|In a Land Far, Far Away
Author: Guede Mazaka
Once upon a time, there was a young, noble and devastatingly handsome pseudo-Roman (which is what happens when you mash together three different cultures without much regard to history). He was generous, humble, honest, and an outspoken defender of all that is good and right. Consequently he pissed off a lot of people and they arranged for him to be locked up in a great tower of impenetrable ivory guarded by a moat of eternal fire and inside, by a huge nasty dragon. The poor princess himself (we have to call him a princess, since no one else gets locked up in great towers in fairytales) was put under a curse of perpetual slumber--
Arthur: *yawns and stretches arms* Oh, I missed the sunrise by two seconds. Sleeping in late is a bad habit to have.
[gets up and splashes face and neck, then wanders into the hallway]
Arthur: A library! How wonderful! I wonder if they have a complete anthology of Pelagius’ rebuttals to Augustine…
Anyway, in a distant country there lived a brave and skilled knight who heard of the princess’ plight and who was deeply touched. He swore to save him.
Lancelot: I damned well didn’t. Rome hasn’t even paid me for the last year of beating Woad asses, and now you want me to go haring cross-country just because Arthur stupidly got himself locked in a tower? Don’t be ridiculous. He can take care of himself. Why should I bother hurrying up the process?
Narrator: *coughs* Cock. Or should I say, the lack thereof in you for the next two weeks.
Lancelot: I hate you. I have to…*consults map* …pass over the bridge of Mary Sue, go through the Forest of OOC and brave the raging river of Implausibility? Are you shitting me?
Narrator: I shit not. I’m a disembodied voice. No digestive or excretory tract.
Lancelot: Are you sure you’re not Tristan? You sound like him…
Narrator: Get going. *smacks his butt*
Lancelot: Ow! *stalks off* What you have to put up with when you have the best ass in the world…
So the brave knight grumpily saddled up his horse and mounted it, being careful of his stinging bum. Then he rode off over the hills and through the valleys. Soon he reached the first obstacle.
Lancelot: Bridge. Girl. I think.
Mary Sue: I bid you welcome, fair knight. I am Lady Queen Gwenhwyfar of the Lake of…oh, I always forget how my title goes. It’s so long. Anyway, does not my large liquid eyes of shimmering emerald and my long silky raven tresses and my perfect figure move you to instant adoration? If not, there’s always my spunky yet dependent personality, my amazing magical/martial arts/broadsword skills and my honed sarcastic wit. And most importantly—I love you! I love you and only you and I swoon at the thought of your strong arms gathering me to your chest and--
Lancelot: Listen, girl. Are you willing to put up with the fact that I only bathe about once every few weeks? And that’s mostly because Arthur whines about the stains on his nice bedsheets. Or what about the fleas and the ticks and the smell of horse? I spend a lot of time in the stables, and while on campaign, I tend to sleep out in the open with the horses.
Mary Sue:…true love can conquer anything.
Lancelot: Oh? Well, I hope you like the taste of moldy bread or hot blood fresh from a horse’s neck vein, because the food rarely gets better. Living on soldier’s pay sucks. By the way, you know how to scrub blood out of leather and off of metal armor without getting it rusty, right? Because I usually end the day with this one’s brains splattered on my face, and pieces of that one’s guts on my leg, and it’s anyone’s guess what’s in my hair.
Mary Sue:…but you’d change because of my pure deep love, right?
Lancelot: No. I’m how I am because that way, I get to live through the next battle. Do I look suicidal? And anyway, why the hell would I have to be the one to change? I already got dragged from Sarmatia and had to learn how to live in Britain, so I’m damn well not doing it again.
Mary Sue: Well, I’m suicidal now! Wah! *tosses self over side of bridge*
Lancelot: *looks over* Don’t tell me I have to save her. I’m already running late.
Guinevere: *appears in a shower of sprinkles* No, she’ll melt in another couple of minutes to the overwrought chords of a neo-goth or nu-metal song. And yes, you’re running late. I could’ve zipped over to the castle, had Arthur, and come back by now.
Narrator: Lancelot, meet your fairy guardian.
Lancelot: If I throw her in the river, will she melt too?
Guinevere: Eat your horse’s shit. Do you want to get through the Forest of Implausibility, or don’t you?
Lancelot: *heaves a sigh* Arthur, you owe me so many off-days now…all right, let’s go.
The brave knight and his fairy guardian crossed over the Bridge and entered the Forest, which was dark and damp and full of nightmares. But just for the hell of it, let’s go back to the princess.
Arthur: *browsing* Lift those at the same time and use tongue to…wait, what did you call me?
Narrator: A princess. Since you’re trapped in a tower.
Arthur: What! I’m trapped in a tower? I thought my application for leave had finally gone through…well, that explains why Lancelot’s taking so long to show up. Even he doesn’t need this long to do his hair. *shuts book and puts back on shelf*
Narrator: What are you doing? Look, no matter how progressive she is, the princess—
Arthur: *power-glower* I. Am. Not. A. Princess. I am a progressive, but men can be liberal without having to take on the traits of the very feminine stereotypes against which they’re protesting. In fact, that would be self-defeating. Now, where’s the way out?
Narrator: Past a big mean dragon. You’ll have to kill it.
Arthur: Don’t be absurd. The dragon is a rare creature that has been cruelly ripped from its natural habitat and exploited by humans for their own amusement. I’m going to phone the nearest dragon wildlife rehabilitation service.
