Episode 4: “Yasss, Queen!”

It’d been eight years since the Skeleton King was defeated at the hands of Creston Dex and Fox Warren. Ribbyn “Mordane”, the king’s number one minion, was devastated by the loss and went into hiding. He left his slain master in the hands of the Graveyard Fighters and fled into the Valley of Bones, hoping his involvement in the king’s schemes would be forgotten. He managed to successfully escape the Fighters and hid in the nearby village of Conderoga. 

Being a sorcerer, it was easy to hide in plain sight by using a glamor that made him look like a young student of the Literal Arts. This look consisted of a stupid bowl cut parted down the middle, but not well due to his frizzy black hair, wrinkled button down shirts, equally wrinkled pants, and a dirty brown cloak that was originally the Skeleton King’s. He refused to wash it because the king’s scent still lingered on it. He looked conspicuously inconspicuous enough not to be suspected of being in league with the Skeleton King.

The first year of hiding was uneventful. He stayed inside his residence mostly. He had his food delivered to minimize personal contact with people. After the second year, he desperately yearned for interaction. Unfortunately, he had earned the reputation of being a recluse, and no one wanted anything to do with him. 

To combat this, Rib made a concerted effort to engage the villagers in small talk. Bit by bit, he came out of his shell, and the villagers eventually warmed up to him. They soon sought him out for small favors, which he accepted with glee. He was the handy guy around town fixing broken things, saving cats from trees, and helping little old ladies carry their groceries from the local farm. He even got a job at the library.

It had been strange living a normal life; a life filled with good deeds and charity; a life devoid of villainy and evil. By the fifth year, he had completely adjusted to his new life. The pain he felt due to his master’s absence was mostly gone.

But when the dead began to rise yesterday, Rib’s excitement rose to heights he didn’t think possible. There was only one person strong enough to raise the dead like this. If the Skeleton King was back, then he wouldn’t have to continue hiding. Things could go back to normal- serving the man he loved. 

Rib had been working in the library when the undead attacked the village. In all of the commotion, he slipped out and made his way to his home. He opened a small chest he kept under his bed and pulled out the Warding Amulet which protected him from the corpses wanting to eat him. He closed his eyes and sighed as he placed the gold chain around his neck and gripped the purple and gold crystal tightly. He whispered a spell that disrupted the glamor he’d been wearing for eight years. His normal appearance returned in an instant: soft tan skin, silky black hair which cascaded down his back, black eyes, and fey like facial features. When he opened his eyes, he felt reborn.

While he would have loved to look at himself in the mirror, he didn’t have time to waste. His master was probably waiting for him and probably sick with worry by his absence. Besides, he knew he looked fresh to death, so there was no reason to check his reflection.

Rib donned his purple sorcerer’s robe and exited the house. He watched the carnage taking place outside and grinned. He didn’t realize how much he had missed the chaos until now. His skin prickled as he thought about returning to a life of villainy once again. He couldn’t wait to unleash unholy hell on the world. For that, he must get back to his master. He uttered a teleportation spell and was gone in an instant, leaving only a puff of purple smoke in his wake.

The next instant, Rib was back in the throne room of the Skeleton King. The room was dusty and in disrepair. The throne sat empty and cold. He scanned the room for any sign of his master, but there was none. Maybe he had gotten there too soon. The undead had made their presence known merely a half hour ago. If the king had returned, he must not have left wherever the Graveyard Fighters disposed of him. It was at this moment he wished he hadn’t been such a coward. He should have stayed by the king’s side until the very end, so when he returned, he wouldn’t have to wake up alone. Rib’s face would have been the first friendly face he saw. His heart ached at this missed opportunity.

He wondered what he should do while he waited. The idea of cleaning up the place came to mind, but after looking at how thick the dust had gotten over the years convinced him it was too big a job so soon. What he should do was look for his master. The Fighters couldn’t have carried him too far from the castle. With any luck, it won’t take too long to find him.

