Morben and the Knight Errant

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  1. Artisu

    Artisu New Member

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    This is a short story I wrote a while ago. I hope you like it.

    A short story by Nikolai Bird 2009

    Morben lay in the leaves on the crest of a small hill overlooking a clearing in the woods. His tummy rumbled as it had been doing all morning. He needed food. Luckily Morben was quite good at getting food. He was not a hunter, or a trapper or even a farmer. Morben was a thief.

    Below him a party of twenty or so rough looking bandits camped around a large fire that was being used by various fellows to roast fowl, rabbit, squirrel and what looked like socks. One of those birds would taste good, thought Morben, his tummy letting off another growl.

    Just then a giant brute of a man made his way to the fire, pushing the other bandits out of his way. He was a head taller than the next tallest bandit, and Morben, being a skinny lad had to admit that they were a large lot. In fact they were quite intimidating. They seemed to have a thing for spikes. Spiked clubs, spiked helmets, spiked boots. The more spikes the better.

    Spikes and studs were a sign of rank with bandits in general. It was not official but sort of understood. Limfop the Newb - all bandits had a name like that. Something the Something. The first name being what ever your mother gave you, the second being earnt. Limfop the Newb wanted to impress his piers and started studding his underwear. He lasted a day before admitting the only person getting hurt was him and his sensitives. There was however a rather expensive looking helmet on top of what looked like a treasure chest being guarded by a couple of men, but Morben knew that it would be suicide to go for that.

    Intimidating or not, Morben edged back from the crest, and got to his feet. Doing a few jumps and running on the spot for a second or two, Morben straightened is back, put a big smile on his face and began to run because the giant had picked the largest of the roasting birds and Morben wanted it.

    Around the hill and through some trees, Morben entered the clearing at an easy run. Some of the bandits looked round, but did not react. They saw a skinny, slightly spotty and unarmed boy with a big smile and a spring in his step. Morben did indeed have a spring in his step but that was because he had no shoes and was always stepping on something sharp. The thought that Morben might be of danger to these hardened criminals was as far from their minds as pink, stuffed bunny rabbits, although that is perhaps not true of all of them but Sorb the Slasher would never admit to missing his pink bunny.

    “Morning,” said Morben, jogging past the first bandits who just gave him a rather dumbfounded look. “Nice day for a jog,” he then said to the second lot, one of whom stopped picking his nose at the sight.

    Morben had them just where he wanted them… Confused by the unimaginable. A peasant boy jogging through a camp of hardened murderers and criminals.

    He made his way towards the fire and the giant bandit with the roasted fowl in his ham fist. Time to add more confusion…

    “I’m going to kick you in the blueberries,” he said as he jogged up to the bandit.

    The baffled giant looked both uncertain and angry at the same time. “I don’t have no blueberries,” he growled at the oncoming peasant boy.

    Without losing a stride and with a smile that was now verging on a grin, Morben kicked the bandit right in the privates with a skill that has come from years of practice.

    “You do now,” he said catching the bird on his way past.

    The other bandits stood open mouthed at the sight of Blunwar the Butcher meowing like a cross-eyed kitten as he doubled over onto the ground.

    “Wha?” said a nasty looking bandit with an eye patch, pointing at Morben as he jogged past.

    Morben did not pick up the pace yet. For now the bandits only stood up and watched. He had to time it just right.

    “Hang on,” said someone from behind him. “Get him!”

    Now was the time to run true and proper. Morben went from a jog to a sprint in the blink of an eye, ducking under the grasping hands of the final bandit, and went into the woods at a pace that left the bandits standing. A crossbow bolt whizzed past his head.

    He heard a few of them finally take up the chase, but they had no horses, and would not last long against the seasoned runner that was Morben the thief.

    Through the woods. Ducking branches and leaping bushes. Heart pounding and mouth chewing in between large intakes of breath for Morben could not wait to eat and had already pulled a wing off the bird and chewed it hungrily.

