Thursday, 30 June 2011

NONSENSE TALE - CHAPTER EIGHT


CHAPTER EIGHT



(If they make this into a film, what rating would it be?)



This time, they managed to make camp and light a fire with no problems. The view from the hilltop was spectacular and the setting sun made for a beautiful evening scene.

You’ll just have to take my word for it.

A frugal but welcome meal was made with everyone contributing; the Writer picked some herbs, and wrote some cooking implements into the story. The Knight ‘borrowed’ some potatoes and vegetables from a nearby farmer’s field to boil up with the herbs. And the horse trotted off and kicked a couple of rabbits to death, and brought them back to be cooked.

After clearing up (and by clearing up, I mean throwing everything down the side of the hill), they settled down for the night. Unfortunately, they didn’t stay settled for very long. In the middle of the night, they were woken by the mournful howl of a wolf – and a close one at that. To make matters worse, it appeared to have some friends not too far off. The Knight peered over the edge of the hill, and through the mist could just make out several dark shapes gathering at the foot of the hill.

Realising the imminent danger, the Knight cried ‘Hurry!! Build up the fire!! Arm yourselves!! The enemy is on all sides!!!’ This rallying cry did not have the desired the effect – as the horse just gave him a look that seemed to say ‘no opposable thumbs – remember?’, and the Writer had only his wits with him, and they were about as sharp as a sack of feathers floating in a bowl of custard.

Cursing his own never ending bad luck, the Knight hurriedly threw more wood on the fire until it roared into life with flames six feet high. He thrust a branch into the flames, and then with his sword in one hand and the flaming brand in the other he turned and looked out into the darkness.

At first he could see nothing, but he could hear the low growl of several wolves that were just out of sight in the shadows. Then, as his eyes became accustomed to the lack of light the Knight started to make out several pairs of pale yellow eyes circling the camp. The Knight also noticed a single yellow eye which bobbed up and down with an awkward rhythm, which the Knight assumed belonged to old wolf with only one eye. The yellow eyes circled ceaselessly, never moving their gaze from where the Knight stood. So fixed on the Knight were the wolves that on more than one occasion two wolves would crash into each other travelling in opposite directions, and a brief fight would break out with lots of snarling and whining. The circling seemed to last for ages, but suddenly it stopped. The air seemed thick around the Knights head, and the sound of his own breathing was deafening. Suddenly a howl echoed out into the night, and was immediately answered by countless others. The noise that surrounded him struck terror into the Knights heart – but worse was to come.

Suddenly, in the darkness the horse started to neigh frantically, but its cries of terror were cut short by the snarls of several wolves that were tearing it to shreds. The Knight wanted to run to the aid of his horse, but was powerless to do so.
 
The Knight turned to the Writer and said ‘can’t you do something?!’, but the Writer was so scared all he could was shake his head – that, and steadily soil himself.
 
The Knight realised that the entire camp was now surrounded, and if he or the Writer had tried to move they too would almost certainly be killed.
 
Suddenly, out of the darkness, a single wolf stepped into the circle of light made by the fire.  It was huge, a grey mass of fur and muscle, with tattered ears from countless battles and a scar running down the length of its face right over its left eye, which had been missing for several years. This was the owner of the single eye the Knight had seen circling the camp. This was the wolf general.

The wolf took a single step forward and then stopped, looking at the Knight. By the Knights reckoning, the wolf was six foot tall at the shoulder at least – which was a bit of a worry, as the Knight was only five feet eight tall. The Knight stared into the pale eye of the wolf and saw pure evil looking back at him. Then the wolf general turned his gaze upon the Writer – but seemed to recoil a little as if he had discovered a bad smell. The Knight turned to where the Writer was and caught him mouthing the words ‘eat him, not me!!’ to the Wolf whilst pointing furiously at the Knight. Not entirely surprised by this gesture, the Knight made himself a promise that if he ever got out of this, he would run the Writer through with his sword.

However, at this precise moment in time, that wasn’t looking very likely.

The wolf general curled his lipped and gave a blood curdling guttural growl, and coiled it self in preparation to leap at the Knight. The Knight braced himself, and prepared to face what could be his final moment. In an explosion of energy the wolf leapt at the Knight, and as he did so the Knight suddenly felt a terrible burning sensation engulf his left hand. The flaming brand which the Knight had been holding had been burning steadily as the wolves circled the camp, and just as the wolf general leapt

The wolf let out a terrible howl as its vital organs were ruptured by the cold steel forcing its way through them, as the weight of its own body pushed the wolf further onto the Knight’s sword. The Knight was knocked to the ground by the momentum of the wolf and lay there pinned as the wolf lay on top of him dying. The wolf trembled violently for a moment, and then its last rancid breath escaped from its body, and then it was still. Suddenly it seemed as if a thousand wolves cried out in anguish, and were then silent. The Knight lay there, waiting for the revenge of the general’s soldiers to come. But nothing happened. The wolves, leaderless without their general, did not have the heart to fight. They might have been a pack, but there was no loyalty amongst them, so they all ran off into the night, and were not seen again.

