Saturday, June 28, 2008

14: Urgent Counsels

The great counsel sat in silense. The old oaken clock ticked monotonously, then suddenly broke the silence with three loud bongs. Three o'clock. King Horatio the NVN jittered with excitement in his seat. Felipe, sitting next to him, leaned over and whispered something. Horatio smiled.
"Just wait," he whispered back.
The echos of the clock chime faded and the ticking resumed. Gathered around the table, the nobles of the city waited quietly for the final member of the counsel to arrive. Finally, the door at the end of the room creaked open and Sir John, a baron of Nuveranderim entered.
"My humblest apologies, o King, at my delay. I am afraid--"
"Don't you worry yourself about it," said the King amiably, "no one minded the short wait. Now please have a seat."
Sir John stared in surprise. This was not the response he had been expecting. He detected a sense of foreboding lingering in the countenances of everyone besides the King and Felipe, but nothing else seemed wrong. The King smiled. Felipe rubbed his hands. Sir John sat down.
A long silence ensued, ended by a loud crash as Felipe fainted and toppled from his chair. The King, aghast, stuttered as if trying to muster up words. Finally he succeeded.
"EXECUTE MY ROYAL WHOOPIE CUSHION MAKER!!!!" he bellowed, "This is inexcusable!!!! I am calling off the counsel!!!!"
"My Liege, begging your pardon," put in the king's servant, "but this incident is minor compared to what could be happening to you daughter right now!"
"Did you not hear me! I am calling off the counsel! My daughter can wait! Now get out of my sight! Execute my royal whoopie cushion maker, and raise the taxes ten percent while you're at it! I am going to bed!"
With that King Horatio the NVN stormed from the room. A groan came from beneath the table.
"I think I may have bruised my cheekbone," whined Felipe, struggling to stand up, "but despite the overwhelming pain I can think of nought but my poor love, Edith, lonely and alone--Ouch! Oh, my toe! I think it may be bruised as well! But I cannot allow physical wounds to hinder me! Edith is in danger, and must be rescued! Forget the counsel! I am off!
Felipe dashed out the door, and a sound very much like that of a man in full armour falling down a flight of stairs ensued. Then silence reigned again. The men around the table stared at each other, waiting for someone to speak. Eventually, Sheriff Bob stood up.
"It theems to me that that the dithapearanth of Printheth Edith ith too great a dithathter to be ignored. I thay that we continue the counthel even though the King is abthent."
There was a murmur of agreement.
"I propoth that we handle thith matter thientifically, and thouroughly exthamine all the evidenth we have. Then we will determine our acthion."
"Let us begin, then!" shouted Sir John, and the counsel was underway.

The water wheel of the old abandoned mill groaned and creaked as it struggled to make yet another revolution around its rotting axle. Cascading over the small waterfall, the river continued to propel the wheel on, year after year. The nearby residents cared nothing about the mill; it had no place in their daily lives and there was no reason why it should. No one ever paused to think how once this tumbledown, water-logged, mossy structure had been the most successful mill in the city. But when the owner died, and another man who knew nothing of the miller's trade bought the property, it fell into disuse. The old customers merely went other places to buy their flour. It was under this new landlord that the mill became nothing more than rustic scenery-- and a hideout for criminals.

As the splashing river and moaning planks made other sounds inaudible, two such men were holding an urgent conversation within.
"Was there anyone else there?" Edward was frantically prodding his accomplice.
"I...I think so...It looked like the old man was speaking to someone who ran out a back door as soon as I shot."
"Was this person holding anything?"
"Well, I couldn't see that well, and I wa-"
"Was the person holding anything!"
"I...think she was..."
"It's a 'she?' You're sure?"
"She was wearing a dress, I am almost certain."
"What kind of dress?"
"I...well I assume the usual sort of dress."
"Did she look like she was used to wearing that kind of dress?"
"Sir! I don't know that!"
"And you said she was holding something?"
"I don't know, exactly. She had something--a box I think--and then the old man gave her something else, and then she ran."
"What did he give her?!"
"I couldn't tell, Sir."
"Oh why did I hire you idiot! Which way did she run?"
"North, Sir. Toward the gate."
Sir Edward, sat solemnly in thought for several minutes, then looked up.
"Richard, I believe it is time I set out and rescued princess Edith, don't you think?"
"Good. We'll be off tomorrow. I'll expect you to have everything prepared for us to leave the city."
"Yes sir."

--Thomas H

Thursday, June 26, 2008

13: Voyages and Framings

Sir Bruce of Wellington rose early the next morning. The sailor's warning's had not fazed him a bit and he had slept well. "'Tis a grand day for sailing." he said to himself, squinting in the bright morning sun coming through the window and pulling a light coat of chain mail, something he only took off when he slept, over his head. "Yes, what better day to start an quest so noble, so upright and so selfless as the search for the Golden Isle." He headed downstairs, grabbing and quickly consuming a bowl of hot porridge. "Do pass the compliments of Sir Bruce of Wellington, Knight of Nuvanderim in the Desert of Dreams, subject of his honor King Horatio, bearer of the red--"
"Yeah, yeah," the young inn-servant he had been speaking to cut him off, "whom should I pass the compliment to."
"The inn-keeper of course," Bruce replied, "He has a fine business here. Farewell young lass." He walked over to the stables, mounted his horse, and galloped into the streets. "Now to the docks," he thought. Even though Bruce was not always the most intelligent knight (he preferred to rely on his strength in most situations anyways), he did possess a very keen sense of direction. Summoning this instinct, he judged the sea to be, more or less, to his left, and rode in that direction accordingly. His guess proved to be correct, and, after a bit of asking around, he was soon speaking with a man called Gottfried. As it turned out, Gottfried had fallen upon hard times. For years, he had been known as one of the most skilled, and cunning mariners in the sea, but several storms, a shipwreck, and a mysterious encounter to the North had ruined his reputation and cost him all but his first ship, the Fair Gwenllian, and his fiercely loyal first mate, Puck. It was clear that Gottfried was a desperate man, and, lucky for Bruce, a bit superstitious after his most recent voyage to the North. "You realize, good sir," Gottfried said, "that few, if any, sailors give any credence whatsoever to the stories of old Ralph and Dekel."
"Be that as it may," Bruce replied, "I have faith in the man. Ralph, that is. Dekel may have imagined a spirit in his mind, but no one sees a island unless it is really there."
"Do not dismiss such spirit stories so lightly," said Gottfried, "There is something very different about those northern waters. Enough of this, though, you say you are willing to finance a voyage east, into open and uncharted seas, in search of the Golden Isle?"
"That is my proposal indeed," came the knight's reply, "I have nearly one hundred crowns with which to purchase the necessary supplies, as well as a guaranteed ten acres of land and two-hundred crowns to every sailor upon successful completion of the journey."
Gottfried stroked his short beard thoughtfully and gave Bruce a hard look. "A generous offer, o knight. May I assume that the captain of such a voyage will be further rewarded?"
"Why of course, of course!" Bruce exclaimed, "A ship of your choice and command of the entire Desert of Dreams navy should I go on to succeed Horatio as king. Which," he added, "I almost certainly will. What say you man?"
Gottfried paused for a moment, then spoke, "I must admit, Sir Bruce, that there is little left for this captain to live for, it will take nothing short of a miracle to regain what I've lost.
I have become very desperate man." He paused again, the smiled recklessly and grasped Bruce's gauntleted hand, "And you have just won this desperate man over. Puck, oversee Gwenllian's resupply and find me a crew, keep the, er, details of our trip as vague as possible, but tell them of Sir Bruce's offer, we sail at dawn tomorrow."
"Aye sir!" Puck threw a quick salute and scurried off towards the more crowed area of the port. Gottfried turned and motioned for Bruce to follow him, "As for us, knight, I think we'd best have a chat with old Ralph."

