A Thank You To All

As you know, Matticus and I just finished up a story in which we saved his Kingdom from sparkly vampires. Along the way, we ran into many of our fellow bloggers. These are all amazing people. Not only did they make the writing process fun, they were also very good sports about the whole thing.

There are a few of our fellow bloggers who we would like to give extra special thanks to:

First and foremost, we’d like to thank Goldfish for agreeing to be our villain. Every good story needs a good villain, and you were the best, my fishy friend.

We’d also like to give thanks to Faithhopechocolate, who took the time to write her own story about the happenings in the Kingdom. Your adventure is a welcome addition to the Kingdom’s legends.

Last in this category, but certainly not least, is another blogger who was awesome enough to play our other big villain: Jaded. You certainly kept us on our toes, my dear.

Next, we’d like to thank all of the bloggers who were gracious enough to take part in our silliness. Our story wouldn’t have been the same without the  33 grams of awesome provided by (in order of appearance):

Finally, we’d like to thank everyone who read our story. A story, no matter how good, is nothing without an audience, and you are the best audience a couple of silly kingdom savers could ask for. We really hope you enjoyed the story and wish for you to come back for our next project, whatever that may be.

Revis and Matticus Save The Kingdom Chapter 32

While Matticus had Goldfish distracted with his attack, Revis ran to retrieve his thrown daggers. Just as he closed his hand around the hilt of his second one, he heard Matticus cry out. He looked over in time to see the Jester slump to the ground. Whatever had happened between the two also threw Goldfish backwards.

She landed hard on her back, the air blasted from her lungs. Revis rushed towards her. He knew he had to get to her before she recovered and put her defenses back up. The Knight swung both daggers at her head, hilt first, hoping to knock the sorceress out.

By this time, Goldfish had regained enough of her wits to see the attacks coming and tried to block it. One dagger was deflected enough that it missed her head, although the blade did cut her arm. The other dagger’s hilt struck her just above the temple, but her blocking attempt had slowed the strike down enough that it didn’t render her unconscious.

Just as Revis had started swinging his daggers a second time, the sorceress spoke a word that sounded like gibberish to the Knight. Suddenly, he was flung away from her by some unseen force. He hit the floor just before he hit the wall and managed to roll enough to avoid some of the damage.

The two combatants rose from the ground at the same time, eyeing each other all the way.

“You are no match for me, Knight,” Goldfish spat.  The pain in her head quickly faded away and the wound on her arm closed as her magic returned her to full health, and speaking the necessary words, she rose from the ground to hover menacingly over the Jester.  “Together, you might have managed to get the better of me.  Alone you have no chance.  Give up now and I’ll let your family live.”

Revis seethed, but said nothing.  His eyes darted around the room looking for something, anything, he could use to his advantage.  He needed to find a weakness in her defenses.  He needed another distraction to catch her off guard so he could strike again.  But, his rational thoughts were fading as anger at the threat to his family slowly consumed him.

Time was running short.  He knew that Goldfish was probably already working on casting the spell that would either take his or Matticus’ life.  Thinking of the Jester he let his eyes fall to where Matticus lay on the ground, where he was surprised to see the Jester’s eyes open.  When their gazes met, Matticus winked at him, and Revis found his smile.  His anger cooled and his mind cleared.

“I think I’m more than capable of defeating you, merwitch.”

“Let’s put that claim to the test,” she laughed. Without taking her eyes off of Revis, she waved her hand in the Jester’s direction. Matticus slowly began to rise off the ground. After he was levitating a couple of feet in the air, Goldfish snapped her hand towards the doorway. The Jester flew out into the hall, the doors closing behind him.

Once his feet were on solid ground again, Matticus ran to the door. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get the doors to budge. Cursing, he turned around, trying to figure out a way to get back into the room.

As he did, the Jester saw that he was not the only one that the sorceress threw out into the hall. Jaded was right in front of him. She was awake now, and, from the look on her face, she was very angry.

“When I first started helping Goldfish,” Jaded began, “I was only doing it because she told me to. Now that I’ve tasted some of the power she wields, I refuse to go back to the way it was. If you want your Kingdom back, you’ll have to take it from me. And, this time, you don’t have your Knight to save you.”

Matticus drew his sword, spoke the words to spark its flame to life, and replied coolly, “And you don’t have the sorceress protecting you this time either.  You are no longer a vampire.  You are mortal.  I am not as clueless as I usually appear.  Do you think the Queen would have married me otherwise?  Do you think the people of the Kingdom would have put up with me if I was nothing but silliness all the time?  Think on that very carefully, Jaded.”

In response she snarled and glared, but she knew that the menace behind those actions was gone.  She lacked the strength of her prior vampire self.  Her fangs no longer held any threat or power.  The realization that she probably she turn and walk away incensed her into action.  In blind fury she rushed the Jester, her hands reaching for his neck, wanting to tear him limb from limb like she could have done easily before the Knight’s potion “cured” her.

