All the King’s Nitwits and all the King’s Clods: Prologue, or It All Had to Start Somehow

Some quick notes before the real, hopefully good, stuff: this is a project I’ve managed to keep under wraps.  The following will be the first part in a multi-part series, hopefully with some reader involvement when the chances arise (think “choose your own adventure”, but with no entirely wrong choices).  Without further delay, I present the beginning installment of All the King’s Nitwits and All the King’s Clods.

As far as kingdoms went, Edawean was certainly a respectable one.  King Aster Kalarmey was a king of the people, just and honorable in even the most dire of times.  Edawean held the distinction, out of all the fourteen Great Kingdoms of the Third Enlightened Age (the first two ages had not been so Enlightened, with the First being most noteworthy for actually being a complete descent into uncivilized chaos), being the least riddled with crime, the most free of corrupt nobility, and having streets more devoid of chamber pot spillage than any knight or filthy peasant could have imagined.  The signs on each gateway of the castle-town proudly read “Plagues need not enter here,” which seemed to have been working well enough as subjects of King Aster had stopped making such a regular hobby of dropping over dead in the streets.

And yet, when it could be argued a kingdom is only as good and just as its king, and a king is only as good and just as his most loyal knights.   Sir Hector Aldyr, the Exceptionally Bold.  Sir Raphael Temmins, the Dispenser of Justice.  Sir Gareth Marquis, the Fantastic.  Sir Valamir Ysthar, the Frequently Nicknamed for the Sake of Brevity.  Sir Bartemas Blainewright, the Chivalrous.  There has originally been three additional knights, each one as exceptional in quality as the other five, but they had gone off to greater callings.  Sir Jonah the Wise had gone on to become a great scholar of The Holy Church of Mostly Peaceful Gods.  Sir Walter the Healing found his true calling as a great medicine man of the times by pioneering a new means of drilling holes in a man’s skull to remove demons from thoughts.  Sir Horatio the Snide went on to stand sentry in The Great Castle Beyond when he accidentally shot himself in the back several times with several other people’s crossbows.  In honor of their departed members, and because they had emblazoned the name on every piece of armor left in the kingdom, they were to forever be known as The Knights of the Octagon.  Their motto, contrary to humorous jabs from roguish figures to the effect of “They’re the great and mighty stop signs of the law”, was to stop villainy at any cost.  This was, in hindsight, not particularly inspiring either.  However, it stuck as the King decreed it to be good and so it was.

The most vicious dragons found themselves laid to waste by the Knights of the Octagon.  The most fiendish necromancers and warlocks found their magic ineffective (largely, in the case of the former, due to the lack of corpses laying about the streets).  Witches proved equally ineffective, with the exception of a few embarrassing instances that somehow went without being recorded.  Mischief and mayhem were at an all-time low, and as such the Kingdom of Edawean knew an unparalleled time of peace and tranquility.

This is an excellent thing for the huddled, filth-encrusted masses, but it made for knights with little knightly activity to partake in.

King Aster sighed, sitting down at the OcTable.  He had endured day after day of chivalrous tales and feasts of honor, and his patience was running low.

“And then,” Sir Valamir said, “I raised my mighty blade Ryskrdlrkadir.”  The King Aster rolled his eyes, unnoticed by the others who were in a haze of shared heroic bonding.

“And thusly smote the lesser dragon Krawg,” Sir Valamir and King Aster said together.

“Right good show, that,” Sir Bartemas said, clapping a gauntlet-clad hand against Sir Valamir’s back.  “Val deserves a feast for such an exceptional tale of bravery!  A feast, I say.”

“No.  No more feasts,” King Aster said in protest, standing up from his seat.  “Surely there must be something other than boasting and feasting for you lot to be doing.”   The knights laughed.

“Such humor,” Sir Hector said, “is only right of a proper king.”  King Aster opened his mouth to protest, but a quick assessment of the knights and an even quicker burst of calculated thinking forced him to come to terms with the impending feast–the fifth such feast, as it turned out–in honor of Sir Valamir’s not-so-recent victory.

“Three cheers for Sir ‘Myr!” said Sir Raphael.

“Huzzah!” the knights chorused, masking a quiet knock at the chamber door.

“Huzzah!”  Princess Teresia entered the room, her footfalls almost completely silent.

“My apologies,” Teresia said.  “I do hope I’m not interrupting anything too terribly important.”  There was an almost-audible click as the wheels in King Aster’s head began turning.

“Not at all, my darling daughter,” King Aster said.  “In fact, I was about to announce something very important to the future of the kingdom.  Very important indeed.”  The knights all perked up, leaning in though the king was speaking loudly enough so as to be heard in the neighboring chambers of the castle.

“Whosoever among you goes forth,” King Aster said, gesturing dramatically toward a window across the room from him, “and commits the most heroic deed of you all will win the greatest gift I have to offer.  My daughter’s hand in marriage, and, with it, the throne as future king!”

And so, much against many unprincesslike, highly vulgar, protests from Princess Teresia, the knights each embarked on their individual journeys in hopes to achieve the greatest glory.

 

Which begs the question…whose (mis)adventure should be first?

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