Keeping his head above water, the King was able to watch the rest of the race. The giant finally got smart and used his height to his advantage, cracking the troll on the head and knocking him out cold, so he could go and strike the gong. While the python snapped at the Brownies with his teeth and lashed out at them with his tail, his efforts were fruitless—soon the Brownies had him tied up in a knot, and his snaky skin was not armor enough against their little javelins. The giant who had fought the troll lumbered over and untied the python, completely ignoring the Brownies’ attacks, and threw the python at the gong. The black water snake plunged in to the swamp as soon as he heard the gong. In no time, the snake was neck to neck with the King.
“You seem quite fit for your age,” the water snake commented.
“I like to think that I keep my body working,” the King replied.
But it was evident after a few minutes that he was not as fit as he once was. The snake began to get the best of him, and the King fell behind several feet. Tempting as it was to drop his sword--it was quite inhibiting to his strokes--he knew he needed to keep it in hand.
Soon, a bright yellow blob landed in front of him. It was tied to a rope that his three daughters all held tightly. "We'll pull you to shore! We're allowed to help you, remember?"
The King reached out and grasped the bright yellow blob--it was a circular tube--and began kicking harder with his legs. His daughters ran back from the shore line, pulling as hard as they could. Soon, he passed the snake, and reached the shore in no time. The King jumped up and struck the great gong.
The note sounded sure and clear.
Giles’ whistle to signal the end of the contest could not be heard above the whoops and hollers of the Crocs, or the bellows of rage coming from the Minotaur. Princess Buttercup sounded the gong again to gain the audience’s attention. They politely silenced, but continued to wave their tails in the air. Giles bowed to the Minotaur, the Great Croc, and King of Butterball, who was now standing beside the Great Croc, wet as he was.
“Your Majesties—it would seem that the King of Butterball and his royal daughters have fairly won the contest, based on the conditions laid forth by the Great Croc and the Minotaur. As a result, the Minotaur relinquishes his hold on the Croc’s Bottleneck, and returns the jurisdiction to the Croc People, and will not contest the matter of ownership any further. If he provokes the matter again, he will be dealt with as a law breaker, as the Protocol for Breaking Laws prescribes.”
The Minotaur bowed to the Great Croc in acknowledgement. “My troops shall be withdrawn immediately. The two Butterball knights shall be released. Congratulations on a good contest.” He then bowed to the King of Butterball. “I commend you on your swimming abilities.”
“Gee, thanks!” the King bowed back.
While the Great Croc and the Minotaur continued their discussion of details, the King went over to look at the yellow blob that the Princesses had thrown to him in the water. It was made of some sort of bendy substance, and filled with air. "Where did you find this thing?" he asked his daughters.
"It was in your bag," Princess Buttercup replied. "Bryce found it. You were certainly in the middle of an emergency, so we pulled the tabs as instructed and the thing filled with air. We figured it would float, so threw it to you. Do you know if its really used for that?"
The King, his daughters, and the two knights arrived back at the castle just as the sun was setting, much to Queen’s joy. She rang for the Princess’ favorite dinner to be prepared immediately—macaroni and cheese, with broccoli, and grapes for dessert, with the skin removed. The knights unfortunately had to decline the Queen’s invitation to join the party—there had been a bombardier beetle sighting at a farm just outside of Hockham, and the farmer was worried about the well-being of his harvest of hay, which he had just put in his barns for winter. While the princesses waited for the dinner treat, they recounted the day’s adventure to their mother, lauding their father’s bravery, and telling all about what a wonderful host the Great Croc had been, and how much they were looking forward to their daily swimming and fishing lessons.
“What’s this? Swimming and fishing?” exclaimed the Queen.
“Yes,” the Princess Buttercup confirmed. “For his helpfulness during the contest, the Great Croc has assigned Bryce as commander of the Moat Crocs, and part of his duties is to give us daily swimming and fishing lessons.”
The Queen looked to her husband, who was smiling broadly. “Well, alright, they’re sure to come in useful.”“However,” the King cleared his throat. “If you are to get the most out of these swimming and fishing lessons, you should pay more attention to your knitting and tea-brewing sessions. You’ll be very grateful for the scarves, blankets, hats and warm beverage after your day in the cold water.”