The Jester saw her coming and had plenty of time to end her, but he took pity on her instead.  He knew that they had changed her life irrevocably.  They hadn’t meant to, and she might have deserved some sort of punishment for her role in the plot to overthrow the kingdom, but he wasn’t sure taking her life was the right thing to do.  As she reached him, Matticus sidestepped and used his right boot to trip Jaded.  Her momentum sent her sprawling head first into the magically locked door, once again, knocking her unconscious.

Time was not on his side. He knew he needed to act quickly. Looking around, he tried to find something to tie Jaded up with. They couldn’t afford for her to keep causing them problems. After extinguishing the blade, he used his sword to cut strips out of a nearby rug. It was one he had never liked anyways, so he didn’t feel too bad about it when he used the strips to bind Jaded’s hands and feet together. Then, remembering that Goldfish had said that Jaded possessed magic items, he took all of the jewelry off her and stuffed it into one of his pouches.

Now, all he had to do was find a way back into the throne room. All of the doors were magically locked, but there was still one hope. Right after his wedding to the Queen, she had shown him a secret passageway that connected to it. She had shown it to him in case they were ever attacked there. It was meant to be used as an escape tunnel. He was using it invade the room.

Matticus ran down the hallway that would take him to the secret passage. Because he was rushing, he neglected to keep his noise to a minimum. It ended up almost costing him when two sparkly vampire guards came around a corner in front of him.  They were poorly trained as swordsmen, however, and the Jester cut them down so quickly that he barely had to break stride. Making his way through corridors that only he and his wife knew, he quickly came to the doorway that led to his destination. First, he uncovered an eyehole and looked to see what was happening in the room.

From what he could see, it appeared that Goldfish and Revis had yet to start fighting.  She remained hovering by the throne and the knight hadn’t moved either.  They seemed to be waiting for the other to make the first move and perhaps be open for a counter-attack.  Beads of sweat appeared on both their brows as the seconds passed.  It was look on his Knight’s face that finally clued Matticus in to the reality that the fighting had already begun.  Goldfish must have engaged Revis in some sort of mental battle and the Knight was slowly losing.  His features were growing pained.  His face had drained of color.

As quietly, and as quickly as he could, the Jester eased open the hidden doorway and slipped into the throne room.  He needed to sneak up behind Goldfish and knock her unconscious before she noticed him.  He hoped that Revis could hold out long enough for him to cross the space.  He took his first step into the room, the sorceresses eyes snapped onto him with red rage, and Revis cried out in pain.

Revis and Matticus Save the Kingdom Chapter 28

After they had spent precious time with their families, Matticus and Revis got back to work. They went over everything they had learned about what had happened while they were gone. Then, they went over it again. What they had learned was not much.

Jaded, and her sorcerer, had led an army of sparkly vampires to the castle. Without the leadership of the First Knight, the rest of the Kingdom’s warriors weren’t prepared to deal with the invaders. They put up a valiant defense, but were overmatched in the end. The Queen and Prince were flown out by Rara right before the castle fell.

Since then, the sparkly vampires had been slowly building up their numbers. Publically, the vampires had only replaced the army, and local law enforcement, with their own. Behind the scenes, however, they were moving their army around. When Grayson showed Revis a map showing where the vampires were repositioning their troops, he could only scratch his head. The movements made no sense at all.

“This is ridiculous,” Revis spat. “There is no reason at all to move soldiers to these locations.”

“What do we do,” Matticus asked.

Revis thought about it for a minute before answering. “The smart thing to do would be to figure out what she’s doing before we make any moves,” Revis began. “But, since this has taken way longer than it should, I say we just go confront Jaded and get this over with.”

“Direct assault?  Small chance of success?  Almost certain to mean our death?  What are we waiting for?” Matticus sarcastically rolled his eyes.

“That sounds familiar, did you steal that from a movie?”

“What’s a “movie?”

“Never mind, it doesn’t matter,” Revis sighed, exasperated, “Do you have any better ideas your Jesterness?”

Matticus slid his gaze over the map, studying the troop placements again, racking his brain to find some connection, some small clue, that made it all fit together into something that made sense.  But, in the end, he shook his head in defeat.  Either the vampires had no idea how to stratigcally place troops to run a kingdom or they were smarter than he cared to admit.

“Nope, you are right.  It’s time we finish this madness.  Let’s track down Jaded again, get her to divulge the whereabouts of the sorcerer and the details of their plan.  And then…”

Revis raised an eyebrow.

“Oh, sorry,” Matticus continued, “I should have finished that with a question mark.  And then…?  What are we going to do once we have all the information?  Neither of us can fight a sorcerer on our own.  We are going to need some help, right?”

“We already have your two friends and two dragons. How much more help do you think we’re going to need?”

“But….”

“Nonsense, Jester. We’ve got this covered.”

Matticus wanted to protest further, but Revis began going over the details of his plan. The more he listened to his Knight, the less he worried. Although, he still thought that they needed more people than they had. An army to help them defeat the vampires wasn’t going to appear out of nowhere, however.

