Motivation

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…

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The tale continues – I am back in Casablanca

 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.20100425132030!Hieronymus_Bosch-Removing_the_Rocks_from_the_Head-Detail

Well, lost really.

Very lost.

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.Fairy Hanny

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?

cover 1

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.

“Yes boss?”

“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!”

“Yes boss!”

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.

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Chapter 8 – Dumbell Ena

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.greg the Goblin

“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.

“What?”cover 5

“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!”

“Meaning?”

“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?” summer 2013 012

“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’!’

540258_10151144170169382_1423373657_n

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.

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Chapter 7 -At the sign of the Slug and Rider.

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.Fairy Hanny

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’?

Bizarre.

“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.Peter the Pixy

“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. HieronymusBosch-473265

“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!”

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Chapter 6 – What happens next?

They sat together in the Great Hall. Now they were seven, Queen Dillberry would have to play keyboards.

Rooty toot toot!

The pondering had long since finished and all seven were now deep in dialogue. Peter was more than happy with his newly acquired underclothing, though a little perturbed at the potential embarrassment and inherent danger of bending over with his rear end pointing up toward the Moon. Greg felt the outcome so far had been successful and quietly fulfilling, though he knew the task wasn’t over yet. This would be nothing more than a temporary respite.

A chance to draw breath.

A chance to draw little stick men in the corners of a book and animate them to produce a very poor cartoon effect.

A chance to ask the King and Queen what is blowing in the wind.

A chance to write and talk in clichés, as it were.

A chance to play strip poker with three lovely young ladies.

No chance.

The Fairies felt it was time to bring the travellers down to the ground.

They pointed out that despite the pleasure given by the magic underpants it was only a brief measure and to find permanent relief Peter would have to travel deep inside his head, and deep inside the interior of the continent to search for a Permanent Cure.

“Is there such a thing as a Permanent Cure for the Dukes!?” asked Hanny.

“Legend says there is…” said the Queen.

“Well let´s ask Legend then,” said Greg.

“…but the journey is perilous,” continued Dillberry, ignoring the stupidity of the diminutive Goblin. “Many have attempted it, none have returned. It is written that the quest involves a journey Down South to find the Fabled Lake of the Gloompty Fish. There the intrepid explorer must find a Bold Imp with a Sturdy Boat that will take the courageous adventurer out into the middle of the Great Fabled Lake. Then he must sort out his tackle and begin the Herculean task of fishing for the Great Gloompty Fish. After writhing and fighting the Monster fish for many hours he will land the catch on the Sturdy Boat and bas h the fucker to death. At the end of this arduous task the Hero must rapidly get back to the shore of the Town on the edge of the Great Fabled Lake of the Gloompty Fish, find the legendary Imp who extracts potions from Strange Fabled Creatures and persuade this other Hero to extract the oil from the Magical Liver of the Gloompty Fish. Legend then says applying this fresh Liver Oil to the affected parts will lead to a Permanent Cure for the Dukes!”

“Well that sounds just fabulous,” said Peter. “I suppose I’d best be off as soon as I can. It’s me with the sore bottom and me that needs to cure it. So Queenie, if you could just give me a map and a bit of scran to see me through the next few days then I’ll be off love.”

“It could just be a fable,” added the Queen.20100425132030!Hieronymus_Bosch-Removing_the_Rocks_from_the_Head-Detail

The Queen smiled at him, her beast like face almost betraying a touch of childhood beauty.

“No way young Pixy. You can’t undertake that journey alone. I would expect that your facially challenged friend (she grimaced at Greg) at least he will want to travel with you. And I will grant you a further companion. I will send one of my lovely Fairy Maidens with you.”

Hanny, Nouf and Thanthat all looked eagerly toward the Queen. They were all eager to take any chance to get out of washing the floppy flappy flabby bits of the Majestic King.

Dillberry looked from one to the other then back again. She knew that Innocent had more than an inkling in his dinkling for Hanny.

“It will be Fairy Hanny all the way!” declared the Queen,” She will be a good guide for you and is skilled in many tongues; I hear many great compliments regarding her tongue work. Besides she will be able to monitor your use of the Magic Underpants, report back to me on their effectiveness ensuring they are fit for purpose. It´s always important to have standards and meaningful targets, don´t you know! And if you eventually get the Fabled Bum Cure I would hope that Hanny would bring back any spare Gloompty Fish Liver Oil for my experiments.”