Barely a blade of grass rustled underfoot as a hooded figure made his way through the sparsely wooded foothills south of Nuvanderim. Following a faint path that only a handful of men knew of, he glanced furtively in every direction for anything suspicious. Nothing. Up above, a lone hawk circled in the sky. To his right, a cow grazed on the grass, green after the recent rain. Good. The cloaked man jumped over a small stream, stopped at the first oak tree he came to, turned to his right, and walked thirty three paces. He stopped by a small boulder and tapped it deliberately three times. Without warning, an arrow fletched with rooster feathers thudded into the ground less than an arm-span away. "Identify youself," a commanding voice came out of nowhere. The man relaxed and removed his hood, "Fear not, for is I: Maximiliano, of ze brotherhood." The voice suddenly became lighthearted, "Maximiliano, you old scoundrel, here to see Ze Cock himself, no?"

"Of course," he responded, all business, "is very important, now shut up and let me enter." In a motion that would have startled most men, the boulder that Maximiliano had tapped suddenly rolled several feet in one direction, exposing a roughly hewn tunnel and complex system of ropes and pulleys that attached to the boulder. Wordlessly, he nodded to the sentry operating the pulleys, grabbed a lit torch, and headed down the tunnel. Hahn Nacosto, as it was known to the few who knew of it's existence, was the hideaway of none other than The Cock himself: expert thief and now leader of his own band of men. Though located outdoors in a small, isolated valley, the only access to the place came through a long, twisting tunnel. One so long and confusing, in fact, that it was virtually impossible for a person to maintain any sense of direction whatsoever. Therefore, when someone arrived at Hahn Nacosto he would have essentially no geographical idea where he was. Not so with Maximiliano; he, as one of The Cock's most trusted agents, was one of the few that had actually worked on the construction of the tunnel, but that is a different story. After more than fifteen minutes of following the lengthy corridor, he exited in the tunnel, squinting despite the fact that the sun had started to disappear over the valley's ridge. He walked swiftly past archery ranges, gardens, chicken coops, and sparring men. Coming to large tree, he grabbed a rope, whistled shrilly, and was whisked up into the foliage. In the trees, Maximiliano walked crossed several catwalks and came to a small tree-house. A voice came from inside, "Maxi, old friend, come in, come in." he did accordingly, and there, lounging in a hammock and twirling a small dagger in his had, was The Cock. The room was sparse, occupied only by an old map on the wall, several candles, a bow and quiver, and a bag of rooster feathers. "Vat news of King Horatio the Fool?" The Cock himself was fairly nondescript. He was a bit taller than most men, and somewhat skinny; his shoulder-length black hair was brushed back, and small goatee surrounded his mouth; his eyes were dark and piercing, and Maximiliano knew from experience that he missed very little. "Horatio?" Maximiliano responded, "Not much, he is little concern at ze moment, but--"
"He is king," The Cock interrupted, "He is always of our concern. Still, continue."
"Of course Cock." Not even Maximiliano knew The Cock's real name. He continued, "I'm afraid you are being framed."
"Framed?" The Cock sat up and leaned forward, "How so."
"A house in Nuvanderim burned down not long ago. Ze arsonist left feathers from a cock on ze grounds. Ze house belonged to old man, uh, Methuselah, ze called him."
"Attacking old men?" The Cock said angrily, "Plundering ze weak?!?! Zat is not my style, zat is not vat I do, vat I stand for! Zis person must be found and," he paused, an wicked smile forming on his lips, "confronted!"
"Zer is more," Maximiliano offered, "Ze morning after, a man was seen searching ze remains. Sir Edvard, zey call him."
"Sir Edvard," The Cock mused, "Ze knight of ze Peacock, if I am no' mistaken. Perhaps it is time ve pay zis, Sir Edvard, a visit, eh Maxi?"
Maximiliano smiled as he caught the look in his leader's eye, "Yes, is time indeed."

--Andrew C

12: Energized!

Methuselah disparately gasped for air as blood poured out of his chest. He felt death take hold and his face turned pail. With his last gasp he cried out, "Atra Jard Waíse Sköliro! Atra Jard Waíse Sköliro!" A faint smile hovered across Methuselahs face as his body disappeared and the hut collapsed.

Jard woke with an unusual amount of energy. All the sudden, he felt strong and capable. He hurried to the kitchen to eat his breakfast. Jard quickly finished his food, and headed headed towards the lavatory to get ready. Today was a big day for him. He had decided to delay his quest and enter the annual Jousting and fencing tournament. It was the only tournament that was open all citizens. Edith was going to be there and this was he chance to prove his worth. Even better, the King would probably grant him knighthood if he won. He washed himself and went to his mirror to comb his hair. It was hard to grasp, but there was something about his reflection that was different. He looked...Good! Really good.
"Well, its alright with me, Edith is going to love this." Said Jard, still admiring his face. Jard smiled as he readied his horse for the tournament. He saddled his belongings, including a rose he hoped to give to Edith, and trotted towards the arena. He was about half way when he noticed an old house; it had burned to the ground.
"Oh great, probably the result of one of the Kings failed pranks." Thought Jard, "But why would the King play a prank on that old guy? Hmm, very strange," he mused. Eventually, his curiosity took over and he stopped to get a better look. To his surprise, there was a knight there. He was forging through the rubbish as if he was looking for something.
"gahhh! Where is it?" Shouted the knight.
Sensing the knights frustration Jard replied, "Would you like any help?"
"Does it look like I need help?! Now shut up and leave me alone!" Said the knight
"Edward?" Jard paused for awhile, "are you ok?"
"I'm fine, now get out of here!" Said Edward.
"Ok, as you wish. I just wanted to help." "Leave!" screamed Edward with a strangely evil glare in his eyes. Jard obeyed, still shaken by Edwards behavior. "Since when does Edward act like that? He was always a little rude, but never like this. And why wasn't he away on his quest? Was this his quest? Perhaps that old man had something Edward needed." Thought Jard as he tried to make sense of the incident. He strolled through tournament grounds to meet his friend, Peter. Peter was Jard's esquire, a humorous boy with enormous dreams but, unfortunately, no skills to back them up. Jard was committed to teaching him though, and they practiced nearly every night. Nothing could separate Peter and Jard, they were best of friends. "And here he comes, ten minutes late, and...Looking good! Whoof, what happened to you? Hail Sir Jard the beautiful!" Said Peter, obviously in a good mood. "Aww, thank you Peter. Yea, I don't know, I just drank this green liquid last night, and this is what happened." Jard replied jokingly.
"Oh, right, of course, I should have known." said Peter, playing along, "Um, you didn't happen to save a shot for me, did you?"
"Not a drop." Said Jard as they started to laugh.

