Revis and Matticus Save the Kingdom, Chapter 30

“Get out of my wife’s chair,” Matticus seethed.  His right hand reached for his sword, but Revis grabbed his arm before the steel could clear the sheath.

“I quite like it here,” Jaded quipped, flashing her now human teeth in a twisted grin, “I think I’ll stay.”

The sight of of someone other than The Queen sitting on the throne was so disturbing to the Jester that he began to fight against his Knight’s grip.  He wanted to free himself so he could tear Jaded apart and while he could hear Revis whispering furtively into his ear to calm down because it was likely a trap, the words meant nothing to him.  Matticus was lost to his rage.

Revis considered knocking his liege upside his royal head, but wasn’t sure he’d be able to strike swift enough if he let the Jester loose before Matticus was out of his reach.  So, instead, needing to to do something to snap Matticus out of his vengeance fueled state, Revis stomped on the Jester’s foot as hard as he could manage given the circumstances.

Matticus howled in pain.  Jaded howled in laughter.  And, as the Jester hopped around on one foot, cursing, and cradling his sore foot in his hands, Revis turned his full attention to Jaded, “You are no longer a threat to us.  Give us your sorcerer and we’ll let you live.”

“Just because I’m not a vampire anymore, that doesn’t mean I’m not a threat!”

Jaded blew them a kiss. For a nanosecond, it made Revis smile because he and his wife had recently taught their daughter to do it. It was so cute when his baby girl did it. When Jaded did it, however, it was not cute.

As she blew into her hand, a giant ball of fire erupted from her palm. Matticus stopped his cursing and stared open-mouthed at the oncoming conflagration. Something hit him from the side, sending him flying out of the flame’s path. He watched helplessly as Revis, who had been the thing that pushed him out of the way, disappeared in the middle of the fireball.

“No,” he yelled at the empty space that once contained his friend.

The sound of Jaded’s laughter snapped him out of his grief. He replaced it with rage. Her desecration of the Queen’s throne was bad enough. This pushed him over the edge. Matticus went to unsheathe his sword, but found that it was no longer there.

It must have fallen out when I hit the ground, he thought. That didn’t bother him. With the amount of rage he had built up now, he felt that he was more than capable of ending Jaded’s life with his bare hands.

The unarmed Jester rushed the throne, his berserk anger lending him speed he would not normally possess.  Jaded’s cackling faded, along with the pounding of his boots, as his racing heart thumped louder and louder in his chest.  Her face twisted, her eyes nearly closed, head thrown back, and jaw agape in laughter, Jaded seemed unfazed by the Jester’s approach.  He reached for her, his hands contorted into talons that sought her neck, sought to end her life in a crushing grip.

Running into the magical barrier felt like running into a brick wall.  All the momentum Matticus had built up rippled through his bones as he slammed to a crunching halt.  The look of delight on Jaded’s face kept his anger ramped up, though, which kept the resulting pain mostly at bay.  Despite being immobilized by the spell, the Jester continued to attempt to push forward.  A few more inches and his hands would wrap around her windpipe.  A few more inches and he maniacal laughter would be silenced forever.

But, the spell held, and Matticus couldn’t get any closer to her no matter how hard he struggled against the magic.  Jaded’s smile seemed to widen as she ceased her cackle, drew a wicked looking dagger from a sheath at her waist and brought it up to Matticus’ throat.

The sound of metal ringing suddenly filled the room. Matticus risked a glance and saw that the dagger had dropped out of Jaded’s hand. She was still smiling, but her eyes were wide. A spot of red appeared on her side, growing slowly.

Whatever magic had been holding Matticus back collapsed. His hands wrapped around her throat just in time to keep her from falling over. He laid her down on the floor just as her eyes rolled up into her head and she lost consciousness. Only one thing could’ve done that, the Jester thought. “You shouldn’t have killed her,” he said to the room, with a smile on his face.

“She’ll live,” came the reply, as Revis reappeared.

“How did you survive the fireball?”

“I don’t know,” The Knight answered, handing Matticus his sword. “This got caught in the straps of my armor when I pushed you. I guess the fire magic of the sword protected me from the flames.”

“Wait. Isn’t that how Bruenor survived his fall on the fiery dragon’s back? With Drizzt’s sword?”

“Quit telling people where I’m stealing my ideas from! Besides, only a few people would probably have gotten that reference if you didn’t point it out.”

“Hell, I made the reference, and I don’t ‘get it.’  I think your secret is safe.”

“Whatever.”

“Right, no matter, it was still very lucky,” Matticus glanced over his knight to make sure he was in fact okay.  All he got in response was a raised eyebrow.  When the Jester was satisfied that Revis hadn’t been harmed, he changed the subject, “Where do you Jaded got the magic from?  I didn’t know that sorcerers could transfer their abilities to someone else?”

Revis glanced down at Jaded before replying, “It was probably just a ruse.  A trick to make us think that Jaded had somehow learned magic in the months since we last fought and captured her.  Or…”

“Or?”  Matticus queried.

“Or,” Revis replied with a heavy sigh, “the sorcerer is far more powerful than I believed possible.”

“I do so love how you always have good news for me.”

Revis said nothing, but the glare he threw in his Jesterness’ direction spoke volumes.

Matticus averted his eyes, and nudged Jaded with the toe of his right boot.  “Guess we aren’t going to get much out of her right now.  Got any ideas on what we should do next?”

“Well, you could go directly to the source,” came a voice from behind the throne.

Matticus and Revis looked to see the cloaked figure of the sorcerer float out from concealment. The fact that the sorcerer never touched the ground unnerved the Jester a little bit. “Go to the source,” Matticus laughed. “Are you offering to tell us everything?”

