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Max_Writer

Basic Roleplaying System: Maid Tournament

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

(After Kyle Matheson ran his Basic Roleplaying System setting “Maid Tournament” with Hannah Gambino, Ashton LeBlanc, Collin Townsend, Katelyn Hogan, Ben Abbott, Ambralyn Tucker, James Brown, Katie Gallant, Yorie Latimer, and me Friday, November 10, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.)

The Report of Igor Hastur on the Tyrandar Maid Tournament

I had received a letter with a beautiful stamp upon it from Tyrandar, the co-called capitol of Earth. The letter was from the king, who invited me to his Maid Tournament in the capitol of Tyrandar. The king wrote he hoped I would come as he thought I was one of the best maids or butlers on the world. It said he had heard I was very talented and had a lot of potential.

I was ordered to go, in order to help the cause.

I was called Igor Hastur, a butler of some renown in my own part of the world. I was older and had a heavy face. I was tall and thin, gaunt almost like a cadaver, with heavy eyelids and eyebrows. Like all of the Hasturs before me, I had a slight lisp, but knew my duties to my master and my masters.

I boarded a train several days later. It was the king’s private train and named The Regalia. I found there were nine other butlers and maid competing to be the maid of the king. We were all placed together in the same car as we went from a lesser city to Tyrandar. I was able to size up the competition, not that I intended to win anyway.

I soon learned all of the other butler and maid’s names.

Danny Devito was short and fat, being 4’10” tall and weighing around 200 pounds. He had a thick Jersey accent and was some kind of troll, or so he claimed. He stank and wore a ragged t-shirt with mustard stains on it. He didn’t wear any pants but only dirty underwear.

Megumi Hevita was half waifu/half snake. The lower half of her body was a snake while the top was a normal woman, of sorts.

In one of the seats was a huge pile of beer bottles atop which sat a chimpanzee wearing a fez and a suit with long coat tails. He also wore a nametag that read: Josiah JoHoppler or JoJoHo. He was obviously from the small annex nation ruled by sentient chimpanzees.

Nyancy was a neko, essentially a cat lady. She had white hair, ears, and tail. One of her eyes was yellow and one was blue. She wore a standard French maid outfit.

Tonio Trussardi was a chef, obviously, from his tall chef’s hat and white chef’s uniform. He had brown hair and looked normal, not otherworldly at all. However, he spoke like he was from another world. He stayed far away from both the chimpanzee and the filthy little troll.

“Ah, that’s how it is on this planet,” he often said.

Anna May was beautiful beyond belief. She was of the purple race who worshipped Senpai. They were mostly human in appearance but no one was sure where they had come from. She was quite well-endowed and curvy, beautiful in every respect. She wore a very tight and revealing maid’s outfit.

Reginald Thistleton had a pencil-thin mustache and wore long coattails. He was over seven feet tall and slim. If you looked at him too long, it looked like he might have tentacles. He was obviously a slender-butler. Rumor had it they were ancient experiments on improving butlers as a whole but they had eventually been ruled too dangerous and destroyed. At least that’s what the legends said.

Stanley Stanwick was a short and stout, much like a teapot. He wore an ascot and dressed well though not as well as many of the rest of us. He had a handlebar mustache and otherwise appeared completely typical. That made me suspicious, of course.

Ivana Goodtime was a tall, thick, muscular woman with a thick, Russian accent. She wore double buns on corners of her head. She had long hair and, I learned later, worshipped the king in all his glory. Russia had been under the iron fist and dominant toe of Tyrandar for centuries. As she had gotten on the train, she had picked up and carried the man carrying her bags, obviously not knowing the custom of porters doing it for one.

“Excuse me,” the porter said. “I have your bags. Could you please put me down?”

Ivana put him down.

The train departed once she got on board.

“Oh, I found a little dog under my seat!” Danny Devito said. “Oh, that’s a good little dog.”

Whereupon he took a dirty little dog from under his seat. Danny Devito gave the dog sloppy kisses and was very loud and obnoxious. One of the conductors approached the terrible little man. He looked perplexed, as if he wondered why the man wasn’t wearing pants.

“Excuse me,” the conductor said. “Sir …?”

Danny Devito looked up.

“May I see your ticket … again?” he said.

Danny Devito reached down into his underwear, groping around for the ticket. Thistleton gagged at the scene. Then the little man pulled out a ticket and held the now-very-dirty thing out. The conductor reached into the back of his pants pocket, put on a glove, and took the ticket, looking over it with distain and disgust. Danny Devito went back to sloppily kissing on the dog.

“That is the royal seal,” the disgusted conductor said.

“Yep,” Danny Devito said.

“Or very well forged,” the conductor said.

I crept over to the conductor.

“I believe he thtole the ticket,” I said quietly to the official.

“Possibly,” the conductor said. “But I do not have the authority to stop this man as long as he’s on the train.”

“Conductor, am I on the right train car?” Thistleton called out loudly.

His voice carried.

“What?” the conductor said. “Where are you supposed to be going, sir?”

