BY: TOBIAS GARRETT
The heroic and peculiar Baron Von Prindel embarks on a perilous journey with his talkative companions: Hopper, a hyper and loyal dog, and Maroon, his more intelligent and wise-cracking horse. Their quest for their king, and the neighboring sultan, is to find the magic Water of Jewelz, said to give anyone who drinks it the powers to rule. No man in all written history had ever succeeded. Armies and nations had been destroyed in its search.
Baron, Maroon, and Hopper have never failed on any of their knightly missions, but they fear that this will be their last. Duty and honor lead them into a land where humans, dogs, and horses are not welcome, and more often than not, eaten upon introduction. And even if they succeed in their quest, do they dare give the water to men who hunger for even more power than they already have?
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Baron Von Prindle’s Parade by Tobias Garrett, Baron Von Prindel is sent from his king to a neighboring sultan with a letter—a letter that sends Baron on a dangerous quest to find the mysterious Water of Jewelz, which gives to one who drinks it special ruling powers. With his talking dog and horse, Hopper and Maroon, Baron tackles witches, wizards, and vampire bats, treading into places from which many never return. Baron has never failed in any quest before, but now he fears he may have bitten off more than he can chew.
Fascinating, suspenseful, and intriguing, the story will grab and hold your interest from beginning to end.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Baron Von Prindel’s Parade by Tobias Garrett is the story of the courageous and strange Baron Von Prindel who has been asked by his king to travel beyond the Black Mountains to the far off Mount Jewelz and obtain two flasks of the magical Waters of Jewelz for the king and his neighbor, the sultan. Many men have tried to obtain these waters and none have ever returned. Baron is reluctant to go on this quest, but duty and honor force him to accept. With his trusty companions Hopper and Maroon, one hundred warriors, two scout dogs, and a friendly troll, Baron sets off on his mission, knowing that most likely none of them will make it back alive. But if he should be so lucky as to succeed, his price is not gold or other riches—no, all he wants in return is a parade.
Baron Von Prindel’s Parade is an interesting urban fantasy, to say the least. The author has quite an imagination, and the book is filled with strange and wonderful characters as well as fascinating and thrilling experiences. It will keep you enthralled all the way through.
A Horse Goes Off Course
Baron Von Nile Rodashire Prindel looked far younger than he was, weighed more than he appeared, and was more articulate in his speech than his intelligence could support. To say he looked forty-five years of age and weighed sixty bricks, when he actually was sixty-five and weighed eighty bricks was a compliment.
He was tall, thin, and when needed, moved with surprising agility. His hair was neatly white atop his head, upon his brows, and above his lip, where lay a grand twisted mustache that framed a kind face led by a noble nose. Though no royal blood marred his lineage, he was considered and called to his back and face “Baron.” His bravery against the Cave Dragons of Alcorkin, and in the Pollydo Witch and Wizard Wars, promoted his reputation and, thus, he became famous in acquaintances. Thus, he was awarded the respect that overshadowed his other shortages.
Appearance was important to him. His royal manners and poise were purposefully planned. Though some attributed his fame to his regal bearing and unswerving optimism, it was his good heart and civic consciousness that made him widely known. Long ago, someone had written a book that listed all the words and important things within the kingdom. Under the word “persistence” was a sketch of Baron in his younger years.
Baron suspected, though did not acknowledge, that it was his horse, Maroon, who boosted his stature. She was handsome, twenty hands high, and, of course, maroon in color. The opinion was unanimous that no finer mare walked the land. Maroon was exceptionally intelligent, but had little patience for those less gifted. Unfortunately, Baron was on that list.
The less notable, but often central to this complement of characters, was the third of the trio, Hopper, a loyal dog, excitable and semi-courageous, despite his small stature. He did his best to shy away from Maroon’s overbearing intellect, often sheltering beneath the wing of Baron’s protective inclinations.
To say that they were traveling on the cobblestone road to the castle of Menushire was a fact. That they were on an important mission to deliver a sealed letter to the sultan was done in blind faith. That they knew nothing of where their path would lead after that was the whole truth. Baron Von Prindel, Maroon, and Hopper were loyal to one another and duty bound to the king. Wherever their mission sent them, they would execute it to the best of their abilities.
