Monday, December 13, 2004

A Meating of the Mines, scene 5

This is a continuation of the screenplay Heroes for Hire Episode 2 -- A Meating of the Mines.

Rolf and Zantar are sitting in the Barkley drawing room (very similar to the one in the TV series). Rolf is sipping from a wine glass and Zantar is gulping from a mug. Jerrod walks in and over to the bar while speaking:

JERROD: I heard you were attacked.

Zantar shrugs.

ROLF: Yes indeed! And a royal battle it was. A pity there were no crowds to enjoy it.

JERROD: (pouring himself a drink) This will be avenged, of course.

ROLF: We appreciate your concern, but Zantar and I handled it.

JERROD: I'm not concerned about you two. I'm concerned about those Cannons thinking they can get away with this. We have to respond with overwhelming force or they will think we are a bunch of weaklings! (he tosses back the first drink with one swallow and pours another.)

ZANTAR: Well, they're weaklings too, so I wouldn't worry about it.

Jerrod stops pouring and turns around to glare at Zantar.

ROLF: What my phlegmatic friend means by that remark, of course, is that the two of us easily handled a band of six of them, so they can hardly be feeling confident of their own puissance. In addition, I'd like to point out that Zantar and I interrogated a survivor quite thoroughly and we are persuaded that those who attacked us were rogues.

JERROD: (going back to his pouring) Rogues? You mean they were doing the job on their own?

ROLF: Yes. Our source was rather convincing.

ZANTAR: Their boss wasn't feeding them good enough.

ROLF: Quite. They wished to enhance their dining situation. And as all the ambitious diners became fatalities as a result of their efforts, there is no one left for you to take vengeance upon.

JERROD: I see.

ZANTAR: Besides, we don't do wars for no lousy two silver a week.

ROLF: Indeed. If you wish us to engage in an extended period of intense combat, you must adjust our compensation accordingly.

ZANTAR: "Accordingly" means up.

ROLF: Indeed.

JERROD: I ... OK, I guess as long as everyone knows they weren't working on orders from the Cannons...

ZANTAR: "Up" meaning the amount has to go up.

JERROD: I ... what?

ZANTAR: The amount you have to give us is a bigger number which is kind of like being higher. That's why I said "up".

JERROD: Higher?

ZANTAR: Of course it's also like being deeper. Like, if you're a hundred feet down you're deeper than if you're only fifty feet down.

JERROD: Yes...

ZANTAR: But if you want to start a war you have to pay us more money.

JERROD: Well...

ZANTAR: Up or down, it has to be more silvers.

There is a few seconds of silence.

JERROD: I'm going to want you two on every shipment out to the mines from now on.

ROLF: That seems prudent.

ZANTAR: I just thought I should clear up that "up" business because it didn't seem like a metaphor or hyperbole.

JERROD: Meta for her hyper what?

ROLF: Metaphor and hyperbole.

ZANTAR: Non-literal speech. The "up" wasn't either one.

JERROD: Does this mean you two aren't going to try to hang me up for more money to guard all the shipments?

ROLF: You wound me, sir! We had a contract. Nothing written of course, but a man's word is his bond. As long as the situation doesn't change too unexpectedly, that is.

ZANTAR: If it changes too much, we'll let you know.

ROLF: Quite.

JERROD: Well...

ZANTAR: (interrupting) But I guess it was kind of like a metaphor.

JERROD: (after a pause to see if Zantar has any more inscrutable wisdom to provide) Well, that's good. I was worried that you two would think you could just laze around drinking all day like a lot of the other hired spears, but you're making a lot more than them, so I expect you to pull your weight.

ROLF: Indeed we shall. We shall, however, have recourse to your stables for two more steeds. Ours were lost in the confrontation.

JERROD: Both of them?

ROLF: Regretfully so.

JERROD: I heard they killed one horse. Nobody said anything about a second horse getting killed.

ZANTAR: They got Rolf's horse where you couldn't see it and it died later.

ROLF: Yes. I was heartbroken. Poor thing didn't have a chance.

