Category: Book 3 - Curses R UsFlip the order!
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Chapter 56 - The final attack on Fort Majesty.
Mechanicus was pretty worried. He strode through the halls of Fort Majesty with a deep frown on his partly-cybernetic face and with his cloak bustling a distinctly harassed pattern through the air behind him.
He was worried for two reasons. Firstly, neither he nor General Majesty had heard a peep from the King in nearly two years. General Majesty kept the Magic Telephone by his side at all times, and checked it for missed calls every fifteen minutes or so. General Majesty had also picked up the unfortunate habit of grinding his teeth. Everyone thought it was gross. Mechanicus had tried making a robot replacement for the King in his lab, but he just couldn’t make a good enough robot with Medieval materials. He’d managed to make a computer brain out of rocks and clay and bits of dirt, but it was only as powerful as, say, a 386, at best. He’d made twenty seven robot Kings in all, and not one of them was any good to anyone at all. They’d boot up fine, then move around a bit, but as soon as you wanted them to do anything, they’d freeze or hang or emit horrible noises from their low-fi speakers. He’d given up on the robot Kings fairly quickly. He had more important things to work on, like the towers.
The towers were a big part of the second reason of why Mechanicus was worried. Fort Majesty had been attacked in constant waves for the past two years. Each wave was more difficult to destroy than the last. So far, the tower defences had kept the walls of the fort from being breached, but the creatures from the Forest Of Dark Ice were becoming ever more resilient to the barrage they faced in the valley maze. It had started with simple wolves that could be killed with a simple arrow. The creatures that had most recently poured from the forest had been monstrous, 50-foot tall tortoises, clad in enormous sheets of thick metal armour. They had made it to the fortress gates, and had clawed at the walls and done significant damage before the Siege Cannon Towers had cracked their shells and put a stop to them. Mechanicus had not stood still on the matter of the steady escalation – he had devised ever more cunningly destructive towers of every stripe – towers that froze the creatures with icy blasts, towers that scoured the ground with high-intensity lasers, towers that erupted fire, or steam, or a viscous, burning, clinging liquid that the engineers called ‘ink.’ Some towers stunned, some targeted those creatures that took flight, some could snipe a creature from any given distance. Mechanicus’ engineers had plundered the gold that the beasts dropped as they died and used it to buy more additions to the defensive arsenal. Mechanicus had ordered the rocky maze to be altered and extended to maximise the destructive potential of as many towers as possible. The coffers of Fort Majesty were nearly empty of gold. Another wave was due to emerge from the forest in a matter of minutes. Mechanicus could afford only one more tower. He looked out at the vast, convoluted maze of firepower that he had seen built up over the past two years. He weighed every factor up in his head. He saw towers that were under-utilised, towers that were too heavily relied upon, corners of the maze that were not optimally efficient, stretches whereupon insufficient damage would be poured upon the encroaching beasts. He closed his eyes and reached a decision. He wrote a message on a scrap of paper, attached it to one of the few remaining homing pigeons and let it fly. His face fell into his hands. He had chosen the best possible action for the maze – it was to upgrade one of the existing Stun Towers into an Earthquake Tower so that it could wreck the highest possible damage upon ground-based creatures, but he knew that he wouldn’t be enough. There was only one, slim hope left to him. He swore that he would not have to seize upon it.
Mechanicus swept down to the barracks. He passed many nervous soldiers on his way down. They had seen those massive tortoises the day before. He barked at them to man the towers and that there was nothing to fear. When he reached the barracks, he found General Majesty checking his messages again.
“Majesty, there is not much –“ said Mechanicus.
“Ssh!” said General Majesty. He was on the phone.
“You don’t have any messages, put the phone down.” Said Mechanicus.
“I just want to check, quick!” Said General Majesty. Mechanicus waited for seven seconds.
“You have to send every available man out there into the maze. I’ve made them powerful weapons. We need the next wave to encounter as much resistance as possible. We can’t afford any more towers.” Said Mechanicus, his cybernetic eye glowing red. General Majesty put down the Magic Telephone.
