Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the return of Plerp (otherwise known as Medieval Middle-School Drama). It wasn’t going to come out to day, but I ended up finishing it way sooner that expected. Lucky you.
If you’ve never read the other Chronicles of Plerp, then I both pity and envy you. If you wish to proceed with this one, I recommend you read up here.
With out further ado, I present
Dear Wizard Gambergain,
We (Crumby, Dougal, and myself) heard the tragic news that you have come down with the flu, and want to offer our condolences in what must be a fraught and dispiriting time of mental strain and physical deterioration. Know that we are as sorry as three squires can possibly be, and wish you a speedy recovery. Crumby would like to add that he powdered your fake beard for you.
Sylvestrus Livingston Clarencourt XIII (Dragon Slayer)
and Crumby and Dougal
I would like to mention that yesterday, when I went into your study to fetch the Horbwart for Princess Dipwad’s foot-odor issues, I saw a bottle sitting on your desk with a label I’d never seen before. Here is what it said, in case you’re interested:
Purple Powder from Shazaar—EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. Do not touch unless you desire the wrath of
Shaazar Shazzar SHAZAAR to descend upon you, or your nose hairs are wiggling and in need of relief.
I wasn’t even remotely curious, but as I was mixing up the Horbwart, I may or may not have opened the purple powder bottle. Please note that this was entirely by accident. I looked at it, and the cork must have found my stare to be offensive, for it popped off and rolled into the crack in the floor. Naturally, I didn’t want to touch something that had such dangerous properties, but I had to do something about the corkless bottle, so I picked it up and took it to your drawer of spare caps and lids and cheesecloth. Along the way, some of it may have gotten into the bucket of feed for the cows tended by Crumby Blots, but this also was unintentional. You see, I tripped.
On my foot.
And one mustn’t blame the actions of a renegade foot.
The point is, after I finished dumping the purple powder in Crumby’s feeding tub, who should have entered but Crumby himself, ready to feed his cows. (Before you start judging me, Gambergain, I must make it clear that anything I did was for the mutual benefit of Crumby’s honor and Weeble Castle’s dignity. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the misfortune of beholding Crumby’s cows, but they are a miserable sight indeed. Yesterday, Miggles Grumpkin the Hog Pen Man mistook them for a couple of starving chickens, and I overheard him telling Zira that they are a disgrace to King Boy’s kingdom.)
Crumby looked at me, poised with the empty bottle in my hand, and said a very stupid thing. He said, “I do hope you haven’t gone and did anything Gambergain would be mad about. He frightens me awfully when he’s cross.”
“My dear young Crumby,” said I, the picture of kindliness and sympathy, “the only reason Gambergain frightens you is because you are a nincompoop.”
For some strange reason, this hurt his feelings. His lower lip quivered as he hunched his shoulders up and collected the feeding tub, brushing past me to make a tearful exit. I shook my head. Blots are such sissies.
Everything proceeded as normal after that. I delivered the Horbwart to Princess Dipwad’s door, and she called me a name which I shan’t repeat here for the sake of my dignity. (Dougal is reading over my shoulder, you see.) I tripped on Zira the Kitchen Maid coming down the stairs, and she slapped me, just because. (It seems that every time I meet Zira, she slaps me. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that she is madly in love with me.)
I was collecting Sir Taturtaut’s discarded armor from the jousting field in the operation of polishing it when something strange happened: Miggles Grumpkin went flying past. Not literally, of course, but it was the fastest I’ve ever seen him run, at least the speed of a fat basset. A moment later, Darby O’Glennis from the smithy roared past, still holding tongs that firmly clasped a sizzling red horseshoe. The last straw was when Zira passed, and didn’t even bother to slap me. At this point, I knew that something was wrong in Weeble.
So naturally, I followed them. A large and sweaty multitude of people jostled one another by Crumby’s cow pen, obscuring the view. Being the polite creature that I am, I asked nicely if I might pass. No one seemed to hear. I asked louder. Still no response.
I politely knocked Belch Bluntley and Grimmer Fox to the ground and shoved into their spot. At last, I could see. But the sight that awaited me made me envious of Belch and Grimmer’s dusty view of ankles and weeds. Crumby’s cows were already a disturbing sight, but now they were ten times worse.
They were purple, Gambergain. The cows of Crumby Blots were purple.
Laugh at me if it is your wish, and call me a fool. But neither wind nor storm nor torture, nor even death itself, will ever tear that horrid memory from my mind, and I cannot and shall not deny the truth of what I saw. They were purple. Not a dark and mysterious purple, mind you. Not the color of deep dusk or enchanted roses. No. Purple like your wizardly robes. Bright, gaudy, and utterly fake. It was the most vomit-inducing thing I’d ever witnessed.
