Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 02:17:09 -0500 (EST)
From: Bayard 
being the second part of the chronicles of megafania

Fegs, my apologies for the lateness of this missive.
I have been delayed by the continuing struggle of good and evil that
plagues us.  Of course, I'm not about to disclose which side I am on...

Now where were we.  Oh yes; Our Hero had just beaten Ebony Bill at His Own
Game and proceeded to the Next World.  Now, something I should tell you is
that our protagonmist suffered from fading memories as he travelled from
world to world.  It's a glitch I have not been able to work out yet,
despite my mastery of Time (which is round) and Space (which is cursed.)
I call this fading-memory phenomenon the "You & Oblivion Effect", because
the affected party retains his sense of self, but loses everything else, a
bit at a time, the most important things first.

Our traveller's second journey nearly proved disastrous, and I was forced
to intervene...  We join our friend at a crossroads in the Kingdom of

"Dusty traveller, how come you to Megfania?"

"Hm?" our hero was disorientated.  "Oh, I, er.. I seek the source
of greatest evil."

"No, I mean how is it that you travel here?  By what means?"

"I... I'm not sure, really.  Last thing I remember, I was enjoying some
very fine beer, and now I find myself at this crossroads."

The other man nodded sagely.  "Sounds like you could use some help then.
Well, this road here leads to our capital, Roam.  But then all roads lead
to roam, eh?" he chuckled.  "That is where you will find the source of
evil in Megfania, for it is there that King Quail lies under a dark
enchantment, and he is an unmarried king as well, and unable to
conceive of children, and will relinquish the throne only to a knight who
can best him in personal combat.  Mean time, he is mean all the time, and
our fair kingdom is in turmoil."

"Thank you kind sir, you are most helpful!  Allow me to introduce myself-"

"That I cannot allow!  The King has spies everywhere, and they would carry
your name to him quickly.  But as I have no wish to challenge him to
personal combat, I will give you my name.  I am Mark of Glostershire, and
I am at your service."  he bowed low, and swept his jester's hat with a
flourish; its tiny bells jingled merrily.  "I am but a humble jestrel,
but I too travel to Roam to try to break the king's evil spell.  I would
be honored to accompany you."

"For that I would be most grateful!  But pray, what is a jestrel?"

"Why a jester minstrel, of course.  I live by my wits and my music is my
only weapon.  Speaking of which, you will need to aquire magical artifacts
or astonishing power if you wish to challenge the King!  We must find the
legendary railway shoes, perhaps, or better yet, the much-sought Sword of
Hedblade!  It is an intelligent weapon, and likely the only one that could
defeat the King."

"Where might we find this Hedblade?"

"I have no idea - but I know of someone who might.  She may also have an
idea of how to break the king's evil spell, being herself an Enchantress.
And fortunately for us, her house is right on the way."

"Then let's be off!"  And they were.


The house of Scary Mary was deep in the heart of the Tiger Wood, and the
air nearby shimmered with dark green energy.  As they ventured deeper into
the dark heart of the wood, the travellers noticed a pair of crimson eyes
with a frightening diabolical, yet playful slant.  "One of the tigers for
which the wood is named?" asked our hero.  "No, that was Wren, Mary's
familiar; the Devil Dog," Mark of Gloster replied.  "It is in line with
her sense of humor to name a vicious (but very frolicsome) demon canine
after a small bird.  Even now she has departed to report our arrival to
her mistress."

Just then the lights came up and the two travellers found themselves
inside the house of the enchantress.  She greeted them kindly and appeared
to be sinister, but happy.  "So you seek to overthrow the Evil King?" she
said.  "A daunting task!  The magic that afflicts him is older than this
world.  You will need strong magic indeed to counteract it.  Go and seek
ye the one known as woj.  But be warned, his CD collection is vast, and
his guardians fierce.  He can be found in the Garden of Light, beyond the
Usenet Waste.  If you can convince him to help you, he can help you defeat
the king, for woj has been here since the world began.  But no one has
ever crossed the Usenet Waste unscathed.  You will have to deal with
Gondoleb, and a tasty morsel you may prove for him!"

The men bowed low.  "Thank you, Enchantress," said our hero.

