The Echelons of Human Thought – Chapter 1

HARK! The trumpets play a clarion call of terrible, terrible joy! The non-denominational-place-of-worship bells ring across the city! The birds are singing in triumph! The regal choir exits the king's castle by the hundreds to explode in song, thunderous song! The women exit their lowly dwellings in their aprons and with children abreast to march across the town square, beating their tambourines and crying in sensual admiration! The children themselves sing nursery songs about springtime and the return of heroes who went off to war! BOOM! Cannons fire to the tune of the Triumphal March from Aida.

Not fond of being out-sung, the legions of choirboys sing even louder, shattering the ears of the women who compete for the sounds of the air. The women chant a melody of orgasmic victory in retaliation, as though a pubescent male celebrity of whom they normally fawn over has made his presence. The men stop toiling in their sheds and shriek elation in a horrifying tone, a praise that can be heard beyond the city walls, instilling a terror that gives notice to enemies and friends from near and far.

The wizards perform fireworks across the bright sunny sky. Insurance salesmen throw away their policies from the roofs of the Tudor-style buildings encased in the fortified metropolis. Murderers stop murdering; thieves stop thieving; mousers stop mousering; pedophiles stop pedophiling! The denizens stop in their tracks to shed tears over the transcendental event that is unfolding live without the aid of cable news television. The bells clang louder and louder. Toll, recalcitrant bells, toll!

Do you not hear the commotion on the streets? Do you not listen to the whispers and rumors spreading across the heavily forted township? The women are talking about it, and the men argue loudly with sports-like indifference. Is it true? Is Aslandia saved? Are the citizens of Regal Center free from the tyranny of evil mages, dark paladins and disagreeable burritos? Oh, town crier, please inform us of the new and wonderful tidings you have hidden between your lips. Our children and livestock long for confirmation. Could this be the news we have been beseeching day and night even as we continue with our daily routines? Pray tell, good crier!

From the king's castle emerges the good steward Brandie, who appears in the castle balcony with a flourish normally reserved for special events. The good steward Brandie wears his baroque cloak of red and velvet, embroidered with gold and mystique beige, whose train fills the floor of the balcony. He looks towards the top of the city wall towers and sees that a watchman has jumped off and plummeted to his death, signaling glorious intelligence to the celebrants below.

"Citizens of Regnal Center, people of Aslandia, lend me your ears!" said the good steward Brandie, and the crowd fell into a precipitous hush.

"Bear witness to this day that the nightmare reign of the Axis of Bad Guys is at an end!" said the good steward Brandie. "Our lives are no longer in peril, our children can play freely on our parks and oil wells once more, and our men and women can frolic and procreate in the splendid grass of our hills without fear of enemy griffins swooping from above and eating our sandwiches! Victory is won!"

"Joy oh joy, bring us more joy!", said the crowd below in unison as confetti and ticker tape rains from the sky, courtesy of a helicopter from above. Town musicians start playing their lutes to express their psychotic delight. If you see farther down the city concourse, a fire is breaking out and a bomb explodes at a local embassy as young men riot in celebration. "Joy, oh wonderful joy!" the crowd continued.

"Our beloved King Toppingham left this kingdom many temporal divisions ago to fight the evils that threatened his glorious kingdom of Aslandia," the good steward Brandie continued. "Today, I am pleased to herald this glorious bulletin to usher a new era, free of evil, free of evil consequence and free of evil! Today, I announce that our human-blessed King Toppingham has return'd!"

The women and the men, the choir and the cannons, the birds and the lampposts all shout a tune of skull-ringing ecstasy. Is it not heard from the far corners of the 31 counties and the Merchant District of Puffyville? All who hear this explosion of song, cower in fear, tremble in terror, vomit in happiness!

"Open the gates and clear the path!" proclaimed the good steward Brandie. The soldier opened the city wall gates, huge and creaky, and in comes a parade of infantry and cavalrymen showered with confetti and mead. Women could not help but leap onto their horses and pull down the men to express their appreciation for the deeds they have done. Men could not help but do the same. The armed forces entering the city took out bags full of their enemies' heads and drivers' licenses and gave these to the children, while firmly holding tight their bags full of candy and other booty.

