Understatement of the century, Rosie!
Disclaimer: King’s Quest and its characters do not belong to me. They belong to Sierra On-Line. Trust me if I did, then… the puzzles probably might have made more sense.
Chapter 6: A Heartfelt Reunion!
Graham and Cedric soon reached the Dark Forest once more. Looking at Cedric, Graham asked, “Are you ready to go in, Cedric?”
Cedric looked back at him, and despite how he was still clearly shaking, he nodded. He tensed up, took a deep breath and nodded again, this time more determined. “I’m… I’m not scared, not at all. Heh heh heh!”
“Yes, Graham. I’m sure,” Cedric assured him. Graham slipped the amulet over his head, hiding it in the front of his tunic. I hope this works like she said it would. I wish I’d brought that emerald with me.
Cedric flipped open the magic book, searching for ‘protective’ spells anywhere. He found one, memorized it, and with a smile closed the book and put it away.
With that, the two of them walked into the forest together.
-(Posted on: December 12, 2012, 09:47:37 PM)
Cedric had been right to be afraid of this place. The trees were so close together, that when they looked up, they couldn’t even see the sky from where they were standing. Looking down, they noticed that there seemed to be an awful lot of frogs hopping around. One of the frogs stopped and looked up at them, croaking in a female voice, “What are you doing here, humans? You should know better than to come in here, you know.”
Graham explained why they were here. The frog shook her head and replied, “I still don’t think you should be in here.” She exclaimed, “Leave and begone while you still can stand upright, otherwise you’ll end up like us!” as a bunch of other frogs came near her, all croaking and nodding in agreement.
“The witch did this to all of you?” Cedric said, frowning. The frogs nodded. “Well, is there any way to cure it?”
“Really should have brought that stupid emerald with me,” Graham muttered to himself.
The leader frog shook her head sadly. “I doubt there is anything we can do,” she sighed. “Most of us have gotten used to it by now. Some of us can remember our human lives still rather well, others cannot aside from a few things here and there. Over time, we become more and more like ordinary frogs, even losing our ability to speak and think like a human would.”
“What about you?” Cedric wondered.
“I’ve been here so long that everything is a blur. All I remember is a town somewhere in this land, and that my mother always told me, ‘Lucy, you should never ever
go into the forest! There are many Bad Things in there that would gobble up a nice little girl like you without a second thought!’...I regret not listening to her now. Oh, why did I have to be such a rambunctious and disobedient child?” she sighed, despondent.
“Well, we’re going to help despite the risks,” Graham said determined. “Speaking of risks…” he brought out the lamp he’d gotten from the bandits and showed it to her. “Would you happen to know what’s in this lamp?”
“Hmm…” she placed a slimy hand on the lamp, was silent for about a minute and then said, “I think you should get rid of this thing, and forget you ever found it.”
“Why?” Graham wondered.
something in there, but you should not
let it out, unless you want to take its place. Or if you plan to give to someone else, and let them handle it.”
“Well, what’s in there?”
“A genie, and a very angry one at that,” the frog cautioned.
Graham laughed, “Heh heh, a genie? Seriously, that’s all? I thought you were going to say it was some dark evil wanting to consume us all and destroy the land.”
“I’m not kidding around, sir! This guy has been stuck in there for a long time, and he needs to take it out on somebody, which might as well be whoever opens this thing.”
“So the genie has been cursed to stay in there until someone lets him out, and you all have been cursed to turn into frogs. Hmmm…” Graham said, quickly forming a plan in his head. “Cedric, I think I have a plan, and I’m going to need you to help me.”
Cedric raised his eyebrows in interest, “Uh… okay Graham. What do you want me to do exactly?”
“I need you to get behind me, and stay there. Understood?” he said firmly. Cedric nodded and got behind Graham. “Good, thank you Cedric. You’ll be protected there.”
“But, your life matters more than mine, Graham. If I die, no one will weep for me. You, on the other hand…” he trailed off, not wanting to think of it.
“I know what I’m doing, Cedric,” Graham said.
“And what exactly are
you doing, Graham?” Cedric questioned.
“You’ll see, Cedric.”
“If you say so, Graham; don’t worry, I’ll watch your back.”
-(Posted on: December 12, 2012, 09:48:46 PM)
Cedric shivered as they wandered deeper into the forest, as it became ever gloomier and danker than before. He jumped suddenly, as he heard something growl at him from the bushes, but he quickly regained his composure, trying to ignore the flapping of leathery wings above him, and the sense of someone watching them from the shadows.
Graham could barely make out a path leading up to a large tree, which had a small indentation in it. And being naturally curious, he went up to it to investigate. Looking closer, it looked like a little door etched into the wood. What’s this?
Grasping both hands on the handle, he tried to yank it open. Nothing. He pulled harder with a grunt, still nothing. Wonderful. Must need a key to open it.
He got out his book on lock-picking and tried his best to read it in the minimal light, and stuck in back in his pocket after a minute of reading since he had nothing that would help.
Suddenly, he heard what sounded like a ‘poof’ behind him and whipped around to see someone standing there in the shadow of the trees. Oh no, the witch had spotted them! “Cedric- duck!” Graham warned, just in time for Cedric to avoid getting hit by a sickly green bolt of magic. As the blast struck Graham in the chest, he felt a tingling sensation run over his entire body. He’d felt this feeling once before, and had hoped to never feel it again. A quick glance at his hands showed that for a moment, they looked webbed and covered in mucus! But, just when Graham was beginning to get worried that the amulet was a dud or the person’s magic was too powerful… he then felt relief wash over him as the trinket started to take effect and nullify the magic spell into nothing. Cedric saw this, and got up, just as relieved.
Graham looked at the witch and grinned. She was completely powerless thanks to the amulet. The red-headed, wrinkled old hag then let out a furious scream, shaking her fists at him angrily, and he stuck his fingers in his ears lest he’d go deaf!
“YOU!!” she shouted, “Who are you?! What have you done to my magic?!”
“I don’t think you need to know,” Graham answered, crossing his arms. Cedric mimicked him and nodded. “Besides,” Graham said, “I didn’t know this was a private
forest! Is it yours?”