With haste, Rib left the throne in search of the Skeleton King.

***

Having successfully found his master in the castle catacombs, Rib was finally reunited with his love. He hadn’t aged a day and his scar had healed beautifully. This pleased Rib to no end.

Rib wanted to make up for lost time by telling him everything he missed, but the king was not up for it. The king merely stared blankly ahead with no sign of recognition of Rib or their surroundings. It’s okay, Rib thought. He’s still a bit groggy after sleeping for so long. It’s understandable, really. I’ll just clean him up and give him some space.

After giving Calavera his royal bath, which Rib enjoyed a little too much, he set the king on his throne and left him to rest for the rest of the day.

The following morning, Rib checked in and found the king remained on the throne, possibly not having moved a muscle. He cautiously approached him and tapped him on his taut shoulder.

“My liege? Are you alright?”

Calavera slowly turned to his trusted minion and gave him a slow blink. Recognition filled his eyes, causing Rib’s heart to flutter. 

“Ribbyn, is that you?” He smiled when he confirmed it was indeed him. “You came back to me.”

Rib bowed and said, “I am the first to return to your side, sire. Of course, I never went too far from you.”

This pleased the king. “I am grateful for your swiftness.” His gaze turned toward the window and stared out at the unchanged landscape. “How long have I been gone? How much time has passed?”

“It is the year of the crane, milord,” Rib uttered solemnly.

Calavera slowly absorbed this information. Eight years. Eight long years had passed in a blink of an eye. Too much time to still have the world still be frightened of him. They had grown accustomed to his absence and no longer feared him. His influence had dwindled. Then he thought about the faces of those people when they realized that the bitch is back and he grinned. He could almost taste the sheer terror they’d experience. 

Then he remembered the reason he’d been absent for so long- the Graveyard Fighters. He wanted to make them suffer first.

“What of the Graveyard Fighters? Where are they? I imagine they’ve gone into hiding.”

Rib gazed up at Calavera with glee in his eyes. This was the perfect chance to be of service. “Finding them will be easy. I cast a tracking spell on them during our penultimate encounter. They don’t even know it happened, so it’s still working.”

“Excellent! That spell must be very powerful,” the king said, impressed. 

“I cast it at the highest level.” Rib bowed once again.

Calavera thought about the power needed to resurrect him from the sleeping spell and then turned Rib. Could he have done it? It had to be him; none of his other minions were as loyal as or powerful as Rib. He was further impressed. He wondered why it had taken him eight years to waken him, but he didn’t want to appear ungrateful, so he let it pass.

“Rib, I want to thank you for all you’ve done for me. You have proven your worth to me time and time again. You truly deserve to rule the world by my side.”

Rib attempted to swallow and gasp at the same time only to choke on his saliva. He couldn’t believe what he just heard. Did his master just ask him to be his queen? Maybe he didn’t mean it like that, he thought. But how else could he rule by Calavera’s without becoming his queen? Was his wildest dream coming true? This was too much! He had to think about it first. One does not simply deny a request from the Skeleton King. If he wanted a queen, he was going to get one.

“Yes! A thousand times yes!” Rib gushed.

Calavera nodded his head in satisfaction. “Then it’s settled. Now let’s get those two boys and end their existence.”

Rib clapped his hands excitedly. “Yes, Your Eminence. It will be done.” 

After tuning into his spell’s energy signature, he was able to discern one of the boys was currently residing  in the village of Halsburg. He gleefully relayed this information to his master and the reign of the Skeleton King began anew.

Author: Cameron D. Blackwell

Writer Ordinare!

One thought on “Episode 4: “Yasss, Queen!””

  1. I very much enjoyed the read for this episode! Rib is a fun character to briefly step inside and explore a bit. The way you describe his return-to-form gave me goosebumps! The way he enjoyed giving into his old behaviors and personality he had suppressed for so long. Awesome!

    Like

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