Written By: Robin of Vesper, Napa

"Farewell Otto,” I said as I walked away from the main Britannia bank. Finally I had enough money to purchase the teleport spell, with some left over for a spiffy new mage hat.

Sure, my brother Otto thought that the teleporting was useless and that the hat would just get me killed... but what did he know? He was only a tailor. He had no experience nor the drive to become a great mage as I did. He seemed content to just mire himself in the obscurity of being a tailor, as did our parents. Not me. Years ago I had dedicated myself to becoming the best, most knowledge magician in all of the realms of Britannia... and with this money; I would be one step closer to my goal.

Letting my feet be my guide, I soon discovered I had wandered east out the town of Britain and neared the warrior guild. Lost in my own thoughts, I wandered through a group of animals and was startled to find myself bumping into a rather large, unfriendly-looking hound dog.

Freezing in my tracks, I slowly looked around and noticed forty to fifty other animals in this close area. There were dogs, cats, rabbits, birds and even some small sheep and pigs. “Odd; why would all these animals be congregating in the same place?” I said to myself. “And how the heck will I get out of here without upsetting any of these animals?”

“Not odd at all,” spoke a deep voice that scared the magic out of me, as I quickly turned around to observe who was speaking. “These animals, as you call them, are my companions in my war to take over Britannia. For too long have they suffered under the yoke of our misguided Monarch, Lord British. Each of these animals has made our kingdom and our very lives possible. Whether by providing weapons, muscle, protection or food, they are all important. Yet while our kingdom is stable and safer than ever, they suffer even more. NO MORE!” he bellowed.

“That is quite fascinating,” I said. “Yet once you right all these wrongs and place the animals in control, who will take care of all these animals that are bred and raised to be companions of humans? These animals need us as much as we need them!”

“These animals will quickly return to the ways of their ancestors,” said the stranger, “And once I have crowned myself as Lord Dirk, I shall order the citizens of Sosaria to provide food, shelter and anything else required to the same creatures they have treated with disdain.”

As we were speaking, I noticed several of the animals wandering away and watched as “Lord Dirk” quickly approached them with small scraps of food and silky smooth words of encouragement”. “So, how exactly are you planning to conquer Britannia?” I asked.

A large boisterous bellow ushered forth from the mouth of Dirk... again making me jump in surprise. “Simple my friend,” he said. “I have already gathered this large collection of creatures, and with their help I shall overwhelm all of Lord British’s guards”.

“You mean the magically resistant, teleporting, one swipe and you’re dead guards?” I asked. “You would be willing to place these creatures in harm’s way? That doesn’t seem like much of a reward… And while the larger animals may have some sort of chance, these chickens would literally be dead meat.”

Gazing at me with a dark passionate gaze, he said “Perhaps you are right, but I cannot risk being wrong… therefore I will continue with my plan. I will ask you this only once. Will you join my cause?”

“I am afraid I will not be party to treason against the crown or a misguided attempt to save these animals… for while you surely mean well, it will only end in tragedy.” I stated.

“Then, my misguided friend,” he said in a resigned voice, “you must die.”

As he ordered 15 of his animals to attack me, I found a smile forming on my face. Who knew at the beginning of this day that I would be facing the fury of chickens, pigs and other small animals? How exactly do you defend yourself against such an attack? I think I knew just the thing.

Gathering my thoughts, I spoke the ancient words to summon a creature of nature, Kal Xen, knowing the words were spoken with confidence and the clarity of mind necessary to bring them to fruition. As the words ended, a large puff of mist produced the apparent object of my summons. A sparrow was sitting where once nothing but grass had been.

I gaped at the result of my spell and backed off as a group of pigs approached my location. Realizing that my summoning spell had somehow gone afoul of my need, I again spoke “Kal Xen!” this time with all the need of a man desperate to not die by the feet, hooves and beaks of small animals.

As the words were being spoken, Dirk chuckled and said, “So you call yourself a magician? Perhaps a better job for you would be to do simple parlor tricks at children’s birthday parties.”

However, this time my spell worked as intended, as a large polar bear stepped from the mists and quickly stepped in to guard me from the attacking horde bearing down on me. The bear choose to focus on a group of chickens, turning them into supplies for local butcher and bowyer. Yet even as the last chicken dropped to the ground, the dogs, pigs and various other animals reached us and a titanic battle erupted. The magical bear fought with all his gusto, taking out a large chunk of the assembled animals.

Dripping blood, missing fur and having a dwindling supply of mana left to supply his form, the polar bear dissipated in the cloud he arrived in, leaving me alone with Dirk and his band of animals. Knowing I had to be quick on my toes, I prepared for the worst. Gripping my spell book and licking my lips, I prepared to cast some spells to end this farce once and for all.

While I prepared for the end, the animals chose this moment to wander off, despite the kind words and pieces of food offered by Dirk. The dogs returned to their owners, the pigs to their pens, the birds flew off into the sky and the cats to whatever cats do when humans aren’t watching.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I glanced over at my nemesis, Dirk, who truly seemed shocked at the outcome of the short battle. And for the fist time I realized that this fellow was just a boy, not yet truly a man. Perhaps his methods were unorthodox and frankly a little silly, but this young man really had a passion for fixing what he felt was wrong with the world.

“Dirk,” I said “sometimes the things you want the most can take the most effort to arrive at, and while your efforts may be noble, your actions could have ended up causing the creature more pain and death that is currently happening. Plus, I am not sure that leading an army of chickens and pigs is a good way to gain anything but humorous fame”.

Dirk, upset and nearing tears, just nodded a bit and muttered “Next time it will be different,” under his breath.

“Instead of next time, why don’t you join me for a drink at the local pub? And if you’re up for it we can have some chicken for lunch.” I said with a laugh.

“Funny, very funny,” Dirk said with a dry smile and a resigned voice. “You know, it could have worked if I just had a few more creatures”.

I smiled in response and headed off toward the local pub with Dirk following closely behind, realizing that this was something we would both end up laughing about for years. Perhaps I would even write a small story about it called The Dangerous Dirk and His Army of Animals, but probably not.

(This story is based on a true story that happened in December of 1997 on The Napa Valley shard)