“To the … capitol,” Thistleton said.

“Yes, this is the right car,” the conductor said. “Everyone here has been invited to come see the king, yes?”

“Everyone here!?!” Thistleton said, looking at Danny Devito.

“Yes, you are on the right car,” the conductor said. “Some of these individuals are a little … surprising, but …”

The chimpanzee started snoring loudly.

“Based on some of the people I have seen here today, this tournament should be very fast,” the conductor said. “Very, very quick this year, yes.”

“Excuse me sir,” Tonio said.

“Yes?” the conductor said.

“Is there another car I can take … away from …”

He looked at Danny Devito. Danny Devito noticed and held up the dog.

“Have you seen this dawg?” he said.

“I do not want to see the dog,” Tonio said.

“Aw, look at the little dawg!” Danny Devito said.

“Of course I don’t want to be rude,” Tonio said. “I’m … an alien.”

“Oh, yes,” the conductor said. “Of course.”

He looked at Danny Devito as well.

“Fortunately, sir, this train ride is going to be very quick,” he said. “So, by the time I get the authority to move you to a different car, we will have arrived. I’m sure you understand. This train is very, very fast.”

“Unfortunate,” Thistleton said.

“It’s okay,” Tonio said.

Megumi had moved to the seat farthest from Danny Devito. She held a charm and prayed. The rest of us had also taken seats as far from the “man” as we could. Only Stanwick sat near him, reading a book and apparently oblivious to the sounds and smells coming from the horrible little troll.

“I just found this dog,” Danny Devito said. “He’s my best friend.”

I used my cell phone to call ahead to the Tyrandar police to report my suspicions of Danny Devito. I also called Tyrandar Animal Control to tell them of the loose chimpanzee but I was put on hold for some time and finally hung up.

“Are ve to be killing each ozer?” Anna May said in a thick French accent.

“Killing each other?” the conductor said. “I’ll leave that for the king to tell you all. No one here is familiar with how the tournament commences, yes? No? Okay, you’re in for a rude surprise then.”

“How would we underthtand how the tournament workth?” I asked. “We’ve never been in it before, nor had anyone elthe been in it.”

“I will just have to leave everything for the king and his royal subjects,” the conductor said.

I called Animal Control again but the train arrived so I hung up. Men from outside came in and took our bags. They escorted all of us out. Danny Devito put the dog on his shoulder like a parrot. He immediately ran to a trashcan and started rummaging through the trash. Megumi took photographs of the area with her phone.

We each got into our own vehicle, Danny Devito’s driver pulling him from the trashcan. I watched as another man came over and they picked him up. He kicked and flailed, urinating all over himself, and they finally forced him into the car, locking the door behind him.

“I thought the monkey was going to be a problem,” I overheard one of them say.

It was a 10-minute drive to the castle. My people’s spies told me a little of what happened in the others cars.

* * *

Stanley Stanwick asked his driver about the king.

“Yes, yes,” the driver told him. “The king is magnificent. He’s fantastic. You’re going to love him. You’re going to want to work for him. You’re going to want to win this tournament.”

“What does he like?” Stanwick asked.

“What is he like? Oh, he’s magnificent─”

“What does he like?”

“What does he like? Oh, he likes many things. I’m not going to tell you what he likes. That would be an unfair advantage!”

Stanwick tried to persuade his driver to tell him what he wanted but the man refused.

* * *

Megumi Hevita asked her driver what every single building they passed was as she took pictures of each one. He described each and every building, giving its name.

“And the king built that one,” he said about every single one of them.

* * *

“You had insomnia last night, didn’t you?” Tonio Trussardi said to his driver.

“Yes, I did,” the driver said. “How do you know that?”

“It’s … it’s one of the perks of worshipping … Pearl Jam.”

“The band?”

“It is … it is my … my deity.”

“I guess you could’ve picked worse than Pearl Jam. Does anyone who worships Pearl Jam get this ability?”

“Oh yes! There are many back on my … home planet.”

The divider between Tonio and the driver slid up.

“I have a dish that would cure that!” Tonio called.

The divider stopped for a moment and then continued up.

* * *

JoJoHo tried to get his driver to have a drink with him.

“What do you got?” the driver said.

“Huh?” the chimpanzee said.

“What do you got?”

“What do I got?”

“Yeah. To drink.”

“What do I got to drink? What do I not have to drink? What do you like?”

“I can’t have the king knowing I drink while driving.”

“Here, have a Miller. It’s Miller time.”

He handed a Miller Lite to the driver.

“I need somebody to drink with,” JoJoHo said. “I don’t like to drink alone.”

The driver drank with him. JoJoHo put his magical crown royal bag of holding away.

* * *

In his car, Danny Devito tried to climb into the front seat of the car he was riding in. The driver closed the divider immediately.

* * *

A huge crowd was roped off to one side outside the castle. They were screaming, some of them holding signs with some of our names upon them. No one was apparently rooting for Danny Devito except one creepy little man in the back. He looked just like Danny Devito and seemed to be a stalker. The one with the most fans was JoJoHo. They were a mix of humans, aliens, and a tiny group of chimpanzees in the back. Everyone else was pretty well-represented.