"Well, I'm affrayed I'm going to have to hurt you for that!" Said Peter as he jumped on Jard, knocking him to the flour.

"Oh, were playing dirty now, I see." Said Jard playfully. "Well, take this!" Jard grabbed Peter and prepared to lift him off his chest. To their surprise, Peter wasn't just lifted to the side, but in fact, throne half way across the room! They both froze before Peter finally spoke. "Alright Jard, what happened to you?" He sat up gingerly, suddenly realizing another change in Jard, "Why, even you're accent is gone!" He exclaimed.
Jard was equally surprised, "I..I don't know. But I'm not complaining, with this strength and a new tongue there's no way I'll loose the tournament." he said, right before he was interrupted by the tournament official. "Attention, attention one and all! We are sorry to announce that for reasons confidential the tournament will be postponed to a later date. We are sorry for your trouble and hope to have the tournament as soon as possible." Jard sighed at the news. Something wasn't right. The King wasn't even there to rally off one of his hideous jokes. He resolved to at least go to Edith and offer her the rose he brought.
"Well Peter, go ahead and go home, I'll be leaving soon." Said Jard.
"Yea, guess there's no sense staying here now. See you soon." Peter replied. Jard waited for Peter was out of sight before heading towards the Castle. He silently went though everything was going to say to Edith. He didn't even bother with knocking on the door because he new they wouldn't except any visitors. He went straight for the Castle wall with Edith's window. With his new strength, Jard scaled the wall with ease. Peaking over the widow, he look into Edith's room: it was empty. He climbed inside to get a better look, but Edith was nowhere to be found. He was just about to leave when he heard footsteps approaching the room. Jard jumped in Edith's enormous closet just before the door opened. "This is ridiculous, why do we have to clean this room five times a day, even though no ones even here anymore." Said a lady.
"I'm afraid we will never understand that King." Said another lady.

"Indeed, I'm not surprised Edith ran away after the way he had treated her. But we better not talk anymore, never know when one of his men might over hear us." Fortunately for Jard, the ladies were lazy and didn't clean the closet. He slowly and quietly left his hiding place And headed out the window. He couldn't help but think of the pain she must have felt in order to run away.
"Shes probably alone right now, with no one to comfort her." thought Jard, "I must find her; and the King, the King must be stopped. This strength was given to me for a reason."

Edward lied alone in his bed, dreading the night that would follow. It had been a day since his agent killed Methuselah, and he still had not found his body.
"Surely he could not have survived?" Eward thought. "No, he must be dead, no man could survive that." But there was another problem Edward had. He also couldn't find the dagger he was supposed to steal. The night before, Kelthisad had given him specific instructions to take the dagger, but no matter how hard Edward looked, the blade could not be found. Edward knew Kelthisad would not be happy with the news. He desperately tried not to sleep, but eventually his body gave in and Kelthisad gained control. "I see you failed me gain, you good-for-nothing whelp!" Said Kelthisad in total frustration. "I give you two simple tasks, and you fail them both miserably."
"I tried, but the body was not there! And the sword was gone. I...I searched for hours." Said Edward, begging for sympathy.

"Oh, so the body just disappeared, along with sword?" Edward didn't reply. "You're even dumber then I thought! I'm giving you three days to find that sword, or you will learn to dread the night!" Said Kelthisad.

"I will not fail you...My master." Kelthisad smiled as Edward bowed. "The throne will soon be ours." Kelthisad laughed wickedly as Edwards dream faded.


11: What Methuselah Saw

Monday, June 23, 2008

10: Methuselah Falls

Two cloaked figures crouched in a dark alleyway. One of the men was speaking agitatedly.
"But Sire, mere days ago you considered this man your friend! You sought his advice, and went to him for counsel! How then can you now--"
"Enough, man! You will obey my command! It is true that I trusted him, but I was mistaken. He is an evil deceiver and must die! And he knows too much already." The second man's eyes glowed strangely.
"Sire, I do not understand..." the first man's voice trailed off at the sound of a dagger being drawn. "It is as you wish, Sire. I will kill the man."
"Take these," said the second man, giving him the tail feathers of a rooster, "Scatter them around the area, after you have completed your work. The Cock always leaves them after every crime, and it is best for now that he is blamed."
"Yes, sir." The man scurried away down the alley.
Watching him go, the second talked to himself. "I wish I could have him leave one of these," he muttered, drawing a peacock feather from beneath his cloak, "but for now, I have 'honor' to maintain."

