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stories & literature

bristales: the lost socks

"Socks, Dogs, and Logs"

by Libris

This is a spinoff story.  It is not a continuation of previous Kingdom of 'Bris tales, but reading them prior to this will certainly be of benefit. The two may be linked at a later date however.

* * *

This sure be fine pig foot soup, Ma

Socks, Dogs and Logs


By Libris Shagmerchant

SLAM took a deep breath, and affixed a clothes peg to his nose.  Cleaning the King's sock drawer was never easy, and it was an annual tradition that he could have certainly done without.  Every year, on the 15th of January, without fail, the King would get up early, too early, 5 AM early, and with the aid of a small trumpet, would successfully rouse the whole Kingdom with him.  January the 15th would be a date forever associated in SLAM's mind with unimaginable horrors, the result of him having to clean out the royal sock drawer.  He wondered what nasty surprises he'd find in there this year. Last January, to his utter astonishment he'd found an entire colony of stray cats living amongst the rancid piles of material, they'd snuck in there some time the previous year and had found it to be a most accommodating place indeed.  It wouldn't be a problem, SLAM thought, if the King had a normal sock drawer like everybody else, but no, he had 3 rooms full of the things.  Why does he need 3 rooms!? He asked himself grumpily for the nth time that day. 3 Rooms!

SLAM fumbled for the key to the royal sock drawer ... well ok, we'll stop calling it a drawer, the sock emporium then, happy now?  His hands trembled as he unlocked the huge oak door, tentatively he peeked around the corner of the doorway and into the gloom.  He had expected vast mountains of unwashed socks in every variety, from frilly and pink through to garish polka dotted ones.  Instead, he was greeted with a bare room.  He gasped, noticing that he actually felt a little ambivalent; one part of him wanted to jump for joy; no socks meant no work, but another part of him - the more cautious, perhaps slightly paranoid part - was worried, how could such an exuberant amount of smelly footwear just vanish?  Something wasn't quite right.

After checking the remaining two rooms of what was once the King's enormous sock stronghold, SLAM decided that the only sensible thing to do was to rush back to the throne room and tell the King immediately.  He hastily made his way back through the twisting corridors of the castle, nearly tripping over the ever unfortunate Royal_Dog, who seemed to have a knack of getting underfoot at the most crucial of times.  Moments later, he arrived panting and nursing a swollen ankle, much to the amusement of the King.  "Sire ..." he began, snapping to attention with a smart salute.  "I'm uh, afraid that your um, er...*cough* socks have been, ehm, misplaced it seems."  The King sat calmly on his throne.  He gave a little sniff, and flicked an imaginary piece of dust off the shoulder of his immaculate tunic.  "Are you telling me," he said in a soft, level voice, "that my socks are missing?"

"Um well, too be quite frank, yes." SLAM said, shifting uneasily from one foot to the other.  King Libris looked over at his royal vizier, Safyre, who appeared to be fumbling through a rather large, and well-read book.  Libris knew that he was merely avoiding eye contact.  "Hmph ..." he said, sulking.  "There were exactly three million five thousand three hundred and forty-two socks in those rooms." He began, "And now I'm down to my last pair of pokemon socksies."  The king raised his royal robe a bit to reveal a pair of rather grubby socks, with a rather sad looking pokemon embroidered on each ankle.  He closed his eyes for a moment, thinking.  "SLAM." he said finally, "I want you to find my socks, do whatever you have to do, just get them back.  And if someone has stolen them, I want them brought to justice."  The King gave a little smirk as he thought about his new torture chamber, complete with the latest Destiny's Child album and wall to wall Bose speaker system.  SLAM saluted smartly, though he felt a little queasy.  How was he going to get to the bottom of this?  As far as he could see the socks had just vanished into thin air.  "I'll do my best sire."  He said bravely.  And with that, he turned around and went to his quarters to briefly prepare for some sleuthing.

* * *

SLAM's quarters were a humble affair, but they were very homely, he'd decorated the walls nicely with a number of posters, and of course, like so many other rooms in the castle, a framed picture of BARRY.  He opened up his closet, and rummaged around inside, he pulled out an orange leisure suit, almost identical to the one he was currently wearing, and changed into it.  That's better! he thought to himself, suddenly feeling he could face anything.  A new leisure suit really can do a lot for a guy.

He made his way back to the rooms where the King's socks were supposed to be.  On the way over, Royal_Dog got underfoot again, nearly tripping him for the second time that morning, SLAM cast a scowl at Royal_Dog, but was secretly glad for the company: being the number one servant to the eccentric King Libris could occasionally be a thankless and tiring job.

