Romancing the Throne: From the Chronicles of Daventry, Part II (Part 2 in some editions) is the novelization of KQ2 from the King's Quest Companion. It is written of a continuation of the Prologue (KQ2) from the perspective of the prime minister Gerwain (as told to him by Graham).
The novelization is actually designed as a walkthrough that can be followed to win the game. It follows the main path through the game (as designated by the game developers).
It is part of the Chronicles of Daventry.
From the Chronicles of Daventry, Part 2
Note:For ease of readability prologue, chapter, and an epilogue sections have been added (these do not exist in the original text, but are here to divide the text better). They have been added where there were originally section breaks, but the sections titles should not be considered official.
Note II: Edits or changes to the story between editions are indicated within the text.
Rejoicing, revelry, and carousing still roar from all corners of Daventry this night. Our monarch, King Graham, has returned home to Daventry with a bride. They just arrived here yesterday after a slow voyage across the seas from Kolyma. Word of the royal wedding was immediately dispatched across the realm, carried in the claws of a condor that winged from town to town with the proclamation. The news set off spontaneous celebrations by all at first hearing.
King Graham, our most wise and beloved monarch, took to wife a maiden of the tropical land of Kolyma. Valanice is her name, and her beauty, wisdom, and goodness are beyond compare. The wedding ceremony took place in a small chapel in her homeland, our new queen wearing King Graham's bridal gifts to her, the diamond and sapphire jewels of Kolyma. At great and perilous risk were they acquired by our monarch, risks that he says were small compared to his bride's beauty.
- Long live the Queen! Long live Queen Valanice of Daventry!
It is strange for me to see those words drying in front of my eyes, no less so for knowing that it was I, Gerwain, Prime Minister of Daventry and chief adviser to King Graham, who penned them there moments ago. Although I prayed in my heart that he would prevail, little did I expect my sovereign to survive the quest on which he embarked to find his bride, much less wed. I am happy beyond words for my king and his new queen.
I must confess, however, that I do not think it is proper for a monarch to go traipsing about the world by himself, questing in search of women and adventure. His duties are at home, near to his subjects. This is especially true if the king has no heirs, and Graham has none.
I must also confess that I do not think it proper for a king to wed quickly, without proper dowry or period of courtship. I do not think it proper that a king wed away from his own land, out of sight of his own subjects. I especially do not think it proper that a king marry without seeking the advice and approval of his own prime minister!
I suspect my objects might be judged by some as petty. Graham has heard my thoughts on this. He says I should continue speaking my mind especially when it is contrary to his thoughts.
"A king," he says often, "needs 'nay' sayers more than he needs 'yea' sayers."
King Graham today recounted to me the details of his adventures since leaving Daventry--his quest: to rescue Valanice from her bondage in the Crystal Tower. He has directed me to rework his words to finer form, both for the sake of readability and for the historical record. He has also given me permission to add commentary of my own if I feel disapproval of his actions. He says it matters not; the deeds cannot be undone, and if they must be questioned, let the objections be raised now.
Here then is what befell our king. It begins with his search for the keys to the three doors....
King Graham had decided to travel light. He adjusted his favorite cap, setting it snugly on his long, brown hair, and made sure the red feather and four-leaf clover tucked into it were still there. His travel pack was empty, but he planned to change that as he went along. Graham knew that his strongest assets were agility and speed, wit and intelligence; he expected to live by the latter and survive by the former.
He knew also that the "fairest of all fair maidens," as he described her, was imprisoned in a tower somewhere. She had been put there by her kidnapper, a witch who called herself Hagatha. To rescue her, all he had to do was find three keys, presumably use them on three doors, and find the Crystal Tower. And survive.
The king looked around the beach where he had been deposited, which stretched apparently north and south. Graham knew this was part illusion; the geographers he had consulted had informed him that the magical law of "containment" operated in this western part of the continent. For reasons now forgotten--or perhaps it was whimsey on the part of the multiverse--movement to both the north and south in this part of Kolyma eventually turned back upon itself, contained as if inside some transparent cosmic doughnut. East and west, one could travel at until confronted by more physical barriers--the sea or mountains, for instance--but he knew that if he journeyed far enough north or south, he would always get back to where he started.
The Southern Sea was at his back. Warm waves lapped at his heels, reflecting the tropical sun in sparkles of diamond and sapphire. The waves seemed to be telling him to move along or he would find neither fair maiden, food, nor anything else. Seeing a sandy trail leading away from the beach and into the trees, the king moved forward.
The path soon disappeared into the midst of a thick wood and then vanished altogether. The world seemed to close around Graham, and the king hoped he would find a clearing or a new path soon. Within minutes the trees thinned, and he was able to glimpse what appeared to be a white fence in the distance. Walking toward him was a girl. She appeared to be no more than a dozen years of age, short and slight in form, with blond tresses peeking out of her red hooded robe. She was in tears.
"Sir, you must help me, please," she bawled. "Someone has taken my basket of goodies! I was taking them to my Grandma and had stopped to pick her some flowers when a large wolf, with the biggest jaws, jumped me and ran away with my basket. I was so afraid he was going to eat me! Please, sir, will you help me get my basket back?"
Graham tried to comfort the near-hysterical girl, but she wriggled from his embrace and dashed into the woods.
I must, at this moment, take pause to praise my lord king. Undertaking his quest for Valanice was rash, and undertaking it unarmed and with no provisions was foolish. However, King Graham is a true knight, noble of heart and sworn to aid the helpless. His determination to help the child in the little red riding hood was correct; to do anything less would demean him.
Graham followed in the direction from which the girl had come. The white fence enclosed a snug cottage of the same color. Flowers spilled from boxes in the lace-curtained windows. On a mailbox by the front gate were the words, "Grandma's House."
He had already suspected that much, so Graham opened the mailbox in hope of getting some useful information. Inside he found a wicker basket covered by a red and white checked cloth enclosing some bread, jam, and cold meats. This must be the basket of goodies that had been taken from the girl. The picnic smelled delicious, but something else smelled very suspicious.
