To the Great Croc, Ruler of the Slimy Swamp, who refuses to pay the tax on the Croc’s Bottleneck and so causes himself grief by bringing upon him the wrath of the great ruler of the Perilous Forest, and his ally the King of Butterball,
From the Great Minotaur, Ruler of not only the East Side of the Perilous Forest but also of the Croc’s Bottleneck,
I accept the challenge, and shall meet at the edge of the Slimy Swamp as agreed and outlined, upon one more condition: that the King of Butterball and his daughters be the only contestants from your side, if he wants his Knights safely returned to him afterwards.
“What!?” the King exclaimed when the Scribe had finished reading the newly arrived message. “So, this has become my challenge? Outrageous!”
“I’m afraid so,” the Great Croc apologized. “I could try and send him another message—“
“It is already early afternoon, and the Queen will be worried if we are not home by sunset,” the King grumbled. “And, I’d much rather get it over with today than draw this out till tomorrow or the next day."
“Daddy, we can help!” Princess Butterfinger chimed up. “You swim in your armor and with your sword, leave the rest to us!”
“Yeah, we’ll take care of the Brownies and the troll!” Princess Butterfly agreed. “Sissy is already a referee, so why can’t we help?”
“Absolutely not!” the King spluttered. “Its too dangerous!”
“Daddy, we’ll just do what you did to get here,” Princess Butterfinger assured him. “I’ll take care of the troll, Butterfly will take care of the Brownies. You have more chocolates and buttercups in the bag, don’t you?”
“Well, yes…but what if it doesn’t work this time?”
“We’ll figure some back up plan—just leave it to us!
At about four o’clock—thirty minutes later than agreed—the Great Minotaur arrived, with his three warriors who would be in the contest. He had a large gold ring in his nose, and the tips of his horns were plated with gold. He carried a long iron bar in his hand, using it as a walking stick but one could only guess what other uses he had for it. He met the King and the Great Croc on the shore of the Swamp. They all bowed in acknowledgment.
Giles approached the awkwardly silent group and nodded. He was decked out in a periwinkle and magenta referee’s tunic, trimmed with gold around the edges. “We are ready to begin when you are, your majesties.”
“I shall go and take my place,” the King said, and went to wait at the edge of the swamp.
He had a good vantage point. He could see the Great Croc and the Great Minotaur, sitting with their courts in the pavilion set up on the middle island. The troll challenge was to his right, the Brownies to his left. Princess Buttercup was refereeing the trolls, Princess Butterfinger was challenging the troll, and Princess Butterfly was taking on the Brownies. They were up against a giant and a python from the Minotaur’s side. He was up against a great black water snake, fitted out in a tube of armor and a cap covering his nose and back of his head. “Where’s your sword?” the Croc referee asked.
“My poison is as deadly as any sword,” the snake hissed back.
Giles blew the whistle, and the contest was off.
The troll and the giant were at it. The ground shook beneath their wrestling and pounding. The giant kept trying to get past the troll to strike the brass gong set up at the far end, but he could not; the troll kept wrapping his arms around the giant’s legs, tripping him and making him fall to the ground with great thuds. Princess Butterfinger was debating with her troll to let her past. She offered him the truffles but he shook his head and bellowed something that the King couldn’t make out between the distance and the noise. Their argument seemed to become very heated, and at one point he raised his fists as if to hit her, but then he quickly lowered them and shuffled out of the way. Princess Butterfinger walked over and struck the gong with all her might.
As soon as they heard the gong strike, the Brownies were flying at Princess Butterfly. Princess Butterfly simply let a shower of buttercups all around her, tossing them into the air out of her bag. The Brownies that were advancing on her fell to the ground sneezing, and the few that tried to get away crashed into trees as they tried to fly away with teary eyes. When the coast was clear, she walked over to the brass gong hanging from the tree at the edge of the clearing and struck it.Now it was the King’s turn. “This is going way too easily,” he thought as he dove into the swamp, holding his sword out in front of him as he swam.