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Bork the Nasty (story #87)

So, I think I’ve found a couple minutes to write a story.  Hooray.  But the internet is running slow in my house, and my butt hurts from sitting at a computer all day.  Boo.  That being said, I wanna give a shout out to my friend, Kevin, and his Magical Space Pony web comic.  Mainly because I am going to steal a line from his comics to use somewhere in the story tonight.  I don’t know how or why it will come up, we’ll have to find out together.  You will surely know when we get there, however.  Because of the Magical Space Pony reference, I would think.

BORK THE NASTY

Once, many years ago, when history was still the future and stories were told, not written, there was a viking tribe called the Fungschway.  They weren’t really sure if “tribe” was the right word to describe a group of vikings, but they also didn’t really care.  The Fungschway tribe were mostly known for their predisposition towards planting pretty, pretty flowers.  Well, that and merciless torture.  It was kind of a toss-up.

Our story concerns one of the Fungschway whose name was Bork.  Bork was often given to wild flights of fancy, and more often than not at extremely inappropriate times.  Once when his father, Meep, was threatening a helpless crowd of villagers with hideous torture and window boxes full of begonias, Bork began to give a puppet show for all the children.  Pretty soon everyone was laughing and no one was taking Meep’s threats seriously anymore.  Poor old Meep was forced to plant a couple of window boxes right then and there just to prove he was serious.

After they left the town, Meep said to Bork, “listen, son.  You know I love your imagination, but you gotta learn time and place, kid.  You made me plant way too early back there, and those begonias are way out of season.  They won’t survive the winter.”

"Look! Up in the sky! It's a magical space pony on a jet-propelled rocket duck!" Art by Maria Gullickson

“Yes, daddy,” Bork said.

“All right, have we learned a lesson, here?” Meep asked.

“Look!  Up in the Sky!  It’s a Magical Space Pony on a jet-propelled rocket duck!” said Bork.

“That would be a ‘no.'” Meep said, sighing.

Another day found Bork weaving an elaborate tapestry of tales to all of the prisoners the Fungschway were keeping in the dungeons (you know those dungeons that vikings have).  Meep came upon him just finishing some outlandish story about a Kingdom full of trolls and giant cats and beautiful girls, and the boy from another world who had to deliver them all.  Ridiculous, right?  Meep was the opposite of pleased.  Which you could take to mean he was desaelp, if you were feeling very silly.  Which is obviously okay around here.

“What are you doing?!?” Meep cried.

“Why, father, I’m just entertaining the prisoners,” Bork replied.

Meep was crestfallen.  “Are they not entertained enough by my beautiful rose bushes?” he asked.  He was quite proud of how well he had managed to get the roses into full bloom even being planted underground and in a stone floor.  He had one heck of a green thumb, did Meep.

“I’m sure they are most entertained by your hearty roses,” said Bork.  “I just wanted to tell them a story to keep them even more entertained.  They looked sad after all the torture, you know.”

“Well, that’s what the rose bushes are for, son,” said Meep.  “Remember, our tribe is known for flowers and torture.  Not for stories.”

“Yes, daddy,” said Bork, frowning.

One of the prisoners, whose name was Mana-mana,  looked at the sad little boy and then at the great, jagged cat o’ nine tails that Meep held in his fist.  He whimpered a little and Bork looked up at him.  Mana-mana winked slyly and then began to cry.

“Oh, great and terrible Meep of the Fungschway!” he wailed.  Meep looked up at him.  “Your roses,” Mana-mana continued, “are a great comfort to us.  But your boys’ stories…  Oh, the stories!  They are like torture!  They hurt our very souls to hear!  A greater torture one could not devise than to be forced to hear such tales!”

“Really?” said Meep.

“Oh yes, your viking-ness,” said Mana-mana.  “We all dread his visits here.  We call him Bork the Nasty, for he is so evil in torturing us with tales!”

Meep thought for a moment.  “You really call him Bork the Nasty?” he asked finally, a gratified smile curling his lips.

“Totally,” said Mana-mana.  As Meep lowered his head in thought, Mana-mana once again winked at Bork.  Bork grinned and winked back.

“Okay, here’s the deal,” Meep said finally.  “I’m gonna have Bork the Nasty come down here and tell you guys a story every week.  How’s that for torture, suckers?”  The prisoners all groaned and pretended to be extremely desaelp, but it was not easy to contain their true joy.  Of course, they all loved Bork’s stories and looked forward to them.  Now knowing he would be able, even committed, to telling them a story every week, they were quite happy.

So, Bork started telling the prisoners a story every single Thursday, and everyone was happy.  Bork had a cool viking name, Meep had a son who could “torture” people, and the prisoners got a break once a week.  It was a swell arrangement for everybody.

Until Bork stopped telling his stories on the right day.  Some weeks he wouldn’t even tell a story at all.  He always had excuses like “I’m sick” or “I’m busy” or “my butt hurts.”

Geez.  What kind of jerky storyteller acts like that, huh?

THE END

Okay, time to stop this story before “self-referential” becomes “self-pitying.”  Ha ha!  What a great Magical Space Pony reference though, huh?

See you soon,

the SotWC

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 24, 2011 in Fantasy, History

 

The Princess and Her Guest (story #73)

Ahhhhhhhhh, that’s much better.  All full of sleep and ready to write a story while I’m still at work (I’m such a rebel).  Actually, I should be editing a lecture right now, but anyone who edits – especially stuff for work that you’re not personally invested in – would almost certainly agree that you have to take some mental breathers while doing this or you go out of your mind.  Can I get a “hey” from my editors out there?

Anyway, I fell like it’s a good day for a fairytale.  Don’t worry about the possible double-entendre that could come with a “fairy tale,” I already did that in the first incarnation of the SotWC fifteen years ago.  No, instead, I plan to be inspired by EC comics “Grim Fairytales.”  Heh heh heh.

THE PRINCESS AND HER GUEST

"When Shall I Marry a Fabulously Wealthy Prince?" Art by Holly Knevelbaard

Once upon a time, there was a princess named Gertrude who lived in a castle named Hanter.  She would often wander the halls of Castle Hanter and ask herself important philosophical and existential questions like, “am I the prettiest princess ever?” and “when will I marry a fabulously wealthy prince?”  Unfortunately, no one else lived in the castle, so there was never an answer to her queries.

How did she eat, you may ask, with no one living there to prepare her food?  Worry you not, dear readers, her food was prepared daily.  How were her fine dresses cleaned and pressed, you may wonder, with no one living there to tend to her clothing?  Fret not a moment, children, her every need was met.  Why was the stable full of horses if no one lived there to ride them?  And who tended the magnificent animals?  Ask no more questions now, ponder no riddles.  You will discover, as our next character may, that Castle Hanter is full of surprises.

Our next character arrived one sunny and blustery Thursday morning.  As she stood on the parapets, Princess Gertrude saw him approaching on horseback, a standard flying from a saddle-bound flagpole.  He looked to be a knight, young and strapping and strong.  Full of excitement and anticipation, she ran downstairs to meet the approaching stranger.  “Raise the portcullis!” she cried, and the portcullis was raised.  “Lower the drawbridge!” she cried, and the drawbridge was lowered.  With great flair, flapping of flags, and sounding of trumpets, the princess stepped forward into the sunlight to meet her guest.

“Greetings to you, good sir, from Castle Hanter,” she said, curtsying with a royal flourish.

“Castle What?” the stranger said without removing his helmet.  Gertrude immediately grew suspicious of him.

“Castle Hanter,” she repeated, and considered giving another royal curtsy.  She decided against it, however, and was glad in the next moment.

“What a silly name for a castle,” the strange knight said, still astride his horse, still wearing his helmet.

