A day of great reckoning had fallen upon the lands of Furope, and the commoners of the world were none the wiser to what was to transpire.
Over the course of many months, Nbowa the Great sought to unite the small, random countries and castles of Furope into one large, powerful kingdom, but it was a task he knew he couldn't accomplish alone. In his many epic quests, he'd encountered the greatest heroes from each region of Furope and recruited them to his cause, and as their numbers grew, they came to be known as the Great Knights of Furope, lead by Nbowa the Great himself. Still, the lands of Furope yearned for a true king to lead them into an age of prosperity, and it seemed that they would go wanting for some time.
The quest to unite the lands into a grand kingdom was currently at a halt, as a much more important occasion was upon the Great Knights of Furope.
It was Nbowa's birthday.
"This mystic cake has been imbued with the flavors of all of Furope! It is decorated with the sweetest of all frosting, and made only from pure, organic ingredients!" declared Exile. He was the knight of records, and also the knight of hybrid raccoons and huskies, or, as he was called in legend, Huscoon the Stats Guy. "It was baked perfectly in a wood fired oven, and shall be delicious beyond description!"
"Orangic?" asked Atimist. The small, diminutive fox was the greatest of all the warriors from Germini, despite his short stature, and he was known in the legends as Atimist the Strong But Really Small. "Isn't everything organic in this time period?"
"We should be cutting cake, not splitting hairs!"
"The cake cannot be cut!" declared Chutora. He was the youngest of the knights, a canine, and the only one who had the unusual situation of being related directly to another knight in the group. Perhaps even more unusual was the fact that said knight was his mother. Together, they were Chutora the Momma's Boy, and Bluemoon the Overbearing. "My own mother, Bluemoon the...uhm...person-
"...My mother cooked the stupid cake and told me that we can't cut it, okay?"
"Impossible!" shouted Doxial. His abilities were often shrouded in mystery until they came to be needed, but Doxial had proven his valor plenty of times, and had come to be known as Doxial the Nibbler in legends. It was the most appropriate title anyone could think of, considering that Doxial was a fennec, and his solution to most problems was nibbling, and he had surprising success with that approach. "Have you tried nibbling it?"
A sudden thundering filled the great hall in Castle Lion, where Nbowa the Great had come to call his court. CLANG![/i] CLINK![/i] CRASH![/i] A whole arsenal of broken knives, swords and axes was cast to the floor by Bluemoon the Overbearing, as she entered the great hall with the cake. It was decorated from top to bottom in the most delicate, waving curls of light blue frosting over a white, buttercream base, with a small, gold-leafed crown resting upon the top of three tiers, each one shrinking slightly in size as they neared up to the top.
"I'm afraid that nibbling it will do us no good," Bluemoon the Overbearing confirmed. "The cake has been imbued with such magic to make it so delicious that no mortal weapon can pierce through the first layer of frosting. The cake is invulnerable to all!"
Atimist the Strong But Really Small scoffed at the thought and climbed up onto the table, which took about five minutes because he had to devise ways to climb up the legs of a chair, and then up the back of said chair, all ending in a flying dismount to the table top that left him completely winded, and unable to lift a knife to cut the cake. Huscoon the Stats Guy began devising a spreadsheet to try and think of the best approach to cut the cake, but he quickly forgot why he started it in the first place, and began working on a spreadsheet to organize his spreadsheets. Chutora the Momma's Boy rushed to cut the cake, but Bluemoon the Overbearing wouldn't allow him to wastefully break another weapon, and Doxial the Nibbler attempted to nibble upon the cake, leaving him with a chipped fang and a sore jaw.
"Perhaps now is the time for us to fulfill the prophecy and unite the lands!" suggested Arcturus. He was another hybrid knight, a cheetah and husky hybrid, or Chusky, and he was a bard who had converted to the ways of knighthood. His songs and musical prowess still helped him in battle, and he became known as Arcturus the Bolton. "Nbowa the Great, I know today is your birthday, but I suggest we set out for the mightiest sword of all, Excalifur, at once!"
