Don't You Spaghett About Me
Tim and Kackel walked through the decimated landscape of the Spaghettian village. The remaining residents had emerged from their hiding places and were listening to the Jabberwonky’s tragic tale of woe, which found its start many centuries ago when Meatball’s ancestor cast the spell upon the Jabberwonky, inserting the ruby of mind control into their scalp.
“… and, another thing, I don’t even like trilbies!” insisted the sobbing monster, ashamed they’d been made to don such a ridiculous hat.
When the tale had been passed on in full there was nary an unsympathetic ear left in the crowd. Save for the man whose tears were for his son - while he knew the actions of the Jabberwonky not to be of his own choice - he couldn’t scrub the memory of the beast smacking his lips with delight before imbibing his boy wholly in one gulp.
“What will you do now that you’re finally free?” Matilda queried.
Here the creature launched himself back to his feet. The Jabberwonky had retained his flamboyant nature, yet now held himself with more self-assurance, proving ever more his actions were now wholly his own.
“I need to put this all behind me. All the terrible things…” he trailed off, tears rimming his eyes momentarily before taking the stance of a Shakespearean actor having a great epiphany onstage.
With his hand pointed above his head, he declared with newfound enthusiasm, “I know! I’ll return to my calling as the Mobile Library of the Absorbed Realms.”
“What? Why?” a confused Eric asked.
“There’s sure to be hundreds of late fees to gather up, we’re talking centuries here!”
A Spaghettian in the crowd hid a dusty, old volume behind their back. Everyone else burst into applause, happy for the civil service to be restored to their township.
Chapter 12: Don’t You Spaghett About Me
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The applause gave way to murmurs, as the villagers parted to let through a burly group of Spaghettians manhandling a red-faced Meatball to the front of the crowd. He was still tied up, sitting in the chair Kackel had roped him to.
“Release me you brutes!” he cried, “I’m your leader, fair and square!”
The Spaghettians booed and hissed, the Jabberwonky recoiled, for he recognised the family resemblance to his initial oppressor, Michelangelo Meatball.
“What should we do with him?” the tallest burly Spaghettian asked Tim, snarling.
“Well, in Farkaroola they bring dissidents in front of everyone in a town square,” Tim began, glancing around, “not unlike this one. And they have this big axe you see…”
“Tim, remember what we said when you first got here?” Matilda interrupted.
“Yeah, yeah I get it, I smell like fish!” The knight continued perturbed, “you know hearing it all the time isn’t great for my self-esteem… now grab me an axe.”
“NO! Not that,” she continued, “we made it clear that we live under a democratically elected municipality.”
“So?” the knight crossed their arms. impatiently, which they could do because there was still no axe in either hand.
“We’re a humane and progressive society you knight-compoop,” Kackel laughed.
“What they’re trying to say,” said the ever-polite Eric, “is we don’t believe in the death penalty.”
“Outlawed it eons ago,” added Misery, who had been around for eons herself.
“Pfff, well what would you do then?” Tim asked.
The gaggle of Spaghettians assumed various thoughtful poses; some stroked their beards whether they had one or not, and others itched their temples as though excavating their brain for a suitable retributive act to fit the crime.
“I’ve got an idea,” Lady Kackel had a great smirk on her face, “Jabby, do you mind throwing our illustrious leader over yonder!”
She gestured toward the Spaghetti Bowl, which was no longer fit for feasting. A crack ran down the side with what by now must be, slightly-off pasta spilling out like intestines.
The Jabberwonky saluted Kackel, stooped toward Meatball and scooped his foe into a mighty throw. The force of the hurl made Meatball’s restraints from his chair unfurl, and Kackel let loose a spell in the direction of the airborne Meatball.
“Devouris Eternetum!” the silvery blue streams of magic extended high into the sky, hitting Meatball square in the gut, which instantly began to rumble ferociously in response.
Tim and Misery patted Kackel on the back.
“Nice job, girl. You only heard that spell once and incanted it perfectly!” Misery fluttered, “and with that, I’m off home.”
She quickly buzzed over to the flattened and blackened remains of the fae’s Dagger Eyes, “This’ll take some explaining.”
Kackel nodded solemnly, “It’s been a very long time since you’ve been with your people. We will miss you here, you’ve taught me so very much. How could I ever thank you Misery?”
“Thank me?” Misery said shocked, “if it weren’t for you two I’d still be stuck in that bottle.”
“Either way, the village would be ruined if it weren’t for you!” Tim said.
“If it weren’t for us,” Misery corrected, already fluttering away, barely still in view she called out, “come visit me in Fae Forest sometime!”
Tim nodded and waved. They knew this wasn’t the last they’d be seeing of Misery. The knight turned to Eric, Matilda and Kackel.
“I’m impressed, Meatball’s finally going to have a mouthful of his own making!”