"Princess Edith!" exclaimed Methuselah as he peered out the crack in the door.
"Let me in, quickly, and close the door," she whispered hurriedly. The old man hustled her into the house, taking her to a seat by the fire.
"Before you tell me why you have come, let me go get you something warm to drink." As he hurried away, Edith gazed around at the mysterious objects littering the cottage. Rusted swords, engraved with strange writings hung on the wall. Bottles filled with weird colored liquids were scattered here and there. On a shelf lay the sculls of animals she could not recognize. They seemed to be staring at her. She tried to relax, but found herself clutching the great book even more tightly. Finding Methuselah's house had been difficult, and had taken much longer than she expected. A sympathetic peasant allowed her to hide in his house for some time while the King's men lazily searched the city. When day grew into evening she had borrowed some common garments, and set out on the streets, taking a roundabout way through the back alleys. It was as she neared her destination that the startling incident occurred. When a soldier walked by she had rushed around a corner to be out of sight. But as she rounded the corner, she ran directly into a tall, grim faced man--a man she recognized. It was Sir Edward IV. He showed no sign of recognition, though; and she slipped away apparently unnoticed. Nevertheless, she shuddered in fear as she left. Something in his eyes was strangely terrifying.
"Here's a good hot cup of tea for you," came Methuselah's voice as he entered the room with the steaming beverage. "Now tell me, why have you come?"
The soothing aroma of the fragrant tea calmed Edith and she began.
"I...I don't really know exactly, I just... just had to."
Methuselah nodded in understanding.
"Oh! It's my father!" she burst out, "It's one thing after another! He's so...he just doesn't seem to care about me at all. I mean, he pretends like he does, but I know... Oh! Now he's arranged the worst possible marriage for me! And, and...I've just had to handle so much on my own, with no one to talk to and..." She began crying. "You won't make me go back will you?"
"We'll worry about that when the time comes, dear. But tell me, what is this book you have with you?" Methuselah stared at the book intently.
Taking a deep breath, Edith wiped her eyes. "I don't know, but I felt I had to find out. I found it in the castle treasury...I don't honestly know why, or how, I was in the treasury, but somehow I was and the book was there. And then I took it, I don't know why. It was almost like I had no choice, but I did in a way. When I opened it the writing inside intrigued me. And even more intriguing was the fact that I could only open to the same page, every time. It was written in a strange language, but I felt that I had to know what it said, so I brought it to you."
Methuselah smiled. "You've come to the right old man." Then in a more serious tone, "That book you hold is the Ancient Book of the Great King, the most valuable, mysterious, and powerful book in existence. It is full of prophesies, spells, and the Great Laws of Old." The old man stretched out his hand. "May I look at it?"
Edith handed him the book, and he took it gently in his hands. Gingerly he opened it to a page covered in ancient writing.
"See, that's the page!" exclaimed Edith, "it opens there every time."
"Hmmmm," Methuselah took a long look at the page, "the first part is definitely a prophesy, written in the common tongue of old." He paused for a long time, looking up only after Edith began shifting in her seat. "I suppose I can read it to you." He took a deep breath and began.
When one laughs and many cry
Three will set out in honor's search.
One returns with nought but a lie.
One surveys from seabirds' perch.
These two see all through selfish eye
But fail to see they must choose sides.
The third, the fish, will travel far
To bring to life the infinite race.
The Not Very Nice one will be brought down
But one far worse will take his place.
'Tis said no mortal in the time of dread
can end the reign of Kelthisad.
The quaternary must be complete.
One from the Mountain
One from the Sea
One from the Sky
And the One of Mystery
"The second part is in a strange and ancient language. I think I can make it out."* Methuselah's began to read, but immediately stopped, his eyes scanning the page. He suddenly grew pale. Edith stared at him, worried.
"What's wrong!?" she asked, sensing urgency.
"It's worse than I expected," Methuselah muttered to himself.
Then he looked up, his eyes fearful, but resolute.
"My lady, you must leave this place immediately! The words here hold great power and state many terrible things, but for now they are not yours to know! Quick take this!"
He shoved the book into her hands.
"And wait, you must have something else."
He rushed out of the room, promptly returning with a thin black dagger. It's blade shimmered with an evil light, but was hidden as the old man thrust it into its sheath.
"You must take this as well, hurry."
As he handed her the knife, a strange tingling shot through her body. Edith shuddered. Footsteps thudded in the dark outside. She thought she heard mens' voices.
"Come here!" Methuselah shouted, crossing the room and shoving on a panel of the far wall. It swung out to a deserted alley. "Flee from this place! This path will take you to the city gates! Seek the Woman of the Hidden Stream, and protect the book and the dagger with your life! Go! Now! The time has come!
The window opposite them shattered with a crash. An arrow clattered to the floor. Screaming, Edith grabbed Methuselah's arm and tried to drag him out the passage with her.
"Let go!" He commanded, his voice powerful. "I must remain. Now run!"
A muffled twang. A searing hiss. A thud. Methuselah lurched forward. His eyes widened in pain.
Edith fled, sobbing and stumbling. She looked back only once and beheld an enormous burst of flame. Methuselah's old hut crumbled and collapsed. She kept running.