"Take you this silver wand, its power is limited, but could be enough if
you use it rightly."  She slipped one from an urn that held many such
wands.  "Farewell."  And the travellers were disappeared to the far edge
of the Tiger Wood.


The travellers found themselves parched and tired at the end of the day's
journey, so they stopped at an inn called, strangely enough, "Muswell Hill
Cab Hire & Lodging."  As they entered they noticed three ghouls playing
cards in one corner, beneath a green lamp.  They gave the ghouls a wide
berth and instead stepped to the bar where a number of citizens were
having (of all things) a religious discussion.  "God walks among us," one
insisted.  "He assumes human form and travels among the living."
"Blasphemy," another dismissed him.  "Anyone knows The Goddess would never
dirty her hands with the material world, unless it had something to do
with toast or toasters... have you no priorities?"   "--I always thought
God would be the one who scored a 20 on the 20-point scale," someone else
said.  "Where do you go when you die?" yet another patron mused.

"Er- excuse me, worthy folk," interrupted Mark of Glostershire.  "We seek
the one known as woj, that we might wrest this kingdom from the evil hands
of he who holds it.  Can you direct us to the garden of light?"

The motley bunch turned in startlement.  "You'll never manage to defeat
the King," said one.  "His clan has been affected with the Dark affliction
ever since Fane came to this land.  The current King has gone through a
dozen Queens and can neither procreate nor die.  He will rule forever!"

"A dozen queens?" asked the Hero in amazement.

"The king has ruled for centuries," explained another chap.  "In the
beginning, all seemed well.  The Beautiful Queen tempered his rule and
gentleness reigned.  When she died he took another wife, the Queen of
Eyes, who saw the darkness in his soul; madness filled her veins.
Many followed...  finally Queen Elvis...  --it is best that we do not speak
of it."

"We seek the mighty wizard woj, that he might provide us with a weapon
worthy of the task - the Hedblade, or perhaps Brenda's Iron Sledge."

A swarthy man shook his head. "Even those artifacts could not do it.  The
King is cursed, and so are the noble women of the kingdom - one must wed
the King upon the new moon.  Perhaps the Lady Vivayn, or Caroline the
Good, daughter of King Charles of Canadia.  Even now it wanes - all are

"Still," said the steadfast Mark of Gloster, "We must try. Can you direct
us to the proper entry point to the Usenet Waste?"

"Ah," sighed the man, "you will end up in Gondoleb's barkhouse, or
trampled by a pamplemoose.  But very well - the entry point to the Waste
is just south of Overbury, near the mausoleum.  There you will encounter
Gondoleb, who will ferry you across the Wastes - for a price.  When--
IF you make it to the other side, seek a tavern called the Hovering
Kestrel.  It's near the Flaming Pig, in Burningham.  The barkeep can
direct you further, should further be where you wish to go."

The two wayfarers thanked the men profusely and departed from the inn.
As they left the common area a slight, nattily dressed man with spectacles
and a sharp beard entered the inn and walked over towards the three


Though it was just before dawn, they set off immediately, munching their
waytoast as they walked, so as to throw off any pursuit.  They arrived in
Overbury as the sun began to eat its way through the ominous cloud cover.
At the edge of the mighty Waste they paused in horror.  Charred threads
writhed in the smouldering ashes of the forgotten flame wars.  Strewn in
the shifting sands were terabytes of copyright violations, sand serpents,
and worse.  They did not have long to wait before Gondoleb sidled up to
them in his sand skiff.

Contrary to what they had been led to believe, he was not a frightening
monster at all, just a slim flesh golem with yellow stripes.  "Need a
ride?" he asked.  "The price is the answer to a single question of my
choosing.  If you fail, I feed you to the sand serpents, or..." he checked
his watch; yes, it was almost breakfast time.

"We must traverse the Waste," said our hero.  "We accept your terms."

"Then climb aboard," said Gondoleb.

The skiff was a powerful craft and soon a plume of sand shot dozens of
feet in the air behind them as they skimmed along at a breathtaking rate.
"So how did you get into this business?" Mark of Gloster asked their
conveyor chattily.

"Oh, this isn't my real job.  I just like helping people.  And I'd rather
people not know what I really do - people can be so judgemental."  His
passengers nodded.  Soon they had arrived at the far end of the Waste.