“They’ll be surely killed. If the monsters don’t trample right over them, the Splash Towers will get them.” General Majesty said, coolly.
“We’ll be able to build new towers tomorrow. Just this once.” Mechanicus said.
“My men will stay on the fortress walls and attack from a safer, more strategically sound distance.” General Majesty said. This was turning into an argument.
“Putting them on the walls would be useless!” shouted Mechanicus. “Our strongest defences are at the beginning of the maze! We need to maximise our potential there rather than spreading it out!”
“I will not throw my men’s lives away.” Said General Majesty. He was serious. He won the argument because he was more serious. The men went on the walls that day. They fired arrows at the steaming six-legged elephants that attacked Fort Majesty that day. Only two elephants made it through the maze, but they broke down the walls, and they took long enough in doing it that the next wave came out of the forest. Quite a lot of that wave made it through the maze. Fort Majesty was utterly destroyed.
When Mechanicus and General Majesty watched the monsters breach the walls of the fort from the Observation Deck, Mechanicus turned to General Majesty and gave him this look. The look said, “Man, I bet you wish you’d listened to me.” Then the Observation Deck fell through the floor and Mechanicus had to take his last resort. As he fell, he flipped open the hatch on his left wrist and spoke two words. With his right hand, he grabbed General Majesty’s shoulder. Neither of them hit the ground. They both disappeared with a futuristic sound effect and a burst of blue light.
Later on, General Majesty would swear that in the instant before he disappeared, he’d caught a tiny glimpse of a familiar old lion jumping into the crumbling fortress.
End Of Chapter 56
Chapter 55 - You must gather your party before venturing forth.
The next two years were a long and hard journey for the King’s Adventure friends. Within a month, they were starving for the love that the King’s presence brought. They bickered and fought with each other. Stuff that they used to think was cool didn’t seem cool any more. Timothy and Jacob, who’d levelled up so much during the fight with the undead that they’d both become powerful generals with cool stats, took the thousand-or-so remaining troops and marched them back towards Europe’s Capital City. Now that they had all these new levels, they thought that they were in charge or something. One day, five months into their journey to Portugal, Axe Axewound just took off into the forest and no one even bothered to look for him because he’d made a big scene at dinner the previous night. He was angry with Roxy Tripfoot for allowing the King to leave. This was irrational. Roxy Tripfoot had had nothing to do with it. Axe just turned into a werewolf and howled at her and everyone was unsettled and then he’d stomped off beyond the campfire for the night. In the morning, he’d said nothing until noon, then he ran off into the forest.
With Axe gone, everyone just took their sense of loss and aggression out on Colonel Glowfist. They made fun of him for being fat, and he couldn’t defend himself because he himself was ashamed of being so damn fat. After a while, he spoke only to David. Every day, he gave David magic lessons. Because David was his only friend on that long, troublesome journey, he taught him really well. He really wanted David to one day become a King who was also incredibly talented with magic. He taught David some things that only really high-level archmagi could pull off. He wasn’t really supposed to do stuff like that, but whatever.
