Chapter One: In Which the Hero is Successful
The Hero was puzzled. He had achieved what no mortal man could achieve, had conquered what no mortal man could conquer, had slain what no mortal man could slay, had out-witted what no mortal man could out-wit, and yet, he found himself fumbling awkwardly, struggling to regain his mental footing.
He had survived the long trek across the Deserts of Infinity (a crackling, fiery wasteland), traversed the river Impossiverse (a river over ten miles in width, filled with rapids), and made his way through the Labyrinth of Madness (a maddeningly winding and confusing labyrinth , clearly) to reach the Temple of the Rising Sun, make love to the beauteous, virginal priestess that dwelled all alone within, and come away with The Sword of Ultimate Triumph and Awesomeness.
Well, the Quest had specified that his duty was to simply get The Sword of Ultimate Triumph and Awesomeness after overcoming impossible odds, but there was nothing wrong with having a delicious little dalliance with the sexy priestess along the way. As a matter of fact, he would be breaking tradition if he didn't have sex with her.
As The Hero, it was his duty to follow tradition, as The Heroes had before him.
He had staggered up the white marble stairs to the temple perfectly, a large wound on his shoulder for increased dramatic effect. It didn't hurt to let blood run down his arm and trail along the white of the stairs, giving him a wounded though noble and strong appearance. He'd even upped the ante a little by staggering and stumbling. The unshaven hair along his chin -- carefully cultivated for this precise moment -- gave him a look of rugged sex appeal and unspoken wisdom.
And then he had gone and lost his mental footing as the tradition had been zapped right out from under his feet.
The Priestess of the Rising Sun, The Sorceress, that woman, was totally unsexy. Hideous, in fact.
The woman was quiet, soft-spoken, and not in any way ravishable. Where was the barbarian thong? Or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, the long, white, diaphanous gown?
In traditional Priestess fashion, she'd healed his wounds (though with nary a word and definitely no sex) before leading him down into the crypts and vaults beneath the Temple of the Rising Sun, where he would find The Sword of Ultimate Triumph and Awesomeness. The crypts were small, cramped, and smelled of something that The Hero couldn't put a name to. He suspected, however, that it had to do with the dead bodies all around him.
Finally, they reached the deepest, most ancient parts of the crypt. A small, unassuming door hung unobtrusively closed, practically blending into the rock wall surrounding it. The door was so old that it looked like it might turn to dust if The Priestess so much as touched it. She did, however, and it didn't disintegrate. From the small belt that clung to her thin, underdeveloped (sadly) frame, she produced a ring of keys and slowly but meticulously went through each key, searching for the one that would unlock the door.
After an infinity of agonizing meticulosity, The Priestess of the Sun found the key she was searching for and opened the door.
It opened without a single creak or groan, on silent, not-so-ominous hinges.
She moved forwards into the room and held up her torch, turning to face him. She was tragically thin and her breasts were more like mosquito bites, pathetically accentuated by the flickering of the fire. He could only ponder vaguely whether or not she ate anything at all.
Her dull black, stringy hair hung in her face and hid her eyes. He decided in that moment that she was vaguely…emoting.
He forced his disappointed eyes to leave her form and travel around the room.
There were swords everywhere. About ten on each of the four walls.
She went to the northeast corner and spoke for the first time. "This. This is The Sword of Varying Degrees." Even her voice, scratchy and unused, irritated him. He nodded his acknowledgement, since it wasn't the sword he was looking for.
"This is The Sword of Not-So-Many Truths."
And The Hero found himself momentarily perturbed, but took it in stride.
"This is Excalibutt."
The Hero grimaced.
"This is The Sword of Marital Infidelity and Disappointing Marriages."
The Hero was moving into perplexed.
"This is the sword of the Legendary Hero Gaswana Toula, The Ass Pounder."
The man or the sword? The Hero wondered, amused by his own crude sense of humor.
She paused to stare at one sword before saying flatly, "The Stick," and moving on.
"The Fork." It didn't look remotely like a fork.
This was getting The Hero nowhere. "Most gracious Lady, I seek the Sword of Ultimate Triumph and Awesomeness. Might you know it's whereabouts, most wise one?"
Her brow furrowed and she chewed on her lower lip. "The Sword of…Ultimate Triumph and…Awesomeness."
The Priestess continued to think, now exasperated and annoyed.
Her eyes slitted of their own accord. "Who sent you?"
"The Knights of the Dodecagonal Table."
She felt her lip begin to quiver as she led him back out of the crypt. Quiver with unsuppressed laughter.
The Hero hesitated and began to follow, confused by her lack of response and the corresponding lack of swaying, sexy hips.
"Are you on a diet or something?"
She spun around, startled by his random, wanton outburst.
"Um? I…there's not much to eat here."
She turned back around and continued plowing up the steep stairs back to the arid, spacious rooms above.
Upon reaching the surface, she led him to The Enormous But Generally Unused-For-Lack-of-Company Kitchens and grilled some corn-on-the-cob on a small comal, flipping the corn occasionally with an exceptionally large spatula.
She hadn't spoken to him the entire time she'd led him back to the ground floor and cooked his decidedly inadequate meal.
"My Lady, do you know where this sword is?"
As she plunked a wooden plate down on the small stone table in the center of the kitchen, she glowered at him. "Do you find it necessary to chatter incessantly about meaningless baubles?" One the plate sat a lonely corn-on-the-cob.
He felt his face pale at her blasphemous, insensitive words. He bit in to the corn. "Meaningless? Bauble?" The Hero guffawed between bites of warm, yellow corn. "It is not meaningless nor a trinket. With it I will achieve my destiny laid before me by my ancestors and bring glory to all of Andalukia."
The Priestess put her hands on the table and glared at him, disappointed. "And then?"
He swallowed his corn and looked at her, "And then what?"
"What will you do?" There was a subtle malicious undertone.
"I'll," he frowned and shrugged, "I guess I'll go on another quest."
The Priestess smiled and held out the enormous spatula.
"What?" He stared at the blunt bit of rubbish.
"Well, don't you want The Sword of Ultimate Triumph and Awesomeness?"