Episode XV -- Rook to Castle
Premiered 20 March 2009
Multiple Choice -- Episode XV
Rook to Castle
Evyr and David, flanked by the impromptu four-soldier escort, entered the castle proper via a broken gate on which two men and a woman were busy at work. Their success at repairing the castle’s front door would ultimately be limited by their lack of skill and the minimal availability of quality tools and materials. But then again, the gate was mostly for show. And it’s not like they really needed it. It had been in disrepair for years... and if it was unnecessary all that time, then why now?
As for protecting the courtyard, the latter had obviously suffered from years of neglect, despite the fact that several peasants were moving about and making some pretense at cleaning things up. Others were on the walls doing repair work to the “battlements”, while a few women were carrying wedding decorations and other festive items and placing them in various locations. The decorations were clearly out-of-place, but the suggestion was that everyone was making do with what they had... the latter being something of a peasant tradition.
Jeremiah was standing in the middle of the courtyard, attempting to direct the various activities... albeit he was primarily looking disgusted at the prospects. David and Evyr could not help but shake their heads as they approached their nemesis.
Abruptly the sergeant held up his hand, and the escort detachment stopped, including David and Evyr. “Wait here… if you please.”
Walking away from David as quickly as possible he approached Jeremiah, saluted (poorly), and said a few words to him. Jeremiah glanced over at David and Evyr, the recognition of whom elicited a heavy smile in an “oh-them-again” manner. He then said something to his minion, who quickly returned to David and Evyr. With a quick hand gesture, the sergeant summoned David and Evyr and they moved up (less the three soldiers) and approached Jeremiah, who was momentarily distracted by his other duties: yelling to workers on one wall. “You there… tote that barge… lift that bale! Move it, people! The wedding’s tomorrow!”
Breathing a heavy sigh, he turned to David and Evyr.
“You two again, eh? And still afoul of the law, I see. I guess some things just never change.”
David smiled. “Like your manners.”
“But your throat,” Evyr observed, “Seems to be getting better. I can almost under stand what you’re saying now.”
"Do not mock me, lass,” Jeremiah threatened. “Or else, I will have to give you a lesson in respecting authority.”
“Oh, I don’t think so,” Evyr replied. “Or at least, not as long as it is you that represents authority.”
“Nice place you’ve got here,” David casually added. “But why here and now? I mean, after such wonders as the Ta Ra Nee, the morality squads, all the other garbage you seem to specialize in… why would you choose this?”
“We work with what we wander into. You should know that. And as you can see, this place is a mess. No authority, no rules, nothing to keep the people in order… a goddess-based culture of live and let live for god’s sake. It’s all very sad.”
“And you’ve come to save them all from such rampant equality,” Evyr replied. “I’m so impressed with your… dedication.”
Jeremiah smiled, shrugging his shoulders. “It’s what I do.”
Whereupon he turned to a workman on the gallows with floral decorations, who was attempting to curl the flowers around a hangman’s noose.
“You there! Get rid of the rope, you idiot! It’s a wedding, not an execution! Not yet, anyway!”
Turning back to David and Evyr, he confided with a heavy sigh, “I’ve just arrived, and frankly, it’s hard to find good help. These people simply don’t know how to obey the simplest of instructions, or even to just take orders.”
“Things are tough all over,” Evyr sarcastically agreed.
“But you seem to be settling down here,” David noted. “Establishing roots… perhaps even getting married... or something.”
Jeremiah could banter with the best of them. “Well, you know…” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed the home life, down on the farm, slopping the hogs, flailing the slaves. Especially when the male consort receives everything she has, and at the same time does not have to share anything with her in return. One of the Prince’s privileges, you know.”
“I know,” Evyr replied. “It’s pretty disgusting.”
“Except…” David mentioned, embarrassed to bring up an inconvenient truth, “It seems that we’re here to stop the wedding.”
Jeremiah took a long look at the two, glancing over their shoulders at the four soldiers who were vaguely at attention. Smiling, he gestured to them, and the four men straightened up.
Evyr cautioned him. “I don’t think you want to do that.”
Jeremiah was mystified. “Why ever not?”
Evyr smiled. “We didn’t come alone.”
Jeremiah taunted, “You’re telling me that you’re cowards?”
Evyr was suddenly taken aback… or so it might have seemed. “Oh, now that changes everything! We certainly don’t want to be called cowards!”
“Right,” David agreed. “I’ll call the cavalry and let them know that they can knock off early because we certainly don't want to be thought of as cowards!”
True to form, David turned and signaled in the direction of Men-Tor, who was now sitting on the top of one wall. Men-Tor returned the wave, and then appeared to do nothing else. David grimaced and glanced at Jeremiah to see if his sudden lack of confidence was obvious to his nemesis.
Then a flock (a very large number) of Furrys began climbing over the walls, entering via the gates, and otherwise appearing in every crevice and cubbyhole. Every human in the courtyard, save David and Evyr, were caught up by the spectacle, many quickly preparing to repel the expected onslaught on their virtue -- primarily by use of the age old prescription of taking two aspirin and holding the aspirin firmly between ones’ knees. Jeremiah frowned heavily. “I take it you want to do this the hard way.”