Graham walked to cottage door and knocked. A muffled "Come in!" sounded from the other side. The king entered and found a pale, ancient woman sitting propped among dozens of pillows in a massive brass bed. Dressed warmly in a cap and flannel nightgown, wool shawl pulled around her shoulders, she smiled and bid him welcome.
"Grandma, obviously!" Graham thought.
"Good day, kind sir. Welcome to my house. I'd offer you some tea, but I'm not feeling well."
Graham chatted with the woman for a few moments, but she seemed somewhat delirious, and all she would talk about were her grandchildren. Grandma also refused the basket Graham had found hidden in the mailbox, saying it belonged rightfully to her granddaughter and that he must return it to her. Then she closed her eyes and began snoring.
King Graham left the cottage intent on finding the little girl so he could give her back the basket and continue his search for the maiden. Moving east into the forest past the cottage, he began hearing the tolling of bells ahead of him, a rolling tintinnabulation that seemed to be a call to prayer. With the sound as his guide, Graham walked until he came upon the adobe walls of a good-sized monastery, its bell still swinging back and forth. By its door was a small brass plate that read, "Welcome, Travelers." Below that was hung another sign, "No Vacancy."
The door was thick, but it opened easily. Graham wanted to rest a few moments and collect his thoughts; perhaps one of the monks there might have some news for him. So far, it seemed, he had made no progress.
A round, brown-robed figure, tonsured head bowed, was kneeling at the altar at the far end of the chapel. Graham quietly approached the altar and, kneeling next to the monk, joined him in a short prayer. The two men remained motionless for several moments. After a time the monk raised his head from his prayers and seemed to notice the king for the first time.
- "What is your name, traveler?"
- "King Graham of Daventry, brother."
- "Yes. King Graham, I have heard of your quest, and I would give you something to protect you from evil."
The king was speechless as the monk took a long chain, bearing a small silver cross, from around his neck. As Graham took the gift from the monk and placed it around his own neck, he listened to the holy man tell him of a door that had appeared recently, not far from where they stood. This door seemed to float in the air, an aura of magic surrounding it. It was located on the far side of a bottomless chasm and could be reached only by crossing an old rope bridge immediately north of the chapel.
Having finished his tale, the monk returned to his prayers. Graham joined him for a moment longer.
"The door I have been searching for!" he thought in triumph. "The way to my heart's desire!"
He whispered a short prayer of thanksgiving and left. The monk remained, absorbed in his prayers.
The heat of the tropical day blasted at Graham as he left the monastery and a harsh glare struck his eyes. They combined to convince the king to pass the hottest part of the day near the cool water of a small lake, which he could see just a little south, beyond the chapel door.
A large boulder in the shade of a tree reached out a bit into the lake and appeared to be the prime point from which to relax and swim. Approaching the shoreline, the king noticed a small hole in the rock.
The king has often told me that he tries always to remember advice given to him by his father. The words are engraved in my memory, so often has he repeated them. They are "My daddy used to tell me, 'Boy, if I have learned anything in my life, I have learned this: when in doubt or in trouble, pick up anything that is not nailed down, and if it is, check for loose nails or boards. Check carefully into, under, above, below, and behind things. Read everything; you might learn something. Wear clean undergarments, brush after meals, and always remember, nothing is as it appears.'"
Graham looked into that rock. Inside lay a glittering sapphire brooch dripping with encircling diamonds. He took the brooch, intending it as a gift for a bride he had yet to woo. Then he sat down, out of the sun, dreaming of love and thanking his father.
Chasm it truly was; bottomless it truly appeared. The bridge that spanned it seemed as old as time and as feeble as the little girl's ailing grandmother. The ropes that held it suspended were frayed, reaching out from the body of the fragile cables like hairs of a very frightened, very skinny cat. The planks that were left were as much air as wood.
"Okay," the king muttered to the wind, "I'll go over as quickly and as lightly as I can. I'll breath deeply, pretend I'm floating, and I definitely will not look down."
The king has this annoying habit of talking aloud to himself when he ponders a particularly difficult problem or situation. I have told him countless times that polite people just do not do this, and that people look at him strangely when he does it. usually he just gives me a patient look and walks away, still murmuring. In this case there was no one to hear, so no offense was given, nor taken. Nonetheless, it is an unseemly habit for a monarch.
Moving with his lightest steps in the exact center of the bridge, Graham held his breath the entire crossing, as if with his lungs full of air he was made lighter. "I hope I don't have to come that way again," he thought, looking back at pieces of the bridge spinning into the depths below.
The door was there, floating as predicted a few inches above the meadow. He could easily walk around the thing; it had a back and front, but no sides at all. The smell of magic threatened to overpower him. He was sure that the woman he sought to rescue, his heart's desire, was behind it.
An inscription was carved into the door's front: "Whosoever chooses to seek the key for this door will undoubtedly make a splash." That was all.
Oh, yes, the door was locked. No matter how hard the king tried to open it, the entry remained firmly locked. Graham realized that he needed a key. Not that this fact surprised him much; he had known since the start that he would have to obtain three keys for three doors.
"If that be so, so be it!" he decided resolutely (if not a bit redundantly) and breathing even more deeply than before, he returned across the shaky bridge.
He still had the goodies, Graham had been carrying the basket in hopes of returning it to the blond girl of the red hood as he had promised. "I am honor bound to do this before all else," he chided himself. "Let me find the girl, give her the goodies, and get back to what I came to Kolyma for!"
Grandma's house, or somewhere in its vicinity, seemed to be the most logical place to find the child. With that in mind, Graham decided to zigzag west from the bridge, continuing until he could turn back south to the cottage. He reasoned that he would be able to do some exploring, search for the girl, and get to Grandma's, all at the same time. Another of the king's annoying habits: he much admires his own cleverness.
This route led him straight into the gloomiest forest in which he had ever ventured. Menace and misfortune seemed to surround him. Looking from side to side, alert to any possible encounter, noting every possible place to hide--whether it be bush, tree, or rock---Graham carefully began to press through the threatening trees.