Greg bowed. “Majestic Queen Dillberry, I will gladly travel with Peter. He needs my looks and my brains if we are to make any progress.”

“That’s that failed then,” said the King in an aside to Nouf.

“And Majesty I too will be more than pleased to travel on this quest,” said Hanny. “This journey to destroy the burning ring. It will be an amusement; it will get me away from having to scrub the hygienically challenged Monarch, a pleasure I can survive without for as long as necessary!”

“That’s settled then,” said the Queen. “See ya!”

With that the Pixy, the Goblin and Fairy Hanny departed the Great Hall, with its fine columns, its four walls and its roof, to head Down South to the fabled land of the Lake of the Gloompty Fish.

What adventures would befall them?

What fun would they have?

Would there be any shenanigans with two guys and one doll?

Would they meet many strange and interesting characters that seemed too outlandish to be true?

It was time to make preparations.

Hanny took charge of this and put together packs of food and spare clothing. Being a logical and highly intelligent young gal she put each of the prepared goods into packs and labelled them. There were eight packs in all so she wrote down the contents on a list and labelled them from ‘A’ to ‘H’. She then assigned the packs amongst the three of them.

She made sure that Peter was carrying preparation ‘H’.

They left the Great Castle of Setebos via door number three, turned right, went up the road and bumped into Steve of the Guard. Being a nosey Gnome he asked how it had gone, what was happening, any juicy gossip to tell the guys as they stagged on overnight?

“What’s the buzz, tell me what a happening is!” he said.

Hanny explained the scenario and the quest to a scintillated Steve.

“Sounds cool,” said the Head of the Guard, “any chance of coming with you?”

“But what about your duties here?”

“Bored! It’s crap! I’d rather watch paint dry or be eaten by a fabled multi-coloured fish. This isn’t the life for me. I want adventure!”

So it was that that evening Peter the Pixy, Greg the Goblin, Steve the Gnome and the Fairy Hanny headed out of the West Gate of the Great City of Setebos.

They walked several miles before one of them remembered that the quest lay Down South. So turning left they set off on what would be the Greatest Adventure of their lives, a Magnificent Swashbuckling Tale on the Quest to find a Permanent Cure for Piles!

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Chapter 5 – Of Gold mines and magic undies.

Cover 5The sextet could have formed a magical jazz band. Innocent would have to be the drummer what with being fat and lazy, with Greg on the double bass – his overlong arms and squat legs made him ideal to handle the instrument, while his ugly face would look cool if adorned with shades. Peter would have a choice of instruments but would no doubt go for virtuoso guitar, sitting down to play as this suggests a more studied approach to music. The three babes would form the brass section and vocals. Hanny would play alto sax, caressing the long slender metal as she oozed each silky note; Nouf the trumpeter would cradle the moon with its bright shiny notes; Thanthat would play trombone and sing with a deep sexy voice that could turn saints into jazz fans.

King Innocent and his Unstable Mates play ‘Blues on Uranus’.

Radical.

They left the Great Hall with all its attributes – walls and roof and that – sliding off amongst the highways and byways that formed the Majestic Castle of the Fairy Kings of Setebos. Soon they were descending below ground, past the long disused dungeons, past the food stores (Peter was not tempted), and on toward the Magic Cellars of Queen Dillberry.

It was rumoured all over the planet that the Queen dibbled and dabbled in Magic. Everybody hoped that she dealt in Good Magic or White Magic as it is known, though many of the noble Fairy’s wanted to see some of that old Black Magic called love. Was the Queen a Black Magic woman? There are many dark secrets in Black Magic, but we won’t look into them as it may spoil our appetite.

They entered a room filled with bubbling cauldrons, smokes, fumes and strange coloured liquids. The smell was foul; there were bits of animals lying on worktops and odd looking roots were arranged on shelves. There were jars containing potions and powders with strange labels like ‘Mango Chutney’ and ¨Piccalilli´ and ´Gherkins´ and ´Crabs dicks.

“I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere as we appear to be in the kitchens,” said the King.

It took a little more pondering and deliberating but they eventually reached the magic workshop of the Queen. The four Fairy’s had been here on the odd occasion; the King liked to see his Fairy Queen now and again. To the dynamic duo it was a place of awe. There were jars of green and yellow goo on the shelves; sticks; cauliflowers and potatoes with eyes; there were four and twenty years ago, baked in a pie; the were runes and prunes; nuts and bolts; there was a magic dog that made a bolt for the door and a guinea pig that made a run for a rabbit; there were birds that sing and bees that sting, a frog that walks and a dog that talks; they came upon a child of God who was walking along the road; there was a magical mystery tour just waiting to take them away; there were three blind mice training guide dogs; and there in the corner stood the wonderful Queen Dillberry, clearly a salad dodger just like her beloved King, but with a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp.