“Well!” Gertrude exclaimed.  “When I spied you from the parapets, sir, I was excited to have a guest.  Now, if you insist on being rude, I shall have to ask you to turn your steed about and vacate my considerably large lands post-haste.”

“I mean not to be rude,” he answered.  “I only and always speak my mind.”

“Your speech may offend,” she replied, “but your manner makes your matter so much the worse.  Had you doffed your helmet as a gentleman may, or removed yourself from your horse, it may have gone some distance to excuse your words.  But I see no merit in your manner, nor wisdom in your words.”

The knight said nothing, but quietly began to laugh under his helmet.  Gertrude grew more furious by the moment.  She had, upon seeing his approach, thought to invite the man not in, but out for a walk about the castle grounds.  The angrier she became, the more she resolved to invite him in instead.  It would serve him right.

“Your anger doth much excuse your attitude,” the knight said finally, “but your reproach doth entertain more than vex.  Is there no king to invite me into this ill-named fortress?”

“I am all who live in this castle,” she replied, not giving a second thought to any danger such an admission might bring upon her.

“Just so?” the knight replied.  “Then if you, as lord and lady of this castle, will invite me in, I will promise to remove my helmet and make such an apology as is necessary to secure your favor.”

“You would enter such an ‘ill-named’ fortress?” she teased.

“And so I may,” he responded.  “If invited.”

“And so you are,” she replied icily, “with all due thanks and anticipation of an eventful visit.”

With that, the knight dismounted his horse and followed the princess inside.  Had he looked back, he may have seen his horse led away in such a manner as to cause him to flee.  He did not turn, however, and what happened next is what happened next.

Entering the dark and cavernous main hall, the knight begged the princess to stop and tarry a moment.  “We are within, now,” he said, “and my helmet may be removed as requested.”  And so he removed his helmet, revealing his pale, white skin, evil red eyes, and glistening fangs.

Gertrude gasped.  “Nosferatu,” she said softly.

He laughed again.  “I am known by many names.”  He stepped closer to her, but she did not flinch.  “Ido so enjoy this age of heavy armor,” he continued.  “It provides such cover even at mid-day as may befit one of my kind, permitting passage as freely in sunlight as any dark shadow.”

“And so may you fool innocent maidens,” she said and, alarmingly, stepped closer to the creature of the night.  “But none such easy prey as a princess with no living relatives in a castle bereft of company, is that not right monsieur vampyre?”

“So you say,” he replied, “and so it is.”  He reached out for her, long fingers splayed out to grab a handful of her throat.

She smiled.

“Father!” she called.  “Are you going to let this beast have his way with me?”

“Father?” the vampire said, recoiling slightly.  “Why do you call someone who is not here?  You yourself told me you live here alone.  Play no fool’s games with me, girl.  I can read your eyes, yet, and see no lie there.”

“You see no lie for no lie exists,” she said, her grin growing wider.  “I said that none live here but me, and ’tis truth.  I live.  Others do not.”

The vampire felt a hand fall upon his armored shoulder.  With cat-like reflexes, he spun around, lashing out with his razor-sharp fingernails, sure to spill the blood of anything behind him.

But there was nothing there.

Surrounded by nothing, the vampire felt himself lifted from the ground.  “What madness is this?” he cried as the buckles and straps of his armor were sprung.

“My family protects me, though you cannot see them” Gertrude said as she walked slowly around the writhing figure hovering above the floor.  “They feed me and tend the horses and see to my every need.  And have done so ever since they were all murdered by vampires as I hid in the dungeons.  The very night-stalkers who sought to take this castle for their own were the first victims of my family’s wrath.  Wrath from beyond the grave.”  Stripped of all but the barest underclothes, the vampire hung in the air, staring at his hostess as she stopped and looked him in the eyes.  “Ghosts are here, monsieur vampire.  They live not, but need not live.  Not in a haunted castle.”

The vampire’s screams filled the great hall as he was carried to the front of the castle.  “Raise the portcullis!” Gertrude called, and the portcullis was raised.  “Lower the drawbridge!” she called, and the drawbridge was lowered.  Sunlight streamed in, and her guest was no more.

As she walked outside to visit her new steed in the stables, she asked herself “when shall I marry a fabulously wealthy prince?”

And, as always, the answer returned to her was silence.  She smiled.

THE END

Interesting.  And finished just in time to leave work.  Huzzah and good cheer for all.  Happy “Thursday.”

See you next week,

the SotWC

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 20, 2010 in Fantasy, Horror

 

The Groovy 1970s Story of Grooviness (story #70)

All right!  So, here we are, writing the story totally on time now that we’ve changed the rules and made story day Thursday instead of Thursday (you old school club members will know what that means, everyone else will have to sit in the corner and cry hey ho.  Okay, well, at least I can translate, I suppose; for those of you who haven’t figured it out, story day is not “Monday” anymore, it is “Tuesday.”  Which, in the SotWC vernacular means “Thursday.”  Whenever we get around to archiving old stories, you’ll get it once you read “Rotten Apple-Core Day (story #2)”.  Until then, go ahead and make with the “hey ho”-ing.).

In case you are wondering, yes, I am extremely proud of the fact that the last paragraph almost entirely parenthetical.

I’m feeling nostalgic tonight.  Let’s see how that works out.

THE GROOVY 1970s STORY OF GROOVINESS

Once upon a time, everyone wore bell-bottoms and said things like “keep on truckin'” and probably did lots of pot (I wouldn’t know) and thought paisleys were “like, wow, man,” and Nehru was good to make clothes out of and super-straight hair parted in the middle was attractive and vests with turtlenecks weren’t gay (they probably still were) and dances were named things like “the hustle” and folk music was popular and everybody had a peaceful easy feeling and they knew you wouldn’t let them down.  It was all very groovy.

Unto this came Conan, destined wear the crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow.

“Hey, groovy hair,” said a rat-faced little high school kid wearing orange pants with a green turtleneck as Conan stepped out of a space-time vortex left over from an old episode of “Star Trek.”

“What the crap does ‘groovy’ mean?” asked Conan, who sounded nothing like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and was really quite articulate.

“Whoa, man,” said the rat-faced boy, “what’s with all the hostility?  Mellow out, jive turkey.”

“I don’t understand you,” said Conan, “and I am in no mood for jesting.  I was just in a hut in the deserts of Cimmeria and the witch who promised to give me the Scepter of Shazzarra waved her hands, cursing me with the ability to see the future.”

“Far out,” said Rat-face.  “That is weird-city, man.”

“Where have I been sent?” Conan asked, looking about at the strange buildings and cars and stuff.

“This is Detroit,” Rat-face said.  “Detroit Rock City, man!”

“You speak in riddles,” said Conan.

“What, you’re not hip to KISS, man?  What are you, some kind of weiner?”

Thinking the boy was propositioning him, Conan punched Rat-face in the nose and knocked him unconscious.  A very pretty blonde girl with feathered hair and a tiny gold headband just happened to be walking by and saw Conan punch the boy.  “Like, wow, man,” she said, “that was way un-groovy of you!  Catch my drift?”

“He wanted to kiss me,” said Conan.

“No fake?” said the girl, whose name was Britney.  “Well, that’s totally different.  What a spaz; he totally deserved it.”

“Can you tell me where I am?” said Conan.

“Yeah, brother, this is Detroit, Michigan, and we’re on Maple Avenue.  They have those in every state, you know.”

“What is a state?” asked Conan.

“Oh, like, wow, you are totally out of it, aren’t you?” said Britney.

“I think I need to sit down,” said Conan.