Then I saw Crumby, and whatever disgust I’d felt toward the cows vanished in the wake of a new and greater repellent. The simpleton was standing beside his beasts, stroking their pitiful snouts and bawling. Great ugly tears ran down his face and dribbled off his angular chin. It was enough to make a grown man sick.
However, I am not the kind of man to hit a fellow squire when he’s down, so I opened my mouth and gave a gentle laugh of sympathy.
For reasons beyond my comprehension, Crumby did not understand.
“Oh, go away, Sylvestrus,” he wailed. (I must add here that his face was a very unbecoming shade of blotchy red. He looked like a scrawny white grub with measles.) “Go crow about it somewhere else.”
This was both injurious to my honor and frankly, confusing. Had I been crowing? No. Crows crow, not dignified squires in the prime of their life. I had merely been trying to sooth his broken soul. Is that so very bad, Gambergain? I think not. I sniffed, raising my nose.
“But Crumby, your cows look exactly like a pathetic little frog I wrangled in Flimmerwood Forest.”
Crumby wailed louder.
Someone pushed past me. I thought it would be Grimmer (he was always so fascinated with ugly and unnaturally colored things, you know), but to my mild astonishment, Zira squeezed her graceful and ungainly limbs under the rope fence and approached Crumby, holding something in her outstretched hand. It was a handkerchief. My handkerchief, I might add. At least, the one
I once took from her she gave to me. I don’t know how she got it back.
Crumby accepted it and spent five minutes blowing a clump of snot out of his nose. It was both the most disgusting and the most fascinating thing I’d ever seen. I wished Dougal had been there to witness it with me. Thoroughly de-snotted, Crumby took a long shuddering breath, and gave Zira a wet puppy look. It was truly pathetic.
Zira patted a hairy purple cow nose. “I don’t think this is normal,” she stated.
Crumby shook his head.
“Did you feed them anything strange?” she asked.
Crumby shook his head.
“Did you do anything out of the ordinary?”
Crumby shook his head.
“Did you see anyone sneaking around the pen late at night?”
Crumby shook his head.
Zira puckered her forehead. “Was Gambergain in a foul mood?”
“Gambergain’s always in a foul mood.”
“Fouler than normal, I mean.”
Crumby, for the fifth time, shook his head.
Zira sighed. “Well, I don’t know what to tell you, Mr. Blot. It’s all very peculiar.”
I sniffed. Mr. Blot, indeed. She never called me Mr. Clarencourt before.
“I know what the problem is!” shouted a rough and tumble voice.
Whirling, my face came face to face with the grinning face of Dougal Dogby.
(Have I ever told you, Gambergain, that when Dougal Dogby grins, nothing good will come of it?)
Zira arched a perfectly crooked eyebrow. “Indeed?”
Crumby blew another wad of snot out of his nose.
“Dougal, hold your tongue,” I said.
Dougal didn’t hold his tongue. “What, didn’t Sylvestrus tell you about it?” he asked Zira. She shook her head. “Well that’s surprising. He’s been ever so pleased with himself, ever since he did it. Won’t stop talking about it.”
“Dougal, I strongly request that you be silent.”
He brushed past me, lifting his thick legs over the rope fence. (It will never cease to amaze me how he is able to move those heavy appendages.) “I can’t believe you don’t recognize Sylvestrus’ handiwork here,” he said, gesturing to the violet cattle.
I am all for peaceful settlement of disagreements, but stronger measures had to be taken. “DOUGAL, FOR MERCY’S SAKE, SHUT UP!” I politely yelled.
I was not responsible for the strange discoloration of Crumby’s livestock. In fact, I have no interest whatsoever in them, or their purpley purpleness. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Dougal said what he did in the attempts to deflect suspicion from his own guilty personage. But the damage had already been done. Zira cast her wide, indignant eyes upon me, and Crumby burst into a fresh round of tears.
“How could you?” he wailed. Zira patted his soggy arm.
I was about to defend my name when the good Sir Taturtaut, my knight, burst through the crowd of onlookers, bald and red faced as a scrubbed potato. “How now, young rrrascals!” he cried, rolling his R’s as always. “Stirring up trrrouble, I see?”
I started to explain, but he cut me off. “Eh! The knave’s a merrry mischief-makerrr, that is plain. Needs a smacking of life to soberrr him up.”
