Something Queer This Way Comes

The forest was empty. A tranquil oasis in a kingdom surrounded by chaos and uncertainty. His steed, Steadfast, sipped contentedly at the glimmering water of the small pond it's master had brought them to. It's master, the renown, valiant Knight Romero, looked into the eyes of the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.

Those wide blue eyes shining like sapphires in a sun kissed face of splendour. Those luscious lips, the wispy locks of golden blonde hair. Truly there could be no more perfect vision than this.

Romero let out a satisfied sigh, then with much rue in his heart splashed away his reflection and brought up some water which he sipped readily.

Upon gulping down enough water the proud Knight then took out his water bottle and filled that also.

"Come Steadfast," Romero commanded as he mounted his horse. Steadfast was a radiant beast of pure white and was always resplendent in it's own silver armour that matched that of it's owner. Also decorating the noble stallion was a caparison of deep purple, again matching the tunics and cloaks wore by Romero. Purple was known to be the colour of the Gods, and Romero in his infinite modesty saw his own magnificence as equal to the Gods, if not slightly superior.

But this was no ordinary day for our esteemed hero. He was on a quest. For the fair Princess, daughter of his majesty the King, had been taken prisoner. The evil dark Wizard Aldred had come in the night and taken her away undetected. The King had commissioned Romero to go to the Wizards Tower and bring her back. No-one knew what Aldred had in store for Princess Isabella, but it could only be something wicked, Aldred had wanted to rule the Kingdom himself for as long as anyone could remember.

All Romero cared about was that this mission could at last bring to him the love he yearned for. Someone he could love at least nearly as much as he loved himself (for surely there were none he could love more). Perhaps Isabella was that one, only time would tell.

Aldred's Tower lay on the far side of the kingdom, one had to pass through the forest in order to get there.

The Tower was not a complicated structure. Inside, a grand hall gave way to a spiral staircase until you reached the top. At the top was a room which contained a cage, wherein sat the Princess Isabella.

Aldred circled the cage warily. The Princess was not one to be taken likely, if she were to be held prisoner she would give her captor an easy time of it.

"Oh why do you go through with this nonsense?" she quarrelled.

Her pout was not sexy, Aldred thought. In fact it was decidedly not so, it made her look like the spoilt little girl that she probably was. Her constant whining, nagging, and questions (too many questions) had forced Aldred to seriously consider the idea of feeding her to his pet Dragon- Bes. Bes flew past the window every now and then, a quick whistle and she would appear, salivating at the thought of the noble meat her Lord kept in the Tower.

The problem of course was that Aldred had no more plans from here. He had done the hard part, got into the castle, snatched the Princess from her bed and brought her back for confinement. What now? Marry her? That would put him in line for the Throne but could he really? With her? Unlikely. Ransom, that was an idea, but that would have to come later. He would come first. And he would not be brought to yield without a fight.

The Princess eyed her captor, wondering what he could be thinking about. He was nothing like the other Wizards, Dark Lords and Dark Elves she had met. He didn't look old, he had none that air of misplaced confidence other enemies of the realm had, he didn't even do much magic (had she seen him do any?) In fact he was quite cute, which really called in to question his decision to pursue the path of reclusive wizard. Still, he was bad. He had brought her this far after all and shown no sign of letting her go.

Realizing she was getting no answer the Princess went on. "So. Why have you brought me here? Will you marry me? Murder me? Ransom me? Because being held here is getting rather dull, it's not like you even say all that much, just continue staring at me then staring out the window then staring at the door. Oh for goodness sakes man stop staring…"

"Shut up!" Aldred snapped. Did this woman, did women, ever stop talking? There wasn't even a point to it. Just repeating themselves over and over again looking for some kind of answer they never made clear. And who was she anyway? Just some pretty daddy's girl who was being used as a tool until he decided what he was to do with her. Was the fact she was still alive not enough for her to keep quiet?