“They got a bench over by the 7-11,” Britney said.  “I was just on my way over there anyway.  They got superhero cups for the Slurpees right now and I wanna pick up a Wonder Woman.”

“Sure,” said Conan, “maybe I will find some answers to this mystery at this seven and eleven.”

“Right on,” said Britney and took him by the hand.  Two blocks later, they were outside of 7-11 and Britney was on the verge of tears.  “The Riddler?” she wailed.  “All they got is the Riddler?  Who cares about the stupid Riddler?  He’s not even a superhero, he’s a bad guy!”

“I understand none of this,” said Conan.

Just then another girl with feathered hair walked by.  Her name was Kris and she was wearing really tight jeans with a striped long-sleeved shirt.  Her hair was so dark it was almost black, and it had blue highlights like in a comic book.  “Aw, gee, Britney,” she said playfully, “were you hoping to get Wonder Woman?  I totally got the last one.”  And with that she brought the plastic Slurpee cup to her mouth, put the blue straw between her lips and drank her Coca-Cola Slurpee coyly, with a hint of mischief in her eyes.

“Outta sight!” said Britney.  “Can I have it when you’re done with the Slurpee?”

“No way, Jose!” said Kris.  “I’m keeping this cup for ever and ever and ever.”

“Sit on it!” screamed Britney.  “You knew I wanted that cup; you got it just to spite me!  You don’t even like Wonder Woman!”

“Maybe I do and maybe I don’t,” said Kris, “but that’s for me to know and you to find out!”

“Up your nose with a rubber hose!” Britney yelled, turning to Conan and burying her face against his bare chest, weeping openly like a little baby.

Kris laughed and said, “well, I gotta boogie.  Check ya later, Britney.”  With that she turned and walked away, making sure to swing her hips a lot.

“What is this madness?”  Conan asked.

“Hey, is that a sword?” Britney asked, looking at the humongous blade at Conan’s side.

“I go nowhere without my blade,” Conan responded.

“Dyn-o-mite!” said Britney.  “Look, could you do me a solid?  If you go flash that thing and tell Kris to give me that Slurpee cup, she’d totally give it up.”

Conan thought a moment and finally said, “perhaps this is the quest I was sent here to fulfill.  I go.  Then perhaps you can help me get back to my own place and time.”

“Yeah, right on,” said Britney, not having any idea what he was talking about.

So, Conan followed where Kris had gone and caught up with her a few blocks away.  Drawing his sword, he shouted, “unhand the magical Wonder Cup of Slur-pee, foul witch!”

Kris turned around and looked at him with wide eyes.  After a moment, she stepped closer to Conan.  “Why would I do that, Cimmerian?” she said, her hair blowing in a sudden breeze, “when I have traveled so far just to find you and bring you back home?”

"The Wonder Woman Slurpee cup began to glow" Art by Maria Gullickson

Conan was dumbfounded.  Britney, who was standing not too far away was even more dumbfounded.  In Kris’s hands, the Slurpee cup began to glow.  Wisps of smoke emanated from it and formed a small tornado around Conan and Kris, who was, of course, a sorceress from the Hyborian age in disguise.

“Hey!” Britney yelled, ” what about my Wonder Woman cup?”

“Sorry, young whiny girl,” Conan shouted over the growing wind.  “It is my only way home!”

Britney stamped her foot.  “You nerd!” she screamed as the smoke grew thick and the wind grew deafening and the barbarian and the sorceress disappeared from view.

As the world faded away around them, Conan looked at the sorceress and asked, “what do we do when we get back?”

The sorceress looked up at him with mischief in her eyes.  “Well,” she said coyly, “I’m totally hip to kiss.”

“Groovy,” said Conan.

THE END

Hee hee hee.  That was fun.  For those of you who remember the 70s, I hope it brought back some memories for you.  For those of you who weren’t even born in the 70s, that’s exactly what it was like.  Honest.

See you in seven,

the SotWC

 
3 Comments

Posted by on September 28, 2010 in Fantasy, History

 

The Horse and the Scary Monster (story #67)

Hey there, kiddos.  Okay, I’ll be honest with you.  I was thinking this afternoon about the fact that I had to write a story this evening, and I came up with an idea that I thought was funny.  Not so much a story, but just an idea for a story.  And the more I thought about it, the more I said to myself, “hey, stupid.  The point of the SotWC is that you don’t think about it beforehand.”  So in order to stay true to my original intent, and also to mix things up, here I am sitting down to write the story and I’ve just decided to completely jettison the idea I thought of earlier.  Perhaps it will recur sometime in the future as a spontaneous recollection that I’ll feel good about using at that time.  Kind of like the idea of horses and monsters I rejected so long ago.

This one’s for you, Mr. Judd.

THE HORSE AND THE SCARY MONSTER

One sunny Thursday, a horse named Peruvia was out happily trotting around, like horses do, when all of a sudden he had a thought.  Not exactly an earth shattering thought, but since his usual thoughts went something like “trot trot trot trot trot I want some hay trot trot gallop gallop whinny get off my back ha ha ha ha ha ha ha trot trot trot,” this one was a pretty interesting one for him.  He wanted very badly to tell someone his pretty interesting thought, so he trotted on over to the stable to talk to his friend Gertrude.  She was also a horse.  Which is why she was in the stable.

“Hey, Gertrude!” Peruvia said.

“Yes?” she replied, munching on some hay.

“I totally just had a thought!” Peruvia whinnied excitedly.

“Oh my gosh!  Me too!” Gertrude exclaimed.

“No,” Peruvia said, ” I mean like I had a REAL thought!  Like not just ‘hay tastes good,’ or something like that.  Like a real thought!”

“Yeah, me too!” said Gertrude.

“Really?” said Peruvia.  “What was your thought?”

“I thought ‘Hay tastes good,'” she said.

He looked at her for a moment.  “That’s what I just said,” he told her sadly.

“Oh, that was your thought, too?” she asked.

“No,” he said, “it completely was not.  Were you even listening to me at all?”

“Sure I was!” she responded.  “You said something!”

“Never mind,” said Peruvia, turning to trot away.

“Hay tastes good,” Gertrude said to no one in particular.

Trotting away from the stable, Peruvia decided that he better find someone to tell his thought to soon or he might forget it.  He knew what he should probably do was write it down, but having no opposable thumbs made gripping a pen so difficult.  He decided he should go over to the farmhouse and tell one of the children there.  They had opposable thumbs and could write things down!  Adults couldn’t hear animals speak, but children still believed in magic, so Peruvia was sure that one of the children would understand him and write down his thought.

As he approached the back porch, he saw that he was in luck!  The youngest girl, whose name was Pie-Crust, was sitting there scribbling in a coloring book.

“Hello!” Peruvia said excitedly.  Pie-Crust looked up at him.  “I’m so pleased to see you have a writing utensil,” Peruvia continued,” for I have just had a thought, better than most of my usual ordinary horse thoughts, and I would love it if you would write it down for me so I would not forget it!”

In no time at all, Pie-Crust peed her pants and ran inside screaming.

“Hm,” Peruvia grunted to himself, ” maybe that wasn’t such a hot idea.”

Turning around again, he trotted dejectedly past the stable (Gertrude called out “Hey!  I like hay!  Hey!  Hay!” and then laughed so hard that she choked a little.  But she was fine, don’t worry.) and out into the surrounding fields.  Before long, Peruvia found himself at the edge of a forest.  He gasped and looked around, realizing he was at the edge of “Scary Scary Bo-Berry” forest, so named because it was supposedly haunted, but also had some delicious gooseberry bushes.  The “Bo” just made it sound cute.

“Oh my gosh,” Peruvia whispered out loud, “I’m so scared I may just forget my thought!”

