(Continued from Volume 3)
"What is your name?" asked a fat Eagle Knight.
"And business!" piped up a thin Eagle Knight.
"And team." remarked a medium-sized Eagle Knight.
Sir Mmfati answered, "I am Sir Mmfati of the Koyal Rnights, I mean the Royal Knights. And I need to talk to your leader."
"Do you have a message for him?" asked the fat Eagle Knight.
"Hurry up, quicken up the answer!" piped up the thin Eagle Knight.
"No, there's no hurry, don't be shy now." remarked the medium-sized Eagle Knight.
"No. More like a summons, an urgent summons."
"Medium, would you be so kind as to check Mmfati for weapons?" asked the fat Eagle Knight.
"Yes, yes, you do that!" piped up the thin Eagle Knight.
"Very well. I hope this won't tickle, sir." remarked the medium-sized Eagle Knight.
As soon as Medium was done, Sir Mmfati was brought into the palace. When he had reached the King's chambers he was stopped by a medium-sized Eagle Knight. "Halt! What is your business with the King?"
"I have an urgent summons for him from the Royal Knights Castle."
"What is the matter with that castle -- has it caught a cold?"
"No! It is besieged by forty pirates! And fifteen of our best knights left on an adventure."
"Well," said the King, "we will send you one score of our best knights, then, to help. Now why don't you just go back to your castle? We'll send one score as soon as possible."
Sir Mmfati reached the Royal Knights castle first, after first encountering a party of Dragon Defenders, who were trying to find their runaway dragon, "Flaming Fire." And another score of Dragon Defenders promised to come and help. Hawkeye also got his friend Hooky to get his friends the Defenders and the Anti-Crimers to come along as well.The Red Avenger and his droid Isk happened to come along too. Hawkeye also brought his friends Griffineye and the Red Dragon Wizard. And Griffineye got his band of Dragon Knights -- with the permission of his Royal Dragon Lord -- to come along.
Five Royal Knights hurled themselves at the drawbridge, but were felled by a rain of arrows. King Arthur called the rest of the five Royal Knights to him that weren't off at Cameandlost or in the Royal Knights dungeon: Lancelot, Swordalot, Manhorseback, Nkighty, Cordalle. "My friends, our last hope is to wait for our friend Mmfati to return here with he..."
"Hail, Arthur!" cried the voice of Mmfati, "Help should be here any minute now."
Meanwhile, inside the Royal Knights castle, the pirates had discovered the dining room. "Heh heh!" giggled Doublewit. "Look, me fellows, they've been having a feast with a cake as big as me!"
After a while of eating, Cathy, pretending to be full, went off to the cellar and freed the imprisoned Royal Knights. Then Cathy crept up the stairs, past the dining table, and into the room where the pirates kept the costumes from their pirate campaigns. Cathy found enough stone-colored outfits for her and the rest of the Royal Knights, and using them as cover crept down towards the cellar. Suddenly the stone-garbed knights flew out of the cellar and into the half-drunk pirates. As soon as Doublewit and his second-in-command, Halfwit, and his third-in-command, Nowit, had figured out what was going on, they ran into the costume room and got the rest of the stone-colored outfits for the pirates to wear. For a while it was stone versus stone. And when the battle was over, only Doublewit was left conscious. He kicked the Royal Knights, including Cathy, into the dungeon. Then he took a barrel of water from the cellar and poured it all on the pirates.
When the pirates were done with their feast (after waking up), they put all the wine and beer and liquor and alcohol and vinegar oil and that kind of thing down in the cellar. But one of the pirates accidentally dropped a bottle of vinegar oil. And the bottle broke open. Now: the grease in this vinegar oil went on the hinges of the dungeon door and got them very loose. And then Doublewit, Halfwit and Nowit sent Two-Legs, One-Leg and Hook up to the battlements to send a rain of arrows down on the remaining Royal Knights. As soon as the Royal Knights saw the archers coming up on the battlements, they shielded themselves with their own shields (their helmets helped).
After Trickster and his small group dropped off the escaped prisoners, Trickster and the rest joined Majisto and the rest of the fifteen. Majisto said, "Friends, I think we should go home now." And with a wave of his magic wand, that's where they were.
*Pant*, *Pant* "Hurry up, Isk! We've been called on an urgent mission."
"SHRASHEROO!!!" A torpedo skimmed in front of the Red Avenger. The Red Avenger did a quick turn and saw the Black Destroyer aiming for another shot. "I've got no time for you!" yelled the Red Avenger. He skied up the Black Destroyer's horse and whacked the Black Destroyer such a blow with his power staff that the Destroyer went flying into a nearby hill. A spread shot of laser beams went flying around the Red Avenger. And the Red Avenger gave the ground a quick whack with his power staff. A small crevice crept along the ground from the power staff, and knocked the Blue Destroyer (the cause of the laser beams) off his feet. While the Blue Destroyer was recovering, the Red Avenger turned his skis up to half the speed of sound to get away. (See the Red Avenger and his droid Isk in their own adventure, coming soon.)
"Where's Robin Hooda?"
"Up here, Royal Crusade!" called a voice from the trees, "It's faster and prettier up here for a Forester."
"Well," said Shark-Killer Sea, "we're nearly at the end of the forest, so I think you'd better come down now."
Flamesader said, "I can just see the Royal Knights Castle."
The Black Knight and his horse walked out of a tree and said, "So you're finally here. Well, now that it's flatlands I suppose that we're all marching together."
"Hup two three four, hup two three four" joked Shark-Killer Sea.
Wearily the tired Dragon Defenders marched along through the swamp, a place that knights who were partly half-flame do not like (I mean, isn't a swamp filled with water?).
"Say, aren't we missing someone?" asked Griffineye, to no one in particular.
"Oh he'll be along if someone would light a flame," said the Royal Dragon Lord. Mr. Horn obliged. And out of his flame came Hula Flame, the Dragon Defender who is seven-eighths flame.
"Where were you?" questioned one of the soldiers. "Yes, where were you?" echoed Captain Burnnose.
"Oh, I was visiting my friend the fire elemental, in the middle of the earth."
"You know," said the Dragon's Trickster (the Dragon's Trickster and the Royal Knights Trickster are twins -- from here on we'll refer to them as D. Trickster and R. Trickster), "if we published all these adventures we've had, into books, I think we could get a lot of good money for them. We could call them 'The Adventures of the Dragon Defenders.'"