“Hello love,” said the King, “I’ve brought a couple of the lads around for a pint. Oh and one of them’s got a sore bum he’d like some advice on! Come on girls, get us a drink.”

As the handmaidens searched for a few beers Queen Dillberry looked deep into the eyes of the frightened Pixy.

“I suppose I should shout ´off with his head!’ but I´ll leave that to another fantastic Queen.

“And there could be a copyright problem too,” suggested Hanny, practical as ever.

“Well yes – just copy it if it seems right,” said the Queen.

The Queen pondered and looked askance.

“Off with his head!” she shouted.

“And off his head we have done,” muttered Hanny, “with what shall we do with it?”

“Say that again!”

“What shall we do with his head when it comes off?” asked Nouf.

“Fairy Nouf, good question,“ said the Queen and pondered some more.

“Give it to Lord Chalfont,” suggested the pondered Queen.

“Oh my love, “said the King. “You´re always saying give Head to Lord Chalfont! It´s not really his role to be collecting Heads. He collects taxes!”

“Fair enough,” said the Queen.

“Yes Your Majesty?”  said fairy Nouf.

The Queen decided it was time to look askance again.

Peter looked upon her doubtfully. Would he lose his head? Quite a price to pay for a Fairy Tart and a sore arse.

“Worry not oh anally challenged Pixy! For I am the Queen Dillberry! Star of the Sea! Mother of Invention! Zapper of flies and Captain in the heart of Beef! I can kill or cure you young Pixy! Choose wisely or the consequences could be fatal!”

“A cure would be best I think your ladyship.”

“You chose well my young friend. Tell me what can ail thee, sprite at arms, alone and palely loitering?”

“Well if you go back a few pages you can see that I´m stricken with the Dukes! Due to having one of your tarts,” explained Peter.

So the Queen read the story so far.

“The Dukes! So the prophecy is true. Praise Oberon and Titania! And Puck and Quince! And a man named Vince! Oh Sweet Gene Vincent! So no more chasing after my beautiful tarts anymore?”

Peter adorned his guilty look.

“I might be tempted if they taste of raspberry,” he admitted.

“Saints preserve us!” squealed the Queen. “He likes raspberry tarts!”

“And strangled farts!”

“Oh aye!” said the Pixy. “If the most beautiful tart in the world stood before me now, tempting me to lick and munch and drool all over it, I would be able to say No! I do not want my lust turned into a stinging pain down below!”

“Even if it is a raspberry tart?”

Peter thunk it through. Raspberry?

He loved raspberry tarts, though he hadn´t tried many.

He could raspberry tart all day and be happy.

But then the bum grapes would expand.

“No! Not even a raspberry tart!” declared the pitiful Pixy.


HieronymusBosch-473265“Good! Then I can help. Hanny!” she cried, “go to the cupboard in the back of my bedroom, the black cupboard with all the lovely pictures of hosts of golden daffodils, and open up the Golden Box. In it you will find a garment that will help our stricken companion. Go quickly girl for his arse has a burning ring of fire!”

Hanny returned after a period in which Peter and Greg felt their souls had been read by the Fairy Queen. Hanny held a small package that she handed to the Queen.

“My forbears knew of the prophecy and prepared for such an event. Long ago in the depths of time Queen Spenser sat in the light of the moon knitting her magic into this garment. The garment has the power to relieve a sore arse. I present now to you, troubled Pixy that you are, the magic underpants of the Fairy Queen Spenser!”

“Pardon?” said Peter

“Magic underpants?” asked Greg

“Yup!” said the Queen. “These will give better relief than CO2 or lard. However they must be looked after carefully. Too much time with the magic underpants can be addictive. They really should come with a government health warning.”

“What, like don´t smoke death sticks or drink Brownie Beer?”

“Something like that. Magic in your pants can be a bit bad,” explained the Queen.

“But what do I do oh bog eyed Majestic Queen?” asked Peter.

“Get your kecks off, chuck you lard stained trolleys away, divest your chuff of the semi-liquid lard and put these on. You’ll get instant relief.”

