So while giving James Fox a dramatic reading of my 7th grade journal, because that’s just the kind of thing we do, I made a shocking archaeological discovery!! Namely that when high school me started to transcribe my journals she left whole sections out, I assume because she thought they were too embarrassing. Revisionist Journal Transcribing! Shame on you, 16-year-old Me! Shame!!
This is especially upsetting because she decided to leave out literally the best part of the entire corpus of Things I Have Ever Written. I read it aloud to James and we both almost choked to death on our laughter and/or admiration for Middle School Patricia’s genius. This story has everything: love, betrayal, ridiculous unpronounceable names, fake olde-timey language, a commercial break. Oh my god the commercial break. James agreed to illustrate it for me to fully bring MSP’s vision to life. Prepare to be spellbound by MSP’s brilliance. Also her spelling, all of which I left intact.
Aulderon: Penons in the dust
“Twas some time ago,” the elderly hero said, “but it seemth to me that in my youth I was the finest knight on life. I strove to saveth that fair country which once was from sheer turmoil. It hath been many a long year since that time of fair Aulderon. The castles hath all turneth to rumble heaps and the peonons of mine fallen comrades doth lie buried in the dust of antiquity. Why shouldst I repeat those far off memories, that couldth easily hath been but a dream in my withered mind?”
“Please,” begged the small boy, “I want to hear a story, Grandfather. Tell me of Aulderon and its castles, knights, and kings. Tell of your adventures and conquests. Please.”
The old hero sighed. He was not prone to resurrecting the long forgotten civilizations of old. Nor did he enjoy recounting his own history, which had been a tragedy in itself. It was quite a story, though, and the stories of Aulderon would only live so long as they were told.
“Many, many years ago,” he began, “I was deemethed Sir Calebert, Viscount of Trinity and Lord of the South of Aulderon. For indeed, Trinity wasth the largest land in Southern Aulderon. It seemth that I recall five of us. Myself, Lord of the South, Marquis D’Ewartila of Brentell, Gentle Overseer of the East, another Knight, Sir Wartagell of Twarten, Brave Earl of the Frozen North, and yet another knight, Sir Bantaren of Rougen, Tyrannical Baron of the West. It also seemth that I recall a one High King who ruleth us all and all of Aulderon. There wereth many kings. Some wise and just, some it seemth to me a trifle dense. The house of Trinity hath always been beside the king and so I was.
It seemth I was great friends with one of the last Aulderon kings, a fine young man who hadth cometh out of some university in the capital city of Aulderon, Bowinton. He cameth to the throne of Aulderon at the End of the Peace of Aulderon time period. He hadth a promising start no doubt. He seemedth quite capable and always friendly to us Lords. He fell in love a short while later, it seemth, with a young lady at court from her home in Brentall to the East. She was the Countess Derlesia. They weret soon married. She seemth a good enough Queen, a little, or perhaps more than a little, dense, but she servethed her purpose at functions and it seemeth she really didst loveth his majesty. In time she blessed him with a daughter.
She was a beautiful Princess that looked like a sunrise with golden blonde hair made, it seemth, of the finest gold and with eyes as crystal blue as the sky on a cloudless day. She grew with grace and beauty and was keener than both her parents put together at a young age. She spent many a summer in Trinity and I did love her with all my heart.
“That doesn’t make sense, Grandfather,” the boy interrupted. “How could you love her if she was so much younger than you?”
The old man sighed again. “Tis a sad tale you wish to hear, me lad,” he said.
In short, when I was a youth, just recently acquired my knighthood, I went exploring in the forests of the North and happened apoun an old Hag stuck in a tree. I was quiet full of myself, and thinking myself the greatest knight, I rescued her.
“A reward ye be gettin’ for this,” the hag said. “I shall grant ye one wish. But take heed. If thou shouldst proclaim thy wish with ill intent or self gain, it shall not be as thou shouldst expect it.”
I did not heed the Old Hag’s warning, however. I said, “For the deed and service I hath given to thee, I ask in return that none mine enemies shouldst ever strike me down.”
