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Author's note: Well, I was writing this story before I did Holmes Academy. I like this idea better and it is a bit more original then Holmes. I like the characters better, they are more developed and rounded and I enjoy writing what will happen next in this story. I hope people will like the story and the characters.
Arnold Riley froze where he stood, his breathe quickening as the person he hated most walked towards him. It was an unseasonably hot day for autumn and Arnold knew he would be picked on for his wet shirt and red skin. Without fail, Pierce Lovewig followed by his band of disciples spotted Arnold ahead, who sported his oh-so-fashionable newsboy bag.
“What’s up dweeb?” Pierce crooned. “Did your mom buy you that purse?”
The other boys laughed, shoving each other off the sidewalk to get a peak at Arnold and Pierce.
“It’s a news bag.” Arnold muttered. “I have to go.”
Arnold tried to pass around them but a wall of kids encircled him so that he was forced to face Pierce again.
“Look at his sweat stains!” Pierce howled. “And it looks like mummy didn’t put enough sun block on her special little boy.”
Arnold said nothing and refused to make eye contact.
“Then again,” Pierce continued, egged on by the sneers and laughs from the crowd. “Mommy doesn’t pay much attention to her failure child does she? Not when she has sons that are better then you right?”
That struck a nerve. Arnold whipped his head up and looked Pierce straight in his beady little eyes. “Don’t! You don’t know what your talking about!”
For a moment Pierce looked stunned, then he looked mad. The next thing Arnold knew, he was on the ground, his underpants ripped up, and his newspapers thrown in the gutter.
“See you at school.” The kids cheered and left him. Pierce gave him a hard kick in the side before he followed the group of kids. Arnold lay on the concrete for a long time, feeling defeated, humiliated, and worse still, he knew everything Pierce said was right. It wasn’t until an old woman and her noisy mini pincher asked him if he was alright that he trudged to his feet, pushed his underwear down, and gathered as many of his damp newspapers as he could to finish his route. Then, slow as molasses, he began the walk home.
His brothers were all in the house this afternoon, eating huge burgers their mother no doubt prepared. Mom was cleaning up the stove and Dad was talking to all three about sports.
John, Fisher, and Ben are their names but they hardly have different identities. They are one in the same as far as Arnold is concerned. They all play football, run track and wrestle. They have all been homecoming King and John, the oldest, is in the running for Prom King. They don’t even look different, despite their age difference. All three have red hair, cut short and spiky, they are fit, lean, and what girls call ‘hot‘.
Whatever accident happened during Mom’s pregnancy with Arnold must have been tragic. He was about as sports coordinated as a giraffe is with roller skates and he couldn’t even become King of the chess club. Above all else, though he is only thirteen, Arnold’s brothers were more then half the size of him when they were his age. They were attracting girls like Johnny Depp. Girl’s are the last people on the face of the earth that would choose to talk to him. Arnold’s sure even his mom has a hard time looking at him.
“Arnold buddy!” Dad said. “You’re home!” He sounded honestly happy. Dad tries to be Arnold’s friend. Tries his best anyway, but with his star-sons he already has his hands full.
“Oh.” Mom said, frowning as Arnold slid into a chair. “I thought you were at a friends house so I didn’t make you a burger.”
So Arnold ate tuna fish.
“Arnold doesn’t have friends.” Fisher grinned. “He’s too cool.”
“Way too cool.” Snorted Ben. The three of them laughed then belched then laughed again, all in perfect unison.
Arnold put his sandwich on his plate. “I’m not very hungry anymore.”
He left and no one objected.
The next morning, he went through the typical morning routine. His brothers crowded the bathroom and took all the hot water, mom didn’t make enough eggs and bacon so he had to eat raisin bran. His mom gave his brother’s their overstuffed packed lunches and gave Arnold a dollar.
“I’m sorry hunny, I forgot-”
“Yeah I know.” Arnold cut her off.
She looked down at him, her eyes showing she was truly sorry. She looked much older then she was. Lines of premature wrinkles were forming, and her red hair had lost it’ bright color. Arnold wondered if his brothers even noticed like he did, that Mom was wasting away under the heavy demands that they put on her.
“See ya little bro!” Ben hit Arnold over the head. “Little middle schoolers. I remember those days!” He and the other two stars of the family hopped into Fisher’s car and drove towards the High School. Arnold sighed and checked his reflection in the hall mirror before he had to get on the cheese wagon.
He was so small. His arms and legs were like toothpicks. His hand-me down clothes were too big and made him look even smaller. His red hair was an unruly mess and he wished he could scrape the freckles off his nose.