Once he was finished going over his plan, Revis looked at each person, in turn, to make sure they understood their part in the upcoming attack. Deb, Dani, Grayson, and Rara all nodded their heads when it got to be their turn. Finally, it got to Matticus. He still wasn’t completely convinced that this was going to work, but they really didn’t have much of a choice at this point. His head nodded, as well.

With a nod of his own, Revis produced the ink bottle that made portals. He used the brush to cover the entire wall in front of them. Matticus was going to ask why he used so much of the ink, but then he realized that the dragons wouldn’t fit through the portal if Revis made the portal smaller. As soon as his Knight was finished, Matticus jumped through the portal, if only so Revis wouldn’t push him through again.

The laughter at his own cleverness died on his lips, though, as the Jester felt himself come through the other side but was immediately blinded by the thickest darkness he had ever encountered.  He waved his hand in front of his face, but couldn’t see it.  He rubbed his eyes and blinked to see if there was something covering his face, but there wasn’t.  He knew he should move to keep from getting knocked over by the rest of the group when they came through, but without knowing what was in front of him, he wasn’t sure if he should risk it.

The thought of having traveled so far just to be trampled by either Rara or Grayson got his feet moving and he shuffled forward until his right boot caught on something and he fell forward with a grunt and a groan.  On his hands and knees, with what felt and tasted like dust swirling around his head, he yelled a warning over his shoulder, “Careful, something isn’t right here!”

A moment later he heard one of his companions come through the portal behind him and also call out in surprise and alarm.  Matticus shuffled forward in the dirt to make as much room as he could.

Revis was the last one through. He knew that the ink worked by transporting whoever walked through the portal to wherever they wanted to go. That meant that the dragons were going to be coming out somewhere else. The warning that Matticus had called out had come through the portal all garbled, so Revis didn’t know what he had said. It wasn’t until he felt the cold steel of a blade against his throat that he knew something besides the darkness was out of place.

“And who might you be,” the Knight asked his unseen assailant.

A voice from the darkness answered, “I am your worst nightmare.”

“No. Waking up without my penis is my worst nightmare.”

“OK, fine. Maybe I’m not your worst nightmare, but I am quite up there.”

While the assailant was talking, Revis was trying to think of a way out of his predicament. If there was light, he’d just turn himself invisible and use the confusion that created to get out. In the dark, however, that advantage was negated.  The Knight realized his best hope was to keep his would-be captor talking to give Matticus an opportunity to come to his rescue, so he quickly replied, “You aren’t my second worst nightmare either, that would be to lose my family.  And I’ve been living my third worst nightmare, spending weeks on end on the road with only the Jester for company.  So, really, where does that leave you?”

“Quit your yammering, Revis, or I’ll…”

Despite feeling the blade press more tightly against his throat, Revis cut off his attacker’s response, “Nowhere, if you think about it.  I mean, I’m already experienced my third worst nightmare, and you aren’t anywhere near that, so why don’t you ease up out of my face before something bad happens to you.”

“How dare you…  How can you possibly threaten me when I could kill you with a flick of my wrist?”

Despite the darkness, Revis shrugged, “If you were going to kill me, you would have already done it.”

The assailant began laughing, “Oh, no, poor misguided Knight, so confident in your abilities and your worth, all of this was just a distraction.  We are the bait to draw Matticus out, and once he is captured, I will kill you.”

 

Revis and Matticus Save the Kingdom, Chapter 20

The portal shimmered, revealing a brilliant flow of colors. Those colors swirled until they turned into a blurry image of the dungeon cell where they had left Jaded.

Jaded slept in the corner. A loud sound echoed through the hallway, waking her up. She watched as a shadowy figure walked up to the bars. No, not walked. It glided up to the cell’s bars. There were no feet or legs coming out of the shadows to touch the floor.

At first, Jaded smiled as the figure came closer. Then, when the shadow got next to her, Jaded lunged, trying to grab the figure through the bars. “You never told me that they’d turn me human,” she spat venomously, her voice sounding strange coming from the portal.

The shadow laughed. “I told you they were more formidable than you’d give them credit for. You still did good to get them to go through the portal. How long have they been gone?”

“How the hell should I know? I’ve been locked in here since they left, and there are no watches in this universe.”

“There’s no time to lose. Take this,” the shadow ordered, holding out a vial of red liquid. “Throw the liquid on the portal and it will keep them from being able to come back through.”

Jaded scoffed. “The last time I did as you ordered, I got turned into a human.”

“I can change you back…”

“Don’t lie to me.”

The dark figure did not respond beyond a further offering gesture with the vial.  Jaded took a step back, her eyes flicking between the vial, the cell bars, and the face lost within the shadows.  It was obvious from her body language that she was tempted by the offer.  Even if she no longer trusted her cohort, the prospect of no longer being human appealed to her.

Revis and Matticus exchanged a nervous glance.

“Should we jump through before she makes up her mind?”  Matticus whispered, unsure if his voice would carry through the open portal.

