A Few Bars of BALLAD: Overture

With 3 weeks ‘til the release of the “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (have you pre-ordered a copy yet? Don’t forget there are thank-you gifts to snatch up!), I thought it high time for a bit of sneak-peekery. Today, we get an abridged look at…

The Prologue!

(Or rather, in keeping with “Ballad”s musical themes, the Overture.)

“A prologue, eh?” you ask. …sounding distinctly, now I think on it, like the voice of Gant-o’-the-Lute. “Aren’t those a bit frowned upon, nowadays?”

By some, I suppose. Just as there are those who aren’t big on opening a book through a side character’s point of view. But lookee there – I did that, too!

“This your idea of living on the edge, is it?”

Pfft, hardly. This has nothing to do with writerly rebellion, and everything to do with the idea that sparked this book in the first place: What if what patrons thought was a run-of-the-mill Renaissance Faire was secretly home to the real-life Robin Hood?

Most of the novel is from an insider perspective, but for the beginning, I wanted to show how Avalon Faire looks to an outsider’s eyes – to provide a baseline of normalcy against which all the magic to follow can more vividly pop. Hence the prologue overture, in which Ordinary Gal™ Loren and her sister take in a typical Ren Faire performance, and— well, why don’t you all step up to the Archer’s Green and watch for yourselves? ^^

The map that could be yours, all yours (and outlaw-signed, to boot!) with a “Ballad” e-book pre-order.
The map that could be yours, all yours (and outlaw-signed, to boot!) with a “Ballad” e-book pre-order.

…A man bedecked in a quite official-looking getup — all bright velvets and a hat to beat the band — took his place on a raised platform to one side of the Green. A fawn-brown young woman in a fuss-free gown of darker browns and greens stepped up beside him, the pair of them in the middle of a conversation so loud, it couldn’t have been intended to remain private.

“What say you, my lady?” the man asked, with a hint of swagger. “Is it not a fine day for a shooting match?”

“I daresay, sir,” the woman agreed, hands held demurely not far below the cascade of curls at her back. “But perhaps almost too fine! ‘Tis a fair-weather day, with scarce a breath of wind in the air. Surely anyone with a bow in hand could send an arrow near the mark in such ideal conditions as these — especially as you’ve placed the targets almost insultingly close by.”

“Close by, say you!” cried the man, gesturing toward the row of hay bales marked with bull’s-eyes that stood, to Loren’s mind, a rather intimidating distance from the Green’s edge. “Far enough, I’d say! Would you have me place the mark on the far side of Nottinghamshire? What man would be able to win the prize then?”

The young woman offered a sly sort of bright-eyed smile. “I know tell of one man who could.”

The spectators around the platform began to buzz and chuckle with anticipation, one or two even going so far as to call out the name they guessed was hinted at. The gaudily dressed man’s face grew comically red.

“Who dares speak that name?” he bellowed. “There will be no talk of that rogue here — not while I’m still Sheriff of Nottingham! This is a contest for honest men, not sneaking scoundrels! For men and women who like to earn their gold through fair play and skill, not tricks and robbery! Show these good people the prize, my lady!”

The crowd ooh-ed and ah-ed as the woman held up the shining article for all to see. “Behold,” cried the Sheriff. “The Golden Arrow! Let whoever aims truest today take the prize. And let’s show my lady, here, that there stands at least one in Nottinghamshire who can shoot better than even this outlaw favorite of hers! Who will aim first?”

A dozen hands shot up and waved wildly in the air, Loren’s among them. The woman on the platform made a short show of consideration before pointing the Golden Arrow at a youngster in a chainmail shirt. Loren could have screamed with jealousy; though she wasn’t overly miffed at having not been selected to shoot first, she’d have killed for some awesome chainmail.

[…] Four random others went up in succession. That Loren was not among them was more of a disappointment than a surprise. By this point in her early adult life, she was more or less resigned to the likely truth that she would never be any kind of Chosen One outside of her fantasies.

“It’s probably just as well,” she muttered as a guy in a hooded green poncho shuffled forward to have his turn. “I’d probably just end up hitting something behind me, anyway.”