“Maroon, you have to promise me that as we get closer to Menushire, you will walk like a proper horse, on the road, not beside it, when we see other travelers coming our way.”
“Like a proper horse? Promise? I let you ride me. I take you from one place to the other. Any other demands are beyond my patience to entertain. Every horse we pass has the same desire as I, not to walk on the road. I, however, choose to exercise my rights.” Maroon stomped the ground in punctuation.
“Why could I not have a horse who obeys?”
“Then you would be left to survive on your own intelligence. And as you know, Hopper is of no help in that department,” Maroon quipped.
“For the sake of my dignity, could you just walk on the cobblestones when others are about? It’s not as if the road is busy today.”
“Airs you present, but not for me?” Maroon asked indignantly.
“Forgive my question, but tell me why the cobblestone road is so disagreeable to you and other horses, even though they endure the hardship. For the roads were made for horses, and I do not hear them complain. It was a lot of work for men to make this comfortable lane.”
Maroon stopped abruptly. “I have thought of a way to better relate it to you. Suppose I hammered nails into the metal soles of your boots so that every step you took on stones, jarred your body from your ankles up your legs, to the core of your body?”
“Ah ha! That would seem a displeasure. Why did you not tell me so? I thought it was just some peculiarity you had fallen to. That, or a way to test my patience. Nevertheless, it is a grand day. The grass is green, the flowers bloom, and I smell honey blossoms in the breeze. The only thing missing is the musical clicking of your metal shoes on the cobblestones.”
“Baron, that is a song you shall not hear. And while you are curious about my annoyances, consider this new saddle. Bad as they all are, this one is most disagreeable to points along my spine. It is the one thing I need you for—to take it off at the end of the day.”
Baron smiled. “As smart as you are, have you not found a way to remove the saddle?”
“Ahh, for the want of a thumb and a finger.”
“Maroon, you are free to leave my company any time you wish.”
At this reply, Maroon became silent, a respite for Baron and Hopper, but as she remained unwordy, they realized it was a harbinger.
Farther along the side of road, she conveniently tripped on the root of a tree, catapulting Baron down her neck into its tangle of roots. Of all trees, it was the boodoo tree. A deadly and inescapable tree, capable of capturing and pulling a man or horse down by ensnaring its tethers about them and dragging them underneath its trunk, to be devoured in a manner and time unknown, as there were no survivors to tell the tale.
The roots quickly latched onto Baron and began dragging him to the base of the tree, where a large hollow opened to a festering gooey pool of unlucky victims—waiting—still undigested—hopefully not still living. A cloud of dust followed Baron as he struggled along the way, a blur of arms and legs, trying to free himself, made it hard to see what happened next.
Maroon raced after him then reared up on her hind legs and stomped down on the large root with little effect. She was horrified at what she had done.
Baron frantically tried to draw his sword. Only paces from the carnivorous and deadly mouth of the boodoo tree, he drew it, took a deep breath, and, with an expert slash, cut himself free. He calmly stood and brushed off his white britches as if he had just taken a dusty walk. He peered into the hollow, made a look of disgust, turned, and walked toward, but right past, Maroon.
Hopper, who until then had been off chasing curious things, appeared for a split second above the grass a stone’s throw away. His legs were so short, he had to jump high above the grass to see about. Luckily, as was most common with his tangle of breeds, he was energetic but quiet of mouth. His father was a short-legged pitacue wolf hound and his mother a doodle-toed giant Chihuahua. He usually spoke only when spoken to, unlike Maroon, who had opinions about everything and could go on for days. Hopper had whip-quick eyes and was keen on a scent, which made him invaluable at times.
Hopper ran toward Baron, and, as Maroon would often footnote about Hopper—calculatingly late—he bit the retreating boodoo roots, then looked at Baron as if he had just saved him. He sat with his tongue wagging, too big for his mouth, waiting for praise for his daring deed.
Baron was all too familiar with Hopper’s imagined bravery. “Wonderful timing and rescue, Hopper.”
Hopper barked and spun in a circle, “The boodoo tree can still come after you. I’ll hold it off, while you reprimand Maroon.” Then he sat panting.
Maroon, regaining her composure from the ordeal, was tired of his act. “Hopper. Why don’t you just do what dogs do upon trees? I dare you to get that close. I imagine that boodoo tree would fancy you for lunch.”
