Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Murder at the Castle by Glory Lennon

Sir Raymond reached up to grab a lovely scarlet apple off of one of his beloved trees, when he heard the rustle of skirts behind him. He smiled, plucked the apple off the branch and placed it lovingly into the harvest bag attached to the ladder on which he stood before speaking.

“My love,” he said, reaching for another apple, “I thought you said you were going to have a word with the stable boy and then ride out on Svengali for the morning. Did you want company perhaps for some afternoon delight in yon deserted wood?”

“I did not have a word with the stable boy, I have no intention of riding out on any horse, least of all one named Svengali, but I’m always willing to have company, especially from so handsome a knight as yourself, Sir Raymond. Afternoon delight does sound lovely, although I don’t suppose Lady Wendy would approve.”

Startled, he turned and looked down. It was not his own lovely wife of many years. “Lady Glory! I do apologize,” he said, swiftly coming down to bow low in front of her, completely mortified.

“Milord,” Lady Glory said with a graceful curtsy, and for good measure, a girlish giggle. “No need to apologize, kind Sir.”

“Yes, well,” he muttered, feeling a tad warm about the neck. “To what do I owe the pleasure of seeing you in my orchard? Ah, did the Lorax send you to check up on me?” Sir Raymond gave her a sly wink.

 “No, he did not, but I have been curious to see it,” she replied, looking down the rows upon rows of fruit trees. “It is lovely!”

“I thank you, Milady,” Sir Raymond said inclining his head. Spotting the large basket over her arm he added, “I see you’ve come prepared.”

She gave him an impish smile. “I have indeed come to beg, wheedle, and if need be, plead for the fruits of your labor. Cook has promised me the recipe for a luscious crumb-topped apple pie with the proviso I acquire enough of your very best Granny Smiths, although, I must say, I am partial to the Galas.”

“You are most welcome to any which suits your fancy, provided I get a taste of this apple pie,” he said with a somewhat hungry look in his eyes.

“My dear Sir Raymond, you shall have the biggest slice of all. Now, if you will direct me to the Granny Smiths, I shall leave you to your quest,” she said smiling brightly.

He blinked at her, confused. “Quest, Milady?”

“For afternoon delight with your fair and lovely Lady Wendy, of course,” she replied, giggling again when his face turned red.

He cleared his throat and pointed. “Down this allee, turn left and three rows in are the Grannies and two further from there, the Galas.”

She curtsied again saying, “You are too kind, Milord.”

He watched her skip merrily down the allee until she rounded the corner and was gone from sight. He could still hear her singing a rather apropos tune all the way.

“...they reach into my head to steal the Glory of my story...they say I must be one of the wonders, God’s own creation, and as far as I see they can offer no explanation....” 

He laughed and had been about to climb back up the ladder when he heard a small yelp and the singing stopped abruptly.

“Lady Glory?” Sir Raymond called, frowning. He walked quickly down the row, turned and then broke into a run when he saw Lady Glory’s basket on the grass abandoned with several apples scattered about. There was no sign of her, however.

“Lady Glory!” he shouted, now running up and down row after row, but she was gone, without a trace.

Then he heard feminine chatter coming around the tall hedges. His heart sang. His moment of panic was for naught.

Lady Annalou, Lady Doreen and Lady Ann emerged from around the bend laughing, but no Lady Glory accompanied them.

“Hello, Sir Raymond,” Lady Ann said brightly.

“And how is the Lord of the manor this fine day?” Lady Doreen asked.

“Sir Raymond, what is it? You look quite perturbed,” Lady Annalou said, her smile vanishing.

“Is not Lady Glory with you?” Sir Raymond asked.

“No,” they replied simultaneously.

“Do you know where she is? Have you seen her?” he asked.

Again they all spoke at once but this time saying different things.

“Lady Glory was with Lady Diane and Lady Conny planning a gondola ride on the moat,” Lady Doreen said.