“Yeah,” said Janey, the nod of her head setting her floppy hat’s bells jingling. “With the bow.”

Loren was still undecided whether to laugh or knock her sister around a little (for the love of all things medieval, she wasn’t that clumsy!) when a gasp went up from the throng. Green Poncho Guy had hit the target dead center! The crowd’s impressed cheers and whistles at their fellow amateur’s lucky shot filled the air, cut short by another startled intake of breath when a second arrow from the same bow zipped forward, splitting the first bull’s-eye arrow right down the middle.

“Ohmygosh…” Loren whispered, even as the Sheriff leaned over the end of the platform and demanded, “You there! Archer! Show your face!”

“Why, my good Sheriff,” Poncho Guy laughed, the casually grand removal of his hood revealing a fall of chestnut hair and a beard-framed grin. “Can it be that you do not know me — again?”

What comes next?! Well, to start, a short wait. But after that, the release of “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” in its fantastic entirety!

<<<>>>

Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

Coming soo-oo-oon!

P.S. — You wanna hear/watch me read this excerpt aloud? ‘Cause you can!

Whazzup, Writing-Wise

We interrupt my periodic reflections on walking around Germany to bring you – *drumroll* – actual authorial updates!

1) Anthologically Speaking

Guess who’s got another short story slated to appear in an anthology? *points to self* This gal! Coming to you from my word-bro Alexander Nader and his Hair Brained Press, it’s “Manifest Reality”, a horror antho of stories focusing on the twisted sh*t in our heads™.

(To my knowledge, that is not actually the book’s trademark, just how Alex once described it on Twitter.)

Word is the collection should drop around Valentine’s Day – because nothing says “crazy-commercialized day of lovers” like a psychotic tale or thirteen, amirite? Further details to come as time marches on. Stay tuned. (And if you’d like to nab an early copy for review, poke me or Alex. We probably won’t tell you “no” and run you out of town. No promises, though.)

2) Novel News

A large part of #NaNoWriMo2015 was a throwback to my first-ever NaNo, back in 2010. I spent the first half of this past November (yes, even while on a river cruise across Europe – insanity or bust) going through the last big edits on my next big publication. Ladies, gentlemen, and miscellaneous so-and-sos, I am thrilled to announce that my Outlaws of Avalon trilogy will make its debut this summer – beginning, of course, with Book One, “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”!

*Not the actual cover*
*Not the actual cover*

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

This is it, you guys! Of all the series I’ve ever written (heck, maybe even among all the series I’ve ever read), this one is dearest to my heart. And now the manuscript is all but complete, the cover art is underway, and the finished product is scheduled to launch this July.

Ballad ARC Request

If YOU are a reader who’s game to give a contemporary Robin Hood fantasy a whirl, I wanna hear about it! Click the pic above to go fill out the request form I figured out how to whip up (*victory dance*), and I’ll send an eARC your way.

“Rejoice, my fangirls-‘n’-boys!” Will Scarlet says, grinning ear to ear. “The wait for my official story draws to a close! Slowly. Excruciatingly so. Rejoice and die of impatience, basically.”

3) [Ever] On the Blog

I haven’t committed to blogging on a regular schedule since I fled to Europe. And you know what? I’m enjoying the freedom more than I thought I would. (Fun Deshipley fact: I don’t tend to enjoy things that lack structure. I’m a darling stick in the mud, like that.)

So for the indefinite future, I’mma keep doing as I’ve been for the last few months: Posting if and when I’ve got something I want to share. And we’ll see how that goes.

4) On Another Book-Related Note

Heeeeeey, people in and around Lake County, IL: One of my favorite childhood hangouts – Cook Memorial Public Library – is hosting a Local Author Open House. And I’m flying all the way back to the States to be there! (And, y’know, to reunite with my family for a bit.)

zLocalAuthorsOpenHouse

This will be my first time as a part of an event like this. I am excited and nervous and pessimistic and hopeful and ready to ROCK. IT. OUT. If you can make it, I’d love to see you there. If I feel like it afterwards, I’ll tell the Internet how it was. (See point 3. 😉 )

Aaaaaand that’s all she wrote for now. Anyone else got any good news to share? The comment section awaits you.

