The Companions Are Chosen

Best of the Boards
Janet Mullany


Smeg raised the shining blade above his head. “Who will join me, brothers? I stand before you, earth-tempered, mindful of the great quest on which I am called, to boldly go where even elvenfolk unevenly wander askance.”

There was a stir in the great hall under the sputtering torches. A figure stepped forward, clad in mail and girt with leather thongs. “I am Mighty Phlegm, cousin to Dork the Bile and Veinous the Vile. I thirst for adventure and hunger for fame and lust for immortality.”

Smeg’s eyes narrowed as he lowered his blade, and fingered the flashing jewels of its hilt, fingers idly caressing the bulbous glowing ruby of the pommel. “Aye. So it may be. Is that Dork the Bile who lives by the Lake of Forgetfulness or Dork the Bile who sells eels ‘neath the Castle Thunderous portcullis?”

“It is neither. My cousin is Dork the Bile who lives down the lane.”

A gasp arose. Pitch fell from the torch and flame flared among the rushes on the floor. A servant rushed forward to stamp out the fire with his bare feet.

“You shall join us,” Smeg announced and took the other in a rough male embrace. Disentangling their beards, he bellowed, “There are no more?”

“Aye, sir.” A thready voice rose from the depths of the hall where base men and hounds vied for scraps thrown from the high table.

A low rumbling arose in the flickering glare. “Sacrilege. Who dares speak?”

Smeg’s eyes fell on the huddled figure at his feet. “Who are you, scum?”

Dork unsheathed a sword that rippled like flame ‘neath water in the holy shrine of the Maidens of the Mothers of the Grateful Dead. “I will end his insolence ere the great clock of the Indigos strikes fifteen.”

“Stay.” Smeg strode forward, one hand on his swordhilt, the other clasping a bejewelled horn cup of mead that reflected the intense ardor of his eyes. He gestured forcefully, “Speak, dog.”

“Lord, I am but a humble jester. I will lighten your nights with song, I will juggle sundry implements neath the midday sun, I will provide jolly japes and pleasant diversions, I will sing many a catch and teach your companions amusing rounds to lighten their loads. When danger looms, I will caper and jest ’til the enemy is o’ercome with merriment and wets his britches. All this I can do, sir, and more.”

Smeg reflected. “It is well.”

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Janet, a.k.a. elailah, can be reached at janetmly[at]erols.com. You can also find her at the Toasted Cheese forums and Monday Motivation chat.

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