They were going to Portugal because that’s where the King’s personal boat was stashed. The Portuguese were a short, furry, tree-dwelling people who made the best boats, and they’d given the King the greatest boat in the world when he had solved a murder mystery. He found out who had killed the Chief Portuguese. He had asked questions in bars and looked for clues. The murderer had been the Chief Portuguese’s Grand Vizier. This had been a while back, when the King was still a young man, and he hadn’t really used the boat, which was called Good Ship Oranje, very much during his lifetime. It was looked after by a close Portuguese childhood friend of the King’s called Louis. Louis was allowed to take the Good Ship Oranje out on missions and chick cruises as often as he liked, so long as he kept Good Ship Oranje fully crewed and maintained and ready for the King’s personal use at all times. It took the Adventure Friends nearly a year to reach Portugal, Louis and the Good Ship Oranje. There were adventures and setbacks along the way. They had run into some old reindeer friends of Gappy and they had to restore the old Alpha Reindeer as the head of the herd. There was a new, evil Alpha Reindeer who was messing everything up. Gappy challenged him to a Reindeer Fight and won and then handed power back over to the old Alpha Reindeer and so the Adventure Friends went on their way. Only Gappy could talk to other reindeer, so that particular sub-quest had been a real pain. The Adventure Friends travelled across the whole of Europe, finding lost sisters, avenging senseis, solving crimes, running errands, eliminating gang bosses, returning favours, helping ineffectual suitors win their lady loves, scaring off protection rackets, hunting ogres, and generally being cool people. They did all of this to fund their journey and to honour their memory of the King. The King would have jumped at any chance to help a child of Europe and they knew it with every fibre of their being. They even found a new companion, Bernardetta Leathervest, hanging around a pub. She was a girl fighter and a decent replacement for Axe Axewound. She didn’t do anything too fancy, but she could wear heavy armour and was good with a spear (for medium distance fighting) and with a mace (for fighting skeletons).
When they finally met up with Louis at the Lisboa docks, they were near exhausted. They’d been up all night chasing around after some Dracula who’d sold them a fake Dracula King Medallion for a ludicrous sum of gold. They’d hunted him down in his little rented hovel and then there’d been a big fight with his hired witches. They’d taken their gold back, but they hadn’t yet had the time to rest. They were still sore, bloody and bone-tired when Louis hugged them all at the gangplank of Good Ship Oranje.
“Glowfist, you old so-and-so! It’d take me three whole Portuyears to hug all of ya! What happened to your sleek and slender frame, lad?” said Louis while trying to hug Colonel Glowfist. “Who’re ya friends?”
“This is Roxy Tripfoot, the long-dead Priestess-Queen of the Gypsies,” said Colonel Glowfist, leading Louis to each Adventure Friend for a hug.
“How lucky ya’re to have such an exotic beauty cavorting round ya! But watch em gypsies, Glowfist, they’ll eat ya.” said Louis, in good humour. “And here’s Prince David, I see, they do grow up so, don’t they? Nice to have someone to hug who’s the same size’s me!”
“This is Ba’al,” said Colonel Glowfist, “He’s a Desert God from Jerusalem,”
“Now there’s a man ya can count on in a tussle, ay? Nothing like a big Desert God with a great blessed scythe ta back yis up. Pleased ta meet ya, Ba’al.” said Louis, mid-hug.
“This is Bernardetta Leathervest,” said Colonel Glowfist, “She’s new.”
“Aye, she looks like a lesbian. But it takes all kinds to make an Adventure Team, don’t it.” Louis hugged her just as kindly as he had the others. “And look at this beautiful creature!” he said, meaning Gappy, “Hey there Gappy, ma boy, ya got some grey whiskers now, but ya still as pretty as a young buck on a long voyage.”
“He turns into a person sometimes. We’ve been teaching him how to talk.” Said Colonel Glowfist. Louis looked around.
“Now, where’s the King at, ay? I expect he’ll be along shortly, and that Sally will be with him. She’s never far from his side.”
Colonel Glowfist cleared his throat and told him the reason for their chartering of the Good Ship Oranje. Then he told him about Sally. Louis was silent for some time, then said, “Aye. Those lightning traps can be very well concealed. And quick. Very quick.” He then led the Adventure Friends up the gangplank and onto the ship. “Well, if it’s to the New World ya be going, then there’s no other crate in all of Europe that’d make the voyage, seein’ as they don’t make proper Viking ships no more. Let’s go rescue us the King of Europe!”