Immediately, almost before his first step had touched the ground, he spotted the dwarf scurrying furtively about, as is the way of such folk. Graham moved quickly, but he was overtaken by the dwarf anyway and knocked to the ground by the force of the thief running into him. Over and over they tumbled, until the dwarf was able to strike a strong blow to the king's head, knocking him senseless long enough to escape with the sapphire brooch.
When King Graham finally recovered himself, he discovered but minor cuts and scrapes along with his throbbing head. "Never again," he promised the bandit, "never again!"
Graham walked a little north of where the dwarf had robbed him, hoping to avoid another encounter before his head was clear. Groggily he stumbled into a pine tree, tripping over a large rock near its base. As he picked himself up, he noted that this tree had a hole in it, and inside was a stout wooden stick with something metal attached. When his eyes unblurred, he saw that he had found a mallet.
"Two holes, two treasures--not bad. And now I have a weapon," Graham encouraged himself. "Now, let's go find that dwarf and get the jewels back!"
Moving west, even more cautiously now, the king soon came upon a large rotting log. In his quest to become king, he had once found a bag of diamonds near a log such as this. This time there was nothing.
"Come on now, Graham," he told himself, "you can't expect to find something under everything, can you?" With these words still on his tongue, he continued his way west to where a fresh, clear lake blocked his immediate way. There lay yet another hollow log.
"I'm going to prove something to you," he exclaimed to his own person. Enunciating each step clearly, he began to demonstrate to himself the truth of his previous observation. "See...log. See...hole in log. See...no treasure!
I must admit a certain level of amusement when the king recounted this episode to me. There he was, playing the buffoon, talking to himself and reveling in his own cleverness. Of course there was treasure in the log; how could there not be, as my lord strutted pride to the heaven? Inside lay a necklace of diamonds and sapphires with a large sapphire pendant dangling from it. It should have been a rub of rancid yogurt or moldy cheese. I love my lord king, but that day he deserved much less than he received.
Graham decided to wend his way south to the old woman's cottage. He hoped that he could arrive there and return the basket to the little girl before darkness fell and he'd have to camp for the night. He much preferred to do his sleeping in less ominous parts.
The forest quickly opened up to a clearer though more rocky landscape. His feet stopped, frozen in stillness, as he heard cackling nearby. The smacking of hungry lips and the sound of tuneless humming brought back dread memories of the wicked witch Dahlia stirring her loathsome cooking pot. A hurried glance gave a partial glimpse of someone who looked remarkably like his now dead adversary. It was definitely time to be somewhere else.
Graham trusted his instincts, and his feet swiftly bearing him east. Perhaps he could find a hiding place in the forest, someplace out of sight of the old hag he had just spied--the witch whose name, he was sure, was Hagatha--the same witch who had kidnapped the object of his quest.
The king does not know if the witch did not spot him, gave unsuccessful chase, and then merely gave up. More likely he escaped before being noticed at all. In either case, he ended up in a part of the forest he had not been before.
This fact, though, was secondary to what he ran into therein: he ran into a door. The door in question was built into the living trunk of an enormous oak tree whose branches spread dozens of yards in every direction. A stovepipe poked an arm out of the bark just a little below the tree's lowest branches. Like the tree, the door was oak. It opened from the weight of Graham's rush upon it.
Now King Graham normally prefers to knock upon any door before entering; he says that you never know what you might meet upon the other side. In this case, he felt that the other side could be no worse than Hagatha. Most any other fate would be better than a witch's stewpot.
What Graham entered was an empty chamber in the hollowed-out tree, a sort of anteroom at the top of a ladder that went down through a hole in the floor. From below he heard no sounds, and the smell of food floated up into his nose. Graham waited some more, and there were still no sounds beneath him, so he began to climb down the narrow ladder.
A passageway led from the bottom of the rungs into a fragrant and cozy room. A fire blazed, working its magic on a pot of what looked like chicken soup. On a table next to the hearth lay a pair of stocking caps; one of them seemed familiar. Across the room sat an old chest, its hinges hanging loose. Graham opened the chest in order to find out something about the inhabitant of this unique home; what he found brought a revengeful smile to his lips.
First a pair of delicate diamond and sapphire earrings sparkled back at him. As he gently picked them up to admire them, he noticed a second item of jewelry, the piece the earrings had been nestled upon. It was the brooch that had been stolen from him by that "dirty, low-down, rotten, stinkin' little dwarf!"
Graham took both jewels. "No wonder that hat's familiar," he thought. " I think I'll climb back up and see if Hagatha has gone, and then I want get away from here!"
A prankish thought bloomed in the king's mind as he started to leave. "In return for the honor of having separated me from the brooch, I think I'll separate Citizen Bandit from his supper!" With that, Graham took the pot of soup and climbed up the ladder toward the front door.
A quick peek out revealed to Graham that all was clear; there was no sign at all of the witch nor the soon-to-be-hungry dwarf. With a quick, deep breath he headed out the door and to the south, in the general direction of Grandma's house.
King Graham's plan to zigzag back to the cottage had been a sound one all along. Shortly after zipping into the woods from the tree house, he spotted the low white fence around the old woman's cottage. Pacing next to the fence was the blond girl, still distraught. Hurrying up to her, the king held out the basket.
- "See, here is what you had stolen from you by the wolf. Take it back, please."
A transformation came over the girl's face, like sunlight through a thunderhead.
- "Oh, thank you kind sir! Thank you! I will always be grateful for what you have done. Now I can take the food to my sick grandmother."
The girl handed Graham the bouquet of flowers she was carrying. "Take these as a gift of appreciation from me. Please." Then she dashed off to the cottage
Glancing at the lovely flowers, still fragrant with the afternoon warmth, the king remembered that he was carrying the dwarf's soup in his other hand.
- "Chicken soup! it is chicken soup, which means it has the magic to heal common ailments."
Graham set off after the girl in the direction of the cottage's front door.
Inside, the old woman looked even more pale and weak, her white curls drooping out from under her nightcap, her hands trembling slightly. Graham gave her some of the soup.
As is the way with chicken soup, the effects were immediate. Color returned to the woman's cheeks, and a weak smile crossed her face. She pointed a finger towards the floor and told the king that she had some things to give him in thanks for his kind act. They were hidden under the bed.
