The Siege of Pugglement Pt 3 (weeeeeeee)

Nobody said anything for ages. 

“Ideas, lads, ideas!” I said after a while. “Come on now. Have at me!”

In the ensuing silence my Mopperwoman — Grinda, she’s called, she’s very old and bent, wits as soft as a slice of Brie but I’m rather fond of her because she’s nice — nudged her way into the room, rear first, carrying her mop and bucket. She didn’t notice us all gathered around the map and began to clean the floor.

“Grinda? Grinda?” (She’s hard of hearing) “GRINDA? I’m sorry my dear but would you mind getting out? We’re planning a battle and — no, no, we’re not herding cattle. Battle. A BATTLE. A barbarian horde is on the way here to kill everyone and we’re trying to think of a way to make them not be able to do that.”

Grinda made eyes that said ‘goodness!’, then whispered an apology, did a little curtsy, and left the room, gently pushing backwards through the doors with her bottom. Suds left everywhere. Honestly.

“Right,” I said, turning back to my knights, “why is nobody saying anything?”

I pointed to Sir Bashful.

“You, good sir. Put forth thine devious and intriguing ideas on how to stop Bloodfeet getting in here and making a hog roast out of me.”

Shit wait. Let’s not write ‘me’. It just sounds a bit — it doesn’t sound good. Put that I said ‘us’. No, actually put ‘my People’. No shut up hang on, write ‘the beautiful people of Pugglemunt’. Yes that’s better.

* * * * *

No – what? What are you writing five little stars for? No time has passed! I was literally in the middle of a dialogue. Get rid of them. Well I don’t know, rub them out. Sponge them off the page! Use your sleeve man! Where’s your ingenuity? WHERE IS YOUR INGENUI— oh it doesn’t matter let’s just get on with it.

With my question hanging in the air, Sir Bashful looked up at me and gave a little shrug, his hands thrust firmly into the pockets of his greaves. He mumbled something I couldn’t hear and traced a crack in the floor with his right foot. I’d just picked up a little model soldier to throw at him when Sir Sleeves spoke up.

“It’s just that… we all popped over to the library* on the way over here to read up on Chief Bloodpunch – you know, see what he’s into, potential weaknesses and whatnot – and… well, maybe you should have a read yourself, Sire. Hand it to him, Quincy.”

*I have a really nice library. I’ll tell you all about it later unless I forget which I probably will.

Quincy the Wizard took off his big pointy hat to reveal a large dusty book perched on his thin wispy crown. He took it solemnly in two hands and presented it to me. With a quick ‘what-have-you-got-in-store-for-me-it-better-not-be-something-shit’ sort of glance at Sir Sleeves and my Royal Wizard, I took the book and opened it up on the map table. I licked my thumb and leafed through the time-browned pages to the spot where somebody had left a peacock feather as a rather dazzling makeshift bookmark.

I found the passage marked ‘Barbarian Hordes: Various’ and ran my finger down to Bloodpunch’s entry (I love running my finger down old books like that; always makes me feel like a witch). I read aloud in my Kingly ‘reading aloud’ voice.

Height: 6’8

Weight: 140kg

Origin: Unknown

Strength: 9

Intelligence: 8 

Charisma: 9

Magic: 6

Bloodlust: 10

Insanity: 9

Patience: 2

Army Size: XL

Favourite animal: Frog

I snapped the book shut with a clap.

“Oh dear,” I huffed.

My knights nodded solemnly. I thumbed my nose and looked up at the chandelier, cast adrift on the wintry lake of ponderance. My knights began talking about battlements and portcullises and whatnot but I must admit, I submerged mentally for a moment because –

Charisma nine?


Why, those dirty rotten scoundrels! My own entry in last year’s edition of the Who’s Who of Royals, Rogues and Ragamuffins listed my charisma as a paltry six. A six, would you believe it! I petitioned them to change it, of course, but the forty-eight letter birds I sent must have gotten lost on the way to the printing works because I never heard back.


Sodding six!?

Whatever. Whatever! It was pathetic really, that anybody should care what such an ill-regarded publication had to say – laughable, even! HA HA HA HA! Aha! Sigh. DON’T WRITE ‘SIGH’ YOU IMBECILE. Anyway it was all just a silly popularity contest, at the end of the day; entirely childish. Totally subjective, too. You can’t measure charisma, can you? How would you measure it? Count the swoons as you walk down the street? Hogwash.

And yet. Somebody, somehow, had found a way to count charisma – however arbitrary and foolish – and had deemed me bang-average. Why?! Even Burton sodding Ginger, that glistening windbag, had gotten a seven. What was I missing?  Was it my hair? Did it lack lustre?

“Does it lack lustre?” I asked.

Lady Blanket, who had been making an eloquent speech about something or other and pushing little figurines around on the war map, stopped speaking and looked at me.


“My hair. Do you think it lacks lustre?”