“Could you give me a hand please Hanny?” asked the Pixy in feigned innocence.

Hanny snorted derisively.

“If you want a hand that’s a job you can do yourself!” she said.

When Peter donned the magic pants his life changed instantly. The screeching, searing spikes that had insinuated their metaphorical presence in his rectum were immediately cast out like leftover cabbage. The tight pulsating smouldering sphincter lost its dominating authority in his brain. Freedom surged through his nether regions like a spring tide on a marsh. No longer would he walk in pain, carrying the fear of a leaking bum.

This was self-determination.

This was bliss.

Personal motivation to be the best of the best.

Yes Sir!

This was the magic underpants effect.

“Feeling better then son?” asked the King as he supped on a glass of brown ale.

“Better! I feel pretty and witty and gay!”

“Now, take care young Pixy,” warned the Queen. “You are using powerful magic; magic that can dampen the dark power of the burning ring. But beware. The magic doesn’t last forever. Those pants will need recharging every now and again if they are to maintain their effectiveness.”

Peter looked confused.

What could she mean by recharging? These pants had instantly rejuvenated his Jacksy – was she implying the effect wouldn’t last?

“The effect won’t last if they aren’t properly maintained, washed regularly and re-energised,” said the Queen.

Hanny looked at the perplexed Pixy in exasperation.

“Didn’t you listen to what her Majesty said? These are Underpants knitted in the light of the Magical Moon. Moonlight waxes and wanes! If you don’t keep them on full charge then the power will wane and you’ll be in pain!”

“Pardon me for butting in,” intruded the gob smacked Goblin, “but how exactly does one go about recharging a pair of underpants, even given that they are magic?”

“Moonlight!” chorused the Fairy’s.

“Moonlight?” questioned the brave travellers.

“And roses?”  asked the King.

Fairy Thanthat folded her arms in disbelief.

“You two really are as thick as pig shit aren’t you!” she declared.Fairy Hanny

“Fair cop!” agreed the Pixy and Goblin.

“Look,” continued Thanthat. “The power of the pants will reduce over the lunar cycle. So when there is a full moon you have to recharge them. And before you ask,” she continued, preventing the thickos from interrupting, “the method is quite easy. You drop your trousers and point your underpants clad bottom at the moon.”

“In the world of magic we call this Mooning,” said Queen Dillberry.

Pondering continued for some time until Greg had the courage to ask “Which Moon does he point his bum at? After all there are seventeen.”

Fairy Hanny giggled.

“Surely it’s obvious. Oberon, King of the Fairies. Point your bum at that one!”

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Chapter 4 – Bearing Our Souls.

titleIt was now a delight to be in the presence of the newly perfumed King, in the Great Hall with its Great Walls and Great Columns and Great Roof and Great Gargoyles. Add to that the  of the three most gorgeous babes they had ever seen, the stars of this epic tale were finally ready to take another step in the right direction.

“As I was saying before I was turned into a powder puff; what can I do for you lads?” repeated the King.

“Before we go any further, oh majestically scented one,” said Greg. “Before we get any further could you give us a proper introduction to your lusciously lovely assistants?”

“I’d should say so too, oh fragranced one that no longer smells!” added Peter.

“Sorry lads, quite remiss of me. These are my favourite handmaidens, good for all the jobs that need to be done by hand. Let me introduce you to Fairy Hanny, Fairy Nouf and the other one.”

“Well hello ladies,” chorused the hopeful duet, eyes dancing a quick step up and down the obvious protuberances of the scrumptious trio.

“Hello lads,” they shrilled in return.

“But tell me, oh father of all things that no longer smell of Dragon shite,” continued the perplexed Pixy, “why do you call this third fair maiden ‘the other one’?”

The King looked away, the anger dancing back up his trouser leg, out of his shirt and onto his Crimson face. Anger personified!

Peter was worried. Had he accidently stood in a social dog turd, a faux pas that could get him twenty years in the doghouse?

He turned to Hanny.

“Have I done something to offend, fair maiden?”

Hanny returned a gracious and condescending smile, like a Hollywood actor thanking a fan for pointing out what a great guy he was in his last movie.

“Not really,” said the buxom babe. “It’s just that the King sometimes has trouble in pronouncing certain names.”

“You mean like Siobhan, Niamh, Caoimhe and Aoife?” enquired Greg.

“Don´t be feckin ridiculous,” snorted Hanny. “Her name is Thanthat.”