The witch gave them a malicious smile, showing off crooked yellow teeth. “That doesn’t matter, sonny, because I’m afraid you’re both trapped here for eternity,” she cackled evilly. Cedric started trembling again. As she ‘poof’ed away, she let out another chilling laugh, her black eyes sparkling.
Cedric tried to compose himself and clenched his fists. Buck up, Cedric! She’s not all
that scary, is she? She looked kind of familiar though. Hmm… but why?
“Cedric? You alright?” Graham asked, noticing that Cedric was just standing there.
Cedric snapped out of his thoughts, “Huh? Uh, nothing Graham; she just looks familiar, that’s all.”
“Oh? How so?” Graham asked, as they started walking down the path. The faded dirt road curved down in an arc, going past what Graham hoped were “just” spikes in the ground and not what he thought they were.
“I’m not sure I want to tell you,” Cedric replied. “I don’t remember much myself.”
“Tell me anyway.”
“Well…” Cedric began, hesitantly. “You remember when I said that Crispin was like a father to me? It should be obvious why.”
“Crispin adopted you?”
“Yes. I’ve been his apprentice and son ever since I was… five, I think? I’ve just turned twenty. I remember very little of my life before Crispin found me, except that my mother loved me very much. But…”
“She’s dead?” Graham asked.
Cedric nodded sadly, “I’m afraid so.” He frowned, punched his fist into his palm, and snarled, “It was her. That witch was the one who murdered her, I’m sure of it!”
“Well if my plan works,” Graham noted, bringing out the lamp, “You won’t have to worry about her much longer, and neither will anybody else.” (Posted on: December 12, 2012, 09:49:51 PM)
Some Time Later…
“Uhh… Graham…?” Cedric whimpered.
“I know, Cedric. I know!” Graham stopped him. “I’m just as anxious as you.”
He looked around frantically at their surroundings- hadn’t they been here before? He could have sworn they’d already seen this part of the path already. Then again, everything looked the same here: the path didn’t seem to lead anywhere, there was barely if any light through the treetops so they could barely see, and there were man-eating plants lunging out at them whenever they reached a dead end. If they stood around too long, they were soon assaulted by creeping spiders and annoying bats, so they had to keep moving.
Finally, they seemed to be getting somewhere… although it wasn’t pleasant in the slightest. Towering above them, across a wide chasm was a house. It appeared to be hewn right from the rock itself, and had spikes sticking out of it for some reason. As if the bridge leading across the chasm that was made of… something’s ribcage wasn’t enough, peering down into the chasm, Graham saw what looked like a very long drop, and it appeared that other adventurers like him weren’t as lucky as there were spikes to be impaled on down there. Graham backed away, not wanting to make himself sick.
Graham heard the ‘poof’ again. Just great- she was back! Graham turned around quickly, but Cedric was quicker and stepped in front of him.
“Cedric, get back!!” Graham ordered, but, to Graham’s surprise he shook his head and instead brandished his wand bravely. “Cedric!” Graham barked, “Get behind me now!”
Cedric shook his head again and growled, “No Graham, I- OOF!” Graham shoved him out of the way just as the witch fired away another magic spell at Cedric. Luckily, it missed and just singed the grass. Since she knew Graham was protected, she ignored him and fired again at Cedric.
Scrambling to his feet quickly, he recited as fast as he could,
“Nay, we shall never fall nor yield, by the will of Leginimor, give us a shield!
The green bolt hit Cedric dead on. He braced himself, but he didn’t feel any pain at all! Opening his eyes, he looked down and saw that he glowed faintly as the spell took effect. He looked up and smiled at Graham, “See? I can be smart too.”
Cedric turned to the witch and grinned. She was seething and snarling like an angry dog now, completely enraged at what had just happened!
Cedric dropped the grin and started backing away quickly. Best not to push my luck- this spell won’t last forever,
he thought as he went back behind Graham who didn’t look very pleased with Cedric taking such a risk.
“Cedric--!” Graham started to say, but was soon interrupted by a growl. He tensed and looked behind them. There in the shade of the trees, Graham could see… something. Rather, he saw a pair of yellow eyes and when the creature growled again, it showed off a pair of razor sharp teeth and he heard the sound of unsheathed claws. Graham backed away from the creature, not wanting to know what it truly was, and he heard the witch say, ‘If magic cannot kill you, then teeth and claws shall!”
Graham and Cedric were standing back to back. He heard Cedric stammer nervously, obviously trying and failing to sound braver than he felt, “I-I’m n-not afraid of you!”
“Oh really?” the witch said, and she aimed a blast at his feet. Cedric jumped, lifting one foot off the ground, looking very much like a spooked horse. “Now then…” the hag continued, “I believe it is time to say farewell, sonnies.”
She snapped her fingers and the creature charged at Graham! Graham and Cedric dodged just in time, darting off into opposite directions in the forest. The creature, now out in the clearing, was revealed to look somewhat like a panther, its fur as dark the witch’s eyes, except it had larger, sharper claws, was a lot bigger than normal (if it could stand up on its hind legs, it could probably be able to look Graham in the eye), and seemed to have a strange misty aura around it. This was no ordinary big cat. It figures that she’d have a cat.
Graham thought as he raced through the trees. He could hear the cat rushing like lightning after him. Graham’s running pace had begun to slow- he was getting tired from all he had done this day, and he knew he wasn’t as young as he used to be. The fact that his pack had gotten so heavy over these past few hours didn’t help matters either.
The cat was so close now, that Graham could feel it breathing on him. He’d have to get rid of it somehow, lest he be shredded by this beast of a feline! He felt around in his pack and felt something heavy so he tossed it behind him. Graham breathed a sigh of relief and picked up speed, as he heard the object hit the cat and knock it backwards with a yowl and a thud.
Graham was then knocked over himself by someone who managed to also fall on top of him. After the stars cleared from his head, he looked up and saw- “Cedric! There you are!”
Cedric quickly got to his feet and apologized, “Sorry Graham!” Graham shushed Cedric and looked behind him. The cat was stunned by the lamp (which was what Graham had thrown) that had hit it.
Graham then remembered something- the lamp contained immense magical power, didn’t it? If only she’d poof in right now, it just might work!
