Post details: Chapter 93 - Dese Days Part Six – Permanent Trauma.Flip the order!
Chapter 93 - Dese Days Part Six – Permanent Trauma.
Astrid Gimmerleck sped away from the abbey and all away at full pelt down towards the beach. She was fit and lithe and good at running. You had to be, really, if you were a Vikinca archeologist. The slow ones get chomped by a ghost or strangled by a mummy in their first week on the job.
But, fast as she was, it seemed to her that it took an age before she arrived at the beach. She darted about the chattering, idle European and United Statesian troops until she found Colonel Glowfist inside one of the many, many hospital tents that had sprung up like mushrooms all around the base of the Tower of Super-Chastity. Europe was the most compassionate place in the world and compassion doesn't just mean looking after your own guys when they fall in battle, but the other fellow's guys as well. Those hospital tents were full to the brim with troops from both the European and United Statesian sides. They were being looked after by scores of European priests, physicians, bards and alchemists, in addition to the United Statesian Medical Corps of shamans and dancers. Those tents were so busy with all the healing going on! Everywhere you looked, potions were being cooked up, Bibles were being read, leeches and brandy were being applied or something smelly was being set on fire to the accompaniment of wailing. All the wounded people were getting better or else dying. Bernadetta Leathervest was in there too, healing up real nice, getting access to the priests of the highest levels, the fattest leeches and the most magical of potions. She was being treated so well, of course, because she was a friend of the King's. This might seem unfair, since most people in Europe considered themselves a friend of the King, but everyone understood how the system worked and they were okay with it.
Because of all the smoke and bustle and noise, you might have thought that the good Colonel would have been hard to find, but Astrid only had to poke her head into a dozen tents or so before she found him. The Colonel is the kind of guy who stands out in a crowd. He is, remember, impossibly fat and even though he'd got his grooming problems more or less under control by that point, the fatness still counted for a lot. Also, he and David were popping out spells like the most fluid of the squits: mostly low level haste spells and resistances to fatigue for the hospital staff, along with a lot of confusion, stun and sleep spells to anaesthetise the patients. This was cool and modern and no one had really thought of it before. When Colonel Glowfist saw Astrid hurry up to him, he smiled and made to welcome her, for he had not seen his fellow Adventure Friend for many hours and there had been a war on and all, and he'd been a bit worried about her. But then he saw how serious and pain-stricken her face was and he had to know what could make a face look like that.
“He's in trouble,” was all she said. Colonel Glowfist knew who she was talking about – the King, of course, and all of the Europeans in that hospital tent knew it too. The noise and the bustle dropped suddenly as they all stopped dancing or praying or getting better and looked at Astrid Gimmerleck, their faces turning just as serious and pain-stricken as hers had been. Quite a few of them died right then, even if they hadn't been very ill. Colonel Glowfist wasted no time and summoned two Awesome Horses, which wasn't such a wise move because then he had to lead the demon horses carefully out of the hospital tent and try not to trample anyone or anything. But that was okay because it gave Roxy Tripfoot and Cajun a chance to find him.
“One of my informants – whose name I shall not reveal – told me there was a King Related Incident (KRI) emerging in this operational sector,” said Cajun. Roxy tried not to roll her eyes at Cajun's lamezoidness because he was an Adventure Friends now and you don't roll your eyes at Adventure Friends. It was one of the worse things you could do.
“Yes, I saw Astrid run in here. What is wrong, Colonel?”
“He's in trouble,” said Colonel Glowfist and then he summoned up a few more Awesome Horses, which they carefully led out of the tent and then they were off!
David had not failed to notice that he had not been included. He stood outside the hospital tent and watched the Adventure Friends rumble off into the distance on their Awesome Horses. He didn't think this was fair. He had his coffee tin and his invisibility cloak and he was getting better at magic all the time. He'd killed at least two United Statesians on the beach during the invasion and he didn't even feel too bad about it (though maybe he would later, in dreams), so he didn't see why he shouldn't be allowed to help his dad out if he was, indeed, in trouble. He switched his cloak to 'on,' conjured up an Awesome Shetland (he couldn't do a whole horse yet) and rode on invisibly after them. Of course, the Awesome Shetland wasn't invisible, but David was doing his best. When he arrived at the abbey he saw some terrible things. Just inside the open front doors, Cutty lay on the ground, babbling not unquietly to himself. David snuck up to to the sword, turned his cloak off and tapped him on the handle.
“- oh no, don't listen to stupid old Cutty, he -never- knows what's going on -”
“Cutty, hey, hello in there?”
“Oh, Prince David, I didn't see you. Thank heavens you're here. Now you're here, you've got to get out of here, I'm not kidding around.” There was a terrifying racket upstairs and David could hear his mother's voice.
“Cutty,” he whispered, “Is my mom up there?”