“Scarlet” or “Give Him an Inch, and He’ll Talk a Mile a Minute”

Today’s Buccaneer Blogfest mission, if I choose to accept it (and I do), is a bit of merriment known as the character interview.

People who’ve been around the blog a few times know that conversations with characters are right up my alley; I’ve even let a few of them guest blog for me. (Thanks again, Bruno, Allyn, and Lute.) And once I’d done that… well, I kind of sealed my fate.

Y’see, I’ve got this character. Goes by the name of Will Scarlet. Perhaps you’ve seen him on the “Ballad” page. Harder not to have seen him, if you follow the page. He’s a talker, an attention hog, and has been begging me to let him have his own blog for months. That’s not happening. I don’t have the time. But since I’ll be sitting down for a chat with a character today, it may as well be him. (I’d not soon hear the end of it, otherwise.)

Better cut this introduction short, since I know his answers won’t be. Scarlet, come on down!

Will: Yes! Right! Awesome! Hello, everyone, you all look beautiful – I mean that!

Me: You can’t see them.

Will: Maybe I meant “beautiful on the inside”. It’s not all about looks, Danielle, no matter how hot mine are. So! What questions have you got for me?

Me: Why don’t you start off by telling us a little bit – A LITTLE BIT, Will – about who you are?

Will: I’m an outlaw undercover at a Renaissance Faire that’s actually Avalon. (Y’know, Arthurian legend? That Avalon.) Anyway, back to me, I’m one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men. Yes, THE Robin Hood. I’m his cousin, as well as his left-hand man, you might say, since Little John snagged the title of right-hand man, and I’m left-handed anyway, so that all works out. I’m also the brains of the group.

Me: Really, Will? You’re actually claiming that?

Will: Well, I mean, not that the others aren’t smart, too. Robin with his leadership savvy, and Marion all on top of interpersonal relations, and Allyn the musical genius, and Little John… well, he’s just big, isn’t he? Intelligent enough, but mostly huge. And quiet. It’s creepy. And okay, so I don’t always act like the brains of the band – or even necessarily like I’ve got a brain in my head. But I totally do! I’d like to see any of the others think up half the stuff I do! Who do they turn to when they need a plan fast? You’re looking at him. Particularly if it’s to do with the Outsiders—

Me: Hold right there. Tell us about the Outsiders.

Will: What? Oh. You know. You people. The modern folks who live outside of Avalon. The awesome ones with computers. Sure, Merlin’s got a computer, too, but what good does that do me? He never lets me use it. I need an iPhone.

Me: Okay, we’re quickly losing the thread of it. Let’s back it up. Now, my dictionary defines “scarlet” as “a strong to vivid red or reddish orange” or “flagrantly immoral or unchaste”. Any of this come into play when you chose your outlaw name?

Will: The red bit, mostly. I love red; so bright and expensive. And my hair’s got some scarlet blended in with the gold, so that’s all very apt. As for flagrant immorality and unchastity—

Me: Not a word.

Will: Coining it. —Well, it’s a bit of a “yes and no”, there. I can be a gentleman, when absolutely necessarily. When it’s not, then God save you. All in good fun, though, you understand.

Me: Yeah, that’d be a “yes and no”, too. Next question: What do you like best about being in the Merry Men?

Will: Um, being awesome? Come on, look at this gig: I got to be a thief led and sanctioned by the most honorable man I know; I get to be practically immortal (did you know that, readers? By virtue of dying a heroic death back in the Middle Ages, and with a little help from Avalonian magic, I get to be eternally young forever! #Winning!); I get to play myself in a Renaissance Faire; I look really good; I—

Me: What does looking good have to do with being a Merry Man?

Will: I don’t know, maybe not much. But muscles developed in fighting for our lives have to help, right? And the glow of fame?

Me: Sure, Will. Last question: Why do you think people should read “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, once it’s published? …Besides the fact that you’re in it.

