England, 936 AD
The sound of hooves beating on a dust-ridden trail from the distance moved closer and closer to the rustic village of Not-quite-clean-but-not-dirty-either in the stately english countryside. Immediately, villagers rushed from their houses with stands and their wares to try and sell them to any prospective suckers-born-just-a-minute-ago.
"Oy, there they are!" shouted the mayor.
"OOOH, welcome rich gentlemanly sir knights. Wilt thou buy our useless crap? Please, only for a bit," shouted the villagers as one.
Moments later, a group of weary looking knights in very cheap-looking costumes rode into town, wildly banging two coconut-halves together. The most regal (and least filthy) of them 'rode' up front to speak to the villagers.
"Greetings, noble villagers," the man stated and adjusted his crown. "I am Arthur, king of all Britons. And I have come..."
"King of the who?"
"What's a king?"
"Are you rich?"
"Buy our stuff!"
The man recovered briefly. "I am on a quest given to us by God himself, to find and recover the Holy Grail and..."
"Pull the other one!"
"Wanna buy a grail? I've got tons of those in my cottage!"
"Screw the grail, check out my relics here! Look, it's our good Lord's own chamber pot, and it's still smelly. Only a six-pence!"
"That's your own chamber pot! See, this, milord, it's the blessed ketchup of saint Heinz!"
"Now look here," King Arthur tried, but utterly failed to grab the villagers' attention.
"Try our superior muck! It's much better filth than the dirt they sell over in 'This-Village-Is-Filled-With-Disgusting-People'-Village. Here, rub it all over ya clothes there."
The king pulled the reins (on his coconuts) and pulled away. "Bloody peasants!" he spat while he rode off, unbeknownst of the awe-inspired red-head who has just poked her head out the window.
Several miles away, a valiant knight and his trusted ma, uh, girl-servant were travelling along the river-banks towards the rendez-vous point. They had been on a daring quest through the swamps of Icky, strewn with murderous feral chickens and giant dragon-rat, hoping to find information about the location of the Holy Grail. Unfortunately, all the knight had found was muck, and was en route to his king to report the sad news.
When they arrived the river-crossing, it was the knight who jumped on the first stone. "Come along, Concord!" Sir Lancelot the Brave cheerfully spoke, but was only met with an indignant huff.
The girl-servant threw off her pack and glared at Lancelot. "Lance," the girl-servant spoke. "How many times do I have to tell you. My name is not Concord. It's Tara. My name has been Tara for the past twenty years! Can't you at least try to remember it? Just once?"
"Pardon?" Lancelot blinked.
"Look... It's bad enough that my father traded me to Camelot for three kegs of ale when I was five," Tara crossed her arms. "It's bad enough that I have to carry all your crap around. It's bad enough that I only have tiny mule-coconuts to work with while you have those fancy horse-coconuts. But I want you to at least TRY to remember my name. T-A-R-A. It's not even a hard name, you know?"
"Well, uh," Lancelot scratched his head. "I gotta act according to my, uh... what's that again?"
"Idiom, sir?" Tara sighed. "It always comes back to the knightly idiom."
"Yes, yes, idiom," Lancelot said. "Come along, Concord."
"Uh, Lance," Tara offered. "The king's that way," she said, pointing to the north, the exact opposite direction Lancelot was going in."
"Oh, I know."
"So why go there?"
"Ahum," Lancelot said, pointing to the road sign on the other side of the river. A small paper read 'Wanted. Handsome Knight to Rescue Damsel in Distress. Must have own horse and lands. Must not be afraid of Dragons. Applicants may apply at Castle Oh-God-The-Horror-No-No-GOD-No-AAARGGHHH-gurgle.' "Idiom, Concord. Idiom."
Tara sighed heavily.
Two full months later, Sir Lancelot and Tara arrived at the rendez-vous point. Immediately, Tara noticed that a lot of footmen were no longer present... but then again, this group of knights went through footmen like mice went through cheese.
While Lancelot was reporting to the king, Tara put her feet up for some much deserved rest. Certainly, being Lancelot's footgirl was exciting, but he was so brave and rugged keeping up with him was getting tiresome, especially after he had slaughtered all the guests at an evil wedding banquet and had personally slain the giant beetles of Liverpool who claimed they were bigger than Jesus.
"Heya," a pleasant sounding voice sounded from behind. Shifting around, Tara saw a gorgeous looking red-head smiling friendly at her. Immediately, Tara's mouth dried as she tried to swallow. "Hi," the girl sat down next to her. "I'm Willow. I'm the new girl. You're, um, Concord, right?"
"Tara," Tara sighed. "Name's T-tara, officially... but I could be C-Concord for you. In fact, you can call me anything you like. A-a-anything at all."
"Thanks," Willow smiled. "Oh, this is all so exciting. All the knights and heroic stuff..."
