The Moon and the Fool

Hello everyone! Since the fate of our dragon is now unknown, I shall be your narrator. Who am I? What do I look like? What do I sound like? That does not matter. I’m just a voice in your head. So I can be whatever you want me to be. I’m afraid I’m not quite as eloquent or patient as the dragon. I’m not gonna be very descriptive. I’ll usually stick to the short version of the story. Hey! Wait! Where are you going?! Don’t you wanna know if the dragon really was the dad?! Ehehehe, this is turning into some sort of reality show. I’m sure you’ll recall the brave princess knight who was eaten in the flashback in chapter two. Well, I thought it was quite mean to leave her with just a minor comic relief reference. Especially since she- okay, I’m getting ahead of myself here. I like to keep it short but I’m sure ending the whole chapter in this paragraph would earn me a few projectile vegetables to the face. So, I shall try my best to make this drag on for at least a little bit. But I’ll have it be known I do this under protest. Also, drag on. Dragon. Get it? Whoops! That tomato almost hit my face!

So, the princess in question went by the underwhelming name of Joan. Perhaps it doesn’t sound so underwhelming to you. That’s probably because you know someone called Joan who is totally scary and badass. If so, good for you. Maybe that Joan is related to this one. I don’t care. Our Joan wore heavy armor, swung around a huge sword and rode off into battle whenever she found an excuse. But one day, she spied with her pretty eyes, a pair of dragons descending on her castle roof. “Guys, we’re gonna kill us some dragons today!” she shouted in excitement. Okay, no. She did not say those exact words. I’m just not good with all that old, fancy mystical English. Some of her guys ran away. Some stayed. “Whoever ran away today is gonna get a good thrashing after I’m done with these dragons!” she shouted as she climbed the stairs leading to the castle rooftop. Again, not her exact words. But you get that by now. She faced the two dragons with her soldiers. Well, less: Faced. More: Got swatted left and right till she was coughing out blood like a garden sprinkler in Dracula’s garden.

When she realized all her men were just bowling pins with penises, she decided it wasn’t worth dying if she couldn’t put at least a scratch on them. It was at this point that she heard a voice in her head. “Do you wanna beat these things? I can tell you how.” he said. And this isn’t me abridging anything. That is word-to-word, what he said. She looked around, confused. There wasn’t anyone else there except the dragons. The next few lines of conversation in her head went as such:

“What manner of illusion be this? Is it a sweet angel offering bliss? Is this my mind breaking while my body loses all control? Or is it some vile devil offering me a chance at victory in exchange for my soul?”

“Er… nothing of that sort. I’m just… a visitor here. Just sight seeing. And you are a sight to see!”

“Be silent, you lecherous fool! Go elsewhere and play with your tool!  I have no time to spare for thee! The dragons will soon turn their eyes on me! I have no wish to court death. I still desire to draw breath.”

“Ahahaha! What’s this?! The brave princess is going to run away from a fight?! So your soldiers died in vain? I guess the guys who ran away did the right thing.”

“Only my creator may pass judgement upon me! I demand that you show yourself or let me be!”

“Well, you’re right. I shouldn’t be judging you. I’m sorry. But forget that! Answer my question! Do you wanna beat these guys?! I mean, not just these two dragons. I’m talking about THE cure. The end of all dragons!”

“You must know that is too good to be true. But let us say I were to believe you. What must I do to end all dragons for good? Must-”

“You must trust me and end up as their food. I’m sorry. I had to finish your rhyme for you. No time. They’re already preparing to attack you. You have no choice now. There is no escape. The male will just break you and toss you aside. But the female will eat you. I know this because I’ve studied dragons for a long time. Attack the female. Go on. Give it to her.”

And then the princess shouted something like, “You’ll pay for killing all my men you monsters!” and attacked the female dragon. A few seconds later, she was killed, crushed and promptly eaten by the female dragon. But you already knew that part. The voice in her head? Now, that’s an interesting man. Probably the most interesting man you’ll ever meet. Nobody knows his first name. He was a wizard. His last name was Melody. Yes. ‘Tis the season for underwhelming or otherwise misleading names. Now, the thing about wizards is, there were awfully secretive about their knowledge, as they always are in these kinds of stories. Don’t ask me why. Something, something, magic must not be abused. Well, to be fair, they weren’t wrong. The first “wizard” who discovered “magic” was just an overly curious court jester. Pyrite, he called himself. It was a self depreciating joke. And like all things court jesters say, it was also a truth about mankind. He was a handsome young fellow. Talented. Intelligent. Colorful, even before he donned the jester’s costume. His presence could brighten up a graveyard. And that’s not me saying it. That was what King Northstar said when he first saw the orphaned teenager trying to cheer up another orphan.

