Post details: Chapter 64 - The King acts like a dick.Flip the order!
Chapter 64 - The King acts like a dick.
“What’s the matter, King of All Europe? Don’t you like the different chickens we have?” laughed Erik Rage-Eater! through a mouthful of turkey and Maize. The Viking nurse-druids had brought the King to the table and propped him up as best they could, but they could neither make him eat or stop the bleeding. Had Axe Axewound been there, he could have told the nurses that the King hadn’t really been a high enough level to fight Erik Rage-Eater! and that he was seriously injured and possibly close to death, but Axe Axewound had been forced to eat his turkey on the kitchen floor because everyone thought it was funny.
So the King did not respond to Erik Rage-Eater!’s taunts. About halfway through dinner, Erik Rage-Eater! rolled his eyes, spat out a turkey bone, summoned a nurse-druid and asked him to bring on a tray the hearts of the Vikings that Axe Axewound had chopped to pieces that morning. The nurse-druid nodded, disappeared and promptly reappeared with the Viking Lord’s order. While he was there, Rage-Eater! asked for his main course. The nurse-druid disappeared again and Rage-Eater! slid over to the King’s seat and fed him a Viking heart by cramming it in his mouth and moving his limp jaws about with his hands.
The King choked and spat his way back to life. As he did, Erik Rage-Eater! slapped him hard on the back, causing some chewed up bits of Viking heart to enter into the King’s lungs. “There you go!” boomed Erik Rage-Eater! enthusiastically. “There’s no stronger medicine in your Europe or the Vikinca Empire than a fresh Viking heart!” Erik Rage-Eater!’s main course arrived then in a steaming bowl surrounded by spoons. He stirred it, blew on it and took a big spoonful into his mouth.
“What?” coughed the King. “You fed me a Viking heart?”
“Aye!” said Erik Rage-Eater! “You’re feeling better already, aren’t you, King of All Europe? Eat your different chicken, already.”
The King couldn’t argue with that. He’d just been on the Astral Plane with Michael and had seen the brutal beating he’d suffered from the outside. Michael had held his hand while they watched. That’s how serious it looked. He thought that he’d never again be able to do all the cool stuff that he did, like ride horses, beat bad guys and have everyone in Europe love him all at the same time. And now, one measly Viking heart later, he was back amongst the living. He could do everything he had ever done all over again if he wanted to. But he was still weak. He reached for another Viking heart and ate it.
“Is this what keeps you so strong, Viking Lord?” said the King as he chewed the tough meat.
“Ha ha! You’d think, wouldn’t you?” said Erik Rage-Eater!, “But no. Viking hearts are good medicine, full of health and courage, but they don’t keep four hundred year old Viking Lords alive and fit and tough.”
“Then what is it? No man has ever beaten me so in single combat before, young or old. I’d wager my Kingdom that you’re a match for Leonard Cohen in battle.” mumphed the King.
“Gracious me, King of All Europe, I don’t think I’d survive that a battle! Maybe when I was much younger…” said Erik Rage-Eater!, sipping from his spoon, “I knew your father, young King. You’ve heard the stories. Our swords were locked whenever we met, which was often.” The King nodded. It made sense that his father’s arch-enemy would have grown in strength as his father did.
“But my father went to Heaven many years ago, when I was just a boy,” said the King.
“You’re a sharp one, lad. Knowing your father only took me so far. I didn’t expect to last very long after he left us.” Said Erik Rage-Eater! softly, blowing on another spoonful of hot liquid in his spoon. The spoon fell apart. Rage-Eater! tutted, picked up a new spoon and dove it into the bowl.
“Then how?” gasped the King, exasperated, as he reached for another Viking heart. He was feeling quite a bit better at this point.
“It’s the gold I eat with every meal.” The King peered into Erik Rage-Eater!’s dinner bowl. It was full to the brim with molten gold. “The people who were here before us Vikings had tons of the stuff – their cities were full of it. Everything you could imagine was made from gold. And they didn’t have to beg and scrape to the Africans or the Empire or the dusty wizards in Islamaland for one nugget of it. They didn’t know what it was worth. We knew better.” He took a big mouthful of gold. “There’s enough Vikinca gold to keep me lasting until the Future, young King.” The King sat there for a while, wide-eyed with wonder, eating a Viking heart like it was an apple. He thought about Vikings living in the Future, all covered in mechanical parts and shooting lasers and cracking wise. For an instant, for just one tiniest fraction of a second, he doubted whether Europe, sustained as it was by a noble, unbroken line of Kings that were always right, would also last until the Future. He imagined the Vikings of the Future coming back across the ocean to find a weak and ruined Europe then taking to the skies on rocket-boots and flying discs and decimating the diminished remains of his once-great people. He shook the doubt away. He was thinking some strange thoughts. He bit into a fresh Viking heart.