Revis didn’t answer right away.  His gaze was fixed on the unfolding scene, waiting, watching, trying to decipher what the right move was.  He certainly didn’t want to get trapped forever in Twindaddy’s world.  The thought terrified him so greatly he almost lunged through instinctively.  But, his training kept him from following through on the impulse.  He needed a plan.

The Knight sensed Matticus growing restless beside him.  If he didn’t think of something, or at least answer quickly, the Jester might do something stupid.  He shifted his gaze from the portal to see Matticus chewing on his lip.  A bad sign.  A very bad sign.

Jaded grabbed the vial out of the shadow’s hand and removed the lid. Revis immediately grabbed Matticus’ arm and dragged him towards the portal. The two men hit the portal just as the red liquid did. A powerful force hit them both head-on and they felt themselves being thrown backwards. Roughly, they hit the ground.

When they opened their eyes, they saw that they weren’t in Twindaddy’s closet anymore. They also weren’t back in the Kingdom, either. Looking around, they saw that they were in a forest at night. Although, there were some of the horseless carriages from Twindaddy’s world not far away. There was also an impossibly tall metal fence.

Suddenly, an ear-splitting roar filled the air. Revis grabbed Matticus’ arm and signaled him to remain still, and quiet. They watched as the metal fence came down. A strange looking dragon came crashing through, attacking the carriages.  It had no wings and short arms. The dragon attacked one of the carriages, pushed it over the side of the fence, and ran off.

“Wait a minute,” Matticus said once he was sure the dragon was out of earshot. “How is there a now huge drop off right where the dragon came running two minutes ago?”

“Stop pointing out plot holes in other stories,” Revis commanded. “If you do that, people may start finding them in ours.”

“Like what?”

“Like how we’ve been to a few universes different than ours and we all just happen to speak the same language. Seriously, how long are the odds that would actually happen?”

“I hadn’t thought about it like that.  Yeah, that is weird…  Also, I have no idea what you are talking about.  What stories?”

“Never mind.”

“Fine,” Matticus responded petulantly.  “So, now what?”

“Well, we should probably get out of this rain, and find some shelter before that dragon comes back, because it will be coming back.  And then we should figure out how to find another portal.”

Matticus furrowed his brow, and looked skyward, noticing the rain for the first time.  “I suppose you have some kind of plan for that?  Something from your magical bag of tricks?”

Before Revis could answer, the dragon let out a mighty roar that caused the hairs on their arms and the back of their necks to stand on end.  They couldn’t help but swivel their heads the direction of the sound.  It sounded close, and hungry.

A moment later there was a loud thumping noise, accompanied by a percussion impact in a nearby puddle.  Matticus looked at the tremors in the water quizzically, and then, as understanding settled in, his expression turned to one of terror.  He turned to Revis to ask the obvious question and his Knight was already on the move.

“Time to go.”

The Jester did not need to be told twice. As soon as he got up to full speed a bright light burst in front of him. Now that he had been blinded, he tried to stop. Instead, his foot found a small hole in the ground and he tumbled forward. When his vision returned, he expected to see the dragon standing over him, about to strike. Instead, he found that he was in a completely different forest.

It was now daytime. It was no longer raining. There were no horseless carriages.

Revis grabbed him from underneath his arms and began lifting Matticus to his feet. There was blood running down from the Knight’s forehead. “I found a tree after the light blinded me,” Revis explained before the Jester had a chance to ask. “I’ll be fine.”

A noise off to the side caused them to duck. They saw a man in armor, a man in priest robes, and a dwarf walking. The man in armor said something that they couldn’t hear. In apparent frustration, the dwarf grabbed the armored man and spun him so they were face-to-face. “If you don’t stop asking questions, I’ll cut your tongue out and shove it up your nose,” he threatened.

The light flashed again. Now, they were standing in a room with a bed. The only other thing in the room was a woman, who acted like she didn’t notice them.

“Isn’t that Drun’s stalker, Zoe,” Matticus asked.

Revis nodded his head. Zoe, still not noticing that two people had magically appeared in her room, went about her business. She reached into her pants and scratched her butt. Then, she pulled her hand out and sniffed it. Before the men could voice their disgust at her behavior, the light burst once more and they found themselves standing next to a pair of metallic looking rails laid over wooden slats that stretched towards the horizon in both directions.  A little ways away, there were two men talking to each other excitedly.  They couldn’t quite make out the conversation, but the younger one kept calling the older one, who had shock white hair, “Doc.”  There were two of the horseless carriages resting on the strange tracks.  The young man got in the smaller of the two, and the old man got in the larger, then smoke began to pour out of chimney looking thing and the two carriages started moving down the track.

Revis and Matticus turned to each other, eyebrows raised, and then the light flashed once more.  As their vision cleared they lost their balance and stumbled onto a bench of some sort.  A man there, dressed in all white, held out a box to them and asked, “Would you like a chocolate?”

That sounded pretty good to Matticus so he reached to grab a piece, but the light flashed again and his hand passed through nothingness.  His curses were lost in the transfer, hurtling forever in the unknown void between the infinite worlds.