Will: Ha-ha! Preempted! Well, how about this: Action! Adventure! Mystery! Suspense! Magic and music, witty dialogue, and an all-star cast (naming no names in particular, apparently). I had a rousing time living it, so they’re bound to love reading it. Plus Allyn’s in it. I can mention Allyn, right? He’s not me, and he’s awesome.

Me: Yes, mentioning Allyn is fine. Thanks for your time, Will. It’s been… breathless.

Will: Yes, I do tend to have that effect on women. Pleasure mine, Danielle. Great to be here. An honor just to be nominated.

Me: …Right.

Once everyone out there finds a space to slip a word in edgewise, if you have any additional questions or comments for Will, toss ‘em below. He’ll be only too happy to respond.

“Monologue” or “A Minstrel Audition”

So, in preparation for the Renaissance Faire audition I told you all about a couple posts ago, I had to memorize a 45-second monologue. There are plenty of dramatic soliloquies out there from which to choose, but after a couple hours online trying to find one I liked, I figured it’d be quicker, easier, and a heck of a lot more fun to write my own. I also thought it would be fun to share the result with y’all. (:

            In the spirit of sharing alike, the piece below can serve as fair game for any thespian types in the house with auditions of their own. …or as fair warning to any would-be minstrels interested in auditioning for apprenticeship to Gant-o’-the-Lute.

Caution: He doesn’t mince words. His words mince you.

* * *

So, you want to be a minstrel? Very well, then – let’s hear a song.

            …Yes, sing. …No, not “no-o-ow?!” – a moment ago, when first I told you. Go on, just make something up off the top of your head.

            Stop! “Orange”? You can’t end your first line on a word with no rhyme! Not two bars in, and you’ve written yourself right into a corner!

            Enough! I’ve heard next to naught, and it’s more than I need to. You’ve clearly no aptitude for this, why on earth waste my time with—

            Music. It means that much to you, then?

            …Yes, it’s there past your water-blurred windows: A minstrel soul.

            Well, in that case, you with me! I’ll guide you to more than you’ve e’er been before and you’ll even learn tricks that will whisk you round “orange”.

            You’ll be music’s voice yet, Bard-to-be.

* * *

P.S. – The results from my audition are in… and so am I! I’ve been accepted into the Street Cast as a Town Crier! I and my two assigned partners in crime get to announce shows and escort the Queen – (God save the Queen!) – and entertain the populace, and I’m so excited I could bust! …But I won’t. Because then I couldn’t be in the Renaissance Faire. 😀

“Getting”

(Think you’ve got this blog series’ introduction memorized yet? Let’s see if we can recite it, word for word. All together, now!)

A few years ago, I wrote a short Christmas story in which (nutshell version) fifteen-year-old Al Fischer spends the holiday enthusiastically telling his family everything he loves about the Christmas season.

By purist coincidence (or not…), Al and his author have similar ideas about Christmas. And he’ll be pleased to know that I’ve decided to commemorate our mutual obsession here on Ever On Word by dedicating a series of blog posts to The Top 10 Reasons Christmas Rocks My World.

* * *

#5: Gifts (Getting Them)

            Popping awake at the first spidery crack of dawn. Dashing headlong down the stairs, or perhaps just down the hall. Sliding into a brightly-lit, evergreen home plate, because you are ready to score, and to score big. For many, this is the highlight of Christmas – the point of Christmas – what Christmas means to them, actual reason–shmeason. Quite honestly, even Child Danielle more or less felt this way. (“Happy birthday, Jesus! Now where are my presents?!”)

            Sure, it’s more blessed to give; we’ve covered that. But let us not be so maniacally virtuous that we eschew the joy of getting, for that would gyp two parties of very great pleasure – giver and getter both.

            Last post, I reminisced about one of my favorite gifts ever given. Now for a look back on one of my favorite gifts ever received.

