Monday, May 11, 2009

Week of 05/11/2009

Game Fiction Meets Reality
– by David Matthews 2

(Disclaimer: the following story is entirely fictional. All names have been changed to protect the innocent, not mention avoid copyright lawsuits by a major software company, but let’s get brutally honest here… if you’ve played the game then you know who many of these characters are supposed to be.)

Once upon a time in the land of Byrule…

The captain of the guard starts rushing inside the simple hut located in the outskirts of the forest.

“GRINK!” he shouted.

The pointy-eared figures huddled around the table turned towards the hurried soldier and gestured towards the woods.

“GRINK!” he shouted out loud. “GRINK!”

After several minutes of searching, he found a lone forest person sitting by the pond. An abandoned fishing pole sat nearby alongside a seashell-shaped musical instrument. His faded green tunic and brown boots were the only indications that this was once the hero of legend.

“GRINK!” the military leader exclaimed and quickly ran over to him. “Grink, we need your help!”

Grink, however, appeared more annoyed than concerned. “What now?” he asked nonchalantly.

“Grink, we have a problem. Bannon has struck again and he’s taken the princess!”

“So?”

“SO?” exclaimed the officer. “Grink! Princess Pelda has been captured! You have to rescue her!”

“Again?” Grink asked.

“Yes again!” the officer said with a tone of frustration in his voice. “Grink, you’re the only one who can do this! You’ve faced Bannon before. You know how to defeat him.”

“Let’s see if I get this straight,” Grink said as he sat up. “You have a whole ARMY of knights at your disposal. You have swords and catapults and lances and horses and armor. You even have sorcerers and mystics and soothsayers that can aid you. And yet you are always turning to ME, a forest creature, to save the day?”

“Well… YES!” said the captain of the guard.

“Forget it!” he replied.

The officer’s jaw dropped. “But… but… Grink, you’ve ALWAYS come to Byrule’s aid in the past! You’ve ALWAYS helped out the princess in the past!”

“Yeah,” Grink said as he stood up, “and let’s go over that, shall we?”

“First of all,” he began, “you came to me back when I was eight years old. EIGHT YEARS OLD! I was a CHILD then and you had me chasing all over the area fighting monsters, moving boulders, hunting down a magical sword, being chased by these fire-spewing plant creatures, chasing down these stupid triangles, and finally fighting a grown man to rescue the princess. Ever hear of child endangerment laws?”

The solider was dumbfounded by Grink’s statement. “But… but… you accepted the challenge… you were eager to…”

“Hey, I was EIGHT YEARS OLD!” Grink said. “OF COURSE I’d accept it! I didn’t know any better! And what did I get out of it? I got a thank-you from the princess. That’s all! A pat on the head, an attaboy from the King, and then it was right back here to the woods.”

The officer stood there in shock at the retelling of the classic tale of Grink and his quest to rescue Princess Pelda.

“And it didn’t stop, did it?” Grink continued. “No, Bannon kept on escaping and kept on kidnapping the princess, and you kept on coming back to see me. Whole army of knights and warriors and sorcerers and you seek me out. And I kept on buying it. I kept on going back and fighting his forces and fighting Bannon and saving the princess… and what did I get? Masks and some stupid flute!”

The forest creature gestured to the seashell-shaped musical instrument nearby.

“That’s not a flute,” the officer said. “That’s a Toneria! That’s a valuable musical instrument with magical powers.”

“It’s… a… flute!” Grink said as he picked it up. “It works like a flute, and it plays like a flute, and for the longest time I thought that if I learned to master it, I would get me some serious action! But you know what I got instead? I got jokes about being an overgrown sprite and people asking me where my wings are, and where’s my pot of jeweleez to hand out. THAT’S what I got from that stupid thing!”

He kicked the ground in front of him. “So here I am now, an adult, and I go out there to rescue the princess, like I’ve been doing all this time, and I have this whole ‘destiny’ thing on my back. I’ve been crossing time and space, going between dimensions, traveling by boat, by bird, and by horse, solving riddles and unlocking secrets, I go face Bannon, I defeat him for the umpteenth time, and I rescue the princess, and I thought MAYBE she would at least give me a kiss, right? I mean, come on, this is the only Byrulian tail that I’ve ever chased in my life, and I just saved hers YET AGAIN! You know what I got? I got ‘thanks, you’re sweet, but I’m a ruling princess and you’re just a poor forest creature.’ I save her time and time again and THAT is the thanks I get from her!”

“Look I’m sorry you have your issues about this,” the solider said, “but you’re the only one who can do this! The King said so himself! He said that you are the only one that can wield the Triangles of Power and Time and Space. He said that only you can heft the magic sword and play the mystical tone on the Toneria. The masks of illusion and protection only work for YOU, Grink!”