Revis and Matticus Save the Kingdom Chapter 16

Because of the suddenness of the Jester’s attack, the man in shiny bone armor didn’t have enough time to aim the shot from his wand. Even so, the bolt struck Matticus. It was not enough to slow his momentum and he bowled into his target. After the collision, the man got to his feet. Matticus did not.

He looked around for Revis, but didn’t see him anywhere. With a shout of anger, the Knight struck him hard from behind with his daggers. The man crumpled to the ground. Revis kicked the man’s wand into the corner and tied his hands together behind his back.

Turning Matticus over, he saw that the bolt had struck him in the stomach. It was on the right side of his torso, so Revis hoped that meant it had missed all of the important parts inside of him. The Knight pulled a vial out of his pack and poured some of the liquid into Matticus’ mouth.

“Ow,” the Jester groaned as he regained consciousness. “Remind me to never do that again.”

Revis held the vial up for Matticus to see. “This is the last vial of healing potion I have. We need to save the rest of this, so please be more careful in the future.”

“Me?  More careful?  You!” The Jester stammered and staggered as he found his feet, swaying dangerously.    Revis reached out a steadying hand but Matticus brushed him off, and fell to his rear as a result.  “Ow!”

“Come on,” Revis said, offering a hand to help Matticus back to his feet.

The Jester refused the gesture and went into a rant, “If you hadn’t rushed in here in the first place.  If you had launched your attack with some sort some semblance of a plan. If you hadn’t let him get the drop on you.  If, if, if.  But, I’m the one that needs to be careful?  Knight, you need to watch yourself.  I’m considering demoting you to squire or stable-boy or something equally demeaning.”

Revis offered his hand again, with an accompanying smirk, “You can’t demote me, Jesterness, nobody else would take the job in my place.”

Matticus took his Knight’s hand and together they got him back on his feet.  “You might be surprised, Revis.”

The knight bowed slightly to show deference to his liege, but the smile never faded from his lips.

Matticus scowled, and then his face scrunched up to show his confusion, “Wait, I thought you used the last of the healing potion to cure Jaded?”

A groan from the magician interrupted their conversation, and Revis said, “Let’s see what we are dealing with, shall we?”

“Hey,” Revis said, nudging the man with his foot. “Are you the one who keeps sending those sparkly things through that portal?”

“Not that one,” He replied. “The one in my other universe.”

“So, what do we call you, Mr. Two Universes?”

“My name here is Drun Kenman. In the other universe I’m known as Twindaddy.”

You’re Twindaddy,” the Knight asked with a voice dripping with anger.

“You know him, Revis,” Matticus questioned incredulously.

“Revis,” Drun said, deep in thought. “Revis Edgewater?”

“How does he know your last name?”

Ignoring Matticus, Drun looked directly at the Knight. “Your mother never told you what happened to your brother?”

Responding, Revis shot back with, “She told me enough. She told me you killed him.”

“No. I am your brother.”

“That’s not true…… That’s impossible!”

“Search your feelings, Revis. You know it to be true!”

“No! Nooooooooooooooooooo!”

The two men stood staring at each other for a few seconds before Matticus interrupted them. “That was….surreal.”

“You guys are brothers?”

“No!”

“Yes.”

“And there are multiple uinverses, and the you from the other one is responsible for all the annoying sparkly vampires?”

“Yes and yes.”

“Crap, this is confusing.”  Matticus saw what looked like a seat across the room, contemplated walking over to it, decided he wouldn’t make it, and fell to his rear again.  “I’m not sure I’m recovered enough to process all this.  I’m just the Jester…”

“If that’s your attitude,” Drun commented dryly, “then you are surely doomed.”

Revis ignored Matticus’ plight and turned to face his brother, “If you’ve known about me, why didn’t you reach out?  No, never mind, that isn’t important.  I just want to stop the flow of vampires, and get home to my wife and daughter and forget this ever happened.  I have no brother.”

Revis brandished his daggers menacingly, “Tell us everything you know about what Twindaddy is doing!”

Drun looked between Revis’ face and the daggers and back again, “I’ll tell you everything, of course, but only after you admit that I am your brother.”

Revis’ face drained of color and then flushed a bright red as anger coursed through him.  Despite his dazed state, Matticus could tell there was going to be trouble, but he couldn’t react fast enough to intervene.  The Knight snarled and pulled his daggers back preparing to plunge them into Drun Kenman.

At the last second, Revis altered the angle of the strike. His daggers struck the floor, inches away from either side of Drun’s face. To Matticus’ surprise, the man didn’t even blink. He just looked up and smiled, “Well?”

With a curse, Revis pulled his daggers up and walked away. Matticus got to his feet and walked over to where the Knight was continuing his cursing tirade. “What’s the big deal,” Matticus asked. “All you have to do is say he’s your brother.”

“I won’t do it.”

“You don’t have to mean it. Just say it.”

“No. I won’t.”

“And if I make it an order?”

“You wouldn’t….”