ZANTAR: You think you're heartbroken! My horse saved my life! Saw the arrow coming and took it in the neck to save me.

JERROD: It what?

ZANTAR: I'll never get over losing a great horse like that. Here's to a genuine hero! (he drinks to the horse)

ROLF: (sounding a bit annoyed) Mine did not meekly turn its head. Rather the valiant beast reared up to take not one, but two arrows into its noble breast, saving me from certain death.

JERROD: Look ...

ZANTAR: (interrupting) Yeah!? Well _my_ horse caught the first arrow in its teeth. The second one came before it could spit out the first one. It had no other way to save me.

JERROD: Now see here...

ZANTAR: (interrupting) _Great_ horse.

ROLF: Indeed, your horse was agile, Zantar, but my own valiant steed reared up to take into its heart the two flaming arrows meant for me. I leapt free, fearing it would fall atop me in its death throes, but I had desperately underestimated the great, savage, pierced heart of the noble beast. Already dieing from its wounds, it charged our attackers! Two more arrows hit it! Then two more! Then a volley of four at once! Still the fiery stallion came on!

JERROD: It was a gelding!

ROLF: A juggernaut! A rampaging bull! Unstoppable! (Rolf stands and begins to tell the story with motions) It crashed into the attackers, crushing two or three to death (Rolf pounds his chest with both hands) against the chest that held it's magnificent dieing heart. It grabbed one in it's teeth and tossed him bodily over it's back! It caught up another one and reared up, shaking the poor man like a terrier shakes a rat. (Rolf mimics being held by one shoulder and shaken) I could hear the bones snap from thirty feet away! It dropped the corpse but stayed up, lashing out with its hooves. Crushing a chest here, a head there. Never have I seen a beast in such a thorough and perfect berserk rage!

JERROD: It was a mild-mannered, elderly, gelded pony! What ...

ROLF: (interrupting, completely lost in the tale) They surrounded it, cowardly dogs baiting a valiant bear, stabbing with swords and spears, piercing it's flesh in dozens of places. The horse's feet came down to crush two more men beneath it. It's powerful real feet lashed out, sending one man flying all the way back to me, thirty feet away, to land, a broken doll of rag, in the branch of a tree!

ZANTAR: (annoyed) Krikey!

ROLF: Again it reared up, spears and swords hanging from it's body like the spines of a porcupine! It was the archery target after the volley! The magnificent beast was weakened, but it’s great heart would not let it fall. It lived on nothing but courage now. But weak as it was, the terrified attackers could only the fiery eyes, the demonic ferocity, the unbreakable will. They panicked and fled! (Rolf's voice goes quiet) The valiant stallion ...

JERROD: (interrupting) Gelding.

ROLF: still reared, but it wobbled unsteadily, like a drunken man, confused at its unaccustomed weakness...

JERROD: (interrupting) THAT'S ENOUGH! (slamming his drink down) No more stories about heroic horses! I bred and gelded and trained those ponies to be gentle saddle stock! (heading for the door) Save your heroic horse stories for the children! Don't bother me with them! Just do your jobs!

Jerrod storms out and Rolf and Zantar stare after him for a moment.

ROLF: I wonder why he hates horses so much?

ZANTAR: Probably afraid of them.

ROLF: Of course. Doubtless a man of peasant stock seeking to put on the airs of a gentleman, yet fearful of the animal that is the very sign of a gentleman. It stirs understandable resentments.

Rolf sits back down and they go back to drinking for a while.

ZANTAR: Maybe it _was_ a metaphor.

ROLF: Or a turn of phrase. Sometimes these things are on the line and it's difficult to tell.

After another silence:

ROLF: It's a shame he cut me off before the heroic death scene. Would you like to hear it?

ZANTAR: Krikey, Rolf. Why didn't you have fire shooting from the damn horse's mouth and lightning from his eyes?

ROLF: Without magical influences...

ZANTAR: Farting deadly poisons too. Krikey. I expect after the death scene the gods would come down and resurrect the nag and make it a holy steed or something.

ROLF: You don't think that would have been a bit over the top?

ZANTAR: Krikey.

UPDATE: continued.

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