"Honestly!" said the other soldier, "Do you honestly think anyone could understand our adventures? Anyway, I don't think we remember all of them."
"Stand back," cautioned the Royal Dragon Lord, "I'm about to teleport to the Royal Knights to let them know we're almost there. It's only a few miles away." And with a brilliant flash of light and flame he was gone.
The Anti-Crimers, I believe, were making faster progress than the other groups, but then, they were farther away. Now then ... hold on ... what's this I hear? One of the Anti-Crimers is talking. It sounds like ... "Ship-Legs 3?"
"What is it, Skeleton Droid?"
"I was just wondering if we will make it in time."
"Of course we will -- don't you think so, Crystal?"
"Oh sure. Hey, where are you going, Ship-Legs 3?"
"I'm going to try to find Harpoonskee -- he's skied out of eyeshot." And with a blast of his engines, he was gone too.
"Really, Sir Mmfati?"
"Have no fear, the Red Avenger and Isk are here!"
"Chrleeerrrearlerrre," chirped Isk, meaning "My name stands for 'Intelligent Sidekick.'"
"So you're he..."
"Hi ho, hi ho, we're the Defenders I hope you know!"
"How many more are com..."
"Onward, Jordan, Jack, James, Jim, Mike and Einstein." called Hooky, as he led his young band of knights onto the scene.
Cordalle asked, "So you're helpin..."
"Pheet! Down, my eagle; the Royal Knights Castle is right there." This time it was Hawkeye and the Eagles.
Swordalot mused, "How many mo..."
"Don't worry; we will help you defend!" called out the Defenders.
"Attack, too!" called out the Anti-Crimers.
King Arthur started, "Two at one..."
"Dragon, dragon in the fire, Protect the castle to every spire." was heard, as both groups of dragons marched onto the scene.
D. Trickster said, "Lots of people here! I wonder if there are any mo..."
There was a flash, and R. Trickster, Majisto, and their group returned from their exploit at Cameandlost. "What are all those people doing here?" asked Majisto.
"You see, there's a sie..." started Swordalot.
There was a brilliant shower of sparks, like a daytime firework, and the Red Dragon Wizard stood there to make the party complete. And she, out of the huge group, didn't say anything.
"Attack!" called Cathy and the rest of the Royal Knights inside the castle (they had finally worked the loose dungeon door open). Pirates streamed down the cellar stairs. They halted for a brief moment -- their fatal mistake. Outside, the Dragon Defenders worked to burn a hole through the ground and through the cellar wall, while Hawkeye and the Eagles held off the pirate archers.
But anyway, back to that fatal mistake! Because of it, the pirates gave Cathy the chance to kick the pirate in front (Half-wit) into the next in line (No-wit), knocking No-wit out, and giving Half-wit a very large bump on his nose. Half-wit stumbled and was knocked over by the rest of the pirates, by now led by Double-wit and his fourth-in-command, Negative-wit. Sir Berrafon (one of the knights with Cathy) quickly knocked out Lefty (a pirate with only his left arm, who does almost everything wrong) with a kick in the stomach, but quickly received the same treatment from Righty -- Lefty's brother, with only his right arm, who does almost everything right.
Cathy, enraged, knocked Righty's dagger out of his right hand (it couldn't have been his left hand -- he's only got his right), and quickly gave him a smarting smack in the face. Righty stumbled also, and was tripped over by Berrafor, Berrafon's brother. Negative-wit kicked Sir Berrafor, but received a quick whack on the side from Cathy. For a split-second she left her rear unguarded. That split-second was all the time Double-wit needed to whack her on the head with his club, but as she fell she kicked Double-wit between the legs. He jumped back in pain, and got the pommel of a dagger thrown in his face by Berrafot (Berrafor and Berrafon's brother, but I assure you, there are only those three -- I'm not going to say names like Berrafoz or Berrafod, but you get the idea).
After a while of fighting, Cathy's knights had thrown all the pirates (except for Double-wit, who escaped to warn the rest of his troops) into the dungeon, and securely locked it. Just then, the cellar wall broke open and R. Trickster, King Arthur and Majisto, leading all the rest of the rescuing party (except for the Eagles, Hooky and Hooky's knights) marched in. "We thought you would need rescuing," Arthur said, "but it seems you've rescued yourselves very well."
"Yes," said Sir Alfston, trying to ignore the Berrafo* brothers trying to wake up Cathy, "thanks to the clumsiness of the pirates."
"That's it, Hawkeye," called Hooky, climbing a rope they had stationed along the wall. "You only have to fire a little more -- we're almost at the top."
"Good," replied Hawkeye, "I'm almost out of arrows, and my arrow suppliers keep getting shot by those pirate archers. Do me a favor and dump them in the moat, won't you?"
Hooky stifled a giggle: even though he was the leader of a small group of well-trained knights, he still was only fourteen. (And anyone reading this may well think of him as a smart teenage commander.) Mike reached the top of the wall first, and tripped a pirate archer into the moat. As soon as Mike had tripped another, Hooky came up on the other rope and dunked the last one. (After the battle, he told Mike, "He needed it anyway -- he smelled like he hadn't taken a bath in years.") Einstein and Jordan were next up the ropes, and the four of them waited for the rest.
As Einstein sat down and looked out upon the grassy plain surrounding the castle, he asked, "What's that?" pointing to a faint red dot on the grass, gradually growing bigger.
"I don't know -- I guess it's something red that's coming towards us. Or at least it's so red that at this distance it looks completely red. Einstein -- you're so smart -- if it stays on that route, when do you think it will reach here?"
"I don't know," said Einstein. "By the looks of it, I would think it should be here in four days. But I'm not sure." By this time, Jack and James had gotten up, and were only waiting for Jim. The red dot was growing steadily bigger. "To tell the truth," said Einstein, "it might be here in two or three days."
Then Jim came up, and called out to Hawkeye. "All clear! You and your Eagles can go in the cellar too. We'll go as planned."
"The Eagles, yes!" called back Hawkeye, "but I'm coming with you."
"OK, we'll wait," called Mike.