The Knight managed to roll the body of the dead wolf off himself, and staggered to his feet. His right arm was numb from the weight of the wolf, and would be bruised for weeks to come. His sleeve of armour was stained with the blood of the wolf, and the smell of death was on him. He looked over to where the Writer was – now cowering in the foetal position on the floor – and could tell that the Writer had his own smell on him, and it certainly wasn’t death. The Knight made a note to remind the Writer to change his undergarments before they went any further.

The Knight’s left hand was in agony from the burning brand he had been holding, and he would bear a mark there the rest of his days. Still fearful of attack he sat close to the fire and vowed to stay awake all night, ensuring that the fire didn’t go out.

Of course, he never managed it, exhaustion, emotion and the toll of the effort it took to get the wolf general off him, was all too much and he was asleep within five minutes.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

NONSENSE TALE - CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER SEVEN

(Who’d have thought we’d make it this far?)


The following morning brought no sunshine. Instead it had found a real good offer on torrential downpours, and had bought the lot. It was the noise of the rain that woke the Knight – the noise rain makes as it falls through the roof of the tavern with a load of sodden timbers and wet thatch. The Knight had a lucky escape, as a piece of timber crashed down missing his head by inches. Having a piece of timber fall through the ceiling and hit you with full force in the stomach, making you sit bolt upright and vomit up last night’s meal, might not seem like a lucky escape to many – but it was luckier than being smacked in the face by it.

The Knight felt that it was not a good omen. Gregory Peck was rubbish. He managed to get himself out from under the timber and the soaking wet bed clothes, and dried himself off with the complimentary sheep that was in his room. At least, that’s his story if anyone asked. Once he had finished ‘drying’ himself, he got dressed and went downstairs. To his surprise, the tavern was still jam packed from the previous evening – mainly because of the rain outside, which was now inside too.
To the surprise of the people in the tavern, the Knight was still here and had not done a runner in the early hours as many had them had predicted.

A hundred pairs of eyes watched the Knight walk out of the tavern – which was concerning, as there were only 38 people in the place, including the dog. The Knight made his way to the blacksmiths through the rivers of mud which now made up the streets. When he got there, he found his horse waiting outside with a seriously pissed off look on its face. It had obviously been left out there all night, and its rain soaked mane was stuck to its neck. The lengths of hair looked more like mascara running down a crying woman’s face than fine horse hair. The Knight called for the blacksmith, who shortly came out into his workshop.

‘I’ve sharpened your sword, sir Knight’, said the blacksmith. The Knight, remembering the lack of knowledge shown by the blacksmith regarding the shoeing of his horse, was instinctively sceptical of this new claim. ‘How sharp is it?’ the Knight asked, ‘How sharp?’ repeated the blacksmith, ‘Let me go and get it, and I’ll show you’. With that he scurried off through a curtain into the back of his workshop. Suddenly there was an anguished scream from behind the curtain, followed by the sound of something metallic hitting the floor. A few moments passed, and the blacksmith returned – with his right hand heavily bandaged and bleeding, whilst carrying the Knights sword in the crook of his left arm.

‘What happened?’ asked the Knight. ‘Well sir’ replied the Blacksmith, ‘I went out back to see how sharp you sword was, and I managed to cut off the fingers on my left hand with it.’
‘How on earth did you do that?’ cried the Knight. ‘Oh it was quite simple sir, I did it like this’ said the Blacksmith, who then decided to re-enact the whole incident, and promptly cut all the fingers off on his left hand. ‘Bugger me – not again!!’ cried the blacksmith as he dropped the sword for the second time.

The Knight rushed to the Blacksmith’s aid and bandaged his left hand as best he could. He then picked up the Blacksmiths fingers – but could only find three of them. However, he did find a very guilty looking pig standing quite nearby that had wandered in out of the rain.

Leaving the blacksmith bleeding and fingerless, the Knight picked up his sword (Very carefully), and went outside to saddle his horse. Once saddled (is that the correct term?) the Knight mounted his horse, and waved farewell to the blacksmith.

The blacksmith cheerily waved his two bloodied and bandaged remains of hands – and then passed out from loss of blood. The pig, sensing an opportunity, cackled evilly and started walking slowly to where the unconscious blacksmith lay.

The Knight set off at a gentle pace. He could had made the horse run faster, but he remembered the old woman’s words, and didn’t want to end up with a knackered horse half a mile from the edge of town. The rain fell steadily, and the ‘plink, plink’ sound it made as it hit the Knights armour became as monotonous as the journey itself. The sky above was bruised black and grey and everywhere the Knight looked the trees and plants were bent as if in submission under the relentless onslaught of the rain. Muddy puddles filled the road, and the horse stamped through them angrily. It hated the rain, it hated puddles, and it hated the fact that it had the Knight sat on his back soaking wet and sounding like a xylophone with only one working note. As fed up animals went, this was one unhappy horse.

The Knight too, was not in a very good mood. Suits of armour by design are not very good at keeping water out, nor good at keeping warmth in, so not only was he slowly getting soaked to the skin, he was also getting colder by the minute. The Knight saw a huge oak tree up ahead with branches that spread out over the road, offering at least some shelter from the rain. The Knight decided to stop there a while and hopefully wait for the rain to ease off.

