Friday, November 07, 2014

The Knights of the Irregular Polygonal Table (#FridayFlash)

Any resemblance to Sabrina Zbasnik’s Rejected Story is purely, uh…

OK, let’s pull the pin and see what happens with this one. For other stories in this world, enter “strange lands” in the search box at the top of the page.



Image source: openclipart.org
Once upon a time, in the Strange Lands north of Aht-Lann-Tah, there was a tavern. Actually, the Strange Lands has plenty of taverns, as drinking oneself stupid was far easier than trying to understand one’s neighbors. But this tavern was situated at the foot of Aiken Butte, and was named for the landmark. As it was near the border of the Dominion and several other states great and small, knights of the nearby realms would gather there to drink, tell tales, work out minor differences between the kingdoms, drink, boast of their prowess, drink some more, and set dates for golf outings. And when they finished all that, they got down to some serious drinking.

The owner of the tavern had set aside a long table in the back for the knights. The corners were worn away by years of swords rubbing against them, so everyone called it the Round Table (Sir Pedant pointed out that it was actually a rough irregular polygon, with a general oval shape, but “the Knights of the Irregular Polygonal Table” just didn’t have the same ring). Besides, irregular is the norm in the Strange Lands.

But I digress. One fine day, knights from several realms were drinking and doing the other things that knights do when they’re not golfing or trying to knock each other off their horses. Into this peaceful debauch entered Sir Slice, so named for his golf swing rather than his swordplay.

“Ho! Ha!” the other knights shouted, pulling up a chair and making room. “What news?”

“Dire news, indeed,” said Sir Slice, slamming down his ale. “A dragon has captured another princess.”

“Not Stonebelly?” asked Sir Umber.

“Nay, good Dragonpooper,” Sir Slice grinned as the other knights laughed. “Just a regular dragon.”

“Dragonslayer, if you please,” Sir Umber growled. He had ridden out against a dragon one day, and the dragon laughed itself to death when Sir Umber soiled his armor. His now-former squire had let slip the truth, and nearly lost his head for it, for a secret once out can never be hidden again. “A dead dragon is a dead dragon, no matter how it is slain.”

Sir Slice waited for the laughter to die down. “Be it as it may. Who among us will go forth to rescue the unfortunate one?”

A long silence worked its way around the sort-of round table. “You haven’t heard?” said Sir Pedant. “It’s all about affirmative consent these days.”

Sir Slice scratched his oily head. “What does that mean? You sally forth, you slay the dragon, the princess is yours. That’s the way it’s always been done.”

“Not anymore,” said Sir Umber, glad to change the subject. “The princess must want to be rescued, and tell you she wants to be rescued. Those are the new rules of chivalry.”

“What? Of course she wants to be rescued!”

“She may want to rescue herself,” another knight said. “Or she may find the dragon’s company preferable.”

“So what are we supposed to do?” Sir Slice asked incredulously. “Marry a peasant woman?”

“Nay, whatever you do, don’t go there!” Sir H’rangid shouted. “You haven’t seen Hell on Earth until you share a roof with a peasant woman whose elevated status goes to her head. Ask me how I know. I even have to leave my golf clubs at Sir Umber’s keep, and tell her I’m out on patrol when I go anywhere.”

“Again I ask, what are we supposed to do then?” Sir Slice cast a baleful eye around the table, as if he had learned an unpleasant truth about his comrades.

“‘Tain’t so bad,” said Sir Bubba. “Ya ain’t riskin’ yer life for someone who don’t appreciate it anyway, and ya got more time to play golf and drink beer with yer compadres.”

“Bah. I never thought I’d see the day when my fellow knights would refuse to aid a damsel in distress. It is up to me, then.” Sir Slice turned on his heel, stumbling a little, and left the tavern.

“Calm, my fellows,” said Sir Pedant. “Our friend must learn for himself.” He swallowed the last of his ale and waved his tankard at the serving-wench. “As we all did. Now, to the business at hand. What golf course shall we grace with our presence?”

9 comments:

  1. was that Sir Bubba of Watson by any chance? This was fun Larry

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  2. I can understand why Sir Slice didn't want to play golf.

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  3. The noble knight, now an endangered species. ;-)

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  4. Dragon Slaying and damsel rescuing ain't what it use to be! Thanks for the ^__^ Larry

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  5. There are a lot of lovely zingers in this one, but this was the first that got me laughing out loud: "Actually, the Strange Lands has plenty of taverns, as drinking oneself stupid was far easier than trying to understand one’s neighbors." It reminded me how far north the Strange Lands go. The knights' not-quite-comprehension of the new chivalry was lancet-sharp.

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  6. Thanks, Marc. Sir Bubba is definitely a native of the Strange Lands, though. ;-)

    Tony, I have a similar issue. The problem is, the slice goes away when I try to depend on it.

    Boran, they might be a little less endangered than before, although maybe more bored.

    Helen, things always change. In the Strange Lands, they always change for the weirder!

    Thanks, Sonia!

    Thanks, Katherine - I do enjoy writing these.

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  7. I *LOVED* this!

    Btw, I even have a t-shirt that says "Self Rescuing Princess" so don't EVEN get me started! :D

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  8. I want to see the princesses joining forces with the dragons!

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