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
Chapter 4, Scene 2 - Sir Connor's Lament
Author's Note: This story is for entertainment only. For those who care nothing about it, just scroll on by.
Since returning from their failed scouting assignments, Sir Ulrich and Sir Tyler have been kept busy with all manner of menial tasks (laundry, stable cleaning, etc.). Not that they complained, for both were present when Sir Rhys Lloyd Hammerfoot protested. He was immediately tossed from the castle ramparts into the moat, recently stocked with hungry alligators. But today, fortune shines on the two lads, as they are given guard duty at the castle gates. And now, they find themselves escorting a beautiful lady for an audience with King Richardson.
Anastasia: "Good Knights, before meeting the King, I must bathe and change my attire. Please take me to an unoccupied room, and bring me a large basin of clean water." (Tyler and Ulrich oblige) "Thank you, now if you will wait outside, I will be out in a trice." Gazing into the still water, Anastasia in just minutes sees all that has recently transpired; the good (draft), the bad (labor wars), and the ugly (an Emu in a Speedo??). -- Narrator's note: I don't know exactly how this works, as her "Sight" is a mysterious genetic gift that she has honed through meditation and practice over many years. I would liken it to being plugged into the 'The Matrix "learning programs"... and yes, Anastasia does know Kung Fu.
As she undresses and begins to bathe, Anastasia is fully aware that her "escorts" are spying through the keyhole. ("Boys, boys") She playfully angles her body so as to tease their vision as they argue (too loudly) for the next peek. She then dons a clean dress, and quickly opens the door, catching the fools on their knees at the door. "See anything you like, boys."
As they raise their eyes, Anastasia sees the "eyes wide, mouths open" faces to which she's become accustomed. She simply rolls her eyes, lifts them up, and escorts them to the main corridor leading to the Throne Room.
Approaching the massive door, a booming voice suddenly erupts from within. "Fudge, fudge, fudgin' fudge. Get the fudge in here." Ulrich and Tylers' collective knees buckle in unison.
Anastasia: "He speaks not to us. Get up and open the fudging DOOR!"
Tyler (opens door): "My Liege, a Lady requests an audience. Shall I ask her to come another time."
The King: "Nonsense, show her in and wait outside." The King is seated on his throne, gazing longingly at the tray on his lap... a tray full of fudge. Looking up, he only briefly gawks before saying, "Come, come in. Welcome to my castle, lovely Lady. Please you must try some of this. It is positively rapturous. Sit here on the Queen's throne. She is out of town presently, or would be here to greet you, I'm certain. As it is, I must take advantage of her absences by indulging in one of the many vices of which I am otherwise deprived -- fudge."
Anastasia (sitting): "Oh, Your Highness, I'm sure she has only your best heart at interest." Anastasia takes a piece of fudge, and bites. "Oh my GAWD, that is the most flavorable, finest, ...fudgiest fudging fudge I've ever tasted. YUM!" (now laughing) "My, it seems we've skipped the foreplay and gone straight to the main event. My name is Lady Anastasia, and I am at your service, Your Highness."
The King (smiling with chocolate covered teeth): "I am King Richardson. Your reputation does not do you justice, m"Lady. Please, just call me Jerry. And please forgive my uncourtly manners. I've spent way too much time in "courts" lately.
Anastasia: "Of course I forgive you, Jerry, though my hips may not." (... as she reaches for more fudge). I knew you weren't the slimeball certain media types have portrayed. It seems only the 'CatScratchReader' bloggers and their ilk understand your true nature. I personally find you charming. Please, call me Annie."
Jerry: "Well, Annie, it seems we're off to a fudging good start. I must be honest... I know much more about you than you realize. For now, I will tell you that you need have no secrets with me. You are under my protection. Indeed, I have great need of your powers in order to return my kingdom to glory. Consider this your home, and anything I can provide for your comfort shall be done forthwith."
Annie: "Thank you, Jerry. We must talk more about these things you know about me later. I will gladly use my "talents", such as they are, to help in your Kingdom's resurrection. Verily, I have already taken some measures, and I am ready to tell all I've seen. But first, if you would be so kind, my precious cat 'Queen' was not allowed to enter. Might you be so kind as to inform the Captain of your Guard to just, well, get out of the way."
Jerry: "I'd be delighted." Presses a button on the arm of his Throne. "Captain? Let the cat in, and tell these two buffoons outside my door to open it and stand aside." Annie deftly allows herself 'just one more' piece of fudge.
Mere moments later, Queen bounds into the Throne room and bows before the King. Ulrich and Tyler pass out in the hallway, each experiencing similar nightmares of a glowing-green-eyed black monster barreling towards them.
