Faithful for a Thousand Years

By Natasha Blade

This story begins a long time before I was born, just about a thousand years before. Now usually stories like this one (meaning ones claimed by the brothers Grimm, their claim is false, by the way, they actually have no legal rights to this story) as I was saying; stories like this one don’t usually start so long before themselves (unless it’s something like Sleeping Beauty), but this one does, so we’ll start there. At the beginning. Sound good to you? Good.

 

Once there was a man whose real name was lost not long after the beginning of that thousand years I mentioned before, so we will call him by the name he gave himself: John.

John lived in a country that was at war, and when he was twenty-two, he was recruited to be in the King’s army (Now is a good time to tell you the reason John wasn’t recruited years earlier, like when he was seventeen or eighteen; John was a coward, so he hid. I am telling you this because it explains later happenings in the story. So now you know; John was a coward.). Now because not very many important things happened at the beginning of the story I’ll skim a little.

John somehow became friends with an older gentleman; a Duke, or an Earl, or of some-such rank lost in the years of time.

Skipping forward to when John was twenty-three, and not long before the war ended. John has become even closer to the gentleman and one day during a battle the gentleman was killed.

Not surprised, are you? Kind of predictable, really; the main character makes a new friend, chances are they’re going to die.

In general not much note was taken concerning the gentleman’s death, it was a war after all. But there was one sorta important person who took particular notice about his death; specifically the cause of his death (and I’m not talking about whether it was a knife, sword, or arrow). This man was a distant relative of the gentleman and also (this is also very important) he was a wizard.

Not long after he gentleman’s death the wizard confronted John with the accusation: “You killed my brother,” (he was speaking metaphorically of course, brothers aren’t distant relatives), “Because of your cowardness you ran and he died!”

This was true (toldja the bit about him being a coward was important), but John still tried making excuses.

“Be silent, you sniveling coward!” thundered the wizard. “Because of you my brother is dead, and for this you shall pay!”

John reasonably thought this meant he was going to die, so he tried begging for his life. To his credit he managed to get to “Please”.

“You shall pay,” the wizard talked right over him, “By faithfully serving his descendants for one thousand years.” He glared at John (a look many wizards hang their reputations on). “One hundred years for every month you claimed to be his friend and he trusted his friendship to you. Only then will you be free to live the remainder of your life to your choosing.”

So John, after the war so conveniently ended two months later, went to find the gentleman’s family and served them, faithfully for almost one thousand years.

There’s just one more important fact that happened before the story starts sounding familiar (a.k.a.—the bits the brothers Grimm remembered to stick in) and before I show up.

About forty years into his service the the gentleman’s oldest grandson got married to the princess of the country (also the heir to the throne).

Now almost a thousand years later, near the end of John’s service…

I shall call this bit

CHAPTER ONE

King Charles gripped John’s hand with the strength only dying men trying to wring out a promise can.

“Promise me, John. Promise me you will help my son rule the kingdom wisely, as you helped me, and promise me to destroy the picture without anyone seeing it, my son most of all, he must not see it!”

John gave Charles an encouraging smile and nodded. “I will do my very best, my king.”

Charles, after making John promise this many times over died; never knowing that John was only thinking of only nine more years! And silently cursing himself for ever making friend’s with this dying king’s ancestor.

After King Charles’ funeral, before his son, now King Mark, could talk to him for any reason, and delay him, John, John slipped into a room that was thoroughly secured, with a box of matches (Matches were invented a lot sooner than historians wish to admit) and a jar of oil. The small room held only one thing; a large, framed picture of a beautiful young woman. Only, you couldn’t see it because a large piece of cloth was covering it.

John flipped the cloth up only far enough to make sure it was the picture that was ordered destroyed. It was.

John poured oil over the hidden picture then set a lit match to it.

 

While we wait for the picture to burn, assuming you’re not too absorbed watching the flames crackle and burn, I shall tell you why the dead King Charles didn’t want his son to see the picture.

The picture was of a beautiful young lady the catch being the person who was commissioned to paint it wasn’t really an artist. You couldn’t tell by looking at his pictures, though. While painting the picture he accidentally enchanted it…making every young man fall in love upon seeing it. (In my defense I was still learning magic and I didn’t want to paint the picture, I was forced into it.)

So now that you know some about the picture, let’s go back to its burning.

 

John watched as the flames eagerly ate up the oil flavored picture.

“It’s interesting that you choose to destroy the picture now.”

John didn’t dare show surprise to the young king standing behind him. “It was your father’s last wish.”

Mark stepped up beside John. “Who is she?”

John considered lying and making up a story about her being a long lost love of the late king.

“And tell me the truth.”

John abandoned the lie, to deceive would most likely fall under the ‘unfaithful’ category.

“She was one of the candidates when your father was trying to get you married.”

“I don’t remember her, why don’t I remember her?”

“You never met her.” John scuffed his boot. Would it be unfaithful to volunteer the whole story, since King Charles didn’t want Mark to discover her existence or instead should he let it be dragged out of him?

“Why did I never meet her? I thought you said she was a candidate.”

“She was, but then she got engaged to a king with more money. Apparently she is very attracted to gold.”

The young king frowned. “Engaged. Did she end up marrying him?”

John shrugged. “I haven’t the slightest idea.”

 

Obviously Mark had fallen in love, or at least thought he had fallen in love, with this young lade, or at least her portrait. He then begged John to be as faithful to him as he had been to his father. John promised, silently adding that this faithfulness would only last for nine years then he would be gone.

Then pleading to his ‘faithfulness’ Mark made John find out if this lady was indeed married to this king. She was, or had been; he had died less than a year after their marriage.

So then John had to figure out a way to make this queen want to marry Mark. Of course, Mark couldn’t let John come up with ALL the ideas, he threw in a couple himself…

 

“We could kidnap her! Sneak into the castle at night and steal her from right under the guards’ noses!”

John sighed and put his head in his hands. Only nine more years, he told himself. Just nine more years, nine years is nothing compared to the nine hundred and ninety-one years I’ve spent serving this family, really and truly. They’ll go by in a flash.

He looked up, disappointed to see that the flash hadn’t come yet.

“Number one, it would be smarter to lure her onto our ship then set sail, and number two: people don’t usually take nicely to their royalty being kidnapped. It would be better to woo her with your exquisite works of gold.”

“Do we have exquisite works of gold? I wasn’t aware.”

There are a lot of things you don’t know; one of them being how close I am to, on the spot, finding out that this gold obsessed queen is dead just because it would test my self control in not strangling you.

Instead of voicing his thought, John, with long practiced patience, explained that they would have to scour the country for every beautiful gold work and have many more made by the best goldsmiths.

So Mark listened to John and many people lost their heirloom gold pieces.

 

Just in case any of you were wondering, I do show as more than the narrator. In fact, I’ll tell you about the gold piece I lost.

 

I was still learning magic, or more accurately; learning how to snare it, then bribe it into doing what I wanted.

I started out the day with my statue concoction, and while it was sitting over the fire slowly binging itself to a boil, put the finishing touches to a spell I had been working on for three days. In other words, I fed the wet seaweed like gump to the crows.

I waited ten minutes after they finished it before deciding that this spell, too, had failed so then I started working on a necklace. (Just so none of you are surprised, this is the gold necklace that gets taken from me.)

The reason I was trying this spell was because it sounded east, and there was practically no room for mistakes, which was good, because I often made them.

I finished and was very pleased. It looked right and I hadn’t made any mistakes that I could see.

I sent the necklace aside, then looked at the caged crows for some time. In the last two hours, while I was working on the necklace, they had acted no differently. I opened the cage. They came out sorta cautiously, a few at a time, then they all flew out.

…and settled in the trees surrounding the clearing I was working in.

Okay, fine. They didn’t wish to leave. This might even be proof that my spell to make them smarter hadn’t succeeded.

So I ignored the birds and started on fireproofing my robe.

I was mixing ingredients when a voice spoke right in my ear, causing me to jump and give a sort of half screech. This made the oil spill and I spun around to give whoever was interrupting me my best wizard frown, which isn’t very impressive in the first place, and is even less so right after I jumped an inch off the ground while making a most un-wizard like sound, at the same time spilling oil down my front.

There was no one.

 

This is your chance to announce who you think was talking to me, whether it was pet parrot (which I do not own. I have never even been withing 10 feet of a parrot), or if you think I was talking to myself, or someone snuck up on me.

If your guess was any of these YOU ARE WRONG. It was a crow who had somehow managed to land on my shoulder, unnoticed.

Spells take a lot of concentration.

 

“That necklace you made, something wrong with it.”

I almost hit the crow (instinct), but he had anticipated my blow and moved just in time.

I stared at the bird, who was now perched on my table. “You spoke!” I jumped up and down in excitement, then spun around in a circle. “You actually talked! You actually really talked!”

