The Chronicles of Austinian
|This page describes events that happened in the Past, as researched by the Time Agency. Be aware that these events are not in the Present or the Future, just the Past. They may be dead, torn down, or simply nonexistent in the present.|
In the third year of the rule of our glorious ruler, Ogehdai Khan
As I write this, I worry. The High Penguins have set up camp right next to our borders, with a great army, sorcerers, and trebuchets. I feareth greatly that our great nation may falle and fade aweh. Ye see, I am Austinian the Second, son of Austinian the First. Shall I explaineth further? The year is 764. See, the accursed Penguin Empire was falling apart. It was like a limp puffle, weakening and shedding. There were several other neighbors to them, all strong. And we were one of the strongest feudal positions.
That was 300 years ago. Malcur, an accursed High Penguin, started a wicked crusade. Since then, war hath wrought terror and misery upon the whole world. We hath tried to stay neutral, but alas. Malcur seemed to want to defeat the Lessers, and for 300 years, our feudal state of Pengolia has been weak. However, he was killed, twenty years ago, in the year in which I was born. The High Penguins quickly overran all the other miserable feudal states, and ours is the only last one that still standeth against them. Alas, they hath attacked our borders, and now we may fadeth like the other ones.
Austinian (or Austin the Second) put away his feather quill (his brother's feather, actually), and stored the paper away, and straightened up. He was a short Khanz, around 3 feet. Then again, this wasn't exactly short for a Khanz. However, he was two inches shorter. And that makes somewhat of a difference when everyone is only three feet tall. He wore a belt and an iron cap, and his feathers were black like every other penguin. The candle flickered, and he poured more oil into it. Whistling, he proceeded to start his chores for the day. After all, it was in the early morn, and this was the time to do the chores for the family. His father, the patriarch was probably already awake, making his servants fetch him breakfast.
"SHUTTETH UP, OR I SHALL SHOVE THY HEAD INTO THY BUTTOCKS!"
Austin winced. That was his brother, Smacklar. A strange name, yes, but fish smacking was somewhat important to their culture. He quickly stopped whistling. Smacklar was a whopping four feet tall, and three years older. And somewhat stupid. Learning had never been too high in priorities for the Khanz, but Smacklar even in Khanz standards was...well, dull. He heard loud thumping in the other room. That would be his other two brothers, Penghis and Douglas. Both twins, three years younger than he was. They were loud, noisy, and annoying. Penghis stuck his head out of the door.
"Good morning to thee!"
And then he promptly whacked Austin in the face as hard as possible with his fish. Austin staggered back and fell over, smashing papers and various other items all over the floor. He groaned.
"Douglas, doth I hast to clean the mess thy causeth?"
"I'm Penghis. Nae Douglas."
"I DOTH NOT CARE. One of ye always whacketh me with a fish in the morning, and I want to strangle ye!"
"Ye could nae catcheth me!" said Penghis, and he waggled his beak at Austin, crossing his eyes and waving his flippers.
Austin slammed the wooden door shut, and went to tidying up his room. He was happy to be a member of nobility, but it came at a price. In times of war, he would be drafted into the army to serve. And to be honest, he wasn't a fighter. His brothers lived for it...but he didn't. He was the odd one out. Anyway, he would be forced to join the army soon, so his preferences didn't matter. The Khan's word was law. And some of these traditions had been handed down for thousands of years. His candle flickered out, but he saw the sun starting to rise in the sky, so he refrained from spilling any more seal oil into the clay candle. He lined up the weapons against the wall, and looked at his calligraphy. Not exactly good, but it was better than most. He hoped maybe he would become a tax collector, or a scribe. Those were well paying positions for educated Khanz. Then again, he was destined to become a general, so this hope was a bit pointless. He sighed, and straightened up his quills and pack. Today was market day. Unluckily, it happened to be his turn. He would have to walk five miles down to the market, buy goods, and return home. However, there were hundreds of spam sellers (oh, how repulsive), angry peasants, and that awful smell of body odor. His brother Smacklar prided himself on having probably the worst odor in the manor. He claimed it was "a sign of manliness, YEA!", but Austin just thought he needed more baths.