--Thomas H

Sunday, June 22, 2008

9: Bruce Enters Fissabent

Bruce took another deep breath of the sea air as he rode up to the gates of the town. It was certainly no Nuverandim, a wooden wall no more than nine feet high surrounded the village in a rough square, though one side was open to the sea. Rickety towers marked the corners, and two unkempt guards stood by the open gates regulating travelers. Despite such rough appearances, the town bustled with people, probably fisherman and travelers, Bruce thought. "Halt." the less-than-commanding voice interrupted his thoughts. He looked down to see one of the guards standing with a spear haphazardly point at him. "Who seeks passage into Fissabent?" The question sounded like it had been asked hundreds of times a day, which it probably was. "Sir Bruce of Wellington," Bruce replied, "Knight of Nuvanderim in the Desert of Dreams, subject of his honor King Horatio, bearer of the red--"
"Yeah, yeah." the guard cut him off, "carry on. Good day sir." Bruce nodded and rode forward, catching a slight whiff of rum on the man's breath. Many more pungent smells greeted him as he entered Fissabent; so much for the fresh sea air. Bruce glanced around for some sort of inn or tavern, anyplace he could find a hot meal and information about his quest. "You lad!" he called to a young boy, "where is the nearest place for a weary knight to find room and board?"
"Right down this street, and to your left, sir." the child replied, "Look for the Sea Serpent Inn, best clam chowder in the whole world!" Bruce flipped the boy a coin, "Thank you lad, I'll be sure to take you up on that."
The boy was true to his word, the Sea Serpent Inn showed many signs of wear and tear, but it had all that a traveler could ask for: friendly owners, soft pillows, and good food. Bruce was halfway through his bowl of chowder when, upon silently scanning the room's occupants, his ears perked up at the conversation of two grizzled old men. Bronze skin, rough stubble, smoking pipes, tattoos, and gold rings indicated their primary occupation: sailors. "Be that so?" one of them said, "well forget your tales of mind-stealing sea spirits. That be too many days in the sun and you knows it."
"Days in the sun?" the other man responded, "Methinks not, but they ain't no more gibberish than your claim to have seen the Golden Isle."
"'tis true," the first sailor responded, "I seed it with me own eye." He indicated his left eye. The other one had a patch over it.
"Excuse me good sirs." Bruce interjected before the second sailor could say anything, "but I couldn't help but overhear your conversation."
"Yer not from around here, are ye?" the sailor without the patch asked. "I most certainly am not!" Bruce responded, clattering as he sat down in his armor, "I am Sir Bruce of Wellington, Knight of Nuvanderim in the Desert of Dreams, subject of his honor King Horatio, bearer of the red--"
"Yeah, yeah," the man with one eye said, "I never put much in all them fancy titles. They calls me One-eyed Ralph, and that's me mate Dekel."
"A pleasure to meet both of you." Bruce put on his best smile. "So what can you, er, 'sea dogs' tell me of these sea spirits, and golden island?"
"Well, your knightship," Dekel said "the sea spirits, also called sirens, is magic beings, capable of invading yer mind."
"tain't true," Ralph responded flatly.
"I just be givin' the general opinion of folks here abouts." Ralph replied, "Whether ye believe such things is up to ye, but I've seen them, nay, felt them."
"Felt them?" Bruce asked.
"Aye, the spirits be invisible, save for the rare occasion when the light shines just right, but that don't matter. 'Tis said that if ye sail too far north in the Desert of Dreams, that the spirits will enter your ship, and either drive ye mad, or magically send ye back the way ye came. I was part of such a voyage. Thank heavens they only sent us back."
"Hmmm," Bruce murmured, "that would explain why there are no seaports where I come from."
"Aye, that it does." Dekel said, taking a puff on his pipe, "'Tis also said that these sea spirits are descended from or related to the landlubbing dream spirits."
"Dream spirits?" Bruce said, half question and half statement. He had heard the name before, years ago, in knight's training, there had been some lecture...He couldn't recall it, he had never been interested in such legends, but perhaps there was some truth to them. "Very well," he said, "now what of this golden island?"
"Haharr, now we're talking cold, hard, facts," Ralph exclaimed, "I was lucky enough to be sailin' with the only crew what's had the privilege of setting eyes on the Golden Isle." His eyes seemed to glaze over as he stared into open space, "beautiful she was, jutting out of the sea, majestic, proud, and the best part, pure gold, all of it! There for the taking by any man-jack brave and blessed enough to walk her shores."
"A golden island!" Bruce exclaimed, drawing the attention of several nearby diners. Here was something worthy of his quest! "I say men, let's be after it! Chart me a course and we'll see sail first thing tomorrow morn!"
"Ah haha, ye didn't let me finish mate." Ralph said, "That island will never see the foot of man."
"'Never' is a strong word," Bruce replied, "surely some man is destined to mine her riches, and, dare I say it, I am that man!" The two grizzled sailors glanced at each other with hardened expressions. "Perhaps ye are, but I doubt it." Ralph leaned back and took a puff on his pipe, "Ye see, Sir Bruce, there be two reasons why I don't believe any man will ever touch the gold of that island. One, she cannot be found. See, the vessel I sailed aboard was sailing a course far out to sea, a farther and more dangerous, but faster route than most captains are willing to risk. Well, one night we were caught in a terrible storm, one of the most fearsome displays I've seen in all me born days. We were driven far off course, and our ship badly damaged. We sailed aimlessly for days, no sight nor sound of anything natural, when I spied the Golden Isle on the horizon."
"Ah, then it is possible to find!"
"I suppose 'tis, but that's a gamble of long odds, ain't it mate? One lone spit of land amid leagues of saltwater?"
"Indeed it is, but it is a chance I am willing to take. All the more spoils, riches, glory, and recognition when I return to take Princess Edith's hand in marriage." Ralph remained skeptical. "There is one other thing. The Leviathan."
Bruce paused, "Leviathan?"
"Aye, a creature out of your worst nightmare. A monster of the deep." He leaned forward. There was raw terror in his eyes, "Picture this mate: a giant serpent, twice, nay, thrice, the width of me arm span and longer than two of our largest vessels. Scales the size of your shield, and twice as think I'll wager. A mouth that can consume ten men in a single bite and use a spear for a toothpick! It attacked and destroyed our ship, I was thrown into the wreckage and me eye gouged out. I floated around for days before Dekel here picked me up, half crazy himself about those sea spirits. 'Course, I count meself lucky. Every other good man aboard was lost, drowned, devoured."
"A likely story," Dekel interrupted. "Last time it could only eat five men." Ralph glared fiercely at him, "Five, ten, what does it matter when the beast can sink a ship with ease?" He shuddered as if trying to forget a bad dream, "'Tis a fool's errand, Bruce, only terror and death await ye at that island."
"All the better, then! I shall have the head of the most powerful creature on earth and riches beyond compare!" Bruce's response took both of the men totally off guard; it seemed that the more dangerous and impossible the story became, the more enthusiastic the knight became. "I don't know what's in that head o' yours," Ralph said, "but I'll be havin' no part of it. Come on Dekel, old mate, 'tis about time we was getting some shuteye. These old bones need more rest than they used to." He turned to Bruce, "Mark my words knight, ye'll find naught but death in the far reaches of the sea."

--Andrew C

8: Edward's Dream

Edward saw a blur of dark dark images spinning through his head. He saw a castle with such size that it seemed no amount of human labor could construct it. Over it lie a dark cloud that stretched as far as the eye could see. Then he saw a man seated on a throne that hovered in the air as if it was weightless. The man had dark black eyes that penetrated Edwards flesh as he gazed into them. Long red hair flowed out of his iron crown and swayed as the cold breeze swept across his face. His face was totally pail, as if it had never witnessed sunshine. Then the image passed, and Edward saw nothing but dark colors swirling in mind-dazing pasterns. The color focused, and Edward saw a massive portal. It lie on a mountain that stretched miles into the sky. At the top blew a wind so ferocious that Edward sometimes lost sight of the portal that lied merely a few passes in from of him. Edward tired to walk forward and touch it, but he found himself unable to move, as if he were in some void. Once again the image passed and Edward was thrown into a endless spiral of dark colors.
Soon the colors and shapes arranged, and once again Edward saw the man seated in a thrown. Only this time the man spoke.
"Release me Edward, " said the man, "and together we can rule the world. No one could stand in our way."
Edward paused before he said, "You are the man Methuselah spoke of. Kelthisad. You are are evil! You doomed the fate of the dream spirits. For three hundred years you covered the land with darkness. And now you expect me to release you?!"
"You are deceived! Methuselah is the evil one. He betrayed us! He tried to take the throne himself!" Said Kelthisad.
"No, your wrong, Methuselah would never do such a thing!"
"Methuselah Lies! Did he fail to tell you that he, Farran at the time, was the one who killed me?" Said Kelthisad. Edward paused for awhile before Kelthisad continued. "And he destroyed me just so he could could have the throne for himself! But of course he was foolish, and ignorant of the fact that the entire nation would fall with me."
"I don't believe you," said Edward.
"Then perhaps I should show you." Edward passed into another whirl wind of unfocused shapes, utile his eyes focused and he saw Kelthisad quietly sleeping. Then he saw a familiar face silently open the door and walk towards Kelthisad. The face was young, but its identity was unmistakable; it was none other then Methuselah himself. Methuselah raised his dagger and stabbed Kelthisad straight through the heart. And upon the instant, Edward heard the entire race cry out in pain as the nation breathed its last. Edward was overwhelmed by the sound, and woke from the horrible nightmare.