Now, it was the sorcerer’s turn to laugh. “Not everything. After all, I’m not an old Bond villain. I’m keeping some of my secrets. I will tell you the answer to the question you just asked, though: how Jaded got magic.”

“Oh, do tell,” Revis muttered sarcastically.

Ignoring the tone of the knight’s voice, the sorcerer answered, “She gets her magic the same way your Knight does, Jester. She uses magical items. They were just trinkets that I had laying around. Jaded thought they’d be fun, so I let her have them.”

“Same as me, you say? That’s very interesting. Tell me something…”

Without finishing his thought, Revis flew into motion faster than Matticus could register his movement. He turned his head in time to see the dagger that Revis had just thrown at the sorcerer’s face get deflected up. Revis’ blade missed the body, but got caught in the hood covering the sorcerer’s head. The knife’s momentum tore the cloak off, revealing the identity of the true mastermind behind the plot to overthrow the kingdom.

“It can’t be,” Matticus whispered as he looked at their tormentor: Goldfish.

Revis and Matticus Save the Kingdom, Chapter 26

“Attack?”  Steph’s eyes went wide with fear, “That can’t be!”

“The vampires must have gotten wise to the disappearing populace,” Revis replied.  “They probably sent out patrols to see if there were any groups camping outside the city walls.  That’s what I would have done.”

Steph shot Revis a death glare.

“What’s the plan,” Matticus whispered, trying to bring the focus back on their current problem.  “We have to go to their aide, right?”

Steph’s eyes went even wider.  She hadn’t ever considered leaving the small community she had been helping to build to their fate.  It troubled her greatly that such an idea would even be a consideration.  Her discomfort grew with each passing second it took the Knight to respond.

With a sigh, Revis shook himself out of his revelry and addressed Steph and Matticus.  “I’ll use my ring to get close to the camp and see what the situation is.  If there is a chance we can save what’s left I’ll come up with a plan and we can spring into action.  But…”

“There is no ‘but,'” Steph interjected firmly.  “We will help them.  Go ahead and see what you need to see, that’s fine.  I expect you to come up with a plan, though.  The First Knight needs to live up to his title right now.”

A look of profound sadness crossed his face as he replied, “I will do anything I can to rescue as many of them as possible, but I will not risk losing our chance to save the entire Kingdom in order to save a couple of people. I can’t jeopardize the lives of the many for the sake of the few. The job of First Knight is to serve the greater good. Sometimes that means making decisions that break your heart, but they have to be made anyways.”

Before she could offer a rebuttal, he turned himself invisible and started walking towards the camp. Steph debated telling Matticus her argument, but decided it could wait until Revis returned. The two of them waited in silence for  a number of minutes. Matticus managed to keep himself from jumping when the sounds of screaming came from the direction Revis walked. He put his hand on his sword, intending to go see what was happening.

“Don’t,” Steph advised, grabbing ahold of his shoulder. “You may cause more problems than you’d solve by going there.”

Out of the darkness, a woman came running. “Faithhopechocolate,” Steph exclaimed. “What happened?”

“No time,” the woman cried. “He needs your help.”

As Matticus and Steph hastened to follow Faithhopechocolate, the Jester was struck by the woman’s appearance.  She was wearing the stylings of the Order of the Holy Paraclete.  He had heard of the order but, as this was the first time he had ever met one of the sisters, he had presumed their numbers had dwindled away to nothing.

Her life of servitude had left her extremely strong and despite the stringency of her robes keeping her strides to a minimum, Matticus and Steph struggled to keep up with her.  The Jester was impressed.  He found her name very striking too.  Faith, hope, and chocolate, were three of his favorite things.

He knew he should be worried about his Knight, but Revis had managed to survive more than one harrowing situation in the past, it was one of the reasons Matticus had made him First Knight.  Beyond his loyalty to the kingdom, the man had an uncanny ability to find a way out of the worst scraps.  Plus, he had all those wonderful toys and tricks.  As much as he complained that he wanted to know where Revis had acquired everything he had stowed in his pack, Matticus trusted his Knight implicitly.

The closer they got to the camp, the thicker the smoke became. When they arrived, they found that there was a very large bonfire in the center of the camp, but the structures remained unharmed. From the other side of the fire, Revis stumbled into view. He fell to his knees, wobbled for a second, then finished his face-first fall to the ground.

Matticus and Steph rushed to his side. They rolled him onto his back. The entire front of his armor was covered with blood. His breathing was extremely rapid and his eyes were closed. “You better not die saving my people,” Steph muttered before turning to Faithhopechocolate and asking her questions.

The corner of Revis’ mouth turned up in the start of a smile, but it vanished so quickly that the Jester wasn’t sure whether or not he actually saw it. Deciding that he did, Matticus cuffed the side of his Knight’s head. “You jerk,” he yelled. “I was really worried about you.”

“Sorry,” Revis apologized, opening his eyes. Ignoring the look of pure hatred he was receiving from Steph, he continued, “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of getting Steph back. You just happened to be collateral damage.”

“What actually happened here?”

“I really did smell oil burning, but it was from this bonfire, not the buildings. They made it to burn the bodies of all the sparkly vampires they’ve killed. I just helped them put a couple in there. That’s where the blood came from.”

“Who protected them?” After Revis pointed at Faithhopechocolate, Matticus asked in disbelief, “You killed all of them?”

“Vampires don’t like crosses,” she explained.

“You just showed them crosses?”

“No, I hit them over the head with one.”

