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The Saga Of The European King

Mean Ol Ry


Tell us all the secrets.


Chapter 4 - And Then We Got Attacked By Birds

Illustrations by Bruno Stahl

written by Tom McNally, illustrated by Bruno Stahl

The first volume of The Saga Of The European King is destined to soon be in print. Help to fund the rest of the illustrations and the print run through Indiegogo.

The Saga of The European King on Indiegogo

You can listen to this chapter through the magic of KINGCAST

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"Birds!" cried the King. “Oh man!” he added. He was angry. Birds had not been so close to Brussels, to the most important heart of Europe, since the Bird Wars, set years earlier. Here there was a cloud of the feathery monsters to rival any of those that the King and his Adventure Friends had fended off back in those tales of long ago that sound quite cool but aren't particularly necessary to know about in full.

"What's going on with this?" moaned Axe Axewound, who had fought more birds in his lifetime than anyone ever would again. He'd had it up to here with birds, to be honest. He'd thought that all of that was behind him and that on this new quest there wouldn't be any lame re-treads of old enemies.

“Winter is totally onto us!” shouted the King, running towards the shimmering flock, Cutty drawn and waving high. “Our war begins here!” he said before he disappeared into the roar of a million pairs of tiny wings.

The King's Adventure Friends and his army just watched him do this, since he seemed to know what he was doing. After all, the Bird Wars had been quite a few adventures ago and the King had gained a great deal more experience since then and his stats were higher, so it was likely he'd be able to take them no matter how many there were. But the storm of birds seemed to swallow the King like an appetiser before moving on towards them and the city without pause. They broke for a cut-scene to discuss their options.

“What if he gets hurt in there?” said Sally Minefield.

“I've never seen so many birds in one place,” said Colonel Glowfist.

“What! Don't you remember those wars we had, Colonel? What did we call them now?” said Axe Axewound.

“Why would Winter send birds, I don't think Winter works that way -” said Father Dominoes.

“They're coming and they're very fast,” shrilled Commander Flightfeather.

“We can't let anything happen to him!” said Sally Minefield.

“We've only just begun – nothing could happen to the King right at the beginning,” said Colonel Glowfist.

“They were the wars where I killed hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of birds, those wars,” said Axe Axewound.

“I'd bet my right eye that Terrorthaw's the one behind this, it always is -” said Father Dominoes.

“They're saying many many things but they are very rude,” said Commander Flightfeather.

“He's gonna die, the King can't die!” said Sally Minefield.

“Unless this is one of those times where we have to learn how to get along without the King,” said Colonel Glowfist.

“I'm going to do it again. It's Bird War Two and I've got a present to try out,” said Axe Axewound.

“Yes, I think we rather should do something and not sit here and watch while he gets eaten,” said Father Dominoes, wrapping his Scarf Of Strength around his neck. It itched.

“Axe is running, he's running!” shrilled Commander Flightfeather.

He was right. Axe Axewound ran towards the cloud of birds and, as he ran, he twirled his new flaming axe around and around through the air, replacing great fat wedges of bird in the sky with slices of exploding fiery death. Immolated birds sprang like lit fireworks from his every swing, burning trails through the moving mountain of the flock. The front rows of the army were right behind Axe's charge and were able to mop up those that somehow escaped his wrath. Father Dominoes, who was supposed to stick to Axe Axewound like glue in a recovery situation like this so that he could get directly to the King and quickly administer any healing that might be required, was caught up in the surge and nearly fell over. He decided to stand still and wait it out.

Commander Flightfeather and Sally Minefield hung back and protected Colonel Glowfist while he waved his arms, spoke some cool-sounding words no one could understand and busted all sorts of sick dance moves. He was doing this because he was magic and he was doing a spell. He could not be disturbed. Commander Flightfeather valiantly hacked away at the rushing ride of birds with his sword, which wasn't particularly magical and didn't have a name or burst into flames or do anything cool like that. It is a very difficult thing to fend off a few thousand birds coming straight at you when your sword doesn't even have a name. Sally Minefield was having an even more difficult time of it. She was a thief, which logic would tell you is a useful sort of person to have with you on an adventure because it is nice to get people's loot and quest items off of them quietly every once in a while and not have to kill them. The problem was that a thief is exactly the wrong sort of person to have around when there is a really tough enemy or boss around who isn't about to go to sleep and leave the combination to his safe lying on the dresser. Sally tended to die a lot and this was one of those times. Sally would be the first person to tell you that being battered to death by countless blows from speeding birds while you futilely waggle your little thief-dagger around is one of the more unpleasant ways to go.