Once inside, a coach also enters, holding the enchanting King Toppingham and his consort of whose name escapes me. The emboldened King Toppingham waves gently to the crazed throngs, showing only a smile of indifference. The chickens cluck across the road and the cows mooed inside their pens, for they know what this means for them tonight. The carriage stops and the crowds clear and grow silent as the court poet named Robespierre kneels to the side of the king's carriage and reads aloud the following poem with profound reverence:

Oh humanly blessed king, oh wondrous ruler
oh savior of these 31 counties and the Merchant District of Puffyville
ruler of Aslandia, proctor of tests
enchanter of beasts and congregator of men
fellow man is in gratitude for your deeds of daring
neighbors are in tears for your callings of color
the forests of Snuggleville are kissed with dew
the mountains of Pillowdown are clothed in snow
the strands of Plüshingheim are bathed in heat
the fields of Fluffington are kissed with dew
we sing this song in praise of your works
we sing this song with happiness afloat
even as the clouds hide the giants that cower behind their false wealth
the populace pounces the floors and quakes the dancehalls
in their shameless dance of pride and perkiness
to learn of the good tune of the news of the totality
that our evil enemies are slain and diffused
that our evil attackers have defecated in humorous fright
at the sight of our glorious king and his fearless agent
let us drink our post-mead and eat our rumps
let our children drink our milk and the dogs masticate our treats
for the terror has escap'd from Aslandia
the horror has turn'd to the depths of the distant seas
no longer able to bear the sight of our handsome king
no longer commanding with condescension
our king is handsome, brave and true
our king is solemn, sure and taught
our loyalty is to our masterful king, as is mine
please accept our gratitude, oh excellent king
do not ignore our pleasure upon seeing your person
our bodies, our livelihoods, our livers
can only be given to you in unreserved appreciation
who can compare to our masterful ruler?
who can weigh against our beloved master?
no being, real or perceived, can compare to our dutiful king
human-blessed is our king for the rest of his life
bow down to our powerful King Toppingham
for with his bow he took down the dragon-mage Sarasan
and with his sword he decapitated the zombie overlord Noooor
and with his staff he blinded the paladin lampmaster Jep-heth-okk
and with his talisman he fended off the troll prince Cookie-jookie
why are you not bowing down to our supreme King Toppingham?
why do you not heed to this frightful command?
have your knees withered and your loins collapsed?
have your minds not processed his mighty glory?
what fragile thought from common man
can hold against the proverb emanating from his tongue?
is that the sound of weaklings proclaiming ill will towards our beautiful king?
hush! the dagger of our squires will silence you!
all praise King Toppingham of Aslandia!
all praise him until he dies!

At that, Robespierre rises and pulls away, while the eminent King Toppingham yawns with boredom and his coach marches onward. That's right, horses, yaw!

But the best is saved for last, as the trumpets once again pounce out a triumphant tune and another watchman falls from the tower to announce the arrival.

"Praise, power praise, praise plus one," continued the good steward Brandie, "for the right arm of King Toppingham, the savior of Aslandia, the glorious light in a tunnel of darkness, the power of play in a playground of power, our greatest hero approaches!"

A collective sigh of shock chokes the populace as the savior of Aslandia enters the city: Oh yes, here he is: Sir Gannehan of Featherdale, the Brave Knight Errant who Walks the World, Earl of Pumf, 7th Baron of Cardinal & Husker, Slayer of Dragons, Abductor of Aliens, Herder of Cats and other Beasts Unknown, Bearer of the Staff of Wizard Hollingran! To him goes all song and pomp, and you must abide, for the cardinal perched on his shoulder told us so.

"It is I, Sir Gannehan of Featherdale, the Brave Knight Errant who Walks the World, Earl of Pumf, 7th Baron of Cardinal & Husker, Slayer of Dragons, Abductor of Aliens, Herder of Cats and other Beasts Unknown, Bearer of the Staff of Wizard Hollingran!" Sir Gannehan said to the people below him. "Lend me your song, for I have saved your kingdom!"

"He's so brave and wonderful," said the women now swooning over the voice of the knight errant.

The king exits his carriage, as does his consort, and the reach the top of the castle porch, where the good steward Brandie awaits. The steed of Sir Gannehan makes its way to the top of the stairs and Gannehan dismounts. The knight then kneels in front of King Toppingham, who now stands beside his consort and the good steward Brandie.

"Thanks to your valiant efforts, my kingdom is saved from our evil enemies. As a token of requisite gratitude, what is it that you seek so that I can provide it for thee? Do not show restraint, as I am poised to give you exactly what you seek."