The Jester looked from Faithhopechocolate to Revis and back again, and then rolled his head back and belly laughed harder than he had in a long time.  Steph was not amused, but the Jester’s laughter was infectious and Revis joined in.  Sputtering between laughs, Matticus stated, “That must be one heck of a cross!”

Faithhopechocolate’s eyes beamed with love, “You better believe it!”

Steph stamped her foot in frustration, trying to snap the three of them out of their frivolity, “This is serious, though, if the vampires have sent out patrolling bands this far from the city, they must have known they were supposed to be looking for something, and when those patrols don’t make it back, they will send a larger force expecting trouble.  Well armed.  Prepared for whatever we can throw at them.”

The weight of Steph’s words couldn’t dampen the Jester’s mirth, he just kept picture sparkly vampire after sparkly vampire getting bashed over the head by a whole myriad of crosses.  In the back of his mind he made a mental note to make sure that some sort of weaponized cross was added to the armory when he made it home.

Revis had stopped laughing at that point. “Look, Steph,” he said, “you and Faithhopechocolate need to tell the people here to start getting everything ready for a road trip. They’re coming with us to Long Beach.”

“What about the people still left in Bruges,” Steph countered.

“I’m afraid they’re on their own for now.” Before Steph could argue any further, Revis continued, “I don’t like it any more than you do, but we can’t do anything for them.”

Reluctantly, Steph walked off to start giving orders to those in the camp. Matticus and Revis began refilling their own supplies, filling up on water and food. Halfway through their chore, a shout came from the outskirts of the camp. It was followed by another a few seconds later. The two men slumped their shoulders and shook their heads. They knew what was happening before Steph ran up to tell them.

“They’re attacking now,” she exclaimed. Revis and Matticus began reaching for their weapons. “No,” Steph stopped them. “You were right. You have bigger things to do. You two go. We’ll hold them off so you can get to Long Beach and stop these sparkly bastards for good.”

Matticus wanted to protest, but couldn’t. Revis had grabbed him and was pulling him away from the fight.

Revis and Matticus Save The Kingdom, Chapter 22

Matticus tried to scream, but he had no mouth, and there was no air to carry the sound waves anyway.  Next to him, he saw that Revis had turned into a whale, and for some reason he thought that was weirder than his own predicament: he had turned into a potted plant.  He tried to laugh, but when nothing happened he remembered he had no mouth.

He did, however, notice that they were falling at a great rate of speed, and the world they were approaching was getting larger and larger.  As he began to feel the air rushing through his leaves he realized he could scream if he had a mouth, and was actually thankful he was a plant so he couldn’t hear the terror in his voice.  The whale thrashing around next time was making plenty of noice for both of them as it was.

As the air grew thicker he could feel the heat of the friction starting to singe his leaves, the pain started to border on intense.  And then, at a probability factor of 1 to 1.25 million to the twelfth degree, Matticus and Revis were returned to their bodies and safely transported back to the kingdom.  As the world around them righted itself, they thought they heard a monotone voice talking about an infinite improability drive going offline, but since they had no idea what that meant they assumed they’d misheard.

The prison cell looked exactly as it had when they left, except there was no sign of Jaded. Matticus pulled on the door, but it was locked. His Knight still had the key, so getting out was not a problem. They made their way out, getting only slightly lost now that Jaded wasn’t here to lead them around the castle.

While they were searching the castle, they noticed something strange. A fine layer of dust had settled over everything. Nobody had been here in some time. “How long were we bouncing around in between universes,” Matticus wondered aloud.

Revis ignored him, looking out for any traps that Jaded may have left for them on her way out. They made it to the hole that Grayson had made without incident. Judging from the position of the sun, it was around noon. The two men spent the rest of the day revisiting all of the other locations they had been to on the island. All of them were deserted as well.

“I hate to say it,” Revis began.

“Then don’t,” Matticus pleaded. “Please, don’t say it.”

With a shake of his head, the Knight finished his thought anyways. “We’ve got to go back to Bruges.”

“I told you not to say it!”

“Sorry.”

“You better be…  Do you still have the map?”

Revis unslung his pack and dug through it until, with a triumphant grunt, he pulled out the map that Ruta had given them back in Tuscon.  Unfurling it, carefully so its worn edges and fraying sections would remain intact, the two men studied it and discussed possibly routes until they had settled on the fastest of the paths least likely to result in their deaths.

As Revis placed the map back in his pack, Matticus mused, “Though, couldn’t you just use your whistle to ask if Rara or Grayson could transport us there?”

Revis thought about it and then shook his head, “No, I don’t want to call upon them unless we absolutely have to.”

Matticus frowned, and dug his toe into the dusty trail.  “I think it might be wise to talk to someone we can trust before we head into Bruges again.”

Looking up and around at the scenery, he continued, “It’s obvious some time has passed since we imprisoned Jaded here, we have no idea what we will find in the city.  We have no idea what this world is like anymore.”

“That’s a disturbing thought,” Revis quipped. “The problem with finding someone we trust to talk to first is that we’ll have to pass Bruges up to do that. Bruges is directly across the sea from us. We may not have time to go someplace new and then head back to Bruges. We should probably just go into the city and find out for ourselves. Either way, we’ll have to find a boat before we can go anywhere.”

They looked around the dock, but there were no boats in sight. Revis and Matticus walked further up the beach, looking for anything they could use to sail back to Bruges. An hour into their trek, they found a small cove containing a two man vessel.

There were two people on board, a man and a woman. The man, who was a sparkly vampire, had the woman tied up. Revis was about to signal to Matticus what they should do when the woman spoke. “This is what I get for picking a man without a beard,” she muttered.

“Shut up,” the vampire commanded.

“Do vampires have movements? Are your movements smooth? Do you have to push them out?”

