The idea being: This Story, it's like X meets Y.
Like Dirty Harry meets Harry and the Hendersons, or like Star Wars meets SpongeBob SquarePants.
My random numbers gave me:
The Princess Bride meets Die Hard.
My head just exploded. There are rocks ahead. Anybody wanna peanut?
I debated for a long time about the ethics of choosing something else, and then I debated even participating.
And then I pulled this following story out of the ass-end of my questionable ideas brain pan. Don't look too closely at the plot. I was doing good not to break into "Yippee-Kiyay" and "Inconceivable" wars in the dialogue. So. Many. Cliched. Possibilities!
Anyway, here it is, such as it is: Breaching Palace Ibarran
After six hours of daylight, the sun set, plunging the island kingdom of Belekoy into darkness. The longest night of winter was well entrenched when a wagon carrying a delivery of staples smuggled Jakome Burgoa and his brother--in--law Ximon into the Palace Ibarran. Together, Jakome and Ximon waited for the wagon driver to signal when it was clear.
A tangle of muted voices hinted at an argument. Jakome gripped the hilt of his main-gauche, prepared to bolt from the bed fighting if need be, but concern fled when the voices dissipated. After a brief moment, three measured knocks sounded against the side of the wagon bed.
The courtyard next to the kitchens was clear.
Jakome and Ximon emerged into the shadows. "Now, as soon as we're in, Alesandere, get yourself safe to the woods," Jakome whispered. “And quit altogether if danger needles you.”
He could see the scolding in her eyes, even in the dark. "I know the risk, Jakome. I will not run.” she replied, an edge in her tone. “I'll have the horses ready, I promise. Go."
While Alesandere distracted the kitchen staff, begging for help unloading the wagon. Jakome and Ximon slipped into the kitchens and through to the servants' hall unnoticed. "That was easy," Ximon said, his voice a ghost.
"It won't remain thus, I fear." Jakome squeezed his brother's shoulder. "Here's where we part ways. You go find the man who killed your father. I’ll go after Mirai."
"Godspeed my brother." Ximon paused, "Wait, we never discussed how we're even going to find them. Or once we rescue Mirai, how we're going to get out of here."
"One problem at a time. We got to get out of the servants’ wing first." Jakome peered around the corner into an adjacent hall. For the moment it was empty. As if from a distant star, the echoed memory of church bells drifted in with a draft that shifted the torch flames at their post. “Was that Vigils?”
“Aye,” Ximon replied. “That makes sense. Nine hours, then, until Lauds, and sun up.”
"Then to work. And Ximon? Try not to get yourself killed. Your sister would never forgive me."
“Likewise my brother.” They bumped fists, and parted ways.
The palace soldier had a lot of fight in him, and struggled up to the instant he died. Jakome eased the corpse into a blind corner behind a statue of Mad King Kiros, disheartened. He would have preferred the man not forced his death; if only he had instead succumbed to a black-out. He was the tenth such unfortunate guardsman, and Jakome had yet to discover where his bride Mirai or her handmaidens were being held. Reaching another intersecting hallway, he decided a new strategy was in order and turned right instead of left.
Jakome felt the chilly air before he discovered the first of the scaffolding. Deep scars severed sections of the palace walls, and a boulder blockaded the west wing. The night bled through from the outside, where Jakome could make out the silhouette of a wheel-crane. New stone bricks lined the opening, indicating repairs were underway. Catapult damage, he thought, from the recent troubles with Basque. The Belekoy prince, forced to retreat, licked his wounds during the uneasy peace of winter. Jakome wondered if the abduction of his bride and her handmaidens was retaliation or a prelude to something else, something more sinister. Not that it mattered much. The Belekoy monarchy chose the wrong woman to ransom.
Voices flowed in the hall like waves against a coast. Jakome climbed the scaffolding, at first just to secure his cover as servants passed through, and followed the frame along the distressed wall. He couldn’t believe his fortune; the scaffolding ended in a sharp pitch and with a simple jump, and he was able to scramble up and through a hole in the wall and onto the rafters of the great hall.
Below him, a young man in gold silk sat on an ornate mahogany throne. The prince, Jakome thought, inching forward on the maze of gigantic beams that crisscrossed the ceiling. A handful of sour men sporting chains of office lingered at the dais. Acoustics funneled frantic whispers up to Jakome with the clarity of Venetian crystal.
“What does your highness hope to accomplish?” one advisor spoke with animated hands. “Capturing the helpless—“
“The women were far from helpless, Lord Bruchhorst, The one killed a man with her hairpin,” another chain of office interjected, while the prince remained silent. “And I don’t see the harm in ransoming them back to their Basque lords. Call it a bonus, really.”
Bruchhorst snorted. “A bonus, he says. Five ladies screaming, begging, pleading…and we have to feed them.”
“Amberg has the right of it. Why not use them to advantage?” a third advisor, with a Sicilian or Corsican accent, stepped forward. “Your highness, my spy tells me the women belong to a border lord, and as he has not scrambled his bannermen, it is unlikely that he is yet aware they are missing. Now, we’ve been at war with Basque for eons…what if we could divide their forces?”
The one addressed as Amberg folded is arms, “You have an idea, Maximiliano?”
“I do. If we were to plant evidence that the Holy Roman Empire was involved instead…”
Amberg snapped his fingers, “You know, that’s clever. Shifting the blame to the Spaniards should be easy enough. Basque will look to the empire, find their women dead, then declare war. In the meantime, we’ll still have the dowry chest and no one will be any the wiser.”
