One Golden Groat
Wot, Nott, Kakuri and the Hu Ba Hou: Part One – The Fabled Crest
We were not boy wizards, vampire’s assistants or even living skeletons, we were normal everyday people living normal everyday lives, with no inkling of the tremendous events that were about to unfold. Our adventure began with the arrival of a peculiarly small Christmas card, which sent us hurtling to the mystical land of Onisha, where Umahia, the Grand Mystic, asked for our help. He told us that he needed our help to fight, stop and ultimately defeat ‘Miafra, the evil,’ the mystic who had stolen his powers, the seasons, free will and all time. Umahia told us that we had powers, powers that up until then we had no inkling we possessed, which might, just might help us to defeat the evil man… We had no idea, no inkling whatsoever, that we were going to be attacked by Protectors atop Hound-Horses, fight a statue hell-bent on killing us, be betrayed in our sleep, and be forced to fight a dangerous beast called a Dragonsaur. If we had, we might have chosen not to heed Umahia’s call…
Rioghbhardan and Fikri
Hello, my name is Nott and my best friend is Wot. We have been friends as far back as we can remember; we live on the same street, went to the same school and shared most all our childhood experiences together, we are and always have been the very best of friends. As adults, we spend most of our free time together, and could never envisage it being any other way.
My name, my real name is actually Fikri, and Wot’s is Rioghbhardan. Neither of us ever liked these, given, names, and from an early age, we would play happily for hours on end, trying to choose new ones. Despite spending so much time in this preoccupation, we found it difficult to choose alternatives, names we felt more suited to. Begrudgingly, we accepted them, until one sunny summer’s afternoon when we got a bit giddy, playing, thinking about possible new ones. Acting ‘the cod,’ singing in unison, we said, “What’s in a name? I do not know! It’s not our aim to go on so, trying to find what’s best or not – what must be resolved, or not.” With those words still ringing in our ears, we suddenly stopped singing.
“That’s it!” Rioghbhardan cried out. “From now on we shall be called What and Not!”
I immediately agreed, though I changed the spelling slightly, proclaiming, “From now on we are WOT and NOTT, and that’s that.” Little did we realise these names were to remain with us throughout our childhood and well into our adult lives.
As we grew older, we did not drift apart as so many childhood friends tend to do, if anything we actually grew closer. This does not mean we always got on well. Quite often, we would appear, to those watching us, more akin to enemies than friends. The reason for this is that we are entirely different people. Wot is a laid-back type of individual who will not be rushed into a quicker rate of knots than he is comfortable with – he gets the job done, but on his terms. This trait can sometimes drive me bonkers, because I have a quick mind with an uncanny ability (or so I am told) to work things out. I want to get things done as soon as is humanly possible and cannot understand why anyone would have any other way of behaving. This difference in personalities has always ensured that life is far from dull for the two of us.
Physically speaking, Wot is a larger than life individual, whose favourite colours are earthy browns and greens; his clothes definitely reflect this taste. He always wears flared, cord trousers, whether they are in fashion or not, and a casual, polo neck shirt. Despite prematurely greying, Wot’s short-cropped hair compliments rather than takes from his appearance, but a series of loose wrinkles running horizontally across the back of his head, quite unique to him, have to be seen up close and personal, to appreciate their uniqueness.
I am just over half Wot’s height, of a thin build, with black hair and moustache. My preferred items of apparel are a crisp blue suit, white shirt, black tie and my old trilby hat that I would never be seen anywhere without.
…We were two friends living normal everyday lives with no inkling of the tremendous events that were about to unfold…
A Knock on the Door
Sitting comfortably in his favourite armchair in front of a roaring log fire, Wot was looking forward to a relaxing evening at home, watching his favourite Christmas television programmes. He had already opened the present he had bought himself – a really warm and comfortable pair of Christmas slippers, decorated with all sorts of festive scenes and motifs. Before he turned on the television set, Wot withdrew a little red book from out of his shirt pocket, and then opened it. It was within this small book that he partook of his favourite pastime – writing poetry. He loved writing his poems. He received so much pleasure when writing them, and he never suffered from writer’s block, which so many other writers endure. When he took pen to paper, with the words flowing freely, he was in another world. Some of his poems were long, others so short they were finished almost as soon as they had begun. He wrote happy ones that made him laugh, sad ones that made him cry and every other conceivable type in between. Down through the years in which he had been writing, recording his thoughts and feelings in rhyming verse, there was one thing he had always felt, and somehow known; it was a talent he possessed, a gift that he must never neglect. Picking up his pen he wrote down the following words…
“Christmas Eve so still I know,
But something’s in the wind,
There is a sense of magic about,
It’s now we need our friends.”
