There once was a kingdom where not an ounce of conflict grew. No one sought ill will from one another and they prospered under the rule of King Humpty Dumpty. All was well until the jealous brother of the king placed a curse upon his sibling. Violently, his victim began to change into a great stone egg. As the monster tried to attack his brother, another spell was placed upon him. His once kind mind was erased and left hallow. The wicked brother claimed the throne while placing Humpty as the guard to the castle. Day in and out, allies tried to enter the castle, but were stopped by the former king. This monster would only allow them to enter if they could beat him in a game of riddles. If they lost, the egg would swallow them whole and gain their knowledge to fill his empty head. Soon, Humpty had an unfathomable hunger for information. Time passed on as the kingdom lost hope and was forced to live in a state of chaos. But, as fate would have it, a hero came to save them.
Aurora, accompanied by Captain Phillip and a werewolf known as Red, came abound into the royal city. They could see for miles the obstacle that awaited them while it sat upon the wall of the castle, Humpty Dumpty. Quickly, the group ducked into a local tavern to discuss their plan.
“Ah, finally I can get a drink.” Sighed Red as her hand reached for the bottle. It was soon slapped away by Captain Phillips who looked at the werewolf sternly.
“What do you think you are doing little man?” Questioned Red.
“Keeping you on task. The booze will only cloud your judgement and comprehension of the plan that Lady Aurora has developed.” Answered Phillips. A low growl came from the woman as the man put his hand on the hilt of his blade.
“Enough.” Commanded Aurora as she sat down between the two. “In fighting will never accomplish our goal.
“What is that exactly? You were not very forthcoming on the details while on the ride to here.” Asked Red.
“Our mission is to slay the great beast Humpty Dumpty and then his master. They have long held this land hostage in a state of chaos. Once they are disposed of, this kingdom can then again prosper.”
Red shook her head, “And what exactly is wrong with this land? As far as I can see, it is the same as any other pathetic village that we have passed.” As if the gods had taken the cue, swords poked the back of all three foreigners. Slowly, they turned to see the whole tavern was armed.
One of them spoke boldly, “We will be taking your valuables if you please. It should sustain our kingdom a little while longer. Maybe we can even have some fun after each of you are stripped of even the clothes on your backs.”
The man saying this had begun to touch Aurora’s chest. In turn. She grabbed one of her arrows from her quiver and dug it into his shoulder. The man screamed in pain as he began to panic, realizing that he had also lost his sight. A brawl broke out as Red smiled. With a howl, she transformed before the terrified townsfolk. In vain they tried to slash at her, not landing a single blow. Red grabbed one of the blades and broke it to pieces, to the horror of the wielder. One punch and the man was sent flying across the room. She grabbed a bottle from the floor and took a swig before smashing it at an incoming opponent. It shattered to pieces knocking the man out as she used the remains to stab another attacker. Captain Phillips had begun meticulously slashing down one foe after another with expert swordsmanship, much different than the barbaric tactics of his ally. Parry then a blow before his enemies were struck down. Aurora, on the other hand, had not moved since stabbing the man who had dared to touch her. Her arms were crossed as she watched the display of strength from her allies. Finally, some of the villagers rose up in arms against her. She looked at them with a stern look before slowly pulling forth her sword. Immediately, the battle was over as their attackers looked at the cursed blade; pale as death from the blood of Dain. They fled screaming in terror from the tavern and the inevitable death that would come from even encountering such a weapon. Pleased with herself, Aurora sheathed her blade and sat down with her comrades once again.
“By using the Amulet of Go Léir A Fheiceáil as we rode here, I noticed that there is a weakness on a corner of the castle. For three days and nights, I will distract Humpty with a game of riddles. While doing this, the two of you will hack away at this weakness with pick axes. Once the wall begins to crumble, Red will attack from the other side and push the beast forward. Only then will he fall to pieces. After that, his master should be no problem.” Finished Aurora. The three spent the rest of the night enjoying each other’s company; sharing wine and good food that was left in the tavern.
The next morning came as Aurora approached the great beast known as Humpty Dumpty. Rumbling came from the creature as it snored in its sleep. Slowly, his colossal eyes opened as they looked upon the maiden in front of him. To Aurora’s surprise, he began to chuckle a guttural laugh.
“Aurora the Warrior, the hero that saved her kingdom from the sorceress Carman and her three sons. Flying from her bow, arrows covered in the blood of Dub that blinds anything unfortunate to get struck. Her blade dipped in the blood of Dain of which a single cut will kill any living thing. Wise enough not to wear Dother’s armor of which her father was not. Once an ally of my kingdom, it was somewhat unfortunate to hear of his passing. Now upon his throne sits a goddess since his lazy daughter does not want to take her birthright and now comes to challenge me. I suspect you wish to restore this kingdom due to your father’s and I’s former friendship?” Lectured Humpty.
