The Magic Knight
Mark Allen Davis
The cave was hot and dark like the pit of hell. Black smoke hung in the air, lit by the glow of a corner forge. A cloaked figure stood poised, a thick leather tome in hand.
In the center of the room stood an old man in a gray suit and fedora. He looked startled. He had a silver anarchy symbol on his lapel, and a butter knife in one hand.
"Welcome, Otherworldly Knight," the robed figure intoned, bowing low. The old man stared back. Peanut butter plopped down on black stone and chalk runes.
"Damn," the old man said. "Wizard, am I right? You Gandalf rejects have always got the most craptastic timing. Here I am, putting the finishing touches on a beautiful double-layer PBJ, and you gotta summon me to your crappy world for some crappy quest. You think you couldn't have waited five minutes? Give a fella a little warning, that's all I ask."
The robed one was momentarily taken aback. He rallied. "Yes, I am, as you have surmised, a wizard. I have summoned you to the world of Ascord to aid us in our hour of need, according to the thousand-year-old prophecy. Only you can save...."
"Yeah, yeah, spare me the details," the old man said with a wave of his hand. "I've heard it all. You're the wizard, I'm the hero. 'Nuff said. Name's Grandpa Anarchy, by the way. So, what's the situation? Dragon needs slaying? Dark Lord to depose? Princess needs rescuing? If so, is she cute?"
The wizard coughed. "My name is Grand Vizer Zel Gotti....."
The old man's eyes narrowed. "Grand Vizer's are always evil, in my experience...."
"I am not evil," the wizard snapped. "Now shut up and listen. Mr. Anarchy, according to legend only you can save my world. You must first fulfill several quests...."
"Quests?" Grandpa frowned. "Hey look, I didn't sign up for no quests. I'm not missing Thursday night pinochle with the Archons of Excellence just because you guys can't get your act together on your own."
The wizard sighed. "Mr. Anarchy, I promise to return you in time for your scheduled social event.
Now can you please allow me to proceed without interruption?"
"Yeah, ok," Grandpa Anarchy replied. "You're the magic guy. Lay it on me."
"First, you must retrieve the Fang of Kaytla, the sword which King Zo Iffelo wielded in the battle of Thermata...."
"Magic sword, got it," Grandpa replied.
"Next, you must retrieve the Shield of Land's Edge which is said to block any magical attack...."
"Now that sounds useful," Grandpa commented.
"Lastly you must retrieve the Amulet of Thorofu, upon which the fate of the world rests. Should it fall into the hands of our enemy Thorufunaut, all will be lost."
Grandpa nodded. "So this Amulet of Tofu is the magic maguffin? Let me guess: I'm supposed to destroy it, right? So that the bad guy can never get it?"
"Not 'Amulet of Tofu'", the wizard snapped angrily. "It is called The Amulet of Thorofu. For it was created by Lord Thorofunaut to grant him immense power over the world. Yes, you must destroy it, by casting it into the very fires from whence it was forged."
Grandpa Anarchy snapped his fingers. "I knew this was a Lord of the Rings riff!" he crowed. "Damn. Those are the worst. Well, they don't call me a hero for nothing, so let's get crackin'. The sooner I start, the sooner we'll be done. Where do I find this magic sword, then?"
Grand Vizer Zel Gotti gestured to the far wall. "It's over there."
Grandpa Anarchy frowned. He crossed the room and lifted a sword from the wall. "What, this?"
"Yes," the wizard replied. "Next, you must retrieve the Shield of Land's Edge. You'll find it in the next room."
Grandpa left the room. He returned with a round shield. It glowed blue.
"Look," Grandpa Anarchy said, "I don't mean to complain, but I can't help but notice that your quests are... how shall I put it? A bit lacking in epic scope."
"Naturally," the Grand Vizer replied. "Knowing what would be required to fulfill the prophecy, I spent months in preparation. I have gathered within these rooms everything needed to complete your task...."
"And you call this a quest?" Grandpa retorted. "In my day we had real quests. People suffered. People sweated blood. It took courage, faith, and heart...."
"Look," the wizard replied peevishly, "nobody said it would be difficult, only that you were the only one who could do it. I've already done all of the hard work for you. You want to return to your world in time for this 'pinochle' ceremony, don't you?"
"Yeah, ok," Grandpa said. "Knock yourself out. What do I do next? Oh, right the Amulet of Theraflu, right?"
"It's Thorofu," the wizard growled. "You'll find it on that table there."
Grandpa Anarchy retrieved the amulet. It glowed red, like an evil amulet should. Grandpa glanced at the forge in the corner. "Don't tell me," he said. "This is the fire from which the amulet was forged?"
"The very same," replied the wizard.
"And I just toss this in there, and I'm done? World saved, and all is well?"
"Yes. Now, hurry! Only you can do this!"
"What's the rush?" Grandpa replied.
"As long as that amulet survives, our world is in peril! The enemy threatens us all!"
"Yeah, but I'm right here," Grandpa said. "Besides, something about this just don't feel right. How can a great victory be so easily achieved? Who's going to write an epic poem about how I spent five minutes picking up things in a room? How can a victory without sacrifice have any meaning?"
"Listen, you pea-brained fool," the wizard growled. "I'm the one who made all the sacrifices! Do you think it was easy to gather everything here in this room? All you have to do is toss the damned amulet into the forge! Now do it already!"
"Yeah, yeah, I got it," Grandpa replied. "But I'm doing this under protest. If there's one thing I know from all my days of heroing, it's that great victories are never so easily achieved. It just never happens that way, hear me? Like that time I was fighting the Deadly Dervish of Doom. I thought I'd defeated him, but just when I let down my guard, BOOM...."
With a sound like a clap of thunder, the wall exploded. Dust settled, revealing a hulking, shadowy figure with glowing red eyes and sharp black spikes on his gloves and his massive pauldrons.
"Give me the amulet," the newcomer said. His voice was deep, hollow, and grating, like the opening of a sarcophagus.
Grandpa Anarchy cracked his knuckles. "There," he said. "Now we're talking. I told you it was too easy. Now, hold this.... He handed the amulet to Zel Gotti. Lemme show you how I saved the world back in my day with my fists."