"Oh marvelous King Toppingham, my eyes shed tears for you, my mouth sheds bile for you, my wrists shed blood for you! Your graces are the only thing that I could ever desire. However, there is one thing that I seek."

"Speak, thy errant knight," replied the benevolent King Toppingham.

"My desire is to conquer the mystical land of Valverdia, where the milk flows like wine, where the honey flows like fluid, where the good life is found and the good people abound, where the gold is pure and the virgins are plentiful. For this, I beseech to you for a supply of an army to conquer this good land and plunder its wealth, so that I can achieve a safe haven for my ample soul."

"This thing you seek is high to the sky, and I fear that I cannot provide what you seek."

Oh no! The crowds who are witnessing this disastrous turn of events cry in sadness. Who can provide the army that the brave and wonderful Sir Gannehan seeks? "What shall we ever do? He's so brave and wonderful," said the beautiful damsel Amelda with blonde ponytails who is within the crowd, crying in hopelessness.

But then suddenly, from above the city walls appears a horrific sight: The evil Dragon-King Garesha approaches with large fangs and reptilian eyes, swooping down towards the congregated citizens; and the people below run in terror. "I am Garesha, the King of Dragons, and I seek revenge on Aslandia. Prepare to meet your doom!" Then, with his terrifying claws, the Dragon-King Garesha clutches the young damsel Amelda and whisks her away.

"Help! Somebody save me!" cried Amelda.

Who will save this shaken and thoroughly traumatized maiden? Who, pray tell?

"I will save her, with my humble axe, my flute of song and my heart of love, even though I am a lowly serf with no job prospects, tattered fashions and a complete lack of wealth and taste," said no one ever.

The brave and wonderful Sir Gannehan then leaps into the sky and unsheathes his sword. "In the name of Aslandia, I shall slay thee!" He conveniently lands on the neck of the Dragon-King, and the Dragon-King tosses and turns in the sky in a futile attempt to shake the knight off. However, the knight grabs the mane on his neck to hang on.

"Help me, Sir Gannehan, help me!" cried Amelda, still cluched in the claws of Garesha.

Sir Gannehan then impales his sword into the neck of Garesha, who in a sudden reaction releases Amelda from his clutches. Amelda falls from the sky as Garesha flies away.

"I will get you next time!" said Garesha as he escapes with a gashing wound that debilitates his flight.

"Save me, Sir Gannehan!" pleads Amelda.

Sir Gannehan then leaps off of the flailing Dragon-King and flies down to catch up with Amelda.

"Lend me your arm, fair maiden!" shouted Sir Gannehan.

The maiden obeys and reaches for Sir Gannehan, who quickly approaches her, though he is still several lengths above her. The city and the fatal ground hurriedly runs towards Amelda, but Sir Gannehan dives faster towards Amelda, extending his arm to reach her. He is almost there, but Amelda's arm is too short to reach. So he excuses it.

Then, from his mouth, his tongue extends and Amelda grabs it. Sir Gannehan pulls the tongue in and embraces Amelda in the safety of his arms. Then he unravels a cord which releases a parachute, allowing for the two to gently reach the ground.

"Oh, Sir Gannehan, you saved me!" said Amelda in fawning gratitude.

The populace says, "Hooray for Sir Gannehan, savior of damsels and of Aslandia!"

The king approaches the two and proclaims the following, "To pay you for this brave and wonderful deed you have performed, I hereby dub thee Count of Fluffington. There yonder is where you will attain the army you require for your adventure to Valverdia. Go forth and claim your prize!"

Then Sir Gannehan kneels down to the beautiful maiden Amelda. "As an act of chivalry, as is my duty of a knight errant, would you offer your dainty hand in marriage? As a dowry, I offer 200 macaroni packets."

Then, the father of Amelda, who appears out of nowhere, replies: "Two hundred macaroni packets are more than I have ever worked for in my entire life. I accept your dowry and you can keep my daughter as your wife!"

The entire Regal Center rejoices and the bells clamor again. The choir and the cannons sing their most triumphant song yet as Sir Gannehan plucks Amelda from the crowd and seats her on his steed. Then the two gloriously exit Regnal Center on Sir Gannehan's steed, off for new adventures, off to the County of Fluffington, and off to pursue Valverdia! Wish them well on their lengthy and long-winded journey!