My knights looked at one another, and then to me. They shook their heads and cooed platitudes.

“No Sire, certainly it doesn’t,” said Sir Pip Junior.

“It has so much lustre, my King” said Quincy the Wizard.

“It’s absolutely gorgeous, your honour” said Mister Wiggle. (I don’t know why he calls me your honour; I should have corrected him the first time he did it but I felt sorry for him and now it’s far too late to say anything)

And Madame Shadow didn’t say anything of course because she hasn’t got a voice. But her eyes said ‘you are a handsome man, my liege’.

I ran my sceptical gaze over the lot of them.

“Oh, you’re just being nice to make me feel better. Shut your mouths, all of you. Except you Madame Shadow. You can shut your… eyes.”

I sat down with a huff.

“Why doesn’t everybody in the world like me,” I sighed, prodding a miniature castle on the war map.

Lady Blanket coughed into her fist.

“Sire, I think we may have bigger issues at hand.”

My eyes flicked up to her.

“What? You think it’s not my hair? What is it? Oh Gods it’s my eyebrows isn’t it. I knew Enrique plucked them too thin. Oh that snake. Oh I’ll have him cracked into thruppence, I will.”

Lady Blanket let out a curious sound – sort of like a hound that really needs to be let out to make water, but its owner has fallen asleep on the throne at the end of a long evening of debauching – and picked up a little model barbarian from the war map. She waggled it around in front of my nose.

“Don’t you think you’re forgetting something?”

I looked back and forth between the little wooden nutter and Lady Blanket’s blazing purple irises. Slowly my pupils grew in size, like a cat looking at a big saucer of milk.

“Oh Gods!I cried, realising precisely what she meant. “I left my baking in the oven! Oh my muffins! My lovely blueberry muffs, they’ll be ruined. Oh, egad. Egad!”

I swooned with worry.

“Sir Pip Junior, get after them! Go, man. Go!”

As Sir Pip Junior hurried out of the War Chamber, Lady Blanket turned once again to look at me. She was giving me a funny sort of look: as though my hair were on fire. Her gaze was so intense, in fact, that I gave my head a pat just to be sure.

BLOODPUNCH!” she said at last.

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhh,” I said.

I raised my eyebrows at myself. I really have no idea how my brain works sometimes. What am I like!

I pushed my chair back from the table, then stood on it. Then I stood on the map table to be even bigger. Time to lock and load the Crossbow of Good Ideas. With a gracious nod to Lady Blanket, I pulled the mental lever to switch myself into full-on Decisive King Mode.

“Right! Barbarians at the gates! No time to spare! Sir Sleeves, get down to the blacksmith and shove him around until he agrees to finish mending the portcullis today. Mr Wiggle, you’re on ghost duty, head to the dungeons and see if they’ve any gossip from the under-realms. Lady Blanket, you’re my arrow sister, go tell the fletcher to go mental making so many arrows. Quincy the Wizard, hop on down to the sewers and clog them. I’m talking floor to ceiling, you hear me Quince? CLOGGED TO HELL. I’ll not die by some barbarian hoodlum clambering up my cistern spout and thrashing me from below.

“Sir Pip, you and Junior can whiz on down to the battlements. Give them a tidy and make sure there are actually men manning them. I’ll not have a repeat of last summer. If any of the guards have annual leave booked, cancel it. If they kick up a fuss, kick them right in their fuss. Lady Pip, get to the stables and make sure our horses haven’t all gotten out. Sir Bashful, go buy catapult supplies. I don’t know if they sell lava in the shop but if they do, buy the lot – and don’t get duped into buying hot soil this time. If it’s not glowing red and burning your nose hair off, it’s not BLOODY LAVA.

“Sir Pip Senior, you come with me to the Magic Tower to figure out some spells we can chuck at them. Madame Shadow, go tell the men to dig a moat. And then take all the water in the city and fill it up no hang on don’t do that that’s a shit idea just dig a moat and leave it empty. No wait – fill it with spikes! No – rats! No on second thought let’s stick with spikes.

“Right! VAMONOS!”

(Vamonos is the name of my masseuse. He was also in the War Chamber but I forgot to say.)

“You go oil up the soldiers. I want them nice and limber for the bloodbath.”

Vamonos bowed and left the room.

“Okay that’s it. Let’s go!” I clapped and climbed down from the table, leaning on Sir Sleeves’s shoulder for support.

Quincy the Wizard raised his hand.

“Sire?” he said quietly.


“Would I not be of more use in the Magic Tower (where I live and also work) than clogging up the sewers?”

“I— oh yeah! Hahaha, whew! Good catch. Okay you swap with Sir Pip Senior.”

Sir Pip Senior let out a little wail of sorrow and trudged off to the sewers.

I stood up tall, reached back, and took the bobble out of my hair. It fell down around my shoulders in golden waves as I shook it out. “Let’s go war prep,” I said, charismatically.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *