Sir Kyle awoke suddenly and bolted upright.
“I have received a vision!” he declared, and the entire column came to a stop. Every filthy face turned towards him and him and his far more filthy armor. Wardstein stared at him askance. The Archduke made a quick glance up form freshly painted toenails, which was significant.
“Did you guys pee on me? And also where are we?” he added.
“We approach the land of the…that is to say the land of the fearsome…uh, did we even like, find out what these dudes were named?” the Archduke asked.
“I’ve just been calling them heathens and bandits and whatnot,” Wardstein answered.
“That seems incredibly lazy, even for us.”
“That one was sleeping for like, a number of days!” Wardstein compared judiciously.
“But I received a vision!” Sir Kyle said, a bit defensively.
“Yeah, about that: what was this vision?” the Archduke queried disinterestedly.
“I don’t wanna talk about it”
“Well then what is the point of having a vision?” the Archduke said, with the anger in his disinterest rising.
“I’m not sure that ‘having’ is the right term. Receiving. I received the vision. And I don’t know what the point is. God works in mysterious ways.”
“Wait, what? I don’t see the difference. Has your long, coma-like slumber addled your brain, Sir Kyle?”
“Archduke, enough,” Wardstein interrupted. “I know where this story is going, and trust me, you don’t want to get to the bottom of this.”
“You’re right, I don’t. I am in a hurry to confront the great…uhhhm…horde? Yes…that’s the ticket.”
Wardstein leaped like a muscular kangaroo from his wagon. “Not this again!” he bellowed. He drew his short battle club and crushed the skull of a nearby servant. Reckless though this seemed, Wardstein was careful to not terminate a food-bringing servant; nay, this poor fellow had been one of the attendants painting James’s toenails, and thus, expendable.
“Not what again?” Sir Kyle mumbled. “I daresay I have been walking the paths of the Other Side for so long I have grown confused.”
“You aren’t confused! Don’t make me come over there!”
“Yes, quite!” James called down from his wagon. He commenced blowing on his toes, and then, forgetting himself for a moment, snapped his fingers at a servant to do the task. A plain-faced man staggered over, and James slapped him roundly, and then snapped his fingers again, pointing significantly at a good-looking maiden.
“Don’t wander off,” he told the first guy. “I need to take a dump pretty soon, and I’ll need you. Because I want to take a dump on somebody’s face!”
Wardstein glowered. “Sir Kyle, you really don’t have any vision to relate, do you? You’re trying to act all mysterious and important, but the truth is you’re a fraud. A fraud!”
“Okay, lookit,” James said, spreading his toes wide. “Everybody settle down, I have to tell you all something…”
Sir Kyle winced and struggled to opened his eyes. He usually rose early in the mornings, but the backs of his eyelids were particularly orange this day, and he could tell that the sun was already half way towards the horizon.
The knight tried to recollect what had happened and wondered a moment whether he had slipped into another coma. No, if that were the case, he’d have been thrown in a degrading cart of some kind like the last time for easy transport. Also, he could feel insects crawling beneath his armour. He realized he was on the ground now, and by the smell of things, he was near the latrine.
He opened one eye and saw a man laying a few yards off staring at him. He was covered excrement.
“Oh, hey Latrine.”
“Good morrow, Sir Kyle!” Latrine cheerfully replied. “You’ve been out quite a while! The Archduke was getting pretty worried!”
“Oh, yes! This morning I witnessed him look up from his drying toenails, which, as you’re all too aware, is quite significant!”
“Yes, of course. But go on.”
“Well, he then wondered aloud why you had not yet stirred and said, ‘Shit, I hope I didn’t dig too deep!’”
Sir Kyle turned his head and observed that The Archduke’s nails had obviously dried, for he was now laughing hysterically near the shore of a body of water and “galloping” along on a sharp pitchfork like a pretend-horse. He wore nothing but Sir Kyle’s shiny battle helm. The visor chomped open and shut as he ran, making a dreadful clatter.
“Ha-ha-ha-ha! Get back here!” he cackled. “Ha-ha!! Woo! You’re not going to get away that easily!”
He was hot on the heels of three buxom young maidens, all of whom were shrieking in terror.
Sir Kyle closed his eyes again. The noise did nothing to ease his throbbing head.
“’…dig too deep’? Wait, what are you talking about?”
“You don’t remember? Before making his ‘important announcement’ last night, he presented you with the only pipe of yours he refrained from destroying – your Den Pipe! After you were quite satisfied and had fallen asleep in the dirt there, he yelled to the camp, ‘Fear not! I will now dig Sir Kyle’s mysterious vision out of his skull and share it with you all!!’ There was great cheer at this, but after he hit bone and scratched away for a bit with that dirty boot knife of his, he and the rest lost interest and stomped off to get drunk. We weren’t sure whether you were going to come out of it! Why, that one there was particularly concerned!”
Sir Kyle opened his eyes and saw a slender blonde of about twenty. She had blue eyes and was staring at him. Sir Kyle thought she was rather pretty, and observed her pointing at his skull.
“Owwwwwwwchhhh!” she said, nodding.
“Yeah, she doesn’t seem to speak English very well,” said Latrine. “We came across her burned out settlement by the ocean there. Looks like some sort of simple village or shire to me. The things you come across in the west, eh!?”
Sir Kyle gently prodded a dangling flap of his scalp. It stung badly.
“Wait a minute – the ocean? Forgive me Latrine, but you strike me as someone who his rather learned for a man of your….ahem….station. What do you know of geography? I’ve been out a while and have lost my bearings.”
“Look at the sun, Sir Kyle. As you are no doubt aware, it rises in the east and sets in the west, which is right over the water there, take my word for it. Hmmph-hmmph! My poop-encrusted eyes see more than most think!”
“Son of a rapist priest!” Sir Kyle yelled, quickly putting his hands to his mouth in regret as though he could stuff the words back in. He collected his composure. “The Archduke insisted it was the other way around!”
“He is a stubborn one, that’s for sure!” said Latrine. “But yeah, everyone knows the west is the best. No shortage of trouble back the other way, though. I’m sure you’ll find loads of people to kill.”
The shrieks stopped over the dunes somewhere. More cackles.
“My Greek is a little rusty good knight, so I apologize in advance, but Ptolemy wrote in the mid second century that the heavens are, ahem—‘ven meelo eleneekah—’”
Suddenly a horrendous popping sound!
Sir Kyle turned from the girl and back to the man. An enormous foot was where his formerly-uncrushed head had been, and high above, Baron von Wardstein, groaning and urinating on the corpse as it subtly twitched.
“Hey-hey! Sir Kyle! Didn’t think you’d be joining us today! Huh-huh-huh! Hey Archduke! You’ll never guess who—“
“—Uhnnn!!NOT NOW, Wardstein!” James quickly blurted from over the dunes somewhere.
The Baron buttoned up.
“Hey, who the hell’s that?”
The girl looked at Sir Kyle from within the large shadow Wardstein had cast on her. She was clearly terrified.
“I don’t know yet, Baron—but she’s mine, you hear?”
The Baron only nodded in understanding. He had never heard that tone from him before.
The girl smiled at Sir Kyle.