Percivale is trapped in the Sherwood Forest with Bors and Gareth. They escape when Robbin’ Hoody implores the Green Man to send the knights back to Camelot.
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Percivale hit something. He groaned in pain, smelled pine needles, and continued to fall. He thumped into the ground and passed out.
When he regained consciousness, Percivale sensed people around him and decided to act like he was still unconscious until he could assess any possible danger. The ground were he lay was cold and Percivale shivered despite his attempt not to.
"Looky here, my pretties," a high-pitched voice said.
"A bonnie lad," a second voice replied.
"A warrior, methinks from the ax he carries," first voice said.
"Is he dead, you think?" second voice asked.
A toe gave Percivale's ribs a hard nudge making him move involuntarily.
"He lives." The footsteps rapidly retreated.
"Can we keep him?" a third voice asked.
"Nay, Carla, warriors make poor pets. They hate captivity and are dangerous when caged."
Percivale rolled over and sat up. His first glance at the three strangers startled him. Middle-aged women with scraggly white hair, they had nightmarish features. Their black, tight-fitting kirtles threatened to burst from the mass of flesh the cloth attempted to control.
"Good morrow, handsome visitor. Where are ye from?" The voice belonged to the first speaker. She seemed a bit older than the other two.
"I hope he ain't a bloody damned Brit," said the second. "Are ye?"
"Where am I?" Percivale ran a hand over his body searching for broken bones. "Where's my horse?"
"Ye are in the bonnie Highlands," replied the third woman. "And a horse grazes over yonder." She pointed deeper into the woods.
Percivale's mouth dropped open. How did he end up in the far north when the Green Man was supposed to send them south? Apparently the Green Man didn't understand directions.
"He's a wee one," second voice said.
"How can ye tell, withal he still wears his pants?" third voice asked.
"Ye have a filthy mind, Carla," the oldest one said.
"Aye, and proud of it I am."
"A filthy mind is an awful thing to waste," the second one observed. "So, who are ye?"
"My name is Percivale. I'm a knight inna service of King Artie of Camelot. Who are you three?"
"He is a bloody damned Brit," the oldest one said. "But I guess we can't be choosey at our age. I'm Agatha, and this is Bertha." Bertha dropped a curtsy that set mounds of flesh rippling and quivering under her kirtle. She had a large green wart on the right side of her nose.
"And this is our baby sister, Carla." Carla looked boldly at Percivale and slowly licked her upper lip. She had nostril hairs so long she weaved them into twin braids.
"We are the Wryd Sisters, witches all," Agatha added.
"Here," Bertha said handing Percivale a small flask. "Take a wee sip of this. It'll restore your natural humors."
Percivale took the flask and pulled the stopper. A whiff of alcohol escaped from it. He sipped and swallowed. Immediately, his throat and stomach felt like he had swallowed liquid fire. "What is that stuff?" he gasped.
"Double malt," Bertha replied.
"From a secret family recipe," Agatha said. "We age it in oak casks."
"Aye," Carla said. "Sometimes as long as a week."
"Mayhap, Percivale will join our quest," Bertha said. "We could use a bold lad to dismay the laird."
"Aye, especially since this one is twice beholden to us," Carla added.
"I'm beholden to you?" Percivale frowned and tried to work that one out. "How so?"
"First, we stood guard over ye and didn't leave ye for the wolves. Second, we didn't steal from ye, even though ye lay helpless as a new-born newt."
"Carla has the right of it," Bertha said. "You owe us recompense and we need help. Will you honor your debt or must we turn you into a beetle, food for the nearest snake?"
"What's this quest?"
"We seek to protect our pet Nessie from the wrath of the Laird of the Loch," Agatha replied.
"The scion of Malcolm," Bertha said, "the one who killed MacBeth and seized the throne."
"The despicable Laird has sworn to kill Nessie with a great hunt," Bertha said.
"I've raised her since she was a wee tadpole," Carla said. "Why, only last year, I loosed her in the loch when she grew too big to care for in our hut. And now, the Laird means to harm her."
Percivale stood up and knocked dirt and pine needles from his pants.
"Have ye always been so short, or are ye enspelled?" Bertha asked.
"Mayhap, upon kissing a virgin, ye'll regain your natural height." Agatha winked at him.
"Here now," Carla huffed. "I saw him first. I'll be one doing the kissing."
"I propose we all take a turn to break the spell," Bertha said.
"I'm not enspelled and no one is kissin' me." Percivale barely restrained himself from shuddering at the idea of the kisses. A quest would occupy his mind while he figured out how to return to Camelot.
Do you enjoy untypical coming-of-age stories? Well, you won’t find one more untypical than Moxie’s Problem. Moxie is an obnoxious, teen-age princess who has never been outside her father’s castle. Until now. The real world is quite different and she struggles to come to grips with reality. The story takes place against a backdrop of Camelot. But it isn’t the Camelot of legends. It’s Camelot in a parallel universe. So, all bets are off!
Genre – Fantasy, Sci-fi
Rating – G
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