“Shut up!”

As the captive continued to goad the vampire, Matticus and Revis crept down to the small dock the vessel was moored to.  With a silent prayer that it would work, Revis activated his ring, and both he and Matticus were relieved when he successfully disappeared from view.  As the knight did his best to stealthily board the small craft, Matticus went into action to distract the sparkly vampire.

“Hey, excuse me,” Matticus started, interrupting the heated exchange between the vampire and the woman.  Trying to play dumb, something that didn’t come naturally to the Jester, he continued, “Would you be able to help me?  I’m lost and trying to find my way to Bruges.”

“Get out of here,” the vampire growled menacingly, only throwing a minor glance in the direction of the Jester before turning his full attention back to the lady.

“So, you can’t help me then?” Matticus queried innocently.

The vampire, in a rage, whipped around and prepared to lunge at the Jester.  The speed of the attack caught Matticus off guard and he stumbled backwards, tripping over his own feet, and fell to the ground.  He fumbled for his sword, but he was too slow, the vampire would be on him before he could properly defend himself.

Luckily, Revis had made it into position, and two daggers suddenly sprouted from the vampires chest, then disappeared as the beast grunted in pain and surprise.  A moment later its head splashed into the water next to the boat, and its body crumbled to the deck.

Matticus untied the woman. “Are you ok,” he asked.

“I’m fine.”

“What about your movements,” Revis asked. “Are they regular?”

The woman answered excitedly. Matticus stared at the pair in confusion as they talked about their bowel movements for many minutes. “Uhh,” the Jester interrupted, “we’ve got things to do, Revis.”

“Wait a minute,” she shouted. “You’re Revis? And you’re Matticus!”

“Uhh….yeah. Who are you?”

“I’m Miss Four Eyes, but that’s not important. They told everyone that you were dead.”

“Who told everyone that?”

“Jaded and her mysterious sorcerer. They told the Kingdom that you two were dead when they took it over two months ago.”

“We’ve been gone for two months,” Revis muttered, shaking his head.

“I don’t care how long we’ve been gone,” Matticus yelled, grabbing Miss Four Eyes’ arm. “What happened to my family?”

Revis and Matticus Save the Kingdom, Chapter 18

Revis grabbed Matticus and Drun and shoved them both through the open portal.  Matticus, having already experienced his Knight’s shenanigans before, expected it and went peacefully.  Drun, on the other hand, and more than slightly inebriated, was not amused and his string of expletives was cut short as he transferred from one side to the other.  Revis gave a short laugh and then stepped through.

All was dark, and soft, and there was a peculiar odor in the air.

“Where are we?”  Matticus whispered as he reach out and his hands grasped what felt like fabric.  Based on Drun’s dire warning right before they had been pushed through the portal, Matticus was on edge and the darkness was playing tricks on his minds.  He’d have sworn he was holding an article of clothing, but that didn’t make any sense.

“We are in one of Twindaddy’s closets,” Drun drunkenly whispered back.

Matticus felt the man stagger forward and then heard him curse again, a little less like a whisper, as he knocked around looking for a way to open the door.

“Quiet you fool,” Revis whispered fervently.  “You’ll give away our element of surprise.”

Drun stopped trying to open the door and, to the Jester and Knight’s horror, began a deep roaring belly laugh.  “Oh, don’t you worry,” he said as he continued laughing, “there will still be a surprise.”

“Shut up, Revis commanded. “If you keep doing that, Twindaddy will know we’re here!”

This made Drun laugh even harder. “He already does.”

They heard a click sound from above their heads. Suddenly, a light blinded them. When their eyes finally cleared, they saw Drun holding a string that was attached to one of the magical lights that needed no fire. Drun was no longer wearing his armor. He was now outfitted in a strange type of clothing.

“What do you mean,” Matticus hesitantly asked.

After looking at the Jester in annoyance, he announced, “I’m Twindaddy.”

“But…. you’re Drun.”

“I’m both, you twit.”

“Hey! There’s no need for name calling….. Ummm, what’s a twit?”

Matticus knew what a twit was, but the exasperated look on Twindaddy’s face was worth acting like he didn’t. “Ok,” Revis broke in. “This story is getting off track. We should probably get back to the plot.”

Before Matticus could ask him what the hell he was talking about, Twindaddy responded with, “You’re right. It’s kind of dragging here.”

“Then get on with it,” the Jester snapped, irritated that the brothers always seemed to know what each other was talking about.

With his eyes adjusted to the light, and tired of being in the cramped quarters with Drun/Twindaddy and Revis, Matticus figured out how to open the door and stepped out into the room beyond.

“Hey!”  Twindaddy yelled and tried to stop him but he was too inebriated to succesfully grab the Jester.  “Where do you think you are going?”

Matticus did not answer.

The closet opened into a larger room that was obviously part of a dwelling, but unlike anything Matticus had ever seen.  It seemed fairly useless as a home.  There were too many unguarded windows.  The walls seemed paper thin.  It would not be easy to defend.  He found himself wondering how someone who obviously lived a soft life could have managed to unleash so much chaos into his kingdom.

Anger coursing through him, he turned to confront Twindaddy once and for all.  He pulled his sword, spoke the magic words to get the flames going, and started to say, “Twindaddy, how dare you send the vamp…”

Matticus’ voice trailed off, however, as he realized that his sword hadn’t burst into flames as it should have.  As it had without fail every other time he had called upon it over the course of the quest.

“Futbol rules,” he said, again, and still the sword did nothing.

With a shake of his head, Twindaddy sighed. “This is The Real World,” he said. “Unfortunately, magic doesn’t work here.”

