The Octology of the Seven Hats
Part One: An Odd Beginning
Chapter Three: The Meeting
It didn’t take them long before they arrived at the palace. It had a huge golden gate with giant bars. The palace was surrounded by a carved-out stone wall. In front of the palace was a long pool with a fountain. A garden with blooming tulips, daffodils, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, and roses surrounded the pool. Around the garden were two curved paths, each meeting at the front door of the palace.
The palace was enormous. There were grand pillars at each corner and a massive arch above the door. It was three stories tall and there were many shiny windows. Behind the palace, the men could see where the palace grounds stretched all the way to the ocean.
Ralinok lead the seven men through the gate, up the left path, and to the grand front doors. Here, Ralinok used a huge stone knocker to knock on the door. RAP-RAP-RAP!
Instantly, the door was swung open. Out stepped a small, jovial man. He was a head shorter than Malbo, was wearing a long green robe, and carried a bronze scepter.
“Hello, Vilhaun!” said the man, shaking hands with Vilhaun. “You came later than I expected.”
“Well, I-” Vilhaun began.
The man hushed him with a wave of his hand, saying, “Enough. There will be plenty of time to tell your story. For now, please come inside and dine with us; we were about to have dinner. Then we shall get to business. I think if we were to business first, I would have no time to fill my belly!” The man patted his stomach for emphasis.
Vilhaun laughed and said, “I agree, Botanio. Please lead us so we may fill ourselves.” The other men nodded their heads enthusiastically in agreement. So, the man, who was obviously King Botanio, lead them to his dining room.
The dining room that King Botanio lead them to was not extremely large. There was a round table in it with eleven chairs arranged around it. Three other people were already seated at the table. When Botanio entered, all three stood up.
One man was about the same size as Vilhaun. He had a very ragged appearance. He had a scruffy beard that looked like it hadn’t been shaved in a week and long, unkempt hair. His shirt was deep red and was spotless.
On the other side of the table was a grand-looking woman. She was obviously the Queen of Tolben, for she wore a crown of pearls and a long pink dress. Her hair flowed freely onto her shoulders giving her the appearance of being kind, gentle, and generous.
The third was the strangest one of all. None of the men had seen anyone as strange as him. He was nine feet tall, had a long nose, three large indigo eyes that looked the size of saucers, and bright blue hair that stuck up in spikes. Other than having green skin and seven fingers on each hand, he looked in proportion to a normal human.
“Please be seated,” said King Botanio. Almost immediately after they had sat down, five waiters carrying large trays of food entered the room. When the waiters set down the trays, a delicious aroma filled the air, causing everyone’s mouths to begin watering.
There were so many delicacies on the table, so many it would be tiring to name them all. It was almost like they were visiting a buffet. Some delicacies you would not know, because they are only part of Eapoan cuisine. However, some you would know, because they are similar to the cuisine here on Earth. Regardless of the types of cuisine, the food tasted extremely delicious.
Soon, everyone was full of food. King Botanio called in the waiters to pour them each a glass of rich tsmali¹ wine. The wine, which is extremely decadent and flavorful, is made from the tsmali berry (a small berry similar to a cherry that is mainly grown in the country of Nasbovik- land) and is one of the finest wines in Eapo.
King Botanio began the conversation, “Please forgive me for not introducing myself earlier. I am King Botanio IV of Tolben. I have been King of Tolben for twelve years, and I graciously accepted Vilhaun’s offer to join the Quest of the Seven Hats. Beside me is my wonderful wife, Queen Zarima. I hope we can be of some assistance on this journey. Which of you is the Destined One?”
“I am,” Malbo replied meekly. He continued more strongly, “I am Malbo Kanaty, the new- found wizard and Destined One from Lugh. Pleased to meet you, sir.”
“No, Malbo. You need not call me ‘sir’,” Botanio said. “Simply call me Botanio.”
“May it be as you say,” Malbo replied.
The other five, Tagac, Dwiedle, Masnic, Oomarark, and Inilor, introduced themselves as well. Then, the man in the red said, “I am Alche Botani from Ul. desperately hope that I will not be a hindrance to you.”
“Do not fear, Alche,” said Queen Zarima in a soft voice. “You have been brought here for a reason that will soon be revealed. I doubt you will a hindrance to our party.”
Vilhaun nodded, but Alche snorted in disagreement.
Then the green-skinned man said in an extremely deep, scratchy voice, “I am Souiloen Akishar from Bogilak. I am the descendant of Tanzi that is mentioned in the Prophecy. As you all may know, Tanzi was destroyed in the Eapoan year 2419. The remains of my race found a new star system in which only two of the planets are inhabitable. Mine is the second planet of that group. I am honored to avenge the destruction of my people by exterminating the men who did it. I am pleased to meet every one of you.”
There was a moment of silence before Vilhaun spoke. “Greetings, King Botanio and Queen Zarima. I thank you for graciously accepting me into your kingdom. I have succeeded in my task of bringing you the one destined to find the Seven Hats.”
Botanio said, “I congratulate you. I now see him before me in the form of a young man who knows nothing about his true self. I see Malbo Kanaty, a smart man full of honor and self-esteem. I see a man of courage and meekness. I see a man destined for glory. Once again, it is a pleasure to meet you, Malbo.”
Malbo blushed, turning beet red, and smiled meekly. “Th-Thank you,” he stammered.
Come back next week for Part ten!
The Octology of the Seven Hats copyright 2018 by Stewart Forthofer. All rights reserved. All likeness of any characters in this book to any person, past or present, is purely coincidental.