(Have you enjoyed this so far?
If not – go back and read it again, as you are obviously not trying)
Finally, the work was done. Nothing remained of the camp – there was now only a large clearing in the forest with several tree stumps, and a few black area of ground where fire had scorched the earth.
Nasgorath was stood in the centre of the clearing, with the Knight, the Writer, Jack and the Friar standing close by. The townsfolk were stood in a circle around them talking amongst themselves.
The Knight stepped forward, and put one hand up to ask for silence. Initially, the townsfolk ignored him, until Nasgorath beat his wings and roared ‘Shut up, you noisy ingrates!’ This had the desired effect immediately, and the townsfolk fell silent.
The Knight said ‘thanks’, through the side of his mouth, and then cleared his throat audibly in preparation to speak. He looked up at the Great Dragon towering in front of him and said in a loud voice ‘Nasgorath! You have saved us all – a debt we can never repay. But I am true to my word, and will release you from your oath. Behold! I give you the Golden whistle that made you its slave for so many years. Now you are its slave no more, you are free! Nasgorath the free!’
With that, the Knight threw the Golden Whistle into the air, and Nasgorath devoured it in one swift motion. At that moment, the townsfolk cheered and applauded wildly.
As soon as he had swallowed the whistle, Nasgorath gave an almighty roar and said ‘Free! Free at last! I, Brian, King of the Dragons am free!’
Everybody stopped. ‘Erm, did you say Brian?’ the Knight asked, severely confused, ‘I thought your name was Nasgorath?’
‘Nasgorath is my public name – the name my legend is known as. Whoever heard of a Dragon called Brian? That isn’t really the stuff of legend, is it?’
‘I suppose not,’ said the Knight, scratching his head, ‘anyway, Brian, I thank you for coming to our aid. We will never forget you.’
‘And I’ll forget you too!’ cried Brian, as he took to the air and flew off out of sight.
The Knight called after him, ‘no – I said we’ll never forget you…..oh never mind.’ He turned to his friends, and said ‘Dragons eh?’
The Writer replied, ‘and who’d have thought that he’d be called Brian?’ ‘I would have hoped you would, considering that you’re the writer’ replied the Knight. ‘Oh yeah!’ chuckled the Writer.
The Knight then turned to Jack and said ‘I can’t believe you came back – that was very brave of you.’
Jack went a very bright shade of Pink, and humbly replied:
♫”What else was I supposed to do?
Just run off and abandon you?
My conscience wouldn’t let me do a flit
And leave you neck deep in the …”♫
‘…you didn’t’, interrupted the Knight, smiling. ‘You too have helped to save us. You’re a true friend, Jack.’ Jack didn’t reply; he just blushed a bit more. The Knight then turned to the Friar, who stood there beaming back at him. Without saying a word, the Knight ignored the Friar, and addressed the townsfolk. ‘Gather your things, we’re taking you home!’ the Knight cried. There was an excited murmur as the townsfolk asked each other if they had any things to gather. They soon all agreed that having been kept prisoner by the Evil Ones, the only “things” they might have were the tattered and dirty clothes they were wearing, and as they were already wearing them, that was the gathering pretty much taken care of.
Soon they were on their way out of the forest, and on their way home. At the head of the long line of townsfolk (who were walking in two’s in an orderly fashion, rather than being spread out all over the place like football supporters coming out of a football ground) were Jack and the Knight, both sat upon Jacks cart. Jack was singing a merry song, and the Knight was holding the reigns, and just enjoying being there.
The same could not be said for the Writer, who had been given the task of bringing up the rear of the townsfolk, along with the Friar, who was complaining about being snubbed by the Knight.
‘Didn’t I help?’ asked the Friar, ‘didn’t I play my part in defeating the Evil Ones? But Oh no, that’s not good enough for the Knight up there – Mr I’m-so-pleased-with-myself. It’s not right I tell you.’
‘Yes you do – over and over’, sighed the Writer, wearily. He was beginning to wish that he had written a heroic but unfortunate end for the Friar.
Suddenly, they stopped. Up ahead, they had again reached the fork in the road. This time the parting was a happier one. As Jack started off towards home, the Knight wondered what would become of him. As if he had read his mind, jack began to sing a new song:
♫” I’m jack, I’m Jack – my name is Jack the Bard
Whatever I say, I’ve got to sing - but it’s not very troubling
In fact I love it more each day
So I sing my songs along the way!
Great friends I’ve made upon this road; great evil I helped defeat
As adventures go, I’d say this one would be very hard to beat!
I found new strength within my soul – a strength that I had hidden.
If you’d told me that back at the start, I’d have said “you’re kidding!”
