Note: For the uninitiated, I am blogging an entire novel I wrote when I was much younger. For an explanation of the project and the earlier chapters, look through my archives to catch up on the story.
Two Visits and a Transformation
Jordan awoke to the sound of a sweet voice singing. Just twenty feet away, there was a pretty girl washing her clothes in the stream.
She was a girl around Jordan’s age, though maybe a year older. She had dark shoulder-length hair and brown eyes. Her dress was simple, but quite elegant. In her hand she held a washboard which she was using quite expertly.
“Well, what do you think?” she asked him. Jordan realized sheepishly that he had been staring at her for some time.
“You… You’re pretty,” he stammered. “You’re certainly no princess, but you’ll do all right.”
“I’ll do a great deal better than you,” she said. “Didn’t anyone teach you that it’s impolite to stare. It’s bad enough that you sleep till midmorning, but it’s unforgivable to stare so at a stranger.”
“You mean you’ve known I was here all this time? Why did you wake me?”
“Because I’m not half as interested in you as you are in me.”
“What are you doing here?” was all Jordan could manage to stammer out.
“I might ask the same,” returned the girl, “but I suppose I’m not as nosy and rude as you are. I’d at least ask your name first.”
“It’s Jordan. And yours is???”
“Karen Cloakside. That’s much better. Now I’ll answer your little question. I’m here to ask a favor of the Wizard Shudder.”
“That’s crazy,” shouted Jordan. “I won’t allow it. A defenseless girl like you can’t go off to face that monster.”
“Defenseless girl,” cried Karen. “I ought to clout you over the head for saying that. It happens I was picked from one thousand people to speak with Shudder. I won’t have any problem. I’m brave and I can talk people into anything.”
“With that tongue of yours, I can well believe it,” replied Jordan.
“What are you in these parts for?” asked Karen who chose to ignore Jordan’s last remark.
“I’m on a quest to battle and destroy Shudder, so you’re wasting your time going to him for a favor.”
“Hah,” laughed Karen. “He’ll frizzle you to a frazzle. What makes you think you can deal with Shudder and I can’t. You’re as thin as a rag doll. How about making a little bet. I bet that I’ll get my request and you get barbecued.”
Jordan lost his temper. How dare she!? “If you must know,” he said with a swell of pride, “I am well trained for this kind of adventure. I’m one of King Ronald’s knights.”
“I should’ve known,” said Karen. “Only one of revolting Ronald’s knights could be as stupid and doltish as you are. Before I only thought you were a buffoon. Now I know it. It’s precisely because of your knights that I need to see Shudder in the first place.”
“What do you mean?” asked Jordan.
“I mean that you brainless knights have been stealing from my people for years, and we’ve had enough. We’re peaceful, loving people…”
“Which you’re a shining example of.”
Karen gave Jordan a scornful look. “And yet we’re menaced by wimps like you.” She moved toward Jordan with her washing board raised. “I’ve half a mind to brain you with this.”
“Now, calm down,” said Jordan, half laughing. He rather admired this girl. She had more pluck than anyone he’d ever known. “I promise that I’ve never harmed your people. I’m on my first quest, and I don’t like King Ronald with myself.”
“No one can like that weasel. I don’t credit you much for that. We have a song where we come from called Repulsive Ronald and his Merry Fools. You’re one of those fools, in case you haven’t guessed.”
“Where do you come from, Karen?” asked Jordan.
“Why, from Heathvale, and…”
“Heathvale!” Jordan drew his sword. “No wonder you’re not afraid of Shudder. You’re probably in league with him.”
“What nonsense is this?” asked Karen.
“Don’t play innocent,” said Jordan. “To think I was starting to like you. I know all about your tricks and disguises you… you…you cannibal.”
“Cannibal,” shrieked Karen. “Cannibal! Why, you blubbering baboon, that is positively the last straw!”
Before Jordan could react, Karen knocked him over the head with her washboard. He plunked down unconscious.
“Oh, my,” said Karen. “I brained him a bit harder than I intended but he was so exasperating.” She looked down at him. “He wasn’t a bad sort though, considering he’s been with Ronald all these years.”
Karen checked Jordan and found he was okay except for a bump on his head. She washed his head, put a blanket over him, and left him lying in the field.
She was off to see Shudder.
A clipped, cultivated voice woke Jordan from his slumber.
“Get up, Sir! This is an absolutely disgraceful, disreputable scene if I ever saw one. Being knocked out by a little slip of a girl. I’m ashamed to have even witnessed it.”
Jordan rubbed his eyes. He was astonished. “I can’t believe it. I’m still alive. I thought she was going to cannibalize me or something.”
“Cannibalize you! Why the very thought.” The man scrutinized Jordan. “You’re an uneducated clod, aren’t you?”