    Far behind him now he could hear the stumbling efforts of the chase. The last cries of the bandits who saw their champion bested by a peasant boy. Morben recalled something about David and Goliath. Perhaps David actually kicked him in the nadgers, and David was Morbens great, great, granddad or something. Morben liked the idea.

    Run. Just keep running. Don’t look back. If you’re running away, there is not point in looking back. Looking forwards is good. Stuffing your mouth with meat and running at full speed however is not a good idea as Morben discovered when suddenly he came face to startled face with a horse, and with a crack like breaking timber, knocked both himself and the horse unconscious.

    Time passed. It would have anyway. Morben sat up just in time to see the dancing fish with top hats circling his head do a last jig before leaving the party that was his pounding skull. He shook his head and regretted it, putting a hand to his brow.

    “He’s alive,” somebody said.

    Morben focused on his surroundings and saw that he was sitting in the shade of a tree a few yards from a small fire. Around the fire sat a knight and an elderly chap enjoying his roasted bird. There was also a servant looking after the horses. One of the horses had a bandage around its head and was giving Morben the evil look.

    “How are you feeling young man?” asked the knight waving Morben over. “You took quite a knock to the head. Poor Equus was knocked out cold.” He motioned to the bandaged horse.

    Morben considered running. It had never let him down before but he was so hungry, and his head hurt too much. So instead he shuffled over to the knight and took a place next to the fire.

    “Sorry Sir,” said Morben. “I should look where I’m going.”

    “Yes,” said the knight. He was thin with a jovial smile. The knight looked as though he had seen better times. His armour was rusting, his clothing, worn thin and as for the elderly chap - he was dressed in a black, feather covered cloak and held a long gnarled staff by his side. The knight was balding but obviously trying to hide it with a rather grand comb-over.

    “I am Sir Ilfred. and that is surf Spotige,” said the knight pointing to the servant. “I am a Knight Errant.”

    “What did you do wrong?” asked Morben.

    “No. I travel the land in search glory, artefacts and quests. I protect the weak, uphold the law and send beasts back to the nether lands.”

    “So you’re a knight like Sir Lancelot?”

    “Oh, old Fartsalot is a knight of the round table. I am a knight errant. Like a freelancer. I travel here and there doing the Lords work.”

    “Tea anyone?” This was the mysterious elderly chap who was now offering a cup of a hot drink round.

    “Sorry. This is Nilrem the Seer,” said Sir Ilfred motioning to the chap.

    Sir Ilfred and Spotige both perked up at the offer of tea. Morben looked at it with great distrust. Nilrem looked far too shady to be trusted.

    Sir Ilfred took a cup and mumbled his thanks.

    “Tea?” Nilrem asked Morben. Morben however was eyeing the last bit of fowl next to the fire.

    Nilrem picked up the bird and handed it over together with the cup.

    “What is it?” asked Morben.

    “Tea is a wonderful drink I picked up in the east. Try some. You will like it.”

    Morben hesitantly did so. He then made a face like a puckered prune. “Tastes like cat widdle!”

    “Oh? I always thought cat widdle tasted like fermented seaweed,” said Nilrem. “Drink up.”

    Morben sat and ate and drank. The tea was not so bad after a while, but the bird was lovely and he felt the strength return to his legs. Soon time to do a runner he thought.

    “You were in an awful hurry,” said Sir Ilfred. “What were you running from?”

    Morben thought about this. Normally he would be evasive because he was always running away from someone he had stolen from, but in this case he was running from bandits he had stolen from and probably had done a good deed.

    “Bandits, Sir.”

    “Oh? I am on a quest and I seek a party of bandits who not three days past stole a magical helm from a village to the north. Did you by any chance see a magical helmet? It is the Helm of Plenty from the lands of fairy and blesses the crops of any village who owns it.”

    He saw a lot of helmets. Most of them where made of black leather and had lots of spikes, studs and wings. One even had roasted chicken wings, but none of them looked magical, although Morben was not sure he would know a magical helm if he saw one. Then he remembered the expensive looking helmet that seemed to be under guard.