“Lady Glory was picking flowers for the banquet hall last I saw her,” Lady Annalou piped in.

“Lady Glory was planting Wisteria vines on the grand arbor with Lady Julie,” Lady Ann said.

The women exchanged startled looks. “Well, Glory’s been busy today,” Lady Doreen said with a laugh.

“Sir Raymond, is something wrong?” Lady Annalou asked.

“Lady Glory was in the orchard just now, picking apples and now she’s gone, just vanished,” he said.

Lady Doreen looked skeptical. “Are you sure she’s not around here somewhere? It’s such a big place.”

“I’ve gone down every row calling her name. She would’ve answered...unless...”

“Unless...what?” Lady Ann asked, her eyes wide with alarm.

“Ladies, I believe you ought to return to the safety of the castle. I must assemble a search party,” he said his tone serious as death.

Lady Doreen laughed. “You actually think something sinister is about? Here?”

“That’s ridiculous. We’re safe in the castle grounds,” Lady Annalou added.

“Nothing can harm us here,” Lady Ann concurred.

“Ladies, please! I would feel better knowing you were all safe within the castle walls while we search the grounds for Lady Glory.”

“All right. We’ll go,” Lady Doreen said and the three women watched him run toward the stable, mount a stallion and speed off toward the castle.

“We’re really going back inside on such a lovely day?” Lady Annalou said miserably.

“Heck no! Only said that to get rid of him,” Lady Doreen said.

Lady Ann laughed and led the way deeper into the shrubbery. “You’re a pip, Lady Doreen.”

“But what do you suppose happened to Lady Glory?” Lady Annalou asked.

Lady Doreen shrugged and said, “Probably chasing rabbits out of her garden.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet she fell into the rabbit hole and the Queen of Hearts is shouting off with her head!” Lady Ann said with glee.

They all laughed and vanished behind a tall Arborvitae hedge.

Sir Raymond entered the castle in great haste to find many of his castle mates already assembled. Sir Jim and Lady Alexandra were munching on chocolate chip cookie, glued to the NASCAR races broadcast on the huge screen up on the castle wall. Sir Terry sat on the floor wrestling with his large dog, Karlos. Sir Revel and Sir Kerry were in fiery discussion on Shakespeare, with a chess board between them. Sir Jon sat in a quiet orner with his nose in a book of poetry. Lady Diane Zwol perused her bible. Lady EJ, Lady Olivia and Lady Renee were laughing over new pictures of the grandchildren in their lives. Lady Charlotte, Lady April and Lady Amanda were similarly discussing the various antic of their own mischievous kids. Lady Petra sat at the writing desk carefully practicing calligraphy.

“Ladies and Lords,” Sir Raymond said bowing to them all. “Have any of you seen Lady Glory?”

“She made me and Karlos these awesome nachos before she went out into the gardens,” Sir Terry mumbled stuffing one into his mouth before giving one to Karlos.

“She made these cookies for us. Damn, they’re good. Want one?” Sir Jim said, holding one to Sir Raymond.

 “We need to search the grounds. Lady Glory is missing,” Sir Raymond said, ignoring the proffered cookie.

“Missing?” Sir Jon said, laying down his book. “How?”

“I don’t know! She was in the orchard one minute picking apples for cook, then I heard a yelp and she was gone. Will any of you come and help me look for her?”

Sir Revel leaned toward Sir Kerry and whispered, “Which one is Lady Glory?”

“The one obsessed with trees,” Sir Kerry replied, rolling his eyes.

“Ah,” Sir Revel said, nodding his head. He turned back to Sir Raymond adding, “Wouldn’t it make sense to look for her in the woods as she likes trees so much?”

“She’s likely to chain herself to one,” Sir Terry interjected with a smirk before biting into a chip.

Jim glared at them. “She is not!” he shouted. He then went to Sir Raymond turning his back on the others and whispered, “To be safe we should look in the woods first. It is Lady Glory we’re talking about.”

