The Return of the Jesters

Sir Azur Ravenstar of Frostgar watched the proceedings with confusion. As one of King Bertrand's most trusted knights, he was able to watch the King's most private meetings and as such had a far above average knowledge of how to run a Kingdom. Azur also felt that he had an understanding of King Bertrand that was equally far above average, and that Azur could accurately predict Bertrand's response to almost any given scenario. What was occuring now, however, was not what Azur had predicted. What was occuring now, in Azur's opinion, was simply bizarre. King Bertrand stood flapping his arms with panic as he looked over a map of the Unified Kingdom. This was not an inspiring, authorative pose and Azur suspected he was not alone in thinking that the great King Bertrand had been abducted, locked in a dungeon and replaced with the panicky imposter that now stood before Sir Azur by the strategy table. "This is not good. This is not good." - The words of King Bertrand, conqueror of the Four Kingdoms and leader of the new Unified Kingdom. The same King Bertrand who was widely accepted as the greatest military leader in history and yet Azur's "Imposter Bertrand" theory seemed increasingly realistic.

The large hall was almost empty, aside from King Bertrand and a few of his most trusted knights. Valur Stone-Heart was the first to enquire as to King Bertrand's mental health albeit in a more diplomatic fashion. "Is everything alright, my King?" Valur asked quietly. King Bertrand responded with an odd guttural snarl which everyone took to mean 'No'. King Bertrand then stood sobbing over the aforementioned map of the Unified Kingdom. After a while, he appeared to compose himself and turned to his anxious knights with a wide smile.

"My Knights, these are interesting times indeed." He began, and Azur braced himself for one of Bertrand's infamous speeches - the kind that made you all too willing to risk your life on a stupid quest to kill an undead king in a tomb somewhere. "The Unified Kingdom is strong and powerful thanks to your efforts. However, I must ask a favour. Know that it is not just I who asks you this, but all of the Unified Kingdom. One of you must journey into the very heart of the Mountain of Madness to retrieve the High Jester and bring him back to Tehrath for an official pardon."

This was evidently a day of surprises, as Azur had once again been confused by a King he had long ago learnt to predict. "But, my lord..." He began only to be cut off by King Bertrand. "I know!" King Bertrand snapped, before seeming to compose himself. "I am sure we are all aware of the ban on Jesters and the Union of Jesters' strike but this really is urgent. All I am asking is that you find this Jester and return him to me alive. Is that too much to ask, Sir Azur?"

Sir Azur thought it wise to shake his head at this point, but realised with disappointment that he had been singled out for this quest. A quest which was admittedly a refreshing change of pace from the usual warring against Orcish Rebels. The optimist inside of Sir Azur told him that this was an easy way to earn King Bertrand's favour whilst the realist conceded that it would likely end up with yet another near-death experience at the hands of a crazed, semi-mythical, devious Jester rebel.

"It appears that the task must fall to you, Sir Azur." King Bertrand concludes solemnly. "Return with the famed High Jester of Jehelrin and you shall earn my favour."

The End

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