After about four hours, the Knight began to get the feeling that the rain might not ease off just yet. However, the majestic Oak tree under which he and his grumpy steed were stood did at least provide a decent degree of shelter. It didn’t stop the rain coming through completely, but halted it enough for both of them to at least start to dry out. The only problem now was the cold – the Knight realised that he would need to get a fire going to warm them up. The Horse had realised this about four hours earlier, but short of scraping the words ‘make a fire you idiot!’ in the dirt with his hooves (which it couldn’t be asked to do), he had no way of passing this idea on to the Knight. Who did people think he was – Black Beauty?

The Knight looked around him. There were a few fagots lying around, and some leaves which appeared to be quite dry, so the Knight gathered them up and made them into a pile.

‘You missed a golden opportunity for a crap joke there Writer’, said the Knight.

‘What do you mean?’ asked the Writer.

‘Well – a few fagots lying around – surely you could have made some joke up about homosexuals or something?’

‘Yes, I could have done – EXCEPT ‘FAGOT’ DOESN’T MEAN SLANG FOR HOMOSEXUAL, IT MEANS BITS OF DRIED WOOD AND STICKS ETC.!!! YOU WERE THINKING OF ‘FAGGOT’!!!’

The Writer growled in frustration, and hurled a dictionary at the Knight.


‘BEFORE YOU START TRYING TO GIVE ME ADVICE ON HOW TO WRITE, CHECK YOUR SPELLING!!!’

‘Alright, alright!’ said the Knight, ‘It was just a suggestion – anyway, thanks for this’. He was tearing the pages out of the dictionary to use as kindling for the fire. The Writer couldn’t believe his eyes. ‘Hey! I didn’t give that to you for you to destroy’, he cried. The Knight, still tearing pages out of the dictionary didn’t look up, but did reply ‘well, I have to use everything I’ve got to help me get through this, so if you don’t like, don’t help’.

The Writer was at a loss. Turning his gaze skywards he said ‘Dear God, I’m not a bad person. I know I make mistakes – you know I make mistakes, but I hope you also know that I am trying my best. But it’s difficult in these circumstances (gesturing towards the Knight), you know? I just need a little help, that’s all – a little sign to show me that I shouldn’t give up, and that everything will be alright in the end. Any chance you can do something?’ The Writer closed his eyes, and bowed his head in silence for a moment. The horse and the Knight both looked at the Writer in silence.

‘Ask and you shall receive!!!’ An unfortunately familiar voice broke the silence.

The Writer, the Knight, and the Horse all turned towards the direction of the voice, and saw the Friar strolling towards them. He was bathed in a shaft of light which had appeared out of the blackened sky above, and the rain seemed to be falling around him, but not actually on him.

‘Not him again’ thought the Knight.
‘I hate my life’ thought the Writer
‘Who the hell is this?’ thought the Horse, who was still in a bad mood.

‘Hello my friends!’ said the Friar in his usual cheery voice ‘I’m here to help’.

 ‘We don’t need your help’, said the Knight rudely. The Friar paused to take in the scene: The Knight and the horse sheltering from the rain under the oak tree, both looking miserable, and the rain hammering down relentlessly. He didn’t even need to look at the Writer to know how he was doing.

‘Oh, I think you do’ said the Friar, and with that he pulled out a sack of oats which he gave to the horse to eat. The horse started to munch away eagerly whilst giving the Friar a look that clearly said ‘This doesn’t make us buddies’. The friar then pulled out a flint and a tinder box and gave it to the Knight so he could light his fire. The Knight accepted this quickly, and made a spark which he ignited some kindling with. The Knight was about to place the kindling into the pile of leaves, fagots and paper when the Friar cried ‘Wait! Allow me to bless the fire first – for good luck’

‘Good idea’ said the Knight, cupping the kindling in his hands to prevent it going out.

The Friar pulled a small vial of holy water out from his habit, and walked over to where the Knight was knelt with the kindling in his hands. Un-corking the vial, the Friar made the sign of the cross with the vial and then sprinkled holy water over the Knights hands whilst reciting the blessing ‘Sancti Apostoli Petrus et Paulus: de quorum potestate et auctoritate confidimus ipsi intercedant pro nobis ad Dominum

Which is an actual honest to goodness blessing – you can look it up if you like.

As the Friar spoke these words, a feeling of hope filled the hearts of the Knight, the Writer, and even the horse (though he would swear it was heartburn if asked). The torrential rain suddenly stopped, and the sun broke through the clouds.

A feeling of calm seemed to  descended over the land. At the same time the tiny flame in the kindling seemed to burst into life – just before being completely extinguished by a large drop of holy water which splashed down onto the Knights hands, saturatring them.

For a moment, the Knight was motionless - staring down at the wet kindling which was hissing slightly as the holy water drowned all embers within it. The Friar stood there transfixed by the Knights hands and their soggy contents. The Writer looked at both the Knight and the Friar – both looking like they were waxworks of themselves positioned in a scene. The Horse looked mournfully into the now empty sack that the oats had once been in.

No-one spoke. Then the Friar summed it all up single word.

‘Bugger.’