Hawkeye was heavier than the young knights, so he had a few problems: first of all, he started climbing on the weaker rope, so one eighth of the way there, the rope snapped and he fell in the moat. As soon as he had gotten out, you could hear giggling among the young knights. His other problem was that at one point the wind blew especially hard and he was blown into the wall. It took him a few minutes to recover, but from then on he had no problems (except for occasionally losing his foothold, but he always regained that). When he was finally up, they had to wait a little longer for Hawkeye to regain his breath. (He was up to much stronger ropes where he could go faster -- the small rope made him have to go slower and use more energy.)
Cathy asked King Arthur, "Are you sure this is right? I'm not sure there's enough room in our castle to do our fight without wrecking it completely."
"You're right," said Arthur. "You see, the plan is: as soon as they see us, we dart back and try to make them chase us. Hopefully they follow us through the tunnel we dug to the cellar, and outside. There the place will be more open, and we won't risk as much damaging the castle. If the plan goes correctly, Hooky and his band will take the pirates in the rear, 'helping' them out."
The plan worked, and soon it was a giant battleground outside the castle. It was like a hand of freedom fighters had hit a bees' nest of pirates, and now the bees were coming out to sting the hand. A pirate leaped at Ship-Legs 3, only to collide with an invisible force created by the Red Dragon Wizard. "Buenas Noches, Señors!" called out R. Trickster and D. Trickster in unison, letting loose a fly of drugged arrows (sleep-drug, not poison-drug).
The Red Avenger did something with his power staff, and a score of pirates went floating up in a red bubble, screaming for help. A certain pirate in that bubble, by the name of Samson, called out, "Help! Let me down!" The Red Avenger did something else with his power staff, and the pirate Samson fell straight out of the bubble onto Double-wit's head, concluding with a knocked-out Samson and a Double-wit captain with a huge headache. Intelligent Sidekick (Isk, if you recall) was like a whirlwind -- any pirate that came near him was whacked by his miniature power staff. If the pirate wasn't knocked unconscious, it lay on the ground asking if anyone got the license plate of that chariot.
Hooky, Mike, Jim, Jack, Jordan, James and Einstein formed a battle position called the "circle" (all in a circle, shields and swords out, although in this case they didn't have shields). Any pirate that came near them was knocked to the ground. The Red Dragon Wizard, who was in the center of the circle, would then use her magic to strip the pirate of his weapons and leave him naked. Usually those pirates were so embarrassed that they left the field; when they weren't, they were knocked out.
Hooky then gave a quick flick of his arm and threw his hook, with fast and strong speed. It went side-first into the face of Double-wit, knocking him into the kick of Sir Berrafor, which propelled him into the whirling power staff of Isk, leaving Double-wit on the ground, asking if anyone saw who created that avalanche (still with that huge headache that Samson gave him). The hook then bounced into the face of a pirate called Blackbeard, knocking him out. The hook then bounced straight back into Hooky's hand, whereupon he thrust it into the tiny scabbard built into his armor.
The 33 Dragon Defenders were having a firey blast. Using the steam from their fire, they were propelling countless pirates into the air, where they were pecked by the Eagles' eagles.
Half-wit, No-wit, Negative-wit, Lefty, Righty, Bluebeard and Redbeard, Second-captain For, Samson (now recovered), Double-wit (with a huge lump on his head), Barnacle, Archer-arrow, Blood Sea and Vest sneaked out of the fighting to make a plan. Soon they were joined by Black Bart and the one-eared hooded pirate One-ear. Finally they agreed on a plan: to attack the source of the battle -- King Arthur himself. The only problem with their plan was that when Hooky spotted them making for the king, he called the Freedom Fighters (himself, Jordan, Jack, James, Jim, Mike and Einstein) to protect the king against the group of pirates.
By this time it was nighttime, so everyone had a little more trouble seeing things, but they managed OK. They knocked out Half-wit, No-wit, Negative-wit, Lefty, Bluebeard, Second-captain For, Samson, Barnacle, Archer-arrow, Blood Sea, Vest and Black Bart. Redbeard knocked down Jordan and Jim, but was quickly knocked out in revenge by Mike. Righty, Hooky, Mike and Einstein then engaged in a fierce swordfight. Mike did a quick uppercut and splintered Righty's sword. Righty halted for a second, and Hooky punched him in the stomach. But as he fell, he managed to kick Jack.
All the rest then emerged in a fierce combat, a miniature one of the one that was next to them. When it was done, only One-ear was standing, and the rest of the pirates were seeing stars. The freedom fighters had lost themselves somewhere in the big battle. Nkighty launched himself out of the big battle straight at One-ear, calling "One for all!" One-ear did a quick side-step and threw back his hood. Nkighty gasped in surprise -- standing before him was Knighty, the one who had had his ear cut off, thanks to the little monkey who was armed to the teeth with bananas (see Royal Knights volume 3). Nkighty fainted.
Knighty smiled and looked out upon the horizon. There, in the light of dawn, was that distant red dot, growing steadily bigger and not so distant any more. He deposited Nkighty under the shade of a palm tree and pulled his hood back up.
The Eagles weren't exactly idle either: on the contrary, all 20 of them were busy charging groups of pirates into the moat. It was the only way they could go, seeing as they were enclosed by Eagle Knights on all sides except for backwards -- the way to the moat. When the Eagles had done with that, they had pushed 120 pirates into the moat. By this time the moat was overflooding with all the pirates inside it.
The Red Dragon Wizard was in a perilous position. Here she was, a small wizard in the vast expanses of Legoland, fighting (with some help) 1,950 pirates. Of course, some of that number had been defeated, but still, it was a problem. So preoccupied she was in her own thoughts that she failed to notice until just now that a score of pirate archers had crept up around her. Suddenly she heard the bows being drawn, and instinctively drew up a magic shield. The arrows touched the shield and melted to pieces. The Red Dragon Wizard created a stone giant and teleported to another place in the battle. The stone giant extended 20 arms and whacked each of the pirates on the head, and then vanished.
Bet you thought we forgot about the Defenders and the Anti-Crimers. Well, we didn't. Skeleton-Droid was up in a tree firing harpoons down at the surrounding pirates. Ship-Legs 3 was flying straight into every pirate in sight. Crystal was whacking pirates with her long crystal sword straight into the moat. King Arthur remarked to her, "If many more pirates fall into that moat there won't be any room for the water."
