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Sir Ploom

The moment he passed his knight errantry exam, Sir Ploom rushed to the queen and knelt before her.

‘Your Highness,’ he said. ‘Please give me an adventurous quest.’

‘No,’ the queen replied. ‘You’re the tenth knight today to make such a request. We’ve run out of ideas. Go away.’

Downcast, Sir Ploom turned to depart. As he did so, the palace filled with a harrowing screech.

A courtier appeared and nervously addressed the monarch. ‘The princess is having a tantrum, Your Highness—she’s run out of sweets.’

‘Give her more,’ the queen said.

‘I humbly apologise,’ the courtier replied, ‘but I cannot fulfil your command. The princess has eaten all the sweets we have.’

The queen scowled and started to berate the courtier when Sir Ploom raised his hand.

‘Your Highness,’ he said.


‘Send me on a quest to obtain sweets for your royal offspring.’

‘Very well. But don’t return empty-handed.’

With a triumphant grin, Sir Ploom left the palace and mounted his horse.

‘Where’re we off to?’ the steed asked.

Sir Ploom pushed back his shoulders and raised his sword.

‘To locate sweets,’ he declared.

Over the course of the morning, Sir Ploom and the horse travelled across the realm. They discovered that the princess had consumed every sweet that could be had.

While they pondered what to do next, a cry of distress came from a tower.

‘That sounds like a damsel in danger,’ Sir Ploom declared. ‘My chivalric duty obliges me to rescue her.’

‘Shouldn’t we focus on finding sweets?’ the horse asked.

Ignoring this remark, Sir Ploom dismounted. He ran toward the tower’s open door, brandishing his sword.

A few minutes later, he trudged back out. A stone gargoyle emerged behind him.

‘I assume you didn’t liberate a damsel, Sir Ploom?’ the horse asked.

The knight pouted and shook his head.

The gargoyle smirked at the horse. ‘Your guv’nor rescued me, instead. I’ve spent two hundred years calling for help. No one listened until now. In an act of kindness, Sir Ploom levered me off my perch with his sword, which unfortunately he broke in the process.’

Sir Ploom moaned. The gargoyle put a claw on his shoulder.

‘Not to worry, guv’nor,’ the gargoyle said. ‘I heard the horse mention you’re hunting for sweets. A witch who lives hereabouts might be able to assist. I’ll take you to her.’

‘OK,’ Sir Ploom muttered.

They set off. A little way down the road, a disturbance caught Sir Ploom’s attention. He immediately perked up.

‘A dragon’s in that field,’ he said. ‘And it’s going berserk. Quick: I have a knightly responsibility to slay her and protect us all.’

The horse and Sir Ploom thundered across the field with the gargoyle scurrying behind.

The dragon seemed to be suffering convulsions. When she noticed the warlike Sir Ploom flourishing his broken sword, she jumped in surprise and suddenly relaxed.

Sir Ploom halted. He’d expected a fight.

‘Thank you, Sir Knight,’ a witch said, striding from behind the dragon.

‘“Thank you?” What do you mean?’ Sir Ploom asked.

‘You gave my dragon a fright and cured her hiccups. I’ve been trying for ages. If she hiccups, she can’t breathe fire and keep my cauldron boiling.’

‘I don’t suppose I should slay her then,’ Sir Ploom said.

‘Cheer up, guv’nor,’ the gargoyle said. ‘This is the witch I wanted you to meet. Ask her about sweets.’

With a shrug, Sir Ploom explained the purpose of his quest.

‘My advice is simple, Sir Knight,’ the witch said. ‘Rather than searching for sweets, you should make them.’

‘How do we do that?’ the horse asked.

‘We can use my cauldron and boil up a mix of woodland fruit and nuts. The princess can sink her teeth into the berries and crunch the nuts.’

Sir Ploom had his doubts. ‘Shouldn’t sweets be sticky and sweet?’

‘That’s a valid point,’ the witch said and became thoughtful.

The others waited respectfully for her to speak. Just as they began to doze off, she said, ‘I know what to do. Come this way.’

The witch directed everyone from the field to the mouth of a cave. A sign read ‘Honey For Sale.’

The gargoyle chortled. ‘Of course. If we mix berries and nuts with honey, we’ll create deliciously gummy sweets.’

Sir Ploom peered into the cave’s darkness. ‘Is anybody at home?’

‘If you want honey,’ a voice boomed, ‘you need to give me coins.’

Sir Ploom sighed. ‘We don’t have any money.’

‘In that case, stop bothering me.’

‘Hold on, I’ve an idea,’ the horse whispered and called out: ‘Honey seller! Is there something other than coins you want? We could do you a good deed, for example.’

Footsteps echoed and shook the ground. Before anyone could retreat, a troll lurched from the cave and stared at Sir Ploom, the horse, the gargoyle, the witch and the dragon.

‘You’re a motley bunch but you might do,’ the troll said.

‘For what?’ the gargoyle asked.

‘Listen: I’m an old troll who contents herself with beekeeping. A pesky young cousin is hanging around, taunting me. Chase him off and I’ll give you all the honey you want.’

No sooner had the troll spoken than her cousin jumped from a nearby tree and blew a raspberry.

‘That’s the pest,’ the beekeeping troll said.

Sir Ploom glanced at the others.

The witch nodded. ‘Let’s send him packing.’

With a shout, everyone waved their arms and ran at the raspberry-blowing troll. He yelped, lumbered around and stomped into the distance.

The beekeeping troll smiled and reached into the cave for several buckets of honey. ‘Will these do?’

‘Excellent,’ Sir Ploom said. ‘Would you mind carrying them?’

‘Lead on,’ the troll replied.

Sir Ploom and his companions headed for the palace without delay.

‘You took your time,’ the queen told them. ‘And who are these creatures with you?’

‘The gargoyle has collected berries and fruit on the journey, Your Highness,’ Sir Ploom replied, ‘and the troll has brought honey. The witch will mix these ingredients in her cauldron, which the dragon will heat in order to make sweets for the princess.’

‘And why is the horse here?’

Sir Ploom struggled to answer.

‘No matter,’ the queen said. ‘We don’t need sweets anymore: the princess has run off with a ridiculous pirate. The two of them hope to dig up a fabled hoard of toffee-centred bonbons.’

The horse whispered into Sir Ploom’s ear.

‘What’s that nag saying?’ the queen demanded.

‘In the absence of the princess, Your Highness,’ Sir Ploom said, ‘perhaps you might be interested in our sweets?’

‘No. We don’t want to ruin our teeth and digestive system. Go away.’

Outside the palace, the troll stamped her feet. ‘Wait a second. We must not allow that awful queen to intimidate us. We should still make the sweets. After all, I’ve loads of honey.’

‘Yes,’ the horse said. ‘Sir Ploom and I can sell them in every village.’

‘We’ll become rich,’ the gargoyle added.

‘We can expand and buy more cauldrons,’ the witch speculated.

The dragon made no comment but didn’t appear to disagree.

This left Sir Ploom.

‘When I passed my knight errantry exam this morning,’ he said, ‘I didn’t envisage being a confectioner.’

‘But?’ the horse prompted.

‘But in view of the day I’ve had, why not?’


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