Those were all the words that came to Wot at this time, and they puzzled him, so. What meaning or relevance they had, if any, eluded his tired mind, but he recorded them dutifully into his little book, calling his poem ‘Words in the Wind’. Before putting his book away, he tried reading the poem out aloud, hoping he might somehow gain a better understanding, but it still made no sense to him. Giving up, returning the book to the safety of his shirt pocket, Wot relaxed in front of the warm fire, listening to the logs crackle and sparkle up the chimney. It was such a splendid start to Christmas, he thought. Indeed, he felt so content he could have sat there all night without a care in the world.
Suddenly, a loud knock on the door interrupted Wot’s relaxation. His first thought, in his half-sleep, was that he had imagined it, so closing his eyes he relaxed again, listening to the logs crackling and sparkling up the chimney.
To his utter annoyance, another even louder knock struck the front door. “Who on earth can it be?” he grumbled, reluctantly rising from his wonderfully comfortable chair. Approaching the door, Wot found himself staring at the coat stand beside it, upon which he had placed a peculiar Christmas card, earlier that day. It was small, very small. His friend, Nott, had sent it to him. He picked it up, remembering how surprised he had been that Nott – his best friend – would have sent so small a card. Looking at the picture, a wonderful summer scene of a house in the country, Wot found himself once again intrigued by it. He studied it closer…
The house in the card with whitewashed walls and weathered, wooden beams, strategically placed for the maximum visual pleasure of the onlooker, had a cottage-garden in the full bloom of summer. There was a duck-pond, an arbour, a rustic garden shed, a wishing well and so much more, and all of this enclosed by a white picket fence. It was the perfect picture of summer, not your usual Christmas card theme by any means. Studying it in fine detail, Wot held the card closer to his face. He had completely forgotten by now to open the front door, to see who was out there. Wot’s eyes, once again magnetically drawn to the picture, noticed how big and sturdy the door of the house in the card actually was. It was dark brown in colour, sporting a large, brass knocker. “They don’t build them like that anymore,” he said, inspecting it further.
“It’s a bloody good job they don’t,” a voice suddenly boomed.
On hearing this, a disembodied voice speaking to him, Wot got such a fright he dropped the card and very nearly jumped out of his brand-new Christmas slippers.
“Take it easy, you could have killed me!” the mysterious voice boomed again.
Imagining there was someone hiding, playing a prank on him, Wot searched the entire room, trying to find the hidden person, but he did not find anyone. He was confused; he was puzzled with no idea what he should do. In fact he was not one hundred percent sure that he had heard the voice at all. “This might all be in my imagination,” he said, though not very convincing, as he stood there in the room, unable to decide his next move.
“Are you listening to me?” the mysterious voice boomed again. “Wot, I am speaking to you!”
Being personally addressed by a disembodied voice, confused poor Wot no end. He wondered was it a ghost, or was he simply going mad?
“Pick me up!” the voice shouted at him.
Pulling himself together, trying to show at least some courage, Wot whispered timidly, “Where are you?”
“On the floor! At your feet!” the voice tersely replied.
However, on looking down to the floor, the only thing Wot could see was the small Christmas card he had dropped, so he said, “I can’t see you! There’s nothing there!” Looking up and down the hallway, hoping to spot the person playing such a nasty practical joke upon him, Wot, however, saw no one. “I can’t see where you are!” he whispered to the disembodied voice.
Beginning to lose patience, the voice shouted, “Wot, I always thought you were a bit slow – now you have proven it. I AM IN THE CARD. Pick it up! BUT CAREFULLY!”
Confused, wondering how anybody could possibly be inside a Christmas card, Wot bent down and carefully picked it up. Opening it, Wot half expected to see someone crammed inside, but there was no one. No. Except for the short, standard greeting of Happy Christmas, there was nothing out of the ordinary inside it.
The mysterious person, loosing what little patience he had left, interrupted Wot’s floundering thoughts, shouting, “LOOK IN THE WINDOW, you berk!”
With those words, something clicked in Wot’s bamboozled brain. The voice, THAT voice, was starting to sound familiar! Scratching his head, trying to figure out just who it might actually be, Wot closed the card and looked again at the picture on its front. His eyes, drawn to the quaint old house with its wonderful leaded windows, saw something, something MOVING! It was a person, someone he recognised! It was his best friend, Nott, staring out from one of the small windows, waving frantically in a most agitated manner. This was just too much for Wot and he passed out, dropping the card onto the cold hard floor once again…