… “Free Day!”
“Free Day!” sang the town criers throughout the Kingdom. They were, all of them, very happy for they liked nothing better than to bring glad tidings to the people of Morphlance.
By mid-afternoon copies of the decree had been posted in the most prominent places of every town, village and hamlet and from there they smiled their message across the land. By sunset there was not a single soul in the Kingdom of Morphlance who had not heard about the Free Day.
‘Free Day,’ the word was in everybody’s mind and was upon everybody’s lips. From the smallest child who understood, to the eldest citizen and his cronies, the topic of conversation was the same, ‘ Free Day ‘.
The sun shone rays of freedom. The wind breathed freedom through the branches of the trees. The sky rained freedom from the clouds and when night fell, the darkness held hope…
…With a pale, slender arm lavishly outstretched above her head, Our Father, Lady, Countess-Grae lay elegantly ensconced in a harsh and angular wicker couch. A ‘Jack-Go-To-Bed-At-Noon’ drooped loosely in her wilting hand and from it she blew delicate parachute canopies which, slipping upon her silvery breath, trailed insipidly away. Her other arm was bent slightly so as to embrace her head and from her limp wrist extended long, lazy piano-fingers which teased her golden locks of hair; twisting them as they festooned over the back of the couch and dripped into the vibrant floor.
“…How very sweet.”
Earl Grae sat opposite: straight-backed and rigid within succulent feather down.
Earnestly, he contemplated his big toe which peeked through a hole in his red, suede boots. It wriggled melodramatically, enjoying the attention.
“Yes, it is quite nice isn’t it?”
“How does it end?”…
… And it happened that there was a stranger abroad that day. He was a traveller from distant lands who had come upon the borders of Morphlance by chance. He strolled aimlessly along the causeway, feeling that today was a good day.
The King looked up and beheld the stranger. Nowhere had he seen the like of this before. The man was as a giant. He loomed out of the summer haze, in long, loping strides. His slender, bronze-cast limbs and his stomach were bare.
The top half of his torso was covered by sack-cloth which was torn and his shorts were ripped and fraying. Upon his feet he wore tasselled boots which danced gaily about his ankles as he walked. His dark hair poured from his head in great, platted spouts, gushing over his shoulders: streaming far behind him in a teeming tangle of snake-like strands: trailing tattered sprays of brightly coloured cotton-string: orange, blue and red, which writhed free, swimming in the breeze. A Rainbow arched, resplendent across his forehead and beneath this his white face paled, encompassing dreadful enchanter’s eyes, black, and still, as night.
He moved towards the King like an apparition and like an apparition he passed him by, unconcerned by his presence along the wayside.
“Minstrel!” shouted the King, lurching, bedraggled, onto the causeway.
“Minstrel, pray tarry awhile. I would speak with you.”
The stranger turned sharply. His wild locks taking long moments to settle.
“Welcome, welcome unto my Kingdom…” the King enthused, moving closer to the man, “you are traversing the Kingdom of Morphlance upon a very special day, for today, is Free Day. I, King Samuel VI have declared it so.”
“What?” laughed the stranger, genuinely surprised but then he caught a whiff of alcohol and was annoyed at him-self for being such a fool. He kicked the tramp back into the ditch.
“Wino!” he called after him, and turning, he strutted proudly upon his way.
But later that day, as the stranger sunned himself upon a small rise, he thought again of the tramp and the curious words which he had spoken and he began to regret his hasty reactions.
‘Minstrel… Morphlance… King Samuel VI? Free Day? ‘…
He took out his journal and began to write…