Hopper sniffed, then cautiously approached the base of the tree. He lifted a leg, his eyes wary of the roots. Maroon pounded her hoof to the ground, scaring Hopper, who outdid himself in his highest leap to date. Dust flew when he hit the ground and he ran to the road where he slid to his belly on the slick cobblestones.
Maroon couldn’t stop laughing. Baron tried not to start.
Hopper slowly stood, sheepishly looking back at them. Baron, usually on Hopper’s side, lost the battle to hold back his laughter. Hopper turned his tail to them and walked down the road, knowing they would follow. He would pout for the rest of the day.
Maroon gave a short bow. “Baron, I admit, that is one encounter you escaped without our assistance.”
Baron crossed his legs as if posing for a drawing, his sword pointing to the ground and one hand to his hip. “What did that prove?” he asked, returning to his earlier annoyed disposition.
“What?” Maroon asked.
“What you just did.”
“I did not know it was a boodoo tree.”
“Quiet, horse! You nearly got me killed, if not for my skill with the sword.”
Maroon’s shoulders sagged. This was only the second time in their history that Baron had used her species name, and it stung. “Sorry. I did not know.”
“While I hear your reply, I am confused as to why I did not get an answer to my question.”
Maroon could not help herself. “You must live with confusion.”
“Horse, I am perfectly serious. Another man might have died from your trickerous intentions. Another man might have swatted you or worse. But I, after much patience, have reached a decision.”
“A decision? About me?” Maroon was nervous, as she had never seen Baron so reserved and sure of himself—not to mention calling her a horse. Not a slight in her opinion—a compliment—but she knew Baron’s intentions. She usually had things her way, but this time something was different.
“Yes. I have had enough.” With that, Baron dusted off his bicorn admiral’s hat and placed it on his head sideways. A sure sign to Hopper and Maroon that he intended on walking, as he usually wore it facing forward when riding, saying that it lessened the impediment of the air flow.
He walked to the center of the cobblestone road and continued his journey. Maroon did not know what to make of this and watched as he walked up the hill and was soon out of sight. Not once did he look back. Hopper caught up to him and faithfully followed at his heels.
Was this really it? Was this their final discourse? They had had their fights and both were headstrong, but it had never come to this. Maroon looked up at the hill then behind at the wide-open land. There she could be free to eat, sleep, and roam as she wanted. All the freedom in the world as a horse should have. But who was she without Baron? And what was Baron without her? Life would be much too civil and boring without the exploits and dangers Baron got them into.
Maroon did not have to ponder long on where her life’s road led. She galloped across the valley and soon saw Baron up ahead.
When he turned, she saw a glint in his eye that could have been a tear.
He asked quietly but formally, “And what brings you here? I am in no mood for your company and would appreciate it if you would wean yourself from me.”
“Wean? Excuse me, but I am the one who looks out for you.”
“I am tired of being redundant and having to repeat myself. Looks out for me? Did you not purposely stumble to throw me into the boodoo tree? If I had hit my head or broken my sword arm, I would not have been able to draw my sword and free myself from certain death. What you have done, my once-trusted friend, was nothing short of attempted murder.”
“But, Baron, I swear I did not know, and besides, none of those things happened.”
“And how could you know they would not? What if they had?”
“But they did not. So there is no what if. It’s like your concern for time. Where does it get you? We horses put little thought to the passage of time. Humans are doomed to worry about its passage. They are enslaved to know the past and expect great things in the future, and this puts unneeded strain upon the frailties of man. We animals have no worries about the future.”
Baron stroked his chin in thought. “There you go with that horse sense. If it did not happen, you take away the chance that it could have. That time matters not at all and is the downfall of man. If you really knew anything, you wouldn’t have so much to say.”
“Could is not part of my language. You either do or don’t. Could or would are just afterthoughts.”
“Arrrggg! I cannot reason with you.” Baron turned away, frustrated.
Maroon hoofed at the ground to regain his attention. “Correct. At least we agree on something.” Maroon, who had more pride than courtesies said, “You seem to have left your humor and companion on the road.”
“My humor is intact. My companion? I no longer have one. I am now one man on a mission.”
Hopper barked, then said, “But?”
