Our tale so far:
Chapter 1 - The Visitation
Chapter 2 - Send Out the Clowns
Chapter 3, Scene 1 - Oddbark and the Villagers
Chapter 3, Scene 2 - Dark Days of Yore
Chapter 3, Scene 3 - The Tale of Lucinda
Chapter 4, Scene 1 - Back to the Present
Author's Note: This story is for entertainment only. For those who care nothing about it, just scroll on by.
Sir Connor hasn't had a decent night's sleep in weeks. Rising from the bed, he feels disillusioned, helpless, and hopeless. His mind lost in the depths of despair, he utilizes muscle memory to prepare a pot of coffee, and pour into the new mug he purchased at the carnival gift shop the previous week.
He thinks of all the greedy idiots responsible for the present plight, thinking, "Oh, were mine eyeballs into bullets turn'd, that I in rage might shoot them at your faces!" As this thought came and went, his muscle memory failed to recall that one must stop pouring upon reaching the brim. The ensuing cascade of scalding coffee fell from counter-top to floor, pausing only briefly to soak through Sir Connor's favorite bell endowed slippers, whilst simultaneously arousing a raging pain in his favorite feet. Turning to face the mirror, Sir Connor yells aloud to his image: "Out of my sight, thou dost infect my eyes." He lowers his head and takes several deep breaths. "Well, at least it woke me up!"
Connor (talking to himself): "Verily, I'd rather they'd have locked me in the dungeon with that over-fed Duke of the Guard than be banished from me beloved castle, court, and King. What good is a King's fool if denied access to the King? Worthless is what I be, an ape of idleness. Think I'll take a long walk. That might cheer me up. Let me see; first, grab some water and me backpack and shades, change me frakkin' slippers, make a playlist for me AyePod... there. That should do 'er. Off we go."
My Playlist for Today:
Too Much Time on My Hands - Styx
Tears of a Clown - Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
Sound of Silence - Simon and Garfunkel
Dust in the Wind - Kansas
Oh Danny Boy - Andy Wiliams
Another Park, Another Sunday - Doobie Brothers
I'm a Low Life - Kid Rock
Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap - ACDC
Without You - Nilsson
I Hate Everything - Ugly Kid Joe
I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues - Sir Elton John
Connor (to himself): "Hmm... Maybe Beast's right, and I need to talk to a shrink? Naah!!! Oh, just one more for B'Fell (heh, heh)."
She Got the Gold Mine - Jerry Reed
"Yeah, I still got it (heh, heh)."
And so, Sir Connor sets off for a refreshing walk under the bright blue Carolina springtime sky. He pops in his ear buds, and heads southward on Tryon Trail. But the beautiful sky and fresh air does little to enrich his spirits, and what began as a brisk walk soon deteriorates into a head down, ambling shuffle. With his tunes cranked, he doesn't hear the sound of approaching hoofbeats. Nor does he hear the shout, "Damnable fool, be ye blind, deaf, and dumb?" Thus, with head lowered and sad songs pounding Sir Connor just keeps walking, heeding nothing; even as he walks right past the great steed, upon whom rides a beautiful lady. He does notice, however, when moments after passing the horse, he is promptly kicked in the arse with a force that literally sends him flying. Every bell on his outfit jingles in perfect three-part harmony, and he is briefly entertained until...THUD!
Dazed, confused, and in not inconsiderable pain, Sir Connor picks himself up from what he first believes to be mud. Then he succumbs to reality and bellows, "AWWW, HORSESHITE!!! Turning back to find the perpetrator of this atrocity, "What the fudge do..." the vision before him stops him in mid-sentence. For atop the beautiful stallion sits a Lady of enchanting beauty, clad in a long shimmering low-cut black gown of satin, wrapped in a hooded black cape. As the hood is not being currently worn, Sir Connor enjoys an eyeful of her beautifully flowing hair. As black as night it is, ringed at the top by a tiara of silver, adorned with gemstones (alternating diamond, onyx, and turquoise, though Sir Connor would not have known, nor at this moment would he have cared). His only interest in the tiara is that every third stone (the turquoise) matches the eyes into which he now stares, utterly enrapt and speechless... well, okay, his eyes do stray some unkown number of times down just a bit, in order to admire the finely tailored low-cut neckline of the gown.
Anastasia (speaking telephathically to Queen, lurking in the adjacent high grass): "Stop laughing, Queen! This fool may have information about King Richardson's court. Stop, stop, please, or I will most assuredly crack up meself."
Anastasia (to Sir Connor): "Well, sir, it would seem that having had your daily wallow in shite, you are now attempting to catch flies with your pie hole." Sir Connor offers no reply, but does close his mouth.
Anastasia: "Ah, so we have established that you can hear. Also, from the noticably targeted movement of your eyes, It's easily deduced that you can see as well." Again, no reply.
Anastasia: ("QUEEN, stop laughing, dammit!") "As you may have surmised, fool, I am not someone who is used to being blatantly ignored. We are in the realm of King Richardson, are we not? Were I in your shoes, bells and all, I would not relish my fate should it be reported to the King that his fool's behavior be lacking in chivalry. And by the way, is that an Ayepod in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?" ("Queen, stop it, I mean it now!")
Sir Connor (bringing his rapture somewhat under control): 'My Lady, I humbly apologize and seek thy forgiveness." He begins to kneel.
Anastasia: "Wait, not th..." It was too late, as Sir Connor's knee landed (SPLAT) in the middle of her horse's latest "production."
