The nose to whom GrNash referred belonged to the Queen’s counselor-type right hand man and it was certainly worth mentioning. In fact, it would have been more accurate to say the nose had a small counselor than to say the counselor had a big nose. The Queen was nowhere to be seen, although it was very possible that the nose was blocking her from view. It looked down and scrutinised them.
“WOAH!” Jack said unable to maintain his composure in the presence of the sheer nasal volume of it all. The nose sniffed. “A nomad, a warrior-librarian, a banished knight, a stray bakawk and a mysterious cat.” It said in a declamatory voice.
“Fascinating!” Siphokazi said and made a note. “Clairvoyant nose, or perhaps Clairreniflement”
“I wasn’t banished, I resigned.” Dojima said for the record.
“Jack prefers yesmad.” Jack smiled insanely.
“Bakawk!” the bakawk said indignantly.
“Impressive, but allow me to demystify myself.” Felix said. “We are in search of…”
“You needn’t speak.” The nose said. “This nose has smelled of your quest.”
“Your nose is certainly well informed, sir.” Felix said as politely as he could.
“This nose knows all.”
Somewhere an author cried tears of regret but then laughed anyway.
“Then I shall get to the point.” Felix said. “We need your help.”
“You have an odd way of going about your business.” The nose interrupted. “This nose believes you were instrumental in the destruction of Flockboast City.”
“Ah, you see…” Felix began.
“Do not lie, Felix, for this nose knows if you lie.” The nose said.
“It’s snot what you think. The city was blown away by a tidal wave and although I have some skill I cannot boast being able to control the oceans. That honour is one afforded only to the moon.”
“Don’t blame it on me!” The moon protested, unheard.
“Hmm. You do not lie. But you certainly have a unorthodox way of finding Balance.”
“Excuse me?” Felix said.
“Balance, the equilibrium that holds the worlds in place, shifting from side to side as great good and great evil ceaselessly engage in battle. Despite the apparent peace of the world, Balance teeters on the side of evil as people become too comfortable and less considerate. It is the small things that set it off: leaving the lights turned on, not picking up litter, tipping waiters poorly and so on. We are relying on you to maintain Balance lest it should teeter to the side of evil and result in…”
“Uhm…” Felix interrupted. “We seek Valiant.”
“Wat?” said an unseen voice. Jack whipped his head around.
“Who said that?”
Siphokazi looked at the place where the sound had originated and beheld the slightest of shimmers.
“We assure you that is an unnecessary precaution, your majesty.” she said.
“What ever do you mean?” The nose said uncomfortably.
“I was wondering why you let in so much moonlight.” Siphokazi said.
“It’s… for poetic inspiration.” The nose said not untruthfully.
“The Queen is right here, adorned in clothes made from Spectre Shrub.”
“No she isn’t!” The nose denied.
“Dis oukei, neusie.” said the disembodied voice. “Ek wil self met hulle praat.”
“NO WAY!” Jack caps-ed. “She speaks Dragon Tongue!”
“My liege!” The nose pleaded. “It is forbidden to…”
“Moenie bekommerd wees nie, neusie. Ek kan maar sien hulle is betroubaar.” The Queen said.
“But!” The nose protested. The air shimmered as the Queen took off her spectral robe of invisibility. Siphokazi smiled to herself and wondered if she might use it to sneak into the forbidden section of the Library. To the narratively unimpressive astonishment of everyone present when the cloak…
“Wait, wait, wait.” Jack said to the author. “You’ve used that line before.”
“I… It’s my signature.” the author said.
“Oh, please. Just try and be more original.” Jack said shaking his head.
“Original, hey?” the author said furiously. “I’ll show you original!”
The cloak fell to the floor and revealed no mighty monarch adorned in impressive robes and regalia but a child in slippers and pyjamas.
Jack immediately rammed his face, quite originally, into the floor in disbelief.
“Intriguing.” Siphokazi said.
“I can’t believe the kids these days.” Dojima said and immediately became acutely aware of the exact number of grey hairs on his head.
The Knights of Virtue jumped in front of the Queen. Modesty was the first to block her from view.
“Ag, hou op julle.” the Queen said with a tone of annoyance. The knights retreated but looked menacingly at the party and flexed their muscles (which didn’t do much as their muscles where hidden by the armour, which was useful for Snack Less who was a bit on the scrawny side).
“This nose shall translate for the Queen.” The nose said. “She wants to know if you really mean to find Valiant.”
“With all our heart and soul.”
“To what end?” The nose pressed.
“That we might finally end the great debate over which weapon delivered the final blow to the Slain, that is, the ultimate weapon. To preempt your follow up question, we want the ultimate weapon so that if such a terrible creature were ever to rise again we could defeat it again.” Siphokazi said succinctly.
“I smell.” The nose said and hesitated. “Well, it just so happens that the Queen… is Valiant’s biggest fan.”
“Ha. Nice.” Jack said and went to high five the Queen but was immediately accosted by several of her more heavy handed knights.
“She will help you on one condition.” The nose said over the geraas.
“Of course, my Queen.” Felix said, “Name it.”
“She… She wants you to ask Valiant to autograph her slippers…” The nose said shamefully. Eat More Spinach removed the Queen’s slippers and handed them to Felix as if they were some item of ritualistic import.
“My Queen, it would be my pleasure.” Felix said bowing handsomely.
“We will provide you with a boat… What’s that my Queen? … surely you jest! Ah, my apologies. As you wish, my Queen. The Queen insists that we provide you with the Queen’s Own Galleon. It shall take you to Dats Les Loco and on to Hat Island.”
“Hat… Island…” Dojima said coldly.
“Yes, we provide a fair amount of funding to the Prestigious School of Assorted Magix. You shall go to the Seers department. They shall surely be able to divine Valiant’s location for you there.”
Just then the Queen leapt forward and made for Felix. The nose and the knights went into a mad panic trying to stop her. Politeness bumped into Assertiveness who fell on Be In Bed Before Eight who stepped on the foot of Have Your Tea Without Milk who headbutted the nose in the nose. Despite this domino effect of good intentions met with clumsy ends the Queen made it through. Her bare feet echoed on the shiny stone floors, every third step was punctuated with her tail slapping the floor. She knelt in front of Felix and stroked his chin. The knights fainted from sheer cuteness (Note: The Knights of Virtue are all extremely susceptible to cuteness).
“Felix.” the Queen said.
“Yes, my Queen.” Felix purred.
“Bring Valiant terug.” she said.
“My thoughts exactly.”
Jean grunted a satisfying grunt as she smashed a training dummy.
“So, you say the Queen’s ‘nose’ knows everything.” she said.
Beardface breathed heavily as he completed his 200th lap.
“So they say.” He wheezed.
“Why don’t they just ask the nose where Valiant is?” Jean said as she prepared her next dummy.
“That would be cheating.”