Writing and creating and publishing … I’m working on it.
And teaching it…
Writing and creating and publishing … I’m working on it.
And teaching it…
I suppose it was an artful escape. Hanny at her peak; though Peter would have preferred a peak at Hanny. He was so far out on the relationship now.
He knew he owed her his life but could not be sure what she might want in return. If she demanded undying love he had it ready in a package to hand over lock, stock and barrel. If she demanded a new pair of shoes from the latest catalogue she could have them; a copy of the latest novel by Harry and The Krishnas could be hers; perfection and understanding of the opposite sex – well he’d try. If there was anything else he could give her would let her have it. If he found two pots of gold he knew he would definitely give her one.
Uncertainty sat on his shoulders like a bare bellied buddha.
The bum pangs screamed through his brain like a thousand railroad trains, only to be calmed by an uncontrollable mysterious force. Spenser, the Fairy Queen of old had miscalculated. He regretted having that tart as it had blown his life away. Yet without it he would most likely never met Hanny.
“I do love you Hanny,” he said.
“I think I love you too,” confessed Hanny, “but at the moment I can only find the time to sort you out. There is not enough time to love you properly.”
“Could you love me long time?”
The gang of four were way off their allotted task. They had wandered far to the east, and now needed some guidance to help them find the fabled Lake. Steve decided to cheer them up with a little ditty.
“Too far to go! Too far to go! Too far! Too far! Too far to go!” he sang.
“Well that’s cheered us up!”
A voice cried out in the wilderness.
“Who the fuck is trying to be cheerful in the arse end of the world?”
The four intrepid explorers looked at each other as if to ascertain who had come out with the last sentence.
“It wasn’t me!” they chorused, producing a very sexy harmony that, if the chance had been right, could have propelled them to the top of the Hit Parade. Alas pop pickers it was not to be.
Ahead lay what could have been called a bridge but really it was just a few planks that spanned a minor rivulet; well a drainage ditch really. From under the bridge emerged a Troll, though a very emaciated one at that. The skinny Troll approached our heroes in an almost aggressive manner.
“Fol de Roll! I’m a Troll!” he declared, “but I couldn’t give a shit about that just now. Have any of you dudes got some grub?”
This remnant of an earthbound child’s nightmare turned out to be a long lost relative of the famous Gusset.
“My name is Bogart but most folk just call me Bogey,” he said.
They examined the wraith like apparition. Long straggly hair swept across an emaciated body; fingernails filled with detritus, no doubt scraped from a rats arse. Across his back were three protrusions; humps even.
The Troll could tell they were a little startled by the lumps on his back.
“Yes I’m Hump Three Bogart – wanna make something of it?”
Steve tried to imagine making a model of the Taj Mahal from the three humps but to no avail.
“I was exiled to this bridge like structure because of my family links with the revolution. Gusset was expunged from History and it’s only a few Bogeys like me that try to keep the Trolletariat together. Not that I should let a Fairy know this sort of thing. If I say too much I may have to kill you!”
“You’ll have me to deal with first!” declared Peter.
“Yes and I’m scared!” laughed the thin Troll.
They fed the famished Troll what they could spare, which turned out to be nearly everything as he was a hungry bastard. Bogey explained that such an isolated location didn’t attract many visitors so the chance of frightening them away and stealing their food was very thin, like him.
They fell into conversation about the revolution, the Quest and the dirty doings of Chalfont. Hanny was stunned to find she had so much in common with the scrawny Troll, particularly a very large bottle of dislike for Lord Chalfont.
“He’s a cunt!” spat the Troll.
There was no disagreement from the crowd of four.
Bogey was intrigued by the Quest. He argued that if there was a fabled Lake then there was likely to be rivers feeding it. Where there were rivers there would be bridges, and with bridges would come a new location for his scaring.
“I think I’ll live on the bridge and charge a living wage for people to cross. I’ll give up being a scary Troll and just get more blatant. I’ll be a toll Troll. Or as they say in France ‘Troll de Toll’.”
Nobody bothered to ask him how he knew about France, or even how he seemed to have some semblance of the French Language. It can be assumed the French get everywhere and underline all aspects of liberty and brotherliness; after all how can anyone ever have liberty and equality?
