Sara is the kings personal sorceress, the most powerful mage in all the land, at least in her own mind. Soon she is sent on a grand mis-adventure with the strangest group of people she'd ever met. ...
It all happened many a long year ago, when I was but a servant to my king. I was upon a ladder, scrubbing the outer castle wall when the thought overtook me. I was the greatest sorceress in all the land. I should be at my king's side, not here doing the labor of a mere servant. I thirsted for a purpose, longed for adventure, needed a chance to use my wizardly skill. Besides, all this scrubbing was giving me dishpan hands. It was then that I noticed the strangest group of people I had ever seen approaching the gate below me. My first reaction to seeing them was the urge to vomit. The second was to decide that they were not my problem and turn back to my scrubbing, demeaning though it was. A few moments later, as I finished the section I was cleaning and was climbing sown the ladder so to move it, I heard my liege's call.
I reached the bottom of the ladder, and hurried through the gate and into the castle. I had only just reached the long hall leading to the thrown room, when he called again, his scream echoing off the stone walls. I ran faster, sure something horrible had happened. Did these strangers come to kill the king? I knew I should have followed them in. My inaction, caused by my anger at the king, caused me to make a terrible mistake. If I allowed him to be killed, I'd be out of a job.
I burst into the throne room, throwing the great double doors wide. I took a moment to catch my breath and asses the situation. I realized with quite a shock that the king was laughing at something a huge man had said. My liege was having an apparently humorous conversation with the strangers, who were even more nauseating close up. I looked up to where the king sat on his high throne.
"You bellowed, King Moronical?"
"Yes, Sara. I would like you to meet our new friends." I was beginning to think the king was an idiot. Okay, so I knew he was an idiot, but he was still the king. So, I had to pretend he knew what was going on around him once in a while. As I pondered the idea of finding a new kingdom in need of a mage, he continued on.
"These people have come from far away to help me with a little dragon problem. I wish for you to become acquainted with them. Now, please, introduce yourselves." I looked around the large room, and was quite sure I did not want to know these people. I thought about making a quick exit, but I was too late. There was suddenly a solid wall of muscle blocking my way. It reached for my hand, and I was too dumbstruck to stop him before he kissed it. I would definitely be bathing soon.
"My dear lady, my name is Benjamin Ezekiel Dover, a humble barbarian at your service." All I could think was how weird, but I think I managed a small, "hi," in response. He bowed deeply and took a few steps back, to allow a small, wiry man to take his place. He bowed his head ever so slightly before he spoke.
"I am the Ranger, Tim Berloath, protector of the, uh, stone pathways. Yes, the stone pathways. None shall be allowed to harm the stone in my presence." He looked so proud, so righteous, that I felt no small amount of pleasure at my next question.
"I thought Rangers protected the forest. You know, trees, bushed, cute little bunnies?" I wanted to laugh at the blush that spread across his face, but I held it in. And the king says I lack self-control.
"Well, yes, normally rangers travel the forest and protect its life, and it was my dream to do so. But, well, you see, I'm a bit allergic."
"Allergic to what?" I asked with a raise of my eyebrow.
"Well, the trees you see. And the bushes, and grass, and flowers, but just the green part. Green plants of any kind, really. I can't even eat vegetables."
I blinked a few times before replying, "If I were the least bit interested, that would be truly fascinating." He just smiled as he moved aside to make room for the next man to face me. This one was well built, but not such an overpowering show as Benjamin had been. Muscled, but not overly so. And handsome. Well, well. There might be a ray of light on this little party after all. I smiled as I asked, "And who might you be?"
He drew his sword from its scabbard at his hip with a flourish. "I am Arthur Pentdungeon, King of ...." "You be king of nothing now, you deluded boy." Arthur was cut off by a rather nasal sounding voice, the owner of which I couldn't identify. That was not a good thing in my mind. Disembodied voiced usually meant trouble of some kind. So, of course, I had to ask, "Who said that?"
"I did, you silly girl," the same voice proclaimed. Arthur looked rather bashful as he answered my question as well.
"It's my sword. You see, he's a bit rude, likes to cut in when others are..."