    “Yes. Well I think so. It looked fancy enough.”

    “Hm…”

    “We should investigate Sir Ilfred,” Said Nilrem. “There can’t be many parties of bandits in these parts.”

    “Yes,” answered Sir Ilfred getting to his feet. “Pack up Spotige.”

    Soon the small party was making it’s way through the woods. Morben, the only one on foot jogged ahead of them, showing them the way back to the bandit campsite. He knew this was stupid but there was something exciting about helping a knight on his quest, and he told himself that he could do a runner anytime.

    As they got close to the site, Morben stopped and turned to Sir Ilfred. "We're getting close now, Sir. Perhaps it would be best to leave the horses here with your servant so we can sneak up and have a closer look.

    Sir Ilfred looked horrified. Morben was not sure what he had said wrong.

    "Sneak up?" said Sir Ilfred. "Sneak up! I am a knight. I will ride in there and challenge their leader to a duel. Then I will take the helmet and give anyone who stands in my way a damned good thrashing. I don't sneak up." Sir Ilfred kicked his angry looking horse and trotted past Morben.

    "But there must be twenty of them, and they didn't look very reasonable to me," said Morben trying to keep up with the knight.

    "Perhaps the boy is right," said Nilrem. "We should have a look first."

    "Don't be silly, old friend. I’m pretty good with this poker you know," said Sir Ilfred patting his sword's pommel. "Is it this way?"

    "Yes," said Morben.

    "Then you lot stay here out of harm's way. I will ride in, get the helmet and be out of there before you know it."

    Before anyone could say anything, Sir Ilfred spurred his horse into a canter and vanished into the woods.

    "Oh well," shrugged Nilrem.

    "Is he that good?" asked Morben.

    "Well. We’re about to find out."

    They waited, listening for any signs of Sir Ilfred. Spotige sat on his horse, smiling. He did that a lot it seemed. The servant had not said a thing ever since Morben first ran into them.

    "He's a bit slow in the head," said Nilrem, leaning down from his horse. "He does what he's told but never a thought of his own."

    "Oh," said Morben giving Spotige a weak smile.

    They waited.

    Suddenly there was a noise. It was a general commotion coming their way. Morben made ready to run. Nilrem turned his horse around and pulled Spotig's horse around too.

    "Flee!" shouted Sir Ilfred as he burst through the trees. "Fleeeeeee!"

    His helmet was at an angle, his shield bristling with crossbow bolts.

    "Flee!"

    He charged past them, and Nilrem took up the chase together with Spotig. Morben noticed two bolts in Equus's rump. The poor fellow was having a rough day. He then turned and saw twenty angry bandits close on Sir Ilfred’s heels with swords waving, clubs swinging and crossbows being drawn. Morben ran.

    He fell into the run so easily, he was soon gaining on the horsemen and passed them at an easy sprint. Another bolt flew past him, and thudded into a tree to his side.

    They all fled. The riders followed Morben who was not sure where he was going but instinctively ran in a large semicircle assuming the pursuers would lose sight of them and just run in a straight line. After a while the sounds of pursuit became distant and Morben stopped to listen more closely.

    Sir Ilfred, Nilrem and Spotige pulled up next to him.

    "Do you think we've lost them," asked Nilrem.

    "Yes. They are looking in the wrong direction. We should be safe enough now," answered Morben, his heart pounded.

    "Well," said Sir Ilfred. I was not expecting a barrage of crossbow bolts. "Most un-chivalric."

    "What happened," asked Nilrem.

    "I galloped into their camp, saw who was obviously their leader. A giant of a man he was. I rode up to him and the strangest thing happened. He clutched his privates, pointed a finger at me and ordered his men to stop me. I charged and swung with my trusty blade but there where too many. Most un-chivalric. Most pagan." His pride had obviously been hurt.

    "Hm," said Morben, realising that that the giant was not going to be caught with his pants down twice in the same day.