“I’m Phil!” Danny Devito’s only fan yelled.

We arrived at the castle gates and that led us to the throne room. As we entered through the massive, metal doors, we came to a long inviting throne room. The marble floor held equally-spaced columns that extended to the tall ceiling which had a golden-inlaid depiction of the king. To the left and right were various ornately crafted windows showcasing different victories of the king and his armies. As we walked what felt like a mile, we came to a forty-foot high staircase that led to the throne and the king himself.

“I’ve got to do my best for Sempai!” Anna May said.

The king was a giant man of at least eight feet tall and his throne was at least twice that. It was studded in gold and jewels and surrounded by the banners of the king. His queen stood beside him. As we took our place before the king, a knight stepped forward.

“Presenting King Tyrantis von Delphonso, Born First of His Name, Leader of the Free Peoples of Tyrandar, Commander of the World’s Largest Army, Champion of the Battle of 48 Kings, and Slayer of the Pale Dragon,” he said.

He looked up to the king and bowed. I bowed from the waist and the others followed suit. JoJoHo dropped to his knees, as did Anna May and Stanwick. The king motioned again.

“Presenting King Tyrantis von Delphonso, Born First of His Name, Leader of the Free Peoples of Tyrandar, Commander of the World’s Largest Army, Champion of the Battle of 48 Kings, and Slayer of the Pale Dragon,” he said more loudly.

He looked at the king and the king looked at us. I bowed again. The others followed suit. Ivana Goodtime made the signature gesture of the king’s religion.

The knight turned to us.

“I presume all of you are here for the maid tournament, yes?” he said.

We responded in the positive.

“Whatever Lords and Ladies you have presided with before, you must now elevate yourself to be accepted by the king,” First Knight Leonis Victoria said. “So, first, how did I introduce the king? Who’s already memorized it? Write it on these pieces of paper.”

He handed out several sheets of paper for us to write out his entire name and title. I wrote: “King Tyrantis von Delphonso, Slayer of the Pale Dragon among other things. The First Knight did not say it loudly enough the first time. His repetition was distracting, the fool!”

We each wrote it down and then read what we had written to the First Knight.

“Nyan!” Nyancy said.

“Is that your … cat language?” he asked.

“Nyan!”

“K.”

He looked us over.

“If that’s the case …” he said.

He looked at the king and the king looked back at him.

“I say all of you get three points,” the First Knight said.

The knight bowed and the king stood up from his throne. He looked very impressive and towered high above us.

“Thank you all for attending the Maid Tournament!” he said in a strange, high-pitched voice. “I have inquired from around the realm and some of the people I have talked to, your names have come up multiple times! You are the ten chosen ones that will participate in this prestigious tournament! Your bags have been taken up to your rooms. And I hope to see you all at first light tomorrow for the next challenge. Please come prepared this time.”

He sat back down and the knights showed us up to our rooms. Ivana Goodtime made a religious gesture to the king.

“Deuces,” she said.

He made the signal back to her.

“Deuces,” he said.

We were all taken to our apartments and I checked the entire room for bugs, cameras, and listening devices. I found none. I went out of the room. A handler was by my door, as one was by every one of our doors.

“Where’th the linen clothet and cleaning thupplieth?” I asked.

“What is it you require?” he asked.

“The linen clothet and cleaning thupplieth!”

“Are you wanting to know the location so that you may get these things yourself?”

“Yeth. Pleathe tell me or lead me there.”

“Out of courtesy for our guests, we do not allow them to get things on their own. We assist them. So, I could take you there, if you like.”

“You will take me there then.”

“I will.”

He led me to the linen closet with the cleaning supplies. Once I outfitted myself with such supplies, I turned to him again.

“Thow me the king’th thudy tho that I might clean it,” I said.

“To clean the king’s study?” he said. “Oh, it is meticulous already.”

“I will be the judge of that!”

“Okay.”

He took me to the king’s private study and I examined it with white glove. I already had one glove with a big, black mark on it and when I ran it along the underside of the desk and lifted my finger, it came back black.

“Oh my goodness!” he said. “That is …”

“You may go,” I said. “I will go to thleep when I am finithed.”

“No, the king must hear of this, actually,” he said.

I started cleaning the room.

“The king must hear of this!” the fool said.

He left and I tried to get into the king’s personal files but found the filing cabinet locked. Unfortunately I didn’t have the ability to open it, in my haste to get to the castle. I was foiled by the lock. The handler came back and I went back to cleaning. He was with the First Knight.

“So, this was dirty, yes?” he said.

“Yeth,” I said. “I athume the person who ith cleaning ith doing an inadequate job.”

“That would be Victor Guesseppo, the butler you are replacing.”

“I was under the athumption he wath dead.”

“No.”

“Then he thould be.”

“If this is terribly kept then he might be.”

I continued cleaning and they left again.