Dropping to the floor, Graham peered under the old woman's bed and, reaching under, pulled out a large ring with a fine blood-ruby stone. It seemed to fit Graham's hand well, and as he it put it on, the king noticed the initials "C.D." carved on the inside. There as also an oversized elegant black cloak, lined with red satin, and although it was somewhat large for Graham's frame he decided to wear it anyway. The king always will attempt to cut a dashing figure, when the opportunity arises.
A few last pleasantries were exchanged at the end of their impromptu meal, and Graham was satisfied that the woman would recover soon. Wishing her his best, he departed, heading back to the sea.
It was the king's idea to spend the night by the ocean, lulled by the music of the waves. On the very spot of the beach where he had commenced his exploration, Graham drifted off onto the sea of sleep, a speck lost in the breakers of infinity.
Mornings come with spectacle on tropic Kolyma. The gold, cream, and indigo of the dawn sky pulled the ocean back into the world from the dark dimensions of night. King Graham considered the sight and found it good.
"A perfect day to win a bride! he proclaimed to the world as he set off. "Now I just have to find her!"
North was the direction Graham chose to move that morn, following the fluid border of sea and sand until he came back to his own footprints.
He had been traveling but a short time, climbing over and between surf-washed boulders, staying true to his course, when he spied a pointed object glinting in the grass. In truth, there were three points on the artifact. Rusty and corroded, it looked like an elaborate pitchfork. Graham had come across what appeared to be a trident, symbol of the ancient gods of the sea. Ancient indeed did it appear, and out of place, as if it had been washed upon land by a thieving wave and left to be ravaged by the other deities of earth, wind, and fire. How long it had lain uncovered there he could not guess. Its age was great; it even felt ancient in his grasp. Graham carried the trident with him as he moved on; it hadn't been nailed down and would make a weapon if necessary.
The grassy dunes continued to precede the king, step by step, under the cloudless sky. They returned to sand as his march north paced on.
Graham chose as a resting place a log half-buried in the sand. He did check, but the giant driftwood was still solid, with no treasure buried in or under it. He neither felt nor played the fool while looking.
He did spend a moment picking up, admiring, and listening to the shells that dotted this particular beach. Conch, mussel, scallop, and clam--these and more lay scattered. One clam shell, larger than any of the others, seemed a special prize. Indeed it was! The king lifted it from the sand and found lying beneath it, a piece of jewelry--a diamond and sapphire bracelet. It matched exactly the brooch, necklace, and earrings he had already collected. Graham wondered at the beauty of the assembled treasures and saw in them a royal gift--a gift fit for a queen. How they had come to be scattered about Kolyma was a mystery for which he had no answer. He played the problem in his mind as he resumed his northward journey.
Mermaids are unknown in the Kingdom of Daventry, our waters are too chill perhaps, but travelers' tales of them are common, and all rave of their beauty and there beautiful songs. For this reason the king knew upon what he was gazing when he discovered here not long later. Stretched out lazily on a large rockc rising out of the waves, with long green hair covering her breasts and sunlight bouncing rainbows from her scales, the mermaid seemed a vision shimmering in the rocky surf. Graham knew he must talk to her, but his shouts did not carry over the sound of the ocean. Swimming out to where she was, the king was overwhelmed by the mermaid's loveliness. Taking the bunch of flowers the blond girl had given him the day before--only slightly faded and not wilted at all, or so the king recalls--Graham presented them to her as tribute to her beauty.
A smile, for which a man might die, crossed the mermaid's face as she took the bouquet. She raised her voice in song, and a bridled seahorse suddenly swam up to the king's side. The mermaid disappeared under the waves.
Left alone in the ocean with the creature, Graham chose to attempt to ride, instead of merely looking the gift horse in the eye--or the mouth. The moment he mounted, Graham was carried down under the waves, the horse of the sea bearing the monarch with a speed that would have taken his breath away if he had been above the waves.
I have asked King Graham how he was able to breath whilst under the sea. His answer was, "Through my mouth. No water entered as I inhaled; air seemed to come in its place. I was under the protection of King Neptune, and that's the only explanation I can come up with." Mysterious still are the wonders of our world!
King Neptune, the monarch of all the world's seas, was waiting expectantly for Graham at the end of that watery ride. Neptune was physically magnificent, as one would expect of an ancient god. His green beard was touched with gray, like the whitecaps on waves, and his crown was made of shells and other gems of the sea. He looked silently at Graham.
Our monarch, as has been often and correctly observed, is noted for the breadth of his learning and intelligence. Neptune seemed to be expecting something from him, and the king was sure he knew what it was. Taking the ancient trident from his pack, Graham presented it to the god.
A moment passed. And then another moment passed. When Neptune finally looked at Graham again, it was with gratitude. He waved the trident, and a giant clam that was balanced next to the god's throne opened. Inside lay a brilliant gold key.
Neptune gestured to the key, indicating that Graham should take it. At the same time he handed our monarch a bottle with what looked like a piece of cloth inside. Graham took both. The second wave of Neptune's trident was a gesture of dismissal. The king knew it was not wise to spend much time around gods, even friendly ones. He turned the seahorse away and was carried back to shore.
The king sat for a moment on the sand, letting the sun dry him, pondering all that had just befallen him. He took the piece of cloth from inside the gift bottle. It appeared to be just a plain piece of essentially colorless cloth with no inscriptions, pictures of writing. He carefully put it away anyway. Turning the gold key over and over in his hand, he was reminded of the message carved into the magic door and how it described making a splash. Chuckling, Graham headed back to the rickety bridge.
Light-footed, the king continued north, and it was a journey of not undue length that brought him to the site of his former camp. Heading east ran the familiar road past Grandma's house and the monastery. This he followed, the key weighing heavy in his hand, anxious to be used.
The bridge, if anything, looked less stable than when he had crossed it the second time. But cross it again Graham did; he knew he had no other choice. The door, if anything, looked the same, taunting him to open it.
The key fit.
Graham smiled anxiously as he unlocked the magic door. What would the other side hold?