“That means she’s just a regular girl,” said Jordan. It was quite a revelation. “All those stories about Heathvale are lies. I’ve got to stop her before she reaches Malevolent Manor.”
“I’m afraid that’s quite impossible,” said the man.
Jordan looked with curiosity at this new visitor. Before him stood a man who could best be described as dignified. He was over six feet tall and had dark, slightly balding hair. He had a pallid, whey face and a long, bony nose. He wore an impeccably tailored suit. There was not a wrinkle or hair out of place on his entire person. He looked like the distinguished servant of a very rich man.
The man was intimidating but Jordan was determined. “Why should it be impossible for me to go after her?” he asked.
“I mean, sir,” sneered the man, “that the girl in question has already met Shudder and been locked away. A very rude, common sort of girl. She broke in just an hour ago and had the effrontery to start asking for all kinds of things. No sense of propriety and station whatsoever. Shudder quite rightly told me to lock up the little whippet.”
“For how long?”
“Not if I can help it. I’m going after her to make up for being so foolish before.”
“I’m afraid you will do nothing of the sort,” sniffed the man.
“I see you don’t know me. Let me introduce myself. My name is Jenkins. I am the wizard Shudders familiar.”
“I’ve heard about those,” said Jordan excitedly. “Wizards keep them as a sort of a pet. You must be an imp of some kind.”
“Imp! How vulgar! Do I look like an imp to you.”
“That’s what I thought wizards had. Demons and little devils with tails and…”
“Devils with tails, indeed. Why you insolent urchin. Some dreary wizards may settle for that lot, but Shudder has more stature than that. He doesn’t want a little devil man stinking of sulfur and brimstone. He wants a servant of class and distinction like myself. So let me kindly ask you to refrain from calling me an imp.”
“As you wish,” replied Jordan. “But imp or not, you’re not going to stop me from seeing Shudder. I don’t even want to fight him anymore. I just want Karen back.”
Jenkins shook his head sadly. “When will you ever learn. Don’t you see, boy. You’re dealing with an evil wizard here. He’s already been disturbed by that little ruffian friend of yours, and he doesn’t want to be bothered again. That’s why I’m out here in this beastly hot weather. Shudder saw you coming and ordered me to tell you to turn back.”
“Why send you? Is Shudder afraid of me?”
“Afraid of you? Why should he be? You’re not exactly the hero type. Just skin and bones. All I need is a good strong washboard to take care of you. The girl showed that.”
“Listen you imp in butler’s clothing, I’m going.” Jordan, crimson with rage, drew his sword and began to march forward.
“Insolent cur,” shrieked Jenkins. “Turn back now or I promise I’ll make a monkey out of you.”
Jordan pushed past Jenkins, heading straight towards Malevolent Manor.
Jordan kept going.
Jenkins raced up to Jordan and quickly dropped a brownish-colored strand of hair on his head.
“What was that supposed to be?” asked Jordan. “It doesn’t look like you’ve accomplished much.”
Two minutes went by and nothing happened. Jordan and Jenkins just stared at each other. Then, all at once, Jordan started to feel peculiar. Everything was spinning around. His insides felt funny. He was vibrating strangely.
Great tufts of brownish hair were sprouting from his hands and arms! They grew straight through all his clothes. The ground seemed to be getting closer and closer. He was shrinking
There was also a strange sensation coming from his backside. Jordan glanced around. He was growing a tail!
“What’s going on?” he cried.
“I’ve made a monkey out of you just as I promised,” said Jenkins stiffly.
In just twenty seconds, Jordan became exactly that. At three feet he was a bit large, but there was no other way to tell him apart from any other monkey.
Jenkins was shaking his head, solemn and displeased. “You should’ve just left, boy. This whole situation is so undignified and disgraceful. Still, it will amuse the master.”
“Turn me back!” chittered Jordan in a high-pitched monkeylike voice.
“I’m afraid not,” snapped Jenkins. “Don’t make an exhibition of yourself. There’s no way you can go after Shudder now. You have no clothes. No weapons. Nothing. Make the best out of it. You didn’t want to be a knight anyway. Now you can have your wish. Find a nice big tree and you can live a free life as a monkey.”
“But the girl…” began Jordan.
“Forget her,” said Jenkins. “She hit you over the head with a washboard. She’s a hellcat. Besides, you’re a monkey now and I doubt you two will find much in common. Just go so we can both put this embarrassing incident behind us as soon as possible.”
Jenkins shook his head, folded his arms, and slitted away into a pocket of air. He was gone.
Jordan thought about his predicament. A day earlier he probably would’ve taken Jenkins’ advice. As a monkey, he would have his freedom and no one would come looking for him. But now there was Karen to consider. He had to rescue her and find out the real truth about the people of Heathvale.
Monkey or not, he was going on.