* * *

I later learned Nyancy had gotten a cardboard box to sleep in, JoJoHo had asked about a bar, and Megumi Hevita had wanted to go to the kitchens to cook something. But the strangest thing I later learned was of the antics of Tonio Trussardi, who asked to see his handler’s hand.

“Left or right?” the handler said.

“Either one,” Tonio said.

He handed him the right hand. Tonio looked at the man’s hand.

“You had diarrhea last night,” he said.

“Uh … no sir,” the handler told him.

“Oh! My skill! My skill wanes. Please, can I see the … the cooking facilities?”

“It probably was a top five poop though.”

“Must’ve been what it was.”

“You were close.”

His handler took him to the kitchen where he found others there as well.

* * *

Danny Devito had asked to be let out of his room and so he followed his handler, sniffing at him and walking in circles around him.

“Wasn’t-wasn’t I taking you somewhere, sir?” the handler asked. “You said you wanted out of the room. I took you out of the room and now you are following me and sniffing me.”

“Yeah,” Danny Devito said.

“Can I see the letter that the king gave you?” the handler said.

Danny Devito reached into his filthy underwear and felt around, finally finding the piece of paper he’d stolen The handler was already wearing gloves and took it, holding it up to the light.

“Oh, you don’t want to hold it up that high,” Danny Devito said.

“Why?” the handler said.

Then he noticed it was dripping with urine.

“This is wet that if it was a forgery, I wouldn’t be able to tell,” the handler said.

“Oh yeah,” Danny Devito said. “It’s a little wet.”

He took the invitation and dried it off on his shirt. That got more mustard on it.

* * *

We were all assembled in the throne room once again. Danny Devito had the dog.

“Remind me to ask the king if dogs are allowed for this tournament,” one of the knights said.

The king was not there but the First Knight came out with a man in butler’s uniform.

“This, here, is the man that you all will be replacing,” the First Knight said. “He was supposed to be retired, effective tomorrow, but it seems that he has failed on his last day, all thinks to our friend Igor here, who has cleaned the study of the king.”

I bowed.

“Appropriately,” the First Knight went on. “And found that our friend here, Victor Guesseppo, has decided to slack off. There is no slacking off for the king. You must be perfect every day. And for this …”

The First Knight unsheathed his sword. Guesseppo got on his knees. The First Knight beheaded the man right in front of us. I made not a sound but both Stanwick and Anna May seemed quite surprised at the violence. Tonio and Stanwick both vomited, Tonio puking directly onto the front of my jacket. I ignored it.

“It is a tradition on my planet …” Tonio said.

“You are a liar, thir!” I said. “And a cheat, I am thure.”

“I’ve never told a lie,” he said.

I wiped the puke from my chest and flicked it into his face. Be reared back his fist and swung at me, completely missing. I took a step back and put my foot out. Tonio tripped, crashing into Nyancy. I noticed Ivana Goodtime was on the floor, cleaning up the puke.

The First Knight drew his sword again.

“Do not make me behead more than one person tonight,” he said.

I just looked at Tonio, lying on the floor.

“All of you, back to your rooms!” the First Knight said.

He grabbed the vomit-covered rag from Ivana Goodtime and threw it onto the floor.

“All of you, back to your rooms,” he said. “Back to your rooms.”

“That’s what we do to people who puke on us on my planet,” I said to Tonio as I left.

We returned to our rooms and were locked in. I showered and laundered my suit before going to bed.

In the room next door, I could hear Danny Devito and his dog barking loudly. I was still able to get to sleep without much trouble thanks to my military training.

* * *

I was woken in the morning when breakfast was brought to the door. It was a classic English breakfast.

“Courtesy of our head chef,” the man told me. “You will meet him later. I don’t want to spoil the surprise.”

I ate the breakfast. I discussed the fact that I thought Danny Devito was a fake and an assassin, though I noted that was just what I had heard. Then I shrugged.

“A cruel world it must be that Guesseppo was beheaded yet this thing lives,” the handler said.

* * *

I later learned that Ivana Goodtime fed her handler while Danny Devito shared his food with his dog. The latter’s room was already disgusting by the next day. When the handler came in, Danny Devito barked, his dog barked, and then they both shoved their faces into the food to eat it. The stench of urine and feces filled the room and the handlers left immediately, locking the door behind them.

There had been many species discovered across the world and the galaxy but none had ever disgusted anyone like Danny Devito did.

“Did you see me in my movies!” he called through the door.

* * *

After breakfast, we were called back to the throne room. There was still puke and blood residue on the floor. Ivana Goodtime took out a rag and started cleaning it but someone took the rag from her. Knights escorted the king to the throne once again. I got the feeling the king was a little bit upset but their entering the way they did was just procedure. The knights stopped at the bottom of the stairs to the throne while the king climbed to the top and sat.

He looked down at us and the First Knight came forward once again.

“The king … is displeased,” the First Knight said. “Guesseppo was a good friend of his. And you made me behead him last night.”

“What?” Nyancy said.