Nbowa the Great, who sat at the head of the dining room table, stared with hungry eyes at the majestic cake in the center of his table. "Though it is very rude to go questing in the middle of a meal, we have no weapons left with which to cut the cake. For the sake of eating this delicacy, we must quest for Excalifur!"
The grand, wide double doors, carved out of solid oak trees that closed off the dining room suddenly burst open, and a figure in white pants came forth. Bright light filled the room and the Great Knights of Furope shielded their eyes as the figure came to stand at the foot of the table, holding a scythe with a blade that spanned nearly three feet long.
"What sorcery is this?!" cried out Huscoon the Stats Guy, trying to open his eyes wider as the light faded.
"I am no sorcerer," declared a voice that sounded so completely rehearsed, it was obvious that the person was tired of hearing such comparisons. "Seriously, does magic even exist in Furope?"
"Well...there was the bright lights, and the flying doors, and...y'know...that stuff," Nbowa pointed out.
The figure put his face in his palm and shook his head. "Okay, everyone shut up! I'm not a sorcerer."
"Are you God?" Atimist the Strong But Really Small asked.
"...Yes, Ati. I'm God," he mentioned with a groan. "I'm also going to hell for blasphemy now."
Doxial the Nibbler readied his fangs and approached the figure. "Just tell us who you are, stranger, or I'll nibble the answer out of you!"
"N-no. Just no. That isn't going to work. Look, I'm the Arbiter of Large And Powerful Fantasy Weapons, and I'm here to guide you to the Excalifur. Good thing, too, because it looks like you guys would be completely boned without my help."
Bluemoon the Overbearing clapped and started cleaning up the swords on the floor. "What luck that you're here! After breaking Gaia, Kusanagi and Durendal, I was starting to think that nothing would ever cut this cake!"
"Did...did you just say that you broke Durendal?"
"Yes, yes I did."
"IT WAS FREAKING INDESTRUCTIBLE! THAT WAS THE WHOLE POINT OF IT!"
"Well, I did make a pretty amazing cake..."
Joshiah, the Arbiter of Large And Powerful Fantasy Weapons, simply shook his head. "Know what? Never mind. Let's just focus on the here and now and we can discuss how fired I'm gonna be later for even allowing you guys to collect three of the most legendary blades in history, not to mention breaking...well, all of them. My current assignment is to lead you guys through the hidden woodland of Furope, known as the Forest of Further Parody, and help the one who is worthy to draw the Excalifur and unite Furope into the grand kingdom that it was meant to be. My name is Joshiah, and don't worry about learning it, because once we're done here, I'm definitely going to lose my job."
"How does one become an Arbiter of Fantasy Artifacts as a job?" Nbowa the Great asked.
"It's...a long story. Let's just say that you have to make some really poor decisions in life, and do some things you're not proud of."
"Look at his face! He's turning red, like a lobster!" pointed out Atimist the Strong But Really Small.
Joshiah rolled his eyes. "I have a coat of black fur...how can you even see that? Furthermore, remind me to step on you before this quest is over. Shall we begin? The hidden woodlands are conveniently about a mile into your backyard."
Huscoon the Stats Guy narrowed his eyes at the stranger. "That seems entirely impossible. I'm already calculating the actual area of all of Furope, and the likelihood of a hidden woodland being that close is-"
"Do you guys have a back door on this castle?"
"And are there any windows on the back wall of the castle?"
"W-well, I mean, no, but-
"And have you ever gone behind the castle?"
"Again, no, but..."
"But nothing. Get your stuff and meet me behind the castle. If you guys aren't down there in fifteen minutes, I'll assume you got lost on the way there and aren't worthy of the Excalifur to begin with."
With another bright white flash, Joshiah the Arbiter of Large And Powerful Fantasy Weapons stepped back through the double doors of the dining room. When Chutora the Momma's Boy threw the doors open, he was already gone, and a quick look down both ends of the hallway revealed he might already be outside somehow.