Just then a shriek made them all jump.

“Jupiter’s moons! Now what? Ladies, to be safe, stay here,” Sir Raymond shouted running full out toward the moat, Sir Jim, Sir Jon and Sir Terry following close behind.

There they found the gondola sailing passed the drawbridge with Lady Diane dripping wet and Lady Conny laughing her head off.

“Are you all right?” Sir Jon asked.

“Oh, just peachy!” Lady Diane sputtered, indignant. “Lady Conny decided I looked too hot and she splashed me. Now look at me!”

“Well, you look much cooler now. You and your tennis, honestly! You ought to take up bowling, like me. Much more civilized. No sweating in the air conditioning, you know, and you won’t need all that sun screen,” Conny commented flippantly.

“Have either of you seen Lady Glory?” Sir Raymond asked rather impatiently, ignoring their squabble.

“She said she would come for a ride with us, but then she never showed up. Why?” Lady Diane said, wringing moat water out of the corner of her tennis whites.

“She’s missing.”

“Have you checked the tree house? She mentioned making curtains for it. What a tree house needs with curtains is beyond me,” Lady Conny said indifferently.

“Missing? Well, that’s not like her. She must have just gone off again. She’s always traveling, you know,” Lady Diane said, not sounding remotely concerned.

Sir Raymond watched them slip slowly away and got the sudden urge to topple them both out of the gondola. Was he the only one concerned about finding the missing lady?

“Well, I’m going to search for her, even if none of you care!” he shouted. He then mounted his steed and took off sending gravel flying about and dropping like raindrops into the moat. Sir Jim and Sir Jon followed on foot and turned toward the forest.

Sir Terry said, “Karlos, come! Let’s find Lady Glory.”

But Karlos did not come. Instead he tore around the castle moat barking madly. “Karlos! He’s on the scent already!” Sir Terry said giving chase.

“Who says we don’t care?” Conny said making a face. “There’s just nothing to worry about. She’ll turn up. She always does.”

The gondola sailed lazily around to where Karlos was now growling beside a clump of tall cattails and rushes.

“What do you suppose he’s barking at?” Lady Conny asked curiously.

“Frogs I’ll bet,” Lady Diane replied, her hand trailing in the water.

Then she felt something brush against her fingers and she looked down. Her piercing scream made Lady Conny fall out of the gondola. It was then she saw it too. It was Lady Glory’s severed head, her long dark hair floating eerily around it and her eyes staring blankly up at the azure sky. They both scrambled out of the moat as quickly as they could screaming their own head off in the process. They ran back inside to the safety of the castle, dripping wet and scared witless.

“Magic mirror, that’s what I need!” Lady Diane shrieked running helter-skelter up the winding stone steps of the north tower. “My magic mirror will make it all better!”

“What in the world was that about?” Lady Charlotte asked.

Seeing a pale and shaking Lady Conny, Lady Julie asked, “What is the matter?"

"What’s wrong?” Lady Olivia asked.

All Lady Conny could do was point outside shaking her head. “Don’t go out there. Don’t!” she  mumbled then promptly bent over and vomited into the highly polished brass spittoon.

Back outside, Sir Terry now arrived at the tall rush plants growing in the moat. He pushed the gondola out of the way and pulled a growling Karlos away from the water’s edge. He then stared in disbelief into the murky moat, now crimson with Lady Glory’s blood. He gulped and felt his heart fall into his combat boots

Sir Don rounded the corner of the gazebo just then carrying his lute. “Sir Terry, what is all this commotion I hear? I was practicing for tonight’s entertainment and…” he said before he cast his eyes upon the water. He gasped and clutched at his heart muttering, “Lady Glory! Who could have done this?”

“I don’t know, but I’m gonna find out if it’s the last thing I do!” Sir Terry muttered through clenched teeth. “No one kills such a great nacho-maker and gets away with it!” With that said, he ran full out toward the orchard with his dog at his heel.

