Friday, September 5, 2014

Lady Elaryindril & Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback: Book II, Part 1

the Quarterback

Volume One of the Kingdom of AtoL Serie
by Marty Reeder

Book II:
The Temple of the Goddess of AtoL

Part 1

“That’s it?” Lady Elaryindril asked, bemused.

“That is it,” Gåtesbuî the Great solemnly denoted.

“But we only walked for another two minutes.”

“Yes,” Gåtesbuî the Great responded. “What did you expect?”

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback intervened at this point. “You shouldn’t ask Maiden Know-It-All her expectations in this world, ‘cause we don’t have time to hear ‘em all.”

The trio picked their way through the haze among the rubble of large black stones strewn about the area in front of them. All around them, they heard distant animal cries. If either of the Crater High students wondered which disturbing creature name belonged to which noise, they did not voice it.

“What a despicable evil it was for the Wraith Lord to destroy this temple!” Elaryindril said while ducking under a fallen column.

“Yeah,” Cyrus Knowles acknowledged looking around. “This is just running up the scoreboard if you ask me.”

Gåtesbuî the Great rounded the broken remnants of a wall. “I believe the Room of Visions was just around here.” As soon as the other two joined their white tunic guide, he pulled out the pellet, eyed it curiously, then tossed it to the ground, where a puff of smoke made the air in front of them shimmer momentarily.

After a moment, Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback said, “Huh, nothing. I thought we’d at least see a rabbit coming out of a hat or something.”

Lady Elaryindril cocked her hand, preparing to slap her counterpart on the back of the head, when suddenly a figure blurred into view in front of them.

Hovering in the air, an image bent back and forth, as if subject to the whims of a breeze. They all squinted their eyes and scrutinized the scene. Eventually, they recognized a woman standing at the center of the image, her frizzy hair extending in an oval around her face, which was still difficult to make out in the shimmering air. All around the figure they could catch pieces of a setting, which included some form of altar, a book, a hanging fabric.

Gåtesbuî the Great’s jaw hung open. “The Goddess of AtoL! I have only heard stories of the sorcerers seeing the vision, but now I finally am able to witness one myself!”

Cyrus angled his head. “I feel like I should hit the side of the TV to bring it into focus.”

Ignoring Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback, Lady Elaryindril fell to her knees. “Oh, Great Goddess of AtoL! What would you have us do? We have brought the Chosen One!”

The vision still shimmered as if out of focus, but then a sound accompanied it. The voice warbled, but its meaning could be fairly discerned by those present: “Saye Rünowele da Dertjerack is the ultimate hero … he rescues many in battle against impossible odds … a man who understands his principles from the start and can remain true to his character until the very end regardless of the forces against him … ” The spectators could see the mouth of the Goddess moving, but the words did not all match. It was as if the sound and image were slightly separated and arrived at different times.

“... besides being principled, he is the finest fighter in the land … an athlete of extraordinary ability as demonstrated by …” Elaryindril looked over to Cyrus who listened with interest, even finding himself nodding his head in confirmation. Then the voice slurred before saying, “... he is also a poet, an artist … one of the most romantic figures in all …”

“Poet?” Elaryindril and Cyrus voiced at the same time. Elaryindril followed up, “You don’t happen to write villanelles or petrarchan sonnets in your spare time, do you?”