Narrator: Um. Anachronism?
Arthur: You put me in a library with fifty copies of The Joy of Gay Sex. You’re not in a position…oh, and if this entire scenario with the locked-in-an-ivory-tower and the gay-sex instruction manuals is a twisted commentary on my hang-ups, you’re completely wrong. Lancelot has never complained about my abilities in that arena. And he would if I were doing something wrong.
Narrator: Aw, you’re blushing!
Arthur: *stomps off*
Back in the Forest of OOC, Lancelot was having one bad time after another. The peculiar powers of the place had quickly enveloped him in a disorienting, frightening series of hallucinations.
Lancelot: *stumbles out of a fog* I’m…my life is so hollow and empty, and I wish I could die. I think I should cut myself in morbidly artistic ways while spouting bad poetry…
Guinevere: *floats after him, watching*
Narrator: *coughs* Guinevere.
Guinevere: Oh, fine. *smacks Lancelot with wand* Regain your characterization and your sense of reality, jackass knight.
Lancelot: *jerks, then straightens up* Fuck. For once, I’m actually grateful you’re an abusive bitch.
Guinevere: *hits him again* Ahem. Regain your sense of reality.
Lancelot: Cunt. All right, where’s my horse? Never mind, I’ll just walk. It’s not that far and I’m not going back into that place. Yeesh. Too many fake Arthurs wandering around without the right balance of guilt complex, bad-ass fighting skills, preachiness and rampant sex to make them tolerable…
At the castle, the neo-Roman shook hands with the representatives of the dragon wildlife rehabilitation service after a long discussion on the merits of various community-service programs and stepped back to watch them leave. Whereupon he realized he really should’ve asked for a ride, because he still had the flaming moat to handle.
Arthur: You mean you knocked me over and sat on me until they left so I couldn’t ask them. You’re quite heavy for a disembodied voice.
Narrator: Are you saying I’m fat?
Arthur: Oh, no, no, no. Nothing of the sort. Besides, we should all be willing to accept our bodies as they…you’re snickering. You’re fine. Now, we’re not near a natural lava flow so this moat has to be generated by artificial means. The flames are regular in height and shape, so I’m guessing gas. Which means there should be a pipeline somewhere that I can shut off. *disappears into castle*
Narrator: You’re such a wet blanket.
Arthur: *calls back* If I weren’t, I wouldn’t be properly characterized.
On the banks of the last obstacle, the River of Implausibility, the knight and the fairy guardian sneezed.
Lancelot: Arthur just had a snarky moment. And I missed it, dammit! He can go months in between those!
Guinevere: Maybe if you shut up once in a while, he’d have more.
Lancelot: I do not need your advice, Miss Your-Father-Liked-Briton-Women-A-Lot-Wink-Wink-Nudge-Nudge. Anyway, looks like a plain river to me.
[Starts to put foot in it. Suddenly the water level roars high and boulders tumble in the raging current, which is incredibly broad and menacing]
Narrator: The only way you can cross is if you have the strength of ten men, the agility of twenty, the ability to hold your breath for two hours and fend off an army of Woads while having three arrows sticking out of you.
Lancelot: Or if I grab Guinevere and refuse to let go till she floats over the damn river. *does so* I’m a knight from Sarmatia who eats and shits and fucks like everyone else, not a god. Life would be a lot easier if I were—ow!
[Guinevere has flown over the river and now punches Lancelot off of her.]
Guinevere: And I’m a woman doing whatever she has to in order to survive and to protect what’s hers, not a stupid flouncy thing in a dress. Oh, did I bruise up your pretty face? I am so very not sorry.
Narrator: All right, that’s it! Guinevere, you’re exactly as you say—a person. And you two can just walk the rest of the way.
[Guinevere loses magical sparklies and drops to the ground.]
Guinevere: Finally. Those things make me too visible as a target.
Lancelot: What, I have to walk all the time anyway. It’s not like we’ve invented cars yet and you can’t ride horses over every kind of land. At least, not if you don’t want to break their legs.
While the narrator sulks, Arthur shut off the gas and strolled out of the castle entrance just in time to catch Lancelot, who was collapsing from sore feet. Also because Arthur had taken off his shirt so as not to get it greasy while working on the pipes.
Lancelot: *muffled in Arthur’s shoulder* Wait, wasn’t there supposed to be a dragon and a fiery moat?
Arthur: Oh, I got rid of those. Actually, I was just about to grab a horse from the stables and ride back.
Lancelot: *stiffens and slowly looks up*
Arthur: *blinks confusedly* That shade of red can’t be healthy.
Lancelot: We’re having sex.
Arthur: And…I don’t quite see how that would help.
Lancelot: We’re having sex right now because if you don’t fuck me senseless I’m going to kill you, Guinevere, and that narrator. *pounces*
Arthur: *shrugs and puts recent studies to use*
[Meanwhile, Guinevere has been standing to the side and appreciatively watching the hands sliding over long firm thighs and the mouths ravaging each other and especially the little choky noises Lancelot makes when Arthur pins him still to shove into him.]
Guinevere: This is pretty, but it’s not exactly fair compensation for my troubles.
Lancelot: *is too much of a well-fucked puddle to comment*
Arthur: *props up on one arm* Oh, sorry. Well, I think the narrator was going to throw in Tristan as part of a fable about an innocent wild-boy raised by wolves, but she seems to have forgotten about him…
Guinevere: *eye glint* Wolf-boy? Now that’s got potential. *wanders off*