Suddenly a voice off to his right said, “well, why don’t you tell me your thought and I’ll help you remember it?”

“Oh, that would be so kind of you,” Peruvia responded, turning towards the sound, “I would really appreciate if someone would AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”

Standing there not ten feet away from Peruvia was the most hideous and scary monster he had ever seen.  It had evil eyes, long gangly limbs, big sharp teeth and plenty of other scary things any good artist could think up on his own.  And it was wearing boxer shorts with little hearts on them.

"Horses and Hearts" - Art by Josh Judd

“Whoa, dude,” the scary monster said.

“Are you gonna kill me?” Peruvia whinnied, his knees knocking together.  All four of them.  It was quite a racket.

“Kill you?” asked the scary monster.  “Now, why would I do that?”

“Cuz you’re a big scary monster,” Peruvia replied.

“Well, yeah,” said the scary monster, “but I mean besides that.”

“Uh,” said Peruvia, and that was all he managed to say.

“Okay, look, here’s the deal,” said the big scary monster.  “My name is Kirby and I kind of like living in this forest by myself, partially because I got tired of folks screaming at me but mainly because the gooseberries in here are so darn good.  So I let people think I’m all scary and bad and that the forest is haunted because it keeps out all the dooftopodes.  But you seem like a nice horse, so I wanna help you out.”

“Wow,” said Peruvia, “that’s pretty swell of you.”

“I know,” said Kirby.  “Playing against type, but still interesting to look at, that’s me all over.  So, what was this thought you had?”

“Oh!” said Peruvia.  “Yes!  My thought!  It was very exciting.  I just had it not too long ago!  Not just an ordinary thought, either!  A really good one!  Not like ‘hay tastes good,’ or anything like that.  No sir, Mr. Monster-friend of mine.  This was a doozy, at least by horse standards.”

“Okay, sounds great,” said Kirby.  “Lay it on me.”

“All right,” said Peruvia.  “I was just thinking that our earth is but a small star in a great universe. Yet of it we can make, if we choose, a planet unvexed by war, untroubled by hunger or fear, undivided by senseless distinctions of race, color or theory.”

Kirby looked at Peruvia for a long time.  Peruvia smiled and waited for a response.  “Well?” he said finally.

“You didn’t write that,” said Kirby eventually.  “That was written by Stephen Vincent Benét, author of The Devil and Daniel Webster.  That quote is like a hundred years old.  You’re a thief and a plagiarist.”

“Like I can read,” Peruvia said.

“Oh, yeah, good point,” said Kirby.

*****

Returning home after a lovely evening of chatting and eating gooseberry pies, Peruvia went to the stables to tell Gertrude what fun he had been having.  Upon entering, though, he found that she was gone.  “Hey!” he called out.  “Where’s Gertrude?”

A sound at his hoof made him look down.  It was a little mouse named Giorgio, squeaking sadly.

“They took her away,” he said.

“Why?” Peruvia asked.

“The little girl-child told her parents that the horses could talk, so they took her away to sell her to the circus.”

“They sold Gertrude to the circus?” Peruvia asked in disbelief.

“No,” said Giorgio, “they sold the little girl to the circus.  They just rode Gertrude to get there.”

“Oh,” said Peruvia.  “Wait, then why are you so sad?”

“Because I’ve never eaten a gooseberry pie or seen a monster,” said the sad little mouse.

“Gee, that sucks for you,” said Peruvia.

“Yeah, well,” said Giorgio, “at least I can take comfort in the knowledge that nobody I know has either.”

“Uhhh, sure you can,” said Peruvia.

“So,” said Giorgio, shaking it off, “what did you do tonight?”

“Hay tastes good,” said Peruvia.

THE END

Well, thanks for reading.  Or for listening, if you put this story into one of those computer programs that reads text for you.  Hey, if you did that, tell me how it pronounced “dooftopodes.”  I bet it was funny.

See you in seven,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2010 in Fantasy

 

Kingdom Found part 15 (story #58)

Hey, look at me, writing this installment one week after that last installment.  It’s like I’m on a schedule or something.  I’ve got the orchestral shuffle ready to play my creative muse back to life again, and I don’t wanna waste anymore time trying to think of clever introductory things to say.  Let’s do this.

KINGDOM FOUND part 15

The doctor stood slack-jawed for a moment as Amanda waited for him to engage in combat.  “But,” he said finally, “you were…  You forgot them.  You forgot everything!  The cat, the boy…  Everything!”

“Well, now I remembered everything,” she replied evenly.  “The years you were enemy to my father.  The friends and family you turned into trolls.  The part you played in my mother’s death.  I remember it all.  But most of all, I remember thirty seconds ago when you were beating on an unarmed prince.”  The doctor stole a glance down at me and then nervously returned his gaze to her as she finished.  “The past is the past and I can’t do anything about it.  But I can do something about the present.  Now, are you going to fight me or not?”

I took the opportunity to crab-walk out from between them and stand up.  The doctor continued to stare at Amanda and, I must say, I was inclined to do the same.  I recalled how radiant she had looked that morning as we rode on Bibble-Kins’ back through the forest and across the field.  The light that was in her then was a pale comparison to what I saw in her now.  She looked at me sideways through the visor slit in her helmet, and I somehow knew she was smiling at me.  I tried vainly to stop a small, surprised laugh from escaping my lips.  She wasn’t afraid.  She wasn’t tense or angry.

She was having a good time.

"She was having a good time." Art by Eric Jansen

The rivalry of years past, the pain of the morning’s revelations, the fear of forgetting everything – all were gone.  She really wasn’t trying to goad the doctor into a fight because of anything he’d done in the past.  She was just defending me.  She had only come back for me.

“Well?” she said, returning her gaze to Doctor Desnipes.

“No,” he said finally.  “No, I’m not going to fight you.”  He dropped my sword to the ground and his shoulders sagged.  “I would die,” he said.  “I’ve already died once today.”

“Smart man,” Amanda said and took a step back from him.  She remained on her guard, but made no more move to engage him.  Knowing that I didn’t even need to watch my back to do it, I bent to retrieve my sword.  As I lifted it, I remembered how heavy it had felt when I’d first tried to enter a battle with it this morning.  It didn’t necessarily feel lighter now, just easier to manage.

As I stood, I saw the doctor looking at me.  Still crazy, I thought.  He might try anything.  Then he spoke, and I realized how frightened he truly was.

“You’re going to kill me anyway, aren’t you?” he said.  “After everything I’ve done, I guess you think I deserve it.  And what can I do?  I don’t have my army.  I don’t have a witch on my side anymore.  I don’t even have a house, thanks to you and your wishing.”

Well, that was the answer, wasn’t it?  I shook my head and internally reprimanded myself for what I was about to do.  Why should I help my enemy?  The great enemy of my new kingdom?  The answer was pretty simple, really; if I succeeded, he wouldn’t be my enemy anymore.  And, as far as he would know, he never would have been at all.

“Amanda, ” I said, keeping my eyes on the doctor, “I assume Amelia still lives, or else you wouldn’t have come.”

“Yes,” she replied, “time is short.  But she lives for now.”

“Good,” I said.  “Then there is time for you to tell the doctor why you forgot us for a time.  I think he needs to hear it.”

She looked at me and raised her visor.  I saw a sadness steal across her face.  “You know why I forgot?” she asked.

“I’ve guessed,” I said.  “It’s the only thing that makes sense.  And no one can blame you.  In a moment of sorrow that deep, I might have wished for the same thing.”

“Wished?” asked the doctor, still looking like he expected either one of us to run him through at any moment.

“Yes, wished,” Amanda said.  “After you left the castle this morning, King Mountainlost told me what had happened to my mother.”

