Dining with Skarl
One fine day in Meridell, something unusual happened. When
the first rays of the morning sun lit the sky, a messenger bearing a command from
King Skarl arrived at the most famous house in the land.
It belonged to Lisha and Jeran.
The blare of a trumpet jolted the Lupe from
his sleep and he stumbled to the front door with a grumpy sigh. The lowly messenger
was extremely relieved to see the bravest knight in Meridell appear, for he
did not wish to face the wrath of his King if he failed to deliver the important
decree. Ignoring the stale morning breath of Jeran, the messenger cleared his
throat and found his most pompous voice.
"Our most honorable majesty his highness King
Skarl wishes to bestow upon Jeran, bravest knight of the land, and Lisha the
incomparable honor of dining at the castle this evening. Please note that attendance
is compulsory and it would be most appropriate to be dressed in a most decorated
Jeran blinked in disbelief. This was a most
uncommon occurrence indeed, for Skarl was not known for his willingness to invite
others, no matter how important, to dine with him. Everyone in Meridell knew
about the Skeith's obsession with monopolizing food set in front of him and
never shared anything, not even a crumb of bread. The Lupe's mind was clouded
with suspicion for a moment. Perhaps the grumpy king was displeased with him
and his sister? Could the Skeith be so devious as to use the invitation as a
front for something sinister? He shook his head; Skarl was not known for possessing
outstanding wits and his sole source of wise advice, King Hagan, was miles away
in Brightvale nursing a wounded ego for losing out to his brother in a berry-eating
What would Lisha say? Jeran thought as
he secretly wished that his sister did not have a habit of sleeping in. He caught
the impatient look of the messenger and immediately accepted the decree, promising
their attendance at the court of Skarl that evening. Now, how bad could dinner
"I can't believe that you accepted the invitation!"
Jeran winced as Lisha's shriek echoed in the
small room. He pinned the last of his badges to his formal coat and dabbed a
bit of polish on his sword. Rubbing vigorously, he wore an expression of nonchalance.
"Lisha, attendance is compulsory. No one turns
down a king."
The Aisha's widened eyes looked abnormally large
behind her huge glasses as she glared at her brother in consternation. She never
hid her dislike of Skarl, or of anyone who fell under the spell of court dancers.
Having to dine with him would be a torture. Who knew if she had to watch more
court dancers entertaining the king during the meal? Lisha felt sick at this
and banished all silly thoughts from her mind. She looked at Jeran preparing
for the audience so feverishly, and realized that the invitation could mean
a lot to him; any request from the king was an honor to a knight after all.
For her brother, she decided that she could put up with an evening of Skarl.
"Well, now, what do I have to wear?"
Not long after the two siblings left their home,
they arrived at the castle, for the king had sent a magical carriage that flew
above the unpaved ground and avoided the messy traffic of vegetable carts and
harried farmers. A nervous servant, who was already waiting at the entrance
of Skarl's abode, ushered them into the castle.
Lisha gasped in surprise when they entered the
dining hall, as it had changed significantly since she last saw it. Silky Meridell
flags hung from freshly painted walls and there was a Brightvale stain glass
window customized for the king, showing him biting into a large drumstick, one
of his favorite snacks. But what caught her attention the most, and that of
her gaping brother too, was a portrait of the latter in full armory, lifting
a sword in the air triumphantly.
Jeran regained his composure quickly. Now, he
was absolutely certain that King Skarl had something up his sleeves. There was
no reason to honor him with a portrait, for Jeran could not recall having committed
an act of commendable courage since Meridell attained peace. On the other hand,
the royal Skeith was extremely talented in coaxing others to do his will by
making them feel important. What did he want of Jeran? This could be an interesting
As the siblings looked at each other knowingly,
a herald entered the hall and cleared his throat three times.
"His Highness King Skarl has arrived."
This announcement was followed immediately by
the entry of the king, who grinned widely when he saw them. Lisha tried not
to roll her eyes as she curtsied. She sighed when she realized that her brother
had gone on his knees in a formal greeting. Taking his seat at the head of the
long marble table, Skarl gestured for the siblings to be seated on either side
of him and for food to be served. As they waited for the dishes to arrive, Skarl
turned to Jeran and pointed to the portrait of the knight.
"I commissioned it last month especially for
you, my bravest knight, you make be beam with pride."
Oh my, thought Lisha, stifling her giggles,
who knew that Skarl could rhyme?
"Your majesty is too kind," Jeran replied, smelling
"Oh, we must begin the meal. Here comes my chef,
presenting the best catch of the day from the moat," said Skarl, as a timid
Chia approached the table, balancing a large plate of steaming delicacy precariously
on one hand.
Soon, various dishes of all shapes and sizes
were presented to Skarl till there was no more space left on the large table
to accommodate any more plates. The presentation of each dish was accompanied
by a commentary by the king, which nearly bored the siblings to tears. They
were getting drowsy when the last dish, dried gourmet berries, was placed on
Finally, Skarl announced that they could tuck
in. Lisha immediately realized that the king had expensive gourmet cuisine placed
strategically in front of him and just out of the reach of the siblings, which
was typical. She bit into a piece of smoked meat and began to ponder on what
Skarl might want of them. There was no such thing as a free meal, was there?
However, the king made no mention of any favor
he expected in return during the meal. In fact, he made no conversation at all,
doing little but gorging on the food. As Lisha watched, she noticed that he
let soup trickle down his chin and bits of vegetable got stuck in between his
teeth. Skarl never sipped from his goblet; he swigged. The meal ended when the
king swallowed the last bit of minced pie and burped loudly. Jeran's ears pricked
with anticipation. His intuition told him that Skarl would make his intentions
He was right.
"So, the meal was good," said the king and without
skipping a beat, "I had my cook prepare the best food just for you both."
Jeran looked at him expectantly.
Skarl returned the look, saying, "As you know,
I commissioned a portrait for you, Jeran, and gave you two the best meal anyone
in my kingdom could have."
"Anything for you,
Your Highness," replied Jeran. Just get on with it already, Skeith.
"Ah, it's good to have such an understanding
knight. So…well, you know, how did you get the potatoes in your garden to grow
Lisha bit her lip hard to stop the laughter
that threatened to burst forth. A huge feast and a commissioned portrait just
for this? Everyone knew the secret to huge potatoes: fertilizer.
Skarl frowned at the stunned expression that
Jeran was wearing. He knew that getting the secret recipe of a good fertilizer
from the knight would be difficult. But it was absolutely necessary because
he was tired of the small pathetic potatoes that the royal farmer supplied his
cook with. Looking at the tiny potatoes in his dishes at every meal made him
grumpier, knowing that there were larger ones in Jeran's garden. He first came
to notice the tubers when he went on a tour of Meridell. They had bugged him
ever since. Surely the feast and portrait were enough to make Jeran spill the
"Uh, I use fertilizer, Your Highness," said
Jeran when he found his tongue. It was not an everyday thing to have the king
show interest in potatoes that grew in one's garden.
"I'm sure you do, but where did you get it from?
Do you mix it with anything before using it?"
"I buy it from the Meridell Dumpster. Nothing
was added, the fertilizer is always used just the way it comes."
Oh, thought Skarl, I import mine from
Thus, that evening, Lisha and Jeran left the
castle snickering at all the effort that their king had put into learning about
fertilizer from his own kingdom's Dumpster. When they reached home, Jeran hung
the commissioned portrait in his room. As the Meridell saying went, once a knight,
always a knight. That meant being honored whenever one's King bestowed one with
And after that evening, King Hagan was left wondering
why his brother suddenly stopped ordering Brightvale dung from him.
The End. ^_^