On the Road Again

by D.A. Madigan

A Parody Like Many Others

part 1 of 2


The small company, representing all the races of Moderate Earth who were aligned with Being Nice, strode manfully down the road towards the distant Big Evil Mountains, arms swinging, frankly just whanging along, an enthusiastically off key rendition of Ray Davies’ “Lola” bellowing from their lungs as their heavy leather boots clomped doughtily off the ancient roadway.

“Lola! L - O - L -A, Lola! Lo Lo Lo La LoooooLA!” they sang, as Moredambeer and Airguitar, the two humans in the companionship, lustily played imaginary instruments while swaying their hips in a manner reminiscent of the Rolling Stones back when they were younger and spryer.

It crossed young Fondle’s mind to wonder if perhaps they maybe shouldn’t be being... well... you know, QUIETER... given the whole ‘evil agents everywhere seeking the Nose Ring of Power’ thing... but what the hell, this was a lot more fun, and certainly Goatgland the Groaty would warn them if they were being silly... wouldn’t he?

And yet, Fondle was the Nose Ring Wearer. It was on his tiny, childlike, Halfwit shoulders that the primary responsibility fell. Perhaps he should say something...

Abruptly, the singing column came to a clumping, stumbling, careening halt, as a cloaked horseman with glowing red eyes, mounted on a vast, dark steed that seemed to be made of coal-black smoke shot through with blood and silver moonlight, which appeared to be breathing hellish red flames from its vast, cavernlike nostrils and fanged, carnivore-like maw, stepped from the dense forest into the roadway ahead of them.

In the horseman’s mail-clad hands was a long, ash-white spear, studded with carvings depicting various humanoid faces writhing with expressions of torment and terror. Around the horseman’s waist was a belt made of miniature human skulls, which, if not replicas, must once have belonged to babies; hanging from that belt were various scabbarded blades with hilts made of bone wrapped in black shark skin.

“Crap in a barrel!” squeaked Fondle, immediately darting behind Goatgland and crouching down to peer between the elderly wizard’s bony, and rather skanky, ankles.

“By Dave Van Ronk’s awesome chords!” Airguitar swore, drawing his glowing mithril sword which he had named VanHagarSucks.

“By the brilliantly intricate finger-fretting of Buck Dharma!” grunted Mordambeer, as he hauled out his enchanted battle-axe MetallicaRules.

“By Grumpy, Doc, and Dopey!” said Gimpy, the Midget, nervously reaching into his pocket to grab the butt of his hideaway derringer.

“Yowzer!” shrieked Mellow, one of the party’s other three Halfwits.

“Woo hoo!” bellowed Homer, another of the party’s Halfwits.

“Hump me sideways and put me away sticky,” muttered the earthily wise Clam Dandy, the last of the party’s four Halfwits, and constant companion to Fondle, the Nose Ring Wearer.

“Uh,” said the dark horseman, peering at them uneasily with his glowing red eyes, and then essaying a somewhat nervous smile. “So. Um. Hi.” He paused. “Uh, say... you guys got any... you know... Nose Rings... you want to sell?” He blinked several times, then added, hopefully, “Or... er.. trade? ’Cuz I got cool stuff.”

Goatgland drew himself up haughtily and brandished his long, gnarled staff. “Be off with you, foul Undead hellspawn!”

The black horseman hastily averted his eyes. “Dude, that’s nasty. Please, close your robe.”

Grumbling, Goatgland tied his musty, tattered, suspiciously stained bathrobe closed again, and then brandished his other long, gnarled staff. “Get outta here,” he said. “Get lost.” His heart really didn’t seem to be in it the way it had been the first time, though.

“KILL THE FIEND!” screamed Mordambeer suddenly, as, with a clattering crash of sundered branches, he hurled his heavy battleaxe enthusiastically into the dense coniferous forest immediately to the left of the party.

There was a moment of brief, embarrassed silence. Finally, Airguitar smacked Mordambeer ringingly on his helm, knocking it askew on Mordambeer’s head, obscuring momentarily the Oakland Raiders emblem on the side. “I keep telling you, we don’t throw our MAIN weapons,” Airguitar said. “Now what are you gonna fight with, you big moron? Your eyebrows? You want to throw something, throw the throwing knives. Throw the throwing axes. Throw the throwing stars. You’ll notice the word ‘throwing’ in all those weapon names? That’s not a coincidence. Is the word ‘throwing’ in the weapon name ‘Battle Axe’? Well? Is it?”