“What is your name, boy?” asked the king. To this, the boy looked up and frowned. “Who are you, stranger?” he asked. The king was mildly taken aback. Surely, this boy knew he was talking to the king. “Do you not know your own king?” Northstar asked. “I do not.” said the boy, “For I have never met him before today. And it is not in my power to know someone before I meet them.” At this point, the orphanage’s master readied his paddle to punish the insolent brat. But a quick wave of the king’s hand halted the impending calamity. “Oh, I see…” said the king, “That does speak ill of your king. He can’t be a very good king if his subjects don’t know him.  Wouldn’t you agree?” The boy shook his head and replied, “I disagree. A king’s worth is not given weight by what his subjects say about him. For most men will speak whatever words give them the most amount of coin. A good king is one in whose kingdom the men do not have to twist rivers of words around rocks of coin, the women do not have to twist the arms of lechers who reach beyond their worth and an orphan does not have to twist his mind about leaving behind more orphans fighting the same wars his parents died in.”

“Those are very wise words, boy. Where did you learn to speak so?”

“I cannot tell you.”

“Why not?”

“I will only tell you if you assure me I will not get into trouble.”

“Ah. As you can see, you are standing beneath my arm. In this moment, there is nothing in this world that can harm you.”

“I disagree. There are two things that can harm me right now. The first is your arm.”

“Ahahaha! True. And what is the second?”

“My own tongue. But to delay answering your previous question any further would be rude. I make it a point to sneak out of the orphanage and into the library every night. I listen to the apprentice scholars practicing the art of reading and speaking. And when I can, I try to read some books myself.”

“Ah, I suppose even the toughest guards cannot overcome the clutches of drink and sleep. One thing confuses me. I am rather used to people addressing me as one would address a king. Why do you omit that formality?”

“I am used to people calling me Pyrite. Why do you not call me by my name?”

“You did not give me your name… Ah. I see. Of course. I am Eric Northstar. King to my people.”

“Honored to meet you, your majesty. I am called Pyrite by those who love me.”

“Pyrite. Fool’s Gold? By those who love you? Dare I inquire what those who do not love you call you?”

“I know not, your majesty. I have not yet met such a person.”

“Hahaha! Have hope, my friend. The world is a vast place. Maybe you shall meet such a person one day. And to that end, might I make one request?”

“Kindly do so, your majesty. And if it is within my power to fulfill it, I shall do my best.”

“Would you object to being my court jester?”

“An opportunity to stay at the royal court, meet new people and enjoy a life of comfort, laughter and cynicism. I would have to be a fool to turn it down.”

“Then you accept? Guards, do escort Pyrite to-”

“Alas, I shall have to be a fool just this once. I am afraid I have not grown enough to handle politics and subtlety, as you have surely learned in this short time with me. I wish to study some more and expand my knowledge before I can consider myself ready for such a task.”

“……Very well. In that case, shall I permit you to stay with the scholars inside the library? Or do you have an objection to that as well?”

“You are catching on, your majesty. Pray, tell me. What do you see in abundance here?”

“I would say… the stew.”

“And do you see any of us clamoring to taste of it?”

“I do not. Has everyone here has their fill? Or does the stew not taste good?”

“We are orphans. It is not about taste, your majesty. To be honest, it can be said about all men. It is about what is and is not within our reach. We do not pay any heed to this stew because we can reach out and have it on a whim. On the other hand, I have to take several risks to read the books in your library. If they are handed over to me, I’m afraid my interest in learning their secrets would wane and eventually diminish beyond sight.”

“You speak sense. Very well. Like any other commoner, you are not permitted to enter the library without the consent of the Chief Scholar.  Oh, before I leave. One last thing. You seem to like your name. Why is that?”

“It is a truth about myself. For all my charming speech and style, I am not as worthy of attention as I show myself to be. I often make a spectacle of myself to please or console others. But it is all just an act. Just like the false hope one feels when they find pyrite on a river bank… only to later realize they were cheated by fate. But at the same time, false hope can make a sick man live just a moment longer, a soldier fight just a drop of blood harder… and an orphan’s lips curve just a little into a smile. I acknowledge that I am not as worthy as I appear. But I also acknowledge that I have a place in this world.”

“I see…”

And so, the king walked out of the orphanage with an old friend on his face. An old friend who had moved away from him, he knew not when. A smile. He called the captain of the guard of the library and whispered into his ear, “I hereby sponsor all ale purchased by any guard who is stationed at the north entrance of the library.” The bewildered captain stared at the him, speechless. King Northstar winked with a playful smirk and walked towards his horse. I’m sorry, what? Huh… I guess I got carried away. Pyrite is my favorite character in this story. Anyway, that’s all I have the patience for today. Now, don’t you have better work to do? Go on. Shoo!

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