This utterance sparked an explosion of activity. The Knight leaped to his feet roaring in anger at the Friar. He drew his sword, fully intending to cleave the Friar in two. The Friar backed away instinctively, saying repeatedly ‘you wouldn’t hurt a man of the cloth would you? Come on – love your fellow man and all that?’ The Knight had to be restrained by the horse, who was neighing constantly in a ‘leave it – he’s not worth it’ kind of way. The Writer was furiously writing down horrible ways for the Friar to meet his end, pausing only to snarl at the Friar and make unpleasant gestures towards him. The Friar, deciding that simply saying sorry was likely to make things worse for him, ran off into the distance.

Eventually, everyone calmed down.

Actually, that’s not true. Surprisingly, the Writer calmed down first. Perhaps it was the fact that the weather (which had ultimately put everyone in a dodgy mood in the first place) had improved dramatically; it had stopped raining, the sun was shining, and it was really quite warm. Or maybe it was because he was trying to adopt a more philosophical outlook on life – you know the-glass-is-half-full type of thing. It could just be that he wanted to get on with this story, and hope that it developed as he dreamed it would.

The Knight took a little longer to simmer down. Remember; he was in a heavy, damp, wet suit of armour – which was starting to rust a little in some embarrassing places (so much so that from distance he looked like a naked Ginger robot) – and he was totally fed up. Yet again the hands of fate had wedgied him firmly and without concern, leaving him feeling constricted and uncomfortable. But he too started to feel better when he had dried out and warmed up a little.

The Horse - who you will remember had been grumpy right from the word go – showed no sign of calming down, and seemed to take some of his anger out on a poor unsuspecting rabbit that had hopped out of the undergrowth to find some lunch now that the rain had stopped. The horse waited for the rabbit to hop within reach, and then it mercilessly kicked it over the hedge of the nearest field and out of sight.

The Knight decided to eat. He had been given a small bag of provisions by the town merchant, in which there was a small loaf of bread, some berries, some local cheese, and a small flagon of ale. The Knight, although wary of eating the food from such a disgusting town, was very hungry and tucked in to the food eagerly.

After eating what the Knight would later describe as an ‘interesting’ meal of stale bread, semi-poisonous berries, and cheese which tasted like it had been made from the milk of an elderly cat – all washed down with ale that tasted like the sweat from the apron of the Tavern’s barman – the Knight decided it was time to get moving.

‘It’s time to get moving’, said the Knight (see, I was right).

 The Knight, sensing the mood of his steed, decided against riding it for the moment. Instead, he simply untied it and lead it out from under the tree and on down the path. The horse – its mood improved by punting the rabbit – allowed itself to be lead.

The road kept its course due east, except for the odd occasion when it turned North, or South, or even westward for a bit. But apart from that, it carried on East. By now it was late afternoon, and thoughts about making a camp for the night had entered the mind of the Knight and the Writer. They had dried out completely now, and it didn’t look like it would rain again that night. The rest of their journey that afternoon was uneventful, and as night began to fall, they found themselves at the foot of a hill whose summit overlooked the surrounding countryside. The Knight decided that this would be a good place to make a camp, so they walked up to the top and made their camp for the night.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

NONSENSE TALE - CHAPTER SIX


CHAPTER SIX



(Oooooh – bet you’re wondering what’s going to happen.)



The Knight stepped in through the open doorway. He found himself standing in an ornate hallway. Rich tapestries and lavish portraits of important looking people hung on the walls, and huge velvet drapes with gold tassels marked doorways that lead to other parts of the great building. Across the polished floor, a magnificent staircase curled its way majestically up to a balcony overlooking the hall. The staircase had handrails of pure gold and a lush red carpet lay centrally along it.

The Knight whistled in awe of the luxury before him. Suddenly the great iron door closed behind him with a resounding bang! The Knight jumped round instinctively, and saw the doorman standing before him.

He was not a tall chap. He was about three feet tall, with greasy black hair, and a complexion to match. He wore a brown waistcoat over a pale shirt and trousers that stopped about six inches above his dirty leather boots. If this was his uniform, he didn’t take good care of it. Mind you, by the look of him, the same applied to his personal hygiene. The Knight looked past the doorman (I say past, really it was over the doorman) at the iron door. He noted that attached to this side of the door was a series of small steps, which took the vertically challenged doorman to different hatches of varying heights. This obviously gave the doorman the illusion of being taller than he really was.

What a sneaky little git, I bet you are all thinking.

And you’d be right.

The doorman shot out a stubby little arm with a dirty hand palm face upwards. ‘Where’s my money?’ He demanded.

The Knight handed the doorman three pieces of gold – but not before holding the money out at arms length and taking great pleasure in watching the doorman jumping up to try and reach it. Eventually he let the doorman reach it and said ‘Right – which way to the Mayor?’

The doorman snatched the money from the Knight and said ‘up the stairs and follow the corridor to the end. Then turn left and walk to the end of that corridor, and then go through the last door on your right.’

‘What do we do when we go through that door?’ asked the Knight. Without looking up the doorman said, ‘come straight back out, as you would have gone too far. Walk back down the corridor and turn right. Then walk back down that corridor the way you came, and the mayor’s office is the door just before the top of this staircase.’

The Knight looked at the doorman for a second, and then looked at the Writer. The Writer looked at the Knight and shrugged his shoulders and shook his head to say ‘I know, I know’. The Knight looked back at the doorman and seriously considered running him through with his sword. ‘If the Mayor’s office is just at the top of the stairs – why don’t we just go straight there when we get to the top of the staircase?!’ asked the Knight.