Mordambeer looked down shamefacedly as he re-adjusted his helm. “Sorry,” he muttered. “Got carried away.” He tromped off into the woods to disconsolately look for his battle axe.

The dark horseman pursed his lips. “Ah,” he said, finally. “So. About those Nose Rings...?”

Fondle poked his head out around Goatgland’s bony ankles. “You’re Evil!” he piped, shrilly. “Go away or... or Airguitar will whack you a darned good one with his mighty mithril sword!”

The dark horseman looked down at himself and his demon-steed in an overly obvious display of incredulity. “What? Evil? I am not.” He peered dubiously at his black cloak, his black chainmail, the belt of infant skulls around his waist, his black, firebreathing, liberally be-fanged horse-beast. “I mean, you don’t even know me. You don’t think you’re being a tiny tiny bit judgmental?”

Airguitar groaned. “Dude,” he said. “You’ve got glowing red eyes. Your spear is covered with tormented visages. Your belt is made out of baby skulls. You’re Evil. Now don’t make me come over there. I mean it.”

“I dunno,” Gimpy said, doubtfully. “He could just be goth. I mean, we are kinda jumping to conclusions. ‘Cuz, seriously, I know what that’s like. I’m short, and people judge me on that all the time.”

The dark rider spread his hands. “There, you see? A reasonable Midget. Okay, I’m not wearing a suit and tie, sure, but it’s a big world! This is... you know, how I dress! Look, I’ll give you this solid gold guitar pick, autographed by every member of the Moody Blues, for the Nose Ring.” He held up a small, gleaming triangle of gold, turning it so it glittered in the mid morning sun.

Airguitar blinked at it. “Even Justin Hayward?”

The black clad horseman snorted. “Well, it wouldn’t be much good without Justin Hayward, would it? I mean, the man WAS the Moody Blues, for god’s sake.”

Airguitar leaned down and whispered to Fondle, “That’s a good deal. Take it.”

Fondle glared up at him. “Shut up,” he said. He took something out of his pouch and sighed as he slipped it through his pierced septum. “I hate this,” he said, “this always hurts.”

A shadow of authority seemed to fall over Fondle, and despite his diminutive Halfwit size, he somehow seemed to tower darkly over the entire group now.

“No no noooooooo,” Clam Dandy moaned, “it will corrupt you, it will corrupt you!”

“It will not,” Fondle said, “now shut up or I’ll blast you good.” He looked at the black horseman. “Look, you, you have to obey the Nose Ring Wearer, right?”

The dark horseman narrowed one eye and squinched up his mouth thoughtfully. He raised one hand and see-sawed his palm back and forth in the air. “We-e-e-e-ellllll,” he said, “certainly, the Nose Ring Wearer is a figure of some authority with us, I grant you. I mean, I don’t know, ‘obey’ is a pretty strong word, but, you know, there’s a certain amount of respect for the office...”

“Shut the hell UP,” Fondle moaned in exasperation. “You have to obey me. Get down off your horse and kiss the ground.”

“Oh noooooooo,” Clam Dandy muttered, “it won’t coRRUPT you, oh gosh, what was I ever WORried about...”

“I will give you SUCH a zotz,” Fondle hissed out of the corner of his mouth, as the black rider clambered out of his saddle, got down on all fours, and began kissing the earth. “Okay, okay, enough ground kissing. There’s more of you guys around, right?”

The kneeling dark horseman, mud smeared around his mouth now, said reluctantly, “Well... yeah... a few more. You know. Just hanging around.”

“Combing the Earth like hell’s own bloodhounds seeking the Nose Ring of Power, you mean,” Goatgland said, grimly. “Mercilessly, ruthlessly, without a shred of... of... mercy, or...”

“Ruth?” Mellow suggested, helpfully.

“Quiet, you,” Goatgland said, haughtily. “My point is, that...” He stopped, squinting in deep thought. “What was I saying, again...?”

Fondle ignored the maundering old lecher. “You can get in touch with these other Ickies, right?”


Proceed to part 2...

Copyright © 2005 by D. A. Madigan

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