A Bad Start To A New Beginning
“Sire, I’m not sure that’s where you put that!”
Skarl turned towards the irate voice and narrowed his eyes at the Blumaroo. It was just his luck to get a boring new Jester. Skarl looked down at the Mortog in his hand. He’d been caught in the act of sending Hagan a ‘Little Mortog Surprise’.
“Eh, what’s it to you?” Skarl growled.
The Blumaroo’s eyebrows went up and hid behind the jingle-hat it wore. It held out its hand and looked at Skarl expectantly. Skarl looked down at the hand and did nothing.
“Er, can I please have the Mortog?”
Skarl bit back laughter at the ludicrous suggestion. The new Jester wasn’t bad after all, making such a witty remark!
Sniffing liberally, Skarl tossed the burping Mortog on the ground and moved towards his castle. He didn’t realise the Blumaroo wasn’t with him until he arrived at the front steps. Skarl scanned the part of Meridell he could see and spotted the Blumaroo holding the disgusting Mortog in its hand. Skarl frowned as it walked towards the ‘Mortogery’, which was what Skarl had nicknamed the stall after being tired of saying ‘The Kiss the Mortog Game Stall’.
“Jester!” Skarl barked. “Get over here!”
Bouncing quickly, the Blumaroo made its way over to Skarl, bowing its head and muttering apologies. Satisfied, Skarl smirked and again barked out the next order
“Tell those peasants that I’m ready to hear what they call ‘jokes’.” The Blumaroo bounced away after a murmured “Yes, sire.”
Skarl made his way to his throne room, plopped down on his comfortable throne and waited for the peasants to come in to make bad jokes and embarrass themselves further.
The first one came and went before they even said anything. Skarl had taken one look at the peasant and declared, “That was the worst joke I have ever heard!” The peasant left looking affronted, however happy about something. Skarl heard it mutter, “Finally, I got the avatar!” Sneering, Skarl decided he wouldn’t say that again until he heard a truly terrible joke.
Several peasants came and went, none making a very good joke at all, Skarl was tempted to lock the doors to keep from hearing another joke about ‘baby asparagus’. However, the next joke Skarl heard was truly magnificent.
The peasant had approached nervously and cleared his throat.
“What do you do if fierce Peophins has eaten too much tin of olives?”
Skarl leaned forward in his chair.
“You offering a tin of what what what!”
Skarl sat silent for exactly three seconds. Then he fell off his chair in hysterics.
The peasant stood, looking rather stunned for a few moments, and then an upward curve to the lips brought on a rather hilarious smile. Skarl felt tears coming to his eyes as he watched the peasant grin like a fool. After a few seconds, Skarl realised only he was doing anything, and the sounds coming from his mouth sounded a lot like an out-of-tune trumpet.
Wiping his eyes, Skarl sat up on his throne. Clearing his throat, he said casually, “By golly, peasant, that was the best joke I’ve ever heard. Take some neopoints and this spiffy little ‘avatar’.”
The peasant looked extremely happy with himself, and he left the castle with a spring in his step.
* * *
The Jester glared at the back of the retreating Neopian. How dare he come up with a joke that, in the Jester’s mind, wasn’t even funny? King Skarl had a terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE sense of humour. If it weren’t for the fact that he had only gotten this job recently, the Jester would quit right this instance! Of course, he needed the money, and being unemployed would not do. He noted the smirks the guards were sending his way and his fists curled. They were making a mockery of him! All because some random guy had made Skarl laugh!
A sudden thought occurred to the Jester, or rather Steve as was his real name. He had to redeem himself, tell Skarl the best joke ever invented! After his shift tonight, Steve would jot down his ideas to telling the best joke in history.
After another terrible shift of ‘Jestering’, Steve went to his small servant’s quarters at the castle and grabbed a pen and paper. He sat and waited for inspiration to strike. He waited for quite some time, and just as he was about to give up, something came to him. It was pure gold, something that would go down in history. He would be remembered as the funniest Blumaroo, no wait, the funniest neopet in the entire history of the entire WORLD! Folding over the paper, Steve tucked it into his Jester’s uniform and went to bed, excited for the next day.
The following day, Steve awoke early and raring to go. He got to the main chamber of the castle before the guards and he couldn’t sit still. The anticipation of Skarl’s reaction was eating at Steve; however, he made sure he would be calm when the King finally showed up.
Skarl turned up late morning, grumpier than usual.
Steve walked politely up to the King and bowed with the correct courtesy. Skarl merely grunted and slumped down on his throne. Not in a good mood, it would seem. Steve approached the throne and was greeted by a rather whiny, “What?” Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Steve smiled brightly at Skarl and spoke.