“So be it,” the Hag replied. Then she vanished. So it was. I have never been killed and never will die for my wish was made with a puffed opinion of my own self worth.
It was in the time of the king’s daughter, Arleanna, that I had maintained my youthful appearance for so long. I loved Arleanna and would have given up my lands and titles for her. It appeared that she wouldth have the throne after her father for his wife never had a son or other children.
Unbeknowst to myself or anyone else at the time, however, Queen Derlesia was not as suitable as she seemed. She had for years, in fact, been in love with Sir Bantaren, Lord of the West. She knew that she was trapped in her marriage with his majesty, however, and the sly Baron of the West knew of her love and used it to his advantage. She wouldth performth anything for him and so it was that when he asked for fair Princess Arleanna’s hand in marriage she would not refuse. Queen Derlesia pleaded the case to his majesty who granted it without thought. So it was the engagement between Princess Arleanna, heir of Aulderon, and Sir Bantaren, Baron of the West, was made.
Princess Arelanna was not at all happy about this and managed to escape from the palace and ran to Trinity, entreating me to help her. I knew it was treason. I knew, if caught, my lands and titles would be taken away. But my heart could not refuse Arleanna, for indeed her predicament was perplexing. For a time I hid in my castle, but someone with such unearthly beauty as Arleanna’s is not easily forgotten.
One day a traveler from the East came to my door begging a place to stay for the night. I did not refuse him. He claimed he was going home from a visit to the West. When I inquired upon his occupation he replied that he was a mapmaker and was trying to more accurately map the lands surrounding Aulderon. I gave him a room for the night. Little did I know that the traveler was not a mapmaker, but a spy sent from Sir Bartaren. He had grown furious at the disappearance of Arleanna, and knew where she was likely to be found.
“Now wait a minute,” the boy interrupted again. “If this Baron of the West was so mean, how is it that the king let his daughter become engaged to such a man?”
“Ah, the king,” the old knight sighed. “He had been a good strong King, but as the years progressed he grew feeble and the real ruler of Aulderon was Queen Derlesia.”
The spy of Bartaren crept about the palace that night. He came apoun a small library where Arleanna had a habit of staying up reading. Having seen her he knew the situation and quickly rode off in the middle of the night. We had not known who he was and having not been aware of his discovery, we did not worry.
We’ll return to Aulderon: Penons in the Dust right after this.
Hey Tricia! I like the things you do! Hey Tricia! If I could I would be you. You’re the one and only Tricia, the one and only Trish, You know how to make a breakfast, they’re great! Frosted Tricias, they’re more than good, they’re great!
Now back to Aulderon: Penons in the Dust
When Bantaren’s spy returned to him, he rallied his troops preparing to march on Trinity. I got wind of this and organized my knights. Queen Derlesia was informed of the situation and demanded that I return Princess Arleanna. When I refused, she added her forces of Bowinton to Bantaren’s. She commanded Marquis D’Ewartila and Sir Wartagell to add their military forces to crush me, but Sir Wartagell refused. He had also been a close friend of Arleanna and I, and he was on our side. Marquis D’Ewartila was quite undecided. As I said, he was the Gentle Overseer of the East and sympathized with me, but war and strife were not to his liking. He refused to lend his small militia to Queen Derlesia’s cause, but didst not lend them to me either. He did however, not delay Wartegell’s knights as they traveled to join my army.
We met Bantaren’s army on a plain lying between South and West. Little did I know as the gory battle waged, a spy disguised as one of Wartegell’s knights rode through our ranks and on to Trinity. The gate was opened for him, of course, and being admitted, he kidnapped Princess Arleanna, and under the cover of night he brought her to Bantaren at his camp.
Now Bantaren had his long sought bride, but before marrying her he decided he must thwart me, his archenemy. So it was we awoke to find his army had retreated to Rougen with the Princess. A lone messanger was left. He fearfully informed us of what had happened and offered me Arleanna’s favorite necklace as proof that she was really his. I formed up my men and marched them on Rougen.