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback lifted his eyebrows. “The only thing I write are autographs for cute girls.”
Lady Elaryindril frowned. “‘Autographs for cute girls’? … That’s not exactly the most romantic statement of all times. Perhaps this is a riddle that we must figure out in order to defeat the Wraith Lord?”
“Nah. Seems like something’s not right here,” The Crater High Quarterback replied. “Hey, Grats Guy, do you know what Goddess Chick here is saying?” Cyrus looked over to where Gåtesbuî the Great had been standing only moments earlier. He was gone. “Hang on …”
Just then the vision flickered in and out again. “The Great … Gåtesbuî ... obsessed with power … wealthy and enigmatic …determined to get what he wanted through his charm and elegance ...”
“Elaine,” Cyrus said, “did you hear that?”
“My name is not Elaine! It is--”
“That’s just it. The Almightyness’s voice here is messed up enough that I don’t think we’re hearing it correctly. It’s not ‘Gåtesbuî the Great,’ it’s ‘The Great Gåtsbî’.”
Elaryindril verged on guffawing, but she caught herself. Cyrus continued. “That name rings a bell. Is that the same name as the dude who played safety for the Bison Valley football team?”
“‘The Great Gatsby’ is definitely not the safety from the Bison Valley team. It’s the--”
The vision spoke again, interrupting Elaryindril, “Everyone must turn to Län Gstøn Huge … fight against the oppression of his people … voice of courage and personal power from Härlemn …”
“Isn’t that the dude that The Great Gatsby asked Dëwht-åh-mæhrø about?”
Elaryindril ignored Cyrus as she processed a budding idea. “From Harlem. Lan Gston Huge. Langston Hughes. I don’t believe it …”
“The powerful hermit, M’Illæ Bïknsn, transcended all those around her in understanding death as life …” the voice continued, still fluctuating in its delivery. “ … though isolated by personal choice, wisdom and truth still shine through her powerful words …”
“M’Illæ Bïcknsn … Emily Dickinsen,” Elaryindril now spoke mechanically.
“Woah, Miss Elaryin-girl, don’t go all hypnotic on me. Are you chanting some ancient gnome language or something? What’s going on?” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback lifted an eyebrow.
“The community found in Œdïthe Hhowørtyn’s age of innocence is rife with layered societal meanings … Œdïthe Hhowørtyn provides a setting of a dignified and respected society with rich details into the routine customs and traditions within …”
Cyrus Knowles watched Elaryindril carefully. “Isn’t Œdïthe Hhowørtyn that place ole’ Great Gatsby was talking about?”
“Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence,” Elaryindril answered, still staring straight ahead.
“Wait a second,” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback said. “Edith Wharton? That rings a bell too … like something I heard in a dream before.”
“Yeah,” Elaryindril noted dryly, “that’s because you were taking a nap.”
The voice lectured on, “... identified by a scarlet letter on clothing … the letter A stood as a symbol … society recognized the mark …”
“Scarlet letter,” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback echoed. “That’s another familiar one.”
“Don’t you see?” Lady Elaryindril vented. “Cyrus, look closely at the image. It is something you should be familiar with after spending a whole school year there.”
Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback edged closer to the shimmering vision. “Dude, that’s a podium. The thing in the background is … it’s an American flag! What the flee flicker is going on here?”
“Look at the book next to the podium,” Lady Elaryindril followed up.
Cryus squinted. “I see it. It says A to L.”
“The lettering on the binding is faded. It’s Volume One of Poetry Classics, covering poets with the last names A to L. Get it? A to L? AtoL … the kingdom we’re in right now.”
On the verge of comprehension, Cryus was once more interrupted by the voice: “To understand the epic journey in this fantasy tale, we must know the basics of the Dark Tongue of Chöeklzht-aakishk … ‘Fµlchãnkürst’ comes from 3rd epoch dialect … a vulgar expression of frustration or anger used among the ravine dwellers in the ancient ...”
“That definitely does not ring a bell … at least not since today,” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback responded.
Lady Elaryindril replied, “That’s because you never took Mrs. Avalon’s Science Fiction and Fantasy class, only the required Sophomore Literature course.”

“Mrs. Avalon …” Cyrus readjusted his eyes so as to inspect the figure speaking. “Wait a second. Are you kidding me? That’s Mrs. Avalon--our teacher! She’s in her classroom. Mrs. Avalon ain’t no goddess of a fairy tale kingdom. What’s going on?”

Elaryindril shook her head. “I don’t know how it’s possible, but it does explain everything from this fantasy world. Their whole culture, legends, names, titles … everything is based off of snippets of lectures from Mrs. Avalon on classic literature and epic fantasies.”
The voice droned on about different fantasy book settings and characters in enigmatic, stoccatoed clips, comparing several different elf races, discussing the legendary Orb of Pestilence from Svåarthgurdg, detailing defense tactics against Flat-Nosed Trolls of the Chørdûk Sand Jungles. Then Elaryindril heard something that made her cock her head. “ … take everything that you’ve learned and heard me speak today and know that it is all Dëwht-åh-mæhrø … you must not forget: Dëwht-åh-mæhrø … all your success hinges on knowing that everything is Dëwht-åh-mæhrø ...”
“Hey, our sorcerer dude’s name. Is that from your fantasy class?” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback asked.
“No … that was talking about our first trimester essay outline.”