“Oh, yes. I and my trusty companion Hopper.” Baron marched off with Hopper imitating his erect military posture.
Maroon shook her head vigorously. She looked behind her at the empty road then in front where the best—no, the only two—friends she had in the whole world, were marching away. She galloped around in front of Baron and barred his way. Hopper jumped forward and barked.
“I will carry you on these cobblestones,” she offered fiercely.
Baron stopped and looked at the sky. “It will be dark soon, and I do have a pressing engagement. I will allow you to carry me forth. And Hopper.”
“Hopper?” A dog riding upon a horse? I would never hear the end of it.”
Baron put his lips close to Maroon’s ear. “Hear me well. We are on the precipice of a cliff, you and I. Do as I say or go from here. Such is the direness of your apology, that more is needed.”
Hopper was not that fond of Maroon, nor the thought of riding on her back, but the sheer magnitude of the revenge was something he could tolerate.
Maroon looked down at Hopper. Disdain written on her long face, but all the same she made a sweeping bow, lowering herself closer to the ground. Hopper jumped into Baron’s arms, then Baron swung his leg over and mounted.
Untrue to her word, Maroon went to the side of the road where the tall grass bent in the breeze and galloped at a swift and uncomfortable pace. Baron sat Hopper on his pommel and held him with a firm grip. Hopper was distressed as he bounced with nothing but Baron’s knees to hold him steady.
“Ah, as I expected. You have not kept your word.”
“Pardon me, Baron, but I made the offer and you neglected to verbally acknowledge it. Long as I accomplish our goal, you should care little about how we arrive. And besides, this is a shorter route.”
Baron had come to claim fame as the victor of the Pollygoose Wizard and Witch’s War. It started when the wizards of Magoon swept down upon the lower kingdoms and subjugated the peaceful kingships and sultan-ships of the land. After a year, the witches, who were tolerated amongst the population, banded together and cast spells and potions that forced the Magoon wizards to leave. It was a simple spell by witch standards. They had put potions into the water that damned the taste of everything. Although the occupied people could handle the loss of taste for their food, the wizards could not, for the main reason they had come to the low lands was for better and tastier food.
Unfortunately, and unforeseen to all, the witches took full advantage of their conquest and established themselves as the new ruling elite before a finger could be lifted against them. They named themselves the Pollygoose Coven and expected respect and servitude from all.
The witches took over the best houses, most notably and annoyingly the King of Vondora’s and the Sultan of Menushire’s.
The food now back to its previous character, the witches ate in utter gluttony, until their skinny and bony frames were inflated to many times their original size. The king and sultan of the two lands banded together to try to rid themselves of these new rulers, but the witch’s spells were too strong. They gave up, realizing that once a witch occupied your house or castle, there was no physical force that could change that. They did realize, however, that the wizards were less evil and destructive than the revengeful witches. So without much consideration, they implored the wizards, who had retreated to the caves and hollows in the mountains, to return.
And so it was, the wizards came together and cast spells on the fat, unsuspecting witches before they could foul the food with potions. Within a week, all the witches had retreated to whence they came, the Black Mountains, where evil was the norm. It became obvious that the wizards, who were now growing fat, were just as evil. As the kingdom again settled into resignation, an energetic and proper lad from the Mushroom Valley appeared. He was the son of a prosperous farmer and he went before King Deitrich of Vondora and whispered his idea.
With nothing to lose, for all had already been, the king let the young man, Von Rodashire Prindel, a plucky lad of eighteen, go on with his plan. It was simple in hindsight, but it was what gave fame to the young Rodashire. First he would lure the wizards to a festival, as no one liked a festival more than a wizard. There, Rodashire would tempt the wizards with a special treat. His family’s knowledge of mushrooms was considerable. Also, these delicacies were prized by both witches and wizards, who believed the touted magical abilities of the fungus. Young Rodashire’s family had long believed the golden mushrooms, found only in a spring deep in the crevice of mountains, as had been written and passed down, could rob a wizard of their magic. There hadn’t, as of yet, been a reason to see if that was true.
To make a short story short, it worked. He sent all the witches and wizards to the Black Mountains. The young Rodashire was knighted, baroned, becoming known throughout the land. The king had said, “Be gone with your first name, Rodashire. I command all to call you Baron.”
© 2019 by Tobia Garrett