7: Edith's Decision

Edith had made up her mind. And there was no changing it. True, the end of suitors' visits was a relief... but she had made up her mind. That was that. As six of her thirty-five maids helped her get into a dress her gaze slipped to the crevice between the floorboards and the wall, her secret place. It was actually the only place in the entire chamber that wasn't "thoroughly cleaned" each and every day. She knew hardly anything about the ancient, mysterious book that lay within (the schoolmaster her father employed had done his job well), but she knew that it was the only book left that was written by the great King of Old. It had taken all her cunning to sneak it out of the treasury, and she was greatly relieved to discover that the "theft" had been attributed to The Cock, the infamous master thief. Her attention was snapped back to the present as another maid burst in through the door.
"Your father, His Majesty, King Horatio the Not-Very-Nice, ruler of the City of Tears, Lord of the Desert of Dreams, Master of the Million Pranks, etc. etc. wishes to speak with you milady."
Edith sighed. But she knew she had to go.
"Ahh Edith, my lovely daughter!" exclaimed the King when she arrived. His manner was surprisingly cheerful. "Due to your constant indecisiveness in choosing a husband, in addition to a recent series of tragic events, I have deemed it necessary, beneficial, and desirable that I choose a man for you."
Edith grew pale.
"You seem worried, but I assure you that you will find the man I have chosen to be irresistible. He is truly a man after my own heart! You may enter, Felipe."
The door at the opposite end of the room burst open with a resounding crash and a tall gangly figure strutted in. The appearance would have bordered on impressive had his cape not closed in the door. He took a large step forward, jerked back in the middle of it, and tumbled to the floor in a clatter of armour. A loud ripping noise ensued, but was drowned out by the King's joyful laughter.
"Here is the man!" he proclaimed, "Edith, meet Sir Felipe Adajio, your soon to be husband!"
Edith could say nothing. Felipe managed to stand back up, then approached her. He knelt and extended a bouquet of flowers to her.
"Oh, lady, take this humble gift of flowers from your humblest of humble servants. I bought them for their beauty, but they grow hideous in your presence, your own beauty is so radiant!"
Edith was shocked. She had never experienced this before. Maybe her father did know what he was doing after all. She slowly stretched out her arm and took the flowers, wrapping her fingers around the cool bundle of stems, and bringing the bouquet back in toward herself. Could this be happening? Was this finally someone with some sense of goodness? Was...but before she could think any further she was splashed in the face as a stream of water squirted from the bouquet. The King was laughing uproariously. Felipe was hysterical. When she finally cleared her soaked hair from her eyes she beheld them both rolling on the floor, holding their sides. Furiously she stormed out of the room. If there was any chance her mind was not made up before, it was now.
An hour later King Horatio the NVN and Sir Felipe were finally recovering when a servant burst in the door.
"My Liege! Your dau--"
"You forgot my titles," interrupted the King.
"Apologies, your highness. Oh Your Majesty, King Horatio the Not-Very-Nice, ruler of the City of Tears, Lord of the Desert of Dreams, Master of the Million Pranks, etc. etc., your daughter, Edith, is gone!"
"How can this be!?" roared King Horatio.
" A chain of petticoats, tied together, was found hanging from her window. So far our searching has revealed no other sign of her."
"Woe is me!" wailed Felipe," My love is alone somewhere in this cruel world! Her perfect feet were never meant to traverse the rough terrain of a common road! Her beautiful blond hair--or no, I mean brown hair--was never meant to be scorched by the blinding rays of the outdoor sun! Something must be done!"
"Raise the taxes fifteen percent!" Bellowed the King, "That always solves the problem!"
"My Liege, if I may be so bold," the servant interjected meekly, "our economy is already in a terrible state."
"Make it twenty percent then! Now get out of my sight before I have you beheaded!"
The servant scuttled from the room.
"Oh King," began Felipe, "I shall be the one to rescue your gorgeousest of gourgeous daughters from the deadly peril she is in!"
He whipped out his sword in a wide arc, nearly slicing off the King's head and shredding a wall tapestry completely in half.
"I have been training in sword fighting since I was a boy. No knight in the kingdom is as worthy or well equipped as I to conduct this rescue! Yet is that doubt I perceive in your eyes, oh King?" he asked in surprise. "Perhaps a demonstration of a few of my moves will convince you."
"No, that's quite alright," put in the King, but he was too late.
Edith listened below, and, despite her anger, found herself suppressing laughter. A shout from above was followed by a crash, and Felipe's sword thudded into the ground nearby amid a tinkle of glass shards.
"Oopsies!" came Felipe's voice from above.
Edith ducked out of sight, and set off down an alleyway. Beneath her arm she carried the book. She was leaving the castle, at least for a considerable amount of time. Where she was going, she knew not. Just away. First though, she had to talk to Methuselah.

--Thomas H

6: Sir Bruce, the Dagger, and Practical Jokes

Sir Bruce breathed deeply the fresh sea air. Ah yes, the sea, this would be the real way to travel. While that fool Edward was off consulting an old, superstitious man, and that other knight--what was his name? Oh that's right, Bruce chuckled to himself, Jard, but the poor lad wasn't even a knight yet. No matter where he went, he definitely wouldn't be any factor in Bruce's quest to win Princess Edith's hand and thus the kingdom.

Bruce laughed again, "Pffff" he said to himself, "dream spirits." Quite frankly, he doubted their very existence, "legend, stories to frighten children at night, nothing more," he murmured. Old Ed will be running all over the Desert of Dreams and accomplished absolutely nothing, while he took to the high seas in search of of golden islands for the claiming and dangerous sea monsters for the slaying. "Yep, that'll be me!" said Bruce, who was suddenly feeling rather giddy. A small coastal town had appeared on the horizon, and he could see several sets of masts and white sails near the mouth of the bay upon which the town was built. Fluffing the feather in his helmet, and whistling a merry tune, the knight of the red wolf rode on towards the village.

Meanwhile, Methuselah sighed as Sir Edward galloped quickly off into the distance. "That's the problem with this generation," he muttered, "no faith, no respect or care for things unseen. No knowledge of the old ways." Slowly, he turned around, walked back into his cluttered hovel, and descended into the cellar. Grabbing a cracked mug and filling it with ale (which he always had on tap), the old man opened an old chest. Reverently, he removed the chest's lone occupant: it was called Duvrijad, the dagger Farran had used to murder Kelthisad many years ago. "I doubt that even this would have convinced him." Methuselah thought, "no, it definitely would not have. Besides, the young fool would likely have mocked it along with the rest of the truth." His face darkened, "and it would be a dangerous thing to take such a relic so lightly." The old man had conveniently left out the part of the tale that told that Duvrijad, since it had spilled the blood of a sorcerer, had certain properties far beyond that of a mere physical blade. "One of these days," Methuselah took a long drink of his ale, "one of these days the right man will come, but until then it had best be kept secret."