Goldeneyes was firing gold pieces out of his bow straight into the pirates (you can imagine that that hurt -- gold is hard, but soft for a metal). The Black Knight was phasing through pirates but leaving his spear solid. But he phased his spear, too, as soon as it had whacked the pirates in the face. Flamesader was flaming big holes in the ground while Royal Crusade's horse was butting pirates into the holes. Shark-Killer Sea was doing the same thing as Crystal, except not into the moat. Foresta drew the club diamond out of her cloak and let its beautiful radiance blind the eyes of the pirates, while at the same time whacking pirates behind her with one of her two axes.
Flamesader took a rest from making holes and sat down. "Guess what?" he complained. "It's night again." Cathy was in the middle of a huge group of pirates, kicking and punching right and left. One-ear (aka Knighty) was nowhere to be found. He seemed to have vanished. Ship-Legs 3 swooped up into the air and down again straight onto the head of Double-wit, who had just woken up. This, though, put him right back to sleep. Hooky hit two pirates on the head with his hook, and kicked another square between the legs.
Hula Flame telepathed to every Royal Knight and everyone fighting for the Royal Knights to stand back unless they had magic. This ended up with everyone backing up except for Hula Flame, the Royal Dragon Lord, the Red Dragon Wizard, Crystal and Majisto. The other people with magic (if there were any) weren't needed right then. Majisto, Crystal, the Red Dragon Wizard, the Royal Dragon Lord, and Hula Flame combined their magic to create a powerful spell. The ground underneath the pirates rolled up into a ball and deposited the pirates on a far-away island somewhere in the ocean.
And that was the end of that.
"Come!" said King Arthur to the Dragon Defenders, Eagles, Freedom Fighters, Defenders, Anti-Crimers, the Red Avenger and Isk. "Join us in a victory feast."
Isk said, "I'll take a glass of oil with mine."
Skeleton-Droid said, "I can't eat, and I'm not hungry."
The rest agreed, except for the Eagles and the Dragon Defenders, who had castles to guard. And the Freedom Fighters could only stay a little while longer.
"Look!" said Einstein, "I'm beginning to be able to see details on that red dot. It's not completely red, but it is a lot. Sir Seealot? Can you make out what that is?"
"I 'sir' can," joked Sir Seealot. "It's a giant red chariot. It's got four chestnut horses pulling it, each beautifully draped in red cloaks. The driver has a red beard, some blood-stained armor, and some reddish pants. He seems to like horses, for he has no whip. There are other knights on the chariot who look remarkably like the driver, but I cannot see who's inside."
"Thank you Sir Seealot," said Hooky.
"Wake up, Nkighty!" said Sir Cordalle, "We're going to have a feast."
"I can wake him." said a hooded figure stepping out of the bushes.
"Who are you?" cried Spear-Magic.
The hooded one threw off his hood. "I'm Sir Knighty." (The one who was knocked over by Ocean-Explorer Sea's sea ship.)
The Royal Knights who had went to Cameandlost each said, "I thought you were dead."
"No, I've just got a cut-off ear," said Knighty, showing the place where his ear had been. He bent down to Nkighty and whispered something in his ear. Nkighty jumped up, looked around him, and threw himself into Knighty's arms.
"What did you say to him?" asked the Berrafo* brothers.
"I told him to man the battle stations."
"And what, pray, does that mean?" asked King Arthur, as patiently as he could.
"No idea, but it seems to be the only thing that can wake him up when he faints this hard, or when he's had a very long sleep and needs to be woken up urgently. Anyway,. it can wake him up."
"Well anyway," said Sir Alston and Sir Cordalle, "who should make the feast this time?"
Every arm, robot hand, or anything serving for a hand, in the entire company, went up with a chorus of "I will!"s that must have echoed a hundred miles away.
"OK," said King Arthur, "the Berrafo* brothers, Alston, Cordalle, Cathy, the cook and I will make the grand cake. We'll tell someone if we need any help. Knighty, Nighty and Nkighty -- you go to the village and buy some provisions for us. Here's a list to show you what we need. The three *ightys quickly counted up the price and ran to the treasury. The other knights split into groups, had quick whispered discussions, and went off laughing.
King Arthur went into the great dining hall and called, "Is everyone ready?" Suddenly the castle rang with the word "yes." King Arthur rang the bell so hard that the castle vibrated from the sound. The knights came into the room vibrating and holding their ears.
"Not quite so loud!" pleaded Cathy.
King Arthur laughed. "OK, I'm sorry. I'm sure the matter had you all shook up." Everyone did their best to find a seat. Finally everyone was seated in some way or another, and King Arthur stood up again and said, "First we will sample what Lancelot and Swordalot and their group has turned out." Swordalot went over to one of the walls, hit the wall, and a panel of the stone swung open. Lancelot came over, reached into the hole, and withdrew from the hole an ... apple!
"What?!?!?" cried the knights. Lancelot stuck both his hands in, and pulled out this time ... a pear and a plum. "Huh?" said the knights, looking at eachother. Lancelot, by now looking very odd, put the apple, pear and plum back in, and started to take something else out. This time it was met with a cry of admiration, for he had brought out a large plate. In the center was a circle of apples, in the middle of it was a circle of peaches, in the middle of it a circle of plums, in the middle of it a circle of pears, and in the middle of all of that an assortment of different fruits. Set around the apples were beautifully-cut strawberry slices, with grapes set among the fruit. Set in between the grapes, however, were oranges covered in strawberry juice. All the knights that it was a surprise for stood up and clapped. The knights that had helped Lancelot and Swordalot make it went up by Lancelot and Swordalot, and the group bowed, still holding the gorgeous meal. They set it on the table and after only a little while it was gone.
Many other delightful dishes followed, indeed so many that we can only take tell of a few of them. There was a chicken stuffed with apples and plums, all cut up. A small cake iced with the word "Victory" in red and pink icing. And half a dozen pies with the letters "R", "O", "Y", "A", "L", and "K". Each pie had the letters in vanilla icing with pieces of sliced-up carrots edging around the icing. And finally, King Arthur stood up and cried, "And now for the grand cake!" Nighty and Nkighty giggled but Knighty, who seemed much more self-possessed since he came back, merely looked modest and bowed.
King Arthur successfully climbed onto the table, reached into a slight hole in the roof, and pulled back a little lever on the side of the hole. Suddenly something covered in wrapping, that had looked like part of the roof, came falling down onto the table. No wonder it had looked like part of the roof -- its bottom was carefully made to look like the stones of the roof. Cathy withdrew the wrapping to show ... a pitcher! This time all the knights who had helped make the cake laughed, including Knighty. King Arthur handed every knight a glass, and poured the drink in the pitcher into the glasses. All the knights drank except for King Arthur and the three *ightys. All the knights who had drank of the liquid, however, closed their eyes and dropped off to sleep.