So they would be five again, allowing for different harmonics in the interactions. As they moved forward on the Quest there would have to be more singing, dancing and all sorts of shennaniganic librettos. They could investigate their symphonic unions with the latest electronic gizmos, though now they were a five piece they’d have to dismiss Fourier analysis. Perhaps they should wait for a sign wave. Or it would come to pass there would be a fork in the road – hopefully a tuning fork.
At this point Hanny declared we should just get on with the story.
I was going to start with ‘mirror’ but that is just a bad Physicists joke and I am a bad Physicist.
When working through chapter 24 tonight and had to look up quite a few words. I love Google – I still remember sitting at home with an Oxford dictionary, a dictionary of etymology and Roget’s thesaurus, spending hours on a word or phrase, attempting to make it as funny as possible.
Today’s haul included Beagle, Beadle, Fox, Junoesque, Charming, cunning, prepossessing, glow-worm or glowworm or glow worm, psychotic, Goth, Visigoth, obfustication and prorogue.
I also invented a new word for female Orc – Forc. I bet someone has used it before!
At this rate I will finish editing ‘Strange Things from Uranus‘ and can carry on with ‘Trans-Uranic Elements: The Dark Side of Uranus‘ and ‘Fairy Hanny and the sons of Turenn.
Maybe then I can get on with my Inspector Flaange novels…
Earlier this year I was a little lost.
I have a full time teaching job and I lost interest; pupils, courses, parents, colleagues. I really could not be arsed! I was ready to quit.
Meanwhile I was working to write a three part Fantasy story.
I was working on two online business models.
Lack of focus – which path to follow.
I was then fortunate enough to have a friend who gave me this link and so I am back on target…
Chapter 23. Losing you.
When you’re on the road again you should have a code that you can live by. You can call it the Highway Code and make sure it is available from all good bookshops. When travelling on Uranus such a code would be totally useless, as the highways and byways and blokes who sing my ways, just don’t exist.
The cool tunes shrilled from our travelling quartet were much more straightforward. If Hanny says do it then that’s what they do. Sadly even large breasted sex goddesses make mistakes sometimes, and as a result the band had passed way out of the known territories and into bandit country.
It was a simple error that could have been made by any female. Hanny said they were heading south while all along they were heading east. I know it should be possible to approximate east and south based on the position of the Sun. Let’s face it though; there are parts of Uranus where the Sun doesn’t shine.
Hence they were at a loss.
Well, lost really.
The land they entered was cold and barren like the smile of a Tory. There were rocks and trees and plants and things and the Sun began to turn red. They were going through a hot desert which is not nearly half as nice as going through a hot dessert. For a start rice pudding, when served piping hot with blobs of strawberry jam, is a lot more entertaining than getting sand in your sandals in the Sahara. A baked Alaska is far more delightful than a cold Alaska, despite the Polar Bears. And apple crumble with custard is far more preferable to a smack on the Gobi.
There is only one type of creature that could live in this sort of environment, Ogres and Trolls.
Actually that’s two types. This reminds me that there are three types of Maths teachers; those that can count and those that can’t.
I’m sure this sterile land could even support Fire Dragons; Gremlins would probably cope with the isolation too. Even Imps, given a little support, could thrive here. In fact there is no doubt several more creatures that would survive in this sort of environment.
Peter assessed the landscape and decided it would be suitable for many different types of life form, depending on the sort of camping equipment they used; preferably something designed by one of those ex-Special Forces types with automatic moisture collection points, a wind-up electrical supply and self-contained honey pot.
“Ogres we can do without!” said Steve.
“I’d rather not meet any Trolls either,” said Hanny. “They aren’t too fond of Fairies at the best of times, and in recent years they’ve come to hate us even more.”
Steve pondered the lovely red spangles on Hanny’s boots then asked, “Why’s that?”
Hanny felt it appropriate to describe the shenanigans that had taken place between the Fairies and the Trolls. King Innocent had made some spurious comment relating to equal opportunities for all inhabitants of the planet, comments which had filtered back to the land of the Trolls.
The Trolls liked the idea.