"Very well then! Gather your armor and weapons, my fellow knights! In fifteen minutes, we make for the Forest of Further Parody and the sword of kings, Excalifur!"
The Great Knights of Furope went into a scramble to armor up, and their quest was set to begin.
"I swear to God...it's been fourteen minutes and I don't see any of them. If they sent me to the wrong castle again...and why is it always a castle? Do we really want to give a relic of incredible power to someone who already has a whole castle to himself? This doesn't seem like a fair distribution of wealth..."
Joshiah, the Arbiter of Large And Powerful Fantasy Weapons was leaning against the back wall of the castle, looking right at the wall of trees that made up the front of the Forest of Further Parody. It might not have even been the full mile away that he thought it was, and he was beginning to wonder if he had been sent on a wild goose chase to help a ragtag bunch of fools find something they had no business looking for.
That wasn't entirely too far from the truth, but just as he was about to give up on waiting, Nbowa the Great led the charge, followed by all of the Great Knights of Furope. Each one was wrapped in chain mail and plate armor, and wore the colors of their house proudly upon their shields.
"Well I'll be damned. You guys actually look like a real bunch of knights! There might be hope for this quest after all!"
It wasn't until that moment that Joshiah noticed the entire band of knights was panting heavily and exhausted.
"W-we...we need a small break...it took us the last ten minutes to find the back of the castle!" Nbowa the Great explained.
"And how long did it take you to find the front door?"
"We knew where t-that was!" Doxial explained with a quick breath. "That only took two minutes."
"So...you're saying it took you ten minutes to figure out that all you had to do was turn in the same direction twice to find the back end of a building?"
"That is correct, friendly Arbiter."
Never mind. This quest is about to get railed harder than a rookie adult film star looking to make a name for herself.
"Well, there shall be no breaks! The worthy one is among your lot, and to prove your worth, you must carry on in this dangerous quest! Two beasts block the path to Excalifur, and if you are lucky enough to survive against them, you must then prove your worth to the Sword Guardian. If you do, you'll have but once chance to pull Excalifur free from the stone of its imprisonment."
Huscoon the Stats Guy lifted his spear in triumph. "Joshiah, the Arbiter of Large And Powerful Fantasy Weapons is right! We must find the strength within ourselves to carry on to the sword! The odds are currently in our favor, with the odds running 15/1 that someone in our party is indeed the true king of Furope!"
"I always kind of figured it would be Spazz Fox, honestly," Joshiah muttered. "But, since he's not here, hopefully one of you makes it to the sword alive, much less that one of you turns out to be worthy."
The Great Knights of Furope all picked up their weapons and shields, and Joshiah, The Arbiter of Large and Powerful Fantasy Weapons turned on his heel, walking toward the forest that all of the knights stared at with untold awe. It was an ordinary forest of tall, thick tree trunks and a canopy of leaves that left the forest floor darkened, but it was a place that radiated magical energy, one that the knights could feel on their skin as they approached it. Goosebumps and a tingling in the stomach was the new normal for the Great Knights of Furope as they followed their guide to perils unknown to them.
The sun over their heads finally faded as The Great Knights of Furope walked through the thinner line of trees that granted access to the Forest of Further Parody. Arcturus the Bolton felt a calming, warming sensation at being so fully reunited with nature, where the rest of his traveling companions felt a chill from the light of the sun slowly being blocked away. Already, there was a feeling of doom that hung over the traveling troop, and it would certainly grow worse before it grew better.
It didn't help that Joshiah, The Arbiter of Large and Powerful Fantasy Weapons was walking around kicking trees in the trunk, right about crotch level.
"Uhm...kind Arbiter, forgive my foolishness, but what in the blue hell are you doing?" asked Chutora the Momma's boy.
"The first monster that guards the sword is a shapeshifter," Joshiah explained as he kicked another tree. "He can take whatever form he pleases, and can even take the form of one of you if he so chooses to! He's been known by many names in the annals of history, but in this age, men call him Diz the Indecisive."