Meanwhile, meanwhile, King Horatio the NVN was angry...really angry. It had all started last week when one of this pranks on the city sheriff (the most brilliant, creative, and dastardly in Horatio's memory) had gone horribly wrong. The idea was that Sheriff Bob, a fat, pompous, outspoken, and rude man who talked with a lisp, would end up in front of the entire city in his pajamas. Unfortunately (for Horatio the NVN at least) the guards instructed with carrying out the deed became drunk on the job and ended up mistaking Horatio (no beanpole himself) for the Sheriff. Thus, it was the naughty king that ended up in front of his subjects with nothing to say but "excuse me, I'm afraid there's been a mistake." The citizens, of course, found it absolutely hilarious that one of the king's pranks had finally backfired on him, and it was days before he dared made any public appearances. The next annoyance occurred when a presently at-large thief managed to break into the royal treasury. When the treasurer examined it in the morning, though, only a single ancient book, and very rare volume at that, was found missing. Granted, it was not the loss that enraged Horatio (he cared little for such things) but the fact that someone had managed to breach the castle's security. Finally, the pheasant meat, a favorite of the king, at yesterday's dinner had been spoiled. This was the last straw for Horatio; in a terrible rage, he promptly placed the entire guard on half-rations, had the cook tarred and feathered, and suspended any and all visits from suitors to princess Edith. As you probably suspect though, this last "punishment" really wasn't much of a punishment at all. Rather, Edith welcomed the change. The suitors, quite frankly, bored and depressed her, and she relished the chance to spend more time horseback riding and simply walking alone in the castle garden.

--Andrew C

5: Edward Meets Methuselah

Sir Edward the IV rose early the next day to meet an old friend named Methuselah who he hoped would give him information on his quests to defeat dream spirits and gain honor. He didn't really like Methuselah and his superstitious beliefs in wild fairy tales, but he was very knowledgeable of distant quests. The man seemed to have a mysterious edge to him that pierced the flesh of whom he talked to. He was very old and every wrinkle and scare on him seemed to tell a story. Edward hoped to get the information he needed as quickly as possible and escape before the old man got on one of his stories.
Sir Edward the IV tied his horse and walked towards Methuselah's door, noticing the many strange items that filled the yard as he walked.
"Who's bothering me now," said Methuselah as Edward walked in.
"just need some quick information and I'm out of here," said Edward.
"We'll, come, sit down and we discuss whatever you want," said Methuselah.
They made their way around the mysterious house , passing by ancient artifacts that hung on the walls. Edward always wondered where The old man got everything he had. They sat down next to the fire and began to discuss the quest Edward was planning on talking.
"Look, all I need to know is where I can find the dream spirits and how to destroy them," Said Eward plainly.
"Find dream spirits? What are you talking about," said Methuselah confused.
"Yea, the creatures that people talk about that haunt them in their sleep," said Edward.
"You really do have no clue what dream spirits are do you?" Said the Methuselah in disbelief.
"Apparently not."
"dream spirits are...well, spirits." The old man sighed before he began the long story.
"The dream spirits are a sad tale really. They were once men who lived with pride and dignity. They were the strongest race the world ever new. Throughout their existence they were blessed with wise kings who ruled the nation well, until Kelthisad came into power and the nations magnificences was diminished. Kelthisad was a master sorcerer who used magic to poison the minds of his people. For three hundred years the nation was ruled by the evil King. It was then that a man named Farran at the time, escaped the curse of Kelthisad and stabbed him though the heart while he was sleeping. Little did he know though, that Kelthisad's flesh was tied to his peoples through dark magic. The people were not severed from curse, and with Kelthisad, so fell the entire race.
The souls of the race remain bound to the world even to this day, and will be forever. Although they have no flesh and can fiscally harm no one, they are still quit potent. They can enter the minds of men and distort their thoughts and feelings. They tend to come while your sleeping because thats when your mind is loosest, though they can can penetrate the mind during the day if its weak enough. The dream spirits have been plaguing the town with nightmares ever sense Kelthisad and his race was destroyed.
The dream spirits have been alone in the dessert of dreams for over a thousand years, and unable to accomplish their dreams. They have to watch as weddings are performed and babies are born. They timelessly watch time pass as men are born and die. They watch as people aimlessly throw they lives away, and they can do nothing about it. The dream spirits truly are a sad story.

There is one way that the dream spirits can be freed from there fate, however, the ice of the frozen portal must must be shattered. Its a long and treacherous path to reach the frozen portal. Many dark and powerful enemies lurk along the path, waiting to pounce on anyone near. But, I'm affrayed it must be done if the King is to be overthrown. For there was a prophecy that the dream spirits would be the ones to end the reign of a not-very-nice king. But one must be careful when freeing them, for Kelthisad will gain flesh just like the others. Although he wouldn't have magical power, his words alone will poison mans thoughts if they are not careful. That man is evil—body and soul."
"*Clap*clap*clap* wonderful story! Hahahaha, that really is a good one." Said Edward practically choking from laughter. The old man simply sighed.
"You don't really expect me to believe that do you?" Said Edward.
"It's up to you," said Methuselah.
"Yea, well I don't believe you, and the only thing thats going to overthrow the king is the cold steal of our blades ferociously pounding the life out of the mental kings men! I'm affrayed magic is long dead old man." Said Edward as he stormed away.
"Only forgotten," uttered Methuselah to himself. "And soon reborn."
Sir Edward slowly trotted home, unable to take his mind away from Farran's tale. There was something about that man that just wasn't right. Somehow Farran's story seemed so familiar, almost as if he had seen everything the old man described. Eventually, he convinced himself that he was just tiered because of the Kings ridiculous pranks robbing him of his sleep.


4: The Knights Begin

"I can't stand that ridiculously immature 'King'" announced Sir Edward IV for the fifth time that morning. "All of his lame childish pranks drove me off the edge!" he had lasted only a few days, as mentioned before, 3 days to be exact. Which was plenty of time for the mentally challenged king to play 14 different pranks. The king had secretly changed Edwards mattress out for one covered in ticks. He had the hinges on servants door across the hall changed for old rusty ones that squeaked. So for those three nights Edward got no sleep. But the final straw was when the King had put wax in front of the knights chair, where he slipped in front of the whole court. With having no sleep in three days the knight was a little bit agitated. To make matters worse the whole court was laughing at him uproariously. So he stormed out of the banquet hall, raving mad. Where he missed the standard glue in the chair trick, which was played on the duke of Kentenfod.

"Oh quit whinning, you weren't a good match for Edith anyway," replied Sir Bruce, "You see, I was. I knew from the beginning, so that is why I started with a proposal."