“Your choice,” Evyr replied.
Jeremiah hesitated. Then looking thoroughly disgusted and letting out a deep, heavy sigh, he drew his sword. For a moment he held it upright. “There’s really got to be a better way.”
“Hey,” David agreed. “We’re open to negotiation.”
“Like mind your own business?”
“No… I don’t think so.”
Jeremiah frowned even more so, causally getting the feel of his sword. “Then I guess it has to be a fight to the finish between one of you and me. That only leaves the question of which of you would like to feel my blade across your neck first?”
David was suddenly somewhat aghast. “Neck?”
Evyr smiled, stepped between the two men and faced Jeremiah directly.
“Fine,” Jeremiah conceded. “Oh… just a moment…”
Before raising his sword, Jeremiah gestured to an area behind a wall. Ugly Dude appeared with an absolutely huge broadsword already in his hand and ready to use. The medieval answer to Monday Night Football smiled a disgusting smile, as he approached the trio. David begrudgingly prepared for him as Evyr and Jeremiah began to square off. Simultaneously, the Furrys and bystanders began finding places with which to watch the spectacle, the Furrys ultimately doing a “wave” from one of the bleachers.
Jeremiah and Evyr began skirting each other, then parrying and thrusting. Their swordplay quickly included a lot of dodging about the courtyard, as well as leaping upon objects -- some of which would collapse or overturn, and thus keep them both nimble and on their feet. Meanwhile, David was primarily dodging the heavy-handed swings of Ugly Dude’s broadsword. In the process, however, David began to notice that most of Ugly Dude’s swings were connecting with various items in the immediate area, either destroying them or sending them flying (or both).
David smiled and began to maneuver in a manner other than simply avoiding a swift chop across the shoulders. Finally, he managed to make his way to a construction area, where with one of Ugly Dude’s subsequent swings, the huge broadsword knocked out a support post. This resulted in a mass of stones – those destined for the new wall -- to come tumbling down upon Ugly Dude’s head. David dodged the dust and debris of the collapsing partial wall, and then stopped for a moment. From a safe distance David peered over the pile of stones to see what had happened. Ugly Dude was apparently not dead, but was unlikely to be swinging a broadsword in the immediate future.
David smiled and turned his attention to the other battle, just as a stray chicken was impaled by one of Jeremiah’s sword thrusts, while Evyr managed to trip and almost go down. In a flurry of feathers and before David could help her, she bounced up and her private battle continued. As she and Jeremiah slashed and maneuvered for better positions with which to slash and maneuver, they began to trash their outfits with all sorts of near misses and minor wounds. Then, with Evyr making a remarkable slash against his chest, Jeremiah suddenly winced in pain. Blood appeared, but then disappeared as he rapidly healed.
Evyr suddenly stopped and lowered her sword. Jeremiah hesitated, taking a deep breath as the healing process completed itself. He then smiled a decidedly devious smile.
“I must tell you that you are not the only one endowed with certain powers.”
“A thought,” Evyr replied, “That I find distinctly unpleasant. I mean… like what’s the point?”
“Get used to unpleasant… it’s here to stay… if you get my point. And with any luck, you will get my point... very, very soon.”
Evyr took a quick swish of her sword. “If you insist…”
Evyr abruptly turned and leapt up to a higher point. Jeremiah followed, but Evyr stayed just ahead of him, continually moving to ever higher positions. Eventually she reached a spot on a partially reconstructed wall, but one still under construction. A small flock of Furrys scampered out of the way as Evyr reached the medieval version of the Western movie’s “box canyon”. There she turned and made a stand.
Jeremiah smiled. “You seem to be in a corner, my dear.”
Evyr smiled back. “Speaking of unpleasant…”
Abruptly, Evyr slashed at a nearby post. The scaffolding holding the castle wall stones in place promptly collapsed and Jeremiah (along with the stonework on which he had been standing) cascaded into the adjacent moat. Jeremiah hit the water hard, but quickly surfaced, gasping for air. Then in the midst of almost gagging, he struggled to get out of the rancid moat. As Evyr watched, David and Men-Tor joined her on the wall.
“Like you said, Tor…” David noted. “The moat hasn’t been cleaned in centuries… more like an open sewer now.”
Evyr was smiling broadly, as she raised her sword and saluted Jeremiah. The courtesy was not remotely appreciated, and Jeremiah instead raised his fist toward her and David.
“It’s not over yet! Both of you are dog meat!”
Men-Tor sighed. “There’s nothing quite like humiliation for run-amuck princely authority figures.”
“And the Lady,” David inquired?
“In the courtyard,” Men-Tor answered.
David looked down to see a bedecked, puzzled Katy already encountering several of the well-wishers. Katy then looked up at David with a distinctly disapproving smirk.
“Katy? She’s the Lady?”
Men-Tor stared back at David with a mischievous smile.
“That’s no lady… that’s my wife.” Immediately Tor began to laugh… alone.
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]