Meanwhile back in the castle moments later:

“What happened? Tell us!” Lady Alexandra asked desperately.

“It’s…it’s too horrible,” Sir Don said, coming slowly in and laying his lute down before collapsing into a plush sofa. “Why…who…how could they do that to such a nice lady?”

“Oh, no! What happened?” Lady Amanda asked.

“Is it Lady Glory?” Lady Olivia asked. “Did they find her?”

“Just…just her head…in the moat…floating there…like…like…just too horrible,” Sir Don muttered, staring off into space.

Lady Elie clutched at her own throat and squeaked, “Just her…her head?”

“Dear Lord, help us all!” Lady Diane Zwol muttered as she looked beseechingly up at the high castle ceiling.

“Who’s ahead? Are we talking about the Author’s Challenge? Have they announced a winner yet?” Sir Alistair said bouncing into the room seemingly without a care in the world.

They all stared at him as if he were a ghost or perhaps the murderer.

“Where were you just now, Sir Alistair?” Lady EJ asked suspiciously.

“Up in my bedchamber. Just finished about five flash fictions, one more gruesome than the last! Can’t wait for Lady Glory to read them. They always scare her to death!” he said laughing. His smile slowly vanished as he looked from one somber face to the next. “What’s up?”

“Have you seen Lady Glory lately, Sir Alistair?” Lady Julie asked, frowning slightly.

“Um, sure. The last time was just after breakfast. I looked out the window and there she was with Lady MJ. I heard them say they would un-dig turtle holes or something. Have no idea what that means. Maybe it’s a kinda shrub or flower they’re planting? Why?”

“She’s dead,” Lady Alexandra said, resting her hand on her forehead and falling dizzily into a chair. “I thought we were safe from all harm here.”

“Seriously?” he asked, astonished. “How?”

“We don’t know,” Lady Petra said, patting Lady Alexandra gingerly on the shoulder. “Karlos just found her severed head in the moat. The poor dear!”

“Holy crap! Shouldn’t we call somebody?” Sir Alistair said.

“Such as?” Lady EJ asked.

“Cops, detectives, FBI, somebody! We can’t have a murderer around the castle,” he said excitedly. “Man, I never thought of a severed head in the moat. That’s so cool.”

“Cool?” Lady Julie shrieked.

“For a story I mean! Not for real life. It’s terrible in reality. Are you sure she’s really dead? It could all be a joke or something,” he said.

“I saw it myself. Looked darn real to me,” Sir Don spoke softly.

“Is it still there? I’d like to see it for myself,” Sir Alistair said.

"Of course it's still there! Who would want to touch a severed head?" Lady EJ snapped.

“Well, I know one thing,” Lady April said, standing up with a determined gleam in her eyes. “Someone’s got to find the others and tell them to come back.”

“Yes,” Lady Charlotte agreed. “There’s no use searching for Lady Glory when she’s… I’ll go.”

“You can’t!” Lady Alexandra shrieked.

“Ladies, there’s a murderer out there,” Sir Kerry stated needlessly. 

"Or in here," Lady Amanda mumbled to herself.

“It is much safer in here. We should all stay here together. The others will come back before long,” Sir Revel calmly interjected. “There is nothing to be done for Lady Glory now.”

“Oh, my!” Lady Alexandra said looking all around. “Where is Lady MJ. Has anyone seen her?”

“Huh? Someone call me?” Lady MJ mumbled sleepily, coming out from behind an over-large easy chair hidden behind an elaborately painted Chinese silkscreen. She stretched and shook her head as if to remove cobwebs. “I just closed my eyes for a second and…well, it was hard work filling in those tortoise holes.”

"Well, at least you're safe, Lady MJ," Lady Petra said, putting her hand over her heart.

"Safe from what?" Lady MJ asked.