The implication being that Trolls would be able to take on other more stimulating jobs rather than spend all day under bridges shouting ‘Fol de Roll, I’m a Troll’ and scaring the shit out of unwary travellers, or hanging round the Interweb looking for an opportunity to spout their fascist political opinions or religious ideologies.
“Not that there is anything inherently wrong with taking on such a task in life. – Far from it. There are many, many tasks that have to be carried out by a nameless army of semi-skilled nobodies, but that is not to say that they are wasted lives. Indeed many a high flying pilot has spent his early days cleaning out toilets in order to get a solid grip on reality,” declared the King during a lunchtime interview with the Mudslinging Brownie Press of Uranus.
“Fol de Roll, I’m a Troll” is not quite the challenge that stimulates everyone.
An opportunity arose to test the Kings mettle when the erstwhile bestest Pixy friend of the Kings, the infamous Crumbly Buffoon, lost his job in the Pixy Phactory by slapping one of the junior Pixies. Crumbly, being the wet buffoon, came off worse as the Junior Pixy happened to be a martial artist, totally au fait with Karate, Jug Jitsu, Aikido, Manga and Origami.
Well, this led to many a kerfuffle, shuffle, muffle and duffel coat wearing indignations. Even the curtain twitcher’s felt the reverberations of the outcry down the back alley where nobody goes.
So the King in his benevolence (and to divert attention away from this scandalous scandal) decided the job of the replacement would be advertised on the Open Market.
So the Kings best mate, Lord Chalfont, ensure there was a stall at the Open Market, at which point they could advertise the Post as head of Pixy Therapy at the Pixy Phactory, a Post that would attract a salary of Umpteen Gazillion Gigots. People came from Far and Wide and other places too, to look at the advert. Most gave a derisory snort as they knew the Game was fixed by the Fairy and Pixy Elites. Most living things understood this was only Doublespeak and that the job was already lined up for Crumbly´s inbred friend Bongo, John’s son. This was the normal course of events as they were all related and ensured jobs for the next of kin. Even Bongo, with his face like an identikit paedophile and his shock of bright red hair, was guaranteed a cushy post with the Pixy´s and Fairy´s. In fact when the dice are stacked in your favour it is possible to get to be a Head of State despite having the intellectual ability of a Hermit Crab.
Unfortunately one of the Trolls took the advert literally.
The Troll race, as in the race that makes up the Trolls rather than the annual fun run, has not evolved much. Their Social skills compare well to the meeting of Nuns and Pimps. And so Gusset, a Troll who stated his address as Under the Bridge, Across the River, In the Middle of Nowhere, asked for and completed the application form. In the section which asked for an explanation of ‘what you can bring to this job’ Mr Gusset had written ‘ A tin of beans, some mushrooms, a deckchair, some chopsticks and a recipe for pancakes’.
At first Innocent believed it to be a spoof application from one of his courtiers. Realising it was a genuine application Innocent went into a panic.
“Don’t panic you majesty,” said Lord Chalfont. “What we’ll do is invite all the candidates in for an interview then give the job to the best candidate, which will be Bongo.”
“Won’t it look suspicious when just the two turn up?”
“Don’t worry sire, I’ll get at least five applicants on the day to make it look like we’re taking the application seriously, then we’ll give the job to Bongo.”
“But Bongo is a total Fuckwit!” screamed the King.
“Could you let me know how that makes him any different to most of your other appointments?” enquired the cocky Chalfont.
The King paused to ponder as it had been some time since anyone had paused or pondered in this tale.
“Will we get away with it?”
“Sire you have just appointed all of your immediate relatives to positions of responsibility within the government, and you’re opening up a new job for Crumbly Buffoon as the Head of Political Politicking, just because you like him; of course we’ll get away with it!”
So that’s the way it went.
Gusset turned up to meet Bongo and the other candidates; there was Susie, one of the Banshees; a cross eyed Imp with one leg called Ervious; and a Ghost called Ovachance.
The day was gruelling for all of the candidates; apart from Bongo, who sat with Warwick Hunt sipping chilled white wine and playing travel scrabble.
Gusset gave a superb interview, as did the Imp and Susie. Unfortunately the ghost didn’t have a chance from the very beginning. At the end of the day, when there’s nothing left to say, and your almost ready for the radio, Lord Chalfont decided to debrief the candidates.
