The Skeleton Attack
The alarm roared through the castle Cair Tellos on the feet of Sylph boys just like Mickey and me… except that they carried bull horns used by town criers to amplify their shouts, none of them were wererats, and over half of them were nude.
The Master ordered us to carry the boom-n-banger on it’s launch stick up to the middle parapet of the upper keep. Once there, we were to fix it for possible launch to one of the ironwood merlons and attempt to aim it at the skeleton even though the powder-loaded thing was as big as me and bigger than Mickey.
“Eli! You do not have permission to light that thing in my castle!” shouted Pippen, the castle’s wizard and high protector. He was a large Sylph with a booming voice and flowing blond hair. His robes were richly colored blue, and he wore the golden necklace of Merlini the Gray to show off his basic right to rule.
“How are you going to keep the bone-thingy from smashing us all up, then?” retorted Master Eli.
“My scouts have told me that the boy with the shottygun has been summoned by two of the slow-one boys.”
“And you’re going to rely on the same kind of lucky shot that Murphy hobbledehoy got off at that last bone-thingy?
“It worked before, didn’t it?”
“Well, what’re the odds that luck can save our bacon more than once in a blue moon?”
“I don’t have your faith in stolen slow-one magics. That thing could just as easily explode the castle wall as it would the attacker.”
“Maybe you’re right. Perhaps I use my sorcery to summon Golden Dragonfire?”
“You’ve got to be kidding! Captain Bobkin’s headquarters are still smoldering from the last time you used that.”
At that moment, the two “hobbledehoys” that Master Pippin had mentioned showed up with the third one, the bigger one (hobbledehoy, as I understand it, means a tall, skinny and totally awkward slow-one youth) with the so-called shottygun in his hands, following behind while trying desperately to pull his pants on with one hand.
“Couldn’t this have waited until I was finished in the bathroom, Mike?” shouted the biggest one,
“It’s a walking skeleton, Danny! Right out of a horror movie,” shouted one of the other hobbledehoys.
At that moment, the bone walker passed through the castle’s glammer shield meaning it would be totally hidden from the slow ones by Fey magic.
“I don’t see anything!” growled the one trying to pull his pants on while hopping on one leg, pulling on the pants with one hand, and trying to aim the shottygun with the other hand.
“It was right there a second ago!”
“You shoulda let me kill it with a baseball bat, Bobby!” swore the other smaller hobbledehoy.
Suddenly, “BLAM!” the shottygun went off, shredding the unoccupied leg of the hopping hobbledehoy’s pants.
Mickey grinned at me. “He must be too stupid to remember to wear pants too.”
“Of course,” I said.
Meanwhile the skeleton reached up with one boney hand and totally smashed that hand against the ironwood walls of the lower parapet.
Up in the hornet’s nest, Captain Bobkin ordered an attack by the wasp-riders as the three hobbledehoys hopped back towards their own distant domicile.
“What did Master Eli mean when he called those things hobbledehoys?” Mickey asked me.
“It’s a slow-one word, in English, I think, that means what you and I would be if we were as big as slow ones.”
“A foofy git that blows up his own pants when trying to put them on?”
The skeleton brought his bone fist down on the parapet again, but this time the bones splintered and the fist turned to dust.
“Aim the boom-n-banger at the skeleton’s nearest eye socket, Bob,” commanded Master Eli.
“Even though Master Pippen told us not to?”
“Of course. He just doesn’t understand slow-one magic like I do. I’m gonna light that sucker up.”
Mickey and I turned the powder-filled thing until I could sight a strait line along the top of the tube all the way to the right eye socket of the skull. Eli then snapped his fingers and a spark set the fuse ablaze.
When the thing took off with a fizzing sound instead of a boom, I was disappointed. But it hit the skull, removing the head from the rest of the skeleton and flying it off into the bean field.
Once the skull was gone, the evil magic dispersed, and the rest of the skeleton fell apart at the roots of the willow tree that formed the base of Cair Tellos.
Master Pippin looked Master Eli in the eye.
“Well, you disobeyed me again… but it worked. It is now your responsibility to go find the skull and kill the evil thing that was controlling the bone walker.”
Master Eli’s smile instantly faded. “By your will, Master Pippen.”