I looked back with dead eyes.

“We’re going to need the throne room cleaned,” the First Knight went on. “As you can see, it is not … clean.”

“Nyan!” Nyancy said, raising her hand.

The First Knight ignored her.

“But first, we must reveal the secret of this castle,” the First Knight said. “And I feel not better way to reveal what it is then … Guesseppo himself!”

Guesseppo walked out, alive and well. I was nonplussed.

The king smirked.

“This castle is magical!” he said. “None who walk within its walls shall perish as long as I am king on this throne!”

“So we can execute each other?” Anna May said.

“Nyan!” Nyancy said.

“You can, but they will resurrect,” the king said. “But don’t.”

“I’ll drink to that,” JoJoHo said.

“This castle provides a magical aura to me and all whom I will it upon,” the king said. “If you kill each other …”

He pointed to Danny Devito and we all looked at the horrible little troll.

“… he will come back in a short moment’s notice,” the king said. “That’s why we had to get you all out of the throne room. Guesseppo was almost ready to be resurrected. But you all did not see and thus, here is the surprise. So, I have a room for each of you to clean in my castle to judge how well you are at cleaning. The most basic of maid abilities is cleaning. This should be no problem for the 10 best that I have found. Or … nine plus one.”

He looked at Danny Devito again.

“Ith there a time limit, your majethty?” I asked.

“Yes,” the king said. “One hour. There are 10 rooms which my First Knight will be giving all of you. Some of these rooms cannot be cleaned in an hour. If your piece of parchment has a circled ‘H’ on it. There is no physical way your room can be cleaned in an hour.”

We were each given a piece of parchment.

“But, fear not,” the king said. “If you have a circled ‘H’ on your parchment, all is not lost. For now I will give the room to my most esteemed of mages: H’mlsnock Morvla.”

In crawled a three-foot tall slug leaving a nasty trail of slime. It had purple skin and didn’t have any eyes or nose, just a mouth. He wore wizard’s robes.

“Hey, what’s up my brother!” Danny Devito called out.

“This game is simple,” H’mlsnock Morvla said. “You all have magical abilities now.”

“Nice!” Thistleton said.

“I know him!” Danny Devito told us all.

H’mlsnock Morvla then described the things we were each able to do. We could only use one of the spells per challenge. For the tournament, at least, we would be able to switch how we did with someone else in the tournament. The magic could also have been used to switch the rooms, in this case, and the other’s person’s work would be judged as one’s own. We could also protect what we had done by magic so that no one could use the first power upon us. However, that magic could only be used once during the entire tournament. We could also magically help ourselves to do things better. There was a spell that would make someone do worse at one of the challenges. Another spell was to find out the secret, allowing us learn some information when we needed. It could only be used once for the entire tournament. Another one-time-use power would allow one to simply succeed the challenge. That would also not allow someone else to use magic to steal one’s success. The last special ability would cause someone to automatically lose the challenge. One could use that as many times as one wanted.

Then we were sent to clean our rooms. I had the library. Apparently some of the others used their magic to switch rooms with each other but I was untouched. The library was immaculate by the time I finished.

We were all called back into the throne room and told which rooms were impossible: the dungeon, the throne room, the armory, and the mess hall. The throne room was perfect, which was surprising.

The king came down to from his throne and approached Ivana Goodtime, whose job it had been to clean the throne room.

“I sat here during the whole hour,” he said. “And I don’t know how you did it? Did you use the succeed spell?”

“You know it, brother!” Ivana Goodtime said.

“Five points to you!” the king said. “I must say: five points is the maximum amount of points you can get!”

Then he went to Danny Devito.

“To you Danny,” the king said.

“Uh,” Danny Devito said.

“One point.”

“Uh.”

“You tried on an impossible room. There were some bite marks that I must speak to you about.”

“I was trying to get the grime out.”

“Megumi: Three points. JoJoHo: one point for trying on an impossible room.

JoJoHo thought he should get two points.

“The tournament has never had two points,” the king said. “I don’t like round numbers.”

“So, it’s either one, three, or five?” Anna May said.

“But three is a success,” the king said. “And you did not succeed.”

“Negative one ith altho … not a round number,” I said.

“You may have … one point,” the king said. “And then another one point.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Anna May: three points,” the king said. “Three points for the cat.”

“Nyan!” Nyancy said.

“Tonio: three points,” the king said. “Reginald: three points. Igor!”

“Yeth, Mathter?” I said.

“I don’t know about you. Guesseppo tells me the room was clean. Yet you say it was not.”

“I thaid nothing, Mathter. I thowed the proof.”

“If you had performed badly today, I would have considered you a liar and beheaded you.”

“Yeth, Mathter. Whatever Mathter pleatheth.”

“You have successfully cleaned the room … perfectly. Beyond perfect sometimes. In some places.”

“I am humbled by your praith, Mathter.”

“You get five points Igor!”

“Thank you, Mathter.”

“Stanley: one point,” the king said. “You failed but it was an impossible task. Have you all figured out how the game works?”