            Once upon a time (a couple months ago), in a land faraway (also known as my living room, which we actually call the “big TV room”, but that’s beside the point), I was celebrating my 23rd birthday with my parents, the sister who wasn’t at “Nutcracker” ballet rehearsal, and my BFFAEAE (best friend forever and ever and ever…) by opening aforesaid BFFAEAE’s snazzily-wrapped, very heavy present. Turns out that the box’s weight was due to its containing the deepest desire of my heart. …Apart from international fame as a bestselling author (which would not necessarily be heavy). …And the materiality-slash-availability of my tailor (whose weight we’ll politely leave out of this). …And superpowers (which might or might not be heavy, dependent on the form my power took).

            That’s right, ladies and gentlemen: It was a chain-mail shirt.

            For the sake of context, let it be known that I’ve been lusting after chain-mail since before I hit my twenties. Part of my annual Renaissance Faire tradition had been to stare with blatant yearning at the assemblage of metal links on display in one of the vending areas devoted to the glorious stuff. I wanted so badly to don the shiny protective gear and feel like Aragorn son of Arathorn (what “Lord of the Rings” fan wouldn’t?), but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that kind of money on such an impractical item. (If only I had a legion of Uruk-hai to battle, but nooooo.) So no chain-mail for me. Until Tirzah hooked me up.

            And did I mention she gave me a hand-sewn cape, too? ‘Cause she did. ‘Cause she’s an angel.

            There was a good deal of grateful carrying-on, that day. Squealing, cheering, whimpering… I’m a little surprised there weren’t actual tears of joy. I went around in my twenty-pound shirt (and cape, and my minstrel beret) for the rest of the afternoon and evening, quickly-wearied shoulder muscles be darned. Every few minutes, I was forced to announce in a strained whisper to the world, “I have a chain-mail shirt.” The world was happy for me. Tirzah got hugged a lot, and I suffered her to poke my arm and beat me up because, what the hey? I had a chain-mail shirt!

            And that, my friends, is gift-getting ecstasy at its most gift-getting ecstatic. I guess every now and then, receiving can be pretty blessed, too.

            Anyone else want to relive the huge hurrah of getting something that blew your mind? The comment section awaits you!

“Spoof”

Some words are just fun to say. “Spoof” is one – an entertaining word for an entertaining concept (that is, “a gentle satirical imitation; a light parody”.) As an extra-special, super-sized treat for all my lovely readers, today I’m sharing one such parody written by yours truly. Inspired by the musical children’s story “Peter and the Wolf” (summary provided here, for those unfamiliar with the tale; spoofs are most fun when the audience is in on the joke), and featuring the protagonists from my novel “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, my Merry Men and I proudly present…

Will and Allyn’s Storytime Musical Theatre!

Will: Good evening, audience mine! …or “ours”, I suppose I ought to say. So glad you could join us for opening night, best decision you ever made, you’re going to love it. I am the one, only, and epically awesome Will Scarlet, and mine will be the role of narrator-slash-leading man in tonight’s performance. And here, putting the “music” in “Storytime Musical Theatre” the way only a minstrel can – (and putting the “Allyn” in “Will and Allyn’s” the way only someone calling himself Allyn has any right to do) – is every crimson-clad outlaw’s favorite little partner in crime, Allyn-a-Dale!

Allyn [with a minstrel-bow]: Welcome, one and all.

Will: Our story is inspired by that old Russian classic, brought to you by the inimitable What’s-his-name—

Allyn: Prokofiev. Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev.

Will: Yes, him, what he said. –That fellow’s symphonic fairytale, adapted now into a little yarn I like to call “Scarlet and the Wolfhound from Hell”!

Allyn: I thought we decided it was to be simply “Scarlet and the Wolf”.

Will: Yes, yes, I know, but I like to call it the first one.

Allyn: Stick with what we wrote, please.

Will: Bah, have it your way. (Anybody else suddenly want burgers?) Ahem, anyway…

Once upon a time, in a Renaissance Faire, there lived a vibrant young man by the name of Will Scarlet – and you could usually tell when he was being talked about, because he had an orchestral string section to play his lighthearted theme song at a moment’s notice.

[Allyn plays a variation of the highly-recognizable “Peter” theme on a Faerie-crafted fiddle.]

