“Squire, help me!” said Sir Kevin, his voice muffled by the metal which formed his knight’s helmet. “I can’t get this ruddy thing off me head!”
Six of the kingdom’s most fearsome knights had been called forth to slay the great and terrible dragon that had been terrorizing the land. And six knights had been killed, roasted in clear view of all who looked on in horror and then eaten. Slowly. The king had been losing gold reserves at his various stock-houses for nearly a year since the appearance of the “blasted flying lizard” and now he was down to the last tenth.
Being the seventh knight, Sir Kevin had wanted to look his best for the king in his shiny new armor. Unfortunately, he’d tried the helmet on the morning he was called to see the king, but as soon as he’d squeezed his helmet on, it was stuck tight. Before he or Isaac could remove the helmet from his head, the king could be heard roaring from the other side of the great doors that led into the palace hall. “Open the doors!” And open, they did.
“You are such an ass,” Isaac sighed.
“I’m having the damnedest time hearing you, squire,” Sir Kevin responded, “Please speak up!”
(shouting) “I SAY, YOU ARE SUCH A MAN OF CLASS.”
“Oh. Yes. Right you are, squire. Right you are indeed. Well, if we can’t get this thing off, I suppose we’ll have to make do.”
As Kevin and Isaac strode up to the set of thrones occupied by King George and Queen Martha, the king looked beyond them as if to see who else might be available, but none else appeared.
“Your highness,” Sir Kevin shouted through his mask, bowing before the king. Isaac followed suit.
Puzzled, the king looked to his queen. “What in the devil did he say, Martha?” And the queen responded, equally puzzled, “I’m sure he’s just saying hullo, George.” At this, the king pondered for a moment, then bowed his head to acknowledge. “Sir Kevin, I presume,” he said, pausing before adding, “Eh.. do you go everywhere with your helmet on?”
Isaac, realizing Sir Kevin was essentially hard of hearing this morning, spoke on the knight’s behalf. “Your highness, Sir Kevin feels that one must always be ready for action. He is of the mind that precious time wasted dressing in the heat of battle is poor planning indeed and does not well increase the odds in one’s favor.”
The king chewed on this a bit, and though it seemed an unfamiliar taste he seemed to accept it, more or less. Sir Kevin leaned over to Isaac, his armor squeaking and squelching as he did, then in a stage whisper told him, “Do not speak on my behalf, boy. The king has asked for me and not you, so bite your tongue before I cut it off!”
“Very well, sir,” Isaac said, then mumbled something under his breath. Sir Kevin straightened and faced the king once more,
Looking reluctant, the king decided to continue. “As you are well aware, there is a dreaded beast that threatens our very livelihood and the life of the king and queen. The dragon wants after the last of our gold and I intend to stop it before it can do any more damage. Brave knight, are you willing to take on this quest and slay the beast for the good of us all?”
Sir Kevin, unsure of what the king had said at all and only hearing a few clips and phrases, saluted, bringing his heels together and his hand to his brow, clanging like cooking pots banged with spoons. This seemed to upset his balance for a moment before he returned to his straightened position.
The king continued. “Excellent. Then be on your way! And might I add, dead is good, but the deader the better!” At this he gave a small clap, and bid the two farewell.
Isaac clapped the knight on the back, as they turned to leave. Sir Kevin gave the squire a playful punch in the arm. “Ready my horse for battle, boy! And find me two jousting sticks!”
Isaac looked back with a sheepish smile, rubbing his shoulder which was starting to bruise (as well as his ego). “Indeed, Sir Kevin! It shall be done,” he said loudly, so as not to be reminded with another punch. He turned to leave, but paused and turned back. “I’m sorry, sir, but what are the jousting sticks for?”
“I may not have heard all the king said, but I got the important bits, and most important of all was the last thing the king said.”
“And what was that?” (again, shouting)
“You heard ’em as well as I did, ya runt,” Sir Kevin said, gesturing a thumb to his chest, “He wants yours truly to knit that dragon a sweater! In a week’s time, that dragon is going to be looking fit as a fiddle, he is.”
It took Isaac a moment to piece that one together, but suddenly it clicked. The phrase “deader the better” had struck him as particularly odd, but then again, King George was an odd fellow. Isaac opened his mouth to say something, but then thought better. This ought to be glorious, he thought.
And off he rode on his horse to find two jousting sticks, and presumably, a lot of yarn.