Rollo, Fie, and Kikinack had set up camp the night before on the side of the road. Morning hit their tent with the light breeze in the air bringing in a warm front from the Eastern desert. The campfire burned out late at night, listening to the tell tales of heroes drinking grog and ale beneath the stars forward sky, crackling fire ringing out the light before the party slept.
Now was the day as a log sat in front of the burnt out fire pit, Rollo working her kneecap left and right, playing with it as her leg lay laxed out.
It uneased Kikinack, a rabbit swordsman who sat next to Rollo. Watching her constantly moving her kneecap back and forth, he couldn’t but help to stare at it. The lump of bone kept jousting to the left, then to the right by a pair of thumbs pushing into the spotted fur. Eyes glued, he had to say something to dispel this unusual display of bone play.
“Why are you doing that?” Kikinack crossed his arms.
Rollo didn't even look up. “Kneecap ping pong.” She smiled and kept at it, gaming early in the morning.
Kikinack grumbled and looked back at her thumbs. Now they were pushing it up and down too! It kept sliding around in the lining of flesh, sending shivers down his spine. The piece of patella edged and stuck out to one side, only to be shifted back around and stick out the other side. He had to do something about this!
“Would you stop that!” The rabbit slapped her hands away from her knee.
The ocelot cat looked at him without a smile. Then got up, facing him.
Kikinack’s eyes got big. Did he just anger the champion?! “N-now wait-wait!” He waved his hands trying to stop whatever was in her mind of revenge.
Rollo lunged at him, tackling the rabbit into the ground. Grass flattened out as Kikinack made a plomph hitting the land with his body. Rollo sat on his chest and began to pull up one legging of his trousers.
“What do you think you’re doing?! No! No! not tha-hahaha!” Rollo’s thumbs went into Kikinack’s ticklish kneecap and began playing with it, pushing it side to side with a grin on her face.
Fie the doe came back from a little scouting ahead, happening upon her champion atop a distressed Kikinack. He was kicking and laughing, but Rollo had him pinned underneath her. Fie put her hands to her waist looking at this exhibit of madness. “What are you doing?”
Rollo took a glance at Fie. “Kneecap ping pong!” She stuck her tongue out and went back to operating his knee.
“Oh Fie! Hahaha! Thank goodness you came back. Please help!” Kikinack pleaded.
Fie smirked and shook her head. “Haha! Sorry. But the champion rules the rules. Can’t help you.” She laughed at Kikinack’s misfortune. “But there is a fork in the road up ahead. Champion, the left leads to Arnendale, the right leads to Corhagen. Both require our attention for water purification.”
Rollo sat up and stopped playing with Kikinack’s kneecap, sitting on his chest. “Arnendale is neighboring Corhagen? I believe we can scratch two posts with one claw if we take the Corhagen rout. We can go from there to Arnendale, then to Bowlendower. Our quest should be finished then.”
“That’s great,” Kikinack said, “Now if we could just get you to get off me...”
“Ah! Oh yes! Of course!” Rollo sprang off her companion and helped him up. “Let’s pack up shall we?” A black cube the size of a fist was placed on the ground. It had a dull shine to it, and a circular opening panel on the top. It opened in a snap, drawing gravity in. The tent stakes popped out of the ground themselves, flying into the air then raining into the small cube. No longer tied down, the rest of the tent flew up then down, getting sucked into the small hole.
“Bada bing bada boom. The tent is packed. Let’s head out for adventure!” Rollo ecstatically pointed down the road.
Fie coughed in her hand to get her attention. “It’s...the other way, champion.”
“Oh I knew that! Haha! I was erm... testing you? Yeah! That’s it!” Rollo scratched the back of her head and smiled. “Time to get geared up. Who knows who might be lurking to get us. This is so exciting!”
But Kikinack wasn't as bold. “Rollo, if I may, we need to have our game faces on. That is to say we are on assignment, this is serious work!” The rabbit extended his arms out, and instantly became enveloped in brief light. As it disappeared, a set of greaves, gauntlets, helmet, and torso armor made of steel outfitted on him. The sword that came with his quick equip swap was standard iron.
“Looking good Kikinack,” Fie complemented, already in her leathers since this morning’s scout. “Champion, we can progress as soon as you are ready.”
“I am ready! Let’s go!” Rollo took one step towards Corhagen.
Kikinack was unsure if she forgot to use the quick equip swap. “Rollo? You’re missing your arms.”
The ocicat turned to look at him with a face of terror. “My arms are missing?! Ahhh! How am I going to play patty cake?!”
“No! I mean your armor!” Kikinack face palmed, while Fie had to hide a laugh trying not to encourage her behavior.