They set sail that afternoon. It was a difficult voyage. Louis and his crew had never been to the New World before, so they had to pick up a new navigator in Madeira. The new navigator turned out to be an evil wizard, so once they’d killed him and the giant rats and the water dragon that he’d summoned from another dimension, they had to second-guess at his maps and figure out his strange instruments. There was one big adventure with a sea-hag, and a minor adventure came about when some pirates kidnapped David, but otherwise it was a boring year at sea. David spent almost all of his time solving mysteries, finding lost items and asking lots of questions, with the rest of his time spent studying magic with Colonel Glowfist. The Adventure Friends were still at odds with each other quite often, but it was less severe as it had been the previous year. The crew were friendly and all kinds of new friendships came about. Colonel Glowfist and Roxy Tripfoot never even so much as touched each other. Roxy Tripfoot would often tell him how the motion of the ship on the water made her feel ill, but really she was just disgusted at all his fat. By spending so much time with David, Colonel Glowfist’s weight didn’t abate at all. One day, the cry came out that land had been sighted and there was a big party that consumed the last of their food and drink. During the party, Colonel Glowfist discovered that Roxy Tripfoot had been bunking down with the ship’s cook (who was partially gypsy) for many weeks. He cried and cried, but was so drunk that he’d forgotten all about it in the morning.
They were just about to make landfall when their ship was eaten by an octopus.
End Of Chapter 55
Chapter 54 - Take care of yourself.
So it turns out that Oranje wasn’t really that much of a bad person. She was trying to save her kid, which is a pretty nice thing to do. The reason she kept on clashing with the King is that she thought he was a villain, even though she was dead wrong about that.
“So why were you an Assassinatrix on the Moon?” asked the King. They were talking now, and not fighting as hard. Oranje had dropped her scythe accidentally-on-purpose and they were grappling with each other on the top of the ancient stone temple. It was raining hard and there was lightning all over the place, so they had to talk really loud.
“I needed the experience points!” cried Oranje, over the rumble of thunder. “I’d learned all I could from the gypsies!” The King punched her in the belly and then cried to go for her neck, but she grabbed his hands. He tried to push her over the edge of the temple, but she pushed back just as hard. They strained against each other, face to face, hand in hand. They wanted so much to be in love again. They kissed then, and for a second it was just like old times, back before it became necessary to lock their daughter Princess in a high, windowless tower. The kiss went long enough for lightning to strike again. With the flash lighting up her face so that she looked white and ghostly, Oranje pulled away from the King’s awesome lips.
“After I free Princess,” sobbed Oranje in the rain, “We’re both coming back – for David!” At this, the King’s eyes widened. He was shocked. The thought of losing David was so powerful that, in that instant, it was as if he had lost David already. The feeling chilled the King’s mighty blood and his strength was frozen. Oranje saw the look on his face and understood. With a mighty heave, she sent the King hurtling over the edge of the temple. Lightning flashed, and she was gone.
The King’s horror at the thought of losing David to Oranje was a much greater pain to him than his great fall onto the temple steps below. All through the long night, that horror ate away at his remaining seven hearts. He imagined all of his Inner Demons growing bigger and stronger out there on the Astral Plane. He imagined a future world without him, where Oranje and Princess and David went to Disney World every day and ate ice-cream for dinner and nobody even cared that he was gone. His Adventure Friends grew fat and old and useless, because Oranje had had sex with all of the enemies of Europe and now they sent her presents all the time. The fat, old faces of his Adventure Friends called out to him from their imaginary world. They asked him to get up, to fight on, to stop Oranje’s mad bid for power. They wanted him to stop them from ever giving to exist. Even Terrorthaw wanted him to get up. Terrorthaw said that he’d miss the King, and that Oranje would never let him see David because of the time when Terrorthaw tried to kill the guests at the King and Oranje’s wedding. The spectres of his future Adventure Friends all stood around him, chanting for him to get up. The King heard them. He wanted to obey them. He channelled all of his chi into healing his broken body enough that he could take one of their outstretched hands and just get up. He mustered up every ounce of chi he had. His shattered bones glowed green with life force. He put his hand up. It was taken, and he was pulled back up onto his feet.