“Ah,” Desnipes interjected, some of his evil nature returning to the surface, “so, he told you that he himself killed her, eh?”

“He told me that he killed the monster you created,” she spat back.  The doctor’s shoulders slumped again and he waited for her to go on.  “When he’d finished his story, I didn’t know what to do.  But I knew I couldn’t stay there right then.  I needed to get away.  To think things through, or maybe just to be alone.  I didn’t really care right then.  So I said my words and found myself back here in this world.”  She turned to me.  “That was surprising,” she said, “but I was grateful that I didn’t disappear, anyway.”

“The words were meant to make us pass between worlds,” I said.  “It didn’t matter whether the wall was intact or not.  That’s how I knew they would send you back to Gold Legend from the town hall.”

“I know that now,” she said, smiling at me.  “But not this morning.  I was so sad. And, when I returned here, my grief made me forget the most important thing I could have remembered at that moment.”

“Are you saying that grief turned you into an amnesiac?” the doctor scoffed.  “That’s the most preposterous thing I’ve ever–“

“That’s not what I’m saying,” Amanda interrupted with a flick of her sword in his direction.  He flinched impressively and said no more.  “What I forgot was that the worlds were breached.  And that meant that wishes could come true here.”

“You wished you could forget everything about Gold Legend, didn’t you?” I said.

“It was an idle, foolish wish,” she said, nodding.  “But it was granted.  I found myself standing in the middle of a street wearing armor for no reason.  I had no idea how I’d gotten there, so I took off the armor and decided to go home.  No one was there of course, so I went to the school.  I guess you were both there for the rest.”

“Then, how did you remember everything?” the doctor asked.  “Why have you come back?”

“You knew, didn’t you?” she said to me.  “You knew what I’d do.”

“Of course I did,” I said.  “I could see it in your eyes, behind the wish that had destroyed your memories.  When you said you trusted me but didn’t know why, I knew it would work.  Because part of you wanted to remember.  So, I figured if you went back to Gold Legend, that part of you would be so strong that it would wish to be free.  Or at least that you would wish to know what was going on.  And I hoped that was all it would take.”

“It was,” she said.  “And by the time I’d gone to the armory and gotten another suit of armor, everyone was returning.  I saw what had happened to Amelia, and I knew what it meant.”

“Now your memory’s even better than mine,” I said a little shamefully.

“But you…” she said, pointing at the doctor.  “No one knew what had happened to you.  I saw what happened to my earth-father.  I saw many people from school and from town.  But, after the transformation, no one knew what had happened to you.”

“I hid,” he said smugly.  “I’d been through a lot.”

“We’ve all been through a lot,” Amanda said.

“And it’s enough,” I added.  They both looked at me.  I stepped forward and looked hard at the doctor.  “I told you,” I said, “if you didn’t stay away from her, I’d kill you twice.  And I mean to see that my enemy is truly gone this time.”

“I knew it,” he muttered.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to stab you again,” I said.  “I’m just going to make a suggestion.  The rest is up to you.”  He knitted his brow but said nothing, so I continued.  “Amanda and I are going to leave now.  And we’re going to leave you here.  You won’t have your army.  You won’t have your witch.  You won’t even have your enemies.  You’ll be a nobody.  You’ll be a missing person.”  The words stung, but he waited for me to finish.  So I did.

“But if you can believe in magic for five more minutes, you don’t have to remember any of that.”

The doctor looked up into my eyes, startled.  It only took a moment for my implication to sink in.  “You want me to… wish away my memories?” he asked.

“Your memories of Gold Legend, yes.”

He kept staring at me.  A war of indecision played across his face in a cycle of anger, sadness, disbelief and resignation.

“Amelia never gave you your own words,” I said.  “Once we leave, you will have no way to return to Gold Legend.  And as soon as Amelia dies, time there will leap ahead of this world.  All you’ll have left is bad memories.  Unless you wish them away.”

Amanda took off her helmet and stared at me.  Her eyes were wide, but not with shock or disbelief.  It was wonder I saw on her face.  I guess she hadn’t thought of this.

For a moment it looked like anger was going to win in the doctor’s eyes.  Then his shoulders slumped and he looked away from me and down the street.  “Can I at least have my house back?” he said pitifully.

“I will not rebuild that house,” I replied.  “But I will never set foot on this world again, either.  There is precious little time left before that breach across town closes forever.  Use your wishes wisely.”

I stepped away from him and over to Amanda.  Our eyes locked.  “Spoken like a true prince,” she said softly.

“Let’s go,” I said and took her hand.

As we walked away so the doctor would not hear our words, we heard him cry out behind us.

“What if I don’t do it?” he yelled.  “What will you do then?”

“I will still be the leader foretold,” I yelled back.  “I will still be the one who saved two worlds.  Who will you be?”  He said nothing, and I turned to Amanda.

“All by yourself, did you?” she said with a sly smile.

“I couldn’t have done it without you,” I responded.  “I couldn’t have done anything without you.”

“Well, it was you who saved my life,” she conceded.

“And it was you who saved mine,” I returned.

“Yeah, well,” she said.  “You tell it your way and I’ll tell it mine.”

And, with that, we kissed.  And I somehow knew everything was going to be all right.  We would make it back to Gold Legend before Amelia died.  The doctor would not follow.  The trolls would leave us alone.  And Amanda and I would live in Mountainlost and Nestra’s castle for the rest of our days.  I knew these things in that moment.  How did I know them?  Call it a vision.  They run in my family.  Sort of.

When we finished our kiss, she kept her face very close to mine and said, “Bibble-Kins gave me your message.”

“Good,” I said without a moment’s hesitation.

“Would it surprise you to know that I love you, too?” she asked.

“Of course not,” I said and kissed her again.  “After all, aren’t I your chosen mate?”

She smiled and grabbed my hand tightly.  “Since we were eight years old,” she said.

“Wait, you’ve known this whole time?” I asked, remembering all the time we’d spent not talking to each other throughout school.

“Of course I have,” she replied simply.  “Haven’t you?”

I guess I couldn’t argue with that.  There was no point wondering why we hadn’t spoken to each other before today.  It was just the way things were.  Everything had happened just as it was supposed to, and when it was supposed to.  Does that mean it was fate or destiny?  Maybe just some kind of magic?  I would have said I wish I knew, but that sort of language was dangerous where I was going.

“Let’s go home,” she said, “our kingdom awaits.”

“A kingdom is nice,” I said.  “But what I need is a family.  Mountainlost, Nestra, even Bibble-kins–  They’re my family now. And, you…”  I kissed her on both cheeks.  “You’re the best kingdom I’ve ever found.”

She nodded and kissed me and then turned and opened her mouth to say her words.  Before any sound came out, she stopped and said, “oh no.  Morty, my love, I’ve forgotten.  You don’t have any words to say to cross over!”

I squeezed her hand tighter still.  “Trust me,” I said.

She smiled.  I think she knew right away what I was going to say.  And, as she said her words and crossed over the barrier between worlds for the last time, I said my own words.

“Amanda’s heart beats in me strong.  Amanda’s heart lives in me long.”

And, with that, we were gone.  Gone home.

THE END

Whew!  Well, it’s been a ride, but I hope you’ve enjoyed it.  Next week, we’ll all have to shift gears back into one-offs for a while, filled with goofiness, “fourth wall whimsy” and dooftopodes.

Anybody got any suggestions about what you’d like to see in future stories?  Bring ’em on!  Maybe I’ll try to include some next week, maybe I’ll just stockpile suggestions for a rainy day…  You never can tell what’s gonna happen around here.  Anyway, thanks a million if you’ve read the whole “Kingdom Found” saga.  I’ve really enjoyed writing it.  Now, onward and upward!  Or something like that.