Graham schemed, she’ll notice how quiet it’s gotten and wonder what’s going on, and she really can’t ignore that lamp in front of her…
he speedily hid in the nearby bushes, followed by Cedric, whose ‘shield spell’ had long since worn off by now.
After a minute or so of waiting, the crone did indeed appear once more. The panther was coming to its senses and looked up at its mistress, who didn’t look happy to not see a corpse or two lying around. “Well, I can see you didn’t do you job properly Kitty,” she said scowling. The panther looked away ashamed.
It was then she noticed what was next to her pet. It was round and squat at the bottom, and tapered off to a point at the top and looked to be made of brass or perhaps even gold. The bright sheen of the object in the moonlight wasn’t the only thing that attracted her attention though… as she felt its smooth finish with her fingers, she detected something inside. Whatever this object was, it had amazing power inside of it.
Whatever magic this object contained, she felt she just had to have for herself! The power seemed to be begging to be released by her. Her frown swiftly turned into an excited smile as she felt around for a way to open it, and found that the very top of the item was very loose.
She clasped both hands around the top of the lamp and gave it a good tug. It came off with a pop, and as the smoke came curling out of the lamp, Graham thought, Oh, this is gonna be good! I can’t believe she fell for it!
The small tendril of smoke grew larger and larger, until it had become a cloud. Then, the cloud grew arms and what looked like a head wearing a turban and changed colors until a genie floated in front of her!
Stretching his arms, the genie said happily, “Ah, freedom at last!”
The witch clapped her hands and excitedly said with a smile, “Genie, I wish for-“
The genie glared at the witch and pointed a finger at her, “Now YOU
spend the next 500 years in a bottle and see how you like it! Now, yallah!” and with a snap of his fingers, smoke surrounded the witch and before she could protest or even scream, the smoke zipped right back into the lamp. The top of the lamp put itself back on; the genie clapped his hands sending it to who knows where, and then teleported himself away in another puff of smoke. The panther had long since run away as frightened as a kitten, never to be seen again by at least mortal eyes for many years.
Cedric broke the silence after a moment, “Now, she has all the darkness she desires, and much more.” He smiled gleefully and rubbed his hands together, “I’ve always wanted to say that.”
“I can’t believe she fell for that!” Graham laughed.
“I can’t believe that plan actually worked!” Cedric replied, laughing as well. “That was very clever, Graham.”
Graham looked at the crone’s house curiously. “Hmm… I bet there is something in there, something important.”
Being very careful, they walked slowly over the wooden planks that covered the rickety ribcage bridge. Both of them avoided looking downwards, Cedric because he had a slight fear of heights and Graham because he didn’t want to trip and fall into the chasm and become like the other less fortunate adventurers who had met that fate.
-(Posted on: December 12, 2012, 09:51:40 PM)
Despite its tall appearance from outside, the inside of the house was rather small, cramped even. The little winding staircase only led to a bedroom, which Cedric looked into but found nothing all that interesting. Otherwise there was a shelf with various jars and bottles on it, and a cage hanging from the trunk of a tree that had somehow embedded itself into the wall of the house, and a single wax candle giving the house a sickly green glow, not unlike the magic the hag had tried to use on them. The only interesting thing here was a wooden chest against one wall. As Graham looked into the small cage, finding a little key, Cedric opened the chest.
He gasped in surprise at what he’d found- a portable spinning wheel, obviously used only by someone with small hands. “Hey, I recognize this! What’s a gnome’s spinning wheel doing in here?” Cedric wondered.
He stuck it into his pack for safekeeping. Looking down, he could see the fly wheel sticking out a bit, but if he squished it down any further it would probably break, and Cedric knew that the gnome wouldn’t appreciate that.
Graham looked in the dresser. There were clothes -including a black cloak… hmm, where had Graham seen that before? He turned away from it, not wanting to think about it- An old cracked hand mirror, a few magical components that even Cedric wouldn’t touch, a cookbook that Graham hastily skipped over lest he gag, and a pouch.
It was a small, simple cloth pouch that was very light and tied with a piece of string. Opening it revealed three sparkling emeralds! These definitely will come in handy!
He thought, and he put them away.
They checked over everything once more, to make sure that they didn’t miss anything just in case. They didn’t find anything so they left the house alone.
-(Posted on: December 12, 2012, 09:52:16 PM)
The two of them weren’t really sure how they found the suspicious tree again, but, somehow through wandering around lost for what felt like hours made them end up back there again.Although,
Cedric thought, it seems that the going has become easier now that that witch is gone. Is it just me, or does it seem to be getting a little lighter around here? Either she’d cursed the forest and now that she’s gone the curse is lifting, which wouldn’t surprise me. Or we’ve been wandering around in here for a lot longer than I thought and the moon is out.In any case… Mother, we’ve avenged you. I hope you can rest in peace now.
Cedric thought and smiled to himself.
Graham took out the key he’d found and turned it in the keyhole.
He threw open the little door and said with a whistle, “When she said she had a ‘heart of gold’ she wasn’t kidding!” and held up a little heart that was quite literally gold in his hand!
He looked around. “Now all we need to do is get out of this place.”
Cedric did the same and replied, “Uh… how do we do that, Graham? I- hey! What’s that?” he stopped and pointed at the ground- there were tiny tracks in the dirt!
Graham bent down to look closer. “Whoever made these tracks was wearing tiny shoes. Hmm… was running pretty quickly, not very long of a stride either so they must have short legs too. In fact, I’d say there are elves here.” He began following them, the tracks going around the heart tree and back in the deeper parts of the forest where they’d just been.
-(Posted on: December 12, 2012, 09:53:18 PM)
They had come to a dead end surrounded by rocks and bushes. Looking up, Graham could see eyes peering out from the bushes, looking at him cautiously. “Excuse me, could you help us? We’re a little lost here, and need to get out soon so I can rescue my family,” Graham asked.
Graham took out the pouch and shook it a little. A soft jingling was heard from the pouch. “I have these jewels in here, and I know from experience that the fair folk love treasure.” He opened the pouch and took out one of the gems, flicking it like a coin with his thumb onto the ground. He and Cedric stepped back and waited.