“Not only that, he’s going to chew you a path to the entrance of the catacombs,” Kackel raised an eyebrow and gave a wry smile.
“Me? Don’t you mean he’ll carve a path for us?”
Kackel slowly shook her head, unable to make eye contact with Tim.
“You mean, you’re not coming?” Tim said, before letting their guard down (which is hard for someone made entirely of armour)
“I… I need you!”
“You don’t need me. I’m just a half-baked necromancer. I’ve only just recently begun performing simple spells successfully.”
“But you’re part of the gang, aren’t you?” Eric fixed his eyes on his shoes, doing his best not to cry.
“Yes, don’t leave me with these fools,” Matilda gestured to Tim and Eric with each of her thumbs.
Kackel met Tim’s eyes, “I don’t expect you to tell me everything but you weren’t honest with me.”
She cast her eyes over the ruins of her village and added, “plus, I’m needed here.”
“Can we meet again sometime?” Tim asked.
“Sooner than you think,” Kackel nodded. She lifted a pendant over her head from her own neck and placed it in the Knight’s palm. The heavy crystal clinked against their armour.
“What’s this?” they asked.
“You’ll find out when you need to, you big galoot!”
Kackel lent in toward Tim, who responded by closing their eyes in anticipation of the kiss that was surely to come.
“Goodbye, Socrates. There’s always a place for you in my lair.”
Kackel planted a kiss on the Huntscrabby’s tiny head before turning on her heel and marching away.
Socrates waved his goodbye with an outstretched claw.
Tim, Eric and Matilda (with Socrates stowed away in Tim’s armour) scaled the side of the Spaghetti Bowl, ready to see what the tunnelling consumption of Meatball revealed.
When the group reached the cracked rim of the bowl, they paused.
“We’re sorry there wasn’t much of a ceremony for you,” Eric said.
Tim guffawed, “You don’t need-”
“There’s not much of a town left to have hosted any pomp or ceremony anyway!” Matilda interrupted.
“Either way, the community wanted to give you this,” Eric held up his hands revealing a large gem, so large it spanned across the full width of Eric’s cupped hands.
“Wow, thanks but why… this?” Tim asked.
“I don’t know, I’m not really in the business of questioning gifts of gratitude I receive,” Matilda shrugged.
“Fair,” Tim replied as they caught a whiff of the offensive scent permeating from the gem, “but again, you really shouldn’t have.”
The knight quickly stuffed the stinky gem into one of the many openings of their torso armour, “well I look forward to finding out what that does. That’s the second gem I’ve been gifted today.”
Tim held up the pendant they had received from Kackel, which they wore around their neck.
“Well, it was the only store in town that Jabby didn’t fully destroy,” replied Matilda.
They all looked down at the spaghetti, which was now as appetising as leftovers you discover at the back of your fridge (that you can’t remember preparing.)
A hollow tunnel had been chomped out by Meatball, who had been devouring rancid spaghetti, like his life depended on it (Kackel’s spell ensured it did if he ceased eating he’d likely perish.)
“You know, I’m going to miss you guys,” Tim sombrely addressed the two villagers he’d grown rather fond of.
Socrates poked his head out for the farewell, “squeak.”
“Thanks, Socrates, of course, we make great companions,” laughed Matilda, who was slightly startled she could still understand the little fella.
“Why are you squeaking?” Eric asked Matilda, who blushed.
“I was not squeaking. Plus, Tim Cognito,” she jabbed a finger into their breastplate, “we didn’t climb up here for nothing!”
Eric gulped, “I thought we were just bringing Tim to the entrance.”
“Nonsense!” Matilda was now jabbing Eric in the chest.
“Ouch! That’s my soft bit, I have a fragile solar plexis!” Eric yelped.
She rolled her eyes, “I mean, for what possible reason would the town need yet another basil farmer and butcher when we don’t need to make the pasta anymore?”
Eric’s mouth was agape as he involuntarily began to move his head from side to side, a silent scream of, “no!”
“To tell the truth, there’s going to be such a glut of people with skills like ours that if we don’t go with you we’ll have to reskill,” Matilda went on.
“Re-enter tertiary education?” Eric was shrill.
“As mature-aged students,” sneered Matilda, waggling her fingers at Eric menacingly.
Eric shuddered, “yes, ok, adventuring seems way more fun than going back to school! Um, if you’ll have us, Tim?”
If Tim could smile they would have (for they had no mouth), so instead, the knight nodded their head, pleased to no longer be a lone weary traveller but a troupe leader, no matter how odd a group.
Tim nodded at the plump little butcher, prone to fearful outbursts. Then winked at the whip-smart former horticulturist who they could count on to keep the group in line. And finally, Tim looked upon Socrates, the strange little spider-crab… thing.
Together, they were about to embark into an unknown and uncertain future.
And so endeth the Spaghetti Saga but there are plenty more exciting adventures… and misadventures to be had in the future. So keep on reading.
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