Being older than dirt can be helpful, for I knew of a secret passage leading to the cellar of Bantaren’s castle. While the battle waged, I found it and traveled to the cellar. Surprisingly, in the room adjacent to the one I emerged in, I heard talking and one of the voices sounded like my beloved. I peered through a crack in the door.
Arleanna was in there alright, as well as Bantaren. Arleanna was chained to a wall. Bantaren was pacing, talking to her in a distracted sort of way while she wearily struggled to get free. “Your beloved Sir Calebert should arrive soon,” he was saying. “Then we shall see. I have long wondered who had more knightly skill. Calebert has had more experience, but I believe I have more given talent.”
“So I’m to be a prize in a sword contest then?” Arleanna cried angrily.
“No, of course not,” Bantaren assured her. “You will not really be a prize. You are already mine. I will simply by protecting you from the madman.”
“You are the one who is mad,” she argued. “You’ve kidnapped me, and I suppose you’re going to force me to marry you?”
“No, not really,” he replied. “You don’t have to marry me if you don’t want to. You’re mine all the same, however.”
She shrieked. “Your even more despicable then I thought,” she cried.
“I never pretended to be otherwise,” he said. “Your beloved is late,” he mused. “I was almost positive he’d have been here by now.”
“Why do you keep saying ‘Your Beloved’?” she asked.
“Grandfather!” the boy interrupted again, “you said you and Arleanna loved each other.”
“I did not,” he argued. “I said that I loved her. She never expressed such love for me. It had been my hope that some day we should marry and she would grow to love me in time, however.
Anyway, Bantaren then said, “You are ignorant, Princess. Haven’t you noticed? Sir Calebert, a distinguished bachelor, would hardly go to so much trouble if he did not have some inner feelings for you.”
“We are the best of friends,” she replied indignantly. “That is all I will ever ask of him, and that is all he can honorably ask from me. You wouldn’t understand, of course.”
“Oh, of course,” he agreed, “but all the same, it is my belief that the Dear Duke of Trinity has some emotions locked away somewhere for you, my fluffy-brained Princess.”
“Why did you want my hand in marriage then?” she asked.
“I don’t love you,” Bantraen said. “Don’t flatter yourself, dear. Your beauty is beyond compare, but some people want more than a pretty face. What I do want is power. You are the Key to Aulderon. Whoever you marry becomes King, or hadn’t you realized that? I want Aulderon. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get it. Even killing your beloved.”
“That’s a stupid plan,” Arleanna said. “Even if you did kill Calebert, you’d still have to deal with Wartegell and D’Ewartila.”
“Yes,” he agreed, “but Sir Calebert, the Immortal Champion, who has triumphed over death itself, or so the legend goes, is fabled to be invincible. When I kill him, the others will surely be afraid.”
“What makes you so sure you’ll triumph?”
“I have his weakness right here.” He laid a hand on her neck and kissed her. I came slamming through the door at that point. “You see, Princess?” Bantaren said amusedly. “Thou art his weakness. Thou art his failure.”
“Is this true?” Arleanna asked me, her eyes pleading for the answer to be no.
I sighed. “I wouldst not lie to thee, Princess,” I said.
She sighed. “It is so then,” she said. “I am the cause of war and battle. It is me.”
But I didn’t hear her. Bantaren and I had already rushed at each other, swords aloft. Little did I know, Arleanna had stolen the key from Bantaren, when he had kissed her and even whilst we tried to tear each other to pieces she was freeing herself. When she was free she reached into her cloak and pulled out a dagger. “Lo, good sirs,” she called, “the cause for your strife has ended.” She plunged the dagger into her heart and fell tragically to the floor.
“NO!” Bantaren and I cried, rushing to her side, he for politics, and I for reasons of the heart. Yet she was dead. Newly enraged by this sad turn of events, Bantaren and I leapt at each other. We fought for a while but finally I struck him a fatal blow. He fell dead to the floor, and I was left alone in the cellar to weep.
Special thanks to James for all his great drawing work!!! And Middle School Patricia for being so incredibly ridic that it still brings me joy 16 years later.
Previously: More journals; More James Fox