Arnold sighed again, wondering if he would always be like this. Would he ever hit puberty or would he be stuck in the body of a fourth grader forever?
School was really a place Arnold liked to be. It was all supervised so, besides the verbal insults, wedgies were prohibited. Arnold also liked to learn. It was what kids were supposed to do at school after all. And, but he would never admit it, he liked homework. It gave him something to do on weekends when his brothers were gone and his parents were at work or otherwise too occupied for him.
Lunch time was nice for him too. He ate outside and watched the birds, the clouds, or kids spit on each other. Whichever was more interesting.
Today however, as he walked outside with his sandwich, he noticed a girl in the spot he always sat at. Right under the huge oak tree she sat cross legged and playing with what looked like toy soldiers. Arnold had never seen her before. She had almost white blonde hair and big blue eyes. Her t-shirt had designs on it that made it look like knight armor and from her jeans, little charms of swords and horses hung. She wore bright silver boots and in her hair, a barrette with a dragon on it.
Arnold slipped to the other side of the tree and hoped the girl would go away.
Arnold grimaced as the girl appeared beside him, on her knees, looking at him like he was a test subject in a science experiment.
“Yeah?” Arnold asked.
The girl held out her hand letting a bunch of, what Arnold had thought were toy soldiers but were actually toy knights. “Do you wanna play with them?”
“N…no thanks….” He said and pointed to his sandwich. “I just want to eat.”
He unwrapped his sandwich, closing his eyes as he chewed it, hoping that if he kept them closed long enough, the girl would disappear. But when he peeked, she was still there, staring at him.
Arnold hadn’t talked to a girl since the fifth grade and had no idea what to say to her.
She said nothing either, just stared at him.
They stayed that way for several minutes, Arnold feeling more and more uncomfortable each passing second. “Come to the renaissance fair with me.” She held out a slip of paper to him.
Did she just ask him out on a date? He had only seen that sort of thing on movies and heard his brothers talk about it. But usually the guy asks the girl and it’s to somewhere fun, like the movies. Couples go somewhere normal, not to somewhere nerdy like the renaissance fair. Then again, Arnold thought looking at the girl. This girl is not normal.
“Um….okay…” Arnold stuttered.
The girl smiled. “Okay, see you after school!” And she skipped to another part of the school yard.
Arnold shook his head, still confused at to what just happened. He gazed at the invitation. The fair was at the town fair grounds about a block away from school. At least it was close and he could walk there instead of having to ask his brothers for a ride. He tucked the invitation in his pocket. He didn’t even know her name. Was this how a lasting boyfriend-girlfriend relationship started?
The renaissance fair was just as bad as Arnold envisioned. Pierce would call this type of event a dweeb convention. Tents and booths were all set up, decorated like middle age shops. They all had weird names like ’Mutton Glutton’ and ’Ye old Tavern’. The people, shop owners and browsers alike, were adorned in dresses and robin hood tights. Arnold felt out of place and groaned. Even in a place of abnormal dorks he was the odd man out.
“Kid!” The girl from earlier appeared at his side and grabbed hold of his arm. “You came! Let me show you around!”
Arnold let her pull him to the booths, one after the other, her newly adorned metal knight armor digging into his side. She chattered away about the history of mutton, swordplay, knighthood. Arnold could barely understand a word she said.
“By the way, what’s your name?” She asked after awhile.
“Arnold!” The girl exclaimed, drawing out each syllable. “Your name means ‘Power of Eagles.’ I’m Phoebe, that means ‘bright and pure‘!”
“Great…” Arnold tried to smile.
They stopped at one of the shops selling ‘authentic’ medieval materials. There were pieces of shields swords and armor on display. From the looks of the guy selling the goods though, he probably just dug up some broken bottles and cans from the trash.
Arnold saw Phoebe admiring a piece of painted wood that was supposed to be a part of King Arthur’s shield. It was ten dollars, almost half the money he had in his wallet, but the guy was supposed to buy the girl a gift on a date right?
“I’ll take it.” He said to the man. He paid and held out the shield to Phoebe.
“Oh you keep it.” She said dismissively and fluttered over to the next shop. Arnold felt himself get small. He was beginning to think this ’date’ wasn’t a date after all.
“Now this!” She called out to Arnold. “Is why I brought you here.” She drug him over to a large wooden stand with stairs leading up to a rock with a sword in it. “King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur!”
Arnold thought she was expecting him to applaud or something by the way she said it.
“Now Arnold, “ She turned to him. “The sign of a true knight is that is you touch Excalibur and it turns a color, you are a knight.”
