"What's in a Name

"What's in a Name?"

Summary: A backwards quest with a screwed up ending. I'll understand if you hate it.

All of these characters are ficticious. Any resemblance to real people living or dead is pure coincidence (or just plain sad). Is Rick Tanly a real guy? He sounded familiar but I wasnt sure.. If he is it's pure coincidence I swear!

Now for the main attraction..

Sir Rick plowed through the woods with confidence. He had a mission. He had a princess to rescue. And when he rescued her, she would be all over him like ...well...he couldn't think of what it would be like becuse he had never had it happen to him before, but he would find out soon.

He whistled a tune that he only vaugely remembered while he struggled to keep from shivering. It was very cold out and he only had on the armor he brought with him.

"You cold, Sir?" Rick's squire Joe, a perky boy who looked up to Rick, asked.

"No Joe...I'm good."

"That's good Sir. Cuz I thought you were --"

"Shut up! I'm not cold!"

"Gotcha."

Rick stopped his horse and Joe bumped into its behind.

Rick held up his hand to silence Joe's protest. "Shhh. The dragon draws near..."

Indeed, the dragon, a big blue brute that was easily the size of the house, stood nearby, drinking from the stream and making chit chat with a deer.

"There he is..." Rick said in awe. Joe pushed his glasses up on his nose and repositioned his bow on his shoulder. "It's Jex. The great blue dragon..."

Joe cocked an eyebrow but said nothing.

The dragon got up from its drink, dumping his glass into the river, and trotted off, Rick and Joe close behind.

***

They followed him all the way to his cave, keeping a safe distance. The dragon had horrible gas, and they weren't going to go anywhere near it if they could help it.

The big blue creature disappeared into the open mouth of the cave, swallowed up into the complete blackness. Rick and Joe looked at each other.

"We follow him!" Rick ordered, holding his sword high.

"Fine I guess...I wonder what he ate for lunch.." Joe muttered with his nose plugged.

"Now is not the time to dwell on that.." Rick said, going into the cave with a courageous cry.

"I hate it when he talks in heroics..." Joe muttered as he followed him.

***

Rick let his eyes adjust to the lightless tunnel ahead of him. Joe bumped into him and Rick cried out in the dark.

"Who goes there!?!" Rick whimpered.

"It's just me...jeepers." Joe said, rubbing his arm where Rick had punched him. "Why'd you do that?"

"I thought you were the dragon..."

"The dragon is ahead of you, Sir."

"I knew that.."

A shuffling was heard in the deep recesses of the cave. Rick yelped and hugged Joe in fear.

"Sir?"

"Who is dat?"

Joe looked to the voice to see a dark haired elf maiden approach them.

Rick let got of Joe and cleared his throat. "Hello, elven maiden! It is I, Sir Rick Tanly!"

The dark haired woman cocked her head to one side. "Certainly?"

"No. Sir Tanly." Joe explained. (Author's note: I must give credit where credit is due. Thank you for the pun, my loving brother, Tobias Darkwalker) "And who might you be?"

The woman bowed deeply. Joe could see a sword at her side. "I am Lillian. Pleased to meet you." She had a heavy accent.

"We're here to rescue you!" Rick piped up. The woman laughed.

"Rescue? Me?" She laughed so hard she choked. "Zat's a good one! Does it look like I need rescuing?"

"It was his idea!" Joe said, pointing at Rick.

The woman walked over to a podium on the far side of the cave. "Do you have an appointment, gentlemen?"

Rick was flustered. "An appointment?"

Lillian sighed. "Appointment: To set aside, to assign, to ordain, to decree.."

"I know what an appointment is." Rick said in disgust.

"Zen why do you inquire?"

Joe spoke up. "He wants to know why he has to set an appointment to slay a dragon."

"Mr. Jex iz a busy dragon." Lillian explained. "You normally have to book months in advance to see him."

Rick gave up in arguing. "Do you have any spots open?"

Lillian checked her book. "You are lucky. Ze Knight of St. Corran cancelled."

Rick growled. He hated that guy.

"His appointment iz in half an hour." Lillian explained. "Vill you take it?"

"Yes, of course." Rick said.