The crow ignored my celebrations, and pecked at my necklace. “This gold is poisoned.”

I stopped dancing around and looked at him.

“What do you mean poisoned? I followed the recipe exactly!”

“Whoever wears it will die within half an hour. That’s all I know.” The crow huffily flew off.

I looked mournfully after him.

“Ach, don’t mind him, he’s always a grump.” Another crow landed on my table. “I call myself Kavi, even if no else does. It means poetic in Hindi. What do you go by?”

 

Kavi became a close friend, who was much better at magic than me, though we didn’t figure that out until after the horse.

Ah, yes. The Horse. That came about after some palace guards came by, took the necklace and in return left a horse. Since I had the horse and there was nothing I could do about the necklace they took I decided to make the horse faster.

It mostly worked, he was certainly faster, but after he ran away, he took my took my opposite of a fire proof robe, I might add, we (meaning Kavi, myself and some of the other crows who stuck around) figured out that anyone who rode him would be bucked off and would die.

Now back to John: the main character.

 

John and King Mark sailed several months before coming to the country of Kilpatrick, which was the land the gold-loving queen ruled, who was named Gloria Hannah Havergal.

Now I’m sure you would love to know how Kilpatrick got its name, but I’ll just stick to: it’s bad luck to be named Patrick. REALLY Bad luck.

The ship, named Ael after King Mark’s grandmother, docked in Haver Harbor, Kilpatrick’s capitol. The ship was largely unnoticed because people who live in ports tend to get used to ships coming and going.

And thus King Mark of Andran swept Queen Gloria Hannah Havergal of Kilpatrick off her feet, so impressed as she was with all the gold and the promise of more on their wedding day.

They promptly set sail for Andran, planning to be married the day after they arrived.

CHAPTER 2

Of course, there was a teeny, weensy problem, which John discovered about half way home, so he had plenty of time to fight with himself about being faithful an if writing things down counted as speaking of them or not.

As I Said: The Ael was halfway to Andran and John was seeking some time alone, to be by himself without any responsibility for at least ten minutes.

He got distracted by crows.

“I tell you, they’re cursed.”

“Yeah? Prove it.”

“First of all, when they go ashore the king will be—”

“His name is ‘Mark’.”

“O.K. King Mark will be offered a horse to ride back to the palace.”

“What! Shall the queen be forced to walk?”

“No,” snapped the first crow (It was at this point John discovered it was crows talking). “The queen also gets a horse to ride, but the king’s horse will kill him. So there.”

“That doesn’t prove they’re cursed.”

“Well…if the king survives, which is only possible if the horse is killed before it is mounted, then he’ll burn to death by the bridal robe he’ll be presented with upon arriving at the palace, and if her survives that, then on their wedding night he’ll present what’s-her-name with—”

“Gloria Hannah Havergal.”

“—a golden necklace that will kill her. There. Now do you believe they’re cursed?”

“I won’t believe a thing until—what in the name of talking crows is happening to you?!”

Upon hearing this John snuck a look at the crows (he had been pretending not to notice them while simultaneously hoping they would notice him and shut up so he wouldn’t have to act on what they were saying). The crow that had been doing most of the talking was turning into stone. Mediumly and steadily.

John stared.

“Wait! Wait! Before you go, is there a way to save the queen?” the non-beleiver cried fluttering his wings.

“Treat like a snake wound.”

The crow was completely stone.

“We shall never be able to save the queen now! What shall we do? Oh what shall we do?!” The bird almost sounded hysterical.

“He said treat it like a snake wound, besides, I thought you didn’t believe him.”

“But, but…” the bird twittered, flapping his wings anxiously.

“I advise you not to mention this to anybody,” said the fourth crow. “Or you won’t fare well.” Then he went in search of a new roosting position.

“What did he mean?” questioned the wide-eyed youngster.

The remaining non-stone crow rustled her wings. “Obviously your friend didn’t know, but if anyone speaks of these things, they turn to stone.”

The youngster hopped away from her stone friend. “But why?”

“Oh, they’re still working on that. Bound to figure it out sooner or later.”

“Who will figure it out?”

John dropped to the deck. Why, oh why had he listened? And why couldn’t he be unfaithful this once?

 

As you might suspect they eventually made it back to Andran as somehow the word that king Mark was engaged beat them and a crowd waited for the King and his future queen.

John walked down the gangplank, behind the royals, nervousness bubbling up in his stomach.

