Royal Pains

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      I’ve always loved the original Sierra games…the times, they are a-changin’, however. They say bad publicity is better than none at all, but I think I’d really prefer just the original games instead of all these new, overhyped fan creations. Is what they’ve been doing really what King’s Quest is all about?

      I wrote this while I was thinking about that. I guess I hoped to bring about some “balance” with it. Do with it what you wish.

      Royal Pains


      With sincere apologies to J. Ff.

      Being fictional in a cancelled computer game series…it was a dull existence for the most part, intermingled with slightly unpleasant bits as well, but Graham supposed things could certainly be worse – he could be part of one of those horror-themed adventures he’d heard about, or one of those shoot-‘em-up games…or even worse…

      He could be a real person.

      He had to sigh with relief whenever this thought came to mind. He shuddered to think how he and his wife would fare if they were truly shoved through eighteen years of painful separation from their son, or how his son would have spent those years as a slave under Manannan.

      He shuddered even more at the prospect of living those eighteen years over and over with every replay…fortunately, being fictional meant that utterly no time passed between the moment he and Valanice were married and the moment Alexander was nearing the age of eighteen, and Manannan, cruel, evil wizard that he was within the games themselves, had proven to be quite an entertaining guest to have at Castle Daventry, especially during the periods when Rosella or Alexander were off on their respective journeys – Manannan would occasionally hop out of King’s Quest III to pay the Royal Family a visit.

      Mordack was also a welcome visitor, but he was so temperamental – he obviously still held a grudge with Graham for killing him – even when he was out of character, Mordack took losing very badly.

      It was also pleasant to be part of a game series that gave the classical fantasy genre of main Branch of the fictional world attention in addition to entertaining the players. Graham had often been contacted by the protagonists of the original fairy or folk tales with words of appreciation for the publicity, as had the rest of the Royal Family of Daventry.

      For some time after the series had been called off, characters from lesser-known stories had asked him whether their stories could be featured in a future game. Graham had to calmly tell them that since he wasn’t in charge of the series, there was no way he could get them a role in any of the games he appeared in.

      This was a bit painful at times, especially when he had to tell it to characters from obscure mythologies from cultures that were as different as the one that pervaded the King’s Quest series as night is from day. “Inuit nature spirits just don’t belong in the same game as fire-breathing western dragons”, he would say frequently.

      Things had quieted down considerably in the last few years, though. The games Graham’s family starred in were played infrequently, giving his wife, children and various other characters plenty of free time to visit each other, stroll through the worlds of their games or even visit characters from other games in their part of the Branch. It was a nice, quiet life, but there were still times that Graham longed for the old days, when he and his family were kept busy every hour of the day, going on all those quests.

      The family was presently in a lull between games. Graham and Valanice were sitting and talking at a large oak table in one of the upper chambers of the castle when Alexander walked in with the casual, yet controlled gait of a teenager on the cusp of adulthood.

      His official title was either Gwydion, slave of Manannan; Prince Alexander of Daventry or King Alexander of the Land of the Green Isles, depending on what point in the series he was currently at. Graham didn’t feel that such titles were worth bothering with outside of the games, however. Despite every member of his family including himself being royalty, when their games weren’t being played, everyone addressed everyone else by their name, and nothing more than that.

      “Father?” Alexander asked. Graham and Valanice both looked up. “Edgar’s coming here. He says he’s got something important to show us.”

      “And he didn’t say what it is?”

      “No,” Alexander replied, approaching and taking a seat at the table. “Rosella and Cassima should be here soon too – it may take a bit longer for Rosella to get here, though. Someone’s playing King’s Quest IV at the moment. She should be able to take a break soon, though.”

      As Graham and Valanice started speculating on what Edgar’s important something was, Cassima strode into the room, greeted its occupants and sat down opposite Alexander.

      Shortly afterwards, Rosella walked in with a paperback splayed open in her hand. Although she had become quite addicted to science fiction in recent years, neither Graham nor her mother saw any harm in her habit as long as it didn’t show up during gameplay. Slight shifts in character or deviations from the main plot were often weeded out, but more extreme cases often resulted in ingame errors.

      In King’s Quest V, for instance, the catalyst to start the machine in Mordack’s castle had never been placed in the game, so Graham had to improvise with the cheese he had found in the prison cell. This solution worked – but only some of the time. From what Graham heard, many players were confronted with an error message whenever he tried to start the machine.

      “Hello,” Rosella said breezily, slipping a ribbon between the pages of the book and shutting it as she took a seat next to Alexander.

      “You’re reading that book again?” Valanice asked.

      “Sure,” Rosella said, tapping the book’s spine. “Humorous science fiction. Do you have any idea how uncommon that is nowadays? It’s all doomsdays and distopias now.”

      “You’d be better off asking Roger Wilco that question,” Graham remarked.

      “I think I will, then,” Rosella said somewhat haughtily.

      “You’ll have to wait a while,” Alexander said. “One of the pirates from King’s Quest III told me that he went to have a talk with Guybrush Threepwood.”

      Again?” Rosella asked in disbelief.

      “Yep. I think he’s a bit jealous, what with all the real world pirate craziness and science fiction’s general drop in popularity.”

      “What do you think he’ll do?”

      “I don’t know,” Alexander said, “But I’m guessing he’ll – “

      His guess never was expressed, for at that moment, Edgar hurriedly entered the room, looking slightly flustered. He stopped at the head of the table, cleared his throat, and spoke:

      “I’ve found something new,” he said. “You might want to have a look at it.”

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