(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
of a girl who was probably scared of his own shadow. Nancy
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.