“So it isn’t Beibhinn?”

“I can´t see how it could be any harder than those names!” stated Peter.

A glint of a memory came into Hanny´s eye. Had she travelled to the Emerald isle and the land of Faery? There was something troubling her, a memory that could not exist, a sense of déjà vu without a view. Her vision glazed temporarily. Who is Turenn she asked herself.

Peter and Greg just assumed she had wind.

Fairy Nouf took up the tale.

“As well as starting each day smelling like a teenage boys bedroom covered in monkey ordure, the King just struggles with some names. We try not to make too big a deal of it,” she whispered conspiratorially.

“So what is the problem with saying her name?” asked Greg.

“Can´t you see,” said Nouf, “he’s the King, the most wonderful being in this Universe, the most Majestic Majesty ever!”

“And he can’t say Fairy Thanthat.”

The King smiled, then expelled his angry look, along with a large amount of home grown  methane.

“Get out and walk!” shouted the King as he airbrushed his recently changed underpants.greg the Goblin

Peter and Greg, not being use to Royal Protocol, turned to leave the Great Hall.

Hanny and Nouf stopped them, while Thanthat giggled at their lack of sophistication.

The King chortled.

“Sorry lads,” he said, “ I didn’t mean you had to get out and walk away from here. It´s just a little encouragement for the Lean Bean Machine to leave the room! You don’t want them air biscuits hanging round too long.

The boys sort of felt chastened and embarrassed; fancy not understanding what to do in the case of a Royal Anal Foghorn.

King Innocent calmed his chortle to a snigger.

“So lads; what is the problem?” he asked. “ Why am I sitting here in my Great Hall waiting to listen to some petition from a hideous Goblin that is ugly as sin (no offence, and a Cardinal sin at that), and a Pixy that looks as though he has been riding a horse for the last fifty years and smells of part heated lard?”

Peter went simply red, then deep purple. The glow from his face began to light up the Great Hall and made the King even more Crimson. He tried to shift on his feet but each small movement told him that the lard was losing its effectiveness; the Dukes! were sending little spear parties deep into his jacksy. He looked lovingly into the eyes of Fairy Hanny; this was no time to beat about the bush, much as he would have enjoyed doing so; this was a time for action and honesty. And he was scared to fart.

Faint heart never won Fairy maiden.

Mind you in the annals of history a pile ridden Pixy never won a Fair maiden.

I digress.

“Your Majesty, here I am in the court of the most munificent monarch on Uranus.  I have a confession to make and a tale to tell, which might just explain the lardy smell.”

Greg nodded sagely; a decent rhyme was never a crime.

“Well hurry up lad, me dinners nearly ready!” said the King as he lifted his excess tummy flab.

“Sorry oh newly fragrant one. I stand before you, a poor humble Pixy, a forlorn hope for I have been stricken with a foul case of the Dukes!”

There was no reaction from the Fairies. They knew the implications of this confession. The dammed Pixy had been at the tarts. Fairy tarts at that. The Kings tarts, possibly. The King looked at his three lovelies. They shook their heads in denial.

No.

Peter the Pixy

 

No way would any of these three ever consort with a Pixy, letting him help himself to a tart. They were too loyal.

He looked at Thanthat. He couldn’t say it for certain with that one.

Trust.

“How did a hairy arsed little scumbag like you get his hands on one of my tarts!” belched the King.

Peter began to shake violently. The rapidity of the shakiness caused the now partially melted lard to slip down and out of  his chuff. The fear of the King outweighed the fear of losing the contents of his bottom, and slowly the life saving lard slid down his leg, like a sloppy turd escaping from the badly fitted nappy on a two year old.

The King grew more crimson as rage took the stage and treachery superceded lechery.

Hanny intervened.

 

“Majesty! It is your munificence to forgive and forget. It is obvious that our sore bottomed friend has suffered. But, on the positive side, he has proved to us that the old prophecy is true. This will be a good advert for the Kingdom. We won’t see many other reprobates wanting to suffer this type of anal embarrassment!”

The King subsided and released his pent up anger by peppering the air with a staccato burst of trouser trumpets.

“True enough love; true enough,” said the King as he frowned upon his handmaidens clutching their noses. “In fact you really have done us a favour here young sore b

um. I apologise for my harsh words but you have to admit, if you thought someone had had your tart you’d be nonplussed!”

