The afternoon wore on and the Sun sank her heavy head toward the horizon. In a twirl of mysticism the Sun sang, and she wants us all to know that she gets tired too and is glad of the night so she can rest. The quartet trudged south though still in high spirits. They were not far from the City and still felt safe. There would not be any Ogres or Trolls in this region, though you never be too sure if there was swashbuckling or derring do available.
Eventually they hit a trail that led south east. They debated the validity of following the track. Some said that south east meant it was travelling east with a bit of south thrown in. Others said it was travelling south with a bit of east thrown in. There were those who claimed it must be travelling half way between south and east which was why it was called south east. Hanny gave a partial explanation of the difference between East South East and South South East, which merely left Peter picking at his magic undies and Steve experimenting with counting his toes.The debate raged on. There was agreement to follow it providing it didn’t go east too much; the argument that it would take them south, too, left a couple of them lost.
Eventually Fairy Hanny interrupted.
“You three are like twins,” she said. “If you would just stop and listen to me I’ll tell you exactly where this road goes. It travels south east from here, and admittedly at first it is a bit more east than south. However it eventually gets to be more south than east. Nevertheless the point being that I know this road leads to a fantastic pub called ‘The Slug and Rider’. It’s a good place to spend the night, though you have to be wary as it does tend to get full of Orcs.”
“Filthy money grabbers,” said Steve.
“I hope you’re not behind on you tax payments,” said Hanny, “ or there will be one less mouth to feed tomorrow morning, and one fat Orc who will not need to attend breakfast!”
As they walked on Peter asked Hanny to tell them more about the pub they were going to. It was such an unusual name. Most of the hostelries he knew had more predictable names like ‘The Kings Head’ or ‘The Queens Legs’ or ‘The Princes Toupee’. Of course there were the odd ones found in Pixy Ville such as ‘The Pointed Hat and Ears’ and ‘The Acorn and Toadstool’ and the legendary ‘Magic Pouf!’
But ‘The Slug and Rider’?
“It comes from the deep and distant past, from the times of the Great Wars between The Fairies and the Orcs. It was in the reigns of the Great Fairy Kings such as Grayson, Inman and Howard that the wars with the Orcs were at their most fierce. The Orcs had war lords like Krakk Ed, Gut Eata and Death-Becomes-You. They were savage and bitter times. The wars were always in the balance, each side looking for an advantage. Then one of the Orcs remembered the Giant Slugs that roam wild in the Far East. It was said that these Slugs could Slime an enemy to death in no time at all. The Orcs sent scouting parties to find the beasts. The first few Orcs underestimated the power of the Slugs and were swamped in slime trails, a sight horrific to behold. Then Gaz Guzzla, a fierce Orc warrior, managed to sneak up on one of the semi-comatose Slugs; he quickly lashed a rope around its head and began to ride it. Legend has it, it took four days of bucking and bouncing until the Slug finally tired and gave up the fight, having slithered hundreds of yards and left a slime trial bigger than you’d find in the toilets at a Miss Universe competition. Then Gaz played his clever hand. He had a team of Orcs standing by for this moment, and as the beast gave up the fight the team ran out brandishing the leaves of many hardy perennials. The Slug was delighted, taking the proffered leaves with glee. It didn’t take long before this first Great Slug was tamed by the Orcs. The Orcs called it ‘Slippy’.
After Gazs’ success with Slippy it wasn’t long before the Orcs had control of many hundreds of the Giant Slugs. They formulated a massive mounted attack on the City of Setebos. Now you must remember that although they are slugs they move much faster than the slimy little gits that ruin most Hostas. So here we have the scenario. Over one thousand Orc warriors mounted on their Giant Slugs began a devastating charge on Setebos across the flatlands that lie to the East of the City. It was a fascinating though frightening sight to behold, according to the stories that have come down over the ages and that. The cries of death and torment from the Orcs mixed with the deafening slither of one thousand Giant Slugs!”
“So what happened?” asked Peter, totally taken up with the tale.
“To the East of the City lies the great Plain of Yaw Wrasse. Long ago in the time before time, well a time before my time, anyway, the Great Plain was a shallow sea. It was filled with magnificently coloured Wrasse, John Dory and Haddock.”
“And Pollack’s?” asked Peter.
“No it’s true. Lots of fish; they were caught regularly to feed the city. As time went by the stocks got lower, and the sea began to dry up. The water level lowered and most of the fish died. But one species seemed to thrive in the ever increasing shallow salty waters. It was a Wrasse that seemed to pitch and roll a lot. The people began to call it the Yaw Wrasse. The waters got lower and lower so that the fishermen could just walk out and nonchalantly kick up Yaw Wrasse, catch them in a net and serve them for supper with chips, mushy peas and curry sauce.”
“Even so the water got lower and lower until there was nothing left. No fish. No water. Just a massive salt Plain.”
“So what was happening?” asked Steve, being a curious little, though hardy, fucker.
“As the mounted Slug cavalry got closer to the City they began to slow down. This is very unusual as cavalry normally speed up on the final charge. Everyone wondered what was happening. Had the Orcs devised a new strategy? Then The Slugs stopped; one by one across the great open space the Slugs stopped and began to melt. It was only then that we all remembered that the plain on the east side of the City was a big salt flat. The Orcs had killed their mounts due to poor planning and preparation. It is said that nearly all of the Great Slugs died that day, and few can now be found in the East.”
“Oh look we’re here,” continued Hanny as they approached the inn.
“The Slug and Rider.”
“That was a lovely tale thank you Hanny,” said Peter. “And we didn’t have to describe the scenery on the way!”