Will: Now, Will was the adventuresome type, and wished to explore the world outside his Ren Faire home, but some of his companions chose to be sticks-in-the-mud about it – among them, his band’s right-hand man, Little John.

[Allyn sets the fiddle aside to play a tune reminiscent of the “Grandfather” theme on bassoon.]

Will [now wearing a false beard, glowering darkly, and pitching his voice as low as it will go]: “No, Will, for the millionth time: You don’t get to go Outside. You don’t get to so much as glance at the Faire gates with a suspect look in your eye. You don’t get to have any fun at all.”

[Allyn resumes the fiddle refrain, and Will casts off the beard.]

Will: Fortunately, Will knew better than to take Little John’s spoilsport talk too seriously. After all, there was still a good measure of fun to be had inside of the Faire walls – playing in the woods with his cousin Robin, for instance.

[Allyn takes up a flute to play a chirpy “Bird”-esque song.]

Will [now wearing a green hood, smiling brightly, and holding a bow and arrow]: “Chin up, Will!” he’d say. “How about a game of Archery Tag, to keep your wits sharp?”

“Oh, but Robin,” Will would protest, “you always win! Have a handicap for once, why don’t you, make it fair: This time around, you’re not allowed to touch the ground – you can only move about in the trees.”

“Tree travel, a handicap?” Robin would laugh. “Hardly, Scarlet! For what sort of robin would I be if I could not fly?”

And even with Robin in the trees, there would be trouble enough on the ground – for, skulking through the underbrush with feline stealth, making her way toward the cousins at play with predatory intent… was Marion.

[Allyn winds a “Cat”-like melody on clarinet.]

Will [now in a long wig and longer skirt, crouched and forcing his voice into a feminine half-purr]: “Heh-heh-hmm – those boys are in for a surprise. I shall pounce upon my Robin and do him all sorts of mischief rated inappropriate for some younger audiences.”

Allyn [halting his clarinet piece mid-measure to glare at Will]: We didn’t write that.

Will: It was implied. I’m reading between the lines.

Allyn: You’re reading with your head down your leggings. Knock it off.

Will: Fine, fine, sorry. In any event, Marion wanted in on the good, clean, wholesome, general-audiences-admitted fun, so in she jumped, and there was a duck somewhere.

Allyn: Firstly, that was really random. Secondly, we wrote out the duck character. We couldn’t settle on anyone to represent it.

Will: Because you didn’t want to be the duck.

Allyn: Because the duck gets eaten!

Will: Okay, wow, Allyn, spoiler much? –Ooh, sudden brainwave! Allyn, be the duck, okay? Just trust me and be the duck.

[Allyn mutters about Will’s inability to stick to his own bloody script, but picks up an oboe to improvise on a “Duck” theme.]

Will: Allyn-a-Dale was hanging around the lake, as duck-inspired characters will do, playing his lute – or, well, oboe – with nary a care in the world, when suddenly, completely out of nowhere, what should appear but… a Chihuahua!

[Allyn pulls out a Spanish guitar and composes a peppy little “Chihuahua” theme on the spot, wondering just how many times Prokofiev would turn over in his grave over this.]

Will: There were, of course, no pets allowed inside of the Faire, with the exception of the horses for the jousts in Camelot. So Allyn was all set to carry the little doggie to one of the Faire’s administrators and have them deal with it, little knowing that the dog had already been to the castle – had, in fact, nosed his way into the secret, magical, off-limits belongings of the Faire’s resident wizard – and had erroneously ingested some outlandish concoction that was even now working its way through the animal’s blood and hideously mutating its DNA!

[Allyn plays an ominous motif on French horn.]

Will: Before Allyn’s eyes, the harmless Chihuahua morphed into an enormous, two-headed, red-eyed, poison-fanged, slavering canine of DEATH!

[The “Wolf” horn theme intensifies.]

Will: But while other duck characters may have been promptly eaten, Allyn refused to go down like that! Taking up his staff, he flew at the monster, dodging claws and teeth and more teeth to deal it blow after blow! The hellhound howled in fury, the sound naturally carrying to the Merry Men goofing around in Sherwood.