No horse. There isn’t a horse you’re fine, there isn’t a horse. No horse visible. You’re fine.

He fingered his hidden knife.

The applause was deafening, but no one besides John seemed to notice.

A carriage for Mark and Gloria rolled up and John felt a great weight drop off him. They would be in a carriage. They would be fine. He had been imagining the crows and their crazy talk. Everything would be fine. Absolutely—

King Mark waved the carriage away. “We shall ride, so the people may see their king and queen.”

John swallowed. There was no way he’d get away with killing the king’s mount. Especially in front of everyone.

It couldn’t be true.

Two mounts were brought forward.

Everything had bee imagined. It had to have been imagined.

A black shape flying from the ship caught his eye. A crow.

He lunged forward, pulling out his knife. Before he quite knew what he was doing he had killed the mount meant for the king.

 

I was almost in shock as I watched John first kill my run-away horse then burn my stolen coat.

“How?” I muttered to Kavi. “How does he know: And why does he believe it enough to actually do it?”

Kavi rolled his eyes. I couldn’t see him do it, but his tone of voice implied he had done so.

“There were a few gossipers in the rigging, how else?”

“But why does he believe it?” I hissed. “Talking crows don’t exist! So why would he believe what one said?!”

“Because he also saw one of them turn into stone? But, that’s just a guess.”

“Then why chance it? He might have to explain himself!”

Kavi shifted position. “You don’t keep up with anything, do you?”

I gave him an annoyed look. “I keep up with the important stuff. Why people do dumb stuff like listening to talking crows that may be a figment of their imagination is not important to me.”

“Well,” was the sarcastic reply, “I suppose that means you aren’t interested in knowing that the reason John is risking himself, as far as I can guess, is because of the generations he has been serving the royal house.”

“How did you know that?” I blurted.

“I thought talking to crows that you’re imagining wasn’t important.”

“Well I’m not imagining you,” I snapped, then fell into a sulky silence.

“Do you want to know?” Kavi prompted. “His past is very interesting.”

“If you fell inclined to, go ahead. I gave you voice, so far be it from me to silence it.”

Kavi nipped at me, but eventually settled down and told all about John’s past, though he never mentioned how he had obtained the information.

CHAPTER THREE

The wedding day rolled around and John’s nervousness grew. Maybe the horse and the coat were a mistake. Maybe he had imagined the crows.

But the memory of the crow flying from the ship made him doubtful.

If the king presented her with a necklace. IF

He bit another fingernail off.

 

The wedding was wonderful. The bride was beautiful. The groom was ecstatic. The dance was about to start.

And John had neither fingernails nor the ability to stand still.

Mark and Gloria were about to dance.

You’re fine. You’re fine. No necklace. There is no necklace.

He tried popping his knuckles again.

The bride and groom had completed their circuit and more couples were joining in the dance.

John bit his finger again and it started to bleed.

No necklace. No nec—John froze. Mark and Gloria were off to the side, somehow unnoticed.

Mark placed a gold necklace around her neck. She smiled at her king.

John trembled as he begged silent pleas, eyes wide with fearful watchfulness.

As you might have guessed, and might even possibly understand, John didn’t do very well the next twenty minutes of dancing, and I’m sure that you, like me, find it understandable that when the queen collapsed on the ground John found it difficult not to do the same instead of almost throwing up, then forcing himself toward to fulfill his duty. To rescue the queen.

CHAPTER FOUR

The crow said ‘treat as snake wound’ and although John knew more or less what was supposed to be done when treating snake wounds, he had read up on it.

It was the same as all poison wounds; the poison must be removed.

As John ran forward, pushing through the people, he knew he would have to do this in full sight of everyone. Just like the horse and the coat.

Only this time he was positive he wouldn’t get away with it. The king would never let anyone escape with sucking out his queen’s blood.

 

King Mark practically smoked with the heat of his rage as he glared, waiting for court to begin. How DARE someone who claimed to be Faithful to HIM DO such a thing!!! The horse and the coat he had been allowed to get away with, but playing VAMPIRE with his QUEEN!!

He growled as John was ushered in.

Court had begun.

 

John had trouble not collapsing on the floor and begging forgiveness as King Mark pronounced him guilty of treason.

How was this being being faithful? Committing treason? Was he going to die either way?

He almost threw up at the thought of the magician showing up and dealing out more punishment.

“—to be executed.”

John’s blood froze, hearing those words.

Then, without thinking, he dropped to his knees in one desperate attempt to save himself.

