Thursday, November 28, 2013

Season of mists and yellow frightfulness

"Sodding alien invasions," Old Jem averred, raising his voice to be heard above the vesper bells, and none could gainsay him. For the aliens do chose the damnedest times to invade... at harvest-tide when all hands are needed in the fields to gather the crops before they spoil; or at the season of tillage when the moon is in the house of the centaur Astronachus; or at high summer when the garden bar of Ye Olde Entomologist invites one to lie in the shade of the olive trees drinking good ale or the mellow white wine of Ste. Zenobie and singing that song about a goblin.

Always their coming is heralded by evil omens and portents and auspices. The clouds themselves which lour above the blasted highlands take on shapes most baleful and signifying. Says the Nuremberg Farmers' Almanac & Seed Catalog & Coloured Omen Supplement, "Clouds look like Bollocks -- Shepherds in a moderate oven for 45 minutes and serve with alacrity." It is possible that two pages of the Coloured Omen Supplement have stuck together there.

So this most recent incursion from the comet-vexed void between the stars did not catch the stalwart yeomenry of our province unawares. As well it came on the very day of Scottish Country Dancing and Competitive Plumy-Hat Pageantry, when tempers are short and pikes and short-swords are never far from hand. It took little time to vanquish one moiety of the intruders and pinion them in hempen cord.

But those were the young, the larval stage of this hellspawn breed. Older ones, the fullgrown of their kind, had split open along the apex of their sacculine bodies, and from the split came forth long envenomed whips; so that they seemed unto a cnidarian's nematocyte; or like the trifid plants which Abbot Euphemius is wont to grow in the cloistered abbey garden of Perignon to keep his apple-trees unplundered by children. With these whips the aliens laid around them, and the battle was fierce, and only won when two of their number came across that doughty varlet A. Kiwi while he was uncorking a bottle of Double Moldywarp Parsnip Brandy when he thought himself secluded from those who would share it. See his plumy hat from the pageant! In his panic, he splashed both assailants with the semi-fluid contents of his bottle, and at its touch they withered, and shrivelled, and blackened and perished most mortally as if with the flames of Gehenna. Thus their vulnerability to Parsnip Brandy was known. So soon thereafter all of their host was vulnerated, with a great broaching of brandy-kegs, or such is the explanation we shall offer to Evangeline van Holsterin, head serving-wench of the hostelry.

In the previous invasion, in the Fiscal Year of Our Lord 1253, a different breed of alien had been seen: the shape of sleigh-bells, such as appear in inn-signs and armorial bearings painted by M. Magritte the itinerant Flemish heraldrist and dauber of icons. Armed they were with great quarterstaffs, but clumsy withal, so that they were no match for our Averoigne yeomen, well-versed in the staff-skill of the Dance of Morris.
Blowing into quarterstaffs is a
leading cause of abdominal explosion

No man can tell what compels the aliens to invade Averoigne, year after year... not even venerable Abbot Euphemius, who is as well-read in the lore of nature and the language of venery as he is in the books of his scriptorium; who knows (it is said) the collective terms for 172 different beasts, all the way up to "A riddle of sphinges". Some speak of 'tradition', and others of 'an old charter or something'. While others allude to deposits of Narrativium lying beneath the great forest north of Vyones. But a plan is now afoot to erect a giant booby-trapped bird table near the Gate of Sylaire, in the hope that it will somehow discourage them.


Trevor said...

Is it Smith's birthday or something? Why wasn't I invited?

Substance McGravitas said...

No man can tell what compels the aliens to invade Averoigne

I say it's a regulatory climate that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship.