Those who have heard the mystical tales...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Sixth Tale of the Bards: The Rhyming Squid

It was Schaff's first birthday since he was reunited with his father, King Carl. A gala was held in this occasion, and Schaff invited the Bards without question. The private affair was grand, but it was what happened afterwards that made the day paramount.
Badger and the Great Scott, Holden, and Fox traveled together to King Carl's estate on the Sea of Ocixem. On the way, Fox tried to convince Badger that King Carl hated Holden and himself. While Holden agreed, Badger shook her head and laughed. They arrived and were greeted by King Carl. Badger and Scott entered first, and Carl was delighted to see them. Upon seeing Holden and Fox, however, his delight disappeared. Carl remained cordial, but it was evident that Fox told the truth.
Gizmo traveled with Paddy and Dumon, and they arrived shortly thereafter. The party itself was full of revelry, delectable treats, and good times all around. A certain bearded warrior (another hero from another adventure) joined in as Gizmo and Badger sang, and Holden and Fox played. The warrior, however, had another appointment with a dragon. Therefore he left.
Holden, tired of the festivities, retreated to another room. He noticed a map on the wall. Most maps were of lands, such as Bamah or Drumm, but this one was of the Sea outside the window. It showed islands and currents, beasts and ships, and a large "X" on one island that was draped with a picture of a squid and marked by a cove. Gizmo and Paddy followed him and his glance as they walked over to the map. Schaff then began telling the story of a treasure that was supposedly held in the island, guarded by that squid, and available to anyone who could answer the squid's riddle. None who had ever made the journey returned alive.
When asked if he knew the riddle, Schaff said, "No. I don't really know if that story's even true."
By then, all the Bards were interested in the story. Fox came up with the idea for searching for it, and, without any real hesitation at all, the Bards headed toward the dock. As the other Bards prepared a small cutter for launch, Schaff noticed that a line was missing, the halyard. (This specific ship was a gift for Carl from a neighboring monarch, and it hadn't been piloted in a while. Carl took down all the rigging while it was moored at the pier; he had many other ships, also.) The girls looked in the ship's cabin, and the guys looked over the outside. Gizmo walked back up the dock to King Carl's shed to look for it. Schaff then found the line, and Claire (Schaff's girlfriend... did you really think she would miss his birthday party?) went to tell Gizmo. As it was, a light breeze blew on the sails. Dumon and Paddy untied the ropes from the mooring, and the Bards (save for Claire and Gizmo) were off. All but Schaff, Paddy, and Dumon went into the ship's cabin area. They followed the map to the letter, and as they arrived at the shore of the island, Badger returned to the outside and asked about Claire and Gizmo. The other three above deck looked at each other. They decided to wait for the two when they dropped anchor.
Meanwhile, Claire and Gizmo returned to the dock to find the rest of the party gone. Thinking quickly, the two leaped aboard a smaller vessel, already rigged, and followed a map stored in the sloop's sleeping quarters. While sailing, the two noticed a pair of dolphins splashing next to the boat. As Gizmo sailed toward them, a gust of wind blew the map away. The dolphins saw what happened, and began splashing around the bow of the sloop. As they swam away, they made obvious splashes. Claire realized that the dolphins wanted to be followed. So, they did follow the dolphins.
Gizmo brought the boat alongside Schaff's vessel. Claire leaped aboard, asking if anyone had seen the dolphins. No one beside Gizmo and herself had. Looking around, the two saw no sign of the guardians that led them to the Squid's Island.
The Bards swam to shore, and found a sea cave not far from where they docked. They ventured inside and found a long patch of shore inside. Following this, the Bards were led deeper and farther down, where they found a large room with a giant underground lake in the shape of a "C". The other side of the lake was adorned with gold and jewels in amounts none had seen before or since. The lack of a sentient squid was a notion Fox brought forward, and he found that he was not alone in his thoughts. The Bards approached the gold cautiously, but when they reached it, the squid broke the surface of the lake; it blocked them off from escape by sea or land.
"Well, this explains the lack of dead bodies," said Gizmo.
"Yeah, and I'm so hungry, too," said Paddy.
"Come on! Really?" said Dumon.
The squid sighed and said this:
"Ok, so here's the deal. You answer the riddle correctly and you may come and go as you please. You can't leave until you do answer, blah blah blah. Ahem.

'Its sister lays claim, though it does not compare,
an extraordinary fish and exceedingly rare,
its attitude no one should count,
 which of the fish has the largest mouth?'"

"That doesn't rhyme," said Paddy.
"Are you kidding?" said Fox. "That's the riddle?"
"I think it's a cool choice," said Holden.
"Well, yeah, but, come on!"
"Do you know the answer?"
"Yeah. You?"
"Yeah. The Sassy Bass. It's the pub where we work."
"I was about to say..."
The squid shrugged her shoulders, and as she swam away, said, "Tell King Carl I said hi."
The Bards agreed to evenly divide the gold among themselves, and carried as much back as they could.  Scott noted how good it was that they happened to take two boats.
When they returned, King Carl helped them unload the gold and store it in a vault. When he heard that Fox and Holden had solved the riddle, he gained respect for them. No longer did he disapprove of them, but he saw them as adventurers in their own rights. None will ever know what grudge he'd held against them, but it was gone like the dolphins--never to resurface.

The only two other facts of note in this story were that, first of all, Fox and Holden learned to not care what Carl thought, or anyone for that matter. When they heard of the change in Carl's demeanor, they shrugged it off.
Finally, from time to time, Gizmo and Claire still see those dolphins when on the water--any water. The two accept it as a sign of protection, but still hope to discover the source of the guardians.