2,333 words writen today; 6,197 written in total.
With the eyes of the knights and a whole village on him, Jangles scuttled towards the well and peered inside. Not surprisingly, he did not see anything except for a thick darkness.
“Good people,” Jangles orated, “do you have a rope to assist my descend?”
“A safety rope?” one of the knights scoffed, “certainly a world-class acrobat has no need for that. Don’t be shy, hero! Dive right in!”
The knight gave Jangles a not so subtle shove and down the clown went, down and down, tumbling down the shaft. For a few horrible seconds, Jangles thought that this was it – his final act, when he landed onto something soft and wet.
I’m fine, he thought with relief. There was barely any light down here and his eyes had yet to adjust to the darkness, so he had to rely on touch. Just when he started to wonder why he had landed with a soft squish instead of hard splash, that which had broken his fall began to move. Jangles yelped loudly and jumped off and finally got his splash. With a few strokes quick strokes he reached the mud wall of the well; when he turned around, he saw the glimmer of two giant frog-eyes staring at him. Instinctively, he reached towards his sword and drew it, but then remember it was just a wooden prop and put it away again.
“Knights? KNIGHTS!” he yelled upwards in a panic, “The beast is down here! Send down a sword, at least!”
A reply came. “I thought your greatest weapon was your smile?”
Clever. Real clever.
The frog-eyes kept staring at him. For a moment, both Jangles and it were quiet, when a resounding croak echoed through the well. Jangles responded with a shrill shriek of terror; this was answered by an even louder shriek from the other. Jangles felt sudden movement in the water; he defenselessly crossed crossed his arms across his face to guard against an attack that never came; the eyes swam to the opposite side of the well. Then, quiet again.
Wait a minute, Jangles thought to himself, is that monster as scared of me as I am scared of it? Maybe those knights were right – maybe I should try using my greatest weapon.
So Jangles did what he did best: He smiled.
“H-hello, mister monster frog,” the clown stammered, swallowing his fear. “M-my name is Jangles. What’s yours?”
Idiot. Trying to talk to a monster frog? What good is that going to do? It probably doesn’t even understand human speech.
“A-aren’t you the Smiling Knight?” a deep croak answered. “I-I’m a huge fan.”
Well. This is unexpected.
“Well, erm.., no,” Jangles answered truthfully, “that’s just a part I play. A character I made up. I’m just a clown.”
“Oh.” The monster frog sounded disappointed. “That’s too bad. If you had been the Smiling Knight, you would have been able to help me.”
“Well. Maybe I can.”
“The Smiling Knight always helps those in need,” the monster frog continued, “it doesn’t matter if they’re a monster or a princess.”
“It doesn’t, really,” Jangles said, “as long as they’re in trouble.”
The monster frog came closer, swimming into the light. Now that Jangles’ eyes had adjusted to the darkness, he could clearly see the creature. It was truly humongous, easily the size of a cow, but up close it doesn’t really look so monstrous; its big eyes were sad and its bigger mouth was curled downward. Jangles didn’t know all that much about monsters, but he could tell when someone was scared, and this creature definitely qualified. Overcoming his own terror, Jangles widened his smile and swam closer.
“You didn’t tell me your name,” said Jangles.
“Oh. Geeze – I-I’m sorry,” the monster frog answered, “It’s Glurf.”
“Glurf the frog. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
“Toad, actually,” Glurf said, “I’m a toad. So, t-that would be Glurf the Toad.”
Studying Glurf more closely, Jangles could definitely tell that he was indeed more of a toad than a frog; he was of a brown hue and riddled with warts.
“My apologies,” said Jangles, “how thoughtless of me. It’s just that the villagers up there kept referring to you as a frog-”
“A monster frog,” Glurf corrected grimly.
“While you are neither.”
At this, Glurf’s huge toadlips curled up into a careful smile. “Y-yeah!”
“So why are you down here, Glurf the Toad?”
“W-well, I was lost, so I wanted to ask for directions, b-but the humans just started shouting so I g-got scared and hid in here.”
“And now you’re scared to come out,” Jangles added.