"Now," said Gondoleb, rubbing his hands together and looking as though he
were on the verge of saying "Whee!", "Riddle me this.  Draw a line between
Robyn Hitchcock and Carl Palmer, WITHOUT," he hastened to add, "Without
using any albums with more than three letters."

The travellers were terrified.  They didn't know Jack about Carl Palmer!
But Mark of Gloster sat down hard and thought harder.  Well, Hitchcock has
_Eye_.  What was it in those liner notes... if only he had listened to
_Eye_ more, and not the red produced one with the lemons...  Courtesy of
A&M... originally released in... AHA!  "Eureka!" he cried and jumped to
his feet.  "In the _Eye_ liner notes, Mr. H alludes to the song 'Kung Fu
Fighting,' which was by Carl Douglas, who shares a first name with Carl

Gondoleb was aghast.  "What the f.... that's not a music connection!
Douglas and Palmer may have played together, but..."

"Well you didn't say it had to b--"

"Get the hell off my gondola!"

"It's not a gondola, it's a sk-"

"OUT!"  the indignant golem shoved them onto the mossy bank and departed
hastily.  Incredibly, they had survived!  They surveyed their
surroundings.  All along the bank, melons bulged through the planks of
ancient shipwrecks.  On to Burningham and Roam!


After a hearty meal at the Flaming Pig, our travellers stopped in at the
Hovering Kestrel Tavern & Pub.  The barkeep was known as Lex Dudich, and
was an amiable sort, even if he did rather resemble a stoned owl. "Seek ye
the wizard woj?"  said he.  "Aye, you may find him, but beware his temper
if you do!  He's offed men for offenses as simple as a cookie recipe, a
tweetie bird post, or even a top 10 albums list.  Not to mention a graph
of the 20-point scale, and please don't, nor tell him I did."  This
20-point scale must be some weird cult religion in this kingdom, thought
the traveller.  "Above all else, do not mispronounce, or - Goddess forbid!
- -CAPITALIZE his name."

"Consider us well warned," said our protagonist impatiently.  "How might
we find him?"

"woj resides in the Garden of Light, by the oceanside, where the
Lobsterman roams," said Dudich.  "Beware the Devils Coachman, a scarab
with a nasty pinch.  If I cannot dissuade you, you had best be off.
The new moon rises this very night, and so will one of the ladies of the
kingdom be wed to that insane overlord, King Quail."  The journeymen
thanked him and quickly left the tavern.


"i see you are in dire need of my assistance," said the mighty wizard woj.
"still.... this quail-creature has no hold over me.  why should i help

"O great wizard," said the hero, "Without your boon one of the fair ladies
of the kingdom will wed King Quail this very night, with horrible results.
Each and every one of his Queens has met with death."

"quail is over 1000 years old!" cried woj.  "his wives all died of old
age.  except for queen elvis, of course..."  he made a face and changed
the subject.  "i've never unsubscribed anyone just for living a long

"Mighty wizard," spoke Mark of Gloster, (these heroes know how wizards
like to be addressed) "If you could see fit to bestow upon us an Object of
Power, I could give you this."  He pulled from his jester's cloak a small
cup and disc.  "The Grail.  A disc with all Robyn Hitchcock unreleased
demo masters, in handy MP3 format."

at this woj grew interested.  "i know some others who will appreciate
this," said he, and took the gift.  "very well!  name your prize."

"If you have in your possession the Mighty Sword of Hedblade, perhaps we
might use it to defeat the king in single combat."

"i do indeed, and it is yours.  now you must hasten, for night draws near.
mind that you do not awaken my attack cats on the way out."

"Never fear," said Gloster, "I know how to handle such beasts."


Luck was with them and they did not encounter the Lobsterman or any Devils
Coachmen as they left the receding shoreline.  They quickened their pace
and pulse as perspex mountain and Quail Castle rose before them,
silhouetted against the setting sun.  Suddenly they were three.

"Greetings, friends," said the newcomer.  "I am known as the Rook.  Are
you for Quail Castle?"

"We are very much against it," said our hero grimly, "yet it is our

"Word of your quest has reached far and wide, to all thirteen corners of
the kingdom.  Never let it be said that Alin Rook is a coward - may I join
you in this noble adventure?"  He smiled and a charming curly forelock
fell before his eyes.