“I thought you have to pull it out of the stone.” Said Arnold. He felt her hand collide with her cheek.
“No!” She yelled. “Only a king can do that.”
“OW!” Arnold yelled back.
“Go touch the sword.” Phoebe ordered.
Arnold was tempted to say ‘no’ but from the look Phoebe gave him, he figured it would be wise not to make her upset. He went up the wooden steps and had to wait for a couple with a baby to be done taking pictures the sword.
When he stepped up to the sword he saw Phoebe below motioning how to grip the hilt. She looked like she was doing the chicken dance.
Arnold rolled his eyes and gripped the gold, gem studded hilts and looked at the blade. It stayed the same gray color. “She’s a lunatic.” Arnold decided.
Phoebe was frowning now, her hands on her hips.
“It’s not working.” Arnold called down to her, about to let go of the thing.
“Wait!” Phoebe barked.
Arnold sighed, keeping a hold of the sword. “Nothing is going to-”
Before he could finish his sentence, the sword, faintly at first, then glowing brighter, shone red. The longer Arnold held the sword, the stronger the red light became. After a minute he couldn’t even look at the sword it was so bright. He let go of it.
“There, I did it.” He called to Phoebe, but she wasn’t where she had been, she was scrambling up the wood steps.
“I knew it!” She screeched. She ran to him and attached herself to him like a leech. The stand they were on swayed dangerously. “I knew you were a knight!” She pulled him down the stairs, practically carrying him. “You have to come with me!”
“Where?” He asked incredulously.
Phoebe’s eyes lit up. “To the Guild of course!”
She led him away from the fair into the street and to a drainage ditch. She slid down the hill to the ground below, dried up by the heat of this past month.
“Follow me!” She pointed to the circular entrance into the sewer.
Arnold shook his head. “I’m not going in there.”
Phoebe glared at him. “Baby!” She taunted. “We have to hurry and you’re worried about getting dirty!” When Arnold didn’t move she changed her tone. “Please? We need to get to the Guild. You’ll love it.”
“Well, Phoebe,” Arnold said. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but all I will be following you into is a sewer.”
She crossed her arms. “Wanna bet?”
She stomped her feet. “Oh please Arnold! Trust me!”
Arnold trusted her like he trusted a federal convict.
“Fine, but I’m going to tell the people there that I found you.” She started to go in the sewer.
“Wait.” Arnold stopped her. “You’re going in there?”
“Yeah.” She spat. “Since you wont come with me-”
“You can’t go in there…” Arnold started, feeling a little bit of a loss as to what to say. “It’s dangerous in there.”
Phoebe gave him a dirty look. “I can handle it Arnold.” She turned to leave.
“Stop!” Arnold yelled.
Phoebe jumped at his sudden change of voice. Arnold didn’t want to care but for some reason he couldn’t bring himself to leave Phoebe, knowing she was going to go and possibly get hurt. She looked at him, looked at the sewer and then, like that of a coyote a smile formed on her face.
“Uh oh!” She said. “I’m going into the sewer Arnold.” She put her arm, in and out of the hole mockingly. “Uh oh, I’m going o get hurt.” She walked in the entrance and then back out. She repeated this about three times and gave him a look that clearly said ‘What are you going to do?’.
Arnold felt his anger rise. He slid down into the ditch. “Let’s go Phoebe. We have to leave now.”
“You have to catch me first!” As fast as a jack rabbit she flew into the sewer and almost as if Arnold’s legs had a mind of their own Arnold was barreling after her.
He couldn’t see a thing, he could only feel the damp dripping walls around him and smell the putrid smell coming from deeper in.
“Ahh!” Phoebe’s mocking voice sounded fro in front of him. “Help. Oh help. Danger!”
Arnold felt his stomach bubble in pure anger at her. He ran faster, listening to her metal footsteps clang against the metal tunnel. Arnold reached out a hand and grabbed a hold of what must have been Phoebe.
“OW!” She screeched.
“We’re leaving.” Arnold growled.
“No we can’t.” She whined. “We’re almost there.” She pressed herself against the wall of the sewer showing that up ahead, was an orange light.
“You follow me.” Arnold ordered Phoebe, curiosity getting the better of him. Phoebe let Arnold get ahead of her and together they walked towards the light. It was only a short distance from where they stood but seemed like an eternity to reach.
“This is the slide.” Phoebe said.
“Slide?” Arnold asked as the two of them approached the opening. They were inside a large cement room that was shaped like a dome. The orange light came from the local gutters from the streets above them. It was almost night time.
