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 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 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 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 24

Instead of  acknowledging the accusation that Matticus had thrown at him, Revis used the magic of his ring to turn invisible. Except for the Jester, who was used to Revis disappearing, everyone was startled by his disappearance. Steph, in particular, was unnerved by it. “Did he just abandon us,” she asked, going back-to-back with Matticus.

“Don’t worry about it,” he reassured.

“Don’t worry about it? It was bad enough when it was ten against three. Now it’s ten against two. I’m good, but I don’t know if I’m that good.”

The Jester’s reply was lost when one of the circling vampires cried out in pain. A second later, its head fell off. With their attention momentarily fixed on their fallen comrade, Steph and Matticus leapt into action. In one motion, she unsheathed her sword,  decapitated the closest vampire, and plunged the blade into the chest of another.

Matticus hit the vampire closest to him with the flat of his blade while simultaneously activating the sword’s magic. It ran away, its clothing on fire. The next vampire took its time coming at him, wary of the flaming weapon. The Jester feinted to the left and, when the vampire went to block, he quickly brought the blade in from the right. It cleanly separated the vampire’s head from its neck.

After dispatching two vampires each, Matticus and Steph turned, ready to face the rest. There were none left standing. All they saw was Revis casually leaning up against the wall. “There were only eight, not ten,” he informed them with a shrug of his shoulders.

“Show off,” Steph mumbled under her breath as she cleaned her blade and returned the steel to its sheath.

Matticus, standing close enough to hear her, couldn’t help but laugh, and he whispered back to her, “He’s always doing stuff like that.  I guess you’ll get used to it too, if you stick with us.”

“What are you two chatting about?”  Revis returned his full weight to his feet and sauntered torwards them.

“The Jester was informing me that I would eventually grow accustomed to your antics if I journeyed with you a while, but, alas, that shall not be the case.  Once I get us clear of the city, I will send you on to Long Beach and I’ll stay here to help those I can.”

Revis surveyed the bodies of the vampires she had slain and nodded with approval, “It is obvious you can take care of yourself.”

“So, should we get to it then?”  Matticus asked, finally having extinguished his blade and safely stowed it away.  “Before even more vampires decide to descend on us, perhaps?”

Steph looked up and down the alley to get her bearings, and then motioned for them to follow her again, “Let’s go.”  Matticus and Revis fell into step behind her.

She led them through another series of twists and turns until she finally entered a burned out building. Matticus threw a questioning glance at his Knight, but all Revis could do is shrug. They continued to follow her down a hallway. The hallway came to an abrupt halt at a brick wall.

“Why are there so many hallways that lead to nowhere,” Matticus asked in confusion. “And why do we keep finding them?”

Steph shot him ‘The Look’ right before she reached down towards the floor. “The wall was put there to stabilize the house and keep it from collapsing after the fire,” she informed them as she pulled up a trap door.

“Oh,” he replied meekly.

After Steph had descended down the stairs, the Jester heard something at his back. Matticus turned to find his Knight trying not to laugh at him. “Shut up,” he commanded Revis, following their guide.

At the bottom of the steps was a tunnel. Turning to her companions, she told them, “This tunnel will lead us all the way out of the city.”

“Who built it?” Revis queried, peering as far into the darkness as the small amount of light filtering in from above would allow.  “It seems too old for it to have just been constructed in the last couple months.”

“You are correct,” Steph answered, pressing a hand into the ancient stones, soaking in their coolness.  “None of us know how old the tunnel is or why it was originally built.  As we go through you’ll see sections that we had to improve to make it passable, however.  Bardictale spread the word about it when the vampires came out in force and said the two of you had been killed.”

“That guy, again?  Really?”  Revis whined, and Matticus rolled his eyes.  “He’s not at the other end of the tunnel, is he?”

“No, he’ll still be at his bar.  As long as he keeps his stocks of wine up the vampires will leave him alone.”

Matticus pulled his sword from its scabbard and Steph and Revis both took a step back.  “What are you doing, Jester?”

“We’re going to need some light, aren’t we?  Or, did you have some torches in that magic bag of yours?”

“Of course not, your Jesterness,” Revis said with a bow. “That would be silly.”

Feeling triumphant, Matticus started uttering the phrase to activate his sword. Before he could finish, Revis spoke the word, “Illuminate”. A small part of Revis’ chest armor began glowing, throwing off a beam of light. Matticus sputtered the rest of his phrase out, failing to complete the magical enchantment.

“Why would I bring torches with me,” Revis continued, “when I can just use this piece of armor to light my way?”

The Jester took a look around, ensuring that no children were present, and then began a string of cursing under his breath that lasted for several moments. Revis didn’t hear all of it, but he was pretty sure one of things that was said involved bugs invading his crotch. When Matticus had finished, Steph leaned in to Revis and asked, “What’s a douchecanoe?”

With a shrug, Revis answered, “I’m not really sure. I think it’s something he picked up while we were in my brother’s universe.”

“You have a brother? And what’s this about another universe?”

“Uhh, nevermind. Let’s just get going.  I’ll take the lead, since I have the light.  Steph, just make sure you warn me about any twists, turns, or anything else before I stumble into a precipice, okay?”

“No problem.”

Revis slowly started moving forward, with Steph and then Matticus following closely behind so they could all use his light to find their own footing.  Steph shot Matticus a glance to make sure he had calmed down and was going to be able to focus, to concentrate, on the arduous journey ahead and was surprised to see him looking at her.

In the dim glow, she could just make out the the Jester mouth “douchecanoe” and then point at Revis.  Steph shook her head and rolled her eyes.  Matticus would always be silly, no matter how dire the situation was.  She turned back to warn Revis to duck just in time before he cracked his head on a section of the tunnel that was a bit lower.

They walked in silence, except for their heavy breathing echoing off the close walls, and the occasional pinging drip of water collecting in unseen pools.  The journey seemed to last for hours, but they all knew that time was funny underground where there was no sun or stars to track its progress.  When Steph saw the marker that indicated they were nearing the end of the tunnel, they were all happy their journey in the darkness was at an end.

“I’ll go up first, and see if the exit is clear.”

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.”