When they awoke, King Arthur and the three *ightys were still sitting at the table. Indeed, they seemed to have not moved at all. But sitting on the big plate, instead of a pitcher was a huge cake with eighteen layers, very pink. It was laced with lemon icing in a crosswork pattern. Each layer was smaller than the one underneath it, so they formed a round pyramid. The tops of each layer had stripes of vanilla icing on them, but the top of the top layer was decked with strawberry icing. Inside the cake was what the knights would have thought only in their dreams: indeed, words cannot tell what the knights found inside the cake. Soon the cake was but a few crumbs. "And finally," said King Arthur, "the dessert!" All the knights at the table groaned, and some collapsed off their chairs. "OK," said King Arthur, "we'll save it for tomorrow. I think we are all very full." And so saying, all the knights staggered off to their beds.
Now, Sir Airedanis, who loved fresh air, went to his little home on the top of the castle, completely open to fresh air, with no roof at all. But just before he went to sleep, he noticed something extremely odd: a giant boulder was lying on the roof of the castle. Sir Airedanis blinked and looked up. Suddenly another boulder came flying down at the castle. Luckily Sir Airedanis was not in the path of destruction. Airedanis stumbled down the stairs, heavy from eating so much, and pulled the first bell he came to. Lancelot and Swordalot came staggering up and asked weakly, "What is it?"
Sir Airedanis replied, "Go up onto the roof and you'll see,"and he collapsed on the floor. Lancelot and Swordalot walked slowly up, and came down much faster.
"Who's messing with catapults!?!?!" Lancelot shouted. Sir Airedanis didn't answer. He had fallen asleep where he had fallen.
"Alert the household," groaned Swordalot, and then he collapsed too.
Lancelot called as loud as he could, "Wake up everybody!" and then he collapsed.
Cathy groaned as she was woken up. "What's the alarm?" she asked, and then hearing no answer, went to see for herself. She managed to get up onto the turret, and saw the flying rocks. She also saw the catapults that threw them. Suddenly the red dot attacked the catapults. There seemed to be fighting going on, and when it was over, no more rocks were coming. Cathy groaned with relief, and went to sleep again.
In the morning Manhorseback and Cordalle, the guards for that day, saw a red knight approach on a chestnut horse. "The Red King shall arrive shortly, and brings you greetings," said the red knight, and then rode back to the red dot.
Sir Seealot, who had been on the quest to Cameandlost, and who had also heard, mused, "The Red King ... could it be ..."
In the afternoon of that day, the red chariot that Sir Seealot had seen arrived. The red knights slowly pushed away the cover of the chariot, and there sat the Red King (give yourself a prize if you can remember when he disappeared). There was great rejoicing over him coming back. King Arthur suggested a feast, but was returned by a chorus of groans. Seeing as none of the other knights had any interest in eating, King Arthur gave the Red King the dessert -- a strawberry cake with blueberry icing that was two feet tall. Soon the red knights and the Red King were groaning too.
Two days later, King Arthur rode on a long trip with an escort -- Knighty, Lancelot, Swordalot and Manhorseback -- to the Wild West. There he met a young lady named Lana Beth. They fell in love, and a year later returned to the Royal Knights castle -- King Arthur and Queen Lana Beth. They had many children: a girl who they named Beatrice, and three boys, who they named Argamoth, Ugboten and Preboten. These four children were a delight to the Royal Knights, and a party was given, but this time everyone made sure not to eat more than they could stomach.
Another year passed, and suddenly the pirates attacked. There was a very long battle, and in the end the pirates were beaten back, but had stolen Beatrice. Cathy had managed to slip along to protect Beatrice, and the Royal Knights had to call in jesters from all places in the world to cheer up Lana Beth.
At last, King Arthur, covered with remorse, took a ride in the countryside to spill his sorrow. He took with him Sir Indiana, Sir Goldensword, and the two older sons Ugboten and Preboten. They said they would be back the day after, but did not come back.
Years passed; Argamoth grew up, and the five still did not come back. At last they gave up hope of the five returning, and crowned Argamoth king. But there was no celebration over the crowning, for they all knew what it meant.
For many a year Argamoth ruled them, with no attacks and no other mishaps. At last Argamoth paid a visit to the Dragons, and asked to borrow one of their Sea Serpents (a kind of boat they had). He, the three *ightys, and Cordalle, then sailed to the pirate country, held by the vow that he would try to find his family. They were dressed in some pirate costumes left behind in some giant attack of the pirates.
They soon learned that there was some captive named Beatrice held in the darkest cell in their dungeons, supposed to be held there until she gave them battle information. King Argamoth and his followers stormed the dungeons, found Beatrice, broke the door, and then the whole bunch of them (including Cathy, who had somehow found them) started the long journey home. But instead of going straight home, Argamoth, still held by his vow, went on a long detour that took a year, looking for the missing five who had been dubbed "the lost army."
Finally they gave up looking for the lost army and returned to the Royal Knights castle, where they found a whole new set of Royal Knights.
On November 26 the King gave thanks to the memory of his father the king, for bringing him to the world. But on this November 26th, he went out onto a balcony of the castle and called out to all of the knights underneath, "I know too little about you, my Royal Knights! I summon you all to line up in the hallway to my throne room! Drop everything! If you see any other Royal Knights, tell them, too!"
Cordalle dropped the table he and Knighty were carrying on Knighty's foot, and ran off. Knighty limped inside, rang the first bell he saw, and when the other two *ightys ran up, he told them the King's proclamation and limped off as fast as he could.
Soon King Argamoth was sitting in his throne room waiting for the knights to arrive. He glanced around the room. By now every part of it was familiar to him. The ruby-studded pillars, the silk-embroidered drapes over the stained-glass windows with the Royal Knights emblem in them. He was also familiar with the rug, which had been designed by a master seamstress into a map of his kingdom and the neighboring kingdoms. Indeed, almost every time Argamoth wanted to go somewhere he consulted his rug for the way. The rug was a very good listener but didn't say much. At last the diamond doors opened, and an old knight with a white beard stepped in.