"Have a seat over zere and I vill see you in half an hour." She smiled, guesturing to a comfy furniture set.

Rick and Joe sat down, not knowing what else to do.

***

Thirty five minutes passed and Lillian returned.

"You may go see him now." She guestured. "Just go through zat door. Best of luck to you, gentlemen."

Joe smiled and stood up. "Thanks, and if you aren't doing anything later.."

Lillian flicked a strand of jet black hair out of her face. "I am 785 years old. I'm interested in older men."

"Oh. That's kind of a turn off. I thought you were 25."

She blushed. "You are so sweet! I'm flattered by your compliment! I hope Jex doesn't eat you." She turned and left.

Joe rubbed the back of his neck, not sure what to say about that last statement.

"Come on, Joe. We have a princess to save."

"Oh! Right.."

***

Jex was sleeping when our two heroes arrived.

"Busy dragon, my ass.." Rick said none too quietly.

"Hello? Mr. dragon?" Joe said.

Rick, mad at the reptile for wasting a half an hour of his time, picked up a skull he found lying around and threw it at the dragon.

The skull hit the blue reptile square in the nose. He opened one golden eye and glared.

Joe backed to the door slowly.

The creature raised his head and opened his jaws, showing razor sharp teeth. He inhaled...

..Rick and Joe ran for cover...

...And yawned. He looked around. "Where did you go?"

Rick poked his head over a rock, Joe not far behind. "Right here."

Jex sat up, scratching his ear. "What would you like? I'm very busy."

"Like hell! You were sleeping.." Rick muttered, hopping down from his hiding spot.

"I was...meditating.."

"Yeah right."

The dragon yawned again, not so loudly this time, and asked, "What do you want? Treasure? Weapons? Princesses?"

"Princesses!" Rick said.

"Come with me. I have plenty in stock." The dragon replied, leading them out back.

There were princesses of every shape and colour, size and creed. Rick didnt know which ones he liked better.

The dragon stood back and let him drool. "So? Who shall you choose?"

Rick walked up to the cage that was farthest from the entrance. A woman sat in it, hugging her knees. Most of the other women were calling to him, "Help me! Save me!" and the like. This one said nothing. She just sat in the corner, her eyes fixed on him.

"That one!" He pointed.

Jex bit his lip. "Really?"

"Yes. I'll fight you for her."

"That little one isn't worth the effort." The blue reptile said, guesturing indifference. "Just give me twenty gold pieces for her and be on your way."

"Twenty?" Joe asked. "How about ten?"

"Nineteen.."

"Twelve." Rick said.

"Seventeen."

"Fifteen and thats my final offer or I'll take my princess shopping somewhere else."

"Fine. Sold." Jex said, taking her out of the cage and unbinding her with a magic word. "I take cash only. She was my snacking stock anyway.."

Money was exchanged and they party left.

Lillian was there to see them go.

"Get your princess?" She asked. She was sharpening her sword.

"Yeah baby! You wish you were her!" Rick said cockily. Joe rolled his eyes.

"I see you have Billie." She smiled in conspiracy. "We'll see who's cocky soon enough.."

Rick didn't hear the statement as he left, but Joe did.

"Say, can I have you number? If I'm not busy.."

"In 800 years perhaps..."

"Okay...see ya later.."

***

After some considerable walking, Joe posed the question that was on everyone's mind but was too shy to ask.

"Where are we goin'?"

Rick stopped dead in his tracks. They were all walking because Rick had to sell his horse to pay for the darn princess. "Good question." He turned to the princess. "Where's your kingdom?"

Joe asked questions too, "What's your name?"

"Are you mute?"

"What's your favorite colour?"

"Are you sick?"

"You're not, like, 700 years old are you?"

The princess regarded them with large grey eyes. "My name is Billie. I live not 20 miles from here. Im not mute or sick and my favourite colour is white. And Im 19.." She added.

"White isn't a colour.." Rick said.

"It's every colour." Joe stated.

"Shut up Joe, you know too much."

Joe kept quiet.

"Why do you want to know all this?" Billie asked.

"Billie...Isn't that a guy's name?" Rick asked in return.

"NO!"