“Ovachance you were shit and I don’t know why you turned up; actually I don’t even know if you did turn up; or was it that you arrived and I couldn’t see you; anyway your application was transparent; and you’re too ephemeral to hold down such a job; and I’ve run out of bad excuses so just feck off back to wherever you came from and that.. Susie and Imp Ervious; you gave good interviews but I can’t see how you can make a long term commitment to the post as you’re both unfeeling bastards with as much empathy as a slug on a lettuce. Gusset, you did well though on this occasion you are in second place. If Bongo turns the job down then it’s yours for the asking. See my secretary on the way out to get your travel expense forms sorted. Bye now!”
With that they were ushered from the office.
Ovachance made his claims for a late appearance, Susie and Imp Ervious got three bob for turning up and Gusset was given a wooden spoon, a packet of Everton Mints and an umbrella for rainy days; though he pointed out it’s hard to get wet hanging round under a bridge, except when the river floods, in which case an umbrella is feckin useless.
Gusset was far from happy.
He was also far from home.
He had prepared. Yes it was possible that maybe an image consultant could have been useful, along with a change of name (“Frederick of the Bridge” looked so much more happening!) He knew he was more than capable to do the job; it dawned on him it had been a total stitch up. Why not just give the job away rather than waste everybody’s time?
Returning to the bleak lands of the Bleakland, where we are presently based in this travesty, Gusset began a revolutionary movement. Initially it was quite entertaining to see him spinning right round like a record baby, as he completed his motions. Some of the older Trolls said it was a load of old crap, though the younger Trolls, who saw their future as part of the greater union of Uranus, were quite taken.
The Central Committee of the Trolletariat passed many a motion and soon had enough movements and motions that were seconded and thirded and got a fourth passage too. Then by some twist of fate a random twist in the bowels of time deposited a copy of a little red book in the lap of Gusset. It explained the thoughts of those Great Marx Brothers, Freddo and Karlo, and emboldened the Trolls to march on Setebos.
“I’ll never join a club that would have me as a member!” they chanted.
“No such thing as a Sanity Clause!” they jeered.
“We’re going to live forever or die trying!”
“If you don’t like our principles, we have others!”
“Quote us as saying we were misquoted!”
They became brothers in arms as they marched on the capital. Innocent felt the City was in dire straits. In Setebos they began to call it the Green Revolution as most of the Trolls copied Gusset’s way of dressing in Lincoln Green.
Chalfont began to worry.
On its own a disgruntled Troll was nothing to worry about; give him a bigger bridge to hide under and he’d soon be back on top. Now it looked like all of the Trolls on Uranus were involved in some sort of mass disobedience and that was a different kettle of fish. No Trolls meant travellers had nothing to fear when crossing rivers or ravines by rickety rackety bridges. They would eschew the Government controlled Bridges, which were of magnificent structure and put together by teams of Civil Engineers from The Lanchester Polytechnic. How those Engineers ever began working for the King of the Fairy’s is not told in this tale, though it could make a three part series all by itself.
We digress as a blatant way of filling more pages in this tragedy.
Lord Chalfont wanted travellers to be faced with a choice of Tolls or Trolls. The Trolls were meant to scare people into using government crossings and thus paying exorbitant taxes; not that this had any affect on the three Billy Goats Gruff.
Bridges without Trolls could lead to roads without Tolls which could lead to bogs without Rolls.
Or Hills without moles.
Or Mints without holes.
Or goals without poles.
Or horses without foals.
Or managers without roles.
Or women without souls.
This would not do.
Too many poor rhymes in too many lines.
The Trolls were pushing their luck.
Lord Chalfont decided it was time to act…
He starred in a play called ‘Mac Death’ which featured an idiot who over-ate Hamburgers and Beef burger Butties until it felt like his tummy would explode. “Is this a Dagger I see before me?” asks Lady MacDeath. “No it’s a scalpel to cut open your husbands tummy to allow the trapped gas to escape.” The play went on for several more Acts but it just wasn´t funny. The Critics, being Brownies, loved it. They praised Lord Chalfont for his performances. “Nobody could play a better fat bastard, except maybe Warwick Hunt” chimed one critic. “As Chalfont munched on that Beef burger Buttie I was licking my lips” declared Elizabeth Brownie. “I thought the acting was wooden and the plot a load of old shite” said another who rapidly disappeared.