"Why Trickster, is it really you?" cried Argamoth.
"Aye," he said, "Still alive and fighting, though not in my prime."
"I must say, it's nice to see you again."
"Aye, and it's nice to see you, young fellow."
"Well, I'd love to chat, but I'm sure that there are other knights waiting. I'll try to find another time to talk, though."
Indeed, even as Trickster left, an archer walked in. "Who are you?" asked Argamoth
"Well, I am Barhead, and I was held four years in prison in the Fright Knights' Traitor Transport because I wasn't scared by them."
"The things they arrest people for nowadays!"
"Yes, if this keeps up people will be arrested for being alive."
"Or worse. Well, goodbye Barhead."
Two more knights walked in, with a sword and a cutlass. "Hail and enter," said Argamoth, "Who might you be?"
"Well, he's Sky ..."
"And he's Walker."
"How do you do, Sky and Walker?"
"Fine," said Sky. "Likewise," said Walker, "except for my helmet's nosepiece keeps getting in my eyes."
"Well," said Argamoth musingly, "you might go to the blacksmith and have it fixed."
"That's a wonderful idea," said Walker, "I'll go right away."
"I'll go with him," said Sky, "I've got an itch in my boot."
"Dismissed, then," said Argamoth. They both ran away. Walker tripped over a silver candlestick, adjusted his helmet, and followed Sky out.
Almost immediately a streak of red and black ran into the room, bounced off the ceiling, and Cathy landed in front of him. "Well, Cathy," remarked Argamoth, "you may have been in service for a long time, but you're still as lively as ever."
"Yes," said Cathy, and doing cartwheels lit a golden chandelier.
Suddenly a stablehand poked his head in. "Excuse me, your highness, but is it OK if knights bring horses in?"
"Tell them no," said Argamoth. "Horses are nice, but they're not the kind of thing one likes to find in his throne room." As the stablehand left, Cathy waved goodbye and followed.
Two more knights came in -- Redhead and Transparentine. They exchanged formal greetings with the King and then left. The two knights that call themselves the Blue Knights came in, and gave the King a long, lively story about why they were called Blue Knights. To make a long story short, they both wore blue armor, and one of their ancestors was called Olaf the Blue and was rumored to have discovered North America.
After they left, the Captain and the General of the Royal Knights walked in. The Captain spent most of the time studying a scroll of battle tactics, but the General told Argamoth a long story about a battle campaign he had been in once, but Argamoth fell asleep during the middle of it. The captain woke him up when they were going, and Argamoth waited for the next one or two or maybe more.
Next a knight with two axes came in. It was rumored that he had elf blood, but all he said about the rumor was that he remembered a girl who felt like ice. But all that did was make people even more confused. He performed a juggling act for Argamoth and then left.
Last but not least came a knight with a spear that was very tiny. He said that he was the trainer of recruits and he used it against practice swords.
After the long list of Royal Knights, Argamoth fell asleep and dreamed of the lost army coming home at last.
For one year and one day, one hour, one minute and one second, the Royal Knights lived in peace and prosperity. But, when that one year, one day, one hour, one minute, one second was over, it started raining. It rained a week. And when it stopped, the land was flooded. The Royal Knights could not go out the gate because the water reached the top of it. They had no boats and could not make any, because the wood shop had been next to the castle and was now covered in water. They had to ration themselves, because no food could be brought to the castle.
At last a dragon's fleet of sea serpents arrived, bringing sacks and tankards of food for the stranded knights. Cathy once set up a diving board on the top of the wall, for something to do. She also set up a ladder for when she wanted to go back up. But when she dived in, the water was so icy cold she quickly climbed out again.
One day when the flood had still not gone down, it didn't seem natural, the knights were beginning to wonder. One of the walls gave a tremendous shake. Sky and Walker, who were on guard duty at that wall, arrived just in time to see a cannonball falling off the wall, and a pirate ship in the distance. They rang the bell for Nighty and Nkighty, and dashed off to warn the King.
Argamoth, very much alarmed, called Barhead to the wall. He found all the good bows in the armory, and distributed them among the knights. "For," he said, "I presume we will need arrows sooner than swords."
Cathy had a brainstorm and raced down to the cellars, where she had once been imprisoned, bringing Sky and Barhead along. She poured all the wine in the giant barrels into a bunch of small barrels, and then lashed six of the giant barrels together with some cord. She chopped a large tall part out of another giant barrel and managed to stick it into one of the giant barrels strung together. She rummaged around through the castle until she found canvas, then hooked it onto the tall piece of wood hooked into the giant barrels.
She took it up to the top of the wall, and somehow managed to lower it down into the water. She then jumped down herself on the cord lashing the barrels together, and the cord was so springy she landed with no harm. Then she remembered something -- she had nothing to propel the vessel along besides wind, and wind can give out. So she climbed up to the castle and cut two more long sticks from the already-cut-up giant barrel. And this being done, she paddled away hoping for some lucky break.
Another cannonball shook the wall. Arrows flew in reply, but none got far enough to even hit the figurehead of the ship. The Royal Knights were defenseless, and there seemed to be nothing they could do about it.
Cathy paddled along, getting closer to the ship by every stroke. At last the wind came, and drove her craft the last seven feet. She jumped onto the side of the pirate boat. When a pirate came to investigate the noise, he got a clunk on the head from Cathy's spear. She took his clothes and put them on, and then went into the crowd in the ship, hoping she would be able to do something to stop the cannon.
While all the other pirates were arguing about how many apples they had left in their barrel, Cathy cut the things that held the cannon to the ship, and after a lot of shoving, heaved the cannon into the sea (well, flood). But the pirates heard the splash and quickly turned around. Cathy quickly picked up a barrel of apples on the side of the ship she was on, and quickly heaved the entire contents of it onto the mass of pirates. While they were cursing and falling and slipping and hitting one another with their cutlasses, Cathy cut the mast down, being very careful that it landed on the pirates. A pirate finally managed to get out of the confusion and throw his cutlass at her. Cathy ducked and the cutlass flew into the steering wheel.
Cathy decided that the steering wheel wasn't too useful with a cutlass in it, so she hid behind the now-empty barrel, cutting the steering wheel off. When she was done, the barrel was riddled with arrow holes. While the pirates were still shouting curses and working on destroying the barrel, Cathy calmly cut the figurehead off and threw it at them. One pirate was eating one of the apples, but then he was hit in the legs by the figurehead. The apple flew into the air and into the mouth of the captain, who was just about to shout a curse. Cathy thought, "Hmm, now all he needs is some paper in the ears, he already has an apple."
