This is snot a laughing matter

16th November 2007 at 00:00
A life in the year of Emily Shark

Castle Vilecolde.

"AAAA, aaa. AAAAAA. AAA-CHOOOOO."

I wish I could stop sneezing. Friday night - damn. Great timing. OK, what have I got in this box? "Zap-A-Cold - for people who can't afford to be ill. Fight back - now."

I don't want to fight. I want to sleep. "Zap-A-Cold's army of special ingredients beats colds fast. No more Lord Sneezie for you - you'll be Sir Busie again in no time."

Great. Sir Busie and his faithful steward, Erlimorn, drag you out of your cosy castle and shove you back to work. The silent and punctual Erlimorn inspects the army of Zap-A-Cold while Sir Busie barks orders. Then they march you off to school where you get another bloody cold because school is Castle Virus.

The grey dragon, Worklode, lives in Castle Virus. Worklode eats time and spews paper. Tests and tables drip from its jaws. No one can kill it, though some have tried to seal a treaty with it. The creature merely scanned the Worklode Agreement with its pitiless white eyes. It breathed cold fire at the parchment, then slid beneath it to find new hiding places and eat some more time.

The great dark is upon us, filled with the sound of coughing. Cold sores blight you: these are the curse of the red witch, Herpy Simplex. Bolt your castle fast - still you cannot shut out Vilecolde and his minion, Scratchthroat. They seep through the walls and seize you where you lie, exhausted by Worklode.

Castle Vilecolde's grounds are vast. You may be tossed in the sneezing fountain of Streaming Cold or drowned in the swamps of Stinkynge Cold. Or you may lie in the dungeons, racked by three invisible jailers: Shivez, Aykes and Paynes.

Vilecolde may leave you on Mount Hedake or dangle you in the Cracks of Megrayne. Pacing among these is Viscount Snottye in his pale and slippery cloak. Aristocratic half-brother of the Bogeyman, Snottye gathers rent from his vast domain of Menz Tishuz. He lives in a green tower by the Fens of Catar and the River Flem. He will hold you there for a week.

The Palace of Farmasy recommends Sir Vitamyncy on his shining orange horse. The pale forgotten sisters, Aspa Rhynn and Honian Leman, also appear. The elegant French knight, Serote Pastille, soon tires of soothing your throat. Ere long you are coughing again. In these hard days, your best hope lies in the brilliantly trained mercenary soldiers of Aibu Profen.

Trust not the Ledge of Snooz. Comfort only comes with Mistress Cozibedde and Lady Duvay. In the evening quiet, a rider patrols your castle grounds. This is the Erly Knight. He lifts the drawbridge so that Worklode cannot reach you. The beat of hooves fades into silence as you drift into sleep.

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