‘Well I suppose you could – if you want to be picky about it’ said the doorman.

‘Well I do’ said the Knight, and turned from the doorman and walked up the staircase. When he reached top he saw the door to the mayor’s office was the first door on the left. The Knight took a deep breath and said to the Writer, ‘Right, adventure here we come.’

He walked over to the door and knocked firmly on it. For a moment, there was no answer. Then, very faintly, the Knight heard a trembling voice from inside say ‘c…..c-come in?’

The Knight pushed open the door and found himself in a long room, lavishly decorated in a similar style to the great hall he had been just in. Along the walls of this office hung the portraits of previous mayors – all fine looking men, resplendent in their robes of office.  At the bottom of each picture was a plaque, describing the person displayed in the picture. As the Knight walked along the room he read these plaques – each of which sounded very impressive:

‘Oliver Stronghold – Mayor from AD 1057 to AD 1064. Saved this town from the Three Headed Ogres’

‘Nathanial Stoutheart – Mayor from AD 1085 to AD 1105. Defeated the Witch of the mountains to save our people’

‘Sebastian Dauntless – Mayor from AD 1174 to AD 1180. Drove off the plague of vampires and lifted their curse’

The Knight got the distinct impression from these plaques that the person chosen by the townspeople to be Mayor had historically always been courageous, brave, and a natural leader. The plaques also gave him the impression that the people of this town didn’t have much luck.

The plaques went on until the Knight found himself in front of a great oak desk. On the desk a brass name plate proudly declared ‘Town Mayor’ – but there was no one to be seen. The great red leather chair on the other side of the desk was empty. It appeared that the voice which had allowed them in had vanished.

The Knight walked round to the other side of the desk, and looked underneath. There, in the recess beneath the desk, curled up into a ball - was the mayor.

‘What are you doing under there?’ asked the Knight, pulling the mayor out and helping his to his feet. ‘N-nothing’ stammered the mayor, ‘I was looking for something’. The Knight looked at the Mayor. He was of average height, but was above average weight. He wore purple robes of office that were stretched over his rotund frame. Whenever he moved it clear to see the Stitching being tested to its capacity. The mayor had a full head of ginger hair, and the most magnificent handlebar moustache the Knight had ever seen. It stretched out a good four inches on either side of the Mayor’s nose and curled perfectly at the tips. What was also noticeable to the Knight was the fact that the Mayor was constantly trembling, and seemed very nervous.

‘Are you sure you’re alright Mayor……?’ asked the Knight, searching for the Mayors first name.

‘Ernest’, trembled the Mayor, ‘My name is Ernest. Not as inspiring as some of my predecessors, is it?’

‘Erm…no’ said the Knight, feeling a little uncomfortable. ‘But why were you under the desk – and why are you so nervous?’ The Mayor looked the Knight straight in the eyes – and burst into tears.

‘Oh it’s awful! It’s horrible! The whole town has been cursed – cursed I say! and there’s nothing we can do! The town’s folk elected me mayor because there was no-one else to vote for! All our young men have been sent to try and defeat the evil ones – but none have returned!! I don’t know what do!!!’

The Knight realised that this Mayor was nothing like those pictured on the walls of his office. This Mayor was a great big Nancy of a girl who was probably scared of his own shadow.

The Knight had a hundred questions whizzing round in his head, and wanted to ask the all at once – but he knew that would involve far too much typing for the Writers comfort, so he chose to ask one at a time. ‘Who are these evil ones – where did they come from?’

‘That’s two questions’ said the Writer. ‘What?’ said the Knight. ‘You’ve asked two questions – and yet in the paragraph above it clearly says ‘so he chose to ask one at a time’. ‘So what?’ cried the Knight, ‘I’m trying to find out what’s going on around here, and you’re nit picking!’ ‘Sorreee!’ said the Writer in a huff, ‘I’m just trying to be consistent that all’. ‘Well now is not a good time – you can pick holes in the consistency of this story at a less vital point! – anyway Mr Mayor, who are these evil ones?’

‘I don’t know who they are’ cried the Mayor, ‘They appeared some months ago, and started attacking the town for no reason. The men folk of the town went out to defend us, but they all got captured and took into the forest, and we haven’t seen them since. Ever since they have gone, our town has been cursed – the crops have failed, animals have died, and filth and diseases have taken over. If we could get our men folk back we could try to rebuild our lives, but we are scared to go and look for them because the evil ones keep something in the forest – a presence of someone or something that terrifies us all.’ Suddenly the Mayor gripped the Knight by the arm and cried, ‘Will you help us? You must help us!’

Before the Knight could speak the Writer jumped in. ‘Well, it is a lovely sounding adventure, and you describe the problem so beautifully – but having taking into consideration our current workload, and the fact that there are ‘evil ones’ and a ‘terrifying presence’ and all that, I’m afraid that we are gong to having to decline. Sorry – the answers no’

‘What are you saying?’ said the Knight to the Writer, ‘these people need our help!’