“You've got to go, David, it's not safe. Your father, the King, His Highness, the Chief – he's done for. There's nothing you can do, now get out of here, please!” But David ignored Cutty, of course, and charged inside. He found Roxy Tripfoot, his beloved, spicy, bride-to-be, lying still and beaten upon the stairs leading up to the maire's bedroom. For a strong female character, she sure was getting knocked around a lot. He wanted to go to her and touch her hair and tell her that she was all right but there were other terrible things that demanded his attention. At the top of the stairs, almost blocking his way, was Colonel Glowfist, gasping on the floor in the midst of a heart attack. David watched helplessly for two long moments as his teacher shook and grabbed at the air, then there was a cacophony of light and screams from the maire's bedroom and within that terrible blaze of noise, David could hear the King moan and his mother shriek. He apologetically hopped over the Colonel's body and ran down the hallway into the bedroom and saw the most terrible thing there was to see. Oranje was electrocuting Cajun, but that wasn't nearly as terrible as the way in which she was doing so. She was shakily suspended in the air by a pyramid of lightening, the apex of which was located just above the womb from which he himself had been formed. His father was joined to his mother at the crotch, his body rose and fell with hers, his eyes were dead and staring as his head lolled back over his shoulders. Inarticulate moans and pants escaped from his lungs with every twitch and shake of Oranje's electric supports. He was entirely naked, as was she. David had never seen the King naked before. No one had. At first he wasn't sure that the poor creature dandling off his mother's waist even was the King, but there was no mistaking that sweet face, that noble beard, that invincible wooden hand. Oranje stopped electrocuting Cajun when she saw David enter the room, which probably saved the United Statesian's life. Her eyes widened to saucers, she squeezed her hips to narrow the lightning-pyramid to a pencil-thin beam, slowly dropped to the floor and then peeled the King off of her body. He folded over onto the ground as she walked slowly over to greet her son.
“David. So nice to see you baby. I'm all finished up here, let's go fetch your sister.” David could not say anything. His mouth was full of horror. His hands were wrapped white-tight around his coffee tin. In the corner of his eye he saw Cajun, burned and weak, crawl over to the King and check his pulse. Oranje smoothly took a few steps closer. There was a crash from behind her as Cajun hurled himself and the King out of the bedroom window. She turned to look behind her, “Oh dear. Doesn't matter. David, what's important is that you're here. What's important is that I love you.” David threw his coffee tin with fortunate accuracy at his mother's head. It struck her a glancing blow on the temple, which surprised her and knocked the lid of the tin off and produced an astonishing, deafening explosion of displaced air, orange light and over a thousand hungry and terrified woodland animals just next to her face. David caught a too-long glimpse of the nonsensical folding of space as the room filled up with every kind of fur, claw, muzzle, wing and tooth and his mother was torn to confetti in the churning inferno of gore that followed the explosion with such shocking speed that it was all over even before he had run away. Later, he could not even remember his flight from the bedroom, the short scream down the hallway and the tumble over Colonel Glowfist's blubbery obstruction. He woke up with his head buried in Roxy Tripfoot's side, at the bottom of the stairs, with Father Dominoes standing over him with all the sympathy in the world vibrating through his eyes.
“My poor boy,” he said, “My poor, poor boy.”
“Is my mom okay?” asked David, hopefully.
“You get some sleep,” said the priest. He hoisted his solid gold Bible up to reading height, deftly flicked to the correct metal page, marked his place with a nimble finger and read aloud the verse that makes young boys go to sleep.
David awoke once again, this time in a comfortable bunk bed inside one of the barracks that surrounded the Tower of Super-Chastity. He was in the bottom bunk. This made him feel a bit childish. The top bunk is where the action is. He stared at the wooden slats of the top bunk and wished himself up there. Wishing made his head hurt. He touched his forehead and discovered a bandage there. He groaned and the groan summoned a face from the edge of the top bunk. The face was that of a plump girl's, quite pink, framed by a glossy bookmark of shock-white hair that dangled almost half the way down to David's bunk.
“You're my little brother,” said the face. “Daddy says I'm allowed downstairs now and my job is that I'm supposed to say when it is you're awake. They say I'm not supposed to play any of my games with you but that's -nonsense.- Oh, Father Dominoes, my little brother's awake now. Are you a eunuch? You look like one. You killed mummy, you know.”
“Princess!” cried Father Dominoes as he waddled over to the bunk beds. His sleeves were rolled up and he was sweating. He'd been praying hard. “You are to leave your brother be. He's a very brave young man. He saved the life of your father and all of his Adventure Friends and the last thing he needs now is you giving him a … ah, hard time. Let him rest!”