When the play was over Lord Chalfont decided to do something about the Troll problem.
Warwick Hunt was summoned to Chalfont’s chamber. The fat monster Hunt oozed into the room with all of the subtlety of a turd in a swimming pool.
“The Trolls. Go and wipe up that Gusset and his immediate followers and get the rest of the Trolls back under those bridges and archways as soon as possible! We are losing money and that is all that counts. I reckon this disruption has cost sixty six gazillion Gigots so far and that could ruin my holiday with the Carob, Ian!”
Hunt knew that his boss loved to spend time out in the Ocean with the Carobs, so he strode forward with all the zeal of a Seagull on Felixstowe Promenade.
Then it was done.
The Troll Spring was crushed in the jackbooted heel of the Thing that was Half Lard Half Man – Warwick Hunt. Gusset appeared to slip and get an ice pick through his skull, a common accident amongst revolutionaries. The Other leaders were taken away and tortured by sitting in a Vegan Restaurant for Days on end until they died from over exposure to self-righteousness.
At this point Hanny finished her tale, only to realise that Steve and Greg had fallen asleep. Peter was looking glassy eyed, the magic in his underpants sending him back into the dream time.
“Idle bastards!” shouted Hanny, slapping each in turn.
The atmosphere inside the inn was very much like that of any Public House anywhere in the Known Universe. It was probably the same as any Public House in the Unknown Universe but that will never be known.. There was one major difference; you have to travel far and wide on earth to find a pub full of Orcs, Fairies, Pixys, Goblins and Gnomes – though a trawl around Norfolk would probably do it.
The four travellers booked in at reception discussing whether to pay by cash or credit card and if they wanted a morning call or breakfast in bed. There was some discussion as to what type of breakfast, Full Fairy or Continental; in the end they said they’d suck it and see. Being simple characters from the other side of the sky their luggage was minimal; each carried a small pack with the preparations Hanny had insisted on, including spare trousers, socks and pants. Hanny carried an extra bag for her make-up.
Soon they found themselves in amongst the crowd in the main lounge, drinking beer and swapping tales with other travellers. It is a universal phenomenon that travellers will always try to outdo each other with their tales of mishaps and misadventures. If one traveller lost a friend in a flooded river then the next lost his entire family in a similar flood; if one stood in the plop of a Harpy then the next was plopped on by a flock of Harpies; a third would claim to have been eaten by a Harpy, digested and plopped out amazed that he was still alive. And there was Reganmy Five Heads boasting about her trip to Eleven-a-reef; ‘So much better than Tenerife’.
Our awesome quartet listened to such far fetched tales and tongue in cheek jibes until one strange looking Orc asked what they were up to.
“Heading for the fabled Lake of the Gloompty Fish,” said Greg without thinking.
“There’s no such place!” quipped a one eyed Orc, an accountant from Setebos with a penchant for yellow trousers and meat cleavers.
His smile disappeared quickly.
Conversation started up again in the room, though at a lower level as most people were now sitting down. Every now and again a face would turn to look at the quartet, then turn away laughing to its companions. The strange Orc sat with them. They began to feel uncomfortable. Orcs were no longer the fearsome warriors of the past but there was always a possibility that this one was a tax inspector.
“I can see I’m making you a little uncomfortable,” said the Orc. “Let me introduce myself. My name is Regan. I’m a chief Financial Advisor for a corporation of Imps, Ogres, Trolls and Alchemists from the far west. IOTA they called themselves though personally I couldn’t care a jot what they’re called as long as they pay me on time. And they do pay on time or else I’ll eat them! I’m not a Tax Inspector,” he added, “though I do know a few!”
He said this with a wicked glint in his single eye.
“Nice to meet you I’m sure,” came the stunted replies of the trio plus one.
“How did you get that wicked glint in your eye?” asked Greg.
“There was a sale on recently at ‘Glints-R-Us’. I got it at a fifty percent discount and counted it as a tax deductible expense,” explained Regan.
“Was it half price because it was for only one eye?” asked Greg.