Arnold could see what Phoebe meant about it being a ‘slide’. The sewer entrance had a drop off for water that spiraled down for who knows how long. The light from above couldn’t reach all the way down in the dark sewer.
Suddenly, Arnold felt a big push on his back and fell onto the ’slide’ and slid on his stomach. He screamed and tried to grab onto the sides of the slope but he was going too fast he couldn’t get a grip. Phoebe was right behind him, laughing in delight as they descended into, what Arnold knew would lead to an early death for the both of them.
He couldn’t see a thing besides what the light from Phoebe’s now sparking costume was making. “I shouldn’t have slid down a metal slide with metal on!” She laughed.
Faster and faster they went and the slide became steeper, so much so that, several times, Arnold lifted off the slide all together. Before he knew it, he was no longer on the slide but in a net, crushed under the weight of Phoebe and her armor. “Now, we wait…don’t worry Arnold, this is well worth it.”
That was the last thing Arnold heard before he passed out.
When Arnold woke up, he noticed that his feet were cold, which is odd because, despite all his mother’s inattentiveness, she always put a heater blanket on his toes on cold mornings. The second thing he noticed was that he was laying on something that wasn’t his bed.
He opened his eyes and pulled himself to a sitting position. He was in a dark room, lit by a couple of lanterns on either side of him. What he had been laying on was a table, a huge table. He slid off of it to the cold floor below. He was in an overly large T-shirt and had no shoes. He gazed around the room again which didn’t have anything in it. Only the table. It was made of woods and decorated in many gems. In the center, a single red dragon lay engraved in it.
There was a huge bang and a bellowing roar from the opposite side of the room. “BOY!”
Instinctively, Arnold flew under the table to hide. The memories of Phoebe, and the ’Guild’ hit Arnold like a ton of bricks and he started to shake, from head to toe.
“What are you doing boy!” A huge meaty hand came out of no where, wrapped around Arnold and drug him out from under the table. He was face to face with a giant, or a man that looked like one. This man glared at him through his beady wet eyes. “What you hiding for boy!” He hollered.
The man had a long beard, hanging down his chest in a single loose pony tail. The hair on his head, brown like his beard, was slicked back in a sort of vane attempt to look proper. He glared at Arnold who felt so light headed now that he feared if he spoke, he would pass out again.
“You’re scaring him!” Shouted an all too familiar voice.
The man who had him dangling in his hands dropped Arnold to the floor.
“Watch your mouth Squire!” The man shouted at Phoebe.
Phoebe looked like she was having some internal struggle before she shouted back. “Well you are!”
“Where am I?” Arnold managed to choke.
Phoebe looked at him and smiled. “You’re at the Guild! The actual spot is the round table room.” Phoebe pointed to the table.
Arnold couldn’t believe what he was hearing…or seeing!
The giant man pulled out a chair from the table and sat on it. The chair groaned and squeaked under the weight. “You don’t look like a Knight boy. Especially not a red dragon Knight.”
“I’m not.” Arnold managed to whisper back.
“Yes you are!” Phoebe exclaimed, hitting him over the back. “The sword turned red when you touched it. You’re a knight kid.”
The giant man scoffed. “Stop talking Squire.”
Phoebe opened her mouth to reply but then seemed to think better of it and kept quiet. A moment later there was another loud bang and footsteps.
“Madam!” Phoebe exclaimed, her eyes wide and got down on one knee.
Arnold turned and saw a remarkably beautiful woman coming towards him. Her steps were so graceful she could have been floating. She had long wavy golden blonde hair, and a thin face that held her deep green eyes. She wore a long dress that was both medieval looking but could easily be on a celebrity at the red carpet. Behind her was a man in his forties. He had dark blonde hair that was a little long, reaching his chin and slicked back. He had a mustache and wore a suit appropriate for a business man, with no tie.
The woman came to Arnold and knelt down to him. “Hello Arnold.” She said smiling at him. “I’m Kiara.” Her eyes seemed to pierce through Arnold, searching him it seemed. Arnold couldn’t take his eyes off hers. It was as if they had become locked in place. They stayed that way for a long while, until Kiara turned to the man who had come in the room with her. “I believe he is a Knight.”
“You can’t just tell that by looking at him.” The giant man huffed.
Kiara stood up. “You can stand up Phoebe.”
Phoebe scrambled to her feet. “I didn’t mean to cause trouble! I just knew he must be-”
“What is going on!” Arnold finally manage to yell. “I don’t understand! I…I’m drug all over by Phoebe, told I am a knight, go through a sewer, and…and….” Everything went black.