“What is she saying about it? ‘Dude-amar-o’ … sounds like a some Spanish phrase or something. Does Mrs. Avalon teach Spanish too?”
“Cy!” Elaryindril snapped, “‘Dëwht-åh-mæhrø’ isn’t Spanish! It’s plain English: ‘Due tomorrow.’ The great Sorcerer of the Order of the Extraction Lode Stones is named after a due date for a literature essay outline!”
The next thing either of them knew, Lady Elaryindril started to cry. Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback was not really sure how to approach this problem. He awkwardly pat his hand on her back. “It’s not a bad name, really. Sounded pretty epic when you guys used it.”
“Don’t you see?!” Elaryindril looked at Cyrus through blurred eyes. “It’s all fake. This whole world isn’t what I’ve always dreamed about, it’s all based off of real world stuff. It’s a lie! The people here have been living a lie for who knows how long?! There is no Goddess--it’s a middle-aged, book nerd, English teacher. The name of the kingdom is based off of Mrs. Avalon’s book title next to her podium. Even these people’s uniform has the letter ‘A’ on it … and they don’t even know that it stands for ‘Adultery’ and not ‘AtoL’!”
“Adultery?” Cyrus repeated, “That’s what that book was about? Huh, the story finally starts to make some sense.” Elaryindril’s moan after Cyrus’s observation made it clear that he was not helping matters.

“... all have in common a Chosen One who must be recruited to help when all the world is threatened …” Mrs. Avalon droned on, “... the Chosen One will always be reluctant, but in the end that Chosen One is the ultimate hero …”

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback used this last declaration to his advantage. “So the fantasy land dudes might be a bit off, but, hey, don’t worry about it. I’m the ultimate hero, remember? I’m the Chosen One. I can fix this still, right?”

Elaryindril wiped some tears away as she snorted, “Right. You, the ultimate hero. I can at least be consoled by knowing that I was right when I told Dëwht-åh-mæhrø--ahem, Due Tomorrow--that he must have been mistaken when he chose you.”
“What do you mean?” Cyrus asked.
“Who is Mrs. Avalon’s ultimate hero? It’s no quarterback, it’s ‘de Bergerac.’”
“Da Burger-rack? Who’s that?”
“Boy, you sure got a lot of nap time in Sophomore Lit this year,” Elaryindril spouted. “The play, Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. The hero in the play is the swordsman and poet who has everything in life going for him, except his--”
“Big nose!” Cyrus jumped in. “Okay, I remember reading about that dude. Pretty awesome guy. Didn’t he take on, like, a hundred men all by himself. I’m flattered that Dude-Tomorrow mistook me for him (especially since I’ve got a perfect-looking nose). You think he scouted out the game against the Mountain High Lobos, where I dodged pretty much the whole team to get a seventy yard TD scramble.”
“He did no such thing,” Elaryindril spat bitterly. “Break down the name Saye Rünowele da Dertjerack, or, in other words, Cyrano de Bergerac. ‘Cyrano’ equals ‘Cyrus Knowles,’ and ‘de Bergerac’ equals ‘the Quarterback.’ You just happened to have a name that sounds like their legendary hero, who happens to actually be Mrs. Avalon’s favorite guy from a French play.”
The vision before them suddenly flickered and died.
“You know, you sure can be a buzzkill sometimes, Elaine.”
“My name is not Elaine, it’s … it’s … it’s all a deception, including my name. You’re right, Cyrus. My name is Elaine--plain, old Elaine.” Elaine took a moment to watch the shreds of mist drifting through the ruins surrounding them. “I’m sick of this. I’m sick of fantasy worlds.” She tossed her book to the ground and kicked at it. “I’m done with them.”
Cyrus lifted his eyebrows at her passionate actions, but did not quite know how to respond.
“I’ll guess I’ll start reading memoirs and self-help books. I suppose that what self-respecting adults all do. It’s time for me to grow up.” Elaine started to briskly vacate the premises before stopping and remarking. “Who knows, I might even learn the silly rules to football and actually watch you play sometime. At least that’s real.”
Cyrus watched her for a moment before calling out. “Hang on, Elaine. Where do you think you’re going?”
“Where else? I’m going home. I’ll go back to the pond where the Swarming Lake Dwellers of … where the salmon are … and see if I can’t figure out a way back into the storm drain in the parking lot.”
Cyrus stood rooted the ground, pondering as he witnessed Elaine stumble over the ground in a huff. While the Crater High quarterback never could have predicted being in such a strange fantasy world, even more unbelievable to him was what he was about to do next.

End Part 1 of Book II: The Temple of the Goddess of AtoL of Lady Elaryindril and Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback: Volume One of the Kingdom of AtoL Serie