"What's your middle name?" Joe asked.

"Bob."

Rick tried not to laugh. "Your name is Billie Bob?"

"Yes! In my kingdom, all our names are like that. King Leah, my father, will be happy you saved me!" He voice was shrill and really annoying.

"King Leah?" Joe asked, trying not to snicker.

"In my kingdom, all our names are reversed to yours. In our land, you would have girl's names!"

"Yeah, it's called being seriously screwed in the head.." Rick muttered.

Billie made a face and an obsene guesture.

***

After lots of walking and a couple of blisters later, they arrived at the land of backward. The Backwards Kingdom was rarely visited, since people didn't like to see men in bikinis or wedding dresses. Joe shivered.

"Sir, I'm uncomfortable.."

"I know. So am I." Rick tried not to stare as a man in a dress walked by. "Let's just give her to the King and get out of here."

The palace was guarded by men who looked relatively normal.

"What do you want?" They asked the travelers.

"We're here to give princess Billie to the King." Joe said. Rick glared at him.

"That was my line, Joe!"

"I'm sorry, Sir. Go ahead and say it."

"I can't. It's already been said."

The guards stepped aside. "Queen Thomas will be happy to see you, as will Prince Buttercup."

"Its good to be home." She glared at Rick. "And Billie is a unisex name."

"Whatever you say." Rick muttered, walking up the stairs to the palace doors.

***

King Leah wasnt all that happy to see the travelers.

"You brought her back? Why? She shames us all!"

Queen Thomas put her head in her hands.

"Why does she shame you?" Joe asked.

The King guestured wildly to his wife. "It's all her fault! She named her Billie! Not John or Dick or Mark! But Billie! It's such a unisex name..."

"See?" Billie smirked. Rick pretended not to hear her statement.

"She cannot rule the kingdom with that name." Leah continued. Buttercup nodded.

"Then just call her Bill." Rick said.

Thomas gasped. "Why didnt I think of that?"

"Cuz you're all stupid!" Rick blurted out.

"That's not very polite, Sir..."

"Shut up Joe. I'm up to my pits in polite! I can't take it anymore!"

"Sir, you're gonna snap.."

King Leah, guestured Rick happily. "Because you saved my daughter, you can marry her!"

"What? No way! I'm not gonna have anything to do with this upside down town..."

"But it is the way of tradition.." Thomas said sadly. Buttercup nodded.

"You have to marry her." Leah growled, raising his staff.

"Do I have to wear a dress?"

The King and Queen regarded one another in thought.

"It's tradition." The Queen repeated. Buttercup nodded.

"Joe really likes her. Joe likes dresses too."

"Nuh uh! I wanna be a lawyer not a backwards prince..."

The King stood up. "Well, somebody's getting married!" He thumped his stick on the ground and almost fell off his 3 inch heels.

"Fine." Joe said, pulling out a coin. "Heads, I marry her. Tails, you marry her."

Rick nodded.

"You do realize that whoever marries Billie will have to change their name to Suzan." Leah said. Buttercup nodded.

"Please be heads..." Rick prayed. He never wanted anything more in his life.

Joe flipped the coin...

***

Rick watched the wedding from afar, feeling a little sorry for his friend, but not that sorry. He started to walk back to his own kingdom, when he felt a tap on his shoulder.

"Certainly?" an accented voice asked.

"That's 'Sir Tanly'." He corrected, seeing Lillian standing before him. "Good to see ya, Lillian."

Lillian bowed deeply and smiled. "I am looking for Joe. I decided to take him up on his offer for a date. Perhaps zis Thursday?" She asked, looking around. "I don't normally date people younger zan me but since he is such a sweet guy.."

"He got married." Rick said.

"Really?" She frowned, "To who?"

"Princess Bill. His name is Suzan now."

Lillian kicked the dirt with her boot. "I liked him too."

"You know," Rick smiled. "I'm still single."

Lillian blew a piece of hair out her eyes. "Try calling me when you're mature enough. Say 900 years?" She stalked off, fuming.

"I'll be in the phone book!" Rick called after her.

**THE END**

When I started writing this story I didn't know how it would end up. I never knew it would end up this goofy. Forgive me folks!