One of the little folk gathered his courage, ran up and grabbed the emerald in his hands. Graham tried to grab him, but he slipped away into the bushes too quickly for even the former knight to handle. Graham tried again, dropping it closer to where they were standing. Same result. Hmm, I wonder…
he thought. He took out the honeycomb, and squeezed out the honey onto the ground. He placed the last emerald next to the honey puddle and waited.
Sure enough, that shiny green glint was too hard to resist for the little elf, and he ran out of the bushes again to snatch it… only for him to get stuck mid-run with the emerald just beyond his reach.
“See?” Graham said to Cedric, holding the now empty honeycomb (which was now just beeswax) “I told
you this would come in handy! Mother always said ‘One could always catch more flies with honey than seawater’, and she was right.”
“But it’s an elf, not a fly, Graham!”
“Well, it still works.”
Sticking the beeswax back into his pack, Graham bent down and picked up the mischief maker by the shirt collar in one hand, picking up the last emerald in another. The elf struggled in Graham’s grip, but he held him tight. “L-let me go! Please, I beg of you!”
Graham frowned and put the emerald back in his pack. “Oh no, I’m not dropping you until you help us leave this blasted forest.”
The little elf nodded and replied, “Okay, okay I’ll help you get out, I promise! An elf never breaks a promise! Drop me, please.” Graham dropped him. The elf ran over to a very large oval rock formation and spoke to it, “Move over, Rocky! You’re in the way!” and the rock turned out to be not a rock after all, but a creature with legs and lizard-like head and neck. Scuttling off to the side, it muttered “Durrr- sorry!” and curled up again allowing them to pass. Cedric looked at Graham confused, and Graham just shook his head and shrugged back. He didn’t know what Rocky was either.
The elf soon led them to a clearing and went down into a hole underneath a large tree. He called out, his high-pitched voice echoing, “Over here! Over here!” and he disappeared underground. Graham peered down into the hole- it was a lot bigger than the hole in the Land of the Leprechauns on Mushroom Isle back home, but it still looked to be a tight squeeze for him. Nevertheless, he got down on his hands and knees and crawled into the dark tunnel.
He looked behind him and called, “Coming Cedric?”
Cedric wrinkled his nose in disgust at the prospect of crawling down deep, dark holes to who knows where. The fair folk weren’t exactly the most trustworthy of people. Still… if Graham trusted him, then he should too. And even if they couldn’t, they probably could think of some way to weasel their way out of a deal they couldn’t keep. Cedric sighed with a nod, and crawled into the tunnel after Graham.
But, just in case… Cedric casted the ‘Shield’ spell again, and also gave ‘Night Owl’ a try too. He whispered, “Let my eyes be bright, let me see all who prowl, I shall know no fear as I transform into a night owl.” He felt the spell take effect immediately, as it looked to be a lot brighter in the passage than before from his point of view. I just hope Graham won’t be too freaked out by this.
-(Posted on: December 12, 2012, 09:54:59 PM)
They soon entered a wide cavern that was made of what looked like sandstone, with various crevasses all around. Several more elves were peeking out from the crevasses, staring at them cautiously and talking to each other in hushed tones. “Humans!” Graham heard one say. “What are humans doing here?” Cedric’s vision returned to normal, not extremely bright like he’d expected. Must only work in the dark.
Graham and Cedric spotted the elf who had led them here, but he wasn’t looking at them. He was looking at the other muttering elves around him and frowning. He whistled for silence and they shut up. This elf must be their leader!
Graham realized, and he tipped his cap in respect with Cedric bowing his head.
The leader noticed them at last, and motioned them over to where he was standing. “Come here you two- I’ve got something for you!”
Graham and Cedric came over to him. The leader was holding something behind his back and smiling. “I’ve got something special for you, kind sir,” he said to Graham, “but I won’t give it to you until you do something for us.
They nodded and were silent. The leader continued, and looked up at Graham’s outfit, “You are a knight, yes?”
Graham nodded and admitted, “Yes, I was known as ‘Sir Graham’ nearly 20 years ago, but I was crowned king when I was no younger than-“he stopped when the leader looked shocked and hastily bowed to him, the other elves as well. Graham held up his hand, “Please don’t do that. I don’t want to be idolized nor feared, just treat me like you would anybody else.” The elves agreed to that. “Now then, you were saying Mr. Elf?”
The leader continued, “Well, since you’re a good enough knight to be crowned a king, surely you must remember tales of your bravery from when you were still under the king before your reign. That is your half of the bargain: you tell us stories of your days as a knight, and I’ll give you my gift.”
Graham sat down and the elves and Cedric gathered around. “Well, I suppose I should start at the beginning. Back when I was a lad, I used to visit this inn in my home town called The Prattling Pony…” and so, King Graham told the little people and the young mage about how he began his first Quest when he was young.
When Graham was done telling the story, the leader looked thoughtful. “Hmm… that was a rather nice story, but…”
“You want another, I reckon?” Graham asked. The elf nodded and replied, “Yes. Especially since the gift I have for you are is actually a pair of something, and it wouldn’t make sense for me to give you just one.”
“Fair enough.” And he began another story, this one being one of the times he fought for his life against a huge fire-breathing dragon. Due to Graham being quick and smart as a whip, the dragon ended up confusing itself so much, that it took itself out by falling off a cliff. But the dragon snapped out of it and tried to take Graham with him! Graham prevailed however by kicking it in the face until it fell to its doom with a roar, never to bother them again.
The leader broke out into a grin, and brought out his gift with both hands. “I never accept a gift without giving in return. In exchange for those stories you told us, I want to give you these,” and showed off a fine pair of hand-crafted leather shoes with gold buckles on them. “Here is a pair of our finest elven shoes, your majesty!” and he gave them to Graham.
“Thank you very much,” Graham said gratefully. “I know exactly who I can give these to!” and he put them away. He then asked, “Well, I believe you also have to hold up your end of the bargain?”
The leader nodded and scampered over to a tall wooden ladder, where at the top was another hole in the rock. He pointed up and answered, “Go up there, and that should be your ticket out of here!”
Graham and Cedric thanked them, waved goodbye and climbed to their freedom. They entered another tunnel, and Cedric’s ‘Night Owl’ spell took effect once again.