The Jester turned to his Knight. Revis looked down at his ring. For a second, he just stood looking at it, but nothing happened. He also shook his head, confirming what Twindaddy had told them.

“Well, even without its magic, my sword is still very sharp. If you don’t want to find out just how sharp it is, you better start talking. Why did you send all of those sparkly vampires to The Kingdom?”

“Look, those sparkly bastards just started showing up one day. They’re creepy and weird. I sure as hell didn’t want them to stay around here, so I started shoving them through the portal. I didn’t care where they ended up, as long as they were nowhere near me anymore.”

“So you just infested my homeland, and endangered all of my people’s lives, just because you didn’t want to deal with them?”

“When you say it like that it makes me sound like a bad guy.”

Matticus sputtered for a few seconds, trying to convey his contempt for the man, but it all came out unintelligibly.

“I think what his Jesterness is trying to say,” Revis jumped in, “is that yes, intentionally or not, you do appear to be the bad guy.  So, now that we are all on the same page, how are we going to resolve that?”

Twindaddy shrugged.  Matticus continued fuming.  Revis noticed that the Jester was eying a peculiar looking sitting contraption with some malice, and instructed Matticus to sheath his sword before he started turning things into splinters.

“There’s no need for your sword, your Jesterness, go ahead and put it away.  I’m sure we can work something out without resorting to further violence.”

Again, Twindaddy shrugged his shoulders.  Matticus eyed him suspiciously but reluctantly returned his sword to its sheath.  He knew where it was should he decide he had need of it later.

“Okay Twindaddy, if that is your real name, obviously, we can’t allow you to continue shuffling the sparkly vampires through the portal into my kingdom.  I know they are annoying.  I understand your desire to be rid of them, but there has to be someplace else we can ship them off to.  Can’t you send them over to Drun’s side of the portal?”  Matticus asked, only mildly sarcastically.  “There are already a ton of weirdos over there.”

“I don’t control where they go once they hit the portal. I didn’t invent it. I just found it. I have no idea how that thing works. I assumed that they’d do what Matticus said and go into Drun’s world. Originally, I was going to have my squad mates use them for target practice.”

“You’re constantly saying your squad mates have bad aim,” Matticus interrupted. “Are they really that bad?”

“They suck at life,” Twindaddy said dismissively. “Once I figured out that they weren’t going to my other world, I honestly stopped caring about where they were.”

“Why didn’t you go in at the same time as them? Wouldn’t that take you to the same place as them?”

“Nope. Every time I go through the portal, no matter who else is with me, I go straight to Drun’s world. It won’t take me anywhere else. Besides, it’s over anyways. They stopped showing up once I sent their leader through.”

“Their leader,” Revis asked. “Who is their leader?”

“She said her name was Jaded…”

Revis and Matticus Save the Kingdom, Chapter 14

“What the what?”  Matticus stammered and fumbled but couldn’t get out the right words to express his amazement.

“Calm down,” Revis urged, placing a hand on the Jester’s shoulder, “and put your sword away before you hurt yourself.”

Matticus glared at his knight but extinguished the flaming sword and returned it to its scabbard without comment.

Thundering footsteps pulled their attention away from the marvel they had just witnessed to the approaching dragon.

“Thank you for your help, Grayson, and could you tell Rara that we are going to need some more of the healing potion.  A lot more.”

The dragon’s massive head nodded once and then he pushed his way free of the rubble he had created at the edge of the building.  With a giant leap and two quick beats of his wings he took to the air.

Matticus, mesmerized by the beauty of a dragon in flight, watched it’s progress until the remaining walls blocked his view.  Only then he did notice that his jaw was gaping open.  He closed it, but not before Revis had seen and started to ruefully shake his head.

“Not a word,” Matticus warned as he and his knight returned their attention to Jaded just as she opened her eyes.

“What happened,” she asked.

“We’ll get to that after you tell us what we want to know,” Revis stated. “Now, you said someone is giving you all of these other vampires. Who is he, and where do we find him?”

Jaded ignored him, looking over her body. Suddenly, she started freaking out. “What did you do to me,” she screamed, looking back and forth between the two men.

“I’ll tell you after you answer the questions.”

“I won’t answer your questions until you tell me.”

“I won’t tell you until you answer the questions.” When Jaded shot Revis a defiant glance, he continued, “There are plenty of other vampires we could get this information from. We, on the other hand, are the only ones who know what happened to you.”

Matticus looked at Revis in disappointment. He certainly didn’t want to keep tracking down individual vampires and asking them questions. It was already getting a little old. Revis gave him a “trust me” gesture and looked back at Jaded. She began to sob as she began telling her story.

“I come from a different realm. All of us do. We were sent here through a portal. The only difference is that, while the ones who came before me took off right after they got here, I stuck around and convinced the ones that followed to join up with me.”

Matticus opened his mouth to ask something but Revis silenced him with a glance.  Jaded was on the verge of giving them everything and he didn’t want the Jester to mess that up with an ill-timed question.  There would be ample opportunity to ask follow-ups after she finished her tale.

Jaded, unaware of the brief exchange between Matticus and his knight, continued.  “Even though I had been forced here, I found this world to be a bit of a lark and decided to say for awhile, rather than trying to find my way back.  When more of my kind, more vampires from my realm were forced through the same portal I convinced them to stay hidden and do our best to go undetected as we built our lives among the humans.

You were weak, scattered, and easily manipulated.  It was a breeze for us to infiltrate all manner of industries, regional government and security forces.  But, those were nothing, for us to truly rule we needed to take down the kingdom.  We needed to replace Matticus with one of our own.”