    "We must come up with another plan then," said Nilrem.

    "Crying," said Spotige. Everyone turned to the smiling servant boy. Morben did not thinking crying would get them very far.

    "What?" said Sir Ilfred.

    "Crying."

    Then Morben heard it. There was the very faint sound of crying. He began to walk towards the sound. The others followed. He walked not far before coming across a young lady sitting under a tree, head in hands, sobbing.

    Sir Ilfred pushed past the others and rode up to the lady.

    "Fear not fair lady," said Sir Ilfred, dismounting.

    The young lady looked up. She had tears in her eyes and her clothes where torn.

    "Sir, oh Sir," she said jumping into the knight's arms. "A terrible thing has happened."

    "There there, " said Sir Ilfred, patting her back. "Tell me what has befallen you and I will do all in my god given power to put it right."

    Morben and the others moved up. Morben was also keeping an eye on the surroundings. The bandits could still come across them, and so Morben wanted to be in full sprint at the drop of a pin.

    "The Ogre has taken my man. The Ogre has taken Weslin to his cave to eat," she sobbed.

    "An Ogre?"

    "Yes. The Ogre of Druny Vale, Sir. Please, Sir. You are a knight could you not rescue my husband?"

    "But of course," said Sir Ilfred, obviously keen to put right the damage done to his pride. Better one ogre than twenty bandits.

    "Where is this Ogre, young lady," asked Nilrem.

    "We are in Druny vale now, Sir. The Ogre lives just down that track in a cave. The Ogre jumped us, Sir, ripping my clothes, but Weslin jumped on him and I ran."

    Morben was thinking the same thing. It was time to run. Not only had he ventured back to the bandits, but now it looked as though they where going to look for an Ogre. Morben felt an itch in his legs, but he did not run. He could run anytime. Let’s see what happens first.

    "We shall save this Weslin and return him to you," said Sir Ilfred grandly as he remounted the poor Equus, still with the bandage and crossbow bolts in his rump.

    The horse was eyeing Morben all the more as though even the bolts were his fault. The day started bad and was just getting worse for him. Morben decided to keep some distance between himself and Equus.

    The girl stayed behind with Spotige while Morben, Sir Ilfred, and Nilrem searched for the Ogre’s layer. It was but a few minutes before they came across a semicircle of stones surrounding the entrance to a cave in the side of hill. It was not a large hill, but seemed to be made up of the roots of a huge and rather menacing oak tree. The entrance was perhaps eight foot high and scattered around the inner perimeter of the stones was a rather ominous collection of bones, and rusting armour.

    “I would say this was it,” said Nilrem, his horse not willing to go any further.

    Morben also kept his distance. The smell was rank, and his legs itched to be away.

    Sir Ilfred goaded Equus as close as the horse would go then drew his sword. “Come out fowl beast,” He called.

    There was no answer.

    Sir Ilfred dismounted, realising Equus was not going any closer, and made his way to the edge of the semicircle of stones. “Come out Ogre and fight a knight and be judged in the eyes of God.”

    Morben noted Nilrem rolling his eyes. He was a pagan, obviously. “He thinks he can beat anyone or anything as long as good is on his side,” he murmered to Morben. “Trouble is, God’s not too picky about which side he is on, on any given day.”

    There was a rumble from the cave. Morben looked up and saw the tree branches rustle its leaves. Nilrem also had his eye on the tree. “It has been poisoned,” he said. “An ogre living in its roots can only turn it mad in time.”

    “Are you a coward? Come out and fight!” Sir Ilfred entered the ring and hefted his shield high in anticipation of a charge from the dark cave.

    “Bugger off,” boomed a voice from the cave.

    Sir Ilfred looked round at Morben and Nilrem. Nilrem shrugged.

    “You have taken an innocent man from his wife,” called Sir Ilfred. “You must return him at once or face me.”

    “No.”

    “No? Come out and fight you coward.”