Jerry: Bow not to me, Queen Charlotte. Welcome home. Just look at how you've grown, near as big as your father was. Come, sit between us and have some fudge.
Queen (silently to Annie): Please tell Jerry that I am so happy to finally be home, and to find him in good health. And please convey my deepest gratitude for commissioning statues of my great Father and Mother to guard the castle entrances.
Annie, realizing it is now she with the wide-eyed, mouth agape visage, conveys the message verbatim. To Queen, she silently says: "Girlfriend, we're definitely going to have a long talk."
Jerry: "So, Annie, what think you of the young squires we picked up in the NFL Selection Extravaganza."
Annie: "Let's get to it, then. Of course I know of the Labor strife, and the impact it has had on you personally, and the difficulties in battle the season past. And whilst my sight is well-honed to view past and present events, be aware that the future is never solid; I see glimpses of what may come to pass. But as they say, the fart of a kiwi in New Zealand may eventually affect an otherwise perfectly thrown attack ball. I cannot know the gastric habits of all kiwis, nor the flap of every butterfly's wing. Yet, I will offer what insight I can.
"I had occasion to meet Squire Cam a month ago. Well, I didn't actually meet him, I snuck into his bed chamber as he slept (with his playbook, I might add). In addition to his physical skilz, I can sense greatness in this man-child. He is driven to it by his own determination and by fate itself. Just as my mother did with the great Sir Joe Cool back in Chapter 3, scene 3, I whispered a spell of courage, humility, and righteousness in his ear, laid charms of fortune and fame about his bed, and spake aloud the final spell of victory. You and your staff chose well, indeed, with the first selection.
"Moving along, the Front-Line Interior Defense selections, Squires McClain and Fua, will not show up as statistically very effective. Yet along with the young returning knights, and possibly the addition of one other, you will have a quite solid rotation. Used wisely, these men will keep the Attack Blockers off of your phenomenal 2nd-Line Defenders, and it is this group that will be feared among all kingdoms.
"Squire Hogan I find to be the most intriguing of all the selections. He is reckless and undisciplined, giving no consideration to consequence. These traits have cost him most dearly whilst not in battle - something of a bluelight special, as it were. Yet on the battlefield, this trait forebodes a great counter-weapon, for his senses in battle are indeed keen. Combined with his speed and strong prowess against the run attack, Squire Hogan will prosper. I believe in him, and would like to "work" with him a bit.
"I can further tell you that Squire Pilares will fit quite well with the 2nd-year Flank Attack Unit, possessing skills and work ethic to contribute very soon, if not immediately. Squire Wilson will serve well in reserves and on Special Squadrons. I fear for Squire Williams, who has the toughness but perhaps not the skills to earn his battle gear. Squire Ziemba, on the other hand, will I think be a fine Interior Attack reserve."
Jerry: "Wonderful observations, Annie. I am already in awe of your sight. But you must be tired, as am I. The fudge always does that to me."
Annie: "Please tell me, where do you come by these immaculate confections?"
Jerry: "They are provided to me by Roger the Fudger. Having formerly been a Shrubber of some note in the Forest of Endor, he has a great knowledge of horticulture, growing many of his own ingredients. Roger owns a fine Fudgery on Mint Street. I will send word that he is to give you anything you ask."
Annie (having noticed, of course, the bare hint of taste, yet strong effect of cannibis in the fudge): "I'm quite sure I'll be paying him a visit soon; for my supply of medicinal and spell-casting herbs is greatly depleted."
Jerry: "You will, of course, make your home here in the castle. We have many vacant suites, given the damnable lockout."
Annie: "What of Sir Connor's suite? Is it available?"
Jerry: "Alas, I do miss my Fool, Sir Connor. His quarters are near to my own. Consider them your own for as long as you desire. I'll have the servants prepare them for you."
Annie: "So kind you are. Yet leave it as is, if you will, other than a quick cleaning perhaps. Oh, and Queen will be needing special facilities constructed in the mode of an extremely large litter container."
Jerry: "I shall see to it immediately. Tyler, Ulrich... I need you to build something. Fetch some lumber."
Later that very evening, Sir Connor and Sir CJ, are pensively walking together around the Castle walls, when Sir CJ notices candlelight from Sir Connor's former room. Pointing it out to Sir Connor, they both gaze up as a fine silhouette passes the window. Hoping for another look, they instead see the shade pulled back, ...and what was that movement?
CJ is suddenly hit and knocked flat by... well, apparently the fudge had a particularly vile effect upon Queen's bowels, requiring immediate disposal of a shovel-full. Sir Connor, seeing the shit covered CJ, bursts out laughing, whereupon he finds himself similarly knocked knocked flat. Suffice to say, passers-by gave them both a long look and a wide berth.