Chapter 1: The stalwart friends, on the road again
Shrek woke up, groaning in light agony from the blow he took from his latest opponent, her words ringing in his ears from before her attack: "Nothin' personal, folks, ah'm just here fer the dragon" He then hears Fiona calling his name. His vision beginning to return, he sees his beloved princess, smiling in relief. He briefly smiles back before sitting up, remembering the situation. He gains a twinge of pain from his concussion for sitting up to fast.
"Is everybody alright?" the frazzled ogre asked, seeing the courtyard of the castle practically destroyed.
Baskets and eggs strewn across the grass, hedges burned, Pinocchio unconscious in the punch bowl, everybody else walking around, picking up anybody still down, the "Happy Easter" sign laying on top of Wolfie, resting his head on the palm of his right paw as he taps his fingers from his left one on the ground as the Pigs are trying to lift it off of him. The sign itself having the "Happy" part smashed, the queen trying to calm down the crying triplets, the hole the attacker made suddenly bigger-
"Hey, buddy, we get it, the place is a mess! Just cue the donkey"
Well, fine. Shrek noticed Donkey running around screaming.
"HEAD-COUNT!" he shouted as the Dronkeys lined up, some of them still sniffling from the aftermath of the attack. "One, two three...Eclair? Eclair, is that you...!? Have you seen your mother? HAS ANYONE SEEN MY BIG, FIRE-BREATHING BELOVED!?"
"DONKEY!" Shrek shouted, trying to calm down his quadrapedal friend.
"OH, SHREK, IT'S AWEFUL!" Donkey sobbed after taking a few breaths, "THE EASTER BUNNY TOOK MY WIFE!"
"I'm pretty sure that WASN'T the Easter Bunny" Fiona reassured the panicked ungulate.
"Well, if she WASN'T the Easter Bunny, then who WAS she?" Shrek asked, rubbing the lump on his head.
"Boss!" Puss's voice rang out from the murmurs. He arrived with Artie, clutching a piece of stationary in his paw. "This was left upon my person when I came to"
Taking the note from Puss, Shrek clears his throat and begins to read it.
"Dear folks, I'm a might sorry fer roughin' y'all up like that, but, the thing is, sometimes for the greater good, these things've gotta be done. Like I said, nothin' personal. An' to be fair, I gave you three chances b'fore I had to resort to violence. Yew understand, right? Hopin' to be friends next time we meet, Bunny Foofu P.S, please don't tell the Good Fairy I used force"
"Vhy did she smash ze happy?" Horst groaned, gaining Shrek's attention to where he walks over to the sign. The others followed him.
"Boss, I have heard of this...Bunny Foofu" Puss said, "She is the leader of the Good Fairy's so-called 'Good Squad', often nicknamed the 'Goon Squad' by those who oppose her. She has a very peculiar sense of right and wrong, often leaving these messages as some sort of calling card"
"Hey, I've heard of her too!" Donkey replied as he begins to sing in an attempt to cheer himself up, "Little Bunny Foo-Foo, bustin' up the courtyard, knockin' out the dragons and- TAKIN' THEM TO PARTS UNKNOWN, SHREK, WE'VE GOTTA DO SOMETHING!" he finished collapsing to the ground in tears.
"I know, Donkey!" Shrek said looking over the note, "The problem is, we don't know where to start and she's nothing like we've been up against in the past"
"I could propose a quest to help save her" Artie suggested.
"That's another snag, your majesty" Shrek replied in an annoyed tone as he lifted the sign off of Wolfie, "Who would be crazy enough to go on a quest to RESCUE a dragon?"
"I think I might know somebody that crazy" Wolfie said bending backwards to ease the inflicted crick in his back.
"You do?" the Pigs asked in unison.
"Of COURSE he does" Shrek replied in an unsurprised tone, "Alright, Wolfie, let's hear it. Who's the guy?"
"My nephew, Jack" Wolfie replied, dusting off his gown, "I think we can catch him at Pizza Cottage tomorrow. I don't remember his address"
The next day, Shrek and Wolfie arrive at the restaurant.