“Yeth, Mathter,” I said.

“Go to your rooms, change your garbs, and come right back down to the throne room,” the king said. “Immediately.”

We all left the throne room. Megumi Hevita picked up her handler and ran \. I changed into another of my identical suits.

* * *

I later learned Anna May started to change right in the throne room.

“Oh my!” the king said.

His eyes got big and he blushed.

“My eyes are cute!” Anna May said.

“While I do appreciate what you’ve shown me here today …” the king said.

“These are not for you!” Anna May said. “This is not for you! How dare you assume my culture!”

“… for my knight’s honor, would you mind going upstairs?” the king said.

Blood dripped out of the slit of one of the knights helmets from a nosebleed. Anna May walked over to try to help him out. That only made it worse.

* * *

We all returned to the throne room a short time later. Ivana Goodtime was wearing a summer maid outfit. Some of the others had different clothing. A few of us wore identical suits, of course.

“The third challenge, as you might expect, is one that is also very commonplace in the maid/butler career,” the First Knight said. “Your next challenge is this.”

Other knights rolled in a wheelbarrow filled with something. They dropped it in front of us. It was a pile of dirty clothing. The stench was terrible. Several of the others turned their heads at the smell. Even Danny Devito was sickened by the stench, though I think it was the lingering smell of bleach.

“So, what you all must do is clean the king’s garments,” the First Knight said. “This is one of the challenges with a riddle.”

He looked us over.

“Here is your riddle for what the king’s favorite scent is,” the First Knight said. “If you can clean his garments with his favorite scent, you will get a five. If you clean the clothes, you get a three. Obviously anything better than the current state they’re in will get you a one. You get a zero if you don’t turn anything in or you die or … I don’t know …”

He then told us the riddle.

“I am black when you buy me, red when you use me, and grey when you throw me away,” he said. “This is the king’s favorite scent.”

I was completely perplexed what kind of scent that could refer to. I’d not been any good with riddles since the incident wherein my master had died from riddle infarction. The blood had been everywhere.

“To find the riddle’s answer, I will give you all a minute,” he said.

He told us to write the answer on the pieces of paper he handed out. Then he sent us to wash some of the clothing. I had no idea and so just washed the clothing. Riddles were dangerous. The king obviously had not learned that yet. Something interfered with my cleaning, however. Some malevolent magic, no doubt cast by those other foul butlers and maids.

We returned to the throne room. The king started with Danny Devito, who licked the king’s hand when he reached for the clothing. The king pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his hand.

“Burn this,” he said to his steward.

The handkerchief was whisked away.

“Clean,” the king said. “But the wrong ingredient!”

Danny Devito grabbed the clothing with his mouth.

Megumi Hevita was judged the same. The king sniffed JoJoHo’s laundry. Something black came away with his hands.

“I’m sorry but I thought we were meant it to be cleaned with the ingredient,” JoJoHo said.

“Write in my book, that we must clear these rules up for the next tournament,” the king said to his steward.

He turned back to JoJoHo.

“The ingredient was correct, but you didn’t clean the clothes,” the king said.

He awarded each of them three points.

“Only because you got the ingredient right, monkey-man,” the king said.

He told us charcoal was the ingredient. Many of us were disappointed and I heard Tonio cursing under his breath.

“I love the smell of a dead fire!” the king said. “Like a battle has been fought.”

“Me too, king,” Stanwick said.

“Deuces!” Ivana Goodtime called out.

I rolled my eyes. The king was obviously mad.

I didn’t hear the points for Anna May but Nyancy got five points, Tonio got one point, and I got three points, as did Thistleton. Stanwick only got three points because he actually tried to clean the clothing in charcoal.

“Picture the clothes as you would the throne room,” he said to Ivana Goodtime. “And it would be fine.”

“I also thought you were supposed to clean it with the ingredient,” Ivana Goodtime grunted.

“Three points, Ivana,” the king said.

The king looked around.

“We have completed three of our challenges,” the king said. “The leaders are Ivana, cat-lady, …”

“Nyan,” Nyancy said.

“… and Igor,” the king finished. “All tied for first place. In second place, we have a tie between Anna May, Reginald, Megumi. All in second place. And then we have in third place, the rest of you: Danny, JoJoHo, Stanley, and Tonio. But the points are close.”

The king went through the garments and picked out the clothing Nyancy had cleaned.

“I will wear this for the party tonight,” he said.

He looked us over again.

“All of you, please,” he said. “I know you have only worn the clothes for this challenge, but I can look upon them no more. Change your clothes again. To the best thing you brought.”

All my clothes were identical so I knew it didn’t matter.

“My noble friends will be here … shortly,” the king said.

We all left for our rooms.

“How many challengeth per day ith thtandard for thith … thing?” I asked my handler.

“This is … honestly, this is very rare,” the handler told me. “The king usually would drag this out over a week and make this a festival of sorts. But it seems that he’s trying to see which is the best maid/butler sooner? Possibly because Guesseppo’s retirement has come so soon and also he beheaded him and Guesseppo doesn’t want to be beheaded again. I don’t know. Guesseppo has no place here anymore.”