“My…my King,” he stammered out, “May…may I offer an ex-explanation?”

Mark, risen and departing, glowered, but paused.

“I-I was warned by, by the…Fates.” He grasped the only explanation he could think of. The Fates had known to appear in raven form, why not in crow form?

“They…sent messengers w-while we were returning from K-kilpatrick w-warning me of…” Of what? Attempts on Gloria and Mark’s happiness? That the queen was cursed, so that all her suitors would be killed? A twist of fate?

“Of what?”

He swallowed. “That three items were stolen and had ended up in a position to threaten you.”

“Let me guess!” was the sarcastic reply. “The horse, my bridal coat and the necklace.”

John started to nod.

“You think I’m going to believe your lying hide?! You are to burned at the stake tomorrow as a traitor to the royal crown!”

 

I peeked behind me to assure myself that the guards weren’t taking notice of me. So far so good.

Then, because my eyes were busy someplace else, I tripped down the long flight of stairs, leading to the dungeon, It made quite a noise, at least to my ears, but none of the guards seemed to notice anything amiss, which was good, because that meant my spell was working properly.

Just in case you hadn’t figured it out (sneaking around; Dungeon. I’ll give you a chance to gues)…

Yup! I was sneaking around with the intent of speaking to Faithful John.

His cell didn’t have any windows and I could feel the cold before I reached it. I would have guessed anywhere from 98 to 100 percent humidity, but John didn’t seem to notice. He just huddled there, in what I have no compulsion describing as a ‘terrified huddle’.

I rattled the bars to get his attention. It took a moment, then he jerked his head around in my direction.

“Who-o’s there?” he stuttered, eyes wide.

“You don’t know me, but I’m here to help.”

“Who’s there?” This time he was louder.

“My name is—”

He unhuddled himself and staggered to his feet. “If it’s King Mark trying to scare me: I told the truth! I’m not a traitor!” He rattled the bars. “I’m not a traitor! You don’t have to kill me!”

I kicked myself. Then harder. “You moron! Idiot! You dimwitted imbecile!”

If I had not been me, I would have given myself a slap upside the head.

I hadn’t thought things through. Again.

My sound/invisibility spell obviously couldn’t work on everybody but John!

I kicked myself again, but there was nothing I could do, I hadn’t brought anything to write with or on…

I stamped up the stairs, furious with myself.

CHAPTER FIVE

And thus John, whose time of freedom from servitude was nearing, was taken to the stake the following day and burned.

He didn’t die, though. (That was for anyone who might have grown attached to him in the last five chapters.)

He instead did exactly what I advised him to do (or would have, but for a little oversight); he acted as a self-preservating human being would and repeated what he had heard the crows say and turned to stone.

As you might imagine, but only because people are oddly strange in many ways, the fire burned long enough that when it was extinguished, only a few people were there. And they did as you might. The hid the stature until the king returned from his honeymoon, then nominated one of them to tell the king and never spoke of it again.

Then the king had the statue smashed because he was still mad at John. The End.

Well…Not quite.

The problem with the assumption you made is that I felt responsible for what had happened to John, and Kavi (my crow friend) an I were brainstorming.

Because there was a way to turn him back.

Besides, King Mark wasn’t that mad.

CHAPTER SIX

You remember when I was cooking up spells back in chapter one and some of my possessions were taken? Good. I hate repeating myself when you should have been listening.

I mentioned I was working on a statue potion. You may not remember, but I checked to make sure and I did.

Problem was I forgot about it.

And I had made a tiny mistake when mixing it up, and it bled into my other spells.

Thus when SPEAKING of the wrong details concerning the horse, the coat, or the necklace and you would turn to stone.

Didn’t make a world of sense to me either, but Kavi knew what he was talking about and together we set out to solve the problem and save John the faithful!

CHAPTER SEVEN

I bet you didn’t think it would take six years!

But it did.

In those years three things happened (pertinent to the story that is).

One: we perfected the cure (no forgotten spells backstage)

Two: Mark and Gloria had two children (I suppose you could consider this two pertinent events if you were going to get picky about it)

Three: Mark started to feel really really guilty about John.

 

The statue of John was in the king’s suite, in fact the very same room King Mark and his children were conveniently playing in.

I stood behind the stature (invisible), ready to play my part.

Kavi and Yuri, a friend of his, perched one on each of my shoulders.

I cleared my throat to get Mark’s attention.