Seems harmless enough, they thought.  "Okay."

"Are you not going to sleep before you attempt siege on Quail Castle?"

"I cannot go to sleep because... because.."

"Because if he does he will awake in the Next World," finished Gloster.
"He is suffering from you & oblivion," he added conspiritorially.

"I see," said the Rook, and did.  Back at home sitting in front of the
Palantir, I saw as well, saw that the two were in grave danger.  The Rook
was obviously a servant of the Quail - didn't they see the bird imagery?
Fools!  I made preparations to go to Megfania immediately.  I only hoped I
would arrive in time...


As the invisible moon rose over Megfania, the Quail's court flooded over
with the citizens of his domain.  Soon one of the lovely noble ladies of
the realm would become his Queen, as so many had before her.  Who would it
be?  The angelic Lizajane Lindberg?  The deliciously naughty Duchess of
Dodge?  Princess Caroline the Good?  The Lady Randi, who enjoyed
tremendous popularity throughout the kingdom and beyond?  The Lady Vivayn,
said to be betrothed to some sailor character from a distant port?  Lord
Kay or She-Rex, themselves rulers of distant kingdoms?  The Gnat of
Megfania, who always had something shiny up her sleeve?  Karol or Caren,
the fair Sisters?  Or even that mysterious Enchantress from across the
Usenet Waste.  He'd always been intrigued by her.  Well, no matter who,
just as long as they got to have a big party.  King Quail LOVED parties.
He rubbed his hands together and watched the black moon move through the
starless sky.


"There's nothing for it, I will have to confront the Quail and challenge
him to honorable combat."

"He'll never agree to that!  The king is the source of all evil in
Megfania.  He'll die before doing anything honorable!"

"Let us hope so."

"He'll throw you in his dungeon with the rest of the wisecracking rats!"

"How do you plan to defeat the king?" asked Alin Rook, with a voice like
iron dropped on velvet.

"I am armed with the invincible sword of Hedblade.  It knows the weakness
of its opponent and it cannot be bested."

The three had reached the castle gates.  "In the name of the Goddess, let
us in that we may join the party!"  they cried.

"Give us the passphrase," shouted back the gatekeeper, one John H. Hedges.


"Enter, friends!"

The massive portcullis clanked open and the three entered the castle.  The
ceremony was about to begin.  But the bride had not been chosen and the
King was nowhere in sight- or rather, nowhere to be found.


I found them in the courtyard and hastened toward them.  "Gandalf!" cried
the hero.  "How is it that you come to be here?"

"Never mind that.  There is an enemy in your midst!  Beware the Rook
within the Castle!"

Alin Rook gave a cry of triumph and pulled the Hedblade from the hero's
scabbard.  "The game is finished!  God walks among you!  Now I shall kill
you and marry the damsel of my choice."

Ever the hero, our protagonist drew his only remaining weapon, the silver
wand.  King Quail laughed a cruel Quail laugh - a cluck, almost.  "Your
dowsing rod has no pull with me!  He swung the mighty blade over his
head and gasped, falling to his kness.  "My hmuh!" he cried, scabbling in
the dirt of the courtyard.  "This accursed blade has severed my hmuh!"  he
grasped for it but it slipped through his fingers, sliding into the dirt
like a worm.  The King collapsed, drained of his evil Quail powers.

"The blade knew the Quail was still the Enemy, and acted accordingly,"
said Gloster the jestrel.

"Or perhaps the Silver Wand of the enchantress intervened," said the hero.

"Or perhaps it was simple happenchance," said I.

"So that's what those silly little things that stick out of the heads of
Quails are called," said John H. Hedges.


Needless to say, with the departure of his evil quail powers went the rest
of the curse, as well as his immortality and a little bit of his sex
appeal.  But the Quail - or Alin, as he chose to be called from that day
forward - ruled wisely and well for all of his remaining years, and DID
marry again, choosing the Angel of Megfania, Liza Jane Lindbergh (though
some say SHE chose HIM).  Mark of Gloster stayed on as Official Court
Jestrel and played classics by Stan Ridgeway as well as many originals
which were also well-received.

I, of course, returned home using my usual means, and our hero slept well
and awoke in a very strange place indeed....

NEXT TIME - Feg Wars: Episode I

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