I went into my room and changed. I checked the windows but found they didn’t open. When I checked the door, I found it unlocked and so left the room.

“I need thome club thoda,” I said. “For the thtain that wath left by that alien cad.”

“I’ll show you were that’s at,” he said. “It’s this way.”

He walked off and I walked the other direction.

“Sir, you misheard me,” the handler called. “This way.”

“Oh, I’m thorry,” I said, following behind him.

The next turn he took, I went in the opposite direction. I was in search of Guesseppo but was soon found someone else in the castle. I told them my handler lost me and I was very upset about it and needed to be pointed in the direction of the throne room.

“Yes sir,” the man said. “I’ll take you to the throne room.”

Candlelight illuminated the throne room. Numerous nobles and royals were in the room, wearing very expensive clothing. The king, who had been wearing his armor, had changed into the clothing Nyancy had washed: a silk, red, white, and black tunic and tights.

Danny Devito had red on his chest, as if he’d crushed a tomato there. Other butlers and maids had dressed up as well. Anna May was wearing a partially see-through nighty that barely covered her … prominent assets.

The king laughed and chatted with a couple of people right in front of the throne and then he stepped up onto the first couple of steps.

“My regal guests,” he said. “Here are the challengers.”

Everyone clapped or raised their glasses to us.

“One of the most important features of our head maid/butler is to be able to wine and dine with my friends and not make it seem like they are a servant,” the king said. “I like to treat everyone the same, whether you’re a maid, a butler, or one of my most esteemed nobles. I would like us all to come to the throne room for a glass of red and …”

Danny Devito was growling.

“… and have a good time,” the king went on. “So … today I will be testing all of you on your etiquette.”

“Nyan,” Nyancy said.

“Here is how the challenge will go,” the king went on. “First off, I must see how you interact with my guests.”

The knights started putting us into separate groups of nobles.

“Show me how to interact with my friends,” the king said. “And then, I must see which of you is the most … polite.”

I used a little magic to help my results and then I proceeded to serve the nobles while bantering them with witty remarks and cheerful and entertaining mannerisms. I remained polite but obviously failed at the task that no butler should have to endure. I failed miserably.

Five of the others succeeded and they were put in an even smaller group of nobles in order to more closely prove who was best. More points were handed out for those successes and failures. Then there was a third round.

“And now I must see which of you has the best etiquette,” the king said. “Reginald, converse with Stanley in front of my friends.”

I spread dissent among the nobles of how each of them preferred the company of animals to humans, pointing to the other contestants and claiming they told it to me.

Reginald won over Stanley, obviously.

“Then let us see how you do against Megumi,” the king said.

Megumi proved to be better than Thistleton.

“Well, it might be one of those triangle effects,” the king said. “You two then.”

He pointed to Megumi and Stanwick. This time Stanwick shined.

“It seems we have a draw!” the king said with a laugh. “Oh. Five to the three of you, then. Well played.”

Thistleton cursed.

“I hope to know you better in the future,” Thistleton said. “I wish you eat … I mean meet you better in the future.”

His mouth opened up just a little too wide for a moment.

Ivana Goodtime was still picking up and putting down nobles, guessing their weights as she did so.

“What a great night!” the king said. “It seems we have all pregamed lovely. What do you say we have a feast? Yes, of course. May I present my head chef? Some of you may have met him. Other’s maybe not. Rordon Gamsay!”

A blonde man with a chef’s jacket walked into the room.

“I have decided that this will be the finale,” the king said. “Along with another event. We’re going to combine the two. You all will be cooking meals for my esteemed guests. And here we have 10 ladies who are single. I would like for each of you to pick a lady and do her hair before the meal.”

“I pick the one with the nicest hooters!” Danny Devito mumbled.

He stared at one of the women. She looked around in terror.

I headed for the woman and managed to get there before Danny Devito did. He was angry but the woman seemed relieved, crying. Danny Devito spit at me but missed me completely, luckily, as I saw the acidic spit was obviously dangerous.

“It seems the event is heating up,” the king said.

“Yeth Mathter!” I said. “Ath long as he can’t die, though …”

“He might wish he could,” the king said.

We set to work on the girl’s hair. Ivana’s girl suddenly fell to the ground, dead.

“Ivana, what happened?” the king said.

The Russian woman had apparently accidently broken the woman’s neck.

“Ivana, I’m afraid … I don’t know if I can trust you with such … delicate … work,” the king said.

“She’ll be alive again,” the Russian woman said.

The woman came back to life, her hair a mess. She got up and saw that everyone was looking at her, some gasping, some of the meaner girls laughing. She ran out of the throne room altogether.

“It seems even if I wanted to give you another girl …” the king said.

He looked at crowd. They all backed up.

“Ivana, I must ask you to sit out of this one,” the king said. “I’m sorry.”

“Deuces!” Ivana Goodtime said, apparently not caring.