“Don’t eat too many of those, King of All Europe,” said Erik Rage-Eater!, unworried. “A lot of non-Vikings aren’t too used to the taboo foods we eat. We carry their poisons in our blood, but are ourselves immune.” The King looked at Erik Rage-Eater! and the sound of his lips smacking and his jaw chewing sounded loud and full and rough. He looked around the room. Things were moving around for no reason and people’s faces were smiling all on their own and everyone was trying to outsex everyone else and he could only hear what people has said a few seconds after they had said it and he could suddenly taste every part of the food in his mouth. The Vikings were finishing their dinners and the tables were being cleared so that the dining hall could become a dance hall and everyone could just rock out for the night. The King sat and watched in disgust as the dishes were taken to the kitchens and the Vikings popped off to their houses for a few minutes to fetch their wives, girlfriends and slaves for the big dance party at the Mask Temple. The party was to celebrate the deaths of all those Vikings that Axe Axewound had chopped to pieces earlier in the day. The Vikings all thought that it was a good thing that dozens of their brethren had died in battle and gone to shitty old Viking Heaven. Vikings were weird like that. The King shook his head and got his weird feelings under control and ate some more Viking hearts to make himself feel better. The party was just beginning and so the King wiped his mouth and joined in. He hadn’t partied for years. He wanted to show these half-European madmen how it was done. He cracked his wooden knuckles and danced like only the King of Europe could dance. People were literally flabbergasted. Even Axe Axewound, allowed out of the kitchen, who had seen the King dance a hundred times before, was impressed by what he saw out there on the dancefloor. The King was seducing everyone all at once. He was a whirling maelstrom of good times and the memories of youth orbited at every pivot by a ball of the purest sex.
The King’s heart was racing. He was breathing hard and he was sweating funny. He swatted off half a dozen Viking girls and boys and decided to erase his tiredness by eating a few more Viking hearts. There were only two left, so he ate those.
“Wowee!” chirped a wide Viking man who saw the King wolf them down. “I’ve never seen a man eat so many Viking hearts.” The King looked at him, perplexed. Erik Rage-Eater!, who had so not been there just a second ago, laughed deeply and noisily. The King stayed absolutely stock still, but on the inside he was reverberating wildly from that laugh. It was not a pure laugh, he thought. It was not like the laugh you heard in Europe. It was a foreign laugh that contains the echoes of all the trauma and pain and scary suffering that happens outside of Europe. The King shivered. He did not go back to the dance floor, although everyone was expecting and wanting him to. He did not feel safe there any more. The walls were breathing and his ankles were spinning around independently from his feet. Everyone was swaying towards him and their eyes were becoming taller. He found a spot in the corner and slunk down to the floor. His mouth tasted of nothing but Viking hearts. He worked his wooden fingernails into his teeth to dislodge the chunks of heart he had stuck in there. He wanted to eradicate all traces of the taste. Although a few Vikings had come up to him at first and tried to get him to go back to the dancing and the partying, they had given up on him pretty quickly. He watched them with his lips curled up in fear and distrust. Their laughs and whoops of joy rang only with the sounds of nasty, dirty, animal terror in the King’s ears.
After some time, Axe Axewound sat down next to the King. He’d grown quite concerned with him and had come to keep him company and to give him some water. The King wanted to be alone but he took the water and slurped it gratefully then leant over to Axe and whispered in his ear that “These Vikings aren’t very nice people.” Axe Axewound had to agree – they had made him, a Prince of Celtland, eat off the kitchen floor just because he was a werewolf and had been beaten up by their boss, but he was astonished that the King would ever say such a thing about anyone. True, the King hated gypsies and the undead, but what he really hated about them was the dark, infernal powers that made them so despicable. To hear the King talk ill of people who were half-European was shocking. “They’re just a bunch of assholes.” Continued the King. “Can you hear the way they laugh? They’re broadcasting their hurt. They want everyone to be as hurt as them. It’s bad news.” But Axe Axewound could not reply as the King’s voice had faded into a low murmur and Axe could no longer hear what he was saying. Instead, Axe asked for his water back. The King looked at the flask of water in his hand, considered it, and refused Axe’s request without a word.