“Y-yeah. I’m a real coward,” confessed Glurf.
Two cowards at the bottom of a well, Jangles thought to himself, sounds like a good set-up. But how do we get to the punchline?
“You mentioned you were lost,” reasoned Jangles, “so where were you headed?”
“You don’t have to answer that if you don’t want to,” Jangles said quickly. “More importantly: You want to get out of here, don’t you?”
“Then our goals are aligned,” reasoned Jangles. “I can’t just leave though. I have to make an exit – save face. I can’t have these people think me craven; I have a reputation to uphold.”
“C-craven? What’s that mean?”
“Doesn’t matter. Alright – I think I’ve got an idea; if you do precisely as I say, we’ll both be able to get out of here. How’s that?”
“A-alright! Thanks for helping me, mister Smiling Knight!”
“I’m not- you know what? It doesn’t matter. Listen…”
Above the well, people had started getting anxious. After one clown yelp and a frog belch it had gotten awfully quiet.
“How long as we going to wait?” one of the knights asked, “He’s probably already been eaten, right?”
“The Smiling Knight?! Eaten?” a villager scoffed, “Unlikely! He’s just…figuring out a strategy. You’ll see.”
“Yeah,” the knights agreed, “We’ll see.”
“Foul amphibian!” Jangles’ voice suddenly called out loudly from the bottom of the well, “You will terrorize these good people no longer! Have at thee!”
A terrifying croak answered the clown’s challenge. The sounds of a scuffle were blows, slaps and grunts echoing upwards, drawing the breath out of the captivated crowd. After a final croak, things went silent, just long enough to achieve the desired dramatic effect, when the toad leaped up from the well in a single bound, landing in the center of the crowd. For a terrible moment, the people thought their champion had lost; but the Smiling Knight, victorious, hopped off his improvised mount and addressed his audience.
“Fair people of Bredon! Fear no longer, for I have defeated the terrible toad creature!” Jangles orated, stressing the word toad and avoiding the word monster. “But, rather than to slay the defeated, I decided to show mercy. Acknowledging its strength but having found its battle prowess wanting, I have agreed to take him on as my squire.”
“Yes, I have found friendship in defeat,” Glurf belched awkwardly, obviously rehashing a rehearsed line, “I am now the Smiling Knight’s squire: Glurf the toad.”
“It speaks?!” a village exclaimed in shock.
“Well, yeah, duh, of course I speak,” Glurf said, hurt.
“You didn’t say anything before,” another villager added.
Glurf wanted to answer, but was hushed by Jangles. “So there you have it. Another adventure concluded, with friendship as the reward!”
The audience, recognizing an ending, started clapping, though not without hesitation. Before the applause could erupt properly, however, one of the knights interjected.
“You can’t be serious,” the armored sir scoffed, “you can’t possibly have defeated a giant monster frog without any weapons.”
“Toad, actually,” Jangles said with a practiced smile, “and not much of a monster, once you get to know him.”
Someone in the audience snickered. Laughter being infectious, others followed.
“Silence!” the most brazen knight yelled as he drew his blade. “Your craven clown might not have the spine to slay the beast, but we do. We were send here to kill it and I intend to present its carcass to the king.”
Glurf the toad whimpered and shuffled back towards the well, but Jangles gave him a reassuring pat on the head. “Well, His Majesty is known for his taste for frog legs, but I’m not sure if he would like toad legs; I heard they don’t taste as good.” Jangles quipped, inviting more laughter from the crowd.
“I said silence!”
The knight approached Glurf with sword in hand. Jangles hopped down and drew his wooden blade, looking ready to engage.
“Now there’s a joke,” said the knight, “are you going to fight me with a prop?”
“If I have to, yes,” said Jangles, not smiling for once. “I’m not going to let you bully around an innocent boy just because he happens to be a giant toad. Especially not if that boy so happens to be my new squire.”
Wait, what am I doing? Thought Jangles to himself as he saw the knight approach him. I can’t fight a knight. I can’t fight in general. I don’t even have a weapon. This is just a prop! But Jangles couldn’t help it. He was swept up by the plot.