“We need his cooperation, Revis. Now, as the reigning Jester of the Kingdom, I order you to go tell him that you’re his brother.”

Revis continued his cursing. Matticus tried to hide his smirk. Putting up with all of Revis’ slights was sometimes a pain, but it was moments like this that made it all worth it.

After he walked back over to stand next to Drun, Revis looked down at the tied-up man and said, “Fine. You’re my brother.”

“Was that so hard?” Drun smiled wryly, his words dripping with sarcasm.  “Now help me up.”

Revis laughed in the man’s face.  “That wasn’t part of the deal, brother, and if you think I’m going to treat you any different than I was a minute ago, my daggers will show you how wrong you are.”

Drun’s eyes flicked to the Jester, but Matticus just shrugged.  He agreed with his knight for once.  A deal had been made, and Revis had upheld his part.  Drun needed to tell them about Twindaddy or Revis would be free to extract the information however he saw fit.  The glint in the Knight’s eyes indicated it would be messy.

For the first time, a hint of fear crept into Drun’s face.  He struggled to sit up but the injuries he had sustained earlier, along with the bulky armor, inhibited his movements.  Revis and Matticus watched him collapse into a heap on the floor again with more than a bit of glee.  While this man wasn’t directly responsible for the sparkly vampire invasion, his alternate universe self was.  Matticus secretly hoped any pain Drun felt would also be felt by Twindaddy.  It would serve him right.

“I need a drink,” Drun sighed when he finally righted himself.  “Let’s go to the cantina.  I’ll tell you everything once we are there.”

revis and matticus save the kingdom chapter 12

Revis and Matticus exchanged a confused glance. “What do you mean Jaded is just a soldier,” Revis asked. “From everything we’ve heard, she’s the one in charge.”

Len shook his head. “She told me that there was someone above her, someone who kept sending her minions. I never heard her say their name, but there’s definitely someone else.”

“Either way, we still need to find Jaded,” Matticus stated. “Tell us where she is.”

“I was supposed to meet her back at her fort once I had captured you. I would assume she’d be there.”

“Thanks,” Revis smiled as he flourished his daggers. “Now that you’ve told us where she is, we don’t need you anymore.”

Len looked to Matticus for help, but the Jester merely shrugged. The Knight slowly brought his weapons closer to Len’s face. When the daggers got to within an inch of his cheek, the foreman’s eyes rolled up into the back of his head and he fell to the ground. The two men looked at each other… and laughed.

“I can’t believe he fainted,” Matticus said when they had finished their chuckle.

“It probably had as much to do with his injury and blood loss than his fear at what I would do to him,” Revis confessed.

“What do we do now?”

“It looks like we’re heading back to Jaded’s fort.”

“Oh goody, more walking.”

“Hey, I’m not enjoying this wandering around anymore than you are.  If Jaded would come out and face us, that would be just fine with me.”

“I know.  It just doesn’t feel like we’ve accomplished a lot.  And we are a long way from home.”

“Buck up, Jester.”  Revis clapped Matticus on the shoulder, “The sooner we capture Jaded, the sooner we can learn what exactly is going on here, the sooner we get to head home.”

“Fine, let’s go.”

Matticus began to trace their steps back to Jaded’s fort, cursing under his breath at every tripping root and snagging branch that reached out at him.

Seeing that, hearing that, and remembering the Jester’s range of emotions from the quick burning rage to come to his rescue, and then the depths of fear when Len mentioned his wife and child, Revis determined that his liege could use a bit of a pick-me-up.  “And, if we run across any vampires on our way, I’ll let you take care of them.  How does that sound?”

The Jester smiled darkly, his hand resting on the hilt of his sword.  “Yes, that would do nicely right about now, thank you.”

Jaded’s fort came into view just before dawn. Unlike their last trip here, which was less than a day ago, the fort was heavily manned this time. Sparkly vampires were everywhere. Revis turned to the Jester, “I don’t think invisibility will work this time. There’s just too many of them. There’s no way we’d make it inside without running into at least one of them.”

“Good,” Matticus replied. “I didn’t want to go through that again anyways.”

“Time for the backup plan,” the Knight sighed as he pulled a few pieces of Len’s armor out of his pack.

“That’s your plan? Dressing up as Len?”

“Shut up. Do you have a better idea?”

“You do realize that Len is a head taller than you, right?”

“I’m hoping that Jaded’s lowly gate guards don’t know that.”

“This is one of the worst plans ever.”

“So what? If it doesn’t work, we’ll just have to kill a bunch of them to get inside. I figured you’d like that part.”

Matticus couldn’t argue that point, so he went along with it. Revis wrapped a length of rope around Matticus’ wrists, but didn’t tie it, leaving the Jester able to get his hands out. They reached the front door with Revis standing behind Matticus, holding the flaming sword at his back.

Yawning, and rubbing sleeping from his eyes, one of the gate guards bent over the side of the wall to peer down at the duo.  “Len, what took you so long?  Jaded has been waiting all night for you.”