The Great Knights quickly caught onto the methodology and readied their weapons. Each of them, save for Atimist the Strong But Very Small, started to hack away at the tree trunks right about crotch level as they passed through the forest. There was not a single breeze of wind that day, and yet, one tree that Huscoon the Stats Guy passed by quivered as if the wind was blowing through the leaves.
"Look! A tree that quivers of its own accord!" he pointed out, brandish a large, bearded axe and readying it to strike.
"WAIT! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WAIT!
There was a sudden puff of smoke, and just like that, the shaking tree disappeared. Something small and covered in fur was moving around in the cloud of dust, clearly trying to run away. The Great Knights gave chase, but as they made their way through the smokescreen, they couldn't find whatever the creature was supposed to be next. Now, they were truly confused, and the creature was just evading their grasp. There was another small cloud of dust behind a random tree, and from behind it came none other than Arcturus the Bolton!
"Stop!" Nbowa the Great called out. "This is impossible! Arcturus the Bolton is here among our ranks, and yet, there he stands, shrouded in dust in mystery!"
"But then, how do we know that our chusky is the real Arcturus the Bolton?" Bluemoon the Overbearing asked. "They look exactly the same!"
"I'm the real one!" called out the Arcturus who was shrouded in dust. "That one over there is Diz the Indecisive! He captured me and tossed me over here into this smelly dust!"
"Joshiah the Arbiter of Large and Powerful Fantasy Weapons! You seem to have great knowledge of this creature," Doxial the Nibbler pointed out. "Can you reveal to us which one is the real Diz the Indecisive so that we might kill him?"
"No, I can't."
Joshiah leaned against a tree stretched his body upon it. "The Fairness of Choosing a King Act of 945 A.D. says that I am allowed to reveal the monsters to you, but I am not allowed to assist you in their defeat, because it would be unfair to other candidates if you had an advantage going into the fight. So...y'know. Prove your worth and stuff."
Without any assistance to come from their guide, it was Chutora the Momma's Boy who proved his wisdom to the rest of the group. "Wait, everyone! Diz the Indecisive only seems to be able to copy appearances and mannerisms! If he can't replicate abilities, we can figure out which one is the real Arcturus the Bolton! Diz the Indecisive shouldn't be able to make the same kind of beautiful music!"
"I have been standing right here the whole time!" Arcturus the Bolton yelled out in anger. "That one behind the tree is clearly Diz the Indecisive!"
"Silence!" Nbowa the Great replied. "We shall have a singing contest to determine who the real Arcturus the Bolton is! The winner shall live, and the loser shall have head cut off!"
Both Arcturus the Bolton's slapped their foreheads in frustration in such unison that it only confused The Great Knights of Furope even further, and now, they were truly going to have their judgment put to the test. "We'll use a song that will be easy for the real Arcturus the Bolton to sing: The Tale!" Huscoon the Stats Guy suggested, and everyone nodded in agreement.
Before he could even be told it was his turn, the Arcturus the Bolton that was standing around in the group started playing his shield as if it were a drum, starting up a quick beat for himself. He was about to sing when there was another cloud of dust, and again, the creature took his real form for a moment, hidden by the shroud.
"...Huh. Well, it turns out you were telling the truth, Arcturus the Bolton! Sorry about that," Huscoon the Stats guy said.
"SORRY?! You guys were gonna cut my head off!"
"But we didn't!"
Though Arcturus the Bolton had survived, the troop still had to deal with Diz the Indecisive, who proved the truth of his name as the dust cloud faded and all that remained was a border collie of white and black with a red bandanna. "Get back! I'll turn into a tree and fall on you guys! I'll...I'll turn into a sword and cut you! I'll...uhm...huh. Is there any way you guys can all just hold still for the next few minutes until I think of a better plan?"
Nbowa the Great gave the order, and in a flash, The Great Knights of Furope were on the shapeshifter, beating him senseless with their weapons and giving him only minor and comedic wounds, despite the fact that they all wielded deadly weapons. At the end of the skirmish, Diz the Indecisive was Diz the pancake, flattened into the ground and beaten to a pulp, unable to move.