“Suit yourself,” the armed knight said, “by declaring for a monster you have made yourself an enemy of the crown. Prepare yourself.”
The knight swung his sharp blade. Jangles parried; but since his own sword was little more than a toy, it was cut clean in half. The crowd gasped.
“Hah! There goes your precious ‘smile’ clown. Who’s laughing now?”
I can’t believe I’m about to be cut down defending a giant toad, Jangles thought to himself. If it had been a princess, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad, but-
“Leave him alone you big bully!” Glurf bellowed from behind. The giant toad opened its gaping mouth and out its heavy tongue leaped, wrapping itself around the knight, grabbing a firm hold of it. The knight shouted in terror as he was swung around like the end of a flail.
“Don’t toss him in the well,” Jangles, gathering his wits, blurted out, “he’ll sink without his armor.”
Glurf nodded and launched the knight towards the crowd. The people parted with a gasp as the armored stooge landed with a metallic thud.
“Excellent toss, squire,” remarked Jangles, “but I think you can throw them farther than that. Want another shot?”
“I-I’ll do my best!”
The two remaining knights drew their blades and charged at Glurf. One tried to cut the tongue that came lashing at them, but was too slow; both were scooped up and tossed away, quite a bit farther than their companion, landing in a stack of hay.
“Nice aim,” remarked Jangles. “Well then, that takes care of that, unless you three want another shot at glory?”
“You’ll pay for this, clown!” said the first knight,“You will do well to remember the name of Sir Remington, the one who will expose you for the fraud you are!”
“No, for it shall be me,” the second knight said, “Sir Lamcard, who will avenge this slight! Remember the name!”
“And Sir Skelperd,” the third one said, “don’t you forget it!”
“Rest assured, gentlemen,” Jangles said with a smile, “I won’t; I’ll be using them in my play. How about: The Three Bumbling Knights?”
The three knights wanted to protest, but they could scarcely make themselves be heard across the cheering and laughing. Knights weren’t too popular around these parts, being known as pompous twats, and having them be put in their place by a jester was a rare treat for the villagers. How often do you get the chance to laugh in nobility’s face? The knights stormed off.
Afterwards, Jangles and his new friend were treated to the village’s hospitality. They were excited to have been part of one of the Smiling Knight’s actual adventures, even though Jangles kept insisting that he was just an actor playing a character. When the two heroes – knight and squire – had eaten their fill and enjoyed a good night’s rest they went on their way, together, to seek out new adventures that would be immortalized in song. Once they were out of sights of the village, they said their goodbyes. There was only one problem: Glurf didn’t seem to want to go.
“I…uhm…aren’t we going on more adventures?”
Jangles the clown sighed. “I don’t go an actual adventures, Glurf.”
“…That wasn’t an adventure?”
“Well…sort of. I didn’t intend for it to be, though. I was forced by those bully knights you so expertly dispatched; thanks again, by the way. I owe you one.”
“Then let me travel with you!” Glurf insisted, “We’ll go on more adventures together!”
Jangles considered this for a moment. During his long and illustrious career as an entertainer, he had made more than a few enemies, like those jealous knights; he might just have a use for a giant toad. Still, he didn’t want to exploit a clearly naive youngster that seemed to look up to him.
“Didn’t you have somewhere to go?” Jangles asked.
“That can wait,” Glurf said hurriedly, “I want to go on more adventures.”
“Fine,” Jangles conceded. “You can join me on my travels.”
“I can’t promise there’ll be actual adventures, however. I’m a performer, not an actual knight errant from the songs.”
“As long as I get to tag along, I’m happy,” the giant toad said, beaming.
“Alight then. First I’m going to head back to the tavern where I last saw Pedro, my special effects wizard; he took off with our money.”
Glurf gasped. “A former friend turned traitor, running off with the treasure!”
“Not treasure, really, just-”
“We must find him at once! Come on, Smiling Knight!”
Jangles sighed. There was no reasoning with this giant toad; might as well run with it.
“Yeah,” Jangles decided, “Let’s find Pedro.”