See you in seven,

the SotWC

 
5 Comments

Posted by on June 15, 2010 in Fantasy, Kingdom Found

 

Kingdom Found part 14 (story #57)

Well, well, it has been a while, hasn’t it?  Sorry for the delay and here’s hoping it’ll be worth the wait by the time I finish with this week’s installment.  I just spent two hours re-reading the whole saga to get back into the flow, so I’m all caught up (on my own story!) and ready to go.  Hopefully you’ve all done some re-reading yourselves, or perhaps you remember everything already.  Either way, let’s go back to the point where “everything was lost in the moment I drove that troll blade into Amelia’s heart.”

KINGDOM FOUND part 14

As soon as the blade was buried in Amelia’s chest, I heard a sound like the loudest thunderclap ever struck in heaven echoing from the other side of town.

“No!” Nestra screamed and rushed over to where I knelt with Amelia sagging on top of me.  Blood rushed over my hand and I drew it away in disgust, leaving the blade in her heart.  Amelia fell to the ground, clutched weakly at her heart for a moment and then went limp.  All around us the fighting died down, and I knew it would be the last time.  As life left her, the fealty spell weakened.  It was finally the true end to the fighting.  I couldn’t understand what Nestra was so upset about.

“What have you done?” she cried as she bent over Amelia.  To my great shock, she began to whisper words over our fallen enemy.  She was trying to heal her.

“What have I done?” I returned.  “I have taken down our enemy!  I have undone the fealty spell that makes our own people fight against us!  I have fulfilled my destiny!”

Nestra looked up at me with utter panic in her eyes.  “‘As long as I live!'” she said through panicked breaths.  “That’s what she said, Prince Morty!  ‘As long as I live!'”  I shook my head in bewilderment.  I really think I was making an effort not to remember at that point.  The enormity of what I’d done was too much to accept right away.

“Oh no,” I heard the king mutter behind me.  He rushed forward and lifted Amelia’s head.  There was no response.  “Is she..?”

“She lives,” Nestra replied.  “But barely.”

As they spoke, I forced myself to remember.  And my panic immediately matched theirs.  I took care of myself, Amelia had told us.  I cast an enchantment in Gold Legend so that, as long as I live, time in Gold Legend would move as time here does.  If she died, time would leap forward in Gold Legend while we, pretty much the entire population of the kingdom, remained here.  The entire population save one.

Amanda would wither and die and be hundreds of year’s worth of dust before we returned to her, if we ever even could.

Someone pushed past me.  It was the Man at Arms.  He looked down at Nestra holding the witch who had been my mother.  Not knowing how weakened the fealty spell might be, I tensed myself for a fight.  Finally, he spoke.  “My queen,” he said, “tell us what to do and we shall do it.”  She looked up gratefully but, not having any idea of how to proceed, she returned her gaze to Amelia and continued whispering over her.

“Can’t we just wish her back alive?” I asked.

“Some things are beyond wishing,” Nestra said sadly from the ground.

The king stood and looked at me sternly.  “We must get her back,” he said.

“Back to Gold Legend,” I replied.

“Yes,” he said.  “We must get everyone back.  Before she dies.”

“All right,” I said.  “I will give the order for everyone to wish themselves back across the border.  We’ll be home in no time.”

“Oh, Prince,” Nestra said, taking a quick break from her healing words, “you have used the magic, but you do not understand it.  It will take all the magical energy around me to keep her alive, even for a short time.  There will be no wishing in her presence now,  not as long as she lives.”

A perfect paradox.  We couldn’t wish ourselves home as long as she lived, but if she died we may not have had a home to return to.  There was only one thing to do.

“Get her to the breach,” I said to Mountainlost.  Turning to the Man at Arms, I continued.  “See that they move swift and sure.  I fear the thunderclap we heard was the magic failing.  The breach may not be open much longer.  If it remains open at all.”

“What if it is closed to us?” he asked.

“Then God help us all,” I replied.

Mountainlost looked at me quizzically.  “You’re not coming with us, are you?”

I shook my head.  “This world may not be my true home, but I cannot leave it like this,” I said.  “If no magic will work while Nestra is keeping my moth–  Amelia alive, then I will wait here until you have all gone from this place.  Then I will use what wishing time remains in this world to rebuild.”

“Even if we make it back to Gold Legend,” the king said, “if she dies before you can return, you will be lost to us forever.”

“Once I’m through wishing things right here, I will cross the border.  I swear it.”

“And if the breach closes?”  Mountainlost asked.

“I won’t need the breach,” I said.  “It is a noble, a sentimental theory of magic that makes the words work, remember?  I know what to say.”

After a moment, the king smiled.  “I believe you do,” he replied.  “Just see that you say it in good time. We’d hate to lose you, even to a noble end.”  He then turned to survey the assembled throng of humans.  Here and there a few trolls still stood but, with no army to back them up, they were in no mood to fight.

“People,” Mountainlost said in a commanding voice, “this war is over.  If you are of earth, return to your homes and remake your lives as best you can.  If you are trolls, return to Gold Legend and bother us no more on pain of death.  If you are my people, we march.  Now and swiftly.”

“Pick her up,” Nestra said to the Man at Arms.  Several others rushed forward and helped him lift Amelia while Nestra continued to move her hands over the wound and whisper words of healing.

The army of Gold Legend moved out.  I stood in the burned out ruin of the town hall and watched them go.  Many people from my home town watched in bewilderment as well, and then began to slowly head for their homes.  As the army filed past me, many of them waved or shook my hand or cried and called me “highness,” but one stopped.  It was Bibble-kins.  “Don’t be long, now,” he said.

“I’m right behind you,” I replied, and found suddenly that I had to choke back tears.  He looked at me sadly a moment longer, then nodded and turned to leave.  “Bibble-kins,” I said, and he turned back to face me.  “If you see Amanda–” I said, and then stopped myself.  “When you see Amanda,” I corrected, “tell her…  Tell her that I love her.  That I’ve always loved her.”

Tears stood out in his eyes.  “What if she still doesn’t remember you, my prince?” he said.

“Tell her anyway,” I replied.

He hesitated a moment longer.  “What if she doesn’t remember me?” he said through tears that finally fell.

“Remind her,” I said.  “Now go, you big, beautiful fuzzball.”

He smiled and nodded and turned away.  I watched him leave knowing that it would be his fluffy black tail that would disappear last, telling me when to start wishing the town back in order.

****

I rebuilt the town hall first.  I thought about making a huge wish to cover all the destruction that had been made, but I realized that “normal” people from earth need some sort of order to hang onto.  The town had been destroyed and almost everyone knew it.  So just snapping everything back to normal would probably be as much of a brain scramble as anything else that had happened this day.  So I wished things up one at a time, and got creative with things like scaffolding and partially built top floors.  Hopefully, by the next morning, everyone would be part of the rebuilding of the town and it would all work itself out in the end.  By then, I hoped to be long gone.  They could sort out what was left.

Eventually, I got around to the street where I grew up.  There wasn’t too much destruction there, but I walked down the street anyway.  Some of my old neighbors watched me from the safety of their windows.  I waved at the first few I saw, but when they scuttled back from the windows in fear, I kind of gave up on being friendly.  These weren’t my people anymore, and I guess they knew it as well as I did.

When I got to my old house I just stood there for a moment.  This was where I had grown up.  This was where I had loved a woman who turned out to be the enemy of everything that was true in my life.  This was where I was lied to for years, where my real life was stolen from me.  I had wished the rest of the town back up.  This house I wished down.