The prince giggled. “We love this plan. Do it. Make sure Spain is implicated.”
The advisors bowed and left. The prince rose from the throne and hummed. He danced about with an invisible partner. Jakome leveraged his weight, swinging out, and vaulted onto a set of heavy drapes that divided the wings from the hall. Climbing down, he landed behind the dancing prince, and drew his sword.
The prince spun, dipping his pretend partner and came face to face with the dangerous point of steel, and dropped to his knees with a whimper. “Don’t hurt me!”
Jakome raised an eyebrow. “Where are the women being held?”
“They’re in the feast hall.” The prince pointed to the door behind the dais. “Through there, turn right.”
Jakome shook his head, and pushed the tip of his sword into the prince’s cheek, drawing a tiny bead of blood. “Lying to me is ill-advised.”
“N-no, I swear, on my mother’s grave. I swear.” The prince closed his eyes and folded his hands together in a white-knuckled plea.
The door behind the dais cracked open and Jakome froze until he saw who entered. “Brother?”
Ximon smiled, a hand was stuffed into a blood-soaked hole in his tunic. “Father is avenged.”
“You don’t look so good,” Jakome said.
“This? A scratch. A flesh wound.”
“And your feet?” Jakome tilted his head at the floor. Ximon’s feet were bare and bloodied. “What happened to your boots?”
Ximon groaned. “Long, embarrassing story that started with a chamber maid and ended with a broken looking glass.”
“You didn’t happen by a feast hall, did you?”
The distinct stench of urine rankled Jakome’s sinuses. He returned his attention to the prince in time to see a damp spot growing across the inner thighs of the silken trouse. “Did I not say that lying was ill-advised?”
“I-I know.” The prince’s eyes shot open wide with fear. “You’re going to kill me. Don’t kill me. Please. I’ll give you gold, do you want gold? Rubies? Land, how about land? Peasants like land.”
Jakome leaned forward and hissed. “I want my wife back, you son-of-a-bitch.”
The prince pointed to the doors his advisors had exited through. “Through there, turn left. Third alcove down on the right. I swear!”
“You swore your last lie was truth.” Jakome thought for a moment. “Is there food? What did you serve them to eat?”
The prince seemed taken aback by the question. “Food? Of course we fed them. We’re not monsters. Pheasant and boar and these adorable little lemon cakes from Seville—“
“Thank you, your highness.” Jakome struck the prince across the temple with the pommel of his blade. The prince collapsed unmoving in a puddle of golden silk.
Ximon scoffed. “He calls us peasants and you address him ‘highness’? Why don’t you just kill him?”
“The boy just pissed himself. The coward's not worth the effort.” Jakome eased his sword back into its sheath. “Come. A feast like he described should have a fine smell.”
“Follow our noses to the ladies? The old wives always said the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach.”
“Rib cage,” Jakome said, losing his humor. The prince would not remain unconscious forever. They were running short of time.
The prince hadn’t lied this time.
Jakome and Ximon gave their prey little time to react. They crashed through the heavy wooden doors and made quick work of the few guards stupid enough to attack. And Amsberg and Bruchhorst drowned in their own blood. The man called Maximiliano, however, grabbed the woman nearest him and backed towards the stained glass window at the end of the chamber.
The woman he threatened was Jakome’s beautiful Mirai.
Jakome approached with caution, watching Maximiliano’s eyes for signs of intent, while Ximon moved in his peripheral into a flanking position. Maximiliano snarled, “If you wish her dead, by all means, keep moving forward.”
Mirai craned away from the knife at her throat. “I did warn them. I told them you’d come for me.”
“Always,” Jakome said, inching steadily onward.
Mirai hissed when Maximiliano’s blade drew a whisper of blood. “Never test a Sicilian, Gentlemen.”
“Never underestimate the Euskaldunak,” Jakome replied.
Ignorance glinted in Maximiliano’s eyes. “The what?”
“Basques,” Mirai translated and sank her teeth into her captor’s wrist.
Maximiliano cried out and shoved Mirai aside, all the opening Jakome needed. As Ximon threw a dagger that struck the man’s shoulder, Jakome rushed him, sending Maximiliano through the window in a shower of painted glass shards.
Jakome fetched Mirai up from the floor and embraced her. “Are you hurt? Your neck?”
“It’s not deep, I promise,” she said. “But those assholes ruined my wedding day. And I lost my favorite hairpin.”
He laughed. “I’ll get you another one. Come on, Alesandere is waiting for us with horses.” Jakome released his bride and signaled her handmaidens to gather. He turned to his brother—in—law who stood at the broken window. “Ximon?”
“Just admiring your handiwork. The Sicilian makes such a lovely corpse. All that red and blue glass glinting in the torchlight,” Ximon sighed. Church bells rang in the distance. “That would be the Lauds office. The dawn is coming.”
Impatient, Jakome waved him over. “Yes, and we still have a fight to get out of here. So let’s move, yes?”
Ximon nodded. “As you wish.”
As they left the feast hall, they paused for Ximon to steal the boots off of the dead Amberg. Jakome made a mental note to ask later about the chamber maid.
Well, that's what I had this week. Feel free to comment as you wish. If you don't want to, that's okay too. I appreciate you stopping by!