    “Nope.”

    “Right.” Sir Ilfred walked back to the others. “What now?”

    Nilrem thought a moment. “You’ll have to go in I suppose.”

    Sir Ilfred looked back at the cave and visibly shivered. “Not sure about that plan. I rather prefer the open air where our duel between knight and beast can be viewed in the direct line of sight of God.” He was eager to be technical as he knew Nilrem would point out that God can apparently see all.

    “We could perhaps smoke him out,” said Nilrem.

    “Don’t forget Weslin is in there,” Morben said.

    “Right,” said Sir Ilfred again. “You have a good pair of legs on you boy. Go in there, and lure him out. I will stand at the side of the entrance and jump him as he comes past.”

    “That’s not very chiv…”

    “Come on,” said Sir Ilfred before Nilrem could finish his sentence, pushing Morben towards the cave.

    Morben ran. He did not mean to, he just did. After so many years of training, his legs just took over. The danger level had risen too far and he was on automatic. The trees became a blur as he made his escape, but he realised as he ran that he did not want to. He liked Sir Ilfred. He wanted to help him.

    Slowly, ever so slowly he managed to turn. His legs kept on running, but through an effort of willpower he was able to turn so that after a minute or so he was running back towards the cave. The trouble was that he could not stop. The danger level was still too high, so he just kept going. Past Nilrem. Past Sir Ilfred, and head first into the cave.

    It was dark. It was cold. It was also not a very large cave, and in the darkness, Morben ran straight into a wall of roots and earth and with a thud, landed on his rear.

    Frantically looking around he quickly became accustomed to the dark just in time to see a pair of smouldering red eyes, and dull yellow teeth heading his way. Spinning around, and onto his feet again, the earth literally hit the wall behind him as his feet tried to find grip. He had never heard of traction control, but it did not matter as suddenly he found his footing.

    The others meanwhile had only just seen Morben run away. Then oddly, after a moment run back again and straight into the cave.

    “Odd boy that,” said Nilrem.

    “Perhaps he needed a run up,” said Sir Ilfred.

    Just then there was a hollow scream from the cave. It was getting louder and louder. Sir Ilfred again hefted his shield, and stood before the cave.

    The scream was Morben, who now shouted instead. “Ogre, ogre, ogre.” He ran past Sir Ilfred and managed to come to a stop behind Equus.

    Equus was an aging horse. He had done his time, and suffered fools lightly. He now saw his chance to get a little payback on the upstart peasant boy. He shifted his legs a little, bunched up his hind muscles, and made ready to kick Morben.

    Suddenly, with a tremendous roar a ten foot tall beast of an Ogre exploded from the cave, stopped and saw the knight before him.

    Equus, who was but a second from kicking Morben, panicked at the sound and used the pent up force in his rear legs to bound high into the air, hitting Nilrem’s horse on his way up.

    Nilrem lost control of his animal and with a wail, went galloping off into the woods.

    Morben meanwhile just watched Equus, admiring the height the horse has gained, and not wanting to be under him when he came down again. But he didn’t come down again. He jumped so high he got caught up in the lower branches of the oak tree.

    Again the Ogre roared his anger, and came at Sir Ilfred with barrel sized fists.

    Morben took cover behind a tree, being sure there was a good escape route behind him and watched as Sir Ilfred then roared too, charging the beast with his sword swinging left and right, up and down. In fact the frenzy of Sir Ilfred’s attack rather stopped the Ogre in it’s tracks, who back away a little, letting the knight charge past him.

    As Sir Ilfred turned to charge again, Morben saw with horror that the knight simply aimed himself at the Ogre, closed his eyes, and screamed as he charged with flailing weapon. It seemed to work for a while, as the Ogre was obviously not too keen on being cut up by the sword, but he simple got out of the way when ever Sir Ilfred got close, and was obviously getting wise to the Knight’s tactic.

    Before long Sir Ilfred was getting tired. The Ogre had not been hurt, but was biding his time. Where was Nilrem?