The pirates were now too busy to attack. The captain was trying to get the apple out of his mouth, and the other pirates were shouting curses and arguing over who had thrown the apple into the captain's mouth. Then the sky turned black.
"Will the emergency council of the R.K.U.S. (Royal Knights Under Siege) please come to order?" shouted Argamoth. The room turned quiet.
"Are we all here?" asked Trickster.
"All except Cathy and the Lookouts," replied Barhead.
"Who is on lookout?" inquired the general.
"Sky and Walker," replied the Blue Knights.
"Walker!" cried Argamoth, "Barhead, please go relieve Walker -- he's terrible at being a lookout." A little while later Barhead was gone, and Walker was coming -- well, falling -- down the stairs. "See?" Argamoth whispered to Trickster, "He's such a bad lookout, he can't even look out for himself."
"Sir!" said Walker, "Cathy has drowned the cannon!"
"Drowned the cannon?!?!" shouted Transparentine, "What do you mean by that, man?"
"She pushed it into the sea, well, flood."
"That is good news," said Argamoth, "Now sit down and let us discuss the emergency. Trickster, you speak first."
"One problem," said Trickster, "is their number. Can Cathy, one of the other oldest knights here, fight them all and come out on top?"
This aroused quite a clamor, until Argamoth shouted "Order!"
Then a cry came from Sky, on the wall. "Cathy has cut down the mast!"
"I believe she can," said Argamoth. "Now another thing -- why is the flood not seeming to go down nor up? We haven't had any rain since this flood reached this height -- why has the flood not gone down?"
Another clamor arose, but this one was stilled when the Air Elemental formed from the air around them and the Earth Elemental formed from the moss on the stones. Trickster, regaining his wits before anyone else could tell what was going on, lit a fire, and the Fire Elemental appeared. "This had better be important," said the Fire Elemental, "I was having a chat with Hula Flame in the middle of the Sun."
"I believe it is important," said the Air Elemental.
"What is going on?" asked Argamoth, much confused.
"The Water Elemental," said the Earth Elemental, "told us that there was an unusually large ..."
"Some understatement," muttered Walker.
The Captain gave him a fiery look and said, "Go on."
"... amount of water," continued the Earth Elemental, "here, where there should not be so much."
"I believe," said the Air Elemental, "that Atlantis is the only sunken civilization that we should have in this world."
"So," said the Earth Elemental, "we have come to help you."
Transparentine asked, "Where's the Water Elemental?"
The Air Elemental said, "Outside, trying to find a way in."
"I told you we should have had indoor plumbing," said Argamoth.
A cry from the wall interrupted them: "The pirate ship's steering wheel and the figurehead are gone!"
Walker asked, "How can an Earth Elemental help us in this watery problem of ours?"
The Earth Elemental said, "I may be able to make a hole in the ground to drain the water, and seal it up again."
Trickster asked, "Would the pirate ship, along with Cathy, get sucked in too?"
"Good point," said the Earth Elemental, "any other plans?"
The Air Elemental said, "The Water Elemental and I might be able to form cloud writing in the sky, telling Cathy to get clear of the water."
"Aww, that's no fun," said the Fire Elemental, "maybe I can boil the water into water vapor?"
"What would happen to Cathy and the ship?" asked Trickster.
"Oh all right," said the Fire Elemental, "sky-writing it is."
"While you're starting the writing," said the Earth Elemental, "I'll start making a huge cave (not yet with a hole in it) for the water to drain into." Soon letters and then words were forming in the sky.
C A T H Y G E T T O T H E C A S T L E Q U I C K
"Look, up in the sky!" cried a pirate. "It's a letter!" cried another. "It's a word!" shouted a third.
Cathy looked up in the air and thought, "Uh oh, I think there's going to be some trouble here. Let's see, where did I park my boat?"
"Not so fast, girly," said a pirate, shoving Cathy aside. "There's going to be trouble here and I'm getting out of here. Your boat."
"That's what you think," said Cathy, giving him a kick. She ran over to where her boat had been, only to discover that the pirate chief had gotten on it (still with the apple in his mouth) and was rowing rapidly away to the castle.
As soon as the Earth Elemental saw that the occupant of the raft (which he thought was Cathy) started climbing up the rope that went to the top of the castle, he opened a large hole in the ground above the cave, and the huge flood of water, along with the pirate ship, started rushing toward the hole.
When the pirate chief saw the giant whirlpool appear so close to the pirate ship, he started rowing away very fast, because water from greater and greater distances from the whirlpool seemed to be coming in. When he reached the wall he quickly climbed up a ladder that had been propped up, but stopped halfway, trying to think what to do when he reached the top.
"How goes the whirlpool, Air Elemental?" asked Trickster.
"Fine, Trickster," was the reply. "Your friend seems to be having a little trouble getting up the ladder, though, and the Water Elemental seems to be separating himself from the water."
"I don't understand it," said Argamoth, "Cathy's always been a good climber (among other things)."
The Air Elemental said, "I will go check on the problem. Wait for me, I shall be right back." and disappeared immediately.
"What do we do now?" asked Transparentine.
"Now?" said the Earth Elemental, "We wait."
"Cooks," said Barhead, "prepare a congratulations cake for Cathy."
As the cooks ran off, one whispered, "Try saying that three times fast!"
The Air Elemental formed out of the air. "Does your friend wear a black hat with a skull and crossbones?" asked the Air Elemental. "And speak in curses?"
"Uh oh!" said Trickster, "Hope we didn't get the wrong person. I'll go check." He was back a few moments later, and cried, "Cathy must be in the middle of the earth! We got the pirate chief instead!"
"Oh no!" said Argamoth, "Cathy was one of the best, we can't afford to lose her." There followed a general uproar of sentimental phrases, in which the elementals disappeared.
At last, when everybody was finished, Barhead said, "What do we do with the pirate chief?"
There was a unanimous uproar of "Cut the ladder supports!" And so it happened that the pirate chief, just after deciding what he would do, started falling right down to the ground, fast.
Six months later, Sir Sky reported to Argamoth, "There's a messenger from a King Ratepi here to see you."
"Show him in," said Argamoth.