"So, what should I know about this guy?" Shrek asked as they entered.
"You probably never heard of him before now, but, he's almost as big a name as you" Wolfie replied, "And, get this, he has the-" He stops himself. Shrek gives him a look of confusion. "Sorry, he made me promise not to say anything relating to his...Condition to anybody who doesn't know him. But, trust me, it'll blow your mind"
"Who ordered the Little Lamb Lovers to go?" the clerk asked as she looks in the box.
"That'd be me" a voice claimed. Suddenly, a wolf looking more humanoid than Wolfie, wearing a red hood, orange shirt, blue pants and sandals approached the counter.
"You Jack?" Shrek asked the adolescent stranger.
"Jack Rider, to be specific" he replied, extending his paw for a handshake, "My friends call me 'Rider'. At least, they would if I had anybody I hung out with. Who's asking, as if I don't already know?"
"So you've heard of me" Shrek responded, shaking Rider's paw, "You must be one of those underground sensations"
"You could say that" Rider said upon conclusion of the handshake, "But, most wouldn't"
Just then, a girl about Rider's age looked at him, gasping with glee and screaming out his name. A lot of other girls arrive into the restaurant holding the backs of small mirrors to him trying to get his attention, one of them crying her eyes out. During the screaming, a loud, continuous clang is heard. One of the patrons, a rather large, armored gentleman with a beard, an underbite, wielding a giant battleaxe and smelled like he hadn't bathed since he hit puberty approached our heroes, breathing heavily. The girls run out of the restaurant in fear, but, gathered at the window, still holding their mirrors.
"Did I hear someone say...Jack...Riderrrrr?" the brute hissed menacingly.
"So what if they did?" Rider asked the man as he took the hood off his head, removing the cape part off his shoulders, revealing his thick, messy locks, making the girls cheer. He then shakes his head, fixing his hair some. "Have we met?"
"You let my dream girl leave with A TALKING SPOON!" he shouted.
"Oh, you're from my rookie days" Rider chuckled, "She was quite a dish, wasn't she?"
The man roared, ready to attack.
"Uh, could you two take this outside?" the clerk asked, "Pizza Cottage, inc. prides itself on having brawl-free establishments"
Rider makes an "After you" gesture as the man leaves the restaurant. "I'll be with you in a moment, sir" he tells Shrek as he follows his opponent to the street. He then walks to the opposite end at ten paces. "I believe you were about to attack me?"
The man roars again as he charges at Rider who dodges. The gems on the back of the audience's mirrors flashing as Rider grabs the bottom of this cape, taking a deep breath and blowing on the ground. He then glides by the cape and lets go, landing a kick on the man's face.
"Hey, buddy!" A nearby blacksmith shouted, tossing rider a sword he just cooled off in his troff.
Blades clashed, sparks flew and the girls cheered Rider on. Upon the ninth clash, Rider noticed a weak spot at the base of the man's blade.
"Off with your axe!" Rider shouted as he swung his borrowed steel, lopping the axe blade from the wooden handle.
The man looked at the handle and back at the blade. He starts breathing in anger. It didn't help that Rider gave a taunting bow.
"That axe was A GIFT FROM MY GRANNY!" he roared as he began to try clubbing Rider with the handle. Rider then disappears, vexing his opponent. He looked around to see that Rider was under his helmet.
"You know he was laughing at YOU, right?" Rider asked, peaking down at the man.
As Rider jumped away with the helmet, the man whacks himself with the handle.
"Poor old Michael Finnegan" he sang in a daze as he fell to the ground.
"Consider this a sign to begin again" Rider quipped as the girls cheered. He then returns to the inside of the restaurant. Shrek was leaning on the counter with a soft drink in his hand. "Sorry about that, let's get to business, shall we?"
Moments later, Shrek and Wolfie meet Rider at his apartment in Ever After Towers.
"Let me cut to the chase-" Shrek began before Rider held up his paw in a stop position.