He poked around the three rooms for a while, not really noticing anything unusual - other than the distinct lack of socks.  He sat down in a corner to think things through, it seemed like a hopeless situation.  That was, until Royal_Dog started barking excitedly.  SLAM got up and walked over to where the dog was barking madly at a wall.  He's gone mad SLAM thought to himself, quite clearly there was absolutely nothing there.  But something strange happened, something that SLAM couldn't immediately explain.  Royal_Dog let out one final yap, and then walked right into the wall, and disappeared!  SLAM was gobsmacked, he gasped, he put a hand to his forehead and felt for a temperature, he wondered if he'd accidentally eaten the King's "special mushrooms" that morning instead of his own. But no, what SLAM had just witnessed was cold, hard reality, Royal_Dog had seemingly disappeared into thin air.

SLAM sat there, stunned for a few moments before getting up and examining the spot where Royal_Dog had once been.  He felt around on the ground.  Nothing, he reached his hand out to the wall and tried to touch it, bingo!  The wall wasn't actually there, his hand disappeared.  "A portal!" he exclaimed, before dashing out of the room, to bring help.

>Shortly afterward, SLAM was back in the room, this time accompanied by King Libris, and a number of his advisers and guards.  The King rubbed his cheek thoughtfully.  "You say he was right here?" he asked, gesturing to the dusty floor where SLAM had last seen the dog.  "Yes sire, and then he just... well, vanished!"

"It does sound like some kind of portal," Safyre said.

"Hmm yes" the King replied thoughtfully.  "Any volunteers to check it out?" he said grinning, and looking directly at SLAM.  "Uhm, well oh, alright." SLAM said, clearly a little put off.  The King beamed.  "Who knows," he said, "there may even be a promotion in it somewhere."  Now it was SLAM's turn to beam.  He gave a smart salute, and walked straight into the wall, or at least he would have, had the wall been there.  Libris turned to one of his guards, Meh.  "Follow him in there, he might need some muscle, and I don't want anything happening to little Chopstick* (Chopstick was Royal_Dog's real name, but only the King could call him this.)  With a nod, Meh bounded into the wall, and disappeared.

* * *

He arrived on the other side, and immediately noticed SLAM, who was howling in pain and clutching his left shin.  It appeared that he'd tripped on a log.  "Where are we?" Asked  Meh, not really expecting an answer.  SLAM just winced, and shrugged.  Meh looked about, he seemed to have materialized out of a large apple tree, he turned around and tried to touch the trunk, but his hand touched nothing.  Oh well, at least we can get back, he thought to himself.  The were in some kind of garden, the grass was a deep green, soft and trim, there were flowers and various fruit bearing trees scattered about.  When SLAM could walk, he got up, and they walked around the place, SLAM thought it would have been quite pretty, if he wasn't in such immense pain.  A blow to the shins is enough to ruin anyone's day.  Meh was the first to spot the house, a little cottage hidden behind some shrubs.  "Perhaps Royal_Dog went to that house." he said to SLAM.

"Yes" SLAM replied, "he has a good nose on him, if there's any food nearby it'd be in that house, and where there's food, there's Royal_Dog."  They trudged over to the house and knocked on the door.  Immediately, there was a familiar yapping from inside.  Relief washed over SLAM and Meh, Royal_Dog had been found!  Promotions were in order!  "Doesn't look like anyone's at home." Meh said, peering into a dark window.  "Shall I just bust the door down, rescue the pup, and we'll be off home?"  SLAM looked uneasy,

"I don't think we should just bust in like that, it could be an old lady or something living here, that can't fix doors."  Meh laughed, and kicked the door in anyway.

"You clumsy oaf!" SLAM began "What did you go and do that for!? You will fix this door right now!"

"Aww lay off." said Meh, hurt.  "We got the pup didn't we?" he said as he walked into the doorway and scooped up Royal_Dog in his arms.

"Don't move."  Said a stern, female voice.  Meh felt cold steel on his throat.  He looked to the side, and saw a dark shape in the corner, a dark shape that was holding a sword to his throat!  "We're uh, very sorry madam!" SLAM blubbered, adding for Meh's benefit: "I told you not to kick the door in, you brain-dead lump of antique horse manure!"

The woman turned her gaze to SLAM, who was still outside the doorway of the cottage, but very much within lunging distance, SLAM realized this and gulped audibly.  "First of all," said the woman "why the hell did you kick my door down? Second, what do you want with my dog?"  Meh, being the one who had a large, sharp object pointed right at his voice box decided to talk, while he still could.  "We're from the Kingdom of 'Bris, we stumbled upon a portal in one of the castle's rooms, we were there investigating the disappearance of an unbelievably large number of royal socks, the royal dog located, and disappeared into the portal, and we are the poor saps the King sent to find him!"  Meh gasped for breath, he wasn't used to long sentences, as a guard, he usually only ever had to grunt, and occasionally bitch about the weather.  The woman stepped out of the shadows, strangely she wore a spartan helmet.  Both Meh and SLAM could see the ghost of a grin on her lips.  "I'm Katethegreat," she said.  "Ruler of these parts,  I'll let you live, on two conditions.  One, that you fix my door, and two, that you go back to your King, and leave me and my garden in peace."