Regan ignored him though made a mental note about the correct oven temperature for cooking Goblins, and what would be the most suitable Vegetables and sauce.
“And Garlic bread, “ mumbled Regan.
“So you’re off in search of legends?” said Regan, changing the subject.
“That’s right,” returned Steve, still nervous over his upcoming Tax return. “Do you know much about self-assessment?”
The Orc laughed.
“Not really my field. These days I’m much happier advising on Mutual and Trust funds, Pension Planning and Will Writing.”
There was a pause.
The Orc took a large chug of his beer.
As he put the glass down he asked, “So which one of you has the distressed arse?”
Hanny smiled. “A learned Orc! A rare treat. So if you know of the legend you know the answer to your question.”
“Well little Pixy,” said the Orc, “caught with your hand in the tarts box. Serves you right. But it could turn out to be of mutual advantage to both of us!”
“Well you see my lovely wife Ena needs a bit of a holiday. She’s a lovely girl but she still has a bit of a desire to walk on the wild side. You know we Orcs became sophisticated many moons ago. We realised that there comes a point when it really just isn’t worth fighting against the system. What you have to do is get inside the system if you want to change it. So that’s what we do these days. We control the system surreptitiously from within. Everyone on the planet now keeps good financial records and as such we have almost alleviated poverty and reduced corporate excess. Except of course with the King and Queen. In spite of this I’m sure that will come. Lord Chalfont has more than a passing sympathy for the Ways of The Accountant. And Kings don’t last forever.”
Hanny felt an uneasy shiver in her spine as he said this.
“So what can we do you for pal?” asked the agitated Goblin.
“As I said we get throwbacks in our race, Orcs with a desire for the wild life. My wife Ena is one such Orc. And I just thought if you lot were on a trip into the wild searching for legends then perhaps you could take her with you.”
“Look Regan,” began Peter, “we have a nice little team here ready to take on the world in the search for a Permanent Cure for Sore Bums. We’re happy. Why would we want another member of the team? More specifically why would we want the company of an Orc who thinks she’s born to be wild?”
“Excellent points and well made. But let me ask you this; who would want to come under the close scrutiny of a team of Tax Inspectors. Who would want every penny of income checked and double checked by some of the most boring but dangerous creatures on the planet?”
The next morning the five travellers set off from the ‘Slug and Rider’ much invigorated. As a sign of his gratitude Regan had agreed to pay all of the bills for the quartet, knowing he would be able to claim it back as travel expenses. Regan was a bully and knew how to get his way.
Ena was an irritating bitch.
She was also the oddest looking Orc any of them had ever seen, even including all of the fiscally aware characters in Banks and Building Societies. Ena had a large mouth that rarely stopped talking, displaying an awesome set of pointy gnashers. She also had ridiculously large ears that looked as though someone had glued two half’s of a saucer to either side of her head.
Ena immediately wanted to take charge of the group, claiming she had scored one hundred percent in a map reading competition. By lunch time they were lost. Ena said ‘what do you expect if you try to lead Goblins or Gnomes anywhere; they are stupid creatures with no sense of direction. Hanny said ‘what do you expect when we don’t even have a map to read’.
Ena dismissed this comment and demanded lunch of cheese and chutney sandwiches with Ryebena.
´Through a weird twist of fate and a weird twist of a wormhole, it once came to pass that a Dead Famous Writer picked up the tale of Dumbell Ena, though got confused between a very small person and a person with a very small brain. Still, it kept Danny Kaye happy for a while.
Ena did keep them all entertained with her stupidity. Whilst walking through the Woodland she admitted to enjoying the sight of a Lumberjack with a marvellous chopper; she constantly gave all of the mountains their wrong names; and whilst crossing a rather murky stream asked ‘what are water purification tablets used for? When she noticed the label on Steve´s T-shirt she said ‘ yes that´s about right , your name must be ‘S’!’
The other four grimaced at the daftness which carried an air of menace.
Yet somehow, despite the trials and tribulations the jovial five made their way slowly south, inching day by day toward the fabled Lake of the Multi-Coloured Gloompty Fish.
Well that is assuming that south is the right direction for the Lake, which might not exist.
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!”