"Ep-ep-ep! We'll get to that part" Rider said taking his seat removing a slice of pizza from the box, "Ballexa, business playlist, please. First thing's first, am I being paid in advance, half now, half later...Or am I just being encouraged to take what I loot as pay?"
"...I think that's a question for the Royal Accountants" Shrek replied seeing no other way to answer that. "Look, your uncle here recommended you for a quest we'd like you to help us with. Are you aware of anybody else in my circle besides him and my cousin-in-law?"
"Hmm...Lemme see..." Rider pondered taking a bite of his pizza, "There's Pinocchio, the Gingerbread Man, the Three Blind Mice, the Three Little Pigs...Oh, and you also have a Donkey famous for marrying a Dragon"
"That one" Shrek said handing Rider the note Puss gave him, "That famous spouse was captured by a rather nasty little character named-"
"Bunny Foofu" Rider said placing his slice and the note on the box. He then stands up and heads toward a drawr behind Wolfie. He then opened the drawr and handed Shrek a stack of notes on the same stationary. "In every quest since that fateful night, I've encountered her and her Goon Squad at least once. As if we were fated by powers beyond our comprehention to always find each other"
"Ah. 'Fateful night' you say?" Shrek asked in intrigue.
"...You already guessed, didin't you?" Wolfie added.
Looking out the window with a sigh, Rider stept up to it as the sun sank into the horizon. "I suppose it's fair if you of all people should have a preview of the you'll be dealing with" he said as the sun disappeared behind the hills. A familiar swirl of smoke and light surrounds him. As it clears, in his place stood a tall, muscular ogre who looked...Actually just as handsome as his Wolf Form.
"...Did I ever tell you I used to turn into a crazy chef lady in the full moon?"
"That explains a lot, actually"
"I know you guys are trying to break the akwardness in the room" Rider said, "But, I've made peace with this a long time ago. Tell the king I'll be waiting for him at the previous king's grave in the morning"
The next morning, Artie arrived at the site seeing Rider look upon King Harold's statue.
"Shrek told me you'd be here" Artie said.
Rider didn't respond and kept looking at the statue. Artie decided to take a seat next to him.
"It's almost poetic how people bring each other together, isn't it?"
"Your uncle, God rest his soul, gave me my big break as an adventurer. An Ogre marries your cousin and brings you to be sovereign of the land. And now, here we are"
"Oh, yeah, totally...I guess, you never know what's around the next turn. One day, you're a loser, destined to fail, the next, you're a king"
"...Or, a guy sent to do odd jobs for said king"
"Yeah...Anyway, was there something you wanted to discuss with me before you left on the quest?"
"Mostly, this was just my chance to meet you. I couldn't make your coronation or your uncle's funeral. I was out of town at the time. I would like to know if there's any additional company on this journey and some intel before we left"
"Oh...Well, Shrek and Donkey for sure, they'll also be bringing Puss along"
"Puss? As in Puss In Boots, the obscure legend?"
"Uh, the same. As for any leads on where to go, eye witnesses spotted a large, humanoid rabbit in a cuirass and her army hauling a dragon away to the West from here"
Moments later, at the palace gates...
"OBSCURE!?" Puss screamed in disbelief, "That, my friend is impossible! The name Puss In Boots still rings in the hearts of all who hear it!"
"We'll see about that" Rider replied, "Not only will this be a chance to prove that claim, but, I'll finally be able to find some answers of my own"
"Let's just hope your reputation precedes YOU, playa" Donkey said, "A very beautiful creature's life is at stake!"
"Just as long as you can take on that hasenpfeffer hothead, we should be golden" Shrek added.
"Aw, I could've taken her if I weren't such a gentleman!" Pinocchio said, his nose growing right after. "Oh, who asked you!? Listen, can I bum a ride with you guys? I've gotta make my job at the Happy Apple. The guy on the morning shift stinks out loud and I've gotta save him" His nose shrinking back to normal upon saying this.
"Hop in" Rider said, "I need to make a stop there anyway"
And, off they went in...Quite frankly, a carriage that's seen better days as everyone bids them goodbye and wishes them well.
Our story continues in Chapter 2: Bard From Showbiz.