Walking out of his room and through the hallway, he stopped at the shrine to Shammy. Bah. He thought nothing of Shammy. Supposedly, if you buried a coin in the dirt, you would be blessed with good luck. Last time he had tried it didn't work out so well. While he was leaning over, Smacklar smacked him in the rear with his mullet, and his rear was purple for weeks. Smacklar was one of the few Khanz who could actually wield a mullet. However, to actually get it up into the air, he literally had to spin around until it took flight. Then he would either hit somebody or throw it. Obviously, Austin didn't exactly like Smacklar. He looked away from the shrine, and headed down the hallway. Here were the rooms of his other two brothers. Chancer and Japeth. Japeth was one year Austin's senior, and they got along well. Chancer...was the youngest by 5 years. Only 12 years of age, and he was an immature thickhead. Austin took one look into his room and groaned. A complete mess. Austin tried to avoid the smell of rotting fish-Chancer never put away his dinner, and a weekful of dinners sat around the room, smelling and rotting. The putrid smell overpowered him, and he slammed the door. Chancer stirred in his bed, mumbled something about his "friend" (a girl in the next manor) and rolled over.
Continuing on, he passed by some more rooms. These were the servants rooms-somewhat uninteresting. There was nothing really there, except a bed and a few personal possessions. Finally, he reached the outside door, made out of bleached fish bones. He opened it, and walked out side. A cold breeze ruffled his feathers. Pengolia was probably one of the coldest places on Antarctica. It even made Freezeland look temperate. Dirt showed through patches of snow, and rocks stood out. Austin walked along the stone path towards the roof-straw. Every three days, his chore was to get the straw, and lay it around the dining table. After all, it was another tradition (actually, more of a habit) to throw what was left of your food on the floor. It would then lay there and stink until the straw was changed.
Smacklar's job was to go down to the river and fish, the twins cleaned up their rooms (and conviniently messed up his), Japeth carried in wood for the hearth...and Chancer did nothing whatsoever. He picked up the straw, hurried inside from the biting cold, and threw it on the floor in the hurry. If he got to the marketplace soon, there wouldn't be too many people. His father, Stoick the Strong (a name recieved in battle) was already in his great head chair. This chair stood at the head of the great hall, and he supervised the whole house from there. NOBODY ELSE could sit in that chair. The sentence was two days in the pillory. Austin rushed up to him while he was eating his breakfast. The twins were already there (both grinning at Austin, as usual), and Japeth was there, finishing up his breakfast.
"Father, since it be my time to go to yonder market, per chance may I skip the morning meal? I know that it is a family tradition, but I doth need to fetch the goods."
Stoick looked up from his fish. Fish were pretty much the staple crop in Pengolia. Crops died, straw was spindly, grain didn't grow, but there were HUNDREDS of fish in every single river. Most Pengolians ate them raw. Stoick liked his a bit cooked, but red on the inside. The last two bakery-servants had been fired for burning his breakfast. Stoick had an awful temper (which had been passed down to Smacklar).
"Yes? Aye. Ye may skip-eth the morning meal. Proceed to the market, son."
Austin left his cold plate there, and hurried on outside. Market was five miles away- quite a distance. Luckily, the family puffle was...well, three feet tall. Some puffles reached that size, and they were somewhat uncommon. Giant puffles costed quite a large amount of coins, and that was a major financial setback. However, Austin thought it was worth it. The family riding puffle was named Scorch. He was a black puffle, slightly grey from age. It wasn't old, but it wasn't as young as it used to be. Austin went to fetch the O-berry stick, gripped its fur and climbed up onto its head. He then put the stick with the O-berry in front of it, and the puffle started off with a leap. He tried not to be flung off as it eagerly chased after the tasty snack.
A minute or two later, he had regained his composure, and was happily riding Scorch. He waved to the neighbors at the next manor. They had four sons, and often him and his brothers played Fishball with them. He waved to his closest friend, Johnathnn, who was around average height. Johnathnn was restrawing his room's roof, because he had presumably broken it again. Johnathnn was somewhat careless, and broke his things quite often.