    With another battle cry, Sir Ilfred charged again, but this time he lost his footing and stumbled. Trying to keep from falling he put his guard down. The Ogre saw his chance and leapt forwards. With a might back-handed lash of his fist he sent Sir Ilfred flying who then landed on his back and did not move. Where was Nilrem!

    As Morben realised that Sir Ilfred was knocked unconscious, he also felt the itch. He had to do something. His legs said run! His heart said, save the knight. He ran!

    He ran straight at the Ogre who, looming over the knight, looked up too late, only to see Morben as a blur of speed heading right for his unmentionable locations. Then Morben did what he was so good at and reached with all his muscle pulling strength only to deliver the most cunning of strikes. The toe tap!

    Then both stopped. Morben looking up. The Ogre looking down, a grin forming on his horrible face. Morben began to edge backwards as the Ogre moved forwards. Any second now, he thought. Please work.

    The Ogre stopped. The toe tap, so deeply planted was now having its effect. It was always a delayed effect, but all the worse for it. Morben had delivered the mother of all kicks, the toe tap and now it was having its affect on the beast who like any true male of any species proceeded to cross his eyes and whimper.

    It was so slow, so painful. Morben almost felt sorry for the beast, and only saved the special attack for the worst kinds of people, but his empathy did not last as the Ogre’s whimper was turning into a cry, then a roar, then a scream of rage.

    Morben ran.

    The Ogre followed, and Morben went to plan B. Plan C was run until there was no more Ogre. Plan D was beg for mercy. Plan E was play dead. He had them all worked out and had now gone to plan B. Now if plan C was just run away, plan B was similar but a little more cunning.

    He ran in the general direction of the bandit campsite. It was yet another stupid idea, but this day was full of them, so why stop now? He was fast, but the enraged Ogre was keeping up. Not far now. He ran and ran, the thunderous footsteps of the Ogre gaining on him. The Ogre was faster than he had thought, and was now pleased he did not go straight to plan C.

    Just as he could feel the stinking breath of the Ogre on his neck he burst through some bushes straight into the bandit camp.

    Twenty bandits leapt to their feet. Blunwar the Butcher screamed, “Get him!”

    The brave, but not so sure he is going to live much longer, Morben headed straight for the gathering bandits. Blunwar again was confused. Why would he head straight for us? There are twenty of us and only one of him. He covered his parts, expecting the unexpected. The other Bandits meanwhile sneered and grinned at the oncoming peasant boy, raising weapons.

    Just then the bushes exploded as the Ogre came thundering like a mountain avalanche into the camp. The stunned bandits looked up in horror, as Morben threw himself to the ground below the reach of the bandit weaponry, and slid under the legs of Blunwar the Butcher, who screamed like a little girl, holding as tightly as he could to his crutch.

    “The Ogre! The Ogre,” went out the cries. They knew about the Ogre?

    Morben was on his feet again and jumped over the back of one bandit, then ducked the mace of another. It was chaos. The Ogre was thrashing about the band, while the bandits, panicked, tried to fight it off as well understand why their master was crying.

    Morben ran. He saw his chance now. The confusion was total and the prize was for the taking. The magic helm was still on top of the treasure box, and Morben headed straight for it, but suddenly before he could get there, the nasty, one-eyed bandit stepped in his path. Morben picked up the pace. The bandit was obviously not as slow minded as the others and as Morben got closer, the bandit protected his privates with both hands.

    Morben came up short and stood before the evil looking man. The bandit chuckled. “What now sonny?”

    Morben let fly with a punch in his good eye. He had never done that before. He had never needed to, but it worked. The bandit cried out and let go of his crutch. Although he did not need to now, Morben then kicked him for being such a clever sod.

    “Bastard,” whimpered the bandit as he went down.

    He grabbed the helm, and ran. He saw the battle taking place. Men groaned and they cried as the Ogre unleashed the anger borne of a toe tap upon these little humans.