“I’m going to go and dance for a while, so I’d like some water to drink, please, Your Highness.” Said Axe Axewound very politely. The King just shook his head sadly, avoiding eye contact. Then he started laughing. Normally, whenever the King laughed, everyone who heard the laugh felt good and happy and confident in themselves and their own lives. But when the King laughed with a belly full of Viking hearts leaking their poison into his bloodstream, his laugh made everyone who heard it feel sick and weird and unsettled. Luckily, the King didn’t laugh for very long. He fell silent and Axe Axewound got up and left. The King massaged his eyeballs with the tips of his wooden fingers. It felt odd and new and made wonderful patterns appear behind his eyelids. He thought of a gigantic octopus that randomly swam and swirled and swished around the ocean, eating his friends. This kept him occupied for nearly an hour.
When the King became bored with his mind-octopus and looked up above his knees, Axe Axewound had returned and had brought a girl with him. Axe Axewound had come back to check up on the King and to rest at ‘home base’ for a little while because he and the girl had been dancing so furiously and sexily for at least half an hour non-stop. Axe was good at dancing because of all the parties he had hosted when he had lived in the forest. Human dancing was slightly different, but the fundamentals were the same.
“This is Astrid Gimmerleck.” Said Axe Axewound to the King. He was talking about the girl. Astrid Gimmerleck smiled and said hello. She was quite attractive in a Viking sort of way. She was an archaeologist who spent most of her time figuring out how the people who lived on the southern continent of the United States lived and prospered before Erik Rage-Eater! and his guys killed them all. She looked at buildings carefully and excavated mass graves and interviewed the children of slaves. She was the main leader of a theory in Viking science that maintained that the people who lived on the southern continent of the United States had been pretty cool. The theory was gaining a lot of ground and there was emerging a belief that they might have been cool enough to have been let into Viking Heaven after they had been slaughtered and pestilenced to nothing. Erik Rage-Eater! himself was very keen on the idea. He wanted as many people in Viking Heaven as possible so as to better their chances when they went to war with the real Heaven on Ragnarok Day. Astrid wasn’t too interested in the King. She had been born long after Erik and his many ships had left Europe and so had little interest in the old home of the Vikings. She was much more interested in their new home and the jungles and the nice weather. Also, she wanted to dance some more. She had nurtured a sexual attraction to canids from a young age and had often watched her father’s dogs rut and mate behind her family home. She had never acted on these impulses, but since she had danced with a man who could turn into a wolf-monster, she saw a golden opportunity to do so in a way that was probably quite socially acceptable. Astrid is going to become an Adventure Friend later on, just so you know.
Although he had only known Astrid for a few seconds, the King had made up his mind about her. He leant over to Axe, cupped his hand over his mouth to make things confidential and said, “That girl’s a slut.” He let this sink in for a moment and then said, “She doesn’t really like you. She’s not getting any of my water.” Axe Axewound blinked, nodded and wandered off. He didn’t know what to do. The King was usually right about everything. Axe Axewound had always thought that this was because the King could sense very tiny vibrations in the Universe and received information about the world around him in every resonance. Though his theory had never been proved, he trusted the King but did not want his words to be true. He went outside to look at the unfamiliar stars, get some more water and clear his head. As soon as he had gone, the King grabbed Astrid’s hand and demanded to go dancing. “I’m the King of Europe!” he said. “I ripped a man’s jaw right off his face!” Then he laughed. Astrid was so scared by his laugh that she went along with him to the dance floor. The King stumbled and knocked a few dancers off balance. He righted himself and danced in the worst possible way for anyone to dance. He slugged at his water and pushed people when he stumbled into them. The Vikings on the dance floor could not understand why this guy who had danced so well and so sexily earlier in the evening was now wheeling around with such crazy, wide-eyed, teeth-clenched fury. He tired himself quite quickly in this way, so he just kind of stood there on the dance floor, staring at people until they got uncomfortable and had to look away. Once he had freaked out six people this way and made them leave, he turned to Astrid, who had been trying to keep her distance but now had very few people to hide behind, grabbed her hand and her leg and tried to make out with her. She turned away but the King just started biting her cheeks and shoulders. She squirmed out of his wooden grasp and ran away. The King sat down on the dance floor. He was almost alone now. The only person left on the dance floor with him was Axe Axewound. He had seen everything. He dropped his water.
At that very moment, far away across the shore and the octopus pit and the ocean and Dark Spain, a tremor ran through the rock and soil of Europe. It was a light vibration and was considered remarkable only in that it had caused a few books and knick knacks to fall off shelves across the whole of Europe. It was soon forgotten.
No one heeded the warning.
End Of Chapter 64