"Kind Arbiter! Have we proven our worth?" asked Bluemoon, after whacking Diz on the head one more time with a war hammer.
"I...I guess? You were able to see through the illusion and even managed to be kind to your enemy in their defeat since he's a transformation addict, and it seems you've transformed him into a part of the forest floor, so...sure! It's probably better we move on to the next monster instead of dwelling on it."
The Great Knights of Furope cheered out in triumphant victory, marching away from the beaten and bloodied monster and leaving him in the forest floor, despite having no idea where they were going. "We did it! We've killed the terrible monster, Diz the Indecisive!"
"I'm actually not dead!" Diz the Indecisive called out from the ground, waving a paw around, hoping to be helped from the forest floor. "I mean, you broke both of my legs, but I think if you guys get me to a witch doctor or something, I might still survive the internal bleeding!"
There was no response.
The Great Knights of Furope simply marched onward, riding their victory high toward the heart of The Forest of Further Parody.
Sunlight was all but gone, leaving the troop of knights nearly blind as they came closer and closer to the center of the forest. Because of the rules that Joshiah, The Arbiter of Large and Powerful Fantasy Weapons was bound to, he could not lead the knights any further to the goal, but only accompany them to ensure them that they had found the next monster.
"The air here is thick with evil and dark magic," Nbowa the Great observed, as he trudged through the overgrowth of the unkempt forest. "Are you sure that such a holy and powerful sword can come from such a place, kind Arbiter?"
"For the last time, you are not going to trick with me a backwards question to tell you where the stupid sword is!"
"Are we getting warmer?" Atimist the Strong But Very Small asked.
"You guys tried that an hour ago, and again, I can't tell you if you're getting warmer!"
"I'm getting warmer," Doxial the Nibbler admitted, as he wiped the sweat from his brow with an uncomfortable gauntlet. "We've been marching for hours without any clues, and I haven't nibbled anything all day!"
"I really don't think nibbling something is going to help you find the sword. Just sayin'."
Joshiah, The Arbiter of Large and Powerful Fantasy Weapons, was seldom wrong, but no sooner did he make the statement than did Doxial the Nibbler find a small, fuzz covered nub sticking out from behind a tree. It looked so soft and so cute that he couldn't resist his inner impulse, and he jumped forward, latching onto it with his tiny fangs and nibbling away at it!
"Heeeeeeeeeeeeeey! What's the big idea back there?" called out a voice, one that might have come from a male, but had a tone that was so directly feminine, the entire troop of knights was confused once again, not that it took a lot for that to happen.
"Hark! I think Doxial the Nibbler may have found our next monster!" Chutora the Momma's Boy cried out, pointing to the tree that Doxial appeared to be nibbling, but as the creature came into view, it was clear that the fennec knight was actually nibbling on a nub tail, and despite the shuddering and shaking of the monster, Doxial the Nibbler refused to let go. "Show yourself, foul creature! Come and meet with your doom!"
The monster huffed and crossed his arms, pouting. "I'm not foul! I showered this morning with Ocean Passion scented shower gel, thank you very much, and I smell lovely!"
"What manner of monster takes a shower and cares about how it smells?" asked Huscoon the Stats Guy, but as he looked over the supposed monster, he started to figure it all out very quickly. It didn't look much like a monster, but more like a common villager, a hybrid of two different kinds of cat. "Kind Arbiter, are you sure that this is the monster?"
"I never said that it was," Joshiah pointed out, "But since you're asking anyway, yes, this is the second monster that guards the sword. You must be very close to the blade now. This, Great Knights of Furope, is the monster Orio the Indomitable."
Nbowa the Great chuckled at the prospect. "And just how did he get a name like that? I mean...look at him! He's puny! I bet even Atimist could take him down!"
"Well, that's not really..."
"Yeah, look at his clothes!" Atimist the Strong But Really Small exclaimed, skittering along the forest floor and looking up at the feline hybrid. "He's wearing cute little booty shorts!"
Orio the Indomitable frowned and lowered his ears. "Hey, guys, that isn't very nice..."
"I bet he's wearing women's underthings, too," Huscoon the Stats Guy suggested. "Look at the cut around his butt here! Those are definitely women's panties!"
"Guuuuuuys..." Orio the Indomitable whimpered, sniffling a bit as the others joined in on making him feel less manly. "This isn't funny! We're supposed to be fighting!"
Arcturus the Bolton walked right up to the deadly monster and stroked a paw through his headfur, teasing his claws through it with a chuckle. "Fight you? Seriously? You're so dainty, you'd probably break a nail or something!"
Joshiah, The Arbiter of Large and Powerful Fantasy Weapons tried desperately to ignore the fact that this method of attack actually seemed to work every bit as well as a physical fight. Orio was blushing bright as the skin on a ripe cherry, his ears were flattened to the back of his head, and every single one of The Great Knights of Furope was heckling him about how cute and feminine he was, leaving him in a completely subdued state.
"You guys are being so mean," Orio the Indomitable whined, falling down to his knees in defeat and putting his eyes at crotch level with a bunch of knights that hadn't seen any action in at least a week...
...And before this story had a chance to go that direction, The Great Knights found that Orio the Indomitable falling to his knees triggered a large boulder to roll out of the way of an obvious cave that they somehow hadn't noticed before! What luck!
"The cave that houses the mighty sword of Excalifur! That must be it!" Huscoon the Stats Guy declared, and the knights all gathered up their things once more to rush inside. Somehow, they'd gotten past both monsters without actually killing either one of them, and the latter of the two, they didn't even physically attack.
Seriously, what the hell do these guys need a sword for? Joshiah pondered, as he walked past Orio the Indomitable, petting between his ears before walking into the pitch dark cave. It didn't look very large on the outside, but as Joshiah, the Arbiter of Large and Powerful Fantasy Weapons unleashed another bright white light, The Great Knights of Furope could see...
...That they were right. It wasn't a very large cave at all, not much bigger on the inside than a typical thatched roof cottage, and sitting at the top of a small stack of rocks was the gold and jewel encrusted handle of a sword. Between The Great Knights of Furope and the sword, however, there sat one last obstacle, in the form of a rather exotic animal in the world of Furope.
"HALT! I am the Guardian of Excalifur, the last challenge to a warrior who wishes to prove himself worthy to wield the blade! Many have come before you and tried, but all have failed, and had their pictures put on the wall of shame! Will you sure up your courage and try your luck at the Excalifur challenge, or walk away and cry like a bunch of Orio the Indomitables?"
The black and white stripes of the creature before the blade made it clear that he was a zebra, and Nbowa the Great had to wipe the drool from his lips at the thought of just consuming the Guardian of Excalifur and trying to pull the sword free. "What can we call you, Guardian? And how do we prove our worth?"
"You can call me Lan...or Gren. Not both together, just one or the other," the zebra replied. "And there is only one way to prove your worth to me and earn your chance to pull Excalifur free and become the one true king of the furry fand- I mean Furope! You must answer to me one question, each, and you can't help each other with the answers!"
"Can Joshiah help?"
"Oh, dude, Joshiah's here! That's awesome! I haven't seen that guy since we were in school together at Mythical College! How goes the job hunt?"
"I'm stuck as the Arbiter to a bunch of idi- I mean, powerful and wise knights," Joshiah replied bluntly. "They made it this far, and supposedly, one of them is going to be the one true king of Furope."
"Oh man...I've heard some bad things about those kind of jobs. Do you like being an Arbiter?"
"Some days, it's okay. Today is not one of those days. I seriously need a strong water of life right about now...how's the guardian business?"
"It's not bad, but the benefits suck...I might have to go on strike with the union in September. Turns out they're trying to revoke our insurance coverage on dark spells and evil magic, so...yeah. That's a whole thing."
"Uhm...Mister Gren?" Bluemoon the Overbearing cut in, "Can he help us or not?"
"He could, but he would totally get fired, and I don't want that hanging on my head. Look, the questions are not that hard. It's just an idiot check to make sure someone stupid doesn't end up in control of all of Furope...Now then. Line up, one by one, and you'll get your question."
The Great Knights of Furope lined up in the order that they'd entered the small cave, leaving Nbowa the Great at the end of the line, even though it was his birthday. Atimist the Strong But Really Small was first to answer.
"Brave knight: What is the color of the handle of Excalifur? You have five seconds."
Atimist the Strong But Really Small had never seen the handle, and though everyone else could see it, he wasn't tall enough to see the handle at the top of the rock pillar. "WHAT?! That isn't fair! I can't even see the damn thing!"
"Then I guess you should have done more research!"
"I...I don't know, yellow?"
"Be more specific."
"WRONG! It's actually gold. You lose!" Gren the Sword Guardian took a quick picture of Atimist the Strong But Really Small and put it up on the wall next to him. "Next, brave knight: What flavor was the cake that you needed Excalifur to cut? You have five seconds."
Doxial the Nibbler was the next in line, but he hadn't been involved in the cooking, and even when he tried to nibble the cake to cut it, he couldn't taste it. "I don't know! Good flavor?"
"WRONG! The correct answer was magic flavored. You lose too!" Gren the Sword Guardian took a picture of Doxial the Nibbler as well and put it up on the wall. "Next please!"
Huscoon the Stats Guy was next, and he looked confident in his approach. "Brave knight: What is the rule set for ending sentences with prepositions? You have five seconds."
The confidence ran from his face as he flipped his middle finger up at the Guardian of Excalifur. "You're a dick, Langren."
"Lan or Gren, not both!" he replied, taking a picture of Huscoon the Stats Guy as he walked away and putting it on the wall. Bluemoon the Overbearing was next, and though she was brandishing her weapon, it didn't seem to dissuade the Guardian of Excalifur one bit. "Brave knight: What is the recommended method for nosing a glass of scotch? You have five seconds."
"Joshiah! Help please!"
Joshiah shrugged his shoulders, and The Guardian of Excalifur took that as an answer. "That is definitely WRONG!" he declared, taking Bluemoon's picture and placing it on the wall. "Looks like we won't have a winner today, either...next please!"
Chutora the Momma's Boy was sure he would succeed where his mother failed. "I'm ready!" he said, brimming with confidence as the zebra looked him over.
"Brave knight: What realm of fantasy is Durendal from? You have five seconds."
"I don't even know which sword Durendal was! All I know is that we broke it!"
"...Holy shit. You're being serious right now?" the Guardian of Excalifur asked. "That thing is indestructible! You lose just on principal for that one!" A quick picture was taken of a despondent looking Chutora the Momma's Boy, who walked away with drooping shoulders. "Are you all that remains, lion? We might as well just send you home..."
"I want a question too!" Arcturus the Bolton cut in, crossing his arms and tapping a footpaw impatiently.
"Oh, of course! Let's see...okay. Brave knight: Spots or stripes? You have five seconds."
Everyone in the cave immediately yelled "STRIPES!" but it did no good to sway Arcturus the Bolton, who was firm in his stance. "Spots."
"While I admire your steadfast nature against overwhelming odds, that is entirely WRONG!" the Guardian of Excalifur explained, as he took a picture. In the background, Nbowa the Great could be seen, holding up a sign that read "Plain lives matter."
Arcturus the Bolton walked away with a grumble, thinking perhaps it had been a trick question to test his loyalty. Now, only Nbowa the Great was left, and the Guardian of Excalifur sighed. "Let's see here...brave knight: ...Damn it. Is today your birthday?" he asked, his voice filled with loathing.
"It is, yes. Why?"
"The Birthday Handouts Act of 1014 A.D. states that in the event of someone arriving to the cave on the day of their birthday, we're required to ask that as the actual question, so you're pretty much given a free shot at pulling the sword free. Sadly, we've had people get this one wrong because they opted to lie, but...we finally have a winner! You get to move on to the sword pulling round, Nbowa the Great!"
The Great Knights of Furope cheered their leader on as he walked up the rock pillar to the very top, where the golden handle of Excalifur, crafted to be in the shape of a curling tail, gleamed in the soft lights of the cave. The mythical diamond of the first king was imbued in the bottom of the handle, right at the end of the curl, and it was said that this diamond would only allow the sword to be removed from the stone by the new king of Furope. Now, Nbowa the Great stood poised over the stone...a rock formation that had two small, supple curves to it, and a long, flowing tail that came out from just above the curves, wrapping just under and then around the small bit of the blade that was showing.
"Gren! Did you do this?"
"Do what?" Gren asked, before he saw the peculiar shape of the holding place and snickered. "No, that's just how it looks. Seriously. I swear! You gonna try to pull the thing or what?"
Nbowa the Great rolled his eyes at the sick sense of humor that nature seemed to have about where the sword was actually stuck, and rested a single paw upon it. "No try about it, Gren. You know what they say about lions, after all..."
"And that is?"
A sudden burst of bright light hid the form of the sword as Nbowa the Great gripped the handle and tugged hard, and to the shock of all within the cave, the sword started to budge. The rock didn't grind as the sword came back out of it, but it did seem to make a weird, groaning and whimpering sound...Nbowa ignored it the best that he could and continued to pull, and and inch after inch of the blade started to come free, with bright, powerful bursts of light giving the cave a radiant glow, until the entirety of the sword was removed, and a crown of lights came to rest upon Nbowa's head, illuminating the blonde of his bangs.
"Lions are the kings of the jungle, baby!" Nbowa the Great called out in penultimate triumph, holding the sword up over his head and pointing it to the roof of the cave. The rock formation around them started to collapse, revealing a hole in the trees overhead and showing that the gloomy clouds that had settled over Furope for generations were starting to break apart. Bright blue sky was finally apparent through the thin walls of clouds that struggled to remain, but they couldn't leave a sad shadow over the joyous occasion of the day: Furope finally had a new and worthy king.
The Great Knights of Furope, now united anew under High King Nbowa, easily made their way back to the castle after their quest was over, as Joshiah, the Arbiter of Large and Powerful Fantasy Weapons had completed his task, and was allowed to direct them back out to the castle afterwards. It only took them a half an hour to reach the back wall of the castle, and this time, it only took them another five minutes to find the front door from there.
The party was back under way in the dining room, where more guests were pouring in, admiring the amazing cake that Bluemoon the Overbearing had baked. Drinks were flowing and snacks were consumed, and an atmosphere of cheer filled the castle as a new age of unification was underway in Furope. Even Orio the Indomitable and Diz the Indecisive were in welcomed attendance, with the former not really turning out to be much of a monster, and the latter giving up his wicked ways so that he could use his transformation powers for good. Joshiah and Gren were watching with anticipation as High King Nbowa raised up the mythical sword, ready to use it for the first time.
The blade started to glow as it came down to cut into the frosting, and where all other blades had failed and broken, Excalifur cut into the amazing looking cake and finally cut away a piece.
"Now, who shall have the first piece?" High King Nbowa asked.
"It must be you, my king!" Arcturus the Bolton declared, even as he danced around the room with his friends, refusing to stop the party.
"Yes, the piece belongs to you, High King!" Huscoon the Stats Guy agreed, as he drank heavily from a mug of mead. "There is no one more worthy to taste the first piece of this legendary cake!"
High King Nbowa started to chuckle at all of the praise, and he called for quiet as he found that with the magic of the cake broken, he could now easily pull a piece away with a fork. "Very well, very well! I'll have the first piece."
The fork came to his maw, and he admired the delicious looking light blue frosting and white buttercream. The inside fluff of the cake was soft and spongy, just as it should have been, and was a delightful, tasty looking shade of light yellow. It was everything that a perfect cake should be, and High King Nbowa popped the fork right into his muzzle, chewing down upon the soft, moist cake that they'd quested long and hard to finally be able to eat.
"Huh. Tastes like chicken."