"Oh, now I KNOW that you're new," Tara chuckled. "So, you're still enthusiastic, then?"
Willow frowned. "Are you kidding? How could you NOT be?! King Arthur! The knights of the round table! I mean, wow! And we're on a holy quest!"
"Look at them," Tara pointed to the knights, who were hopelessly bickering about the quality of the catering. "I've been a footgirl for fifteen years, Willow and if there's one thing I've learned, is that they'd be totally lost without us. They might be the brains of the operation, but we take care of the details. We keep their armor clean, make sure they are fed, take care of their horses (Coconuts need to be polished, after all), tend to their wounds... It's a surprise they know how to wipe their own bottoms, really."
Willow pouted slightly. "I just went from enthusiastic to deeply embittered."
"Yeah, that happens a lot to footgirls who hang around with me," Tara shrugged. "I wonder why."
"You know, for brave knights and loyal footmen, we certainly end up running away a lot," Willow frowned. "I mean, they all just shout 'Run away' and run around like headless chickens."
"Who's your knight?" Tara asked.
Willow pouted again. "I was hoping for Sir Bedevere. We could have had interesting philosophical discussions and talked about science and stuff... but I got stuck with Sir Robin the-not-quite-so-brave-as-Sir-Lancelot. It could be worse, I suppose. If I had gotten stuck with Sir-Not-Appearing-In-This-Movie, I wouldn't have gotten any screentime at all."
"There, there," Tara wrapped an arm around the new girl. "Us footgirls have to stick together, you know?"
"One day," Willow sighed dreamfully. "I am going to be a knight myself, sitting around the Round Table swilling grog with the rest of the knights."
"You're still so naive. I like that in a girl."
"How'd you get so embittered at age 20?"
"It's a gift," Tara shrugged. "Sir Robin'll turn you bitter even faster than Lance can. At least Lance does his job, though."
"Great..." Willow pouted and sighed.
"Hey, if you ever get to be a knight," Tara smiled. "Come look me up, if you need a girlservant to take care of any of your... needs... or whims..."
"You be the first one I call. Say, how did Sir Robin's first footman meet his end?"
"Well, he was crushed when a giant wooden rabbit was launched from a castle and landed right on top of him."
"Uh... Oh," Willow blanched. "Does that happen a lot?"
"Every scene or so."
And so summer turned into autumn. And autumn turned into winter. And winter skipped right to the following winter. Still the brave knights were not closer to finding the grail. After setting up camp at the shores of Lac Dinnosaure, Lancelot was in conversation with king Arthur.
"My king," Lancelot said. "I must disagree. The airspeed velocity of a laden swallow cannot be as you say when it's weighed down by a coconut."
"No, no, the calculations are based upon two swallows carrying the coconut on a line," Arthur retorted. "You'll see it is correct."
"Oh, I see, I see," Lancelot fell silent. "My king, I must profess to having seen an lapse in Condord's performance the past couple of months."
"Oh? Explain, good sir Knight."
"Well, the past couple of months, I have been seeing a lapse of performance in Concord's performance, as I had just said to you."
"You're saying you've been seeing a lapse of performance in Concord's performance recently?"
"Exactly. Recently, I've been seeing a lapse of performance in Concord's abilities. In the past, whenever I wanted my armor polished or my boots shined or an arrow handed to me for the reloading of the longbow, my faithful Concord was always at my side. But ever since Concord and that Willow-girl asked to be allowed to sleep in the same tent, things haven't been the same I'm afraid. Just look..."
Lancelot pointed at the tent shared by Willow and Tara, which was shaking like crazy. Weird shadows could be seen, accompanied by grunts, moans and sighs.
"I can't believe it, they're fighting AGAIN!" Lancelot sighed. "That's the fifth time this night. I swear, I'm going to throw a bucket of water of them the next time this happens."
"Fighting," Arthur shook his head. "Well, you know how women tend to be."
A happy sigh came from the tent, followed by the sound of lips smacking together. The tent stopped shaking and the candle inside was extinguished.
"There, see?" Arthur replied. "They made up and have gone to bed. Nothing to worry about, Lancelot."
"Do you see the Bridge of Death on that map?" Willow asked Tara while they were studying the map for their wayward knights traversing the plains of ash.
"No," Tara replied while intently studying the map. "Plenty of dragons, though."
"Dragons?" Willow frowned and looked at the map. Plastered all over the map of England were several 'Here There Be Dragons'-entries. "Hm, that's odd. Judging from the map, you'd expect to be tripping over dragons. Where are they?"
"I've heard that dragons are actually very shy, and rarely show themselves to humans," Tara replied.
"Yeah, but how do you miss a 20 tonne fire-breathing flying reptile?" Willow replied.
"They're very fast and sneaky?" Tara wondered, while Willow looked around in the sky. "Or maybe they're invisible?"