‘Not likely’ said the Writer.‘I’m not risking my neck for this rabble of filthy inbreeds – or their coward of a mayor!’ The Knight couldn’t believe his ears, ‘I can’t believe my ears’ said the Knight (told you so),’these people are in real need. This is a genuine adventure and a chance for me to help people – but I can’t do it alone, I need you with me’. ‘It’s not happening’ said the Writer, ‘I’m a Writer – not a fighter’. The Knight wasn’t having any of it. ‘Listen Writer, I’ve been with you every step of the way through this story of yours, and I’ve been on the end of a lot of very poor writing, and unfortunate incidents. And yet, I’m still here, and I’m prepared to carry on until the bitter end if need be. You’re the Writer – you can write is so that you don’t have to do any fighting at all – incidentally, if you could write it so that I don’t have to do any fighting as well, that would be great – you have the power to write the greatest adventure ever if you want to, but if you turn away now, if you decide not to go on and see this through, then what was the point? Yes, you will live to see another day, but you’ll never lose that thought of ‘I wonder how that story turned out in the end?’ Come on – what do you say?’

‘No.’ said the Writer.

‘Fine’ said the Knight, ‘I’ll do it alone.’ He turned to the Mayor and said ‘I will help you Mayor – I will do my best to rescue your missing people and free your town from the tyranny of these evil ones.’

‘Oh thank you, thank you!’ cried the Mayor, ‘I know you will save us all!’ ‘Don’t thank me now – thank me when it’s all over’ said the Knight’. ‘I will’ said the Mayor, ‘and if you need any supplies, the town is at your disposal’.

‘Thank you’ said the Knight. He gave the Writer one last look and then walked out of the Mayor’s Office.

The news that the Knight was going to take on the evil ones spread through the town faster than one of the many diseases that infested it. The frail, disease ridden women and children bravely came out of hiding to wish the Knight well. To be honest, the Knight secretly wished that they had stayed hidden because the stench that surrounded them and the infections they carried did nothing for the Knights mood. But he hid his repulsion, and smiled and waved and said ‘thank you’ when and where necessary. He decided that he needed a horse, as the forest lay a hundred leagues or so off according to the townsfolk. He also decided that he needed a map, as he did not know the area, and danger was bound to lurk around every corner. Unfortunately, no-one in the town could read or write, so a map was not available. The Knight had to make do with the directions given to him by a gnarled old crone – which seemed to consist of the following:

‘Follow the east road out of the town until your horse is knackered. Rest for a night – but light a fire, and do not sleep - for there are creatures in the wild who do not like people travelling through their land. In the morning, set off and repeat the whole process for the next three days and nights. On the fifth day, you’ll sleep all day – but keep one eye open just in case. Rest one more night, and then continue on the rood until you find the place where the trees stand together – some people call it a forest. Some people call it a wood. I call it ‘Brian’, but that’s just me. That is where you will find the evil ones and the evil presence. Unless they’ve moved’

The Knight visited the blacksmith to get his sword sharpened, and his horse shod. The Blacksmith didn’t really seem to know where to start with the horse, so the Knight asked him ‘Have you ever Shoed a horse before?’

‘Never’ replied the blacksmith, ‘but I told a pig to sod off once.’

As it was clear to the Knight that the blacksmith would be taking some time to do what was necessary (it was also clear that he was a complete moron), the Knight decided it would be better to leave in the morning. He arranged with the blacksmith to collect his horse and his sword the following morning, and returned to the tavern to eat and have what could be his last nights rest.

The tavern was strangely quiet. It was strange because it was jam packed, but everyone inside had decided to just move their mouths as if they were speaking, but no sounds came out. The Knights voice echoed loudly as he ordered his meal and ale, and the noise of his eating and drinking seemed to be the loudest sound in there. Even the vomiting dog had learned to do it in silence.

The Knight finished his meal, and returned the pewter plate and tankard to the bar. As he turned to go up to his room, and small child in the far corner of the tavern called out to him, ‘Be careful sir Knight!’

The Knight turned and looked at the child and smiled. The concern in the child’s eyes was proof to the Knight that these were a good people at heart, and that they didn’t deserve what had happened to them. His resolve to help them was strengthened.

Then he turned back and cracked his head on the low door frame through which the stairs to his room started. As he fell backwards clutching his head, the tavern erupted into howls of laughter. As the Knight lay there, struggling to remain conscious he heard the small child say ‘I did say be careful!’

The Knight got to his feet and in silence slowly made his way up the stairs and to his room. He closed the door, and spent the next hour struggling out of his suit of armour. When he finally got the last of his armour off, he staggered over to the bed and fell face first on to it. He managed to pull the covers over himself and then fell into a deep sleep.

The townsfolk downstairs in the tavern continued to laugh about the Knight banging his head long into the small hours.

Monday, 27 June 2011

NONSENSE TALE - CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER FIVE



(This story is available in multiple formats – funnier, better storyline etc.)



The following morning, the sunlight crept into the Knights room, snatched off his bedcovers and gave him an almighty slap on his backside as he lay face down on the bed.

‘Ouch!!!’ yelled the Knight as he jumped up in shock and pain. ‘What was that for?!’

‘That’s your alarm call – it’s time to get up’ The Writer said, smiling.

‘There must be gentler ways of waking me up? – and what are you doing in my room?’ said the Knight, rubbing the spot where he had been slapped.

‘Oh there were – and some of them would have made a fantastic opening scene to the chapter, but I liked that one – brief and funny. And I had to be here to see how it turned out; not too bad – even if I do say so myself’

‘Well, I’m glad you liked it’, grumbled the Knight.

‘Shush now’ said the Writer, ‘get dressed and meet me outside – we’re off to find adventure today!’

The Knight got dressed – which was no mean feat as traditionally he would have had at least one squire to help him put on his suit of armour. About two hours later, and looking very sweaty and red in the face, the Knight appeared outside the front of the tavern.

‘Ah good, you’re here’ said the Writer, ‘I was beginning to worry’.

‘Sorry – it’s not easy putting on an outfit which weighs more than you do’ said the Knight, still breathing heavy.

‘Don’t worry about it – let’s go and find adventure’.

The Knight set off past the town Square. ‘Morning four eyes!’ he called as he marched past, but the town square ignored him and carried on doing long division, or reading about pencil cases – or whatever nerdy type people do. The Knight kept on marching, and soon enough saw a sign for the Town Hall.

The sign he saw was actually the Town Hall itself, which lurched into view as he turned the corner. It was a huge white building with marble steps leading up to a great iron door, which itself was sat in between two enormous pillars. Above the door in six foot high letters, read the words ‘TOWN HALL’. From the roof of the Town Hall, a huge flagpole struck out, and hanging from this was a massive banner which also read ‘TOWN HALL’

‘This must be the town hall’ said the Knight.

‘Oh yes’ said the Writer, putting down a copy of “Pencil Case Collectors International”.

The Knight walked forward and put one foot on the first marble step. As soon as he put his weight on it however, he lost his footing and fell over. As he was unsure as to what caused this, he got back up and tried again to climb the marble steps. Second time around he had the same degree of stability – none. It appeared to him (as he did a somersault backwards and landed face first on the ground) that the steps were not entirely stable.

Third time around, he was more cautious; he walked very slowly up to the marble steps and stopped with his feet inches from the first step. Very carefully he lifted his right foot and moved it forward so it was over the first step. To his amazement, the Knight noticed that the moment his foot was over the marble step, the step changed. It stopped being a step made of marble, and became a step made of Marbles. Rows upon Rows of tiny glass orbs appeared before the Knight, and they all moved side to side with the gentle morning breeze.

‘You’re having a laugh!’ cried the Knight in disbelief, as he backed away. The moment his foot was clear of the step it became a regular marble step again. The Knight stopped and thought for a while. He counted the steps – 5,6,7,8.

8 steps stood before him, 8 steps that would turn into a treacherous, glass, slippery slide of discomfort and bruises – the kind of which make people do that suck-in-your-teeth-whilst-wincing thing when they see it – the moment he stepped on them. However, the Knight was not to be put off. He was determined to make it up those steps no matter what.

The Knight took 10 or 12 paces backwards – It could have been 13 paces, but he wasn’t counting. Besides, no one was watching apart from the Writer - and he didn’t care, because if he did he would have made it a definite number. The Knight rocked back and forth on his heels, like an athlete preparing for a run up for the long jump or something. Then the Knight raised both arms above his head and did that overhead clap thing like athletes do to get their supporters going. Incredibly the Knight realised that the birds in the trees overhead were doing exactly that – clapping their wings together over their tiny heads in a show of encouragement. The Knight looked up into the trees and there they were; branch after branch filled with rows of birds – finches, bluebirds, ravens, swallows, starlings – you name it, it was there. Even the flightless birds – penguins, ostriches, lazy eagles – were all in a line at the foot of the tree joining in.

This show of avian solidarity spurred the Knight into action: he leapt forward and sprinted towards the waiting cold, marble steps. As he reached the base of the steps he threw himself upwards and forwards with all his might. To the on looking feathered spectators, what happened next seemed to take place in slow motion; for a moment it seemed the Knight would make it. He had cleared the first three steps with ease, but now, as he continued through the air, the weight of his armour came into the equation and started to spoil the fun – much like parents returning home early to find a house party going on. He flew over the fourth step, and the fifth – but was definitely slowing. The Knight’s momentum ceased to carry him forwards, but instead started to pull him downwards in a descent that could only seem to possibly end in disaster.  Would he make it? Would he fail? The sixth step passed underneath, but the seventh seemed to reach up towards him. The Knight was now in the hands of fate – and he was well aware of what a clumsy bugger he could be.

The watching birds – masters of flight, most of them – were helpless as they watched the horror unfold before their eyes. Several birds were shouting to the Knight to flap his arms as fast as he could – but of course this only came out as tuneful bird song. A Minah bird was spewing out a tirade of foul language in its frustration – so much so, that a nervous woodpecker standing next to it knocked itself out trying to drill its head into the tree trunk in its attempts to avoid listening. Such was the terror that rippled throughout the birds that they virtually all emptied their bowels at the same time – directly onto the flightless birds sitting beneath them. Although they were flightless, the birds below had found a use for their wings, as all manner of abusive signs and gestures were directed at their kin above.

While all this was going on, the Knight made contact with the lip of the eighth and top step. Of course, what he made contact with was rows of marbles, each waiting to cause him grief.  What followed for the next few seconds can only be described as similar to the scene from Bambi when the little Deer tries to stand on the ice, combined with every clip of any road traffic accident you’ve ever seen, with a bit or rubbish ballet thrown in for good measure.

At one point, the Knight’s limbs seemed to each be going in a different direction. His arms did several windmill motions, and he spun round so many times that he didn’t know which way was up of what day it was. Incredibly, due to the g-forces involved, or a combination of momentum, gravity, and pure luck, the Knight, with his final effort, somehow managed to find himself falling forwards onto the top of the top step. Of course, he was not to know this as he had been spinning round so fast that he managed to turn himself round in his suit of armour so the back of his head was now facing out through his visor.

The Knight hit the top of the step with an almighty CLANG!!! And lay there motionless. The birds in the tree looked on anxiously for any movement, but there was none. The Writer rushed over to where the Knight lay and checked for signs of life.

Years later, the Writer would admit that grabbing the Knight by his visor and banging it repeatedly on the marble step whilst shouting, ‘Halloo!!! Wakey Wakey!!!’ was probably not the best way to check for signs of life.

Suddenly there was a groan from the Knight. ‘Are you alright?’ said the Writer. The voice inside replied ‘mummy, can I have porridge for breakfast please?’ The Writer realised that the Knight was delirious – or was an eight year old with a passion for porridge. He gently removed the Knight’s helmet, and sat him up to let him get some air. Gradually the Knight came to his senses – pain mainly, and sat there wincing and groaning as he gingerly felt his arms and legs and torso for damage. To his surprise – and the Writer’s relief – the Knight was not seriously injured, although he didn’t remember anything after the start to his run up.

‘You okay?’ said the Writer, helping the Knight to his feet. ‘Yeah, I think so’ said the Knight, ‘What happened to me? And what is that penguin doing over there covered in….what is that? Is that?...oh dear. What has happened?’

‘Don’t worry about all that – I’ll tell you later’ said the Writer, ‘we’re at the town hall, remember?’

‘Oh yeah’ said the Knight. ‘Guess I’d better knock’.

The Knight staggered over to the great iron door and knocked three times. A moment passed, and it seemed that no-one was in. The Knight was about to turn away, when a small square hatch opened at the bottom of the door. The Knight got on all fours, and looked into the hatch. There, peering back at him from the other side was a cat. ‘Meow!’ cried the cat loudly.

‘Don’t tell me’ said the Knight, turning to the Writer ‘This must be the guardian of the iron door. I know how to handle this’. The Knight cleared his throat, and spoke to the cat.

‘Oh guardian of this iron portal, I beg you to let me enter. I have travelled far, and have had many adventures on my way – but I feel my greatest challenge still awaits me. I have a great deed to perform, and the details of my task wait for me within this town hall. I mean you no harm, but ask that you let me pass!’

The cat looked at the Knight for a moment, blinked, and then Meowed loudly again. The Knight looked up at the Writer and said ‘perhaps I need to pay my way in – do we have any gold left?’

‘Yeah, I think so’ said the Writer ‘here take this’, and he gave the Knight three gold pieces.

The Knight dropped to all fours again, and placed the three pieces of gold in front of the cat. The cat leaned forward and sniffed the gold pieces suspiciously. Suddenly it gave an almighty wail and shot through the hatch, past the Knight, down the steps and off into the town.

The Knight watched the cat disappear and then turned back to the hatch to see what had made it run off like that. To his surprise, he found himself looking at a dirty leather boot, with a perfect imprint of the cat’s rear end on it. Just as that surprise was registering, the Knight got another surprise – he heard another hatch open above him, and a strange voice speak.

‘Stupid cat! If I open the cat flap to let you out that means you go out – not sit there meowing all day!’ The voice then became aware that there was someone on the other side of the door, and so switched seamlessly into customer service mode.

‘Bugger Off!’ the voice said. The Knight jumped to his feet and found himself staring into a rather unpleasant face.

‘Good Morning’ said the Knight. ‘I’ve travelled a long way and would like to see the Mayor please’

The face remained unpleasant. ‘Oh Really? Well I’ve travelled down two flights of stairs to answer this door, and I’d like to see the back of your head – now bugger off!’

‘Hey! Don’t be rude’ said the Writer, ‘we’ve come a long way seeking adventure, and we know that there’s adventure to be had behind this door. Now be a good chap and let us in!’

Suddenly, the unpleasant face came forward against the hatch so that only its left eye could be seen. Bulging and bloodshot, it swivelled this way and that as it looked at the Knight and the Writer. After a moments swivelling, the face retreated back to its original place.

‘I’m not a ‘chap’ – I’m the doorman!!’ roared the unpleasant face, ‘and no-one comes in without permission – mayors orders!’ The doorman with the unpleasant face still had an equally unpleasant voice.

‘We don’t have an appointment’ said the Knight, ‘but we do have money – how much to let us in?’

The doorman had a wide range of vocal ability – it switched now to indignation. ‘Are you trying to bribe me?!!’ it said angrily.

‘Erm…..yeah?’ said the Knight tentatively.

‘Sounds good to me’ said the doorman – now sounding surprisingly pleasant, with a hint of greed. The face disappeared and there were the sounds of several locks being drawn back. Suddenly the great iron door swung inwards, pulled by unseen hands.
 
‘We’re in’ Said the Knight.