Not wanting to attempt sounding like the foreman, Revis merely grunted and jostled the Jester a bit to show his impatience to get going.

The guard yawned again, chuckled to himself, and righted himself off the edge.  His voice still carried clear enough in the morning air so that Matticus and Revis could hear what he said.  “Go on, open the gate then.  She’s already pissed with the foreman, we don’t need to face her wrath too.”

A moment later, a grinding of gears signaled the portcullis’ assent into its housing.  Knowing the noise would cover his voice, Matticus said, “So far so good.”

“Yep, hopefully they won’t need to escort us to her chambers and we’ll be able to walk through without further scrutiny.”

The gate lifted high to clear their heads and Revis pushed forward on the Jester to get him moving.  Matticus, never afraid to play a role, played it up a bit, “Watch what you are doing there, idiot!  I know you know who I am!  When I get free, I’ll have all your heads!”

“Simmer down,” Revis whispered, “we don’t want to draw too much attention to ourselves.”

It ended up not mattering though, because once they were through the gates, they found the grounds crawling with the sparkly vampires, including a patrol specifically to take them to Jaded.  The group stepped forward and Revis and Matticus both tensed for the inevitable fight.  They were too close not to see that Revis wasn’t actually Len, and that Matticus’ hands weren’t really tied. The latter became apparent when the rope around his wrists simply came loose and fell off.

Cursing, Revis tossed Matticus the flaming sword and pulled out his daggers. The closest vampire, still confused as to what was happening, didn’t get his sword up in time to defend himself. Each of Revis’ daggers stabbed through one of its eyes, blinding it. In one fluid motion, the Knight sheathed his daggers, grabbed the sword out of the vampire’s hands, and chopped its head off with it. He briefly considered dropping the sword and switching back to his daggers, the weapons he was most comfortable with, but they were too short to cut through a vampires neck in one slice. That was key, because decapitation was the only thing they had found so far that killed these things quickly.

The vampire closest to Matticus was not as slow to react as the one Revis had killed. As soon as he caught the sword, he had to use it to block the vampire’s first swing. Matticus ducked under the next swing, stabbing his sword into the vampire’s leg as he did so. Looking down at the sword in its leg, the vampire laughed. “Is that really supposed to hurt me,” it asked.

“Nope,” Matticus answered. “This is. Futbol rules!”

His sword erupted in flames. The vampire let out a screech of pain. Distracted by its burning leg, it didn’t notice that the Jester had pulled the sword out. Before it knew what was happening, Matticus separated the vampire’s head from its body.

The Jester and his Knight quickly dedused there were too many vampires to simply stand and fight out in the open and they kicked and slashed a hole wide enough to race towards Jaded’s quarters.  They had to hope they could either use her as leverage to get out of the compound safely, at best, and at worst, use her has a human shield to slow down the onslaught.

As his flaming sword cleaved air, sinew, flesh, and bone, leaving traces of orange and yellow scarring his vision, Matticus began to feel another berserk rage come on, he fought against it as well as he could, knowing that he would need to keep some semblance of rational thought if they were going to survive.  He caught glimpses of Revis, always from the corner of his vision, as his Knight and he swirled around each other.  At times they were leading the charge, at times they were covering their backs, and always they were advancing towards their target.

With a mighty kick, Revis knocked down the door that would lead them into the main part of the compound.  The tight quarters of the hallways would bottleneck the fighting and make it easier for them to fight the superior numbers.  He pulled the Jester away from a group of slashing blades and hurled him inside, then used his stolen sword, and a few well placed strikes to open up a space between him and the nearest vampires.  He turned to follow Matticus down the hall only to find that the Jester hadn’t advanced very far.  Then, through the rising tendrils off the flaming sword, Revis saw why.

“Hello, Matticus.  Hello, Revis.”  Jaded stood at the end of the hall, calmly blocking their path, eyes blazing.

revis and matticus save the kingdom chapter 8

“You’re a spy,” Revis asked incredulously.

“How did you guess,” Steph returned. “Did me telling you that give it away?”

“Sarcastic comments are a good way to get a dagger shoved up your….”

“What my knight meant to say,” Matticus interjected, “is that you’ll understand if we don’t trust you right away. Too much is at stake for us to just take your word for it.”

She gave Revis a quick dirty look before turning to Matticus. “And how am I supposed to earn your trust?”

“First, you have to answer all of our questions.”

“I have no problem answering your questions. Your knight can take his questions, turn them sideways, and shove them up his….”

“Revis,” Matticus interrupted again, “can you give us a minute?”

The First Knight pulled Matticus aside. He handed the Jester a vial. “Drink this.”

He did as he was told, but he gave Revis a weird look as he did so. “What was that?”

“A truth potion. Now, whenever someone tries to lie to you, you’ll hear the truth anyways.”

“Really,” Matticus asked, deep in thought. “What did you think of that mermaid girl who gave us the wrong directions?”

Revis said, “Uhhh, I don’t want to do this,” but what Matticus heard was, “She was hot.”