JoJoHo took out a bottle of wine and tossed it to Ivana Goodtime.

“What a devious master plan!” the king suddenly said. “Ivana, I cannot believe you pulled this off.”

The king bowed to her.

“Deuces!” Ivana said.

“Anna May, may I have your lady please?” the king said as the magic of the place took hold.

Ivana Goodtime suddenly had Anna May’s lady.

“Anna May,” the king said. “Luck shines on you today.”

Thistleton’s girl went to Anna May due to the magic active in the room. Then Thistleton got JoJoHo’s. Then Tonio’s woman was magically transferred to the chimpanzee, leaving Tonio alone. It was all very strange.

Danny Devito had done a terrible job on his own woman’s hair.

“It would have been better if she had died and left early,” Thistleton said.

“I’ll consult with her,” the king said. “Would you rather be dead?”

“She loves it!” Danny Devito grunted.

The woman shook her head.

“One point and you’re lucky to have that,” the king said.

My own hairdressing was not great but I got three points. Nyancy got three points as well. With Anna May’s girl, Ivana Goodtime got five points. Anna May got five points for Thistleton’s girl. Thistleton got five points for JoJoHo’s girl. JoJoHo had gotten switched with Tonio and got five points. JoJoHo rolled back and clapped with his feet.

“Sir Tonio … should I penalize you for the mastermind that Ivana has pulled off?” the king said.

“Yes, please, penalize him!” Anna May said.

“You’ve basically broken the rules, Ivana,” the king said.

“How did he break the ruleth, Mathter?” I asked.

“Three points Tonio,” the king said. “Three points.”

“Thank God!” Tonio said.

“And now I must go sit down with my guests,” the king said. “I hope you all prepare a very nice meal for me and my friends. I leave you with my trusted chef: Rordon Gamsay.

“You sacks of shit!” Rordon Gamsay said. “You better make the best ****ing thing you’ve ever made.”

“Nyan nyan nyan!” Nyancy said.

“I vill do my best!” Anna May said.

The challenge started with another riddle.

“So, all points are doubled!” Rordon Gamsay said.

He told us we could get up to 10 points if we got both riddles correct and cooked a meal fit for the king. The riddles were something the king wanted in the meal. One was food. One was not.

The first riddle was not a food and went: “Brothers, all pair up, bodies firm and tall. You only care to eat the solid food and don’t care to eat the soup.” The second riddle was a food and the king wanted it with the meal: “You throw away the outside and cook the inside. Then you eat the outside and you throw away the inside.”

Anna May’s dish was corn chowder. She had chopsticks on the plate, the answer to the first riddle, and corn, the answer to the second riddle. Rordon Gamsay and the king both tried it and awarded her 10 points. Tonio’s dish had chopsticks and corn. He made a traditional Italian meal that included chopsticks and corn. It was excellent. He got 10 points. JoJoHo was next. His meal consisted of lobster ala king. It was beautifully cooked and he was awarded five points. Nyancy’s food was cooked beautifully and was a soft-boiled egg with a fork. There was no corn, however. She was awarded five points as she didn’t have the correct type of food or the chopsticks. Megumi Hevita made corn fritters. Reginald had corn on the cob with lobster bisque. He was awarded 10 points as he had the chopsticks as well. Stanwick had stir fry with baby corn and was awarded 10 points. Danny Devito made corn nuggets but didn’t have the chopsticks and was awarded seven points. Ivana Goodtime made baked apple slices with caramel and chopsticks. It was very good and she was awarded seven points.

My own meal was a complete turkey meal with mashed potatoes, gravy, corn on the cob, stuffing, green bean casserole, and the rest. I was awarded seven points for mine.

The winners were declared after the meal.

“I have tallied the points up,” the king said. “And it couldn’t have been this simple. We have a tie.”

“Nyan!” Nyancy said.

“Between two of you,” the king went on. “Reginald! And Megumi!”

“Fight to the death!” Danny Devito said.

As I slipped out of the throne room, Danny Devito suggested the king might have both a butler and a maid.

“Perhaps I should ask the two of them,” the king said. “Reginald, could you serve alongside Megumi?”

“I believe it to be possible,” Reginald said.

“Megumi?” the king said.

She nodded.

“Then they have it!” the king said. “For the first time in the realm, there shall be a head butler and a head maid!”

Everyone cheered.

“Deuces!” Ivana Goodtime said.

I later learned that Stanwick took second place. In third place was Anna May. In fourth place was Ivana Goodtime. Three people tied for fifth place: myself, Tonio, and Nyancy. JoJoHo came next. Bringing up the rear was Danny Devito.

JoJoHo stayed on as the king’s court jester. Ivana Goodtime got a job as a maid under the others.

Tonio returned to his home planet of Italy.

* * *

I crept into the king’s chambers and forced open his filing cabinet, stealing secret files my own people needed. I slipped several less important documents into Danny Devito’s room to implicate him, and then I fled the capitol. Danny Devito was apprehended and arrested for the theft. I got away scot-free.

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