Another door, another inscription, that is what. Graham had resigned himself to the possibility, so he read the words there and seared them into his memory.: "Whosoever chooses to seek the key for this door should set their sights high." Graham lifted his eyes to the heavens and wondered how he was going to get there.
Mountains in the eastern part of Kolyma are unscalable, Graham soon discovered. So steep were they that all climbing was impossible. After he had lightly scooted back across the bridge, he was sure that it had sagged some more beneath his weight. He prayed it would hold for his next crossing.
King Graham chose to explore to the south, venturing past the little lake where he had previously stopped to cool himself and where he had discovered the jeweled brooch. The monastery bell continued its peaceful tolling, inviting all to prayer and succor, and the lake still invited a cooling dalliance. As he traveled past these familiar sights, however, the air began wavering and dancing before him. A fairy, a tiny one, dissolved into the sky and began sprinkling fairy dust in his direction.
"Good King Graham, I am here to help you. I give you a protective spell against evil, but it lasts for only a short time. Goodbye."
The fairy was gone as quickly as she had appeared.
Good King Graham had experience with fairies before; his fairy godmother had dusted him the same way in Daventry. He had learned four things from the experience: one, the spells lived up to their reputation for protection; tow, they lasted a moderate while, but not long; three, they had a tendency to be cast after he really needed them; and four, fairy dust made him sneeze.
On the other hand, the king realized, maybe this spell hadn't been cast after his need for it had vanished. Sure he'd been mugged by the thieving dwarf and he had escaped from Hagatha, but the protection should last long enough for him to get close to the hag--if he could locate her or her den again. If he could do that, he might be able to find another key.
The king, of course, will always rationalize. "Hey! Maybe I'll just stroll over and peek in on a witch. Maybe she'll even invite me for dinner." That is how he thinks. Someday he is going to rationalize himself directly into somebody's cook-pot as the main course. I hope not.
Having decided to find the witch, Graham hiked back to the bridge. "I saw her just past the dwarf's hideout," he remembered. "That should be west of here. Let's go!" And talking to himself, as is his wont, the king reentered the dire forest.
A faint but discernible path slowly took form, leading away from the bridge in the direction Graham headed. Normally he would have welcomed a path of any kind through the woods, but this one disquieted him, making him think of a string leading a cat into an ogre's cooking pot. Once he spotted the dwarf skulking in the distance, but he was easily able to avoid his notice. Perhaps it was the spell's protection.
Again Graham noticed the terrain opening out into rocky hillocks. It was right there that he had come across the crone before. The king shrugged his shoulders, looked back over them, and pressed on. What he arrived at shortly made him wonder about the wisdom of his coming there.
Skulls were arrayed around a clearing in front of what appeared to be the entrance to a cave. Human skulls. Not attached to necks, attached to the tops of stakes. From within the cave came the unmistakable aroma of witch cuisine, ghastly to smell and even more ghastly to contemplate.
Inside, the odor hung so heavy as to stop one's breathing. The lack of sound from within the cave had convinced Graham that it was relatively safe to enter. His decision was sound, but it was difficult to keep from gagging. Most of the stench originated from a black iron cauldron bubbling on top of a wood fire. Floating in the stew were pieced of what once had been flesh--human flesh from the evidence of the limbs to which the meat now barely hung. Lined around the floor, and above, were scores more human skulls. Piles of human refuse littered the darker corners. The entire scene screamed death and decay--all except the incongruous song of a nightingale.
Perhaps one full shaft of sunlight penetrated the shadows, and it was spending this moment lingering on a bird. The nightingale was enclosed within an ornate gilded cage and was swinging merrily on a perch. As Graham approached closer, the bird burst into a song of joy. The king could not bear to leave such a creature of life behind when he left Hagatha's charnel house. He placed the piece of cloth he had been given by Neptune over the cage so that the bird's happy song would not betray them to Hagatha. Then he grabbed the cage and carried it out with him into the sunlight.
The witch was waiting when he got outside.
She stood not ten feet away, staring at the cave as if she suspected intruders. Graham had walked out directly in her view, but she acted as if he and the were bird, were not there.
"Thank you, little fairy!" breached the king soundlessly. The nightingale, too, cheeped not a sound.
Not daring to be near Hagatha a moment longer lest the spell wear off, the bird chirp, or the crone blunder into him, Graham turned noiselessly to the north. He kept moving as fast as he dared until the witch was left well out of sight or hearing.
King Graham paused only briefly on the western shore of the small lake. It appeared to be the same one near which he had discovered the necklace whilst mocking himself. This was no time for more searching, he realized; the time was putting miles between himself and Hagatha. His wind returned, and immediately he continued his escape north, back into the forest.
After an hour or so of quick stepping, the track seemed to end in a dense grove. Progress was still possible in the direction he was heading, but the trees did begin to open somewhat to the east faint splash of sunlight on water there. Against one of the trees in the grove leaned a short, pointed piece of wood. Examining it, Graham saw that it appeared to be an ordinary tent stake, perhaps left behind by a traveler who had rested a night there. With a shrug, the king put the stake into his pack, readjusted its weight, and started moving downhill, east to the water.
Swimming is one of the king's passions, and he indulges in it often for sport, exercise, and relaxation. Lakes, especially, he favors with their deep, still waters warmed by the sun.
It took no genius, though, to observe that there was something wrong with the lake on whose edge he was standing. Festering incrustations fouled its banks, dead trees and brush ringed its shore, and it smelled only slightly less foul than Hagatha's cave. Sick green mists stuck thickly to its surface. Graham guessed the water was poisoned, or worse.
“I think I’ll just pass on a dip this time,” he mused. Stopping seemed pointless, so he began following the shoreline to the south, looking for a way around. A dirt path gave him direction.
The mists cleared for awhile, and the path led Graham around to the southern tip of the stagnant waters, a level spot that looked north upon a small island in the lake’s center. Two ghostly towers groped out of a decaying castle that sat atop the island. Could this be the kidnapped maidens prison. There seemed no boat near that might take him across for a close look, so the king moved on, intending to return and explore this particular mystery further. The lakeshore had turned north, and he continued to follow it.