    He ran like he had never run before, through the woods, under branches and over bushes again, leaving the sound of battle behind, until at last he reached the Ogre’s layer where he found the Lady, Spotige and Nilrem standing over Sir Ilfred who was just now coming around.

    Morben was actually out of breath. He was not often out of breath. He could run for miles and still do a dance at the end of it, but now he was just plain knackered.

    “Wha? Where? The Ogre!” said Sir Ilfred jumping to his feet. He had lost his helmet, and his comb-over was loose and looked rather like a floppy wing above his right ear.

    “Scared him off did I? Drove him from the lands eh?”

    From the cave stumbled a dazed young man. The lady ran to him and fell into his arms.

    “Weslin, I presume,” said Nilrem,

    The Lady just cried for joy in the arms of her husband.

    “What’s that you’ve got there?” Nilrem pointed at the helmet Morben was holding.

    Morben did not answer. Instead he was looking at Weslin, for Morben was suddenly struck by a terrible thought.

    “Those are odd clothes,” Morben pointed out to Weslin and the Lady. Weslin was indeed dressed in black leather with lots of spikes and studs.

    “Aye, “ said Weslin. “I am Weslin the Terrible. It is the traditional costume of our village, Drunny in the Vale. Black leather. Lots of spikes and studs. We also have scary names. It keeps the bandits away you see?”

    “Oh,” said Morben. “Seen any bandits recently?” Morben was trying very hard to look innocent when he asked the question.

    “Why yes. Just last night we found a camp of them just yonder.” He pointed in the direction of the bandit camp. “We drove them off and took their hoard, then made camp there for the night. My father Blunwar the Butcher, sent me back to the village with the good news. I was returning this morning with my wife, when we were put upon by the Ogre.”

    “You must all come back to the camp and join the festivities,” said Westlin. “We have plenty of food. Good fowl, and drink too.”

    “Erm…” said Nilrem looking at Morben with a rather knowing smile on his face. “I think it best if we kept going, eh Sir Ilfred.”

    Sir Ilfred looked as though he was going to accept the offer when suddenly out of the trees came the Ogre, and everyone froze.

    It stood there for a moment looking at the party. It was going to roar. It was going to charge.

    Weslin and the Lady fled into the trees.

    The Ogre just stood there. Instinctively it wanted to be nasty and scary and mean and pull a few limbs from bodies, but it just could not find the will. It had a black eye. Bruises all over. Cuts and scrapes as well as a covering of crossbow bolts like a giant pin cushion. Finally The Ogre just slumped its shoulders, turned away and considered himself banished from the lands.

    Nilrem raised an eyebrow. Spotige smiled. Sir Ilfred turned to Morben.

    “Is that the Helm of Plenty?”

    “I think so,” said Morben handing it over.

    “So while I was fighting the Ogre, you went to the bandits, oh no, villagers and… hang on. Who were you fleeing from if they where the villagers in the camp?”

    “Perhaps,” said Nilrem, “Some of the bandits where still in the woods, eh Morben?”

    “Yes. That must be it,” said Morben looking down. Nilrem knew.

    “Nasty lot those villagers though. They must have been expecting more bandits I suppose to attack me without provocation,” said Sir Ilfred thoughtfully. “Still, I am pleased none of them got hurt. Did you see what I did to that Ogre? Poor fellow won’t show his face around here again, and he will rue the day he ever crossed paths with Sir Ilfred. Ha!”

    Morben wanted to say something, but Nilrem shot him a glance that said a lot of things, one of which was, shut up or else. Morben had a great imagination and so, or else became quite a few things Morben did not want to visit.

    He kept his mouth shut.

    “Right,” said Sir Ilfred. “I think we just need to return the Helm of Plenty to its rightful owners, and that quest is done.”

    “There is one problem however,” said Nilrem.

    They all looked at him.

    “How are we going to get Equus out of that tree?”

    Morben looked up and saw a furious Equus glaring at him from the stout branches of the oak tree.

    THE END