In which Sir Roger uncovers dastardly plots and evil villains…sort of…
There’s nothing like pomp and pageantry to help one appreciate a good night’s rest. And there’s nothing like the speeches of politicians to help one appreciate the caustic remarks of one’s wizardperson. Nonetheless, Rosa and I survived the princess’ homecoming.
It was the pageantry of what came next that nearly caused our demise.
As the pomp (pompous?) part of the spectacle trickled to a close, the pageantry segment spiced things up. We stood to one side of the dais surrounded by several guards at the far end of a long, airy hall filled with colorful (i.e., gloriously bloody) war tapestries and hundreds of nobles, courtiers, and other miscreants. The princess stood at the base of the dais glaring up at her father, her exquisite hands defiantly clenched against her hips. A half-dozen or so advisors stood hunched behind the throne like a pack of obsequious crows.
“Sweetheart, darling, angel!” pleaded King Gillan, a robust man with long, wild, slightly-graying hair. Amongst his troops—at least those who guarded Rosa and myself—he was better known as King Gallons. Indeed, a taint of his morning wine fouled the air.
“Now, dearest,” he implored, “would there be anything else?”
“Since when did you start hauling common mercenaries about?” rumbled a rough, thick voice. It issued forth from the largest man I had yet to set eyes upon as he waddled up to stand beside the king. He had no hips or waist to speak of, merely an extremely large round growth protruding so far from the middle of his body that his appendages appeared to be stuck on. Still, I had to give the man points for dressing so nattily in a glossy, silver-and-gem-inlaid ebony cloak.
“Since when did you begin to worry about the company I keep, Lord Rodney?”
The portly man reddened. “I… I just think you should be more careful of the image you portray to the public.”
“Did my ears deceive me or did the word ‘think’ escape your lips?”
“Ooh, she’s good!” muttered Rosa.
“Aah!” said the court like a chorus.
I glanced down at my wizardperson. Did my eyes deceive me or was there awe etched on her beauteous face?
“Princess Lalena! I am merely trying to save you from embarrassment!”
“You were not hired for your brains, you hippopotomic land mass!”
“Oooh, she’s really good.” Awe was definitely etched on Rosa’s face.
“Aaah!” echoed the court, this time with some light applause.
“Enough of what, father?”
Lalena’s demure sarcasm was so becoming. My heart thudded uncontrollably. The court nodded appreciatively.
“Since when did you start hiring the minions?”
“Your majesty, I protest!” roared Lord Rodney. “Since when did I become a minion?”
“Since I hired him as my chief of staff,” said the princess proudly.
“Your highness, I protest.”
“Your chief of staff of what?” The king rose to his feet.
The princess puffed up her considerable chest.
“I’ll have you know that I am president of WAMA.”
“Uh oh,” whispered Rosa.
“Oooh,” said the court, several of whom began edging towards the exits.
“What’s happening?” I asked my wizardperson.
“What’s WAMA?” asked King Gillan.
Princess Lalena flushed, her composure lost. “I, uh, well, that is…”
Recognition dawned. Unfortunately, my mouth blurted before my mind acted.
“The World Association for the Advancement of Minority Assassins!”
“Uh oh,” muttered Rosa. Nonetheless, she stepped in front of me, her dainty wand at the ready.
“Uh oh,” muttered the court, or at least those few not yet rushing for the exits.
“Uh oh,” muttered Lord Rodney as he edged towards the rear exit.
“Enough uh ohs already,” bellowed King Gillan. “Shouldn’t that be WAAMA?”
“Sorry father, but there’s not enough oompf to WAAMA. The short ‘a’ sound gives more punch to the acronym.” She turned to face me and her arm slowly lifted, an accusing finger aimed at me. “But it was for this one that I left Javern. He’s a member of a renegade outfit, a mere hired hand.”
I stepped forward. A row of lances leveled in front of me.
“Now wait a minute!” I cried as I patted my trusty Craftsman™ broadsword.
“Sit down!” cried the princess (president?), the advisor (chief of staff?) and the king (dupe?) simultaneously. I sat, realizing as my rump struck the floor (painfully, I might add) that there was no chair.
“Stand up!” cried Rosa. “I’ll take care of these dim-witted, cow-brained numbskulls!” She leveled her dainty wand in front of me. As I scrambled to my feet, a half-dozen lances crashed to the floor and I found myself surrounded by croaking toad-type persons. Glancing up I noticed a dagger in both Lalena’s and Lord Rodney’s hands.
My love sneered at Rosa. “You seem a decent girl. I hate to kill you.”
My other love held her ground. My heart thudded proudly. “You seem a decent girl. I hate to die.”
My other love? Was I truly so bewitched?
Suddenly the hall fell silent. Was that frost I saw clinging to the war tapestries?
It is moments like these that leads one to rue one’s big mouth. Mine is so big that it often reveals my innermost thoughts (no matter how shallow) without telling my ears. Apparently, that most treasured of circumstances had circumstanced again.
“You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.”
I met the steely-eyed gazes of both women and knew that my mouth had sealed my death warrant. Maybe if I had said women?
As it was, I cannot credit my natural athletic agility for my escape because, no matter how fast my legs moved, my love’s dainty wand and my other love’s sharp pointy daggers moved faster.
It was obvious from the way those sharp pointy daggers never reached my back as I leaped over croaking toads and fallen lances, despite the screams of others. It was obvious in the manner in which magical lights blazed all about me yet never reached my back as I dodged past hopping former courtiers and other sycophants.
No, I can only credit the love that both women must indeed feel for me and the natural jealousy of rivals for my escape. As I sprinted out of the castle gates, I glanced back longingly at the castle, now lit up like a theme park ride, the din of battle and croaking toads crescendoing like an opera’s climax, and I sighed. Surely, just because someone tries to kill you doesn’t mean one should not fall in love with the aforementioned someone(s)!