“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”
“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”
“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”
“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”
“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘A Herd and a Third’!”
[The curtain rises on Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow and Will Scarlet as the Mad Hatter racing to keep pace with the treadmill portion of the stage beneath their feet. Thunderous drumming and trumpeting sounds from the orchestra pit while a moving backdrop of jungle greenery whizzes along.]
Will/Hatter [to the audience ]: Last time on our serial genre-hopping adventure, you saw Jack and me encounter the shape-shifting bird god of this, the jungle of the Abishan.
Allyn/Jack [also to the audience ]: What you did not see was the part not long afterward where Hatter managed to offend the local elephant goddess.
Will/Hatter: How was I to know leaving trinkets of ivory on her shrine was an insult?
Allyn/Jack: Well, if we live past this stampede, we’ll know better in future! How much farther before every elephant in this place gives up the rampage?
Will/Hatter [pointing ahead to a wall of faux stone about five-by-five feet rolling in from off stage left to stop just ahead of the treadmill, which likewise comes to a halt ]: Oh, they’ll probably have to call it a day about here.
Allyn/Jack: It’s not a terribly tall obstruction.
Will/Hatter: So much the better! You and I can hop it. And elephants, meanwhile, cannot jump. True fact. Up you go!
[Will gives Allyn a boost, Allyn gives Will a hand, and wha-bam, both are over the wall, which they subtly nudge onto the restarted treadmill, then jog in place ‘til the wall makes its exit, stage right. The drums and trumpets fade into silence.]
Will/Hatter [wiping brow ]: Phew, glad that’s over! If another colossal creature with the wherewithal to gore me to death never steps into the picture, it’ll be too soon!
[…At which point a sizeable chain-mailed knight bearing a broadsword enters, stage left.]
Allyn/Jack: Go figure.
Knight [stopping a respectful distance away ]: Greetings, lords among beasts. Whom do I have the honor of addressing?
Allyn/Jack [startled ] : Um, Jack Snow, chosen Santa Claus of Fairytale Forest, and Artifice Cheshirecott, Mad Hatter of Wonderland. Why, whom did you think you were addressing?
Knight: Oh, I beg your pardon. I’d assumed, as you’d come from Shan’s jungle, you must be a pair of animal gods in your most human forms.
Will/Hatter: “Shan”, is it? A pretty familiar name to call the Abishan by. You two must be close as Tweedles Dee and Dum.
Knight [smiling ]: Something of that nature. We’ve been through the end of the world together, for a start.
Will/Hatter: The end for a start… That’s INSPIRED philosophy if ever I heard it. [thrusts a finger in the air ] And if you and Abishan share a novel, and you’re a knight, that can only mean one thing!
Knight: That I am Sir Wilbur Lamb of the Order of the Dove?
Will/Hatter: Or that. A pleasure to meet you, Sir Wilbur!
Allyn/Jack [exchanging bows with the knight ]: Indeed. Your reputation precedes you – to say nothing of the guest article you posted earlier this week. But if the protagonists of your world and the cat god’s are friends and allies, why is there erected a wall between you?
Sir Wilbur: Oh, it’s no sign of ill will; merely a bit of a safeguard. We wouldn’t want any small children wandering into a land of predators. And though the majority of jungle creatures could easily get over the wall if they wished, most do not care for manmade constructions, and so will avoid it, which is to the good of the farmers in the area. The Southland could have lost half our bean crop if that raging elephant herd had crossed over.
Will/Hatter: Mm, yeah. Thank all for the wall. So, Wilbur, what do you do all day, besides act as the border guard?
Sir Wilbur: Well, I also—
Will/Hatter [wiggling his brows ]: Wanna join us on adventure instead?
Allyn/Jack [narrows eyes at Will ]: And by “adventure”, you mean “the most efficient route possible to the North Pole”?
Will/Hatter: Sure, right, that. So, y’wanna?
Sir Wilbur: I am between edits on my life story, just now. So certainly – if you’ll have me, I’d be glad to come along.
Allyn/Jack: Ah, lovely. A travel companion who will raise the sanity levels of our company from 50 to 66 percent. Which way do we go from here, Hatter?
Will/Hatter: I have no idea. [speaks in a singsong though a Cheshirecott grin ] But I know where we can get one!
“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.
“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘rampaging elephants’ and ‘beans’.”
“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”