He grabbed hold of the bars of the cage and glared at her, "I don't know what I am going to do with you yet," he told her honestly. "I imagine someone will come for you at some point. When they do I will deal with them. Then when they are gone there will be nothing to stop me making any kind of ridiculous demands to your father. I will rule the kingdom with or without you by my side. But please, until your hero comes we can't even think that far ahead. So would you please just shut up, you're giving me a headache and that stops me from thinking, I've had a headache for a week now because of you and you wonder why I don't have an answer to you questions? Just. Shut. Up."

It was the most he had said since he brought her here. The Princess was both disgusted and dumbstruck. But she did go quiet. She simply sat on her stool in the middle of the cage and sulked.

The final stop before the Wizard's Tower was the village of Boise. Here the ladies of the township had lined the streets to see the glorious Knight Romero pass through on noble Steadfast. The sun was shining down, reflection off the Knights armour so all in the village were drawn to look upon him. The ladies swooned and the men frowned in envy (well maybe one or two helped themselves to a cheeky glance).

Romero looked upon his admirers with a mixture of pride and disappointment. Each approving face faltered as they realized they were not in his universe of awareness. Each new face confirming Romero's personal opinion that there were none adequate enough for a man of his grandeur.

Then a short figure almost stumbled into Romero's path. The Knight had to rear Steadfast up on his hind legs to avoid trampling the tattitly dressed youth. The newcomer wore torn brown pants, and stained and filthy tunic and a dirty cap. Their face however was fresh and beautiful like Romero had rarely seen before. There was something deeply exciting about this person Romero could not put his finger on.

When the youngster staggered back they looked up into Romero's interested eyes. A smile was etched across the youngsters face as though the Knight's brilliant blue gaze had instilled them vibrant new life.

Romero leaped elegantly off his horse and held out his hand. The youngster took it and was helped up by the Knight who seemed fascinated by this relatively scruffy newcomer. He guessed this person to be an orphan of about fifteen years of age.

"What's your name boy?" asked the Knight.

A girly giggle escaped the orphan's lips, "I'm not a boy," she smiled, and pulled off the tatty cap to reveal a head of knotted blonde hair.

For some unknown reason Romero felt his heart sink in his chest. He couldn't help but letting this show on his face as his smile slipped a little into a puzzled slant.

The girl seemed to notice his change in attitude but answered, "My names Annie," she said.

Romero nodded in reply then ruffled a friendly hand in her hair, "Very nice honey," she forced himself to say, "Now you run along, I have a Princess to rescue as I'm sure you are all aware."

Annie frowned and lowered her head, what had she done wrong? "I have nowhere to go," she said, "I don't have a home or anything."

Romero gulped in sadness for the girl's plight. He put a hand in a pouch that hung from Steadfast and pulled out a few coins of silver.

"Here," he said, holding the coins out to the now crying young girl, "I sure hope we meet again some day." He winked, he meant what he said. He found it hard to understand why the girl had disappointed him so much when she took off the cap, but he liked her and felt sorry for her situation

Annie took the coins hesitantly, "Thank you," she said, "Bye then."

Romero waved solemnly as Annie ran back through then crowd. "Well folks," he said, "I've been detained here too long. Every second I waste here is a second longer for the Princess in the Tower. I must make haste, so long people of Boise!"

He then slung himself back into the saddle of Steadfast and galloped quickly toward the Tower that loomed on the horizon.

There was no opposition as Romero entered the Tower. The great hall was empty, the stairway clear. He knew as he put his hand on the door at the top that the Princess and her captor lay ahead. It had surely been far too easy so far so he didn't know what to expect as he turned the handle.

Aldred had watched Romero approach. The sun bounced off the Knight's marvellous form, sending brilliant flashes of light of each different piece of armour. An image of purple perfection highlighted by radiant sheets of silver with a lightening pace Aldred felt no other steed could match. If they fought how could he expect to win. If he did would he really want to able to bring himself to end such life?

"Is he here?" The Princess asked. It the first time she had spoken since Aldred's unexpected rant earlier, and it was said more matter of fact. Aldred had been glued to the window, his eyes fixed on something wonderful down below. Then he had stopped looking and started pacing, rampantly, The Princess felt sure he would wear a hole in the floor before her hero arrived. Then they would all be dead, herself and Aldred falling down below, her hero crushed by the debris, not exactly your conventional fairy tale ending…

Aldred didn't have time to answer before there came a knock at the door, now THAT was unconventional.