"Sounds fair." said SLAM.  Katethegreat withdrew the sword from Meh's immediate vicinity, but kept a stern eye on him.  "Where are we anyway?"  Asked Meh, when he felt safe enough to speak again.  "You're in the land of Katex," said Katethegreat.  "I rule it."

"You rule it from a cottage in the woods?" Meh scoffed.  "A cottage in the woods, hahaha!" he laughed, trying to catch SLAM's eye.  SLAM just looked at the ceiling and hoped that he wouldn't suddenly see pieces of Meh flying about the room.  Katethegreat shot Meh an icy stare.  "Wealth and comfort are nothing compared to raw power, and respect."  She said, casually trimming Meh's eyebrows with her razor sharp sword.  Meh fainted.  "Oh damnation!" said SLAM.  "I guess I'll have to help you fix the door now."

"Smart lad."  said Katethegreat, her tone cold as ice.

It took SLAM a good hour and a half to fix the door, he wasn't much of a handyman really, when he'd finally finished Katethegreat asked him to fix the sink and unclog the toilet too.  "Typical" SLAM muttered under his breath, as he worked the plunger.  Meh decided to wake up after a while, he was unusually quiet and didn't make much eye contact.  Finally SLAM had finished the set chores, Kate lowered her sword and said that they could leave.  Meh breathed an audible sigh of relief, and made straight for the door of the cottage.  SLAM coughed politely, "Erm, there is still the uhm... matter of the royal dog."  he said.  Katethegreat looked defensive.  "Fluffy is mine." She said.

"Oh bother..." muttered SLAM, this was not good.  "You see, he's the king's dog, and his name isn't erm, fluffy."

"He's mine now."  Katethegreat said defiantly, and with that ushered SLAM out of the cottage and shut the door firmly behind him.  "Oh man, we're screwed." SLAM said shaking his head.  "She's taken the dog?" Meh looked dismayed.


"Let's go back to the kingdom and get reinforcements then!"

SLAM nodded, and they started trudging back through the garden.  Eventually they came to the rough spot where they'd materialized, the only trouble was they couldn't quite remember which tree held the portal.  20 minutes, and a few bruises later they once again found themselves standing in the King's empty sock emporium, half the kingdom's expectant faces stared at them.  Of course, King Libris was the first to speak.  "Where's my chopstick!?" he squealed.

"We've uhm run into some problems." SLAM said.

"Yeah, err, big ones." Meh offered not very helpfully. "Like, there's this chick, and she's got this sword, man you could put an eye out with that thing, anyway, she found Royal_Dog and likes him, she says it's hers now."

"What is this girl's name?"  The King asked, his face was red.

"Uhhm." Meh began..."Wasn't it something like Katethefantastic?  Or Katetheprettykewl, Katethealright?"

"No! Dolt" It was SLAM's turn to speak.  "It was Katethegreat the great!"

"Like in Alexander the Great?" The King asked.

"Yes your majesty."

The King was silent for a while.  He stroked his beard thoughtfully.  "I've heard of her." He said at last.  "She rules the province of Katex, west of the Fendar border.  Word has it that she once chewed off one of her enemies' ears.  Just like that!  No warnings, just went up to him, and chomp, a feisty one that's for sure."  The King once again lapsed into thought.  "Ok" he said, "I'll send some extra men with you.  Try to get my little chopstick back."

"I'm never going anywhere near that crazy woman again!"  Meh exclaimed "Plz, your majesty, let me stay and send someone else instead this time."  The King scowled, and muttered something that sounded like 'pansy' under his breath.  "Ok," he said "But only because you said 'plz'.  Goblin, Ciaran, HunterZ and Dsteel, accompany SLAM back to Katex, and get me my dog!"

* * *

Moments later the five of them found themselves in Kate's garden.  SLAM led the way to the cottage.  "Katethegreat lives in a cottage?" Dsteel asked, sniggering. 

"Yeah, yeah" said SLAM "just don't diss her cottage when she's in earshot or you'll be searching the ground for your nose."  Dsteel gave a macho sneer, but his knees were shaking.  They arrived at the cottage, and SLAM knocked on the back door.  The five of them waited around for a few moments before SLAM knocked again.  Either no one was home, or Katethegreat was ignoring them.  "Damnation." SLAM muttered.

"Curses!" said Ciaran.

"Bother!" cried HunterZ.

"What a wimp." Added Dsteel, who was secretly glad that he wouldn't have to face Katethegreat.  Goblin just stood there, idly lighting and flicking matches.  "Ok, so what do we do now?" HunterZ asked at last.  Ciaran just shrugged.