Mark jumped, as if not expecting someone else in the room (which isn’t surprising, really). He then, oddly enough, came to the conclusion that the statue had tried to gain his attention.

“John!” he cried, running to the stature. “You cleared your throat! You’re returning from statueness!”

“No, actually,” replied Kavi (it was his job to play John’s voice), “But I have been granted the power to speak, bu a powerful sorcerer.” (That’s me! Except I’m not a sorcerer. Sorcerers are the names given made-up wizards, except only the people making it up and other wizards know that there’s no such thing as a sorcerer. It makes for quite a it of trouble when bards are making songs.)

“I may speak only long enough to tell you how to return me to my proper self. But only if that is your will.”

Mark, whose guilt had affected him in the most peculiar way, flung his arms to heaven. “Praise this mighty sorcerer! Even at such a great price as my children’s blood! I am willing to pay it!”

“What?” squawked Yuri. “There isn’t blood anywhere in the cure!”

Mark drew back as if the statue didn’t know what it was talking about and thus was somehow unclean.

“It is the reversal of death! There must be blood! I shall behead my beloved children upon your word!”

It’s the guilt, I’m told; makes you do strange things.

“Blood? What makes you think you have to behead your children? You simply have to—”

Yuri’s unbelieving outburst was interrupted by the more studied Kavi.

Somehow Kavi had always known that Mark would not accept the simple statue cure for John, and had planned out a clever way to make Mark do what he had to do, preferably without killing either of his children.

But I am positive neither the peacock feathers or the rotten eggs were in the plan.

 

One and a half baker’s dozen of eggs that floated.

The cook stared at the king.

“And a large pot with enough luke-warm water to cover the eggs.”

The cook nodded. This proved any King of Andron couldn’t function properly without a faithful servant.

 

“Two peacock feathers, one black chicken feather, and one hawk feather. How ’bout you?”

“One pint spoiled goat’s milk, one pound of soap, three empty buckets, one without a bottom, and two wood splinters. What do you think he’s going to do with all this stuff?”

The first boy shrugged. “He’s probably going insane, but it makes for an interesting day.”

 

Four eggs, each with a feather glued to them, flew out the window into the burning moat.

Next came a bucket sporting thousands of minuscule holes, soapy milk spurting from each one.

Finally came the queen, up the road toward the palace with a flaming moat.

 

The King’s suite was a disaster.

The children had gotten into an egg fight, started a bonfire with the curtains (which had been put out) and had tried gluing each other to the wall, the floor, the curtains, John, their father, and each other. At the moment the older one was running around with the bottomless bucket on his head and the other one was trying to throw himself out the window, which was how I knew that the queen had just gotten home and that we were in trouble.

“Kavi!” I pulled the four-year-old away from the window. “You’ll never guess who’s coming up the drive!”

Kavi, from somewhere across the room, scoffed. “Can’t be! She’s not due home until tomorrow!”

Miraculously, Mark did not notice a thing. He was too busy writing an ode to crows.

“Just tell him what he really needs to do, Kavi! I refuse to be caught in here, even if I’m invisible! Not after you got him to set fire to the moat!”

“Not till he’s finished with my ode!”

“Bother your ode!” panicked Yuri. “She’s halfway up here!”

Kavi grumbled, but he flew over to Mark and ceremoniously told him to dump the cow milk (since the goat milk went out the window) over the statue of John and then the great sorcerer would give the last ingredient to the cure.

He probably didn’t need that last part about the sorcerer (originally it was supposed to be just that, the milk and maybe a few other things, just to convince him, but he seemed to be willing to accept anything Kavi told him).

I did my bit of flashiness (which included appearing suddenly), made sure john was doused in milk and we fled, dragging the reluctant Kavi, who wished to see what Queen Gloria thought of things.

 

John opened his eyes and inhaled milk.

“John!” Any air supply he had was choked out of him by a slightly older version than he remembered of Mark. “You’re alive!”

A door swung open and a furious Queen Gloria Hannah Havergal of Andron-Kilpatrick entered.

What happened? John tried to bring Gloria’s face into focus. Surely I wasn’t really a statue.

Mark ran to his wife. “I’ve cured him! He isn’t a statue anymore!”

So I was a stature. John looked at the little children. Please tell me my nine years are up.

 

And that pretty much concludes the story of Faithful John. Three years later he pleaded family business and was never seen again.

I meanwhile went on to have more problems with young girls (such as one insisting I was her godfather and must bring her to the ball), but there is no room in this book for those stories.

The End

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