I already knew where this was going. And I was right. Before anyone could say “Grimmer’s grungy goatee”, I was in the kitchen, peeling three barrels of spuds.
After enough potato peels as to make my poor fingers red and swollen, I looked up to see Zira polishing a big copper pot. She was glancing sideways at me.
“Crumby’s awfully cut up, you know,” she said.
I snorted. “You obviously know nothing about Blots. I could have killed Crumby’s favorite cow, and he still would have been cut up. It’s just the way they are.”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe, I suppose. Still.” She slapped her rag down on the thick wooden chopping block reserved for onions and hung the pot on the rack. “He was crying, Sylvestrus. If I made one of my friends cry, I don’t think I’d be so calm about it.”
“My dear Zira,” I said, “what on earth would you like me to do about it? I can’t help it if he chooses to cry about nothing.”
She raised her eyebrows. “You could try apologizing.”
And with that, she left.
Stretching my limbs, I abandoned the spuds and moseyed out into the courtyard. It was almost suppertime, and not a soul was to be seen. They were probably all in the Great Hall, waiting for their dinner of roast pheasant and gravy. My stomach growled. Sir Taturtaut had made it clear that there would be no supper for me. I wondered what the punishment was for squire abuse.
I slumped against the kitchen wall. Crumby generally brings me part of his supper when I’ve been framed by Dougal, but for some reason, I doubted he would tonight. He was off sulking, no doubt. For mercy’s sake, it wasn’t my fault I dumped the purple powder from Shazaar into his feed tub. It was my hand’s fault. Trust a Blot to blame you instead of your hand. Apologize. A loud snort ripped through my nostrils. Apologize for what?
Still… The tragic mooing of his cows rang in my ears. I want to tell them to take it somewhere else, but I don’t think they’d listen to me. (Not many people do, unfortunately, though I don’t know why. I’m such an intelligent lad, with such intelligent things to say.) I probably could have used more tact when speaking to him. Maybe refrained from laughing. Not called him a nincompoop. But nothing to apologize about.
That was when something wet and firm landed on my head.
I calmly panicked.
Flailing wildly, I finally got it off and discovered that it was an apple core. Looking up, I saw a slender, delicate girl with wild golden curls perched on the kitchen’s sloping roof. Her skirt was pulled up past her knees, due to the roof, and she was wearing a pair of very frilly pink polka-dotted bloomers. A book was held upside down in one hand and a parsnip-and-anchovies sandwich in the other.
“Sorry,” she said, peering down at me with eyes as bright and dreamy as pixie dust. “That slipped. I can come get it, if you want. I’m ever so good at climbing things with my hands full. Shall I get it?”
I waved her off. “Don’t bother.” I knew that girl. At least, I knew of her. No one with any self respect would associate with Lamilda Lou. To put it simply, she’s whacked in the head.
But then I caught sight of her book title: The Properties, Regions, and Tooth Pastes of Shazaar. Except it was upside down, so it read, raazahS fo setsaP htooT dna ,snoigeR ,seitreporP ehT.
“Lamilda Lou,” I said slowly, a brilliant idea forming in my head. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about Purple Powder from Shazaar, would you?”
Her ditzy face broke into a smile. “Purple Powder? As in, the kind they mine from Crackan, or the cultured stuff gotten out of tree roots?”
“Any of it.”
“Then yes.” She nodded, setting her spring loaded curls bouncing crazily. Her gaze wandered somewhere other than me, and she suddenly said, “Why, no! But thank you. He’s talking to me.”
Like I said, she’s batty. Ignoring her last comment, I forged on ahead. “Do you know how to reverse its effects?”
Her forehead scrunched up. “Sort of. It’s complicated though—involves a lot of snot and dragons. Do you know any dragons?”
“Yes,” I said, “I know one, but that’s beside the point.”
“Why? They’re such lovely creatures.”
“Lamilda Lou,” I said firmly, “Come down here.”
“I offered to quite a while ago, and you said no.”
Honestly, I don’t know how anyone deals with the girl. She’s clearly out of her wits. I tried a different tactic. “How would you like to meet a dragon?”
“Meet a dragon?” Lamilda Lou cried, sliding down the roof and leaping nimbly to the ground, landing on her delicate, bare feet. “I’d love to!”
“Good,” said I, “for you are going to. We are going to un-purplify Crumby Blots’ cows.”
Dun dun DUUUUN….
Stay tuned next Thursday for Part 2, and the return of Dwings the Uninterested, Chiefest and Greatest Yawners of this Age!!!