Post details: Chapter 77 - Oh, to be a little boy.Flip the order!
Chapter 77 - Oh, to be a little boy.
David was eight and a half years old. He spent most of his days walking. In the mornings he would meditate to build up his chi and in the evenings he had magic lessons. He fell asleep every night bundled in or around one of Colonel Glowfist's fat rolls.
Ninety percent of Colonel Glowfist's waking day was spent wheezing. It was bad enough if he just stood up too fast, but when he was hiking all day in the blazing heat across the rough terrain of Alabama, the sounds he made were enough to convince David that the archmage had already died and his soul was making a futile bid to re-enter the body that had just forced it out. At first, this had scared David. He thought that it must be terrible to be as fat as Colonel Glowfist. But as the months of hiking went by and David got used to seeing his mentor like that all the time, he began to like the sight of an overheating mound of flesh struggling to keep its lungs expanded. It made him appreciate the beauty of life.
The reason that Colonel Glowfist wasn't losing any weight from the hiking and hard living was that he and David were taking some serious Haste spells to help them move across the country. Magic has rules, and one the rules is that magical exercise doesn't count towards your actual running exercise score. This is why magicians quite commonly look old and tired and basically kind of unhealthy. David was learning the limits of magic, and that would help him become a better King who could also do magic.
David thought a lot about the kind of King he would be. All his life, he had been continuously reminded of the fact that he, little David, would be King Of Europe some day, so it was hard for him not to think about it. He knew that he'd be kind and just and wise like his dad and that he would keep a lot of things the same, but he didn't want to make as many enemies as his father had. It seemed like his dad was always having to deal with some guy he'd pissed off in the past, or some repercussion to a war he'd been in, or some demon that he hadn't quite managed to finish off the first time. David promised himself that he would try his hardest to help people and not to fight them all the time. He didn't want to fight anyone at all, since it usually meant that he would be thrown at that someone until they blew up. He wanted to fly from place to place, making sure everyone had good things to eat and never got sad. He was pretty sure he could do it, too. There were magic spells for everything these days. He wondered who his Adventure Friends would be. His mother, probably. She would definitely have to be there. And Colonel Glowfist, of course. He'd be older and have to walk with a stick, or maybe he'd stay at base and be grumpy all the time. He'd go back and recruit Gappy too, since he'd always liked Gappy even though he slowed them down. He hoped that there would be other little boys and girls in his group too, since everyone he knew was old.
David knew that he and Colonel Glowfist were heading to a place he'd never seen, called the Potomac river. His dad would be there and there'd be a huge fight with the evil King-but-not-quite who ruled the United States and then they'd get to go home. They'd have to get on another boat, but David had liked the last boat they'd been on so that was okay. Colonel Glowfist had assured him again and again that the new boat wouldn't get eaten by a giant octopus, since there had only been one and he had destroyed it. David wasn't ever entirely convinced by this. Whenever you saw one of a kind of animal, there was usually another one just like it quite close by. Why was the octopus any different? Colonel Glowfist's answer to this was to wave his hand and to breezily mutter, “Magic,” and then the discussion was over until David could think of a different way to phrase the question.
They'd been travelling alone for most of the way so far but they had taken to travelling with caravans. When one tribe wanted to talk to a different tribe that they weren't particularly at war with, they would send a whole mess of blankets and leaves and dried twists of wood and cigarettes and young girls across many miles of desert, forest and marsh just to break the ice so that the conversation could begin. The problem was that other tribes would kill/steal the caravans and then the talks would break down. It was a bad way of talking to each other, really. So Colonel Glowfist signed himself up as a caravan guard, since Colonel Glowfist could kill just about anyone who gave him trouble. He said that it was important that David got his experience levels up, too. Experience meant killing people. David had killed nine men so far, and contributed to the deaths of many more, either by being hurled at them in a way that would break their bones or by using low-level magic spells to burn, electrocute and pulverise them until oxygen could no longer sustain their brain.
“Don't they all have families? Won't people be angry at us for killing them?” said David after almost every fight.
“No.” said Colonel Glowfist. “These guys didn't even have names. It's guys with names you've got to be careful about.”
“I don't want to make any enemies,” said David, quietly. Colonel Glowfist didn't have a good answer to that.
“Watch what you eat,” he said instead.
“I miss my dad,” David said often.
“Your dad can look after himself,” Colonel Glowfist would say. “He's the best of us.”
“It seems like we're always trying to find him.” said David.
“That's the way it works. He'll run off or get captured or be thought dead or something else and we'll all run and get him and then we'll all meet up at the end and things will be okay again. When you have your own Adventure Friends, you'll understand.” said Colonel Glowfist.
“Why doesn't he just stay put?” said David.
“Because then we'd win all the time. The King always wins. If he was always around to fix things, we wouldn't have anything to do.” said Colonel Glowfist, uncertainly.
“I'm never going to run off when I'm King.” said David.
“You're lucky. When the King was your age, his dad had already gone to Heaven. He had to grow up all on his own.” said Colonel Glowfist.
“That's terrible.” said David. “I hope my dad doesn't go to Heaven. Not for a long, long time.”
“Me too.” said Colonel Glowfist. “But even if he does, we'll see him again. We're European, we'll go to Heaven too.”
“So it's not that different from what we're doing now.” said David.
“No, I suppose not. We get separated, but we always catch up. We always do.” said Colonel Glowfist, reflectively.
“That's good.” said David.
“When I marry Roxy Tripfoot, I'm not going to make her angry like my dad did with my mum,” was another thing that David would say. Colonel Glowfist would say even less in his response to this one than he would say for the others. He didn't like it when David brought up Roxy and the marriage that would certainly one day happen. He didn't like it because he loved her. He loved David too. It was hard not to, really. There was so much of the King in him – in certain expressions, in his boyish, unbroken laugh, in the compassion he held for all living things – when Colonel Glowfist looked at David he saw every inch of the potential that he had and, what's more, he could see that David had the capacity to exceed that potential. But love is a strange thing and magic is even stranger. When someone who can do magic also does love, things get all scrambled up and the result is not always beautiful. So Colonel Glowfist loved Roxy in a way that made it okay for her to marry David. It would be good for her, he reasoned, if she were to be a proper Queen of Europe and not just some low-rent Queen of the Gypsies. He imagined the three of them all being friends and everything being cool. They would hang out all the time and play board games in the evenings and never get too drunk. On the other hand, he wanted to vaporise David like a snowflake before an inferno, summon the darkest, oldest spirits and exchange the prince's sweet snack of a soul for a slim, youthful body to inhabit and then to take Roxy Tripfoot away to a château he would magically carve out of the living rock of Ethiopia, and bask every day in the reflection of the sun from her milky white breasts. Colonel Glowfist could contain these competing and equally impossible desires within his heart and liver because he had got straight A's in Desire Control back in Magical Public School and because no desire he had could override the wishes of the King.
David, on the other hand, was under no such limitation.
End Of Chapter 77