The uncertain wizard found himself looking to the Princess for help, "What do I do?" he asked.

"What do you do? I don't care what you do. If you don't let him in I shouldn't think he will turn around and leave. Do you want to let him in or not?"

"Erm, yes I think so. Now it comes to it, I'm not quite sure." Aldred began gnawing savagely at his nails, it was a habit he had picked up ever since he was young.

"Well, I don't care what you do," The Princess huffed, "All I know is that I will be free from this prison very soon, hopefully with the man of my dreams who will one day rule this kingdom as my King. If you're lucky he will let you live long enough to come to the wedding, you will be in chains of course."

Aldred felt his fears beginning to overcome him, "No I wont, I'm not going to be a prisoner, not ever and I wont be part of your world. You're world is horrible, always looking down their noses at those who are different. I will see this hero. I will see him very well."

The Princess sighed, "Such a shame. I was actually starting to quite like you and all. Seems your just a bitter little boy, now are you going to let him in or not?"

Their came another knock, harder this time.

Aldred snarled and grabbed his sword that lay by the window. "I will see him," he growled, "Come in."

The door swung inward. Romero appeared in the entrance way.

Two things struck Romero on his arrival. First, the large cage structure that dominated the centre of the room. Second, the gorgeous figure beyond. A handsome creature of pale complexion, dark hair that swept across his brow, intense, thoughtful, striking green eyes that blazed as they stared Romero in his own eyes of brilliant blue.

"Well," Romero gasped, then he caught sight of the Princess who was inside the cage, ahead of Aldred. "Ah, you must be Princess Isabella."

The Princess stared at the Knight in awe, "Yes," she said, "And you have come to rescue me." She flashed a courteous smile her hero's way. Romero was unmoved, his sight was drawn guiltily back towards his adversary.

"Why do you stay here?" asked Romero, "Why here in this awful place, and why did you kidnap Isabella?"

Aldred came from behind the cage and moved cautiously toward his enemy. That Romero was as imposing as rumoured went without saying, that he could be so handsome, that had not been so expected. "To lure you," Aldred replied, holding his sword firmly ahead of him, "To bring you here so I may defeat you, then rule this kingdom by myself."

The wizard was dressed all in black, he wore no armour however, a major advantage for the white Knight, who was clad in chain mail and silver plating.

"You don't look like much of a wizard," Romero claimed.

Aldred frowned, "Just cause I don't have a beard," he groaned, "Why must we all have beards?"

Romero grinned, "You wouldn't suit a beard," he chuckled, "But, what about you staff?"

"I don't have one of those either."

"Not much of a wizard then are you?"

"I captured the Princess didn't I?" Aldred whined.

"Yes," Romero sighed, "But that hardly qualifies you. Why do you stay here? You're not a wizard, why hide away all alone becoming more and more bitter? Is it… Is it that you never found true love?"

Aldred shifted nervously, "I… I could never love. Never love like anyone else. I don't love, all this time here, alone, no one to even look at. And now the Princess, and she is. Terrible."

"How about I let her go?" Romero suggested innocently enough.

"Never!" Aldred yelled. He then lunged forward with his blade held high. Romero's reaction was swift, he unsheathed his own sword and brought it up against that of Aldred. The two were then held, blades grinding against the other, sparks flying as metal slid against metal and the faces of Knight and Wizard come closer and closer.

As the two men were drawn together Aldred felt the heat coming from the Knight. Romero saw beads of sweat break out on Aldred's forehead. Both had gritted teeth as they each tried to over power the other. Now their lips were almost touching and both could feel the others breath. Their eyes were locked. The moment was intense as they struggled to decide who would try to end the other first, of if they even wanted to.

Aldred broke the struggle. Reluctantly poking his fingers into the eyes of the other. Romero staggered back. Aldred then swung his sword full circle. Intending to behead his opponent in a moment of confused rage.