The King was so grateful. He looked up at the sad, future versions of his Adventure Friends. He’d seen them all there around him, Adventure Friends old and new. They were all clapping for him. All of them: Rigor Mantis, Jungle Spiderweb, Father Dominoes, Lady Dragontail, Brother Kinetic of the Mandatory Order, Axe Axewound, Axe Axewound’s sister – Checker, Colonel Glowfist (thin version), Gappy, Trappy, Michael, Leonard Cohen, Roxy Tripfoot, the Devil, Baroness Catsex (the version of her before she became a goddess), The Iberian Samurai, Ba’al Hadad, Mechanicus, Queen Gobi, General Majesty, Robowoman MKVI, Colonel Glowfist (fat version), and Sally Minefield. Sally Minefield. He wanted to apologise to Sally for her death to a lightning trap in the Dracula King’s castle. He wanted to give her back her jacket. He reached into his inventory and pulled her jacket out to hand to her. When he looked up from his inventory, the Adventure Friends were gone. Instead, there were a bunch of Vikings standing all around him. They all had their spears pointed at him. He was trying to hand them a slightly charred leather jacket in a woman’s size.
Confused, the Vikings arrested the King and threw him in jail for two years.
End Of Chapter 54
Chapter 53 - We are different people now.
The King woke up screaming metal. Waves of steel span out of his mouth, nose, neck and chest. The waves broke up into tiny, perfectly spherical pellets almost as soon as they left the King’s body heat. The pellets clittered and clattered to the ground within a fifty meter radius. The King was pissed off.
He scrambled to his feet. This was difficult because he was buried in sand up to his stomach. He kicked with his fearsome feet and dug with his wooden hands. The King had beaten up demons and mysterious Indian gurus, so a bunch of sand was no problem to him. It was just a distraction. Another such distraction was all the fire in the impact crater. His waking scream had pushed the fire out to the rim of the crater, but it was still way too hot. The King didn’t have time for fire. With a little scream (for the King, that is. It was actually a pretty huge scream to you or I), he flung himself at the fire and fly-kicked it right across the beach. He watched it fly in a pretty firey arc into the ocean. So it is to any fire that stands in the way of the King!
The King looked around. He was breathing heavy. The last of the vestigial energies from the seven World Stones was fading fast. He’d need to eat, and eat soon, if he didn’t want to die from the sudden loss of all of his energy. Another distraction! He ran right into the ocean and swam with all his might over to a little island full of seals. The seals on the island have never seen a King of Europe before, so they didn’t know how to react when the King scrambled upon their island and began to devour them. By the time they had decided to be so afraid, they had been eaten. After roaring, the King dove back into the ocean and was back to the edge of his impact crater on the beach within moments. His stomach was full and he would not die when the energy of the World Stones wore off. He could feel his power levels steadily descending to normal. He breathed. He meditated for thirty seconds. Then he opened his eyes, and there was a crash of drums when he did this. He instantly broke into a run. He ran into the jungle that surrounded the beach. He ran towards the plume of smoke that marked the landing site of Oranje’s rocket ship.
Oranje had not been so quick to get up and get rid of all the distractions she had been presented with. She was still trying to put out the flames that engulfed her rocket ship by pouring sand and water it. Oranje wasn’t born hardcore like the King. But maybe that made her more determined. In any case, she hadn’t expected to be flykicked in the chest by the King, who suddenly leapt out of the dark jungle like a graceful lamb. It was pretty cool that, even though she was way behind the King in getting rid of distractions, she was exactly on the same page as him when it came to fighting one-on-one. As she reeled back from the flykick to the chest, she grabbed the King’s ankle and slammed his entire body into the wrecked and smoking rocket ship, destroying it utterly. Their fight resumed. It had been going on for about nine days now.