Hiding a smile, Matticus stated, “Ok, now I can ask her the questions.”  Revis stepped away to keep watch, and Matticus returned to Steph to begin the interogation.  “Sorry, Revis can come off a bit rough sometimes.  They don’t teach charm in Knight school anymore.”

“That’s okay,” Steph replied, shrugging her shoulders.

Matticus smiled as he heard the truth, “He’s an idiot.”  Then he began questioning her, “Do you know where we can find Jaded?”

“No.”

That was all he heard, she’s was telling the truth.

“Why did you start spying on the vampires?”

“I  noticed things changing around here and wanted to see what was going on.  In the beginning there were just a couple vampires and they were throwing money around trying to buy their way into positions of power.  The guards and the citizenry, for the most part, were happy to take the gold and silver.  I got swept up in the ferver and decided it was better to hide in plain sight, see what they were really up to, and then figure out how best to either get away from them or bring them down.”

Again, she was telling the truth.

Matticus thought for a minute about what to ask next.  There was so much more he and Revis needed to know, the lack of information was daunting.  “What have you learned?”  It was a simple enough question that would hopefully fill in a lot of the gaps in their knowledge.

“From what I’ve been able to gather, all of their time and effort have gone into moving people and equipment to Kuzco Groove, the island out in the middle of the Golden Sea. Although I’ve helped them arrange transport, they never did tell me why they needed it. Plus, none of the people have returned yet, so I haven’t been able to ask them. ”

“Any theories?”

“There’s something on that island that they need, but they can’t find it, which is why they need all of the equipment and workers.”

“Do you have any idea what they might be looking for?”

“All they said was that once they found ‘it’, the kingdom would be theirs for the taking. They never said anything about what ‘it’ might be.”

“Hmmm, we need to get out to that island.”

“I can get you two on the next ship they’re sending out there. It leaves tomorrow morning. That’s what the meeting tonight was supposed to be about: who was going to be sent to help the search effort.”

“Are you sure you don’t mind helping us?”

“I’d do anything to help the kingdom,” Steph said, but the potion added, “Plus, it’ll get your knight far away from me.”

Matticus was pleased to know the potion was stll working.  “Won’t they be suspicious about the warehouse fire?  Could that mess up us getting on the boat undetected?”

Steph thought about the two questions for a long time, and the Jester felt his mind start to wander again, as it was apt to do when there were lulls in conversation, eating, playing, adventuring.  Before he could stray too far though, Steph brought him back to reality, “It should take them awhile to sift through the remnants of the fire to try and figure out if it was an accident or not.  The vampires are very arragont and probably won’t believe it possible that anyone could have started the fire and trapped so many of them in the warehouse without detection.  And, they certainly won’t want to delay their search, so would send the next ship out to the island anyway.”  The potion added, “I think” and Matticus frowned.  “I should be able to get you onto the ship and hidden.  Once you make it to the island you’ll be on your own, though.”  Again the potion added, “except for all the vampires already out there organizing the search efforts, of course,” and Matticus’ frown deepened.

Despite his uneasiness with the truth behind Steph’s words, he thanked her for her help and signaled to his knight that he could rejoin them. When Revis got back to their side, Matticus filled him in on the plan to go to Kuzco Groove. The three of them silently made their way to the ship. Steph wanted to get them onboard, and out of sight, before any of the other vampire helpers boarded. She got them situated in the back corner of the cargo hold.

“The trip should only take a day, maybe a day and a half. You two should be all right until then,” she informed them.

“Thanks again,” Matticus replied. “Also, again, I’m sorry for how my knight acted towards you.”

“That’s ok. I’ve dealt with worse,” she said, but the potion added, “At least he has a nice ass.”

Matticus watched her walk away, but only because needed a few seconds to keep himself from laughing at that last statement. Once he composed himself, he turned to his knight. “Sorry, we kept you out of it, but you should’ve been nicer to her.”

“That’s ok. I’ve dealt with worse,” he echoed. Matticus couldn’t stop the laughter when the potion put more words to his sentence too, “At least she has a nice ass.”

A few minutes later movement and voices from the deck above them were the duos warning to quiet down and tuck themselves completely into their hiding spot.  The early footfalls and half heard murmurs turned into a torrent of creaks, groans, and shouted commands and the ship’s crew boarded along with the rest of the vampire helpers and the boat was made ready for the sea.  The sails were raised and the slight rocking motion of the ship was strengthened as the vessel left the shallow waters of the harbor.

Revis and Matticus longed for a window, to catch a fresh breath of air, to watch the rise and fall of the waves to better steady their feet with the swaying ship, but their hiding place offered none of those comforts.  They tried to find respite in sleep but their minds wouldn’t relax enough to allow it.  They tried to speed the passage of time through meditation but neither were very good at it.  In the end, they gave up and resigned themselves to the tumultuous nature of being blind in the belly of a boat.

After hours of the torture, when the commotion on deck was sure to cover his whispered voice, Matticus turned to Revis and said, “I hope what we find on the island is worth this.”

“Me, too.”