When nothing was left, not a stick, not a brick, I turned and walked back up the street.  I would give the town a quick once over and then make my way to my real home.  I could only hope that the army had made it to the breach, and that Nestra was still managing to keep Amelia clinging to life.  I could only hope.  But as I reached the end of the street and turned, I saw what was waiting for me just past the corner and I stopped hoping.

It was Dr. Desnipes.

He was leaning against a tree just watching me.  There was still a hideous gash in his clothes where I had stabbed him earlier, but apparently the transformation of turning into a troll had sealed the wound even when he was returned to human form.  He smiled at me and I saw in his eyes that he was quite literally insane.  I guess dying and turning into a troll and then turning back into a human will do that to you.  Especially when you were at least halfway there to begin with.  He stepped forward and pointed a bony finger in my face, all the while holding his other hand behind his back.

“What have you done with my house?” he said.

“I destroyed it,” I said evenly.  “It destroyed me, so I destroyed it.”

He laughed.  “How melodramatic,” he said, stepping closer still.  “Tell me, little prince, are you done rebuilding this wretched town?  Because we have unfinished business, you and I.  And, as you may recall, it’s not really your town after all.  It’s mine.  So, are you done playing savior?  I find the role very ironic, considering that all of this is your fault.”

“My fault?” I said.  “You’re the one who broke down the wall.”

“And you’re the one who wished her across it,” he returned.  My heart sank.  I guess he could see it on my face.  “Oh, yes,” he continued, “I wished the wall down this morning, and I knew I’d let people in.  But I still didn’t know I could get out.  I thought I might die if I crossed the breach, you see?  I was still so frightened this morning.  So I was making trolls left and right in that forest, avoiding the hole in the world.  And then I saw her.  Your little princess just appeared at the top of a hill and she was dancing, dancing.  She danced right out of Gold Legend and into your arms.  And I knew then that the barrier could be crossed.  You see, silly little prince?  You were my key to finally getting out.”

“You were there?” I said.

“I saw you dancing,” he said, stepping closer.  “I saw you kissing.”  He sneered as though the act disgusted him.  “I would have crossed worlds right then, but her awful cat-monster showed up.  So I ran.  And I determined to gather my army, so I could cross worlds in triumph and finally come home!”

“So, what do you want now?” I asked.  “All these years, you’ve been trying to get back here, and now you’re here.  What do you want from me?”

“I want my army!” he screeched, losing his composure entirely.  “I spent ten years building an army to come back and take this stupid little town!  This state, this country, this world!  Do you think I want to be here as a nobody?  As a missing person?  I want my army!  I want my power!  And I WANT MY HOUSE!”

With that, he pulled the sword he had taken from me earlier out from behind his back and thrust it at me.  I leaped out of the way and lost my balance on the curb.  Falling into the street, I tried to roll and gain my feet again, but he brought the sword crashing down on my back.  My armor caved a little and the sound was deafening.  He struck me repeatedly, not even trying to pierce my armor or stab me, but just thrashing me to keep me off my feet.

“You took everything from me!” he cried while beating me with my own sword.  “Everything I’ve been working for, everything I’ve thought about and wanted for the last ten years!  You took her away from me!  I did it all for her, and now she’s gone!  She’s gone!  I loved her, and she’s gone!”

“It was just a spell!” I shouted, trying to roll over and face him.  “She put a spell on you to make her love you!”

“It doesn’t matter why!  After ten years, it doesn’t matter!  You took my hopes!  You took my dreams!”

I managed to roll over onto my back and look up at him.  He was out of breath and staring down at me with wide eyes.

“And you tried to kill me,” he finished.

All I could think of was the breach closing across town, and Amelia slowly dying, and my chance of returning to Gold Legend while my friends still lived fading further away with each moment I stayed here in this world.  I saw him raising the sword above his head for a fatal strike, and made my peace with the fact that, if they were safe, it might just have to be good enough for me.

That didn’t mean I couldn’t get in one last jab.

“I didn’t try to kill you,” I said.  “I did kill you, you crazy bastard.”

He brought the sword down with all his might, and it stopped a foot away from my face with the loudest clash of metal I have ever heard.  I looked to see what had stopped his blade and there standing over me, shining brilliantly in the afternoon sun, stood Amanda in full battle armor.

Art by Holly Knevelbaard

“Trying to kill an unarmed man, Doctor?” she said.  “And here I thought we were fighting civilized warfare.”

The doctor backed away, fear etched across his face.  Amanda lowered the visor on her helmet and raised her sword in challenge.

“My father, the king, sends his regards,” she said.

TO BE CONTINUED

Well, that was fun.  Hope it was worth waiting for.  Next week should be a capper.

See you in seven (for real),

the SotWC

 
 

Kingdom Found part 13 (story #56)

Hello there, faithful readers.  Tremendous apologies for the unexpected week-long hiatus.  Things got very busy which was, by and large, a good thing.  Anyway, we’re back and ready to get started on Chapter 13.  First, though, a disclaimer:

If you were to go back to the beginning of this whole story, you would note that we have now caught up to where the story first started.  You would also note that the first paragraph of the story was written in the present tense, meaning that, in order for the tenses to match up, the remainder of the story would have to be written in present tense.  To be perfectly honest, I would simply find that very annoying, both as a writer and a reader.  “I am doing this, she is doing that…”  Ugh.  Therefore I will promise that, whenever I edit and compile the story as a single novella, I will rewrite that first paragraph to be past tense (“there I was behind the dumpster,” “I knew it was time to man up…”  That sort of thing) and am now going to continue as if that was the case.  Is this breaking my own rules?  I don’t think so.  I’m not disregarding story, just tense.  And, as I said, it’ll be much easier to write and to read.  So, let’s do it, okay?  Okay.

[editor’s note: earlier this week, one of our faithful readers said she doubted that the story would actually finish in chapter 13, and basically inferred I was presumptuous to have made such a claim.  Well, writing this note after having written this chapter, I will go ahead and prepare you all for the fact that…  She was right.  This story doesn’t wanna end yet.  I will make no more claims, and hope you don’t mind me being wrong about that.]

KINGDOM FOUND part 13

Amelia stared in disbelief at the empty space where Amanda had been just a moment before.  “That’s impossible,” she croaked.  “She had amnesia!  She had forgotten how to cross the–”  She stopped suddenly and looked back to where I was still hiding behind the dumpster.  “You!” she hissed between bared teeth.

Well, here it was.  My moment of truth.  I guess you could say my destiny was at hand.  And what was I doing?  Hiding behind a dumpster.  Not how I would have imagined such a moment.  But this was no mere cowardice.  I had a plan.  As I stepped from behind the dumpster, I was just hoping and praying I hadn’t forgotten anything like when I wished the trolls to be human.  Anyway, it was too late now.

“Me,” I returned, removing my helmet.  Amanda had bravely approached Amelia after stepping from behind the dumpster.  I had no intention of doing any such thing.  I stood there defiantly, but did not move.  And, as I had hoped, she started towards me.

“You told her what to say!” Amelia cried.  “You forced her across the barrier!”

“What barrier?” I said, trying to appear innocent.  “The wall has fallen.  There is no barrier, right?”

Still coming towards me, her army and mine both falling in behind her, she pointed at me, her lips curled in a sneer.  “You know,” she said, and then shook her head.  “You know that the words are made to travel between worlds without stopping at the wall.  You know what this means, don’t you?  It doesn’t matter if the wall stands or falls; the words still transport one back and forth.  The doctor never understood it, nor your silly king and queen.  What makes you so special?”

“I was raised by a witch,” I said with a smile.  She lifted a condescending eyebrow.  “And I told you once before,” I continued, “I am a prince of Gold Legend.  And, according to you, I am the one who will save two worlds.”