His two guards at the current moment, the Captain and the General, stood at attention as somebody dressed in the usual attire of a page walked in. "Is this the chamber of the King of the unbeaten Royal Knights, said the boy in a sarcastic voice.
"I would thank you," said the General, "to moderate your way of speech to a less sarcastic manner."
"The message from King Ratepi is the following: King Ratepi says he is sick of everybody talking about the unbeaten ..."
He was interrupted by the General, saying, "I would thank you to moderate ..."
"Sit down General," said Argamoth.
"... Royal Knights," continued the boy. "He insists that you may have a superior skill in fighting, but King Ratepi's knights are the best chariot racers in the world. If you are as unbeaten as all that, just one of your knights should be able to beat five of ours. But I doubt it."
"Um ..." said Argamoth.
"Err ..." said the Captain.
"If you don't ..." cried the General. (He was pushed back in his chair before he could say any more.)
"Um, give us a week, er, to get our champion chariot racer back, um, in shape!" said Argamoth.
"Very well. But only one week," said the boy. And as he left, Argamoth could hear him whispering, "Dummies."
The next day, all of the Royal Knights were lined up to see which one of them would be entered in the chariot race. Argamoth had decided that the best way to decide who it would be was to see who had the best chariot skills. Trickster had resigned from the race, saying he was far too old to drive in a chariot race. But they only had one chariot, so they had to time each one around a -- hopefully safe -- track.
The General went second, and took more time than the first, so he was excluded. He shouted to the remaining contestants, "And if those knights of Ratepi give you any trouble, just ..." (A gag was put over his mouth before he could cause any trouble.)
Finally only two contestants were left: Barhead and Transparentine. Three times in a row, they tied in time, but at the fourth, Barhead did it in a little less, and went inside for the training. They trained him the best they could, thinking, "Let's hope Ratepi's knights aren't that good, for if they are, we're in trouble.
The day of the race had come. A different boy than before came to bring Barhead to the race, whose parting comments were, "Wish me luck."
A little while afterwards, Barhead was in a chariot that looked the same as the rest as far as he could tell, though he wasn't an expert on chariots, and the starter was counting down. "IV, III, II, I ... go!" They were off.
Barhead noted with some dismay that this wasn't a very ordinary chariot track -- it went across one of the most dangerous mountain ranges known to the Royal Knights. The six racers started down the track. One of Ratepi's got a large lead and rounded the next corner. By the time the other five got to the corner, he had disappeared. They all turned a corner and found a jump. The pit below seemed very deep, and Barhead definitely did not want to fall. He had just made it over, when the Ratepi chariots, used to jumps, leaped over and got in the lead. He caught up with the Ratepi chariot in back just as it reached a rickety bridge between two mountains. No sooner had he gotten onto the bridge than the Ratepi chariot in back started trying to push him off. It ended with them both tumbling straight down.
Barhead's chariot landed on the one that had disappeared into the lead so near the beginning, and drove off unharmed, like the horses. The Ratepi chariot that had pushed him off was not so lucky -- it landed in a heap on the mountainside. "If this keeps up," thought Barhead, "I'll be the only chariot left."
After three more jumps, the remaining three Ratepi chariots caught up to him. One stayed right next to him on a piece of track that had only room for the two of them. They went on, right next to each other, until they reached a bridge that had room for only one chariot at a time. The Ratepi chariot got onto the bridge; Barhead went skidding and sliding straight down the mountain. He smashed onto a ledge and flew straight out of the seat, as the chariot had no seatbelts. He landed right in the lead chariot, knocking the driver out onto the track, and landing in the driver's seat himself.
"Two left," thought Barhead. "They probably have more sense than to try and keep this up, but I wonder." Suddenly the remaining two Ratepi chariots zoomed past him, going onto another single-file bridge. By the time Barhead got to the bridge, the bridge had broken under the weight of the chariots. He managed to jump the hole -- barely -- and as he drove across the remaining stretch of bridge, the planks broke just as he got off of them.
For a long time he drove around -- around curves, over bridges, and over jumps -- without seeing any sign of the Ratepi chariots. He thought, "I hope they haven't won already." Unfortunately, while he was thinking this he forgot to look where he was going, and missed a turn. "Oh well," he thought, "this track seems to go straight down, and with any luck I'll land on a part of track." He almost didn't land on a piece of track -- he was about to fall through the middle of a jump -- when a Ratepi chariot tried to make the jump and crashed into him. Barhead's chariot went flying onto the track, but the Ratepi chariot went straight down.
"Four down, one to go," he thought as he crossed the track. "I wonder how much longer this race is?" After ten minutes he found that even the track jumps were above more sections of track, as he passed a smashed chariot that had obviously fallen down that jump earlier. The last chariot was now in sight. He caught up to the remaining Ratepi chariot as it came to a corner. Once again the last Ratepi chariot had a small lead, and Barhead saw the driver draw a knife. He cut a rope that had been next to the track, and Barhead heard a rumble. He looked up and saw a large rock with a rope tied to it, coming straight towards him. If he continued, he'd get hit, so almost automatically he reined in the horses and stopped. The rock careened down the sloping track, and to Barhead's surprise, smashed straight into the remaining Ratepi chariot, knocking both the chariot and the rock off a cliff.
Barhead passed over a strangely-colored piece of track that disappeared as he passed over it. Looking down, he saw a lake directly beneath the new hole. "Ratepi and his traps," he thought. "I wonder why they didn't think of me passing over this track first?"
An hour later, Barhead reached the finish, quite tired. Though quite a lot of people had turned out, there was no cheering. Barhead was surprised -- he looked all around but didn't see any of the Royal Knights. He climbed out of the chariot and asked somebody who looked like a King, probably King Ratepi, "Where are my friends? Didn't any of the Royal Knights come to see the finish?"
"Oh they did, my ... friend," said the person. "However, we anticipated them, though not you."
"But if ... but if they came, why aren't they here?"
"Because," said the person, "they fell into our ... trap." One of the nearby knights pressed a switch, and the ground came out from beneath Barhead. As he fell, he heard the person say, "Ratepi indeed! I cannot believe you did not even guess the truth. I am not King 'Rate-pi" ... I am King PI-RATE!"
Barhead's last thoughts before everything went black were, "Not the pirates again!
Continued in volume 5
Copyright © 1997-1999 Samuel Dashiell Shemitz