< >

“Fetching Milk”

Sunday morning, in a grassy field a few miles south of Port Town:

"You the man, Keno! Work the buff! Wear that ornery beast down!" Gregor, the wizard, swung his fists in the air, cheering his buddy on like an overzealous baseball catcher.

A heated struggle was taking place, evident by the astounded and cringing reactions of Gregor on the sidelines. Suddenly a loud thud, and his eyes took to the sky as his partner flew overhead and crashed onto a pile of boulders like a sandbag dummy. Dust settled, and the barbarian's bruised face emerged from the rocks with a serious, determined snarl. Immediately he leapt back in for round two against his foe, and the battle raged on.

"You got it now, Keno," Gregor continued his enthusiastic cheering. "Go for the legs! Use a scissor hold! Work the buff, man! Work the buff!"

The strong man applied a tedious stranglehold on the beast, which was nothing more than a regular dairy cow. An anguished "moooo" croaked from its mouth and its bell rattled a sickly clang. Struggling to maintain the upper hand, Keno aimlessly acknowledged Gregor. "What's with this 'work the buff' kick you're on?"

"It's my new catch phrase!"

"Well, it's stupid! Cut it out."

The barbarian's vice-like hold eventually wore down the cow, and it collapsed to the ground out of fatigue.

"Okay," Keno instructed to his partner, who toted a pair of metal buckets. "Milk it!"

With that ordeal over, both retreated to their Briton home, Keno lugging a yoke of ten filled milk pails, equally balanced, across his broad shoulders.

Under the business marquis that read, Good vs. Medieval — Heroes for Hire, Gregor pushed open the squeaky door and proceeded inside. Keno was about to routinely follow, but the wizard stopped him at the mat. "No, no," he warned. "Use the other entrance."

"Oh, yeah!"

Keno circled to the back door— a square frame with five pail-shaped cutouts on both sides. Keno walked through, and his loaded yoke cleared perfectly with the cutouts, preventing the messy disaster he used to encounter when trying to fit the carrying device through the front door.

Inside the Good vs. Medieval household, Keeb, the jester, leaned against the doorway of the kitchen leisurely twirling a yo-yo, while Stumpy, the dwarf, sat at the table staring at a dry bowl of his favorite breakfast cereal, Sucrose Nummies, and waiting for a serving of milk to drown it in.

Gregor stepped in and removed a frying pan from the cupboard while Keno entered from the opposite door. Carefully he maneuvered into the kitchen making sure not to spill any of his hard-fought spoils. He was actually doing pretty well so far.

Gregor, in the process of lighting a cooking fire, struck his thumb with a piece of flint and let out a yell. Keno swung around to see what had happened, and one side of his yoke struck the back of Keeb's head, while on the other side, a dousing of milk spilled onto Stumpy's lap, just missing his cereal bowl. The barbarian swung again to apologize to his mates, but this time, the tip of his yoke knocked against the tap of the community ale keg stored on the counter top. The spout popped off, and a gush of foam sprayed from the hole, washing over the floor.

This alarmed Gregor. "No! Save the ale!" he shouted, racing to the keg. In an attempt to seal the leak, he wrapped his lips around the hole, allowing a chug or two.

The wet floor caused Keno to slip, and waves of milk erupted around him. Two more buckets slid off the yoke, gone to waste.

Then the end of the yoke wedged between the rungs of a chair, creating an anchor. As Keno tried to correct himself, the yoke tilted, causing the pails on the uphill side to slide down and slam into his head. Frustrated, he leveled himself, and with a yank, freed the yoke from the chair; but this action caused the opposite end of the long pole to jab Gregor in the ear.

Grunting in pain, the wizard relinquished his lip-lock on the keg, and a cascade of ale gushed freely again.

Keno's feet slid and jigged in all directions, and his legs twisted like maypole ribbons. He swung out of control, his yoke a rotor, knocking loose one of the supports of the storage shelf behind him. The platform tipped, and its contents, ten glass containers of lamp oil, slid off.

Luckily the nimble and quick-thinking Keeb was there to catch each one as they fell, managing to balance every jar on a designated body part: his right hand, his left hand, right arm, right shoulder, left knee, left foot, left shoulder, left arm, and finally his head. Keeb stood compromising and motionless, balancing on one foot as the last jar rolled off the shelf and plunked into one of Keno's milk pails as it swung by.

A short transit ensued for the glass jar, but gravity sent the pail sliding off Keno's yoke onto the kitchen table where a combination of milk and lamp oil splashed everywhere.

The yoke then clanged against Stumpy's helmet. Another pail slid down, turned turtle on his head, and the tip of the yoke caught underneath its rim turning its wire handle into a noose around Stumpy's neck. As he gagged, the dwarf's face turned blue and his eyes bulged like a fish's. He freed himself only to receive yet another dousing of milk over his head.

Then the yoke clipped the lamp on the wall, breaking off a piece of wick. A fizzling flame dropped onto the table and exploded in a blanket of fire, fed by the oil that had spilled there.

As a grand finale to this breakfast folly, Keno's legs did a one-hundred-eighty-degree split. His rump hit the floor, and his yoke caught the edges of both the kitchen table and the counter top, cracking it in two, and sending a wave of milk flying over Keeb's head with a splash, not even flinching the perfectly poised elf.

When it was all over, Keno stood to his feet amidst the mayhem of the kitchen. The last pail remained in his hands as a paltry net income. Seeing the blazing inferno that was once the kitchen table, he studied the severity of the situation, looked at the perfectly good serving of milk in his possession, and changed glances back and forth between the two. Finally he shrugged, and with a swing of his arm doused the flames with the milk. The last dead shell dropped at his feet with a hollow clunk, thus punctuating just another morning at the Good vs. Medieval residence.