“Pfft. Naw. No, no, noooo. No armor. I’m comfy in my day clothes, see?” Rollo spun around to show just how comfy she was.
Not pushing it anymore, the armored rabbit waved the conversation over. His head held up high, he hoped that lack of protection would not be the end of his champion. Fie and Kikinack walked on the bricked road, while Rollo jogged at their speed. Her jogging increased in distance as the ocicat made way down the road, then back up to meet them both, circling around Kikinack and Fie as they patiently walked. The antics of the champion was not lightly upon the two comrades looking at Rollo jogging everywhere.
“Must she do that?” Kikinack spoke quietly while Rollo was off Jogging happily around ahead of them.
Fie watched the spotted champion jog in place, then do a cartwheel. “Do what? You mean act like she is?”
“Yes! She assumes the responsibility of an unarmed child looping into bandit territory! If I find that she does not live long, you’re telling Master Styles what happened.”
“Then you would say it is up to us to keep the champion safe guarded? Come now, she’s one of the *champions* for a reason, I’m sure there is a method we just don’t understand.” Fie watched ahead of them as Rollo ran and did a jumping somersault in the air. She landed on her rear.
“Ow! My butt!” Rollo got up laughing and dusting herself off.
“Okay, maybe you’re right. Let’s be on our toes.” Fie said, nodding to Kikinack, who took in that their champion was possibly a nut.
The Hopeitanian Knights strode out far in their travel, the sun shining its glory upon the land lay out in front of the three travelers. The road was durable for the journey, keeping the soles of those that walk (or jog) upon dry and stable.
The road wound up a hill and back evenly down. Rollo jogged back to her party. “Look up there, there’s a camp!” Tents were propped up off aways from the road to their left. “Can we can stop and say hello?” Her smile matched her energy.
Fie felt like she was trying to be persuaded by a kitten to go someplace fun. Strangely, it was her champion asking permission. “If you want to go, but remember we still have our quest, champion.”
“She insists on saying hello, what choice do we have?” Said Kikinack.
“None! Let’s go!” Rollo boomed with excitement and began her run up to the faraway campsite, leaving her friends in the dust.
The rabbit and doe watched her run off with amazing speed. “We better catch up to her, she could be running into trouble.” The rabbit swordsman shook his head at Rollo’s impulse.
“Let’s hurry then.”
The two raced after Rollo, Kikinack having a harder time in his heavier armor, but they still pressed with an increase in distance between the champion and them.
“She’s just too fast!” Fie dug in and stepped up her speed.
Rollo Rockberg had already made it to the camp, the others seeing posted guards armed with swords.
“This is bad!”
“Come on Kikinack! I think we got an encounter!”
“Hey all you happy people! How are you all doing?” Rollo energetically bounded up. The camp consisted of three propped up tents, coming out of them a fox, and a badger. Standing guard were two wolves with short swords sheathed, looking at Rollo with a gaze.
“Oi, what do ye think yer doing here mate?” One of the wolves spoke and crossed his arms. The other a bigger fellow, tapped his sheathed weapon.
But Rollo only had her guard down, interested instead in the forging of friendship. “ I’m here because you guys are so awesome! Hey! Is there anything you need help with? I’m a hopeitanian!”
The word of her faction raised an alarm as the two guard wolves unsheathed their weapons, the fox and badger pulling a skunk out the tent and joining. They armed themselves, waveing their swords and bows in the air.
“It’s a hopeitanian! What should we do?!”
“Run’er through! She can’t take all of us on!”
“Look o’er there! Here comes more!”
Fie and Kikinack just arrived. The rabbit pulled out his sword and tossed a metal spherical object on the ground, it created a clear force field. Fie notched an arrow made of light, specially made to multiply and track different targets.
But poor confused Rollo looked dumbfounded, and casually walked between the bandits and allies about to start a war. “Ummm guys? Does this mean we’re fighting them?” Scratching her head, she pulled a ‘have no clue’ pose.
“Champion! Get out the way!”
“Look at her! She doesn't even know she’s in a fight! Harharharhar!
Among the rabble of sniggering babble, Rollo stood there amused and looked at them. “Well this is unfair then. Three against five? We have to fix this.” Turning back to her comrades, she gave them an order. “Kikinack, Fie, go join them, that’ll even things up.”
Well, that was it. She had lost it. The champion has gone haywire. Whatever was left of her synapses diabolically broke in half in her brain. There must be at times when she wears lead under her hat. The sinking feeling caught the two Hopeitanian Knights in a state of disbelief. It was a clear order and they had to follow it.
“Champion...I hope you know what you’re doing.” Fie pointed her glowing arrow at Rollo.