It had begun when the King had jumped off the roof of the Dracula King’s castle, turned into Super King and flown after Oranje in her rocket ship. The King had chased Oranje across Romania, slamming through mountain tops when she rode high and gibbing sheep and peasants like crazy when she rode low. At first, Oranje was just intent on getting away, but when they left the borders of Romania, she called in some handy bird henchmen she had. Super King was no match for any number of birds, but they slowed him down and so Oranje kept up the lead. She was even able to stop and refuel and stock up on weapons and ship upgrades. When he caught up with her again, she fought him directly, shooting at him with all kinds of crazy guns and sending all kinds of flying mercenaries and robots at him. None of it stopped Super King. He just kept on coming, screaming and laughing and spitting flames all the way. Just as Super King grabbed onto the fin of Oranje’s rocket ship and tore at the superstructure with his teeth, Oranje throttled the rocket ship right out of the atmosphere and into space. She thought that Super King would suffocate out there. That didn’t happen, of course. Super King just kept flying at her. He care when he hit asteroids. He didn’t even care when Oranje fired homing missles at him. He either took them in the face and caught up with her later or guided the homing missiles up towards the rocket ship’s fuel pods, whereupon they detonated and damaged the ship. When the rocket ship dropped back into the Earth’s atmosphere, trailing little explosions the whole way, Super King grabbed onto one of the back fins again and fell to Earth with it. The King had lost his edge by reverting back to his normal form, but he was determined to keep fighting until he got Oranje to tell him why she had left him all those years earlier.
The King jumped out of the wreckage of the rocket ship, drew Cutty from his scabbard, and steel was met with steel as Oranje blocked his thrust with her scythe. The King laughed. Everyone knew that scythes were useless. They had a pretty epic sword fight right then, and the jungle around them got real messed up. But while the fight was going on, Cutty was talking. He was having a conversation with the King and with Oranje too, even though they were all having a fight. This is how the conversation went: Right when the King brought Cutty out of his scabbard, Cutty yelled, “Stop! Please, Your Highness, stop!”
“No way, Cutty!” said the King.
“You’ve been fighting for days and days! You’re not getting anywhere!” said Cutty.
“Yes I am, we’re in a jungle.” said the King.
“Your Highness, you are being difficult.” Said Cutty.
“No I’m not!” said the King.
“Why are you even fighting with Oranje, Your Highness?” said Cutty.
“Duh! Cutty! I’m trying to get the Dracula King’s medallion from her. You know, the thing we need to free the gypsies so we can finish the quest we’re on?” said the King.
“Yes, but why don’t you ask her why she wants it?” said Cutty.
“Earth to Cutty!” said the King, then laughed at his own joke. This is the first time anyone ever used that ‘Earth to …’ joke. “She’s going to use it to mess up my stuff. That’s what she’s been doing the whole time!” said the King.
“Actually, she just happens to crop up in the same places you go to, Your Highness. She might not actually be actively out to get you.” Said Cutty.
“Of course she is!” said the King.
“Oranje, are you going to use the Dracula King’s medallion to mess up the King’s stuff?” said Cutty. The fight was still going on. They were all in this scary temple now. They were dodging traps.
“Not particularly,” said Oranje, “But I’ll stop him if he gets in my way!” she said.
“Okay, good.” Said Cutty. “If I may ask, what is it that you want to use the Dracula King’s medallion for, Oranje?” he said.
“To rescue my daughter!” said Oranje.
“Oh!” said Cutty, shocked.
“What?!” said the King, also shocked. With that, Oranje knocked Cutty out of the King’s hand. Cutty squealed. The King put up his hands.
“What’s all this about a daughter?” said the King.
“Our daughter!” cried Oranje.
“You locked her in a tower, chief.” Said Cutty, from the floor.
“I knew that!” said the King, defensively.
End Of Chapter 53
Chapter 52 - The first attack on Fort Majesty.
General Majesty had got everything running pretty smoothly in the castle that Mechanicus had built. They’d named it after him, so he was doubly obligated to do a good job. It was all organised. The guards had really complicated patrol routes, making it hard to sneak up on them, the alarm buttons weren’t too far apart and everyone knew exactly where the fire buckets were. It wasn’t a fortress that just anyone could break into. It was really hard to attack, too. It had mad fortifications. Mechanicus’ engineering corps had cut out a long, winding valley that led all the way to the remnants of the Forest of Dark Ice. Anyone who was going to get to the fort would have to come down that valley. Along the walls of the valley stood hundreds of guard towers. Mechanicus had fixed their clockwork so that they automatically fired arrows at bad guys and monsters, but not anyone who was affiliated with Europe. Two engineers were out in the valley at all times to repair the towers or, if necessary, to build new ones, or even upgrade the old ones to more sophisticated towers.