“So says the King,” Grink retorted. “But you know what? I hung around those sprites and fairies afterward and you know what they told me? Oh, you’ll love this! They asked me why I kept on showing up for all of these dangerous crusades to rescue the princess. And I told them the same thing that you just said. I told them it was my ‘destiny’. You know what they finally revealed to me? They told me that the KING was the one that invented this whole idea of ‘destiny’! They told me that ANYONE can retrieve the swords or harness the power of the triangles or wear the masks.”

The captain of the guard was shocked. “You’re lying!” he exclaimed.

Grink picked up the Toneria and played a few tunes. A triangle appeared at his feet.

“Go ahead,” he said, “pick it up.”

The soldier picked up the glowing triangle. As he did, lightning appeared all around him and he was bathed in a circle of light.

“Now, if I was the only one who could use it, would you have even been allowed to pick it up?” Grink asked.

“This…” the soldier said, “is impossible. I shouldn’t be doing this!”

“You can go ahead and set it down now,” Grink said.

The soldier did just that. The lights and lightning disappeared when he did.

“HOW?” he asked. “How could the King create this fiction about you being the only person to use this?”

“I’ll tell you why,” Grink said. “One word: insurance. He sends you and the other soldiers and the mystics and all of the other forces after Bannon and any of you dies, he has to pay for your death benefits. He sends me, a simple forest creature, and I get killed, then he doesn’t have to pay a penny.”

The soldier was still struggling to make sense of it all. “But what about all of those jeweleez he gives you as a reward?” he asked. “I’ve been there when he gives you bags upon bags of jeweleez!”

“Yeah, let’s talk about that,” Grink said bitterly. “Sure he gives me bags upon bags of jeweleez! And before I even reach the castle gates, I’m being herded over to something called a Tax Collection Office, where I’m told I have to pay a tax for all of the arrows I use, all of the shields I go through, and every time I cross through dimensions and time portals. Plus I have to pay a visitor’s fee for every time I visit the castle, or use a horse, or go fishing. Oh, and those times when I rescue the princess? Yeah, that’s called a ‘royalty tax’, because we ordinary forest people have to PAY to spend time with members of the royal family. By the time I am allowed to leave the castle gates, I’m lucky if I have enough jeweleez to make it back here.”

He plays a few more tunes on the Toneria and the triangle disappears. Then he hands the musical instrument over to the captain of the guard. “So I’m done with it. I’m not going to be risking my neck just because the princess is bored.”

The captain of the guard appeared lost. “But… Grink… if you don’t want to save her, who will?”

“Tell you what,” Grink said. “I’m not supposed to know this, but if you go to the other side of the castle you’ll see this huge green metal tunnel. Bang on it three times with a lance or something like that and two men from a land called ‘New Jersey’ will appear. They claim to be some sort of vocation called ‘plumbers’. I met them by accident the last time I was there.”

“I don’t…” the captain said, obviously confused.

“That royal pain gets off on putting herself in danger,” Grink said. “You think Bannon just escapes from jail every time I bring him down? She lets him go and then goes off with him voluntarily! When she gets bored with me saving the day, she puts on some sort of disguise and heads on over to their land and calls herself ‘Princess Fungus’ or something like that and pretends to get in trouble so the two plumbers can save her.”

Just then a large metallic ball drops down from the sky into the lake.

“Ah!” Grink said with a smile. “Well, if you don’t mind, I have a very important guest that just dropped in. But remember, bang on that green metal thing and the plumbers will take care of it.”

The captain of the guard left the lake area, Toneria in hand and obviously befuddled and disappointed by the revelations. As he left, the metallic ball rolled out of the lake and unfurled itself to take the form of a metal-armored being.

“Sorry I’m late,” it said in a deep metallic tone as it played with the helmet clasps. “Some loser named Captain Pigeon kept on challenging me to a race.”

“That’s okay,” Grink said, “I just had to give the bad news to the King’s guard about his precious little girl.”

The helmet was removed and the metal armor retracted to reveal a beautiful woman underneath. “So you’re not off to save her again?” she asked with a grin.

“Are you kidding? After all the drama she gave me when all of us were together playing tennis? She can go find another lackey. Besides…” he said as he snaked an arm around her waist, “you’re much more limber than her.”

And thus finally, after years of adventure and aggravation, the legendary forest creature Grink FINALLY had a happily ever after…

The same, however, could not be said for the sorcerer Bannon, who had to endure several weeks of verbal abuse from the self-absorbed Princess Pelda before the two plumbers from New Jersey could take her away.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Very cute concept. You'd think the poor boy would finally wise up eventually.

I came across a neat article (http://www.cracked.com/blog/dont-listen-to-jenny-mccarthy) talking about how the cult of celebrity can be given more credit than someone who actually knows what they're talking about (in this case Jenny McCarthy and the autism-vaccine connection). As well as (how you put it) "The ego-driven media" will build fear with headlines even at the cost of other's health.