“I said you would try.”

“Is that what your vision told you?  That I would simply try?  I don’t think so.  If that was the case, why this elaborate scheme of raising me on earth?  Why try to turn me to your side?  Why not just kill me?”

She descended the stairs of the ruined town hall and faced me in that alleyway.  “I told you,” she growled, still trying to frighten me, “I knew your destiny would fail if you fought for me rather than against me.”

“How often have your visions been wrong?” I asked.

“My visions are never wrong,” she returned.

“Exactly,” I said, still smiling.  “You never killed me because you knew you couldn’t.  Your vision told you that you wouldn’t.  Isn’t that right?”

She returned my smile with no warmth.  “You must think you’re very clever,” she said.  “But look behind me.  I don’t have to kill you, little boy.  I have a whole army to do it for me.”

So, I had forgotten something.  Wonderful.

Then a voice called over the heads of the men who had been trolls.  “That won’t be so easy, witch!” called Bibble-kins.  A rallying cry went up from the army of Gold Legend and the once-were trolls turned to them, side-by-side and face-to-face.  Any of Mountainlost’s army was ready to sacrifice themselves for me.  I knew I couldn’t let them down.  And I was pretty sure I wouldn’t.  Pretty sure.

"That won't be so easy, witch!" Art by Josh Judd

“Oh goody,” Amelia said, rolling her eyes, “another battle.”

“I don’t think so,” I said. “We won’t have anyone left to fight if we break the fealty spell.”

“And you think you can undo my magic?” she asked incredulously.

“I thought I’d try with your first spell,” I replied, “or don’t you remember where we are?”

She looked around, then, and it clicked for her.  The adventure of her youth.  The anger and the dark magic.

“It never really went away, did it?” I said.  “You can hide it, but it’s what ties earth to the wall, isn’t it?  That’s what you said.  And it’s right here where we’re standing.”

“Good Lord,” she whispered, and then focused on me again.  “What are you going to do?”

“What you never could,” I said, and wished that her dark portal to the Wall of Worlds would become visible.

Suddenly, the alleyway behind me was gone.  Through a mist, I could see the Wall of Worlds.  It stretched away forever but at the point nearest the dark portal entrance, it was a shambles, the result of Doctor Desnipes’ wish to merge the worlds and go home.  I wasn’t actually inside the portal, but a few steps would take me to it, to the place where time was meaningless.  More importantly, a few steps would do the same for Amelia.  I reached out and grabbed her by the hand.

“Let’s go, Mother,” I said.

Her eyes grew wide with terror.  She ripped her hand from mine.  “You wouldn’t!” she said.  “Take me to the wall and Gold Legend will age generations before you emerge!  Your new family–“

“Will be safe,” I finished her sentence for her.  “Your vision told you I would deliver both worlds.  There was no promise I would be there to see it.”

“Prince Morty!” Mountainlost called.

“You are my family now!” I called back.  “It doesn’t matter what happens to me.  I will see you are safe!”

I guess my performance was pretty convincing, despite the depth of my lie.  I had no intention of going to that wall.  But Amelia was sufficiently frightened.  She began to gibber and stepped backwards.  “No,” she whispered, “not again, not again. Hundreds of years.  Hundreds, hundreds.  Not again…”

I advanced on her as her army stood amazed, watching her cower.  “You think I can’t undo your magic?” I yelled.  “For years, you wished the wall to be gone, but it remained!  The Doctor wished for it to fall and, even as his wish was granted, the wall remained!  Why?  You told me yourself!”  I walked up the stairs and towered over her as she fell to her knees.  “The wall was linked to this world where dreams don’t come true!”  She looked from me to the portal and back again.  Tears stood out in her eyes and she shook her head, not understanding.  I was fine with that.  “Well, the worlds are breached,” I said, “and wishes can come true here now.”

Nestra understood first.  “I will wish with you, my prince,” she said.  Bibble-kins looked at her and smiled, then turned and nodded to me.  Mountainlost took only a moment longer.

“Good,” I said, as more soldiers and dancers from Gold Legend smiled and nodded.  I reached down and grabbed Amelia by the collar.  I looked hard into her eyes and repeated, “you think I can’t undo your magic?”  She stared up at me and, in that moment, I think she understood.

“I wish this portal closed forever,” I said.

“I wish,” said Nestra.

“I wish,” said Bibble-kins and Mountainlost and the whole army of Gold Legend.

“And,” I continued, “I wish that the Wall of Worlds was no more.”

Amelia screamed out loud.  I had my back to it, but she had a front row seat to her handiwork vanishing from existence.  Behind me I could feel a rush of wind as air rushed into the space that the portal had suddenly left behind.

Breathless moments passed and Amelia continued to stare past me.  I saw in her face the knowledge that her first wish and her first spell had both just been undone.  Sorrow, relief, and anger all played in her eyes.  That which she had been scheming and planning for all these years had just been accomplished without her. In spite of her.  And without a fight.  She sagged to the ground and I let her go.

I stepped past her and her army did not stop me.  They were all staring at her, crumpled on the ground.  I walked to the king and queen.  They smiled and embraced me.  Nestra was crying.  From behind us, I heard the sound of Amelia crying as well.

At least I thought it was crying.

As the sound rose, however, I heard it to be laughter.  An evil, maniacal laughter.  I turned slowly and saw her standing again.  She turned to face me and the darkness in her eyes was truly terrifying.

“So smart, aren’t you?” she said, knotting her hands into gnarled fists.  “Well, you forgot something, savior of worlds.”

Great.

“The worlds are still breached,” she said, pointing back in the direction where my school lay across town, “and you’re not the only one who can make wishes.”

“Oh, Amelia,” Nestra said, “why continue with this?  You yourself said that all you ever wanted was to destroy the Wall of Worlds!  Now it is gone!  What more is there to gain?”

“Well,” said Amelia, rolling her eyes again, “I do have my pride.”  She raised her arms like a bat and opened her mouth to speak, but I stepped forward.

“Mom,” I said, and she stopped.  “Don’t,” I said.

She looked at me hard until someone stepped from the crowd that surrounded her.  It was the Man-at-Arms.  “Shall we take them, my lady?” he asked.

She cocked an eyebrow at me and said, “I wish you would.”

He raised his arm in the air and shouted, “CHARGE!”  The army of Gold Legend fell back as Amelia’s army charged forward.  I guess Amelia knew what I was going to do before I could complete the thought.

As I opened my mouth to wish the fealty spell away, she scooped up a troll blade and threw it right at my unprotected head.  As quick as thinking, I found myself wishing that I had the reflexes to catch the blade in mid-air.  Thank God for small favors.  My hand was before my face in a flash and the blade stopped an inch from going into my eye.

Art by Libby Barringer

She hadn’t killed me, but she had sufficiently distracted me.  In an instant, she was upon me, her hand on my throat much as the doctor had grabbed me earlier.  The rage on her face was sickening to behold.  I stared up at her as she forced me to my knees in a perfect reverse of our earlier situation.  “You’ll have to kill me to remove the fealty spell,” she spat as her troops ran past us, “and you can’t kill your own mother, can you?”

I looked deep into her eyes and said, “you’re right.  I can’t kill my own mother.”  She beamed a wicked look of triumph.  Until I finished my thought.

“Because you already did that.”

Behind me, I heard queen Nestra scream something, but I couldn’t make it out.

Everything was lost in the moment I drove that troll blade into Amelia’s heart.

TO BE CONTINUED

Well, let’s just keep on truckin’, then.

See you in seven,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2010 in Fantasy, Kingdom Found