The Curse of Gary (Part 114)

As he advanced up the vibrant, glassy path, Victor noticed, among the shadows of the columns, the other suits of armour lining the hall. To his left was a tall knight in black armour and silver chain mail, wielding a long scutum shield bearing an eagle emblem, and a seven-foot spear; sliver outstretched wings adorned the knight’s helmet. Beside the next column stood a short, stout, heavily armoured knight holding a war club whose spiked end was the size of a bowling ball. Set in the top of the knight’s helmet was an iron-plated boar’s skull with oversized tusks. To Victor’s right there was a slender knight in gold armour, whose breastplate had the appearance of scales. It was armed with a sword, and a heater shield bearing a coiled snake emblem. A giant knight with a bearskin cloak towered in the dim violet light between two pillars. It’s armour was black, with a red cross on the breastplate and visor; its weapons were a pair of long battleaxes. Left and right, all the way up the grand hall, knight after knight stood as if it had been there for centuries awaiting its chance at battle, each one with its unique weapons and beast emblem: the knight of the owl with its longbow and quiver, the knight of the wolf with its short scimitars; the leopard, the stallion, the dragon, the ram; the sword, the lance, the chain mace, the warhammer.

The walls swam in slow waves of purple light, while the shimmering floor sent narrow rays rising and bowing as Victor passed on his way up the centre of the room. The shrill grating of the sword dragging over the tiny tiles, though a soft sound, reached the farthest points of the room and swirled around. Armoured knights either side in still, fierce stances seemed to watch him as he neared the great throne.

Alone at the end of the room, exalted upon a round, raised platform, the throne stood like a tower rising from the sea. Its design was basic—high and straight, unadorned but for its gold plating and red velvet cushions at the seat and back—but it was unmistakably regal. Victor halted a few metres before the platform, and placed the sword on the floor. He waited a minute, observing the throne’s simple splendour. “Hello?” he called. Only echoes answered. He walked around the platform, passing through the shadow behind the throne and then returning to where he had left the sword. Across from him, on the left side of the hall, the ornate silver visor of the knight in dragon armour stared at him. “What do you reckon?” said Victor. The dragon knight stared in silence. Victor nodded. He turned to face the throne; he scratched his ear. “I’ll check it out, I guess.” With slow, deliberate steps, he approached the platform, and set one foot on the first step leading up to the throne. He waited a second, then ascended the second step. A dainty sneeze sounded far behind him; he turned around and saw back near the portal in the wall, standing in the bright light of the lava lamp, the Tin Man and the Wicked Witch of the West. She had a towel around her shoulders, and was wiping her nose with a tissue; the Tin Man had one arm around her, and held a tissue box in the other. Together they watched Victor, with looks of curious dread. Victor looked back at them, and then scanned the room. He didn’t notice anything out of place; he didn’t notice the lion knight’s severed forearm was now reattached. He proceeded up the last two steps and stood before the throne. He looked it up and down, prodded one of its legs with his foot, and pressed his hand deep into the spongy seat cushion. After a moment’s thought, and then a glance left and right at the nearby knights, Victor shrugged his good shoulder and sat down on the throne.

 

© 2020 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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