”Rabbit? What rabbit?”—last words of Elmer Fudd
The Queen Who Argued Too Much
by Pete Butler
(translated from the East Tralvonian saga "Fluffy Bunny Goes to Happy Land," written c. 1350 A.D.)
Once upon a time, Fluffy Bunny's search for Happy Land took him to a place far, far away, where there lived an elderly king in a slightly more elderly castle. The king was a gentle man, and a source of great amusement to his people. Alas, it appeared as though the king was to be the last of his line, for his wife, the beautiful young queen, could bear him no children. Nevertheless, the gallant queen tried desperately to give her loving husband an heir, enlisting the help of every man in the castle at one time or another. But to no avail.
Some said that perchance it was for the best, for the good queen was perhaps too argumentative to be an exemplary mother. Almost every night, Her Majesty could be heard shouting at somebody in her bedchamber, passionately arguing at the top of her lungs. These arguments frequently centered upon the topic of religion, as Her Majesty could typically be heard vociferously invoking the name of God as her latest spat came to its conclusion.
Fortunately, these vigorous squabbles did little to disturb His Majesty's rest. The Royal Couple slept in separate bedrooms, as the king's presence at night gave his loving wife the most profound of headaches.
His Majesty was, otherwise, a very busy man, who had to entertain all manner of visitors. Most of these were lesser nobles treasonously displeased with the king's policy of using their serfs as practice targets for the Royal Knights. But one fine day, an old friend of the king's from a foreign land came to pay him a visit. Many were the nights they spent together toasting each other's health while Her Majesty indulged her taste for debate. In fact, this foreign friend did such a fine job of taking His Majesty's mind off his argumentative wife that he began referring to her in the past-tense.
Treachery! On a dark and slightly overcast night, the friend left for his homeland and rudely took the queen with him. The castle servants regretted not anticipating this turn of events, for during the latter part of his visit, the good queen had argued with this wicked man more often and more enthusiastically than she had with any other.
Upon hearing the news of the queen's abduction, the poor king was so delirious with grief he burst out laughing, graciously forgiving his friend and calling his beloved spouse all manner of unfortunate names in his anguish. When he recovered his senses, he put his mind to the task of finding a more agreeable wife. But the king appreciated neither how well nor how often Her Majesty was loved by Her subjects; all the men in the castle (and a certain contingent of the women) demanded that he immediately rescue his wife from the clutches of the malignant foreigner. Always eager to please his subjects, especially the ones with weapons, His Majesty was finally persuaded to mount a rescue.
To re-capture the loving queen, the king set forth the land's most oft-mentioned knights: Sir Jeffrey the Bold, Sir Rodney the Enduring, Sir Ruprecht the Easily Annoyed, and Sir Bob the Lethargic. The brave knights were overjoyed to hear they were being sent on so noteworthy a quest. Their heads filled with the songs that would be sung of them when they returned triumphant, they sharpened their many, many weapons, polished their armor, sharpened a few weapons they had missed the first time, gathered their gear, had a few more weapons made just for safety's sake, and fastened Sir Bob securely to his steed. When all were ready, the knights sallied forth, pledging to find the queen or perish trying.
The loyal citizens turned out in great numbers to cheer the gallant heroes' departure and insist they keep that pledge. The knights bade farewell to their well-wishers, returning two hours later to ask exactly where the treacherous foreigner they sought was from. And they boldly re-set forth to tremendous jubilation, as the festive mood which greeted their first departure was still a long way from subsiding.
The knights covered much ground that first day, stopping only occasionally to rest, re-secure the napping Sir Bob to his horse, and politely request food from loyal peasants. Sadly, some peasants were not as co-operative as others, but as it took only moments to clean the blood from Sir Ruprecht's trusty sword, few delays were endured.
An hour or so after sunset, the knights arrived at a quaint, rustic inn. After moving Sir Bob to his bed, the heroes boldly ventured into the inn's tavern where they sought information on their quarry. The patrons of the tavern, after being persuaded that they could and should talk to the knights, told of a man and a woman who, two evenings prior, had kept the rest of the inn's guests up all night with their incessant yelling and screaming. Recognizing their argumentative queen, the knights thanked the patrons and put away their weapons.
The next morning, the knights set forth again. They were delayed slightly when the greedy innkeeper tried to coerce the heroes to pay for their room and the heroic amounts of food and ale they had consumed. Sir Jeffrey tried to explain that they were on a mission from the king himself and were therefore immune to the petty material concerns of his subjects, but to no avail. Sir Ruprecht soon became bored and ended the argument, and the knights departed while the cook and serving girls tried to locate their former employer's head.