Follow it he did. North, north, and further north he trekked. There appeared no way across to the mysterious island. What did appear, though, was a sorcerer looking for trouble.
The king was peering across the lake when the short, robed man wearing a pointed magician’s guild hat appeared in the corner of his eye. For a moment Graham thought it might be the same mage who had temporarily turned him to stone in Daventry the year before. He wanted no part of more prestidigenous pranks.
Evidently, though, the fairy’s dust still clung to the king. The sorcerer paid no notice to Graham, who watched the stubby man sniff the air and snort in disgust. Disappearing in a puff of smoke, the sorcerer left Graham alone.
When the shore of the poisoned lake began to turn back to the west, Graham could see there was nothing to be gained by following it any longer. He could also see a clear, pure-water lake just to the east. Maybe there he could rest a bit and clean himself.
Combining business with pleasure, the king explored this lake to its southern shore. He viewed its calming waters from beneath a tree and saw that it was the lake he had stopped at before, just to the south of the monastery. His view took in the rock where he discovered the sapphire brooch.
- At least I know where I am now!"
With that thought, he took his pleasure of the lake.
The antique store in the glen was, in its own way, as incongruous as a birdcage in a witch's den. It stood by itself in a clearing just south of the swimming lake. No other buildings could be seen anywhere. The king walked up the steps to the small porch and saw a sign in the window. It read "OPEN," so he walked on in the door. Inside, old pieces of furniture, ancient brazen pots, and knickknacks of all kinds were displayed for sale. A gray-haired woman sat knitting and rocking behind a counter on the far side of the room.
"I have been closed until now. What can I do for you?" she asked cheerily as Graham entered. "Would you like to look around, or do you have something you wish to sell?"
The king was happy for a chance to be rid of the bird and its cage. He had been carrying it as a gift for the old woman he only knew as "Grandma," as much to give the nightingale a safe home as anything else. Removing the cloth with which he had covered it, Graham offered it now to this woman.
The result of the offer startled the king.
"My precious!", declared the woman. Racing around the counter, she snatched up a brass lamp from its display and handed it to him. Taking the cage and cooing to the singing bird, she showed Graham out.
"Take this," she told him, as she locked the store. "It might help you in your quest!".
With those words, she pulled down the shades and disappeared into the interior of the building. Graham was left standing outside with a lamp in his hand a question on his lips.
"What do I do now?"
Rubbing the tarnish off of the oil lamp with his sleeve was what brought the Djinn. Shirtless and turbaned, with nothing but smoke below the waist, he poofed out of the lamp's spout and hovered in front of my king.
"Master, I have a gift for you. A flying carpet!" the high-pitched voice intoned. Poof! It vanished back into the lamp.
"Not bad!" exclaimed Graham as he looked at a fringed Persian rug.
"A magic carpet, eh? Let's see if I can get the genie to come back." Rub. Squeak. Rub. Two more times did the Djinn appear bearing gifts. And with the third disappearance of the magical messenger, the lamp itself poofed into nothingness.
Graham looked at the treasures bestowed upon him: the carpet, a short, sharp sword with a snake carved in the handle; and a leather bridle, adorned with silver. Putting the sword into his belt and draping the bridle over it, the king sat down to see if the carpet would really fly.
All the king had to do was sit on the magic carpet and it flew. As a method of aerial movement, it much surpassed hanging from the claws of a condor. The king also tells me that his journey was smoother, to the soothing relief of his stomach.
The rug soared to the highest peaks of Kolyma, the very mountains he had unsuccessfully attempted to climb. As he looked over that tropical land from the small mesa where he had landed, Graham imagined he could see to the ends of the earth. Well perhaps not that far, but the lakes and trees were spread out below him like the woven pattern on a carpet. This time the obvious comparison had not escaped him.
Not far from where he landed, he came to a narrow passage that focused between a pair of steep cliffs.A serpent at least ten feet in length sat their coiled, hissing warning and ready to strike, as if guarding the path. "Ssssstaaaayyy awaaaaayyyy, sssssst...," it seemed to be saying.
Graham knew that he must pass the serpent, although what was beyond he knew not. He recalled that the sword he had been given had the image of a snake engraved upon it. That weapon, he decided, should rid him of the menace.
Our king is amongst the most agile of people, and his sureness of both hand and foot have preserved him in several near-fatal situations. As swordsman he is more the fencer than the hack-and-slash type who triumphs through brute strength. To dispatch the snake would take only a flick of his wrist, a flick of a moment.
Of course, he had forgotten about the bridle he stupidly had draped over the sword's hilt. It is through mistakes just as that that dynasties change. But not this time.
With one swift motion King Graham made to grab the hilt and swing the blade through the air, so to slice the head from the serpent's body. His hand grabbed the bridle's silver bit instead, and still thinking he held a sword, he flicked it through the air. Graham's hand opened in its surprise, and in result, he threw the bridle at the snake by mistake. But instead of the serpent slaying our monarch with its own quick kiss, the bridle magically transformed the serpent into a winged horse. Silver white the horse was, the reigns of the leather bridle now about its neck. Pawing the ground and bobbing its head, it neighed to Graham, "Thank you, kind sir, for saving me. To repay you I will give you a sugar cube to guard you against poison brambles." With that the silver steed flew away. Still surprised even to be alive after his blunder, the king could only grasp the gift and watch the horse wing away.
- "People sure do come and go quickly around here, don't they?"
The rest was simple. The snake had been set to guard a small, damp cave. Within it lay a second golden key. Graham squeezed it in his purposefully, now knowing what to do next.
- "Now back to the door. It's time to see just what this unlocks."
With that he sat on the carpet and flew away.
King Graham would have liked the carpet to fly him to the floating door, but this was not to be. Soon our monarch found himself back on solid earth, standing next to the closed antique store. Moreover, the carpet now refused to fly again.
Disappointed, the king turned in the direction of the sagging bridge and began his long trek north. "Feet," he mumbled aloud, "don't fail me now!"
Door number two opened to reveal door number three, which also had a message carved into it: "Whosoever chooses to seek the last key must have a stout heart!"