Jaded glared at the Jester and there was so much animosity behind her eyes that Matticus took an involuntary step back and his hand reached for the hilt of his sword. Once again, Revis calmed him with a gesture. “Who forced you through the portal, and why,” the Knight asked.

“I don’t know his name,” she answered. “All I know is that he scared me. As for why he did it, as he was forcing me through the portal, he muttered under his breath that nothing his emperor could do to him would be any worse than having to put up with us ‘sparkly’ vampires.”

While Matticus suppressed a chuckle, Revis continued his interrogation. “Vampires aren’t normally afraid of anything. What exactly was so scary about this guy?”

“He was covered head to toe in armor. His armor was white, like it was made out of bones.”

“So what,” Matticus interjected. “I’ve heard many reports of barbarians outside of The Kingdom that use bone armor. It’s not that uncommon.”

“He also had a weapon, one that he could hold in his hand, that could shoot fire,” Jaded countered angrily.  “Even you would be frightened at that.”

Turning to Matticus, Revis broke in, “He is a wizard, then. He must have a wand of fireballs.” When he saw the Jester start to shake his head, he asked, “What is it?”

“I’m the king, dammit! Why does everyone get cooler toys than I do?”

“Shouldn’t you have more pressing concerns right now, Jesterness?”

Matticus glared at Revis for the pointed slight.  It was true that he wasn’t actually King and it was also true that he probably should be more focused on getting rid of the invading vampires than anything else.

“Fine,” he mumbled and then turned his attention back to Jaded.  “Where can we find this wizard?”

She shook her head, “I’m not sure if you can get to him or not.  I can only take you to the portal where we all came through on this side.”

Matticus glanced over at Revis, “You probably have some trick up your sleeve or in your bag that can help us along from there, right?”

Revis shrugged his shoulders, “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”

“Have I told you everything you need to know?” Jaded queried, propping herself up on her elbows in preparation of standing up.  “Can one of you please tell me what the hell you did to me?”

Matticus was about to tell her what had happened, but Revis cut him off, “Not until you lead us to the portal.”

She rose and stretched her limbs, probing at the areas on her hand and leg where her wounds had been healed.  Satisfied, she flicked her eyes between Revis and Matticus and stepped around them towards the gaping hole where Grayson had entered and exited her fort, “Follow me, boys.”

Jaded stepped over some of the rubble, leading them deeper into the building. They went through so many twists and turns that Matticus began to think that the woman they were following was lost. At last, they came to the dungeon. She opened one of the doors and stepped inside.

The former vampire began reciting poetry. Revis was only paying half attention to it. His eyes darted back and forth, looking out to make sure she hadn’t led them into a trap. She ended her poem with a line about something with red wings when the back wall of the cell slid away, revealing a  small room. It was only ten yards long, ending with a wall made of white light.

“There it is,” Jaded said. “Now, tell me what happened to me.”

Before Revis could interrupt him again, Matticus told her everything they knew. She had held up her end of the deal and he didn’t want his Knight to keep putting it off. Instead, Revis grabbed the cell key out of her hand and shut its door. “Stay here,” he commanded. “We’ll be back as soon as we check out the portal.”

Matticus was looking at the portal when Revis walked up to him. “Maybe we shouldn’t…”

The Jester never finished the thought. Revis pushed him into the portal. After waiting ten seconds, to make Matticus start freaking out a little, he followed.

Revis and Matticus Save The Kingdom Chapter 10

Matticus, with his left hand on Revis’ shoulder, and his right hand on the pommel of his sword, kept vigilant watch for any sign of trouble as they snuck into Jaded’s fort.  He knew they were invisible and so they couldn’t be seen, even by the vampires, but knowing and trusting are two very different things.  He kept swinging his head down look where his feet touched the ground until to nearly stumble when he couldn’t actually see his feet.

Ahead of him, Revis sighed, and whispered, “Stop that!”

Their invisibility didn’t cloak them in silence though, and despite Revis’ attempt to urge the Jester quietly to cease his infernal shenannigans before he pull them both over, the words sounded far too loud to both their ears.  It set both Jester and Knight on edge.

Every creaking step thereafter caused them to flinch and cringe.  Their grips on their swords tightened and Revis could feel Matticus’ left hand grasping even more firmly on the armor of his shoulder.  The Knight sighed and shook his head, not for the first time questioning how a Jester became ruler of a kingdom.

They succesfully navigated the drafting hallways of the fort, and came to the expasnive, jewelled and rune covered, door of Jaded’s bed chamber. After making sure that none of her minions were around, Revis let himself become visible again. “When I count to three,” he instructed the Jester, “kick open the door.”

“Why do I have to kick it,” Matticus complained. “That sounds like a knight’s job.”

“For two reasons. One, it’ll end your invisibility spell when you attack the door. And, two, it lets me check for traps really quick before we go inside.”

“Good call.”

“Ok. Here we go. One…Two…”

“Wait. Are we going on three, or is it one…two…three, then go?”

“You go on three. We always go on three,” Revis whispered before pausing in confusion. “Have we had this discussion already?”

“No.”

“Weird. It feels like we have. I guess I saw it somewhere else then…. Anyways, let’s go. One….two…three!”

Matticus put all of his weight into the kick against the door. His foot hit right next to the doorknob. Instead of the door flying open, however, Matticus flew backwards. When he next opened his eyes, he was greeted with a grand view of the ceiling, with a few spots covered by his feet sticking up in the air. At least the kick accomplished one of the things it was supposed to, he thought after seeing parts of himself again.

Revis rushed to his side. “Are you ok,” the Knight asked. “Did it shock you?”

“No,” Matticus answered.

“Then it wasn’t magically sealed.”