"How do they know dragons exist if they're invisible?"
"Maybe they smell bad?"
Willow pondered this for a moment. "Anything else on the map."
"Oh, here, cannibals! Here There Be Cannibals!" Tara pointed on the map.
Willow blinked. "Cannibals? In Cornwall?"
"Can you blame them? They only that that clotted cream to work with."
"True," Willow smiled. "Hey, what's this? Here There Be Giant Man-Eating Turnips."
Suddenly, an army of cute mewey kittens had gathered around Willow and Tara, and, in chorus, they shouted : "GET ON WITH IT! YES, GET ON WITH IT!"
"Sheesh," Willow huffed. "Well, that's rude..."
The next few moments turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. Several knights had been lost at the Bridge of Death, Sir Lancelot had disappeared without a trace, Castle AAAARGH had been invaded by the french, and King Arthur's army had been virtually decapitated now that strange men from the London Police Department had stopped by.
Now, Willow and Tara were the only ones left from a once powerful group of adventurers, the only ones left in the quest for the holy grail, for which so many have given their lives and for which...
"GET ON WITH IT!" the army of kittens shouted again.
Tara stood before the door leading into Castle ARRRRGH, as of yet unnoticed by the French.
"Any ideas?" Tara asked.
"Just one," Willow grinned and pulled on the door, which now opened without any trouble at all. "King Arthur pushed the door, but never pulled it."
Tara scoffed. "They're devious, those French. Confound them! Underhanded trick!"
Together Willow and Tara snuck up the staircase to the parapet. There, they stared at the back of the rude frenchmen whom had taunted them so terribly. Right now, he was too busy to taunt Arthur and Bedevere, who were being arrested on the other side of the canal, to pay them much notice. Silently, Willow and Tara crept to the chest containing the Holy Grail, conveniently marked 'Chest Containing The Holy Grail'.
"Hah, hah, look at you now, you stupid english bottom-wiping kniggets. I sniff my nose at you, you electrically stimulated duck fiddlers. Sod off, you great big aunties of a motherless hairy goat-buttock! I wave my armpits at you, you ravenous bottom-feeders, you silly rhubarb fed tick-suckers, so called Arthur-King, who has the brain of a duck, you know."
The tell-tale twang of a catapult being launched alerted the frog to the presence of Willow and Tara. But it was too late. With a resounding 'weeeee', the girls had launched themselves and the chest with the catapult, and they soared through the air and into the lake below.
When they emerged from the water, they could barely hear the taunts of the angry french. They were simply too euphoric to notice, for they had succeeded where Arthur and his knights had failed. The Grail, holy and holier than thou, vessel of the sacred spilled sanguine, giver of life eternal, was now in the hands of the two bravest of women.
"Look at this," Willow grinned as she held the grail. "We've been looking for this for two years. I can finally go back to my village and tell my mom I wasn't a waste of time. We should take this to Rome, Tara, we'll be saints! Imagine that, Saint Willow. Hey, that'd be mean I'd made it big before I reached the ripe old age of 28, which is not so far from the average lifespan, you know?"
"I got a better idea," Tara grinned. "This grail should be worth a few bob, I think."
And so, Willow and Tara sold the grail to a guy named Da Vinci who wanted to set up an ancient mystery around it with clues and everything. With the money, they bought themselves a knighthood, a tract of land, a herd of sheep, a few peasants, a full set of steak-knifes (in a presentation box) and their very own castle in the countryside.
"Hm," Sir Willow frowned as she regarded their newly bought castle. "This castle looks very familiar. Have we seen it before."
"Willow," Sir Tara replied. "This castle is exactly the same as all the other castles we've visited before."
"What, you mean all Castles in England have the same basic design?"
"No, I mean it's just one castle," Sir Tara said. "This fic has a very low budget, you know?
"We're lucky to get a castle at all. It could have only been a model," Sir Willow scoffed.
"Look on the bright side," Sir Tara chuckled. "Useful_Oxymoron couldn't afford that big CGI rabbit-monster either. That could have been unpleasant for us, so I'm not complaining."
"Hmmm," Sir Willow nodded. "Say, do you think we adhered to the fic challenge? I mean, most of this stuff is fictional..."
"Oh, sure," Sir Tara replied. "The movie this fic was based on was released in 1975, so I'm pretty sure we're in the clear there."
"Good," Sir Willow smiled. "Now, if I remember correctly, scene 24 act 1 had a queen-sized bed in the main tower of the castle. I'm kinda eager to... break it in."
"You read my mind, sweetie," Sir Tara grinned as she took her lover by the hand and led her inside the castle.
"Wait!" Sir Willow said and took out the map. "Just a minor adjustment," she said, after scribbling something on the map and held it out for Sir Tara to see.
'Here There Be Dykes.'