroic urge to protect her, no matter what the cost.

“Hey, you big ugly fuzzball!” I cried out.  “Stop looking at her!  Why don’t you pick on someone who’s conscious?”

The cat did exactly as I said.  It stopped looking at Amanda and looked at me.  It looked at me long and hard.  Then it began to pad around us in a big circle.  I turned to watch it, always holding on to Amanda’s hand.  I began to feel less and less heroic as we simply faced off in an ever-tightening circle there in that impossible forest.

For a moment, one sweet moment, I looked at Amanda and thought she was abut to wake up.

But, nope, she didn’t.  And that cat just kept walking around in circles.  I tell you, I was starting to get dizzy.  But I didn’t want let it out of my sight.  I knew that at any moment, it would pounce or growl or scratch or scream.  The suspense was killing me!  I couldn’t take it anymore.  “Do something!” I yelled.

And apparently, the cat didn’t like being yelled at, because it sat right down on its haunches and began to cry like a little baby.  The sound of its crying awakened Amanda and she went to the cat saying softly, “oh, Bibble-kins, it’s okay.  Don’t you cry.  He never meant to hurt you.  He’s here to help.”

And then the cat began to purr.  Amanda started scratching it behind the ears.  “Well?” she said to me.

“What?” I asked.

“Aren’t you going to come scratch Bibble-kins?  Aren’t you going to apologize for scaring him?”

“Amanda,” I said, “what is going on?  There’s a forest in the school!  There’s a giant cat, and you know his name, and…  What is going on?”

“Give him one good scratch,” she said, ” and then we need to go!”

I scratched Bibble-kins under his furry chin and he leapt to his feet.  “Hop on!” he cried, turning his back to us so we could ride him like a horse.

“He can talk?!?” I yelped, dumbfounded.

“Of course he can,” said Amanda, climbing onto his back.  “Now hop on like he says, and we can ride to the castle and save the people!”

Hoping to get some answers at this “castle” I hopped on Bibble-kins’ back and we dashed off into the forest.  We rode hard and swift and the air was sweeter than any I’ve ever smelled and Amanda was radiant.  We burst through the forest and into a great field.  On the far end of the field, I could see a castle.  A real castle!  Somewhere in my school was a field and a forest and a castle!

As we crossed the field, I noticed that we were not alone.  Small, hideous creatures were moving in the grass all around us.  I looked closer and suddenly recognized the faces of my teachers and fellow students.  They had somehow been transformed into small, troll-like creatures with sharp, gnashing teeth and wide, awful grins.  They were running through the tall grass of the field trying to catch up to us.  Fortunately, Bibble-kins was too fast for them and every time they jumped towards us they landed in nothing but more tall grass.

“What happened to them?” I asked Amanda as we passed under the portcullis and beyond the reach of the trolls.

‘They’ve been doctored,” she replied, stepping down off of Bibble-kins.

“Doctored?  What do you mean?”

“What does she mean?” Bibble-kins interjected.  “You mean you’ve never heard of The Doctor?”

“Which doctor?” I asked, sure that I wasn’t going to like the answer.

“His name is Doctor Desnipes,” Amanda said, lowering her eyes.  “He has been trying to take over this land for ages, and this morning he succeeded in finding my doorway between worlds.  Now I fear he will try to take over this world and ours.”

“Your doorway…  your what?” I asked, my head swimming.  “You mean you’re the reason there’s a forest and a castle in our school?”

“Yes, I’m afraid I am,” she said, still looking at the ground.  “I discovered the Wall of Worlds when I was a child.  My mother led me to it.”

“Your mother?” I asked.  “I’ve never met your mother.”

“And this is why,” she replied, a great sadness in her voice.  “She had no knowledge of where she was leading, but I know now she was being led.  Whether it was the Doctor who led her, I do not know.  All we did was turn a corner.  But around that corner was a wall that stretched away forever, and when I looked behind me, the world was gone.  There was only the wall.  I asked my mother what was going on and she told me not to be afraid.  She said we were outside the world, outside time and space.  She didn’t know how she knew it, she just knew.  I didn’t know what she was talking about.  I was only eight!  Then I saw things coming from the wall.  Things that seemed to appear out of thin air.  Huge butterflies and floating dandelion heads, flowers and singing fairies.  I was too young to disbelieve what I saw, so I just laughed and laughed.  Mother and I danced next to that wall with those magical creatures.  We danced and were happy and didn’t care that the world was somewhere far away.  And then she disappeared.”

Bibble-kins lowered his head nuzzled Amanda gently.  “She just disappeared?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied, “disappeared into the wall.  I’ve been looking for her ever since.”

“How?” I asked.  “How do you keep finding the wall, if you don’t know how you got there in the first place?”

“When I saw mother disappear, I tried to follow, of course,” Amanda said, rubbing Bibble-kins’ ears.  “And it worked.  Kind of.  I walked straight through the wall and found myself here.  I was almost immediately attacked by those creatures you saw in the field.  Well, not the ones who were our teachers and friends this morning, but others just like them.  I would have been torn to shreds if Bibble-kins, here, hadn’t rescued me!”

“Oh, I didn’t do much,” Bibble-kins said sheepishly, “she had a strong heart and was a fighter even then!  She was beating the trolls back all on her own.  I just sort of finished them off.”

Amanda smiled.  “Well,” she said, ” he tells it his way and I tell it mine.  Either way, he took me away from them and brought me here.”

“And where exactly is ‘here?'” I asked looking around at the brightly colored stones of the castle courtyard.

“The kingdom of Gold Legend,” Amanda replied, spreading her arms wide.  Bibble-kins smiled.

As soon as Amanda had spoken the name of the kingdom, people began to appear in doorways around the courtyard.  Men and women, bedecked in strange, colorful clothes danced lightly from their hiding places just as Amanda had danced from the classroom doorway.  Spinning and twirling, they came forward to greet me.  Amanda joined them in their dance, and even Bibble-kins began to trot around in time to the music that had seemingly sprung from nowhere.

Abruptly, the dancing stopped and the crowd parted.  There, facing me, was a powerful, elegantly dressed man with a noble brow and a long white beard.

“Come,” he said in a low voice.  “Come before me.”

I was, needless to say, a bit intimidated, so at first I didn’t move.  Then Amanda took me by the hand and led me forward.  A few paces and we stood before him.

“Morty,” Amanda said, squeezing my hand, ” I’d like you to meet Mountainlost, King of all Gold Legend.  Mountainlost, this is Morty.  He is…  He is my chosen mate.”

And that was just the first hour of my day.

TO BE CONTINUED

Okay, so this story is getting way out of hand, but I’m enjoying it.  Hopefully you’re enjoying reading it as much as I am enjoying writing it to a “soundtrack.”  The hard part will be trying not to plan anything over the next week so that when we all come back next Monday it will still be an improvised story getting written.  We hadn’t planned on doing a mini-series, we hadn’t planned on doing something adventurous that isn’t particularly funny, but that’s what’s happening.  We hope you’re enjoying it, because you’re obviously stuck with it next week, too!

Damn, that means we have to bring back this doggoned African Elephant next week to sit on our heads again.  That’s just poor planning.

See you in seven,

The SotWC

 
6 Comments

Posted by on February 2, 2010 in Fantasy, Kingdom Found