"Rude! Rude? How dare you! Why, if I had legs of my own, I wouldn't dare keep company such as you. I much prefer a wielder who can match my intelligence, rather than that of a rock." Arthur cut off what ever else the sword may have said by shoving it back to its scabbard.
"I really must apologize for Excalibur. See, I pulled him from a stone when I was a lad. It was placed there by magic you see, and the one who freed it would be king of Britannia. I didn't want the throne though. I wanted to see the world. I'm sorry to say, Excalibur has never forgiven me for it."
I simply shook my head at that, not sure what to say. I turned away from Arthur to see a gelatinous wall, larger even than Benjamin, of fat standing right in front of me. I stared up into a face so huge, I was sure he could swallow me whole. I couldn't quite understand how he could be so wide, and yet be short enough to stand inside the castle. Surely, only a giant could be so large. As he bent down, I wasn't sure at first if he meant to speak, or to eat me right then. Thankfully, he spoke.
"My name, fair lady, is Quick Slimfingers, thief by trade, adventurer by choice." This time I couldn't help it, I laughed out loud. A thief! A thief he says! Oh yes, he could sneak up and steal from people, they would just think the ground rumbling was an earthquake or something. I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe, and I knew the others must have thought me hysterical, but I just couldn't stop. A thief! He must weight the same as a house.
After what seemed like hours, I was finally able to subside my laughter. I wiped the tears from my watering eyes, and looked up to see the last member of our party. I couldn't see his face, as he was completely covered in a golden hooded robe. The only other thing I could see of him was the rather full looking sacks attached to his belt.
"You'll not have it! You'll not have it I say!" Though I had no idea what the stranger was talking about, I was surprised to find that he was a she. It was a woman hidden in that robe. She glided towards me and raised the hood to reveal a lovely face that would have fit perfectly on a porcelain doll, covered with a shiny main of gold spun hair. She was the beautiful woman I would never be mistaken for. I'm not hideous or anything, but I'm too average to be noticed for my appearance. This woman was far from average. I was so shocked, I didn't realize she was speaking until I noticed her mouth moving.
"...my money sacks. Mine! Stop eyeing them, you'll not have them."
"My apologies. I didn't mean to offend you. I was just shocked to find a woman traveling with these men."
"They do jobs that pay well. I want my cut."
"And you are...?"
She bowed from the waist, each of her money sacks covered by a hand. "I am Tamara, priestess of Ploutos, God of wealth, gold, and riches. As His loyal servant, it is my duty to collect the wealth that I can, and keep it from unworthy hands. And who are you?"
"I am Sara of Dunseville, High Mage, and the King's own Sorceress."
"Former High Mage," said the King. Technicalities. But then, I had been aquatinted with the king since we both were children, long enough to speak my mind in his presence.
"Ah, but my liege, the title of High Mage was granted by Merlin himself when I finished my training. Only he can revoke it."
"Actually, you 'finished' training because Merlin wanted nothing more to do with your ineptness. I found out only after the disaster last year that he granted you the title only to convince you to leave."
"Now, that accident was hardly my fault..."
"Your experiment with fireballs destroyed the statue of my great grandfather, the man who founded this kingdom. If my parents hadn't been such close friends of your own, you'd have been put to death."
I was shaking with rage. How dare he insult my ability. I was the most powerful sorceress in Dunseville, and he made me sound like a stupid child at play. I wanted to shout, to rage at him, to prove how wrong he was. But one thing I had learned after he took the throne after his father was that arguing with a king was usually pointless, no matter how wrong they were. I took a deep breath to calm myself before I made my parting excuse.
"Very well then. It's been a pleasure, but I really must go. Walls to scrub you know." I turned to leave when the king's voice stopped me.
"Actually, Sara, you need to be packing."
I turned to face the throne once more. "Packing, your majesty?"
"Yes, Sara, packing. You will be acting as a guide to our friends as they seek out this dragon and slay it."
A guide? To this motley crew of subhumans? He couldn't mean it, he just couldn't. But he did. I was beginning to wish he had put me to death after all.
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