-(Posted on: December 12, 2012, 09:56:27 PM)
They were soon blocked by something, which looked like a log to them. Giving it a mighty shove, they then saw the light at the end of the tunnel and climbed out onto the dirt path next to the forest. “Oh, sweet freedom!” Cedric rejoiced.
He and Graham looked up at the sky. The sun was setting, and they could see the faint glow of the moon already. Had they really been in there that long? Graham took out the little golden heart and smiled at it. “I think we should help her first.” Cedric nodded in agreement, and they walked back to where Alicia was still waiting for their return.
-(Posted on: December 12, 2012, 09:57:10 PM)
But, along the way, they met a familiar face trudging along. Or at least Cedric knew who he was. “Herbert? Is that you?”
Herbert looked up at the familiar voice, “Oh, it’s you Cedric. Hello again.”
Cedric asked, “So I can guess you haven’t found her?” Herbert shook his head. Cedric smiled and said, “Well, we did!”
Herbert perked up and looked hopeful, “Y-you did?! Where? Where is she?”
Graham faintly heard the sound of harp music again and started to follow it once more. “Follow me, I’ll show you where she is.”
“HERBERT!” Alicia cried out happily, stopping her harp music, as she saw her true love come down the path, being led by Graham and Cedric. Herbert immediately recognized her voice and ran up to her, and wrapped his arms around her trunk.
“Alicia! I finally found you, thank the heavens!” Herbert answered happily. He let go and looked her over and frowned at little. “So this is what that witch did to you, huh? I swear if I ever find her, I’ll-“
Cedric cut him off, “No need for that, Herbert. We took care of her already, or rather Graham did. She won’t be bothering anyone for a long time, I can assure you.”
Herbert cheered up. “Oh. Good!” he looked at Alicia again. “Hmmm… but how can we fix this, my love?”
“With this,” Graham answered as he showed him the little golden heart they had gotten from the forest. Herbert smiled and stepped out of the way to let Graham give it to her, but he shook his head and handed the heart to him. “You should do the honors, Herbert. You’ve already stolen her heart once, right? You should give it back to her.”
Herbert took it in his hand, turned to Alicia and handed the little golden heart to her. She took it gratefully, murmuring a soft “Thank you!” and as she placed it back where her heart would be, a bright light engulfed her body! Her tree form started to shrink, and her leaves disappeared. She shrunk down to Herbert’s eye level, her branches turning golden and hanging down, her bark turning creamy and smooth, and a lovely dark blue dress that matched her eyes covered her.
“Darling! I’ve missed you so much!” she cried, embracing him with tears in her eyes. Returning the hug, Herbert kissed her sweetly. Graham smiled, reminded of the moment he’d first met Valanice when they were their age, and he couldn’t wait to hold her in his arms again just like this.
The couple broke off their kiss, and Alicia turned to Graham and Cedric. “Thank you! Thank you both so much, kind sirs!”
“I’m always happy to help,” Graham said.
“It was nothing, ma’am!” Cedric replied. “It was the least we could do, right Graham?” Graham nodded.
“Oh, there must be some way I can repay you!” Alicia decided. Graham was about to say, ‘No, no. We don’t really need anything.’ But he was stopped. “Here,” Alicia said insisting, “take this harp as a reward for your generosity, sir. It is a magic harp, and it plays the most beautiful music ever heard.”
Graham took it and thanked her, and then did something odd. He took off the magic nullifying amulet, and also took out the emerald in his pocket and handed it to them saying, “I don’t need these anymore, since Cedric is here with me. So I want you to have them instead to protect you on your way home. This amulet and the emerald will guard you from all but the strongest types of magic, so you should have no trouble with witches anymore.”
“Oh, thank you!” Herbert said sincerely. He shook hands with them both and said, “I’ll tell my father’s kingdom of Greys all about you two, but I must know your name!”
“I’m King Graham of Daventry, but please, call me Graham.” He replied, returning the handshake.
Herbert nodded and smiled wide. “Well, thank you ever so much again, Graham and Cedric! I’ll never forget what you did for us. But before we leave here I have to ask, why are you here Graham? The king here if I recall correctly is called Kenneth, not Graham.”
“Well, it all began just a few hours ago…” and Graham told the prince everything that had happened, from the theft of his castle and kidnapping of his family, to what had happened since they’d arrived.
Herbert simply said, “I wish you luck on your Quest, King Graham. Give that wizard a good beat down and make him regret he ever even thought about attacking your family, is what I say!”
“I will,” Graham replied. Cedric looked determined and brandished his wand, putting on a brave smile.
And with that, Herbert and Alicia walked away hand-in-hand to start their journey home.
Cedric put his wand away and said, “Well, that was heartwarming, wasn’t it?”
Graham chuckled at the pun and nodded. Cedric looked down at the spinning wheel in his pack. “Now that’s done, I’m going to see that gnome about this spinning wheel.” He looked at the harp in Graham’s hand and wondered, “Do you even know how to play that thing?”
Graham answered by playing the Court of Daventry’s anthem, “Greensleeves”. Cedric was impressed, and as they walked to the gnome’s house, Graham played a part of a ballad known as “The Legend of Camelot” with Cedric joining in on the flute. The ballad told one of the many, many tales of King Arthur, where he was searching for the Holy Grail, and also his three bravest knights who had gone missing, in order to save the kingdom of Camelot.
They were about to play the next part, which chronicled the battle between King Arthur and the Black Knight who was holding Sir Gawain captive, when a voice barked at them, “Stop all the racket, will ya?! We’re trying to relax here!”
Graham stopped and apologized. Cedric looked down and said, “Well, well! You’re exactly the person I wanted to see! I have something that I’m sure you’ll like.” There by Cedric’s feet were two gnomes; the one who’d spoke was old, and the younger one next to him smiled shyly and waved hello to Cedric.
The old gnome crossed his arms and tapped his foot. “Not likely, lad. Ya’ve not done a thing for me before, so why should I not think it’s another magic trick or somethin’?”
Cedric held up his hands in defense and replied, “I swear as a member of The Society of Wizards, I shall not trick you.” He reached into his pack, and got out the spinning wheel. “I believe this is yours?”