With ease Romero blocked the attack, and the two were blade locked once again.

The Princess watched on, anxious to see who would make the killer blow.

"I know why you chose this life," Romero gasped between breaths. "You aren't like most people are you?"

Tears sat heavily behind Aldred's eyes, he knew what the Knight was saying was true.

Romero continued as their blades continued to grind, "Your feelings, they don't marry up with those of the commoners. But how do you know, what did you feel, what was it you felt you could never tell another?"

Aldred, in anger, increased the pressure on his sword trying to force Romero back.

"You're a good looking guy," Romero told him, feeling the strain, "You could have had any girl in the kingdom. But that's not what you wanted is it? Not the girls, you never had any interest in the girls."

Aldred continued to push on Romero, "I got the Princess didn't I?"

"Yes," said the Knight, "And I see her here, resplendent as she ever was and know, you never laid a finger on her."

"I'll kill her," Aldred cried, "But not before I kill you first!" He then thrust Romero up against the cage. He planned to lunge at him and end him right there but as he came forward the Knight stepped aside and drove Aldred head first into the hard iron bars.

Stunned, Aldred fell on his back. He dropped his sword as he clutched as his bloody head.

Romero came and knelt beside the fallen young wizard. He put a hand on Aldred's stomach as he fumbled at his belt with the other. He found the keys to the cage then went to release Isabella. Aldred didn't try to get up, the feeling as the Knight had touched him had left him with an oddly warm sensation.

When Romero opened the cage the Princess leapt on him, "Oh thank you so much," she said as she smothered his face with kisses.

Romero struggled to relieve himself of the girl. Once he had he held her at arms length and looked her in the eyes, " Listen my Lady," he ordered, "You must go now. The road ahead is clear so you will go unhindered. Return to your father and tell him the Knight Romero had liberated you and the threat of Aldred is over. I will return for my reward later."

The Princess looked perplexed, "But. I am your reward." She told him, "You will become my Prince then one day rule the kingdom. Is that not the greatest reward?"

"Such things of unbecoming of a man such as myself," Romero explained, "I'm sure I can be rewarded as such in gold."

The Princess was gob smacked, "Well," she gasped, "And what exactly will you do after I leave, you have beaten Aldred, he will trouble us no more, my father will see to that."

Romero shook his head, "My Lady," he started, "There are some things a Lady such as yourself should not have to witness. What I intend to do here is not for delicate eyes."

The Princess looked across to a still lying Aldred with pity, "I see," she sighed. "Well, I do hope you reconsider my offer. I really should be going now then. Oh, and don't go to hard on him."

Romero's smile turned into a beaming grin, "I can make no such promises," he said.

The Princess left him there alone with defeated Aldred.

Romero helped Aldred up and helped him to stand.

The blood had dried on the young warlock's forehead, all the anger and determination had left him. Now he looked the youthful twenty two year old he was, perhaps younger in his vision of sorrow.

"Are you going to kill me," he asked.

Romero smiled pitifully, "No," he answered. "In fact, I quite like you. Your youthful looks, your enchanting eyes." At this Aldred looked up at the Knight, hope alight in his eyes, "Your pleasant face, your hair, even your voice. I know this is not what you were expecting, but I have been looking for you my whole life and I only just realized." He smiled glowingly, "I only hope you feel the same as I."

Aldred's mouth hung agape, no-one had ever spoke as such to him before, let alone another man. Girls had said things before but never put it so well, and they had been girls. For a second words escaped him, then he nodded, "I do. I really do," he said.

"I'm so glad." Romero kissed him.

"Now," Romero said, "I would ask you turn around for a moment."

Aldred didn't understand why but did so anyway.

With his man now looking away Romero relieved himself of his armour and tunic so he was naked from the waist up. Aldred heard the armour hit the floor,

"Romero," he said.

"What is it?"

"How do I know this is real? How do I know you wont stab me from behind." The biggest smile formed on the white Knight's face, "I can assure you there is nothing I want to do more," he said.

Aldred laughed, now this wasn't the conventional fairy tale ending either of them had expected.

~Sunday 14th February 2010~