So I’m travelling Home – but not for long
There a world to explore with my songs!
Where I’ll end up I cannot say
Perhaps I’ll end up on Broadway!” ♫
The Townsfolk cheered, and waved Jack goodbye, and his song could be heard long after he was out of sight. Eventually, the Knight got them moving again, and they continued on their homeward journey.
Soon they came to the remains of the
, which was in a considerably better state than when the Knight had last seen it. The two women had been very busy, and they rushed out to greet their townsfolk. There were many laughs and lots of tears, and plenty of embraces. The women threw their arms around the Knight and thanked him for all he had done. village of Merkin
The large of the two women then saw the Writer, and lunged at him wildly, snarling. Luckily for him, she was restrained by several townsfolk. The Knight decided to press on, and soon the
was lost from sight, although they could hear that the re-building of the village had begun instantly. village of Merkin
Having left the village behind them, the Knight quickened the pace. He hoped that Montague Fripp’s curious emporium would still be there, as he wanted to thank him, and ask him for his sword back. They reached the place where they had met Montague, but there was no tent. They had obviously moved on. The Knight felt a twinge of sadness, for a moment – and then realised it was a twinge of a full bladder. He turned to the townsfolk behind him and cried “Toilet break!” Immediately, the two columns split, and men on either side walked a few steps to the edge of the road, and collectively “spent a penny”.
Seconds later, and feeling suitably relieved, they set off again. The Knight was rejoined by the Writer, but not the Friar. He had decided to stay at the back, as he was still in a mood with the Knight.
Darkness began to fall, and so did many of the townsfolk because the light was fading. Torches were lit, and passed back. Soon there was enough light for them to see where they were going. Even though it was dark, no-one was afraid. Since the defeat of the Evil Ones, the whole world seemed to have a lighter, friendlier feel to it. There were no more rumours of people disappearing, or of places which were too dangerous to visit. It was as if a weight had been lifted from the minds of every living thing. With a renewed feeling of hope they walked on. They marched through the night, without a care – except when they reached the hill where the Wolf General had fallen. They paused in silence at the cairn of stones under which the horse was buried. A few plants had started to work their way between the stones, but the Knight didn’t mind. The final resting place of the brave, but permanently angry horse had a fine view of the surrounding area. If the Horse had been still alive, the Knight felt sure he would have chosen this place himself – as you could spit a folk in any direction you fancied from up there, and they couldn’t get you back.
This thought helped subdue the pangs of guilt that still haunted the Knight. Taking in a deep breath of clear night air, he got the townsfolk moving again.
The townsfolk were getting more and more excited, as they knew they were finally nearing home. Sure enough, as dawn broke the next day they walked tired, smelly, and starving back into their town. The men folk scattered throughout the town, and soon shrieks of glee and the happy sound of crying could be heard. The Knight turned to the Writer, clapped him on the shoulder and said, ‘We did it. I told you we would.’
The Writer smiled back, and replied ‘yes you did – I wonder how much reward we’ll get?’
‘I don’t want a reward’ said the Knight, ‘I’ve already got my reward’
‘Oh yeah?’ asked the Writer, ‘how do you figure that one out?’
‘I got an adventure. That was what I really wanted, and I got it. I don’t need any reward.’
‘Well, you might not want any reward’ said the Writer indignantly, ‘but I certainly well do!’ With that he started set off across the town square and up the marble steps of the town hall. Of course, the moment he set one foot on the steps he lost his footing, and fell flat on his back. The Knight walked over to help the Writer up, who was visibly winded. ‘You should have remembered the steps’ he said gently. Wincing at the pain in breathing, the Writer replied, ‘I know – Actually, I’ve decided that I don’t want a reward after all. I just want to go home.’
‘Me too’ said the Knight, ‘come on.’
And so, without fuss or celebration, without being given the key to the city, and the key to several chastity belts, that the Knight and the Writer walked out of the town of Stinky-under-foot. Neither of them spoke – instead they each reflected on what they had experienced throughout the adventure. They didn’t really pay much attention to where they were going; they just let their feet take them wherever they wanted to go. I did annoy them slightly when their feet decided to take through a fast flowing river and through a cow field without watching for cow pats – but apart from that, they were happy to go wherever.
Sometime later, the Knight – who had been happily asleep while his feet did the walking – woke up, looked around and said ‘Hang on a minute, this can’t be right – where are we?’
‘Huh?’ said the Writer waking up alongside the Knight. ‘What’s up?’
‘We’re lost,’ said the Knight, ‘I don’t know where we are.’