The wind blew through his feathers as he rode off towards the market. The market was probably the largest...building...in town. You couldn't really call it a building-it was around 6 large buildings connected with bridges. They sold various things in the buildings, around them, and in the courtyard of the buildings. Quickly, he covered ground as the puffle flew across the ground. Finally, he reached the market. Drat. He hadn't reached it early enough. Already, the putrid smell of the fishmongers and beggars covered the area, and the clamour of the mob was heard. He hated when it was crowded. Every two steps and you would be smacked in the face with a fish. The repulsive smell of every type of fish smelled, and he tried to ignore it. Jumping off the puffle, he chained it to one of the buildings, took the key out, hid it in his belt, and then he walked into the market to get the week's produce.
Reluctantly, he moved into the fish building. Looking around, it was spectacular. Every type of single fish was hanging from wires, strung about the first floor. Cod, Fluffy Fish, Mullets, Grey Fish, Jellyfish (they were classified as a type of fish), a SHARK, Goldfish, Koi, and even pieces of hacked up whale. The smell was awful. Some of the fish were turning green, and fish oil and blood dripped from the fish onto the floor, leaving stains all over the floor.
Austin tried not to breathe as he pushed his way through all the buyers and sellers up to the second floor. On the second floor was their usual seller they bought through, Harold. Harold spotted Austin through all the crowd, and he grinned. Austin's visit was the prime sale of his week. Austin specifically liked Harold because he lived on a house near the border, and always had the news. Once Austin had made his way through the mob, he shook Harold's hand. Harold was a beefy Khanz Penguin who had red hair, a red beard, and a hat with bones on it. He was also slightly Viking Penguin, so that was probably why. Harold spoke up.
"Salutations! Say, did ye hear the news about yonder border of our realm?"
"The High Penguins demandeth a surrender. Ach, that was a terrible move, that was. We soundly defeathed them this time."
"Surrender?" Austin laughed. "Why doth they think we Khanz would e'er submit to armstice?"
"High Penguins like peace, m'lad. They prefer to think before fight."
"Bah. What doggerel."
"All I know is I'm still selling fish at a cheap price, war or no war, m'lad."
"Yea. But if Pengolia is overrun, then the High Penguins would have dominion o'er the known world."
Harold shrugged again.
"It matters not to me, really. I sell my wares no matter what realm reign-eth. Anyway. You art buying the usual, I presume, m'lad?"
Harold went to the back of his wooden stall and picked up a large bag of fish. Mostly common fish, but there were a few grey fish. Austin thanked him, and set off to the next building. The building next to it sold wood and straw, and the house needed re-furnishing. He walked across the rickety bridge connecting the two stories of the buildings, and entered. In there were several salesmen. He frowned. Their usual seller, Richard was missing. Austin walked up to another salesman.
"Hello, ye salesman? Doth thy knowest where Richard hath gone?"
"I hath no idea, youngling. I thinketh he was stricken by rotten fish sickness."
"....whatever ye sayeth."
"So, do thine want to purchase mine straw? I selleth it for a mere price of 6 Khan per bushel!"
"Richard selleth it for 4 Khan. And I'm sure that other salesman selleth it for less than 6. Do thine thinkest that thine can make a fool of me? I am not a schnitzel, unlike you, fine sir."
The offended salesman brandished his fish at Austin.
"I DOTH NOT BE A SCHNITZEL!"
The other salesmen stared. Calling somebody a "schnitzel" was effectively saying they weren't a man. A horrible insult in Khanz culture. The angry salesman brandished a whopper of a fish in Austin's face. He gulped. The salesmen was... well, very muscluar.
"RECANT! RECANT!" he screeched, as he grabbed Austin by the neck and waved his fish back and forth. The other peasants, salesman, and one or two nobles surrounded them.
"FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!"
Crud. Austin had gotten himself into a miserable predicament. To back out was cowardice and an insult to his honor (serious business in Pengolia), but to stay and fight was injury at best. He wasn't as strong as his brothers. Smacklar would have made the salesman look scrawny, and Douglas and Penghis would have a decent shot at him, but Austin didn't stand a chance.