The warrior thought for a moment before answering. Obviously, the creature had attained much knowledge by the way he spoke; surprised that the beast had recent information that happened only a few months ago. She had to be careful about how she proceeded.
“Such a sharp mind for someone who used to be so empty headed. I am glad that you remember my father Humpty. He did speak fondly of you while he waited at my bedside.” Started Aurora.
The great beast chuckled again as he interrupted, “You misunderstand warrior. I have none of my memories, just others’ knowledge of who I was as a king. A fool I used to be, trusting others and insisting on peace. Only conquerors and deceivers get what they want in this world. Enough reminiscing, you know there is only one way to pass me. So, which battle of wits shall we partake in today?”
“A game of riddles. Back and forth we shall go, telling and answering riddles until one of us can neither solve or concoct. Over and over we will go with no breaks to ensure that only the smartest prevails.” Explained Aurora.
The egg rubbed his hands together before he said, “Good. This should provide with some much-needed stimulation for my brain. I shall begin this game of riddles. It grows more and more with every passing minute, breathing while consuming all around it. Its hunger is never satisfied while its anger grows. Dancing and leaping in destruction while it makes its way. Its roar terrifies every being that stands in its path. Only when it no longer breathes can the creature disappear. What am I?”
“A fire.” Answered Aurora. The egg nodded before the warrior gave her riddle, “It flies ever straight as it screams along, the very air fleeing from its path. From one end to another it flies, only stopped when something crosses in front of it. Its victims scream as its bite digs in deep, sometimes it poisons and others it burns. What am I?”
“An arrow. My dear if you are going to make it this easy you might as well climb into my mouth already.” Remarked the egg.
The warrior smirked as she looked up defiantly at the monster. “You are in for a surprise then Humpty.”
Back and forth the two went, each of them getting more clever and clever with their riddles. All the while Captain Phillip and Red continually pick axed the corner of the wall; cracks began to crawl through the bricks as each day ended. Three days and nights came and passed as the two riddle makers never stopped. The fourth morning came as the eyelids of the egg were heavy.
With a groggy voice he boomed, “How are you not tired by now child? Neither one of us have gotten a moments rest and yet you stand as if you have gotten several nights of sleep.”
“For twenty-one years I slept, I no longer require much to function. You will soon no longer need it.” Commented Aurora.
“What do you-“ The egg began to say before the wall started to crumble. Bewildered at the commotion he did not notice as Aurora pulled back her bow and landed an arrow in each of his eyes. Blinded, the creature panicked as he was pushed forward by Red. He took a great fall and broke into many pieces. The knights behind the walls rushed out to see what had come of their protector. In vain, they could not put the great beast back together and fled at the sight of Aurora walking towards the castle. Captain Phillip and Red soon joined her as they made their way into the inner throne room. Cowering behind the throne was the being who had caused this catastrophe. The king’s brother held his hands in front of his face as Aurora picked him up by the collar and threw him into the wall. With a steely resolve, she looked at the man, who to her surprise was blind.
The warrior smirked as she spoke, “The man in the bar. My does fate smile upon me. You scurried out of there like a coward, only able to be so daring when you can rely on others, then leaving them to die. The audacity you had at touching me with those sickened paws, let’s just say I hope the gods find you the most ill-fated end for your miserable soul.”
Not even giving the man his last words, she slit his throat with her sword. His dead body turned to ash before flying off into a swarm of flies. The three finished with their task, sat in the floor of the throne room. Each catching their breaths before laughing at the simplicity of the adventure.
The laughter soon ended as Red arose and asked, “Am I free then from my curse? Was that the mission you needed me for? If so that was incredibly easy and way too nice of the gods.”
“Unfortunately, that was what I would call a team building exercise. Before we can even hope to undertake the task that will free you, we must learn to work together as a team. Fear did strike me when you and Phillips were not getting along in the bar. It seems it was for not. I promise you that you will be free, but you must humor me so that we all survive the oncoming trials.” Admitted Aurora.
Red nodded in acknowledgement, although she was bitter at the lack of trust from her leader. The werewolf looked over to Phillips who had an apologetical look on his face and held out his hand. Tentatively, she grabbed his hand and gave it a shake, a symbol of a new kinsmanship between the two. Aurora smiled as she saw comrades that she could live and fight for.