Kikinack had a sudden burst of laughter. “This is a joke, right? You’re obviously joking!” She just had to be!
But Rollo shook a finger at him. “Kikinack, I thought you knew better than that. Don’t worry, I have a secret weapon.”
“Secret weapon? What secret weapon?”
The champion merely gave her temporary enemies a smile.
Meanwhile the bandits were intrigued. They overheard something about a secret weapon.
“Ay, that’s what she said. Secret weapon!”
Surrounded by the enemy of two groups, her own allies and these mean pillaging foes. Champion Rollo Rockberg only grinned, as if excited by this; slipped her hands into her pockets. “Wanna know what I got?” Her tone was chipper and happy, behind it a small giggle of anticipation.
“Just kill’er and be done with it, we’ll loot the secret weapon off’er corpse.” The smaller wolf said.3
“Champion! You better do something fast! We’re about to attack!”
“I really don’t want to tell master styles how you die!”
But Rollo shrugged. “Then let’s go!” she pulled finger traps out of her pocket and threw them into the air out of her fists. In a blink of an eye, faster than they could see, she began to take the air born finger traps one by one, disarming everybody before slipping on a trap onto their fingers, speedily doing so and kicking up a storm of dirt all around. Zip! Zip! Zip! Zing! Zoom! Swords and bows fell to the ground simultaneously before the sudden realization that they were bound by the fingers. The dust barely had time to settle, Rollo standing back in place between the bandits and hopeitanian. She breathed hard with paws at her hips, but had a victorious smile. “Tada!”
Everyone but Fie grunted, trying to get the traps off them. The bandits were amazed by such speed, struggling to get free. Their weapons at their feet, they fought to wield them and make good on their threats. Kikinack too, having troubles that he was bound by a friendly turned enemy found he was disabled as well. Fie accepted what happed. So the champion wasn't really nuts after all?
“Champion? Does this mean we are on the same side again?” Fie asked.
“Yes, yes it does.” Her cheery smile formed a sigh of relief out of both hopeitanian.
“You little itcher!” The badger got angry and tried to tear at the trap with his teeth. “When I get free, I’m gonna kill you!”
“Nonsense! Those are magical finger traps. You won’t be set free until you learn to be nice!”
There was a universal grunt of anger out of the bandits.
“What! You can’t expect me to be nice!” said the skunk.
“I’ll be nice to your face when I’m out of this!” said the fox.
A muffled call for help came from one of the tents. It caught the spotted cat’s attention.
“Oh? Is there someone else to play with?” Skipping and pronouncing ‘la’s on her way over to the tent, she lifted the door open and found a beagle tied and gagged with rope. “I missed one!”
“Mmm! Mmph mmm mmm!”
Rollo untied the unfortunate prisoner who was grateful for her help. “Thank the gods you came to rescue me! Those ruffians planned to ransom me off...Hey, did I hear right? You’re with the hopeitanian?”
“Yuppers! It must be your lucky day! Follow me.” Rollo got out the tent with the beagle a little confused over such a simple command. Without more conversation than an acknowledgment, she told him to follow. Not going to fuss about following his savior, he left this bad memory behind.
Kikinack and Fie were watching the bandits struggle. They weren’t attacking, the finger traps preventing them from doing anything violent. Rollo and the rescued came out of the tent.
“I think we’re ready to go now. I got to visit, we all had fun, but we have a quest to accomplish. Let’s go!”
Kikinack pleaded, “Can you get these things off us first?”
Fie also agreed to this. “Yes, We can’t protect anyone like this.”
Rollo pretended to think long and hard about this. “Mmmm...mmm...hmmm...weeeell...No. I think you two will be my prisoners! Huzzah!”
“What?!” She was going to make him and Fie her prisoners?!
Fie laughed nervously. “Is that really necessary champion? Prisoners? Really?”
“Yes!” Rollo kept her smile up and acknowledged the beagle. “We are going to Corhagen. We’ll drop you off there, Mr. ...?
Rollo smirked. “I’ll call you my little dingy!”
“I refused to be called someone’s little dingy! Why I-I-I-“
But Rollo prodded his nose. “Boop! Follow me.” The champion ignored his request. His eyes crossed when she booped his nose.
Fie, Kikinack, and Leftwut followed Rollo who skipped along and said ‘la’s. Traveling along the road once more, they could feel the tension of Rollo’s chaotic nature rise through increasing abandon towards anything serious. Left with no choice, the two hopeitanian prisoners walked behind Leftwut, their champion in the lead. She was possibly a nut, but one with a methodology in its apparently. To Corhagen! And to the purification of the peoples waters.