"At least it says the next key is the last," reflected the king. "I'm sure that the castle in the lake holds the key to the key. I didn't say that, did I?"
know the king too well. He did.
Ghouls in shrouds are not comforting sights. It was such a figure, though, that King Graham approached as he arrived on the south shore of the poisoned lake--shrouded, silent, waiting. He had traveled north from the bridge until his progress was barred by a large, picturesque lake. From there, he had estimated, it was a short jog west to his destination. The king mused that the pretty sight might be his last look at beauty for some time.
Those disquieting thoughts were confirmed the instant he saw the skeletal figure lurking silently within the boat. Hands like claws gripped a long pole; silence, like death, gripped the dusk.
Graham approached the grim boatman to beg for passage. Neither movement nor sound stirred the apparition's frame. Graham entered the rotting boat anyway; perhaps the shade would transport all who approached. As he did so, the king thought he noticed a spark of recognition flash through the boatman's eyes, like the will o' the wisps that sometimes flash from tomb to tomb. Perhaps his nerves were just overexcited. Or perhaps he had been mistaken for someone else--a someone else who also wore a large black cape and ruby ring.
Still and silent, the shrouded figure moved the boat into darkness, stopping finally at the island's brambled shore. Graham carefully left the boat, but the apparition remained, never moving, never breathing.
Thorns and brambles overgrew the dirt path that lead up to the castle. An unhealthy glaze seemed to drip from the thorns, and Graham took a moment to find the sugar cube the winged horse had given him. The king popped the cube into his mouth, eating it before beginning to inch his way between the baneful branches. A tingle of magic shivered down his spine.
It wasn't a long path, just a scratchy one to the castle door. As he reached the entry, graveyard wails assaulted the king from all sides. Several ghosts floated out of the sky, threatening in their approach. Guards they were to the dreadful denizen who inhabited the castle, but they allowed Graham free passage, much as the phantom boatman did, as if they, too, believed he belonged in the castle.
The thought did little to put Graham's mind at rest. Wrapping the large black cloak more tightly around him and rubbing the ring for good luck, he took his first steps into the haunted keep.
Although oil lamps blazed in the entrance hall, the castle was chill; it felt as if no one lived' there. Graham took the passage to his left, through cobwebbed stone archway, to a narrow staircase winding its spiral way up a tower into gloom. One torch halfway up was the only illumination for his slow ascent. He arrived at last at a vacant bedroom that overlooked the foul lake. This, too, seemed unlived-in, musty with the smell of mildew and disuse. A bare cot, sagging and unslept-in, and a nicked dresser were the sole, dismal furnishings. A brief search revealed a candle in one of the dresser drawers, but nothing else of any interest cluttered the tower room.
The way down was as perilous as the climb up. Graham took each step carefully, and when he came to the one burning torch, he used it to light the candle he was carrying. The torch refused to come off the wall, but the candle's added light made the rest of the trip seem safer than before.
Passing back through the entrance hall and through a second stone archway, the king entered a large, draft-filled dining hall. A massive carved table dominated the room. One place was set on that table, and a partially eaten ham sat lonely on its platter, inches above a black sea of foraging ants. Its wave had not yet touched the food, and Graham rescued the ham for his own personal consumption later.
"A king does not live by luck alone," he told himself, well aware that he might need more than food before he left the creepy castle.
Another stone arch seemed to plunge down into the castle's bowels, but Graham chose to first explore through the curtained doorway that also led out of the room.
It led to yet another damp stone stairway, twisting up into the castle's second tower. The room he found at the top of the stairs was even more barren than the cold bedroom. Here, only an old chest filled the space. It was locked and too heavy for the king to move, so he returned downstairs and entered the archway leading into the back depths.
In these days of oil lamps, we often take the lowly tallow candle for granted. Graham became aware of this fact as he slowly made his way down the long, steep, slick stairs. Any false step would have plunged our king to his sure death. That candle was all the illumination he had. It had both scant light and comfort, but it did give some of both. At the edges of the light, the king caught glimpses of bats and rats hurrying on their nameless errands. From within the darkness came sounds that he did not wish to identify, coupled with the stenches of blood and death.
At the bottom of the long descent was a stone room. The candle flickered on the faint image of a doorway there, and Graham's nose reported that it was from there the charnel odor originated.
There came no sound at all from within; even the vermin seemed to shun that room. Breathing shallowly, the king peeked inside, paused, and then entered.
An ornate coffin lay on a stone bier. Closed it was, although the foul aroma passed from it as if there were no barrier at all. Carved upon the lid were the initials "C.D." As much as it repulsed him, King Graham knew he must open the lid.
Count Dracula, lord of vampyres, is well known in the legends of Daventry, legends brought by some of our folk from the Other World. never has it been mentioned, however, that the Prince of the Night had, himself withdrawn here. But the creature revealed when Graham finally did open the lid of the dungeon sepulcher, the dead-white complexion and life-blood red lips, the tips of his stained fangs reflecting the sputtering flame, the initials carved in the lid--the same as the initials in the ruby ring he was wearing--all together whispered the name "Dracula" to the king.
Graham wasted no time in fright; he knew he must rid the world of the infernal fiend, and he must do it before his candle extinguished. King Graham killed Count Dracula their again, although how can one be truly sure the undead will remain so? The tent stake, turned the creature into the coffin to a pile of dust. The dust still stank.
Within the dust Graham saw a key, silver it seemed, resting on a background of red satin. He took it.
A red satin pillow was the only other thing left within the coffin, and beneath it Graham found yet another key, this one gold, in all particulars exactly like the other keys to the magic doorway.
Graham lingered in the crypt for less time than it takes to tell the tale. Swiftly he moved out, up the stone stairs, lest his failing light die before he left the darksome depths.
The flame expired as he reached the ant-covered table, but by then the castle's torches lent enough light to see. The king returned to the chest in the bare room in the second tower. Knowing that was where the silver key fitted, he unlocked the chest, and, when he lifted its lid, was dazzled by the sight of another piece of jewelry. This time it was a diamond and sapphire tiara, its brilliance destined for a queen!