The gnome’s eyes bulged out in shock, and he snatched it from Cedric’s grasp. “My spinning wheel! Wherever did ya find it, lad?” Cedric explained that he’d found it in the witch’s house in the forest. The gnome frowned, “So it was her who took it, eh? I can’t imagine why, since it can only be used by me and my family.”Really?
Graham thought. I thought there was something suspiciously familiar about him. I wonder if he remembers me at all?
“Say, Mr. Gnome? If I may ask, do you know who I am?” Graham asked.
The gnome looked Graham over, scowled at him and shook his head. “I don’t know what ya’re talkin’ about, son. I’ve never seen ya before in my life!”
“But, I could have sworn I’ve seen-“
“You need yer eyes fixed then,” the old gnome interrupted. He looked back at Cedric. “Anyway, thank ya kindly for giving me my spinning wheel back, lad.”
“Don’t mention it.” Cedric replied. He felt something pulling on his pant leg, and saw the younger gnome (who Cedric knew was the old gnome’s grandson) trying to get his attention. Cedric bend down close to the little boy’s eye level and asked gently, “Yes Halberg?”
“Um, I…” Halberg hesitated shyly. “I liked your music, Cedric. I liked it a lot. Um, could you… maybe teach me how to play sometime? Please?”
Cedric smiled and patted Halberg on the head. “Of course I can. But, I need to help Graham here first though, alright?”
Halberg tilted his head in curiosity. “Why?”
“He’s on a Quest, and I’ve been chosen to help him. I have to stick by his side and make sure he doesn’t get hurt. I know you’re probably going to ask me what his Quest is, so I’ll explain…” and he told the little gnome all that had happened thus far. Halberg smiled as he got an idea, and ran back into the house. He came back out a few seconds later with a little marionette that looked just like him and handed it to Cedric who took it and put it carefully in his pack.
“Um, you can keep it Cedric, for helping Grandpa. We can make more of them, right Grandpa?” Halberg asked. His grandfather nodded and started to walk away into the woods, calling for Halberg to join him. Halberg waved goodbye to Cedric and hurried after his grandfather, wishing Graham and Cedric good luck.
-(Posted on: December 12, 2012, 09:59:09 PM)
As they were walking back to town, Cedric heard the sound of a creaking wagon and turned to see that the gypsies were starting to head off once again. He waved goodbye to them and saw them wave back with Florica smiling at him as she leaned out the window.
She disappeared for a moment, then quickly came back up and tossed something to him. He caught it and saw it was a tambourine. He called out, “Thank you!”
Florica called back, “You’re welcome! I’ll see you next year, Cedric!”
Cedric wished them goodbye and good luck again, and the wagon left in a cloud of dust. Cedric sighed and grinned, hugging the tambourine. Graham smiled and thought I know that look. “If I didn’t know any better Cedric, I’d say you liked her.”
Cedric dropped the grin and stammered, “G-Graham! It’s n-not what you think! She’s just a… friend. Yeah!”
“Sure, Cedric suuurre.” Graham replied skeptically and rolled his eyes. “I won’t tell anyone that you are attracted to a traveling gypsy girl.”
Cedric frowned and gave him a look that said, ‘I don’t believe you!’
“I never break my word, I promise. Knight’s honour. Now then,” Graham brought out the shoes, “I need to make a-“
“WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!” A dog barked nearby. It was digging profusely into a gigantic ant hill, and frightening the residents. One of them trying to poke the dog with something, but having little success as it didn’t seem to do much and the ant didn’t look to be a good fighter anyway. Cedric went over to pet the dog, but it looked up and snarled at him and began blocking their path.
“GRRRR! Get outta here humans, this is MY spot!” The mutt barked at them and bristled
“What is it today with all these animals claiming, ‘This is MY path!’ and ‘You shouldn’t be here!’?” Cedric wondered aloud.
“You look bored, boy.” Graham said, bringing out the broken staff. “Want to play ‘Fetch’?” he asked and waved it around.
The dog went into a play bow and wagged his tail. “Woof! Woof! Sure!”
Graham whistled and threw the stick like a spear, where it flew off far into the distance. The dog chased after it with a happy bark. Graham heard tiny cheers from the ants below.
One ant broke off from the little group, and Graham let it crawl onto his pointer finger. The ant wore a tiny crown on its head, had a needle strapped to his side like Graham would a sword and spoke in a regal tone, “I thank you very much kind sir, for saving us from that horrible mongrel!” the ant bowed his head, “I’m King Antony at your service.”
Graham nodded back. “I’m King Graham of Daventry and this is my friend Cedric. We’re trying to find a way to cross the Great Mountains and rescue my family, who has been captured by a wizard named Mordack.”
King Antony’s eyes widened. “That is a very dangerous mission, King Graham! That man is trouble!”
“I know, but I can’t just sit here and do nothing can I?”
“Well, that’s true.” King Antony replied, “I wish you would reconsider but… I highly doubt you’re going to give up on this, are you?” Graham shook his head. King Antony untied the needle at his side and dropped it into Graham’s palm. “Here, take this golden needle with you. I found it in a haystack by the inn to the east a few days ago, thinking it might be a useful weapon, but since it’s so heavy and big, it’s completely useless to one so small as me!”
“Maybe you should stick to your jaws,” Cedric suggested.
“Thank you King Antony.” Graham said, sticking it in his pocket and was reminded of the tailor from earlier. “I’m sure there’s someone who would love to have a needle as nice as this.”
“Well I wish you good luck on your mission, King Graham!” King Antony said, hopping off his finger and heading back to his subjects. They wished each other farewell, and they continued onward back to town.
-(Posted on: December 12, 2012, 10:00:14 PM)
As Graham went past the Baker Bros Bake House, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Mmmm! something smells good in there!
He recognized that smell anywhere- pie! The sign on the door said, “Custard Pie Special for 1 Silver!” He was about to dash inside to follow the scent when he heard frantic squeaking from behind them.
A rat was racing as fast as she could down the dirt road, with a large yowling orange cat chasing after her. The rat twisted and turned, but the cat was still on her trail! Thinking quickly, Graham brought out the old boot he’d got earlier and threw it at the cat…
But the cat saw it coming and dodged! The feline sprung into the air and was about to pounce on the rodent, when it suddenly had the wind knocked out of it and landed on its back!