Mechanicus’ lab, deep with the fortress itself, was all abuzz with researching all kinds of new, awesome towers that could be built in the valley. Mechanicus himself was overseeing the most awesome ones that used the advanced science from the future. Mechanicus had not told anyone that he was from the future, not even the King. Everyone thought that his cybernetic parts were just ordinary magic. Mechanicus could go back to his own time whenever he liked, because his space ship was still in orbit and cloaked so no one could detect it. Even though he had been in Medieval Europe since he was a small boy, he had never felt the need to leave. He was personal friends with the King, who was officially the baddest badass in all of history. He had learned about the King in Future School. The King was a subject all by himself, like History, Future Maths and Being A Good Person. Mechanicus had aced all of his classes on the King. He was probably the best and youngest expert, in his own time, on the subject of the King. He had whipped up his own time-travelling spaceship just so he could hang out with him. This was no big deal. Almost everyone in the future could build a time-travelling spaceship. Mechanicus’ robot parents had called him up from Ceres-City just before he took his trip to tell him what a good idea it was. Nobody else had gone into the past to hang out with the King. They were all too intimidated. Mechanicus was cool that way.
When Mechanicus arrived in the Medieval age and met up with the King and built a fortress that helped everyone fight off all those birds, he had immediately realised that everything he knew about the King was wrong: The King was even more awesome than anyone in the future had ever dared to believe. Mechanicus was also double-thrilled to find out that he had been the one to have built the King’s famous wooden hands. He had always wondered who had done that. He hadn’t been very good at it on the first try – wood was extinct in the future, and much harder to work with than the materials he was used to, like the living metal you could talk to – but he made a new pair of hands for the King every year and got better at it every time. He had been working on the latest pair of wooden hands whenever he hadn’t been involved in building the fortress in the Chillinous Plains. The latest pair were so strong that the King would be able to punch a lion in half with them, if he wanted to do that.
Mechanicus was pulled from his work by an engineer in a red jumpsuit running into the lab. “Sir!” he said, “The towers have started firing!”
“Wolves!” shouted Mechanicus. What he meant was that wolves were trying to attack the fortress. Wolves were weak and pretty common, so they were the most likely candidate for the first wave of attacks from the Forest of Dark Ice. Mechanicus threw down the Bunsen burner he was busy with. It shattered on the floor. He pushed the engineer in the red jumpsuit aside and ran up the stairs to the Observation Deck. He wanted to see how the towers did against the wolves. Up the time he got up on the deck, the wolves were already dead from being shot to pieces with arrows. Mechanicus nodded very curtly. It was not a good thing, nor was it a bad thing. He grabbed one of the messenger pigeons from one of the nests on the observation deck. He wrote out a message, pinned it to the bird’s leg and threw it right over the edge of the deck. The bird flew over to one of the engineers at the towers. The engineer wore gloves so that he wouldn’t have to touch the bird directly. Even though Mechanicus had sworn that these birds were okay, a lot of people were still basically terrified of them. In Mechanicus’ time, birds could talk, drive cars and vote in all the elections they wanted to. It was pretty weird to him that everyone in Medieval Europe hated them so much. He knew why they were like that – the Bird Wars had really messed a lot of people up – but he still found himself getting irritated whenever someone got weird on the subject of birds.
The message on the pigeon said this:
“Get the gold from the wolves. Build more towers.”
Mechanicus watched as the engineer dropped the bird, ran over the wolves, looted their bodies for gold, then ran around building more towers. This first wave had been easy. The attacks would become fiercer with every successive wave. The next one wouldn’t be wolves – it would be bears or something harder to kill. They might be attacked by trolls within the week and up to boulder monsters by the end of the month. They needed so many towers, it wasn’t even funny.
Mechanicus swished around, doing a cool gesture with his cloak. There was a lot of work to do.
End Of Chapter 52
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