“Fine!” pouted Princess Princess and, with a yank of her silver mane, her face disappeared and she went back to cuddling her eunuch. Father Dominoes had not approved of her dragging Eunuchophles from upstairs into the bed with her, but she'd been more than adamant and he'd had a lot on his plate and couldn't really spare the time to argue and the King had insisted very strongly that she'd be there in the makeshift Adventure Hospital with them and, well, she hadn't done anything too weird yet so maybe there wouldn't be a scene.
“David!” came the King's voice, strangely hoarse, from behind a crowd of priests and witches that were all jostling to get their healing spells in. “Clear away, the lot of you! I'm fine, can't you see I'm fine? Let me see my boy!” The crowd reluctantly parted and turned some of its attentions to Colonel Glowfist, who occupied two beds scooted up next to each other just beside the King's. The King climbed out of bed and staggered over to David's bunk. He looked old and frightening. He knelt down and poked his head just a little too close to David's. “You did it, boy. You defeated the worse villain in European history. Even I was not strong enough to best her. She stole my Super-Chastity, you see. She took it and with it, she made herself even more powerful. It's a thing that Lady Draculas do. I should have seen it coming! But I'm glad that it was you that did her in, son. It wouldn't have been right if it had been anyone else. Do you understand?”
“Good,” said the King. Then he brought his wooden hand up, gripped David's hair a bit too hard and shook the boy's head softly around. “Good,” he repeated. “Your sister is back with us now. She's safe from You-Know-Who and she's been through some tough times, but we'll look after her with all our might, you and I. Do you understand?”
“Yes dad,” said David, grimacing at the hair-pulling. The King took no notice.
“I can't actually look at her just yet – all things in time, all things in their time – so you're going to be the one to look after her, to show her the wonder and splendour of Europe and to protect her from -” he closed his eyes and shuddered, “-predations.” He opened his eyes. They had the old stuff in them. “The two of you are the good part of your mother. I watched it happen, when all the good came out of her. I didn't see it with Princess, but when you came out of that, of that – void, David, I could not bear the sight of it, it did not make sense. It was like watching a fish be gutted, only the offal that spilled was light, pure light, my sweet David – there you were. All the light that was inside of her was you all along. How could there be anything left inside of that … vessel that lay bleeding and spent, useless, there on the sheets? I should have killed her right then, you understand. But of course it was not my right. You. You made it right.” The King let go of David's hair. David squeaked. He wished that he was not crying. He wished that he could allow himself to exhale, or make a sound that was not a squeak. He wished that he could wish without making his head hurt. Father Dominoes appeared and placed a caring hand on the King's shoulder.
“Come now, Your Highness, I think it's time you got some rest.”
“What were you talking about just then, daddy?” chimed Princess Princess, draping silver over David's bunk again.
“Ah!” said the King, shielding his eyes from the sight of his daughter.
“Come now, we've changed your sheets,” said Father Dominoes softly. The King moved uneasily to his feet and was led across the room by some NPCs and put back to bed. Father Dominoes leaned down to David's ear and murmured, “He's really not well. He's not been quite himself since he awoke. She took away such a vital piece of him – I fear he may never be the same. Keep him company while he recovers, it's what he needs, there's a good boy.” He stood up and walked back to the King. “All right, Your Highness – you're going to need lots of rest. Weeks of it. I recommend – no, I insist – no quests, no adventures and no more wars – aha – for at least a little while yet. I'll have to be back to my duties in Hell soon and no doubt the poor Devil will need some looking after, so you won't have me to fuss over you. So, standing orders – no more adventures until you're all better, do I make myself absolutely clear?”
The phone rang. The King looked up, then leapt out of bed and poked about in his robes that lay by the bed. He held the Magic Telephone up to his head and spoke for a short while. The call was from General Majesty, of course. He had good news and bad news. The good news was that the Angel Cowboy had taken the very same United Statesian army which had attacked Normandy that morning, marched them up to the Chillinous Plains and leased the whole outfit, to a man, back to Europe for an exorbitant fee. General Majesty had inspected the troops and found them to be very impressive. Also, Fort Majesty was being rebuilt by a mysterious Engineering Corps of demons, also hired out to them by one Mr. A. Cowboy. They were reportedly doing a speedy and splendid job.
The bad news was all that, well, the reason -why- General Majesty had to resort to mercenaries to fill the garrisons was because there were no fighting fit Europeans to be found anywhere. They'd looked so hard and found nothing. He wasn't supposed to tell the King this, but Mechanicus was in the kitchen, so he thought now was the opportunity, but they'd discovered where all the able-bodied men of Europe had gone and what had happened in the years that separated the time he lived in and the time the King lived in – There had been … there was going to be a European Civil War. It would start quite shortly, relative to the time in which the King was living.
The King hung up and slumped down into his fresh sheets. He covered his eyes with his hand.
“More adventures coming, everyone!” he screamed.
End Of Chapter 93