Peter cast himself on the floor. He was filled with a mixture of shame for his

actions and the pain in his arse. The tears began to flow. A shiny brownish white puddle also began to flow from the bottom of his trousers.

Greg looked to the King.

“Oh sweet-smelling sovereign! Please show forgiveness on your humble subject. Forgive him his trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us. Your tarts probably led him into temptation; now deliver him from the evil that resides in his jacksy.”

King Innocent allowed his eyes to do a little jig; there is nothing quite so fetching as a cross-eyed Fairy. Alas Innocent wasn’t particularly handsome. Never mind. He had a decision to make.

The King was far from displaying nominative determinism. When it came to temptation he gave in to his urges. He had a penchant for tarts, despite the warnings of revenge from his Queen. In the history of the Kings of Setebos, Innocent was the fattest bastard who had ever attempted to sit on the throne. His predecessors had taken care to diet properly, taking pride in their food intake. They loved fairy cakes and angel delight but knew when to stop. They understood the food pyramid, the importance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the correct proportions. It was the Age of the Thin Kings and all was well on Uranus.

Those days had long gone and now we have King Innocent the Salad Dodger.

He knew what is like to be tempted by a strawberry tart on a sleepy afternoon. He had his own little stick of Blackpool rock, and liked to have a nibble on it now and again.

“You’re right,” said the King, “the Pixy has suffered and will continue to suffer in his secret parts unless we can find a cure. You Goblin! Get some fresh lard up his chod bin before he starts screaming like a banshee.”

The Goblin rapidly got to work, pondering the origin of purified pig fat. Who first thought of that? Mind you who first thought of mixing hops and barley with water to make beer? And who thought reality TV would be a good thing? And who thought putting six hundred and thirty five cheats and liars in a building would lead to good government?

There are stranger things in heaven and Earth than you would ever find on Uranus.

Hanny, Nouf and Thanthat watched in disbelief. They were used to unsoiling a fat Ruler but cramming a bum with lard was a new experience for them all.

“Can I have a go?” asked Hanny.

The remnants of Peters dignity careered out of control. How weird to have the girl of your dreams cramming a medicine up your troublesome chuffer. Should he be pleased with the intimacy or horrified at the loss of self-esteem? It was hard to work out. Would it be ok to ask her for a quiet drink that evening knowing that she had spent time stuffing his donk with lard?

The butt packing was soon done and Greg looked for a place to put the empty wrappers.

Time appeared to stand still for a few moments.

The six of them sat or stood in the Great Hall, with its walls and roof, not to mention its columns and windows, pondering. Each pondered in his or her own way, remembering previous times when pondering was less of a challenge.

The King intervened.

“I was just wondering as I was pondering,” he said, “as to why a Pixy and a Goblin should come in here as though they have been best friends forever. I just don´t get it. Pixies are fine enough creatures, with their little hats and pointy toed shoes, even if they do nick tarts and get the Dukes! But Goblins! Scum personified. Scum! I would not trust one as far as I could throw him!”

Greg looked at the fat bastard and realised the King probably couldn’t even throw a sprout at a Christmas Turkey.

Fairy Thanthat tried to pacify the King.

“My lord, don’t you remember you said you wanted to be more accessible to everyone on the planet. That you want to be seen as The Monarch of The Many. The King of the Kindred. The Leader of The Lowly. A friendly Fairy King with his beautiful Fairy Queen.”

“Fat chance of that, considering the bag of spanners I’m married to!”

Fairy Thanthat was taken aback; then she was taken a-sideways and a-down.

“Unfair my Lord. Queen Dillberry is one of the bestest Fairies ever. She is popular with all, even the Imps and Gremlins love her.”

“Do the Trolls love her?”

“Majesty the Trolls don’t love anyone since you sent Fub to crush their revolution.”

The pondering continued, before turning into deliberating; after a while the pondering returned.

“You’re right as always, the other one. Why even my daughter Princess Layer says she likes Goblin friends. Bless me with the sign of Titania but you’re right! Sorry disgusting Goblin scum; didn’t mean to offend.”

“I’m not offended boss. I’m used to being at the foot of the tree. However I am a really useful Goblin when you get to know me.”

The panel continued to ponderously ponder possibilities. Was there a way to help the petrified Pixy in his quest for a cure? Would he be forever reliant on lard? Would he ever manage to pull Fairy Hanny?

“Queen Dillberry could probably help,” said Fairy Nouf.

“Fair enough,” said the King. “Let’s go and ask her.”

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