‘Eh? How can that be? Aren’t we still on the road?’ The Writer rubbed his eyes, and looked around him. He couldn’t see anything.
‘I can’t see anything’ said the Writer.
‘Me neither’ said the Knight, ‘where are we?’
The Writer thought for a minute, and then said ‘Aah, yes – I know where we are.’
‘Really? Where?’ asked the Knight – not really believing the Writer.
The writer turned to face the Knight, and with a glint in his eye he said, ‘this my friend, is the beginning.’
The Knight felt that he was either missing something, or the Writer was missing something – like all sense of reason. ‘The beginning? The beginning of what?’
The writer smiled at the Knight, and said ‘the beginning of the story – of your story. This is where it all started, seventy eight pages ago. This is exactly how it was – nothing. A blank page, just waiting for me to start something.’
The Knight looked around; nothing. He saw nothing – just a great expanse of white, pristine and untouched. It didn’t look very much, to be honest. ‘This story, started here? It’s not very impressive is it?’
The Knight didn’t make the connection – that much was clear to the Writer. Nonetheless, he tried to make the Knight see. ‘Impressive? Of course it’s impressive! Don’t you get it? This is where all great stories start where every piece of literary brilliance begins! You have to start with a blank page – it’s the only time you ever have total freedom. The moment you put down one word, that it; you’re tied into something, you have to write the next word, and the next, and they have to make sense. But before that, before you commit yourself to that path, you have a blank page – a playground for your imagination, a place where no matter what you think about putting, it always sounds like a great idea. This is the best part of writing a story. This is perfection. Anything you write on this blank page is a compromise, is not quite what you wanted to say but it’s the best you can do at the time. And no matter how many times you stop and start again, it’s never as perfect as it is in your mind, as you imagine it will be on paper.’
The Knight just stood there watching the writer, who was now spinning round like Julie Andrews on that hillside in”The Sound of Music”. The Knight had never seen the Writer look so happy, so enthusiastic.
The Writer stopped spinning, because he was starting to feel sick. Once he had regained his composure, he walked over to the Knight and said ‘It was here that it all started – you and the Friar, remember?’
‘Get lost!’ said the Friar, walking in on the scene.
‘Oh don’t be like that,’ said the Writer.
‘What’s the matter with you now?’ asked the Knight, not really caring.
‘No!’ said the Friar, ‘I will be like that! I’m sick of being at your beck and call – you just write my name down and I’m supposed to appear?. And when I do appear and try to help, all I get is abuse, and get told to shove off! Even when I played my part in the defeat of the Evil Ones, did I get a thank you? No! Not so much as a “well done”. That’s wrong!’
The Friar was pointing straight at the Knight.
The Knight was about to remind the Friar that the clergy were not above getting a thrashing, when the Writer said to him, ‘He’s right you know. We have treated him pretty badly.’
‘But it was funny!’ said the Knight, infuriating the Friar even more by talking about him as if he wasn’t there, ‘Whenever the Friar turns up, he tries to help, makes things worse and then scrams. That’s how it is in this story – that’s how you wrote him.’
The Writer disagreed slightly. ‘Not all the way through the story – at the end, he played as much of a part in defeating the Evil Ones, as anyone else. Remember – it was the Friar who freed Nasgorath.’
‘That’s right, he did’ Said Nasgorath, swooping in to land, ‘and if I remember correctly, you did very little during that entire battle scene.’ Nasgorath gave the Knight a look that said “you know I’m right”.
‘Shut up Brian’ muttered the knight.
The Writer put a hand on the Knight’s arm and said ‘Look; it’s the end of the story, everything has worked out well. Can’t we end this on a positive note? I’d really like to.’
The Knight was about to answer, when the Friar walked over to him and said, ‘by the way, I’ve got something for you.’
Being a man of the world the Knight got defensive instantly. ‘Oh yeah, what?’ he said.
The Friar reached into his robe for a moment, and then pulled out a roll of blue velvet. He handed it to the Knight, and took a step backwards.
‘What’s this?’ asked the Knight, looking down. The velvet felt weighty as he un-rolled it, and as the rolls decreased he felt something turning inside the material. He turned the cloth faster to reveal the object hidden in its centre. As the final length rolled off his hands to the floor, the Knight gasped.
In his hands, lying there gleaming and majestic was his sword.
‘Montague Fripp sends his regards’ said the Friar, smiling.
‘How did you…I-I don’t know what to say’, stuttered the Knight in shock.
‘And that’s exactly what I’ve been waiting to hear from you all story – nothing’ replied the Friar with a cheeky grin.
The Knight simply looked at the Friar, and beamed at him.
‘That’s as good a place as any to finish’ thought the writer.