"That was a TERRIBAL approach!" Exclaimed Edward nearly shouting, "She dumped you at first sight! It wasn't love at first sight but DUMPED at first sight!"

"No she just has to know me better that is the whole purpose of this quest, to win the ladys heart!"

"Y'all are jist over raten 'ur cham, but I is jist a low-ly squire, wid naw name." Interjected Jared with a heavy peasant drawl.

You're just jellous because you aren't as good looking as us! Countered Edward.

"Fur cryin out loud! She's on-ly 15!" Replied Jarad "Edward 'ur like 30 and Bruce 'ur close to 40!"

"When I have medals and honor after defeating multipul dream spirits, then she will have to marry me whether I am 40 or not." Answered Sir Bruce.

"Not if I do the same!" Shouted Edward "I will return with similar glory and when the dowry…er girl!"

"Har-har I kneeeeeeew yeew two wernt in it fur the princess, but fur the money." Droned Jared in his thick accent.

"Ok just shut it I've had enough of this!" Exclaimed Bruce "Lets focus on our goal then we can argue over the girl!"

The rode all morning…


3: Edith

Edith stared out the window of her chamber, surveying the vast, motionless expanse of the Desert of Dreams; so close to her residence, yet a place she had never experienced, a far away land of mystery. It was a sight she beheld often, as she spent much time just sitting, thinking, by herself. Edith reflected over the past week, but there was nothing new or significant to her. The castle had been visited by the usual crowd of suitors. Vain, conceited men they were. She might have considered courting one of them, had he but spent at least an equal amount of time conversing with her as he did gazing greedily at the riches that surrounded her dwelling. But as usual, they only faked interest in her. To make matters worse, her father had amused himself that week by putting glue in the chair of a visiting landlord. He had previously stretched a string from this chair to the chandelier, upon which several bottles of ink had been precariously balanced. Edith shuddered when she recalled the results. Sighing, she took a bite of a crumpet, grimacing at it's overly sweet taste. Life at the castle was becoming such a misery. She gazed once again out the window, and this time a commotion at the gate aroused her interest. At first she wondered if she had spotted one of the mysterious dream-spirits that supposedly inhabited the Desert of Dreams, but she quickly realized that this was not so. Why did she continue to think on these beings? The king had been denying their existance to her since she was a child. Her thoughts returned to the scene below. Three knights were departing from the castle. A fluttering green banner with an emblem of the peacock announced the identity of the first knight: Sir Edward IV of Stranfordam; she remembered him. Stiff, dignified, and ceremonious, he had only remained her suitor for a few days, before becoming so disgusted with the king's behavior that he left. She smiled. For once, her father had done something beneficial for her, although the fact that it was unintended still remained. She immediately knew the second knight, who carried a batterd red banner with an emblem of the wolf: Sir Bruce of Wellington; another former suitor. Sir Bruce had remained at the castle, for less than one day. Upon being introduced to her, he immediately proposed marriage, she in surprise, naturally refused. With that, he angrily stormed away and she hadn't seen him since. Edith stared hard at the third knight, for he had no banner. The emblem of a fish on his pale blue sheild was unfamiliar to her. Strange, she thought, that she had never noticed him. Every knight in the land seemed to be struggling to put himself in her sight. A rap on the door and the entrance of one of her maids, brought her attention away from the scene below, and she turned away from the window.

--Thomas H

2: Of Kings, Kingdoms, Princesses, Knights, and the like...

Okay, the start is a bit unclear but I'll see what I can do with it. FYI, the Desert of Dreams is going to be a land, like Narnia, Mossflower, or Kirthanin. There are, however, many foreign lands beyond the Desert of Dreams. King Horatio the Not-Very-Nice (hereafter referred to as "Horatio the NVN") resides in the City of Tears. At least, that's what most Desert of Dreams inhabitants call it. The official name for the city is Nuverandim, which means, in some long lost language: "In (the arms of) peace." People think this is a stupid name, because Horatio the NVN is (needless to say) not a very nice or peaceful guy. Legend tells, though, of a certain prophecy about the city....

There are two main reasons that Horatio has been dubbed "Not Very Nice". One, he taxes his people ridiculously high and gives little of it back to the people. Two, he is the consummate master of dirty practical jokes. In several decades (or all the time Horatio the NVN has been king), not a banquet, birthday, or any celebration has gone by without some innocent baron, baroness, captain, guard, lord, lady, peasant, etc. getting pied in the face, sitting on a whoopee cushion, entering with a mustache drawn on his/her face, finding a rubber snake in his armor, or being the victim of an even more dastardly deed. The occupants of the Desert of Dreams obviously think this is terribly immature, but no one dares tell that to the King's face.

Unlike most fairy tale princesses, Edith is not the most beautiful person in the land. Ugly? No. Good looking? Perhaps. Drop dead gorgeous? Nope. She, does, of course, still have many suitors considering that she is the lone heir to the Desert of Dreams, but all of them are only interested in her for the power and riches. This makes Edith really depressed. What she really wants is someone who can see her and love her for who she truly is as a person. Oftentimes, she is tired of being a princess, and wishes that for once she could be a normal girl like everyone else instead of an immature King's spoiled daughter.

Jard is a young (about 17 yrs old) knight-in-training with the King's high army in Nuverandim. Years ago, he initially showed great promise as a skilled swordsman and rider, and every knight in the army vowed that he possessed skills and natural abilities far beyond their own. As the years and training have gone by, though, Jard has proven to be almost a complete flop. Next month, the top tier of squires will be selected to continue their training for Knighthood, and Jard knows he will not be one of them. Therefore, he has decided that he must somehow prove himself worthy of knighthood. Jard has heard many fantastic (and terrifying) tales about great danger, riches, and fair maidens in the mysterious lands beyond the Desert of Dreams, and so he has decided to embark on a noble quest into these lands in order to make a name for himself and regain what little honor he has lost.

--Andrew C

1: Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time there was a world known as the Desert of Dreams (the exact awesomeness of that name I will leave to someone els to think come up with). It was ruled by a humorous evil King, whose name was Horatio the Not-Very-Nice. Horatio the Not-Very-Nice didn't care about the people and spent tons of money on himself. There were few who had the guts to speak against the King for fear of being punished, but a few, a rare few, were willing to oppose his rule. The King had daughter whose name was Edith. Beyond the Desert of Dreams city, there were many dangerous quests with large spoils and beautiful fair maidens. Only the bravest knights were willing to face these treacherous lands and most all of them fail. But three men, just three men, were ready to face the challenge.


*edit* here's a ma
p to look at, this might help as you read the story:
*2x edit* this map is a work in progress, it will be updated according as the story develops, to check back here if you come across an unfamiliar place.