Maidens and Earthquakes
Sir Snottleham of Chrashny, better known as Snot, sat on his swayback steed looking over the stubbly countryside. The village of Chrashny held his gaze, as he looked fondly at its tumble-down shacks and rickety stone cottages. Lord Hickle’s Castle, Stumble Don, loomed over all, a precarious frame of rubble threatening to collapse on the poor, unprotected town beneath. This was home. Snot rode through the uneven streets, his horse stumbling over the protruding cobblestones. The village of Chrashny sat on a fault line, which caused frequent earthquakes that shook the town’s foundations until they crumbled into nothing. No one knew of the danger that the town was in; everyone had lived there their whole lives. The earthquakes were just an ordinary thing, an annoying ordinary thing. Snot, as oblivious to this as all the rest, rode on towards the looming castle.
Proceeding to Lord Hickle’s stables, he bedded down old Chagrin, his faithful steed, before swinging towards the Great Hall. His peculiar way of walking, shared by all, was how they combated the constant earthquakes that blasted the countryside, as one was doing right now. He paid as much attention to the shaking of the ground as he did to the lice playing a game of tag in his hair. Tiredly, the old castle groaned in protest before sliding forward and sagging father over the town. From somewhere in the village, the cracking of timbers followed by a loud crash signaled the fall of another cottage. Duke Klutzog strode past Snot, who bowed low in deference to the man of higher rank. After reaching the steps to the Great Hall, Snot grasped the railing and labored up the stairs, his sheath scraping the uneven stones as he went. Sir Burplon overtook him on the steps and after greeting one another, the men hurried on.
Bursting unceremoniously into the Great Hall, both men bungled their way to the King and fell awkwardly at his feet.
“Rise my good—hick! Excuse me. Rise my good knights—hick!” King Hickle squirmed a bit in his throne while he spoke.
Drolson, the King’s Chief Adviser, stood behind Hickle, a bit of drool left his lips and disappeared into his beard. Snot watched the man uneasily from the corner of his eye and saw him use the corner of his shirt to wipe away the wetness. Shuddering at the oily man’s beady eyes, he turned his attention back to King Hickle and the impending mission at hand.
“Good knights—hick, there is a maiden—hick! Who—hick desperately needs our—hick, help!”
Burplon seated himself on the floor and then let out a satisfied belch before pulling on the edge of Snot’s tunic, attempting to seat his friend. Snot looked at his friend and then at the floor. He removed his cloak, and after rolling it up, he sat on it. He refused to make eye contact with Drolson who slurped loudly near the King’s ear. Suddenly all the men made noise at once. King Hickle hiccupped, Drolson slurped, Burplon belched, and Snot snorted loudly into his hanky. The three men burst into laughter, which sent the purple-faced King into a hiccupping fit in an effort not to join in with the merriment.
“Well—hick, knights and adviser—hick, we do indeed know how to make—hick, music.”
At that statement, all of them burst into uncontrollable laughter, which took a long time to subside. After he restored things to order, Hickle wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, before speaking.
“Now back to the task at hand—hick.” He sat tall in his chair attempting to regain his dignity.
Snot bit his lips, trying to place a serious expression on his face. Burplon simply grinned and belched, Drolson frowned and wiped at his beard again, this time with a soggy hanky.
“The maiden’s name is Arlayna Liseuze Vignola. Just recently her father sent out a—hick, decree to all the kingdoms begging knights to take up arms for her cause. The dragon’s name is—HICK, Finickle.”
Burplon let out a surprised belch. “Finickle, he is the most fearsome dragon known in the kingdom! It would be pure foolishness to take up arms against that beast.” He belched again to emphasize his point.
“Be that as it may, it does not change the fact that we as knights and the bearers of the Code of Chrashny are obligated to help this Arlayna and any other maiden in need, regardless of position or title.” Snot glowered at Burplon, and then snorted into his hanky, embarrassed by his sudden outburst.
King Hickle glowed with pride at his knight’s brave speech.
“Well spoken, Sir Snot, actually I was hoping to take part in this mission also. That is why Drolson, will rule in my stead until I return.” Drolson dribbled excitedly, he wiped it away desperately, before making a sweeping bow to King Hickle.
“Your wish is my command, Sire.” Drolson found his gravelly voice and answered the King enthusiastically.
The King accepted the answer with a nod, and then he turned to his knights who still sat cross-legged before him.
“Snot, you and Burplon will accompany me, I will need my two trusty knights beside me to combat the dragon and complete the mission.”
Snot nodded, bowed, and then retreated from the Great Hall. Rushing towards the stables, he quickly threw his saddle over Chagrin, who snorted exasperatedly. King Hickle appeared in full battle dress and summoned a groom to bring up his enormous war steed. Staring after his Lord, Snot mentally reviewed each piece of the King’s armor. The breastplate of bronze hanging slightly askew, arm brace of silver put on upside down, the back piece of Damascus steel rusted slightly, and one terribly oversized shield finished the picture that Hickle presented. Snot smiled at his Lord’s back, but it disappeared when he caught sight of Hickle’s helmet with an outlandish plume waving jauntily from the top. He drew himself up proudly at the noble appearance the king presented.
His shrunken leather armor creaked in resistance as he mounted Chagrin and followed King Hickle out of the stables. A breathless Burplon appeared a moment later, on his slab-sided steed, Vexed, and belched his apologies. King Hickle convulsed as another fit of hiccups blocked his ability to speak. When he was able to speak again, he drew his sword and flung it forward.
“Onward—hick! My noble knights!” The King’s helmet slipped forward a bit, obscuring his sight.
The three men kicked their horses into a gallop and rode away into the mountains, to save, or not to save, a fair maiden in distress.