The cat got up and hissed at Cedric as he picked up his boot from the ground. Cedric hissed back, “Shoo! Scat!” and kicked at the cat with his other boot. The cat screeched and slinked away.
The rat, overjoyed, squeaked, “Thank you kind sirs! Thank you so much! My children and I will never forget you two!”
“You’re welcome,” Graham and Cedric replied in unison.
“I hope I can repay you two someday. Well, have a nice evening friends!” and the rat scampered away into the bushes.
Graham and Cedric walked into the Bake House, their mouths starting to water. Cedric rushed forward once he spotted the custard pies on the counter, two of which were already being sold to a lady and child, but Graham quickly grabbed him by the shirt collar and held him back. “I’m getting hungry too Cedric, but we need to be patient.”
As the other customers and the owner finished their long, boring conversation, Graham got out his money. He paid for a pie and walked out, Cedric following him and anxiously wanting to dig in immediately. “Now now, Cedric. We should save this for later.”
Cedric looked at him dumbfounded; his eyes widened and jaw agape. His mouth snapped shut and he glared at him. “What.” was Cedric’s reply.
“You never know when you’ll need to defend yourself-“
“With a pie.”
“It’s a custard pie, isn’t it? We have to use to this on somebody somewhere.”
‘What?! Graham, it’s a PIE!
What in the world can you do with a pie other than eat it?!”
“Throw it at someone, use it as bait, leave a trail of crumbs behind you…”
Cedric sighed, “Fine! But, you owe me something to eat later alright?”
“I can do that.” Graham said.
-(Posted on: December 12, 2012, 10:01:19 PM)
Finally arriving back into town, it was almost dark and everyone was starting to close up shop for the night. Graham brought out the shoes and tucking them under one arm, rushed into the Corner Cobbler just when they were about to turn off the lights.
“Sorry son,” Mama Cincinatus said tiredly. “We’re about to close so we can’t take any more orders today. You can wait until tomorrow, okay?”
Graham just smiled. “I’m not here to buy anything, but I do have something for you.” He showed the old couple the elven shoes.
Sonny grabbed them and examined them closely. “Look dear, look! Look at this soft, fine leather, and… are these buckles gold?” they looked at Graham and Sonny asked, “Wherever did you find these gems, son?”
“I came across some elves in the forest, and in exchange for telling them a couple stories their leader gave me those shoes.”
“…Well, I’ve heard crazier stories in my life.” Mama replied. She frowned, “You didn’t have to go through all that trouble, son. Why did you take such a risk as to go into that awful place- don’t you know how dangerous it is in there?”
“I can’t stand seeing people so miserable, so I managed to find those shoes for you. Oh, and call me Graham.”
They smiled at him. Graham asked, “So what are you two going to do now?”
“We’ll sell these come tomorrow,” Mama said, looking down at the shoes. “Then, I think me and Sonny are gonna finally retire to someplace warmer and nicer.”
“Who will watch over the shop then?”
“We have a son and daughter-in-law who have wanted to take over the place for a while now, so that shouldn’t be a problem.”
“We are forever in your debt, Graham. Thank you so much!” Sonny added gratefully, shaking Grahams hand with a firm grip. With the other hand, he picked up his cobbler’s hammer and gave to Graham. “Here, take my hammer please. I don’t need it anymore, and a hammer is always good to have on you, just in case.”
“You’re very welcome and thank you, sir. This’ll come in handy on my Quest I’m sure!”
They wished him good luck and a fond farewell, and turned off the lights.
Cedric popped his head into the Toy Shop and smiled- the place was small, cozy even, but stuffed to the brim with all manners of toys from dolls and rocking horses to wind-up soldiers and little puppets. But, what really caught Cedric’s eye was actually something unique: on the east wall of the shop there hung a wooden sled, painted red and looked big enough to hold both of them. The toymaker was a friendly looking old man from a faraway mountainous country, who had come to Serenia several years ago to start a better life for his family. He was one of the few people who actually didn’t mind helping Cedric out.
“Hello there, Cedric. On an errand for Crispin?” The toymaker asked, peering through tiny glasses and was winding up one of the last toy dolls for the night.
Cedric looked down at the doll being wound up and tried not to chuckle, even if the way the toymaker was holding the doll and the crank looked funny. He looked back up and shook his head. “No, a Quest for a King actually, to help rescue his family.” He pointed at the sled, “We need to head for the mountains, but I didn’t bring any money, so…” he dangled Halberg’s marionette in front of him, “Will you trade me this for that sled over there, Mr. Gepeppo?”
The toymaker’s eyes widened and he asked, “Vhere did you ever find such a beautiful thing, my boy?”
“Halberg, that little gnome down the road, gave it to me for helping out his grandpa earlier.”
The toymaker smiled. “Oh, vell that vas very nice of you, lad. Of course you may have the sled, I can alvays make another one.”
“Thanks so much, Mr. Gepeppo! This will definitely be useful.” Cedric said gratefully, taking the sled off the wall. He attempted to just pick it up and carry it, but he wasn’t as strong as he looked so he had to drag it outside instead as he waved goodbye and goodnight.
Graham stuck his head in the Tailor Shop’s door and asked, “Hey, anybody want a golden needle in here?”
Tailor Fey immediately looked at Graham and answered, “What? You found it?!”
Graham grinned and showed it off. I knew it!
“I found an ant attempting to use it as a sword, who said he’d found it by the inn.”
Tailor Fey blinked twice in disbelief, but snapped out of it and held out his hand expectantly. “Well?”
Graham held it away from him and pointed at the dark blue cloak in the corner he’d seen earlier. “I’ll give you the needle back, if you give me that cloak over there.”
Tailor Fey nodded and tossed it to Graham, who handed him the needle. “Oh thank you ever so much, sir! Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“No, that’s enough for now. Thank you very much and have a nice evening.”