“What about Ladies Annalou, Doreen and Ann. None of them are in. We have to find them!” Lady Olivia said, anxiously.

“It’s getting dark,” Lady April said. “We should go tell the others to quit their useless searching.”

"I agree," Lady Charlotte said, grim determination on her face.

“Sir Kerry and Sir Revel are right, Lady April. No good could come of you going out there alone. And you’re no bigger than Lady Glory was, Lady Charlotte. You’d be the perfect target for whoever did this,” Lady Renee said.

Lady April smiled grimly. “He’d have to catch me first! I ran a marathon, remember?” 

“And I dare anyone to get me. I’m kick boxing champ, you know!” Lady Charlotte insisted.

“I’ll come with you both, shall I?” Sir Alistair said trying to hide a smirk.

With that the daring duo stomped to the huge wooden entry doors with Sir Alistair following only to find the ladies in question come down the drawbridge laughing, joking and completely unharmed.

“You...you’re okay then,” Lady Charlotte said, needlessly.

“Why wouldn’t we be?” Lady Annalou asked.

“Then you have not heard?” Lady April said.

“What?” Lady Doreen asked.

“Is Lady Glory still not found?” Lady Ann asked.

“Oh, they found part of her,” Sir Alistair muttered ominously.

“Part of her!” Lady Annalou shrieked, her eyes wide in fear.

Just then the search party was heard coming back across the drawbridge, Karlos in the lead.

“Nothing,” Sir Terry muttered angrily.

“And the others?” Lady Julie asked.

“They’re right behind me,” Sir Terry said.

“We found no hint of her where-abouts,” Sir Raymond said, as he entered.

“It’s like she just vanished without a trace!” Sir Jim said miserably.

"Like she was picked up and carried off," Sir Jon added.

“Not without a trace,” Lady Conny muttered, clutching at her queasy tummy.

“What do you mean? Do you know something? A clue, perhaps?” Sir Raymond asked excitedly.

“It seems Lady Glory’s severed head was found floating in the moat,” Sir Kerry said, dispassionately.

Lady Ann screamed, “No!”

Sir Raymond sighed. “We know that. Sir Terry told us. I meant no sign of…of the rest of her.”

“We saw nothing, nothing at all and we’ve been for a very long walk all over the grounds,” Lady Doreen said.

“Could it have been…an animal?” Lady Elie asked. “A wolf or a coyote?”

Sir Terry scoffed. “An animal did not do that, not a four-legged one anyway,” he said, gruffly.

“What can we do?” Lady Alexandra asked.

“There’s nothing to do,” Sir Jim said. “Except go to bed. It’s very late. We should sleep or try to and hope this day was just an awful nightmare. I’m beat!” He bid good night to all and slowly headed up south tower. He knew he'd just lie there wide awake thinking of the nice lady across the hall who graciously shared her cheesecake with him. "I'm gonna miss her," he muttered to himself.

Sir Raymond nodded. “It probably would be best to do just that, sleep. I suggest none of you wander the halls alone tonight. Lock yourselves into your bedchambers. In the morning we’ll get someone out here to investigate. Good night all,” he said wearily. 

Sir Terry turned to the east tower but Karlos refused to follow. Instead he growled at the door leading to the dungeons. "Karlos, come away! There's nothing there for you. It's just the stupid cat. Come!"

Reluctantly, Karlos turned away from the door and followed his master up the winding stone steps.

"I just can't believe this is happening," Lady Olivia said, helping Lady Alexandra up the stairs to the west tower.

"Yes, Lady Glory was so nice to me," Lady Alexandra replied, a tear falling down her cheek.

Sir Raymond watched as one by one the room emptied, leaving him alone with his thoughts in front of the fireplace.  Just as he placed another log into the fire, an unruly clamoring sounded from the dungeons and the cat-- Bob the eleventh as it turned out-- scampered around the corner and leapt over the sofa and stood by his human. He fixed a stern stare on Sir Raymond as if to reproach him.