Revis thought for a few seconds. He grabbed a candle off of a nearby table after an idea came to him. Using the light to peer inside of the lock, he began quietly laughing when he was done inspecting it. Matticus shot him a questioning glance. In response, Revis gently turned the knob and the door opened easily.

Upon looking inside, they saw that the room was empty.  The curtains on the far side swayed lazily across the open window.  Fresh candles burning cleanly in sconces in the corners provided ample light to banish any shadows that might have held their prey.

Picking himself off the ground, Matticus advanced to the end of the door, then feigning that he needed to give his sore leg a moment longer to recover he motioned for Revis to take the lead, “You were going to make sure there were no traps set for us, right?”

With a snort Revis quickly scanned the room and then stepped across the threshold, the Jester on his heels.

“Where is she?”  Wondering if his failed attempt to kick down the door had given her time to escape through the window, Matticus stepped to it and peered outside, but there was no sign of her.

The Jester backed away from the opening so he wouldn’t be seen by anyone happening by, and then stopped to soothe the ache from his leg.  The real pain had taken a few moment to settle in and now that he was moving around and putting his weight on it, his leg had decided it wasn’t happy with him at all for trying to kick down the door.  Not for the first time, the Jester wondered if he was getting to old for this s…

“Hey, come take a look at this,” Revis interrupted Matticus’ train of thought, and the Jester went to join his knight at a large oak desk.

Revis handed Matticus a piece of parchment that had been sitting on top of the desk. It read:

Jaded,

We found something at Site B. You need to come see this for yourself.

Your foreman,

Len

“Where is Site B,” Matticus asked.

“I don’t know,” Revis countered. “You have the map.”

Matticus raised his eyebrow. It was now his time to pay Revis back for all those slights. “Yes,” he stated, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “I have the map. You know, the one you put in your pack.”

Revis threw the Jester a disbelieving look as he opened his pack. He started to admonish Matticus, “It’s not…” His words died down as he pulled the map out of his pack. Looking up, he saw that Matticus’ face was one big smile. The Knight chose to ignore it and started looking over the map.

“It looks like Site B is the closest one to this fort. It should only take us a couple of hours, at most, to get there. We should probably hurry, too. Something tells me that we don’t want them to find whatever it is that they’re looking for.”

Revis shoved the map back into his pack while Matticus muffled his laughter behind his hand, disguising the action as a cough.  Revis rolled his eyes and told the Jester to “grow up.”  Matticus missed the comment because he was too busy coughing, though he quickly regained his composure as he saw that Revis was ready to depart.

“Do we need to make the journey invisible again?”

“Would probably be smart, at least until we are safely away from Jaded’s fort and on the trail to Site B.”

The two men went through the process of disappearing again, with Matticus once again holding onto his Knight’s shoulder, and then they slipped through the fort undetected.  Once they were safely beyond the lights of the fort, the Jester and Knight resumed their visibility, and smacked their lips as if to remove a bad taste.

“Let’s not do that again.”

“What?  The invisibility?”

“Yes.”

“Why not?”

“Well, it’s just weird.”

“We’ll see.  Come on, we need to hurry.”

“Fine.”

The Jester and Knight trapsed across the island, with Revis occasionally consulting the map to make sure they were headed in the right direction.  Matticus had his doubts that Revis was reading the landmarks correctly, but wasn’t sure he’d be able to do any better so let the Knight forge ahead.  Then at least if they were led astray he could place the blame on Revis.  The thought of having something else to laugh about at Revis’ expense made Matticus smile again, and he nearly stumbled in Revis who had stopped suddenly in front of him.

Revis pushed Matticus back behind a large tree, joining him a second later. Each of them peered around an opposite side. Up ahead stood a camp, with all of its inhabitants gathered around a man on a small platform. The man, Revis assumed it was the foreman Len, was talking to his workers.

“Congratulations, everyone,” he exclaimed. “Our esteemed leader, Jaded, has assured me that we did indeed find what she was looking for. Tonight, we open up our kegs in celebration! Drink your fill, for tomorrow, we shall take our place at the front of Jaded’s new empire!”

As the crowd cheered at Len’s proclamation, Revis and Matticus exchanged a look. They were too late. Before Matticus could ask what their next move would be, Revis handed him his pack. “Stay here,” he instructed. “I’m going to sneak in there and try to find a few things out.”

“Like what?”

“We need to know where Jaded is, what they found, and what the thing they found does. Hopefully, I can figure it out without alerting them to my presence. I’ll be back as soon as possible.”

Revis disappeared from sight. Matticus peeked around the corner. A few seconds passed when, suddenly, a voice from beside him made him jump. “By the way,” Revis warned, “don’t touch anything in my pack. There are dangerous things in there and you don’t want to get hurt.”

Matticus gave a big sigh. How did Revis know that he had planned on doing that? So, instead he focused his attention on the camp, hoping that it would keep him from being bored.

That’s when the world erupted. A blinding light made him close his eyes as the force of a huge explosion threw him backwards.

revis and matticus save the kingom chapter 6

Just another reminder that Queen Creative’s awesome badges are on the bottom of both the Matticus and Revis sites.  Make sure you grab one and then show Rara and Dave some love.  
And now?  On with the next chapter:
 

Revis studied the poems and gibberish, trying to decipher the rhymes and find additional clues in the nonsense, while Matticus pulled up a stool and poured himself a beer.  Looking up from the parchment, Revis asked, “I thought you were in a hurry to be away from this place?”