Anastasia (now on the very precipice of losing her composure): "Wipe your hands and throw me your Ayepod. No, don't bring it, throw it. Stay where you are, a safe distance downwind."
Anastasia (deftly catching the Ayepod and reading the playlist): Hmmm.. 'tis one helluva downer listing, is it not, for one who's apparent vocation is to induce joy? Definitely a dearth of mirth herein, although I have found the Ugly Kid Joe song to be most convenient in soothing my anger on many occasions. Hast thou considered professional counseling?
Sir Connor: "M'Lady, I have not been meself lately. You see, I entertain the King and Court because I love bringing merriment to others. But my true vocation is as a Knight of the Realm, providing reinforcement to the second level defense whenever called upon. And now, because of a bloody fudging labor squabble, I am locked out of the Castle as are all the soldiers. It has left me feeling bedamned, befuddled, and bloody pissed off all at once. Please pardon my French m'Lady. And while I am duly impressed by your countenance, and t'were I meself would be giddy at our chance meeting, I must say this has otherwise been one shite-filled day."
Anastasia (remembering the playlist): "Oh Danny Boy"..."You be Sir Connor. I have witnessed you in battle, and I have noted your skills to be most impressive; indeed worthy of more than mere reinforcement. 'Tis unfortunate that one such as the Beast man's the middle defense, else you would no doubt be among the upper echelon among all kingdoms at this post. Let us hope that, as I've heard, Lord Rivera and Sir McDermott have plans to utilize many 3-4 sets, affording you the chance to fight along side the Beast. I believe it would present a formidable defense, providing, of course, a talented fatty can be added to man the front center nose post. Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Lady Anastasia, and I seek audience with King Richardson.
Sir Connor (pauses, shakes his head, and finally speaks): I am honored to make thy acquaintance. Whether deserved or not, I humbly thank thee for thy praise m'Lady. Thou art a marvel in both beauty and your knowledge of soldiery."
Anastasia: "No, don't kneel..." Too late, SPLAT!
Anastasia: "You have my sympathy, Sir Connor. I can see that this Lockout situation is doubled in its effect on thee. Alas, the bickering is being managed by those vile solicitors who be immune to any enchantment that dost not add to their coffers. Methinks t'were the discussions moved to the more convivial type of bar, t'would be much sooner resolved."
"Nonetheless, I'll not be escorted to the Castle gates by one so reeking and covered in horseshite. Be a good fellow and make your way to the stream just beyond this high grass, and there bathe yourself properly; and be sure to wash out your little onesy thingy or whatever one calls such a garment. Fear not, I'll not be watching. (Queen, you best behave yerself now)." But Queen is feeling mischevious.
After several minutes, Anastasia (to her dismay) hears a tremendous roar, followed by a tremendous scream, followed by the emergence of a totally naked and totally terrified Sir Connor. Well, not totally naked per se; he still wears his hat, and his bells be most certainly a'jinglin'. The rest of his now clean but soggy clothing is wadded in one hand, his slippers likewise in the other.
Sir Connor (out of breath): "R-R-RUN, m"Lady. There's a monster after me."
But Anastasia, of course, doesn't run. Instead she begins to giggle.
Sir Connor (totally confused): "What...? Why...? I don't understand." Then noticing her downward glance, he quickly covers his own jewels, exclaiming, "It's shrinkage!!! The fudgin' water's freezing. Besides, why aren't you running?"
Anastasia (reaches into her saddle bag and tosses a dry frock to Sir Connor): "My deepest apologies Sir Connor. You may wear this dry garment as your own dries." Turning to the weeds, she yells aloud, "QUEEN, GET THY FUR-COVERED ARSE OUT HERE, NOW!!"
Donning the dry frock, Sir Connor backs away as the great Panther emerges from the weeds, her head down like a scolded pup.
Sir Connor: "Odds Bodkins, dost this Panther be thy pet?
Anastasia: "No, not a pet at all, most especially at this moment. But, thou needn't fear. She was never going to harm you. She just occasionally becomes bored with hiding; and, well, as you experienced, she enjoys playing little tricks. Sir Connor, please meet Queen Charlotte Carolina Victoria, my guardian, confidant, and best friend. You, Sir, may call her Queen... or any of a number of names you choose after her rudeness."
"Queen, make your apology to this brave Knight"
Queen, now purring, lifts her head and slowly approaches Sir Connor. As he looks in her eyes, he is awestruck that they match in color exactly to Lady Anastasia's. He reaches down and begins to pet Queen and scratch behind her ears, as she continues to purr.
Sir Connor begins to laugh, and continues laughing, then doubles over laughing. It is the contagious kind of laughter that soon has Anastasia in stitches and tears... Queen is likewise laughing, but of course only Anastasia can hear it.
Sir Connor (regaining his composure): I'd forgotten how much I love a good practical joke, and how good it feels to laugh. Come Ladies, I am honored to escort you safely to the Castle gates." Breaking into laughter once again, he manages to say, "I s'pose Beast was right. He told me all I needed to get out of that funk was a little p----," and they all burst again into raucous laughter.
Anastasia (when things had more or less settled down): BTW, Sir Connor, I must say that if what I saw was shrinkage, you are indeed a man among men, for certainly your codpiece needs no extra padding.
Sir Connor blushes, but carries a grin from ear to ear throughout the rest of the journey.
So ends Scene 2. In our next scene, the King hires a new Temp Jester.