Those who have heard the mystical tales...

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Eighth Tale of the Bards: A Sea of Plains

The Bards' adventure led them to the outskirts of Bamah. After a day's ride, a quaint village met them. A handful of small, dusty but well-built cottages dotted the landscape. The entire colony was surrounded by a sea of plains.

Many of the cottages were abandoned; in fact, only about three held signs of life. The first shack was guarded by a terribly-clothed, scrawny old man. He woke for a moment, to watch the Bards enter the remnants of a town through his down-turned hat. The moment after, he fell asleep. A main, dirt-paved lane separated most of the cottages. Two houses, toward the middle of the lane, stood next to each other, but separated from the rest of the town by a roundabout. A woman sat outside one, watching a large pot boil, and next door, a man sawed away at long planks of wood. Another woman came out of the second house; she walked to the first woman. Before she sat down, she noticed the Bards approaching and gave a cry. All attention was on the approaching party; the man stopped sawing and two children appeared in the doorway.
"Is this the home of the family called Beghart?"
"Yes," replied the man as the Bards stopped. "My name is Chase."
Freddy climbed down from his horse and shook the man's hand.
"We are travelers from Bamah. We are searching for something that is in your family's possession."
"And what do you plan to do with it?"
"Destroy evil that threatens us all." The man was obviously confused. Freddy offered to explain, and Chase offered the group lodging.

Gizmo shook himself awake. He found himself in a dark room, and feeling at the walls learned that it was his closet. Kicking the door down, he searched his house for any trace of the Bards. Packing his emergency reserves, Gizmo climbed upon his fastest horse and took off to Jacob Corona's house.
"Go back home!" called Jacob from his porch.
"But I'm looking for the others!"
"No, I meant go back home and look around for footprints or hoof-prints." So he did. Gizmo found a plethora of signs that the horses left in a southern direction. He took off after them.

The Bards found lodging in the surrounding cottages. Freddy, Badger, and Scott discussed the matter with the Begharts, but the others set themselves up in the houses. Paddy and Dumon roomed together, as did Badger and Scott. Holden and Fox took a house, and Schaff and Chadde (still disguised as Gizmo) shared the last hut. Chadde began unpacking Gizmo's things and laying them in an orderly fashion. Schaff, watching Chadde, spoke up.
"That horse is new, isn't it?" asked Schaff.
"Yes, I found her not long after your birthday."
"Oh, where? She's not like any I've seen."
"Well, I had seen many of them wild in Mille. I went back there to purchase one."
"Oh, I didn't know you had gone back since."
"Yes, It was my grandfather's birthday."
Schaff immediately realized that something was wrong. It was not like Gizmo to unpack his things, at all. Schaff said, "So why are you unpacking?"
"Oh, it helps me relax. I like knowing where my things are."
"But we'll probably leave tomorrow."
"I know."

Freddy attempted to explain the situation to Chase. Badger helped, but it seemed to be of little use.
"You need my daughter-in-law, well, to be,... Her necklace?" asked Chase.
"If you can find them, I'm sure they'll let you trade for it. I say that because they [Chase's younger brother Zak and his new bride, Madeline] are away in the meadow right now."
"Thank you," Freddy sighed.
The three of them wandered over to their night's lodgings, and explained to the others what was to happen.
"We're going to find them and I will trade them... something... for the Heart. Then we will return to Bamah."
"Then we wait for Chadde?" asked Paddy.
"What do we have of value, worth trading? Like, at all?" Holden pointed out.
"That will present itself. In the mean time, Badger, Gizmo, Scott, and I will search for the couple. Dumon, come find us, should Chadde appear."

Gizmo rode south, kicking himself over letting Chadde escape. The horse ran furiously, and its speed was like none had ever seen. The hoof-beats were heard in the village long before Gizmo arrived. Paddy, Dumon, Holden, Fox, and Schaff watched the cloud of dirt advance towards them.
"It... it must be Chadde," said Holden.
"Dumon and I will go find Freddy," replied Paddy, as the two took toward their horses. Holden, Fox, and Schaff readied their weapons as Gizmo rode in.
"WHERE ARE FREDDY AND BADGER?" he roared. The three, stunned at the vision of their fellow Bard, pointed him in the right direction. Gizmo flew by them. They looked at each other, and took off on their own horses.

Freddy and Chadde split from Badger and Scott. They covered several miles quickly, but it was not long before Badger saw them.
"Hey! They're over here!" called Scott.
Freddy and Chadde joined the couple, and the four approached the happy party.
Zak asked, "What is the meaning of this?"
Freddy said, "If you value your lives you will give me that necklace," and pointed to the Heart.
Madeline replied, "What ever for?"
"An evil power threatens to destroy all life with it."
The two were still obviously confused, but they gave the charm to Freddy. He began looking it over, and when he finished, he looked up and smiled. He placed the beautiful jewelry on his belt. Tossing a bag of gold coins to the newlyweds, he said, "Please accept this gift as compensation."
The group began walking back over to their horses when they saw Dumon and Paddy arrive.
"Chadde is on his way!" cried Dumon.
"Then we have no time to lose," replied Freddy.
The group climbed onto their horses as a dark spot on the horizon flew toward them.
Gizmo drew his sword; when he was close enough to see Gizmo, Chadde rode alongside Freddy and drew his own sword.
"Is that... Gizmo?" exclaimed Badger.
"It's a disguise, to throw us off!" yelled Chadde.
"Ok, but why would he run at us in his disguise? The very act defeats the purpose."
Chadde lunged for the Heart, but he fell off his horse. The Heart fell into his hands, but at the same time, Gizmo leaped from his horse and plung ed his sword through Chadde's chest. The force was enough to penetrate armor, body, and armor again. Gizmo redrew his sword and cleaned it as Freddy retrieved the Heart. The group began to ride away, but Chadde stood up.

Just then, Fox, Holden, and Schaff joined the group. Looking past the others, Schaff and Fox saw Chadde charging at them.
"Guys!" he shouted.
Gizmo and Freddy immediately turned around, as Badger and Scott slid off their horses. The four were joined on the ground by the rest of the Bards. Freddy held up the Heart, as it began to glow. Dumon fished the Harmonica out of her pocket and walked over to him.
"I only have two hands," he said. "It's your Harmonica."
Dumon began to blow a jaunty tune on the instrument, and Freddy held out both hands, as the Heart glowed in one and the Compass Frog materialized in the other. Chadde leapt one last time, at the Bards. The three talismans glowed brighter than the sun; the Bards had to shield their eyes. Time stood still.

Chadde swung his sword overhead; he caught fire across the length of his body. Chadde's black figure was a fearsome sight against the blaze. In an instant, however, his sword began to disintegrate. It was as if he were a zipper, opened by the fire that had just consumed him. The disintegration peeled him apart before exploding, piece by piece, every part of him. The process took Chadde's entire body. When it was complete, there was no evidence of any struggle whatsoever. The Heart was gone. The Frog was gone. The Harmonica was gone. The Bards stood together as they had done many times before, but it was this battle that would never be forgotten. The Bards returned to Bamah, in near silence. Save for the occasional, mutual decision to hold camp for the night, no one said anything. The shock of the battle was enormous, and no Bard was ever to be the same. No one ever knew of the fight that happened; it was recorded in no annal of Baman history whatsoever. They knew that the times they had together were worth more in terms of sentiment than any sort of recognition; they treated all their adventures that way.