“What in the world—??” said Robin.

“It sounds like a demon by the lake!” noted Marion.

Allyn’s by the lake!” Will cried, and would have dashed in straightaway to join the fight, had not Little John grabbed him by the shoulder to make him stay put.

Will couldn’t believe it. “Oh, come on, Little John, none of this nonsense supposedly for my own good, not now! Allyn needs us!”

“Yes, I know,” said Little John. “But you forgot your sword.”

“Oh. Right. Ha-ha. Thank you.”

Sword now in hand, Will charged the beast who dared mess with the wrong minstrel. Together, he and Allyn kept the monster puh-lenty busy, I can tell you! And Robin fired a volley of brilliant shots with his bow, sticking their foe full of arrows without hitting his friends once! Ideally, the hellhound would have been vanquished by now, but whatever mutation it had undergone had made it unnaturally resilient to arrow, sword, and stave wounds, and it just wouldn’t bloody die!

Fortunately, Marion and Little John had a plan. Slipping into the fray in that fray-slipping way she had, Marion wove around the hellhound’s legs with a sturdy rope, getting the creature good and tangled up. Back at the other end of the rope, Little John pulled with all his might – which, you’ll hardly be shocked to know, was quite a bit – and the monster dog was dragged down to the ground. The hound still had a good bit of struggle in him, though, and threw up such a fuss that it rolled itself right into the lake… taking Will Scarlet with it!!!

[Allyn swiftly alternates between frantic notes on horn and fiddle.]

Will: …Because of all the confounded luck, Will got caught by the throat in the rope! (No fault of his own, mind you – it’s just one of those disastrous things that will sometimes occur in the heat of a battle with mutant Chihuahuas.)

Down into the lake they went, and things were looking very bleak for our outlaw in red, especially as one of the hellhound’s heads was in the act of trying to take off the head of his opponent! But Will Scarlet was nothing if not opportunistic. He let those super-sharp teeth get just close enough to touch the rope around his neck, then he thrust his sword upward into the monster’s chest! The dog’s head drew back with the sort of yelp nightmares are made of, one of its fangs slicing neatly through Will’s bonds in the process. Happily freed, Will swam up to the lake’s surface and onto dryish land, where he was joyfully received by his fellows.

[Allyn plays a few bars of much-alive-and-glad-to-be-so music on the fiddle, then switches over to a set of kettledrums to signify the entrance of the “Hunters”.]

Will: At this time, the valiant knights of Camelot ride in to save the day. They’re practically too late, of course, since the day’s already been all but saved by Will Scarlet.

Allyn: He didn’t save the day. He saved himself.

Will: What are you talking about? He tied up the demon wolfhound, didn’t he?

Allyn: No. Marion and Little John did that.

Will: Oh. Right. Well, he… um, they wouldn’t have been able to do that if Will hadn’t kept the dog distracted.

Allyn: Robin and Allyn could have done that on their own. In fact, Allyn was doing it on his own before Will showed up.

Will [grumbling]: This is what comes of trying to make everyone look good. Proko-whatsit had the right idea. Next time, the wolf eats the duck.

In any event, although Will would have been perfectly capable of dealing with the aftermath all on his own, thank you very much, the knights were allowed to earn their paychecks by hauling the sodden hound from the lake, caging it, and guarding it until their wizard superior could locate and administer his potion’s antidote, returning the doomful doggie into a sweet little Chihuahua once more.

[Allyn strums a triumphant chord on the Spanish guitar, then returns to the fiddle for the grand finale.]

Will: The dog was given to a local shelter, whence he was eventually adopted by a loving family; the Merry Men celebrated their successful exploit with the consumption of much pizza with cheese in the crust; and most importantly, Will Scarlet lived on to pester Little John another day. And the Faire existed in peace and safety for the rest of eternity – or until the next awesome threat came to offer some excitement, whichever came first. The end!

[Flamboyant bows on the parts of Will and Allyn. Feel free to clap and cheer, now, audience theirs. 😉 ]