“Sire, If I may, I would like to tell you something of incredible hilarity.”
Skarl grunted again and waved his hands in a ‘go on’ gesture.
Steve bowed slightly again and put his hands in his pocket to get the piece of paper. It wasn’t there. Panicking slightly, Steve searched his other pockets, only to find them empty as well. The paper was gone!
“I don’t have all day, you know!” Skarl’s rather irritated remark set Steve on desperate mode.
“Uh, sire... Um...” Steve was literally grasping at air. He needed something quick, but he couldn’t remember the ending to the joke he’d written. He pulled something off the top of his head. “A Mynci, an Eyrie and a Pteri go into The Crumpetmonger. One orders Steak and Kidney Pie, another orders a Spiced Muffin and the last ordered a Fish Pie. Who ordered which dish and why?” So far so good.
Skarl pondered this with his eyes narrowed. He shrugged and growled, “I don’t know, who?”
“The Pteri ordered the Steak and Kidney and the Eyrie ordered the muffin.” Steve watched Skarl’s eyebrows draw down. He looked at Steve angrily.
“Hey, what about the Mynci? And you didn’t say why!” Well, Steve thought, at least I have his attention.
“The Mynci ordered the Fish Pie. The Eyrie and Pteri ordered their food because they like those dishes.”
“And why did the Mynci order the Fish Pie?”
Steve closed his eyes and hoped for the best.
“Because, since the other two could fly, the Mynci wanted the fish pie in the hopes of turning Maraquan, so that he could have an ability like them. Swimming.”
Skarl turned a rather ugly shade of beetroot. He leapt to his feet and glared at Steve.
“That’s it! That is the worst joke I’ve ever heard! Even Hagan tells better ones! Why are you even a Jester, you are terrible at it! Get out now, you’re fired!”
Steve stood stunned. That joke wasn’t that bad, was it? Or was it even a joke? He couldn’t tell anymore. Picking up the hat he had dropped from his earlier excitement, Steve left the hall rather low and depressed.
Having no other options, Steve walked over to Brightvale and hung around the shops. Now that he was unemployed, all he could do was sit around and do, well, nothing. He had nothing else to do, nowhere else to go.
* * *
Hagan watched the Blumaroo walk around Brightvale through one of the windows in his palace. The Blumaroo was looking rather lost and upset. Getting the attention of one of the Palace guards, Hagan asked, “Why is that Blumaroo walking around my city like that?”
The guard smiled ruefully and said, “He was fired by Skarl for telling the worst joke he’d ever heard. Apparently, I heard from a Meridell guard, it was too smart for Skarl to handle so he chucked the Jester out.”
Hagan turned to look at the Blumaroo again and watched as his eyes glimmered while he looked at the Brightvale Scrollery. Hagan called the guard over again.
“Bring him to me,” he said. The guard obliged.
* * *
Steve sat shaking slightly on the seat opposite King Hagan’s. He had no idea what he had done, and he didn’t want another thing ruining his day.
Hagan considered Steve and then spoke. “I hear you were a Jester for my brother, Skarl, over in Meridell.”
Steve nodded quickly. He wondered where this was going.
“According to the... small talk going around, you were fired because you made a terrible joke that Skarl didn’t understand. Is that correct?”
Steve blushed; everyone thought it was terrible? Well, he’d only had a few seconds to make it up, after all.
“Uh, yes, I hear that’s why.”
Hagan sipped his tea and looked at Steve. “Could you tell me the joke, please?” Steve sat for a few seconds before he did.
Hagan stared and then smiled slightly. “That truly was a terrible joke. But logical, as I have seen Myncies, and other neopets of course, pining to be a little less boring.” Hagan set his tea cup down. “It was truly quite insightful. If you would come back tomorrow, that would be most appreciated.”
Steve jumped out of his seat and headed towards the doors, and then he stopped.
“Wait, why am I coming again tomorrow?”
Hagan smiled and looked Steve in the eye, “For your job of course, as my new advisor. My old one retired some weeks ago and I hadn’t replaced him, until today. You have the exact makings for one.” Steve couldn’t believe his luck.
“You’re being serious, right?” Hagan didn’t have a reputation for making jokes, but anyone can be surprising.
Hagan held out his hand to Steve, who shook it in turn.
“Of course I’m not joking, I’m quite as bad at it as you are.”
Steve laughed and headed to the door. Before he left the room, Hagan called out, “By the way, the rate is 5000 neopoints an hour.” Steve spun around and stared at Hagan, who nodded gracefully.
“See you in the morning.”
Steve left the Palace, a spring in his step and a gleam in his eye. All was well.