7. The Champion

Once upon a time, a Champion crossed the desert, forded the river, climbed the mountain, and descended into the valley where a Princess, trapped by her evil step-mother, stood at a high open window.

“I’m here to free you from yon tower,” the Champion called up.

“You must first fight the Dragon and bring me back the Glowy Orb,” the Princess called down.

“Where is this mighty Dragon and this Glowy Orb, Princess?”

“In yon cave,” The Princess said, pointing.

“I shall accept this task,” the Champion called up. “Then you shall be my wife.”

“I shall. I shall,” the Princess sang happily.

The Champion, with his steed under him, rode to yon cave. He pushed through the Dragon’s mists and confronted the beast, who sat on a flat stone and wore the Glowy Orb as an amulet round his scaled neck, which was as thick as a stack of truck tires.

“I’m here to slay you, you nasty thing,” the Champion told the Dragon.

“You are but a dollar bill to me,” the dragon said. “Slay me, you say. Ha.” The Dragon opened his wings and aimed fire at the Champion’s head, searing his long locks down to the scalp. The Champion sucked in the pain and leapt high and as the Dragon opened his great jaws for another burst of fire, the Champion thrust his sword into the Dragon’s pickle-colored tongue, splitting his voice in twain, and hence slaying him.

“I have the orb, Princess. You are free, and so you shall be my wife.”

“Not quite,” the Princess said. “You must next fight the Sea Monster and find the Silver Ring he has in his guts. This with the Orb will assist us in unbinding my evil step mother’s spell.”


“Yes, only the Glowy Orb and the Silver Ring will protect you from the Tower’s Touch of Inimical Death.”

“Then I shall accept this task and then you shall be my weib and we shall, together, eliminate this inimical Touch.”

“It shall be so,” the Princess called down.

The Champion rode to the sea and swam far. The Sea Monster rose forth from the waters and snarled: “Who dares enter the realm of me?”

“Tis I, and I am here to murder you and reclaim the Silver Ring, and then the Princess shall be my wife, you nasty creature.”

“Tis a trick,” the Sea Monster said. “I’m no nasty creature. Secondly, this Princess has uttered you lies, like a Wall Street monger of inimical rumors.”

“It is you who lies, for all men and women and children know that sea monsters are incompetent hedge fund managers.”

The Sea Monster, enraged, bit at the Champion. The monster’s fangs were sharp as spears, black as unlit basements, hard as trigonometry to a poodle, and he caught the Champion with one of those so described fangs, stabbing through a lung. The Champion sucked in the pain. The Sea Monster then tried to smash and drown the Champion with his massive chin. The Champion swam deep, slipped into the Sea Monster’s anus, crawled through his cavernous bowels, and found the Silver Ring in the gut. Then he ate the sea monster’s heart, which tasted of tuna sashimi and was the size of an apple, thus vanquishing him.

“I have the Silver Ring and the Glowy Orb, Princess. Now we may leave our throthhood and enter into post-troth. I have travelled far, lost my hair and a lung, and put myself otherwise in great jeopardy for these prizes.”

“At this moment Impossible,” the Princess said. “You must, thirdly, procure the Minstrel’s Violin from the Stone Giant, for his playing of it befouls the ears of my countrymen in the yonder woods and suppresses the song of the birds. Then, and only then, will we be wed and live happily ever after, my Prince.”

The Champion blew puffs of frustration from his mouth. He called up, “I shall accept this last adventure, my Princess, for your hand. Where is this mighty Giant?”

“In that forest across the plain,” the Princess said. “But be cautious for your sword will have no effect on the great Giant’s stoniness.”

“I shall triumph nonetheless,” the Champion said. And so forth he set, slept one day, and ate non-poisonous mushrooms, and made the forest the next. In a glade, he found the mighty stone Giant, who rose from the earth with the Minstrel’s Violin, which he strummed and strummed poorly, for his finger pads were as big as baseballs.

“Who disturbs my practice time?” the Stone Giant boomed.

“Tis I, the Champion, come to relieve the ears of the folk hereabouts from yon Violin, and then, and only then, will I have the hand of the Princess.”

“Fool, you are lied to, and to remove this here yon violin from my person will bring on the new ice age.” And then the Stone Giant swiped at the Champion with a fist the size of a net filled with numerous baseballs. The Champion ducked. The Stone Giant then raised his foot and stomped on the Champion’s, breaking the bones. Sucking in the pain, the Champion grabbed hold, climbed to the Giant’s head, took a clarinet from his pack, and proceeded to blow bars of Sidney Bechet’s All of Me in the Stone Giant’s ear, which was the size of a hubcap. The Stone Giant grew placid then and sat down.

“We shall make a deal,” the Stone Giant proclaimed. “I shall trade thee this yon violin for your wind instrument and then, and only then, shall you have the hand of the Princess in nuptials.”

“I accept this fair-sounding trade,” the Champion said. “For nuptials is all I seek in truth. But do not be disappointed, great monster, for thy fingers are quite large for the instrument’s holes, and I fear you may be an unproductive band leader.”

“Do not be alarmed, Champion, for I am no Stone Giant at all, but the Princess herself. Behold.”

The Champion leapt from the monster’s head and watched as the Stone Giant transformed into the slender and beautiful Princess, now free from the poisoned tower. She wore the Orb about her neck, the Silver Ring on her finger. She carried the clarinet in a black leather case and the Minstrel’s Violin on a sling.

“You are free and you are beautiful,” the Champion said.

“You risked your life for me, crossed the desert, climbed the mountain, lost your hair, lung, and foot bones, my Champion.”

“Indeed,” the Champion said, sucking in the pain.

“Then I shall give you of me, great sir, and we shall live in yon tower, and I shall heal your wounds, salve your head, and play tunes to you deep into the night. And we shall diminish hunger, restore honor to the land, bring roundness to the sharp edge, grow gardens where gardens will grow, imprison the miscreants, sharpen dull surfaces, uncover the oft unobserved or the obvious but lost, and build ships that will travel to neighbor galaxies.”

“We shall,” the Champion said. “We shall do all of it as you say, my Princess. But how, how shall we do it all, my love?”

“I know not, my Champion, for all of it is yet a fiction.”