With the third gold key in his hand, King Graham was sure he would soon be with the maiden he wished to be that queen.
"If I can make it past Hagatha, sorcerers, mad dwarves, decaying bridges, and how knows what else!"
Suffice it to say, the king did safely return to the floating doorway. For the seventh time he crossed the swaying span and, looking at from the security of solid earth, was sure neither he nor it would survive an eighth trip.
We will never know if the king's suspicion was correct, for when he unlocked the third door, it opened to reveal not another door, but what looked like another world. He left the bridge and Kolyma behind when he stepped through it.
Such a world! To see such marvels myself would be worth most any price!
Astonishing pink sky reached to meet the cobalt blue beach. A tempest sea raged rainbow colors, changing with the waves. Unclimbable rock-faced cliffs towered above and below the narrow strand. A lavender waterfall plummeted over them to reach unswimmable waters.
The doorway had disappeared as soon as the king stepped out, and his quick survey had emphatically confirmed that he was between the rocks and a hard place. He appeared to be stranded.
Near the waterfall, though, lay abandoned what looked like a fishing net, although the material was as unusual as the sky's color. Graham considered the net and his predicament for a while, then cast the net into the sea. Several times he did this, hoping to catch a flying fish for seahorse, or perhaps a mermaid to help him on his way. What he did finally net was none of the above. Oh, no!
The fish was as golden as treasure, and it flopped upon the blue beach gasping for breath. No words did it speak; its beautiful form writhed to and fro in agony. Unable to let the creature suffer more, the king mercifully picked it up and threw it back into the sea.
"Perhaps I'll have better luck next time," he told the waves.
But before he could pick up the net again, the wondrous fish lived itself back out of the water and spoke to Graham!
"Kind sir! In return for saving my life, I shall give you a ride across the waters."
With little to lose by trusting the fish, King Graham jumped into the rainbow sea to be carried to another shore.
An island awaited King Graham at the other end, with more blue beaches, yellow earth, and oversized vegetation that was grotesque in its appearance. "Curiouser and curiouser!" he breathed, and then headed inland in search of further marvels.
Inland, in this case, was east of where the fish had flung him. He had walked but moments from the beach when his eyes came across something metallic on the ground, just steps away from a miniscule lagoon. Picking it up, the king found it to be an amulet, tarnished, but with one word etched in its back. The word was "HOME."
"Just where I'd like to be right now," he thought. "But, there is a maiden to be found and her hand to be won. Then I'll work on getting us back to Daventry." With that said, he looked to the south and saw the Crystal Tower.
Creamy quartz, its blocks reflected the strange sunlight in rainbow waves. Tall it was, reaching thirty feet or more above the enchanted island. Near its peak a tiny window opened, and from it a delicate hand waved.
"Help me! Please, help me. I'm a prisoner here. Will you please free me? help! The door is unlocked. Quickly before Hagatha returns."
The voice, although desperate and pleading, was like melody to the king's ears. In his now heated brain, that melody became a martial tune impelling him toward the tower door.
Unlocked it was, the witch perhaps trusting the isle's remote and peculiar location as prison enough for the kidnapped princess.
It could be no other but the maiden; the king had passed the three doors and come to the Crystal Tower. The object of his quest was at the top of the stairs.
Love--people just love to capitalize Love, for reasons that are beyond my understanding. I have often been told by the king, and others, that Love conquers all. Perhaps it does, and it did this time, but Love can turn the most composed and serene person into a sweating fool. Our king is neither.
Slimed and narrow, the stairs caused our excited monarch to slip and fall several times as he began his mad dash up. Finally his overworked emotions slowed enough for him to return to his senses. With more care this time he made his progress to the tower's top.
The lion there looked hungry. It also looked large. And it was looking at King Graham as if it were looking at supper.
"Maybe it just wants to be fed," the king reasoned in a moment of gargantuan understatement.
"Maybe he'll let me by if I give him something other than me to eat."
The king prefers never to kill, although he has. The sword he carried could very easily have dispatched the beast, he knew, but he chose a kinder alternative.
The ham had been with him since the vampyre's castle. Events had carried along so quickly that the king had had no time to stop, much less eat. He gave the food to the lion, knowing that if it did not distract the big cat or satisfy its hunger, he could always strike with the sword.
Lions snore; even I had never known that until the king told me.
Gratefully, the lion had taken the savory ham and, having devoured it and washed himself daintily, in the manner of the king of beasts, curled himself into sleep. At last Graham was able to step by the contented guardian and unlock the door to his heart's delight.
I shall spare you the more lurid details of the meeting, although the king raved on me about it for what seemed hours, convinced, I think, that he and Valanice are the world's first lovers.
He looked at her. She looked at him. They talked. They sighed. They embraced. They kissed. Boring, isn't it?
In the end Valanice asked Graham if he would take her, and where? The king whispered, "Home."
With that word, the amulet transported the blissful couple away from the tower.
The tale of how King Graham found and won Queen Valanice is now finished, just as their marriage is beginning.
Perhaps now the king's adventuring days are over, except for that of the sweetest quest--the quest for an heir. It is an exploration that he and his queen embark on together. Gladly.
May their marriage prosper and may they have many fine children, strong and good.
May the Kingdom of Daventry prosper along with the royal family, it too is growing strong and good.
- Long live King Graham!
- Long live Queen Valanice!
- Long live King Graham and Queen Valanice of Daventry!
Notes and References
- ↑ KQC1E,
- ↑ This sentence was added in second edition.
- ↑ in early editions, the sentence reads "...the the blond girl..." this was fixed in at least the fourth edition.
- ↑ The first edition reads, "...Graham pressed on through the trees."
- ↑ First edition reads, "...sapphire treasure."
- ↑ First edition reads "...and then I want to get out of here!"
- ↑ Later editions omit part about her returning to her grandmother
- ↑ Later editions omit the part of her heading towards the cottage
- ↑ Later editions omit the part about Graham following after the girl
- ↑ Later editions add the word, "inside" to the sentence
- ↑ Second edition adds the "Goodbye."
- ↑ The last sentence was added in the second edition.