"Burninate!" was Goblin's suggestion.

"Not yet." SLAM said firmly.  "I hate to say this, but why don't we try to break into the place and see if chop...err...Royal_Dog is in there." They all agreed that this sounded like a fine plan indeed, and before long HunterZ and Dsteel had picked up Ciaran and were using him as a battering ram.  Five minutes later, they were inside.  "She needs a new interior decorator." was the first thing out of Dsteel's mouth.  "That pink with sky blue? Uh uh darling, so wrong. And that picture! What is that?" he asked, motioning to a painting of a guy sitting at some kind of desk.  SLAM read the plaque, "DJ Mirage" he said, adding "Whoever that is..."

"Probably her boyfriend or something." Dsteel said.

"Give it a rest and stop looking at the wall hangings," Said Goblin, "the place'll be torched before long anyway, if I have any say in things."

"Quit bickering," said Ciaran "we have a job to do."  SLAM led the way through the house, he knew his way around because he' had to fix the sink, the toilet etc on his last visit, besides it wasn't exactly a huge place; basically a lounge room with a small kitchen tacked on a corridor with a bathroom and bedroom jutting off to the left, and what appeared to be a 'training' room on the right.  Royal_Dog was nowhere to be found.  HunterZ moaned.  "What are we gonna do now?" he whined.  Goblin's eyes gleamed.


"Hmmm" said SLAM.  "Look maybe she doesn't deserve that.  She's really quite a nice gal once you get talking with her.  Well, as long as you're not talking about sharp objects or disemboweling people."

"Ooooh SLAMmie's got a crush!"  That was Dsteel.  SLAM went a little red.

"Uhm no." he said "But she is kinda cute."

"Let's get going." Said HunterZ "She obviously isn't here.  They trooped out of the house, spirits low.  They wandered around the garden for a while, but didn't see much, only a Nifflas, which is a strange little animal much like an antelope which bounded around the trees for a while before disappearing.  Ciaran ate an apple noisily as they trudged around.  Eventually they gave up, satisfied that they'd covered every inch of the garden, and they decided to return to the kingdom.  Empty handed, they walked over to the place where the portal was.  "Uhm, which tree is it again?" asked HunterZ.  They all looked at SLAM

"Oh dear, I um, have forgotten again." he replied a little sheepishly.  They all moped for a minute.  "Oh wait!" SLAM cried, "I remember, it's this one" he said, pointing to a tree with a log in front of it, "I remember because I tripped on this infernal log the first time I came through!"  They walked through the portal, and once again found themselves in the King's empty sock emporium.  They were alone.  "Where'd everyone go?" Asked Goblin.

"Oh I wouldn't be surprised if they've forgotten all about us." SLAM said, a hint of annoyance in his voice as he remembered the time the King and his men had managed to 'forget' him at the bottom of a well.  The group made it's way through the stone corridors of the castle and to the throne room.  SLAM gasped as he entered, standing next to the King was Katethegreat!  SLAM lunged forward, trying to draw his trusty short sword, "Stay back your majesty!" he yelled, "I'll protect you!" before falling face first onto the red carpet.  The King laughed his famous laugh.  "No need SLAM, Katethegreat is a welcome guest in my kingdom."  Meh who was off to the side, holding a spear and looking a mite sick rolled his eyes.  "But sire!" SLAM said "She took your dog! Outright refused to give it back, we searched everywhere, we can't find him either."  The King beamed "Chopstiiiiiiiiiiick!" he called.  Moments later Royal_Dog bounded into view.  Relief washed over SLAM.  "Thank BARRY!" he said.

It turned out that Katethegreat had followed Meh and SLAM after their first meeting, after seeing them vanish into an apple tree, her curiosity had become aroused, upon their return to Katex she'd slipped in, found herself in the Kingdom of 'Bris where she was greeted by a number of surprised faces, and the King himself. The King, being the nice fellow that he is invited her in for a goblet of soup, with the ulterior motive of snatching up the dog at her feet and then sending her packing with a fleet of his guards.  But the king found that he quite liked Katethegreat, so he decided to swap her something for the dog instead.  A pair of sparkly pink swimming trunks were a small price to pay for his beloved Chopstick.

The mystery of the King's disappearing socks was not solved, nor would it be, at least until they stumbled across the other portal in the sock room...

To be continued... (omg)

* * *

A number of people expecting to feature in this will be a little disappointed at this point, well fear not - this is only the first half of the story, and you'll no doubt be in the second part.  It would have been to chaotic to include everyone who wanted to be in it, so that's why it's been divided.  The second half has not been written yet, but I have some ideas - oh yes, and of course, there will be a continuation of the original story about the crew venturing to the B-Stone.

* * *

The End!
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