When a hero hears of the plight of a small town in the clutches of evil nothing can stop him from riding in to save the day. But of course it helps to have your story straight.

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Botched

A tale of Taloria

 

by

Samuel J. Plum



Cover Illustration by

Marcie Norried

 

Copyright 2013 Samuel Plum

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. 

 


 

“People of Harmet!” screamed the man standing on the steps of the lord’s manor, doused in blood. “I am Sir Botch, and on this day, you are free!”

The knight looked out upon the people slowly gathering in the town square, his sense of triumph quickly fading to confusion. He had just announced the end of their oppression, after all, and would have expected more in the way of cheering and less in the way of concerned glances. Sure, this town was small, consisting only of a handful of houses huddled around the lord’s estate, and he suspected that the people were likely of lower intelligence out here in the middle of nowhere, but surely they would know the word “free.”

By now most of the villagers had congregated before him, so he tried again. “My men and I heard tale of your troubles, of your enslavement here on the fringe of civilization, and we came to end the tyranny you have toiled under these many years.”

“What’s he on about?” a man asked. He turned to the villager next to him. “Have we been enslaved?”

“Not that I’ve noticed,” the fellow replied.

“We have travelled great distances to reach you,” Botch continued. “We traversed the treacherous woods surrounding your little settlement. There we defeated and slew the vicious beast that once patrolled the perimeter of this town and held you captive! No longer will you be confined to your homes!”

“The woods can be a bit brambly at times,” one of the women said, “though I don’t know if I’d call them treacherous.”

“Vicious beast?” another asked.

One of the villagers nearby turned to him and said, “You don’t suppose he’s talking about ol’ Horker, do you?”

“What? No. That poor old dog is such a softie. He would get up and bark something fierce, but surely they wouldn’t have killed him for that.”

“He is pretty big, though you’d need to be daft to assume he was any real threat.”

Someone else murmured, “I certainly didn’t feel trapped. Went out to see my cousins in Brimbrook not three days ago...”

Botch ignored them and went on, determined to make these simpletons understand the valor of this morning’s quest. “We then bravely breached the perimeter of your overlord’s stronghold, his ruthless guards proving no match for our blades. It was a harrowing battle, but your saviors emerged victorious!”

“Killed the guards in the lord’s manor?” A man asked.

“Ain’t no guards in there,” another answered. “Lord Yewel’d never need guards, ‘specially not any ruthless ones.”

“Do you think he’s talking about the house staff? Would probably have been up and about preparing for the day.”

“Not really ruthless, though,” stated a woman in the front. “Aside from Jim Carrol, anyway. He used to date a gal named Ruth a few years back. She was from up Gisholm way as I recall. But since they broke up, you could probably call him Ruthless.”

Another man shook his head. “Mildred, by that logic we could all be considered to be ruthless, as there ain’t anyone in town named Ruth. Don’t think that’s what he meant.”

“Well I don’t care what he meant, Harold,” Mildred responded. “He’s not making much sense one way or the other.”

“Good people! Please!” screamed Sir Botch, who felt he was quickly losing control of the situation. “We have come so far and done so much for you! Do you not see the effort we have put into your freedom? Do you not know the oppression you have lived under? We have fought so hard to end your suffering! In the light of dawn, I personally gained entrance to the overlord's bedchamber and ended his evil reign. And now you question your hero?”

“Wait,” one of the townsfolk piped up. “He actually killed Lord Yewel?”

“Sounds like,” said another. “That sorry sack. As if it weren't bad enough murdering his helpless staff.”

“And Horker, by the sound of it,” another added. “Lets not forget about him.”

“You, Sir Knight!” One of them yelled. “Why would you do such horrible things?”

Botch began to plead with them. “I heard the stories of this town. Poor, poor Harmet, held in the thrall of the evil overlord Sakis, guarded by the vicious beast of the wood, harried by the overlord's army.”

“Did you say Sakis?”

“Yes, yes! Sakis, now slain in his sleep, thanks to me, never again to cause you grief!”

“Oh, wait. I see now,” the man said. “It's not Harmet you want, you daft fool. It's Hamlin. That's thirty miles north of here.”

“Oh, that makes sense,” Mildred added. “I've heard stories about those poor people. Hear they have a beast in those woods too.”

“Yeah,” the man went on, “you just got the wrong town, is all.”

“What?” Botch fell to his knees. “No, it can't be! My glorious victory was a lie?”

“Your glorious victory,” the man said, “was the most heinous crime this town has ever seen. Thanks for trying to set us free from nothing, for what it's worth. We will have to hang you now, though. Nothing personal. We can't just let people go around murdering, whatever their intention.”

And that was the end for Sir Botch and his men. The people of Harmet would never forget that dreadful day. If only the knight had taken the time to get his facts straight, his glorious quest might not have been so badly, well, botched.


 

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