Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Day Five-Hundred-Three: Frame narratives and all that

I resent some of the implications in the previous entry. I think I will have to have a stern talk with Evangelina. I am NOT a pushover.


I have a story to tell. It's a story I've not told anyone before, and I feel like it should be written down. What better chance than right now? Maybe it will help Dragomir in the future.

During the final days of the old castle, I spent a lot of time in the king's tower. Much like Edmund the Bard, I was turned into a glorified personal assistant of King Jeffrey. I say 'glorified' only in the sense that I was often seen with the king; in reality my position was probably even lower than before, as I was actually assisting Kierkegaard more than I was King Jeffrey. Being the castellan's son apparently means little to penguins.

After two weeks of petty service and caving to the demands of my king and his jester, I'd grown accustomed to random, late-night requests. Kierkegaard had a taste for meat, and he would often command me to fetch him beef, pork, veal, blubber, testes, whatever fine cuts we had in the storerooms at the time. I'd bring him a big plate of the demanded meat, and he would force me to sit and watch while he stabbed his way through his meal with that little trident of his. Such terrible manners.

On most nights his demands would require hunting through the kitchens with Dragomir's brother (may he rest in peace), and I would inevitably be late, earning a jab to the rear from the jester. On the night of my story, though, Kierkegaard demanded a plate of raw jellyfish - and, as luck would have it, Robert always kept some handy in an accessible water barrel for special occasions. (He said jellyfish added 'zing' to his dishes.)

Food in hand, I returned to the king's tower, plodded my way up the steps to the king's room where the jester was waiting… and stopped short, a few feet from the door, when I heard a gleeful voice within. Normally I would've gone right in, but the Omega Corps guards were nowhere to be seen, an oddity at any time of the day. So I put my ear against the door and listened.

What I heard was, of course, Kierkegaard. He's a loud, talkative creature, and it's difficult to mistake his mocking tone. This time, though… this time there was something more. Something deeper. Something beyond malicious. Something… frightening.

"Run!" he said, over and over, rumbling under the squeak of his delight. "Run, run, run! Circles and circles! Tighten that butt, ol' Jeffo, ol' pal! That's the way! You just have to reach the end!"

Under his laughter, under the high-pitched basso, was the padding of footsteps. Distant, echoing footsteps. And, along with them, the whining pant of a man who was in the middle of a forced marathon, complaining and tearful. Most definitely King Jeffrey, but… not the Jeffrey I knew. Not the dictator we were all growing to hate.

After a few moments, chilled by the sound of the penguin's delight, I rapped on the door and announced myself. The laughing inside immediately stopped, as did the running. Seconds later Kierkegaard shoved the door open, nearly taking off my nose.

"What the hell?" He screeched, waving his hat around. "You're late! Or early! I don't fuckin' know! Here, give me that plate. Give it give it give it."

I did. The tip of a jellyfish tentacle brushed my hand and left a numb patch. I had to bite my lip to prevent a scream of pain. The poison didn't appear to bother Kierkegaard, as he gleefully downed jellyfish by the handful. Their stringy barbs slapped his beak and slipped down his throat.

I peered around him, to the shadows in the rear of the room. I couldn't see much, as the king's room was huge… but I did notice a figure, near doubled-over, its hands on its knees. Its laboured breathing was loud enough to occasionally slither past the greedy gulping of the jester.

Perhaps noticing this, perhaps simply a fiend, Kierkegaard accused me of being a 'peeper' and took aim at my privates with his fork. I was on my way shortly thereafter, and tried to put it all out of my mind… because I don't know what it means.

I don't want to ask the only man who has an answer for me. I know he could supply details, but… given his actions in court, as well as the way he supposedly saved Dragomir… I think I'd feel bad for bringing up the past. He's been through enough already - and he's still in jail. That's bad luck for you. Do I think he deserves it? Maybe… but…

I suppose I should have discussed a status update instead. Oh well. Needless to say, nothing new today. Dragomir is in isolation, Jeffrey is locked in Pagan's manor, the trial is on indefinite hold, life is normal but strained. We're all still alive, and that's as good a status as one could report.


Harold the Co-Mayor

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