Saturday, 12 May 2012

The Chronicles of Jack The Axe

The Fall and Rise of Humpty Dumpty
Part Three

Humpty finds work

The Necromancer, in his day job as Post Master General was in a prime position to learn of most news happening in and around the Kingdom.
The King’s total ignorance of the problem the Fairy hordes had created within the Kingdom and its massive bureaucracy, had made his home a breeding ground for crime and latent supernatural folly.
Ten years ago a talking pig, giant egg or dragon would have sent the populace into a fear driven frenzy. But by stealth and servitude the fairy folk had worked their way into the hearts of the Townsfolk and now they were tearing it apart from the inside as their true nature rose to the surface.
Infiltrate and destroy was the Fairy motto and through careful research the Post Master had discovered towns that had been laid to waste by Fairy Infestation through the ages, growing derelict while the Fairy folk stole all their resources leaving only when the town was economically and culturally destroyed. A true parasitic horde - a dreamtime locust.
Humpty Dumpty was his solution to the Fairy plague.

Humpty had been quite content to sit in the empty warehouse down by the docks satisfying his appetite with the more than plentiful supply of rats that were infesting the area.

The Necromancer didn’t take long to figure out this was soon going to become a problem. Humpty was not living up to his full potential as a Fairy creature exterminator.
If Humpty was feasting on rats then there was a good chance these weren’t the garbage dwelling, disease-spreading variety the town was used to.
The Necromancer had done his work well and knew that Humpty would pass a human or natural animal as if it were a brick wall or a wooden box.
These rats were from a source of magical mischief.
A few days later the Necromancer’s concerns were justified as the King declared the Kingdom a Rat Infested Disaster Area and was tendering out for the services of a professional Rat Catcher. Within hours The Pied Piper Pest Control was banging on the Castle doors.
The Necromancer, in his guise as Post Master General, was called to the Civic Council meeting that was to commission the Rat Catchers.
Those with more conventional methods were ignored as the Piped Piper Henry Hamlin demonstrated his new sound frequency mind capture device on the rats and in minutes had barrels of the filthy creatures sealed and stacked in the corner.

Of course, he was hired on the spot and a method of payment was devised that meant the quicker the rats were eliminated the higher the wage was that would be paid.
The Necromancer watched these proceedings with interest and was keen to vote on all the council decisions.
One problem at a time he thought to himself.
Within hours the Pied Piper was dancing down the main street of the Kingdom playing his weird instrument followed by an endless procession of vermin.
He played until he reached the docks and stood on a pylon as the conga line of rats dove into the sea and swam out towards the horizon, swimming on and on until, totally exhausted, they drowned.
By the time evening fell upon that very day the Kingdom no longer had a Rat problem, but now however, the Necromancer had a problem with the Rat Catcher.
When the Pied Piper returned to the Civic Council lifted up on the shoulders of the city’s peasants and nobles alike, he was borne into the Chambers with his arms outstretched and hands open wide.
“Time to be paid I believe” he cried as he entered.
The Necromancer knowing only too well how the Kingdom’s bureaucracy worked just leant back in his seat and with a sly smirk watched the drama unfold.
As with any well-oiled government machine the administrators took over and declared that monies would be forthcoming after an inspection had been carried out in the city and a certificate of practical completion had been issued. This would, of course release a portion of the funds after the Pied Piper had submitted a claim and he was made aware of 25% retention was to be held back until 12 months had passed and the job was out of the warranty period. There was also the problem of the Pied Piper not being a registered contractor with the Kingdom (an oversight on the council’s behalf regrettably - but unfortunately the rules had to be adhered to). This would hold up the issuing of the practical completion certificate until all JSA and OH&S paperwork had been submitted and approved by the next sitting of the Approvals Committee.
Understandably the Pied Piper went nuts; demanding payment in full or the council would regret ever hiring him.

The Council, well used to this sort of behavior from contractors warned Mister Hamlin that he was close to breaching the rules of the Chamber and that he could be fined and/or imprisoned for assault and threatening behavior. This last part was declared and recorded by the Kingdom lawyers.
The Pied Piper swore and stormed out of the chambers screaming threats of revenge.
The Council convened for dinner and returned to finish other council business as per the agenda.
The Necromancer, having thoroughly enjoyed the show, went home to await the Pied Piper’s next move.
With the disappearance of the rats Humpty was back out in the alleys and laneways hunting down the drunk and derelict fairy creatures of the Kingdom.
The Pied Piper however, had taken to the streets drumming up support from the townsfolk declaring he had been ripped off and if he wasn’t paid by morning would do something that the town would never forget.
When said townsfolk threatened to stone him on the spot if he bought the rat backs he stole away to execute his revenge regardless and immediately.

By this time the Necromancer’s spies had briefed him of the Pied Piper Pest Control Company and Mister Hamlin’s dealings with other Kingdoms. Like most Fairy Folk he was as predictable as he was devious and in the interim The Necromancer took measures to counter the Piper.
The Piper took to the streets early the next morning playing his pipe and dancing in the city square, and as he played children came from all directions and formed a large crowd. When the Piper was satisfied he had enough youngsters present he began to dance toward the wharfs.
But things had changed since the previous day, and as the Pied Piper came closer to the Docks his way was blocked by road works and construction barriers that detoured him towards the old dry docks and warehouses. He carried on confused and disorientated until he came to a dead end, a decrepit boat shed.
As he stood in front of this door playing loudly to keep the children under his control a pair of skinny arms grabbed him by the throat and ripped his windpipe out.
The music stopped and all of a sudden a thousand children awoke in the wrong part of town.
The Pied Piper had disappeared.
The Necromancer in his wisdom had suggested that the children be followed by the Kingdom guards who herded them back to the square and told them to go home.
The Piper was never seen again and Humpty had completed his first unofficial civic duty.
His reward? A meal and a battered old pipe he didn’t know how to play.

To be continued.......

Edited by Cathie Tranent, art by Simon Sherry

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