“Sally's dead!” sang Commander Flightfeather over the roar of wings. Everyone rolled their eyes.

Illustrations by Bruno Stahl

Axe Axewound carved a marvellous tunnel of roasted bird right through the cloud to the King. He thought he was about to rescue the King but he found that the King was just sitting down, totally cool. The birds were maintaining a polite distance around him and there were two birds sitting in his lap. He was talking to them calmly and gently, like a father. He was kind of like a father to Europe, and also to his son, so this came naturally to him. Axe Axewound asked him if he needed any help, but the King shook his head and indicated that he was on top of this one.

Colonel Glowfist decided that the time had come to finish the battle. They couldn't mess around with birds all day. He let out a burst of light to get everyone's attention. He had charged up his spell and was ready to begin. He allowed a look of pure pride to flash across his face before he flung his arms out, opened his mouth wide and sucked every bird into his mouth and ate them all at once. This took over half an hour to do but everyone was incredibly impressed even though they'd seen some crazy stuff in their adventures.

All that was left was a field covered in white splodges of poo and more feathers than was reasonable, as well as the two birds that the King had in his lap. They had not been eaten because the King had been talking to them, and you don't eat someone who the King is talking to. The hundreds of soldiers who had rushed into the bird cloud had sat down and had a rations picnic when they'd realised that the danger had passed. When the last bird disappeared down the archmage's magicified gullet and the applause from everyone had died down, the King looked up. He shouted out across the field to Colonel Glowfist.

"Did I give the order for you to use your ultimate attack, honoured Colonel? We're not even an hour into the adventure!" He bellowed.

Colonel Glowfist could not answer, because he was chewing on thousands of birds. His body was swelling enormously before their very eyes as it digested the creatures at an accelerated rate.

“You should have saved it for later,” continued the King, sternly.

"What did you say to those two birds, Your Highness?" said Axe Axewound. “Did you talk some sense into them?”

The King looked down at the two birds in his lap. They looked up at him. They were tamer than shoes. He looked back up at Axe Axewound.

"I told them about sadness, Axe. Now they know where to look to find the emptiness. That makes them people." Axe knew what he was talking about. The King had seen some heavy things in his eighty three years. You don't get to an age like that without accumulating some serious sensitivity to the suffering in the world. The King did not look his age because he moisturised every day. All of his friends moisturized. It was the Law and you had to.

“How's Sally?” called the King, rising from the ground.

“Quite dead, Your Highness. But we've nearly got her back,” said Father Dominoes with cheer, “Just a few verses left and she'll be right as rain.” He was standing over her body, reading from his Bible, which was a powerful spell book of the day. Father Dominoes was an expert at the Bible and he could read the right verses in the right order to do all kinds of helpful things. After years of adventuring with Sally, knew by heart the sequence that brought thieves back to life by heart.

“Do you need the healing hand of any of my gods, Your Highness?” he asked. "I believe it is the Son who is on duty today." The King shook his head. He had hardly been scratched in the fight and tended to prefer not to rely on gods too much if he could help it.

When the Adventure Friends joined the soldier's picnic, they put a vote to everyone to decide on names for the two birds that the King had kept and after much debate, and a tantrum from Axe Axewound, they decided on the names of Gadfly and Formation. They followed the King's party wherever they went. They would play a valuable role later on.

They made camp for the night right there on the feathered field. They could have walked back to Brussels and stayed at home but the King vetoed that because they had gone to all the effort to say goodbye to everyone and it would be silly to do it all again. It was hard to get to sleep because Colonel Glowfist was still chewing through the birds and being very noisy about it indeed. They agreed, though, as they drifted off, that it was a good start to the adventure. It was proper to begin a good adventure with a big action sequence and they could forgive Colonel Glowfist for using his ultimate attack so early because it was possible that he had saved them from getting killed and having to start over.

Sally Minefield crept into the King's royal tent just as he had strayed into a lovely sleep full of awesome dreams.

“What is it, Sally?” he rumbled.

“I'm just so cold, Your Highness, I was so cold out there, it was like nothing, the whole of nothing getting inside of me and filling me up until I was empty everywhere and -”

“Go to sleep, Sally!” said the King. He rolled his eyes and then rolled his entire body away from his friend.

Yeah, go to sleep, Sally! It's a big day tomorrow! Jeez!


End Of Chapter 4

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