“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”
The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.
“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”
As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “Her introductory paragraph in ‘The Queen’s Lady’ describes her thus:
Quite commonly dark, with eyes like shadows and smiles like a wicked secret. Her hair moved about her head like a rain-laden cloud, vast and black, and some thought it a match for her disposition, which was prone to be as erratic and louring as a flash-and-thunder storm. Still, her heart, for all its grimmer points, was true. In the tongue of her people, her name meant Moon’s Melody.
“Welcome, Moon’s Melody!” Will greets the girl now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – would you say you or Annabelle Gray bear the more flagrant resemblance to Danielle?”
Melody glowers. “Who is Danielle?”
“Who—” Will startles. “You don’t know our author?? Sorry, I just assumed— That is, most everyone else of hers who stops by her blog has been in some sort of communication with her, so… wait, how did you even get on this show, then??”
“I was invited,” Melody snaps – defensiveness in her tone, anxiety in her fingers’ tight grip on her chair’s armrests. “The Azurite Grenadier said someone wished to speak with me about my ongoing ordeal, so I let him lead me hence. Am I unwanted here, as well?”
“No, no,” Will hastens to assure her. “You’re right where you’re supposed to be.”
“Wrong. I’m supposed to be far, far from here – on my island, with my Joy.”
“Morning Joy,” says Melody, voice softened by warmth and woe. “My dearest friend in all the world – which I can all the better say now that I’ve seen a bit more of it than just the Isles. Such a very big world,” she sighs. “And so much wrong with it.”
“So I’ve many a time heard Robin Hood lament. Now, word is you’ve been banished from Berulduir’s royal city. Berulduir…” Will cranes around to look at Allyn. “Why does that name sound familiar?”
“Flashback,” Allyn calls out. The stage lights dim, a screen pulls down, and up plays a projection of a scene snipped from “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”:
“Here, Will, I’ll do it,” Allyn volunteered. “My name is Benedeck, and—”
“That’s not a name,” Will said tightly.
“Certainly it is. My parents had a double-wedding with a king named Benedeck. Anyway, I’m Benedeck, my wife’s name is Berta, we live in Berulduir—”
“You live /where/??”
“Berulduir. The kingdom on the northern shore of the Peasecod Sea.”
“Never heard of the place.”
“And I’ve never heard of Aberdeen!” said an exasperated Allyn. “Are you going to let me play, or aren’t you?”
“Ha, yes,” Will chuckles as the stage returns to normal. “Official Outsider road trip game. Classic.” Addressing Melody, he asks, “Do you and your three grenadier friends play any games like that while on the road of exile?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the Garnet Grenadier wished to,” Melody says dubiously. “He’s a bit of an over-energetic sort; always trying to brighten up the mood. Carries himself rather like you, actually. Looks and sounds a lot like you, too.” She glances past Will toward Allyn. “And the Azurite Grenadier looks and sounds something like you.”
“No surprise there,” says Will, grinning. “Your tale’s autobiographical for our author, Melody. You’re basically her, Garnet and Azurite are repping for me and Allyn, and… hmm, the readers still haven’t properly met the man behind the Iolite Grenadier, for all his importance to Danielle’s head.”
Melody frowns. “So this Danielle suffered what I do? And you two were royal guards?”
“Nothing to do with royalty, no,” says Will. “Not in my case, anyway. We were just the friends there to help prop up her courage when–”
“Some despicable foreign king turned her out?” Melody finishes darkly.
“Pfft. Not a king,” Allyn sniffs. “Just some nobody man who happened to be in a position of power.”
“And what of her Joy?” Melody demands, eyes brimming with tears. “What of mine?”
“Her Joy’s doing just fine,” Will promises gently. “She made it out of her own bad spot all right. As for you and yours, it’s a fairy tale, love. Happy ever after isn’t guaranteed, but is highly probable. Now onto the ending question anyone could predict: Tell me, Melody, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He beams brightly. “Or would you rather kiss me?”
Melody wrinkles her nose. “I don’t kiss men.”
“Drat. That doesn’t leave much room for kissing at all.”
“True,” says Melody. “Also true: If, as you say, the whole of my story is essentially a retelling of Danielle’s own experience, it’s bound to contain her secrets. Secret pain, secret fear, secret ways of surviving her nightmare so her friend won’t be without her.”
“Excellent point, well made,” Will concedes. “Say, Allyn, what’s the word from our sponsor?”
“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “is brought to you by ‘The Queen’s Lady’ from ‘Beyond Her Infinity: Tales from Across Wilderhark’s Great Sea’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now (e-book only) for just 99 cents!
Once upon a time, you knew tales of Wilderhark’s Great Land.
But what of the Isles to the Far East?
In “Beyond Her Infinity”, Wilderhark Tales author Danielle E. Shipley spins two short stories with leading roles from the fairytale world’s minority culture.
“The Queen’s Lady” – Three gallant royal guardsmen learn just how far one Islander will go for the sake of her friend: Into a strange land. Into a cruel exile. Even into the hands of a darkly dangerous power.
“To Walk the Storm” – With his country falling to ruin, a king sends his heirs in search of foreign aid. But the favor of the Isles’ supernatural patron is not so easily won.
Tales of loyalty. Tales of passion. Most of all, tales of true love.
“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks to you, too, Moon’s Melody! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”