“Well, they’ve already searched it, right?  And you’re studying that, so I might as well take the edge off.  We are far from the Kingdom now and we probably have a ways to go still before we can return to our homes, our families.  Besides, it doesn’t make sense to just wander around Bruges anymore until we have a solid plan.  We don’t know how many more vampires are out there and it’s become obvious that the vampires are working with the city guards for some reason so we don’t know if there are any citizens left in this town who will come to our aid if we need it.”

Revis thought about it for a second and then responded, “Well reasoned.”

“Thank you.”

“Pour me one too, would ya?”

“Of course.”

Matticus poured a second beer and slid it over to Revis as the Knight pulled up an adjacent stool. Revis set the parchment down in between them so Matticus could read it too. The first knight took a drink of the beer, then immediately spit it back out. “Ugh. Why didn’t you tell me it was beer? Beer is disgusting,” he exclaimed as he reached over the counter to grab something a little stronger.

Revis took a long pull off of the whiskey bottle to get the taste of beer out of his mouth. A second later they heard a voice say, “That’ll be ten gold pieces for all of your drinks.”

The two men looked over the bar. Sitting on the floor, cleaning a glass, was the bartender. Before they could ask how they, and the guards, had missed him, he added, “And how do you not know how the guards are connected to those stupid sparkly things?”

“Give us a break,” Matticus replied defensively. “We’ve only been here for an hour.”

“And how do you know it,” Revis asked. “You’d think that would be something they’d keep secret.”

“Don’t you know anything,” the bartender scoffed. “You want to know what is going on in any city you go into, you ask the person working the bar. They know everything. My name’s bardictale, by the way. This is my tavern.”

Matticus looked around the place and was going to say something snide, but Revis noticed the look of mischief in the Jester’s eyes and put his hand out to keep him quiet.  Matticus swallowed the insult but noted that was the second time that Revis had been rude to him, and he would definitely get his revenge at some point.  It’s just a matter of time.

Revis caught Matticus’ rueful smile, and knew what it meant, but didn’t have time to deal with it then.  Instead he turned his attention back to bardictale.  “Can you tell us more about what’s going on here?”

“Show me the color of your interest and I’ll fill your heads with fitting stories.”

“Huh?”

“He wants us to pay for the information.  I’m ruler of the Matticus Kingdom, tell us everything you know about the sparkly vampires, the Bruges Guards, and Jaded, and you will be reimbursed for your troubles.”

Setting the glass aside, bardictale moved to stand behind the bar.  “No, I’ll take that coinage now, or I’ll happily call out for the guards to return.  First the ten gold for the drinks, and then another 10 gold for each answer for question trade.”

Revis reached inside his armor and produced a coin pouch. With a sigh, he tossed it down onto the counter. bardictale scooped it up and, after looking inside of it, almost fainted. “This is almost as much as I paid for the tavern.”

“How about you just keep that and answer all of our questions?”

“I think we have an understanding, sir.”

“What do you know about the sparkly vampires?”

“They started showing up here a few weeks, maybe a month, ago. They’re led by a woman called Jaded, but she’s not actually here in Bruges.  Jaded left Bruges in the hands of the captain of the city guard, Steph. Now, Steph isn’t a sparkly thing herself. She’s just some kind of sparkly thing groupie.”

“Do they have a base of operations,” Matticus asked.

“No, but a big group of them gather once every other night at the warehouse on Pier 12 at midnight.”

“Tonight?”

“Yeah.”

“Then we’ve got a couple of hours to get down there and get hidden before their meeting starts,” Revis stated. “Then, we can listen in on their plans, and figure out a way to disrupt them.”

Matticus thanked bardictale while Revis checked the street to make sure it was clear to leave. When the way was clear, the two men took off into the night. As they walked, Matticus turned to Revis and said, “I’m glad we got all that information, but I’m sorry it cost you so much to get it.”

With a smile, Revis replied, “It didn’t cost me anything.” In his hand was the bag of gold he had given the bartender.

“Another trick of your ring?  Or just a magic money bag?”

“The money bag always returns to me.  Good way to not have to worry about pickpockets.”

“Nice, but, where do you get all those wonderful toys?”

“What?”

“And why don’t I have them?  I am ruler of the Kingdom after all?”

“Well…  The Queen decided, due to your silly streak, you probably shouldn’t be trusted with them.  I didn’t want to say anything but it was her decision.”

The Jester fumed, but knew better than to question a decision made by The Queen.  Plus, he was a Jester, so, it made sense.  He’d probably try to do something silly with the magic pouch.  Bad things would happen.  It was his curse.

Matticus and Revis made it down to the docks without without running into anyone, and then quickly found their way to Pier 12.  Based on the position of the moon they still had some time before midnight, but wanting to be in position before anyone else showed up, they slipped into the warehouse and hid themselves behind some stacked boxes against the far wall.  There they settled into a comfortable silence and waited for Steph and the sparkly vampires to make their entrance.

“Revis,” Matticus asked as midnight drew nearer, “What’s a groupie?”

“I have no idea.”

“Maybe they’ll talk about it during their gathering and we’ll find out.”

“Maybe. I doubt we’ll be that lucky, though. With the way this has been going so far, they’ll probably talk about unimportant, boring things for a couple of hours, and we’ll learn nothing.”

Matticus didn’t think things were going that badly, but he would admit that some things hadn’t gone according to plan. He was going to point that out, but, just then, a sparkly vampire walked into the warehouse. Then, another walked in….and another….and another. The duo lost track of time as more and more poured in. The sound of a sword hilt banging on the floor called the meeting to order. The hand holding the sword belonged to, who Matticus assumed, was Steph for she was the only one in the room who wasn’t sparkly. Looking at Revis, Matticus couldn’t help but feel like they were in way over their heads.

Revis just shook his head at the sight of around one hundred sparkly vampires.