“What is it, Bob? I’m not in the mood for any squabbling between you and Shrek. There's been... another death,” Sir Raymond mumbled wearily, poking at the fire and making sparks fly.

Bob made an urgent sort of growling sound and tugged on a sleeve.

“Be off with you!” Sir Raymond snapped. “Don’t you understand? A lady has been killed today. Nothing you want can be as important as that.”

 Bob would not be put off. He clawed and bit at Sir Raymond’s hands until he stood up and followed him down into the dungeons.

“All right! What can be so…” Sir Raymond began to say but stopped dead in his tracks at the bottom of the dark narrow stairs. To his horror he saw a very familiar day gown, the very same pale blue one he saw Lady Glory wearing that day. It was covered with dried blood and carelessly tossed into the corner behind Shrek’s dining table. Shrek sat nibbling on a very large bone and rubbing his huge belly looking very much like a lion who had just taken more than his share of the kill.

“Shrek, you didn’t!” Sir Raymond bellowed.

“What?” Shrek said innocently. “I’m an ogre. It’s what ogres do. Besides, you told me I could.”

“Not Lady Glory! I told you to pick a weak one,” Sir Raymond moaned.

“She was weak. She even offered to be my dinner,” Shrek said pointing with what must have been Lady Glory’s thigh bone.

Sir Raymond sighed. “Are you sure she didn’t say make your dinner?”

Shrek blinked stupidly at him. “Is there a difference?”

Sir Raymond glared at his cousin for a moment, then without warning threw his head back and burst out laughing. The raucus laughter rang through the dungeons, bounced off the walls and crept into each tower room to be heard by every inhabitant in the castle. Chills ran up everyone's spine. Everyone's, that is, except for Sir Alistair.

The feather quill he held stayed suspended over the ink well as he turned toward the sound, an evil grin materializing on his exquisitely handsome face. He breathed in deeply as if the eerie sound fortified him in some gruesome manner.

"Damn, I love this castle," he muttered as he turned back to the parchment before him and wrote,
Murder at the Castle....


  1. Foresoothe! Not our Lady Glory! Dining with Shrekkie? Raucous laughter echoes from the dungeon....
    Lady Glory,may you give Shrekkie indigestion then. Well done!

  2. LOL, I believe I didn't even give him a belly ache!

  3. Okay... This is hilarious! Something told me that the "concerned" knight did it... Who would've known the responsibility, was not his, at least not directly, but his pets! LOL!!

  4. I knew we couldn't trust Sir Raymond. He might look and talk like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, but I knew he had something up his sleeve. There's one thing I don't understand though ... why do away with the head? In some cultures brains are considered a delicacy. At the very least it would have made a nice broth.

  5. A nice broth???? You take the cake, Conny!!! LMAO!

  6. You know what they say Glory, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  7. This is brilliant, Lady Glory, simply brilliant. Too bad you lost your head whilst penning this one...(raucous laughter echoes)

  8. Yes, Conny, I believe you are quite right about that.
    And Thank you so kindly, Jim!

  9. This is a great story but I kept hoping that Glory would be OK. I like happy endings! Maybe you could write a sequel where Glory did not really die but had played a Halloween prank that went bad and she was too ashamed to reveal herself, so she shows up pretending to be her twin sister, Cory. She does a great crying act and everyone buys her story until she opens the secret wine cabinet that only folks from the Castle know about. Oh well. I liked Glory and hate to lose her. And she was taking lute lessons and I sure hate to lose a student. I wonder if Diane would like to play the lute? I hope she is not superstitious. This is the third student I have lost under unusual circumstances! Sir Don de lu here.

  10. Thank you, Don. I am often asked for sequels, oddly enough, but never (before now that is) because I haven't given a happy ending. I am the queen of happy endings, after all! I guess I used to be. I'm quite certain Diane would love to take lute lessons or perhaps Alexandra? :-)


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