Arty, a neurotic individual from a lonely valley in the rando valley, found himself thrust into the life of the adventurer. With 10 kingdoms to visit before his task was over and having to survive countless trials of harsh climate, vicious monsters and evil humans, he was genuinely surprised that he had retrieved 9 of the 10 gems he required in a little over a week.
His entourage of six knights, their horses and a dozen or so support crew who walked with their pack horses had made incredible time. He actually hoped to be finished by the weekend, which would suit him well as his farm wouldn’t congeal into moss without him.
Being 21 and well past middle-aged, he also thought that he might finally have the courage to climb the mountain and visit the next valley and ask Genevieve if she would marry him. He hadn’t seen her in years, hadn’t the courage to go, but it seemed the proper thing to do.
The entourage was currently traversing a precarious track along a shaggy ridge overlooking a harrowing rocky slope. The ridge was called the Tip of Forboding, although Arty had no clue of this. He thought it best to concentrate on his task before he did something stupid. His short horse, which matched his stature, clip-clopped disinterestedly with its head down.
‘You know,’ Sir Gallant, the closest knight to Arty, suddenly emitted from his gleaming helmet, ‘I really am surprised at you, Arty. I still don’t know why they chose you for this task-‘ nor was Arty, he kicked himself for not asking that most obvious of questions when he was present with the King. ‘But I simply must hand it to you; you’ve led this expedition magnificently. I hope to be home to my beautiful wife and children on my estate before the week is out. No one would believe that such a tiny man could have done so much. Like the cyclops of Aztraceneca or the wild hooved beast of Teatotallingcounty. And we left you, at your own instruction, with three kingdoms to traverse and gems to steal, yet you were done within hours. Pray, tell us how you achieved such deeds?’
‘Well,’ Arty sat taller in his saddle, his over-large armour clanking, ‘it’s quite simple really, you’d never believe it.’
‘Oh, but we may, please tell us,’ Sir Gallant replied, and the men accented. Sir Gallant raised the sack of gems, his smile shining through his armour, somehow. ‘Tell us how you achieved such extraordinary heights of gallantry!’
‘Well, alright, it started the other night after I got that bout of gastro, whoops-‘ Arty stammered as he absently tugged on the reins, his horse moved just slightly on the narrow path and bumped the horse in front of him. What happened next could only be described as a hellish Rube Goldberg dominos effect not dissimilar to two icecream carts colliding in slow motion. Each horse nudged the subsequent, shifted in panic, and as it fell, its rider and burdens fell with it. Down the steep slope, each horse and knight went. The support crew, who were dim-witted enough to not let go of their horses, also disappeared. Arty froze in fear, Sir Gallant leapt into action and tried to grab one of his fellows before he vanished. However, as he turned and lent out his hand and cried for Arty’s assistance (who was still frozen), his foot slipped, and he too fell over the edge. The sack of gems flew through the air and was snatched by the most enormous bird Arty had ever seen. It could have carried away a horse but instead took away Arty’s hopes of this horrid adventure coming to an abrupt close.
‘You got that right,’ Arty replied in dumb shock. He blinked, looked around and noticed that he was, in fact, the last person left on the ridge. ‘Who said that?’
‘I did,’ the voice emitted from his horse. Arty screamed, fell back out of his saddle and began to follow his entourage to his death below.