Caught! After six days and six nights of constant travel and near-constant weapon practice, the four heroes finally caught up to the treacherous foreigner and the kidnapped queen. The two had formerly enjoyed a generous head start, but the queen's need for frequent and intense debate seemed to have slowed them considerably. The evil aristocrat saw the knights approaching, and knowing that he could not defeat them all, he diabolically used their sense of honor against them. As the queen dismounted, he shouted out a challenge to the brave Sir Jeffrey--the two would fight, one against the other, the victor taking the loving queen. His honor at stake, Sir Jeffrey agreed to the villain's challenge and, after calming Sir Ruprecht, got off his horse and bravely strode forth to meet his enemy.
Unfortunately, the bold Sir Jeffrey had forgotten that the foul lord had challenged him to a duel on horseback. The vile foreigner charged and skewered the noble knight.
Sir Ruprecht, infuriated at seeing a fight not involving him, charged the wicked aristocrat. The two fought mightily, but the abominable nobleman cheated by being better than Sir Ruprecht, and killed him.
Sacrifice! Gallant Sir Ruprecht's death was not in vain, for the cacophony of his final battle had awakened the slumbering Sir Bob. Enraged at having his nap interrupted, Sir Bob unfastened the ropes binding him to his horse, freeing himself just in time to see his friend's demise. With a vigorous roar, Sir Bob drew his mighty axe and charged, cleaving the deceitful foreigner in two, cleaving the deceitful foreigner's horse in two, cleaving their cloven parts in two, and so on, just to be sure he got his point across. After an hour of so of such behavior, Sir Bob went back to sleep, well satisfied, and Sir Rodney emerged from behind the tree from which he had made certain that no dark ally of their quarry could sneak up on them.
Alas! The righteously-diced nobleman had practiced sorcery in addition to all else, for he had bewitched Her Majesty. She mourned his death mightily, calling Sir Rodney and Sir Bob all manner of distasteful things. Afraid that her unnatural bereavement might wake Sir Bob, Sir Rodney escorted the queen to a nearby grove of trees where she could mourn in peace. When they emerged the next morning, Sir Rodney's comfort had greatly eased the poor queen's troubled spirit. Sir Rodney convinced her to forget the wicked emissary, and she embraced her rescuer with open appendages.
Success! The two knights and the liberated queen set out for home. Sir Rodney grew concerned over which of them would be viewed as the more heroic, but luckily, the question was rendered academic when the slumbering Sir Bob died in a tragic nocturnal shaving accident.
After three weeks of travel, Sir Rodney and the queen returned to the castle, much to the surprise of all. The king was so overjoyed to see his darling wife again he could hardly speak.
Eager to reward Sir Rodney in a manner commensurate with the deed he had performed, the king made a far greater sacrifice than anyone could have imagined. The king bequeathed his wife to Sir Rodney, and sincerely wished that she would be as good and faithful to Sir Rodney as she had been to him. Sir Rodney and the former queen were overjoyed, for they had grown extremely fond of one another despite their frequent arguments The men of the castle (and that certain contingent of women) were overjoyed as well, for it was well-known that Sir Rodney and his bride would continue to live within the keep. The priests within the castle were significantly less than overjoyed, but were used to being ignored and took it all in reasonably good humor.
As for the gentle king, during his wife's long absence, he had sought the comfort of a clever serving girl, whom he married prior to Sir Rodney's return. While she was not as universally loved as her predecessor, the new queen did bear her husband a son six months after their marriage. And the kingdom could rest assured that a most generous and entertaining royal line would be continued.
Some worried that the new queen would not take kindly to living alongside her predecessor. Despite the frequent private disputes between the two of them, disputes which caused His Majesty no small distress, they became the best of friends, and were scarcely seen outside of one another's company. They became so close that when His Majesty died of old age while hunting two years later, the first queen became Her Majesty's most trusted advisor. During the decades of Her reign, it became an oft-repeated joke amongst Her subject that they were, in fact, ruled by two queens where most kingdoms had to make do with only one.
And, with the exception of one or two minor incidents not really worth getting into (particularly the one involving the lost warrior monks, the chimpanzees, and the vat of cooking oil--really, it's the sort of thing that's best forgotten), they all lived happily ever after.
(Except, of course, for Fluffy Bunny. Despite Her Former Majesty's formidable and well-practiced charms, Fluffy Bunny had realized this was not Happy Land, and was thus forced to continue the quest inflicted upon him as eternal punishment by Almighty Satan.)
Wisdom! And the moral of the story is: Never use foreign labor when domestic can get the job done just fine.
The End Did you forget about Fluffy Bunny? I did soon after I started reading this hilarious story. That . . . and the story's wit, charm, and humor made it another “can’t miss” tale for Anotherealm. I hope it gave you the laughs it gave me. How about it?