“Hey Graham-urgh! Can you help me with this?” Cedric requested, dragging the very heavy sled across the near empty cobblestone street. Graham picked up the sled easily, and stuck the sled… into his pack. Which was just as big as Cedric’s and certainly didn’t look to be able to hold something that big. Cedric became slack-jawed and wide eyed in bewilderment for the second time that day. He sputtered, “But-but-but… how did you…? That sled is… what?! How come I don’t have one of those things?”
“It’s better not to ask, Cedric. The answer would make your head explode.” Graham answered.
“I already have a headache.” Cedric muttered and shook his head.
“Are you alright? You look tired.” Graham commented, looking a little worried.
“Who, me? No, I feel just fine Graham. It’s you I’m worried about!” Cedric looked at him with a wide smile, his eyes glowing unnervingly in the moonlight from the full effect of the ‘Night Owl’ spell (which had been a faint glow before, now looking more like a cats eyes in darkness). Graham didn’t like the look of that gaze very much- it made him feel a little uncomfortable.
“Well,” Graham said looking up at the night sky. “We’re going to have to rest up for our journey. We have a long day tomorrow, I’m sure of that. Maybe we could stay at that inn down the west road that King Antony mentioned for the night.”
Cedric nodded and they went down the road, carefully trying to watch where they were going in the dark with Graham trying to disregard any of the howling wolves he heard.
-(Posted on: December 12, 2012, 10:03:51 PM)
The Swarthy Hog Inn as the sign said, was a tall two story building made of wood with a barn off to one side, and really didn’t look all that imposing to Graham even at this late hour. That didn’t stop Cedric from starting to tremble nervously at the sight of the place. “M-maybe we should find some other p-place to stay, Graham. T-this place gives me the shivers just looking at it.”
“Oh, Cedric, settle down. What’s the worst that could happen?”
Cedric crossed his arms, tilted his head and tapped his foot. “Oh really? ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’” he said in a mocking tone. “Every time we’ve gone to a potentially dangerous place, we’ve gotten into trouble somehow-“
“-And gotten out alive, don’t forget. And we always end up gaining more than losing much of anything.” Graham pointed out. “We’ll be fine, don’t worry.”
Cedric frowned and said, “Okay, Graham. I trust you enough with both our lives if we get into any trouble in here. If we die, I’m blaming you.”
“What, will your ghost haunt me or something?”
It wasn’t as lively as they thought it was going to be. They expected it to have a few guests hanging around, sitting by the fire and swapping tales and drinks together. They expected the innkeeper to welcome them nicely. They expected the inn to be as pleasant and friendly as The Prattling Pony was.
It was anything but. The innkeeper glowered at Graham as he walked past him, as he’d spotted a logbook in the corner. Flipping to a blank page (strangely enough the last entry was dated several years ago by some guy called Tandem the Spoony, but Cedric had heard that this inn had fallen on hard times anyway), they signed respectfully:
‘King’s Log. Dated 1694 A.L. Searching for family captured in the nearby land of Serenia. Enemies abound. The challenges are many. I find resolve in that my cause is just. I shall prevail. End Log.’
‘I, Cedric Archimedes Shannon, Apprentice Wizard to High Wizard Crispinophur, have journeyed from the land of Daventry and back again to help a noble man known as King Graham rescue his family from an evil sorcerer known as Mordack. Please pray that we are successful in our Quest.’
And to top it off, they both signed their names in the logbook with a flourish. Despite his sour look, Graham figured that he should introduce himself to the innkeeper and the two men next to the counter. Cedric went into the dining room to see where the guest rooms were, stepping over the big spotted dog, and he gasped!
There were a bunch of items in the room, from treasure to mundane things strewn about. A bunch of scarves, a set of intricate daggers, a string of pearls, a lute with the symbol of a lyre bird on it (Cedric was reminded of an old friend of his from when he was a boy, his frown deepened as he hoped he was okay), a fine looking sword, a chest filled with coins stamped with the face of the First King… Thieves! We’ve wandered into a den of thieves!
Cedric thought, turning around. I have to tell Graham!
“Da inn is full! We ain’t got no more rooms.” Cedric heard the innkeeper say (at least he thought it was him)
“But, the last entry besides us is-“Graham replied, not believing him for a moment.
we’re full!” The innkeeper growled.
“Oh really? Well, where is everybody then?” Graham insisted. I smell a rat!
“There really is nobody here, Graham. Not for years.” Cedric confirmed, stepping back into the room. He pointed his finger at the innkeeper, “You! All three of you- you’re all thieves! The proof is in the back room- jewelry, foreign gold, clothes that clearly wouldn’t suit you, an instrument belonging to a dear friend of mine -I should report you to the King myself! We all know he wouldn’t approve.”
“These two are troublemakers, aren’t they boss?” one of the goons said with a leer, “And you know what we do with people like you?”
“No, but we’re not going to find out! Cedric, RUN!” Graham quickly shouted, making a break for the door, Cedric at his heels.
They never made it. They were quick, but the thieves were quicker. The innkeeper grabbed and yanked them back inside despite Graham and Cedric struggling in vain.
One of the goons took out a club, and promptly whacking Graham on the skull with it! Graham grunted in pain as his head pounded, but didn’t stop struggling to get away. In fact he punched the goon in the jaw, which only made him madder and so he hit him again. Graham dropped to the floor, but just as soon got up again. Not giving him a chance to fight back, the goon struck again for a third time, knocking him down once more. Graham tried to get to his feet again, but was pummeled twice for his troubles! He collapsed and didn’t rise this time.
Cedric cried out, “GRAHAM!” as he was slammed against the wall by the other goon, who immediately wrapped his hands tightly around his throat.
He gasped for air and tried to push the man off him, but he just pushed back.
He felt lightheaded and his vision blurred.
He felt his heartbeat slow down considerably, and as his eyes became too heavy to keep open, the man finally
let go and he collapsed to the floor. As his world turned black, Cedric’s last thought was, Graham, I blame you.
This took me, how many months to write?! 3, maybe 4 months? Over 10,000 words were written for this chapter, with it clocking at 45 pages, making the longest chapter thus far in this story and the longest thing I’ve ever written in general in Microsoft Word EVER!
Phew…! I’m tired. Heh heh, I’m evil, aren’t I? Cliffhangers are fun! And next time, I get started on something in the story that I’ve wanted to do for months…
But, for now, good night!