"YE HATH INSULTED MY HONOR." the salesman shouted. "I DEMAND SATISFACTION FROM YE IMMEDIATELY."
He took a fish from the stand and threw it to the floor. There was no backing down now.
"PICK IT UP." the salesman hissed, "I SEEK TO BEAT YE TO A FINELY MASHED BOWL OF RICE."
He choked for air as the salesman held him up by the collar of his clothes.
"IT'D BE IN THINE BEST INTERESTS TO PICKETH UP THE FISH."
The crowd cheered. Austin's only hope was that an authority would come and break up the fight. That was when a bored Market Guard approached.
"Doth mine eyes seeth true? A fish on the ground? A penguin in another's grip? There is but one thing about to happen. DUELING! DUEL! DUEL! DUEL!"
The crowd chanted as well, cheering harder, as the salesman dropped Austin. There was no escape now. The crowd had formed a circle around the two, chanting and jeering. The frenzied mob started to hiss as Austin slowly backed away from the salesman.
"HAVE YOU NO HONOR?"
Austin turned in rage. Noobface was probably the second worst insult in a Pengolian's arsenal. The worst was the rear-fish-smack. Wars had been fought over the rear-fish-smack. Austin picked up the fish and the crowd broke into uproarious cheering. Handing the fish back, Austin pulled out his own fish, a somewhat small fluffy fish, from his satchel.
It was on.
Austin would have turned and ran, but the crowd encircling him and the muscular salesman was pretty thick. The salesman pulled out dueling equipment-two ropes. The ropes were tied to the wrist of the flipper and the tail of the fish-usually to prolong fights.
In reply, Austin flipped his steel knife out of his satchel. The crowd cheered, and the salesman looked taken aback.
"A fight to the death? Well, we shall do this duel on my terms!"
He swung his fish at Austin, and Austin stuck up his dagger to spear it through. However, the momentum from the fish yanked the dagger from his hand, and when the salesman yanked it back, the dagger flew out the window. The salesman winked at Austin. It wasn't a friendly kind of wink. In Pengolian culture, if you winked at somebody in battle, it usually meant you would kill them next. Austin had the feeling this guy meant it too. The crowd was starting to chant in a mob-another custom. Austin flipped up his fish, and swung it at the other penguin. The salesman took a step back, and then swung the fish in an uppercut. It hit Austin straight in the beak, and he was knocked to the floor.
Angrily, he leapt back to standing and started swinging recklessly. Most of the blows hit the salesman, but he was unfazed. He whipped a shortsword from his belt. The salesman scowled.
"Hey, youngling. A'hm not going to fight to the death for pride. What are ye, nobility? Only they hath such high tempers."
Austin snarled and leapt at the salesman with the sword.
"EN GARDE, COWARD! LIFE IT IS!"
The salesman's face turned the color of beetroot, and he pulled a longsword from his belt. Austin gulped.
"Youngling, I give thee three choices. One is that thy flee, or thee recant thy insult. The third is that you fight me and die."
Austin thought for a moment, and then charged him. The salesman quickly parried his blow, shoving Austin's sword into the ground, and with one quick strike disarmed him. He kicked Austin to the ground and waved the sword in his face.
"Recant. Now. And I spare thee life. Don't show your face at my stall again."
"NEVER! LIFE BEFORE HONOR!"
The crowd cheered, and the salesman brought his sword closer to Austin's neck. As it was an inch away...
"OKAY! I RECANT!"
The salesman, the obvious victor of the duel, raised his hands to the air and cheered. The crowd broke up, and Austin furiously stamped down the stairs, whacked a peasant in the face, and unchained Scorch. He promptly got on, tied his bag of fish on, and got on Scorch's back. He kicked Scorch violently to get him started, and rode home quickly. The ride home was slightly uneventful. He passed by craters, hills, and steppes (and quite a few houses) when he got home, at around 2. He jumped off Scorch, tying him to a post, and he stamped into his room. Douglas stuck his head out of the door.
"Did thy fallest into a gully? Thy look like thine lost a fight with a mullet."
"SHUTTETH. THY. MOUTH."
Penghis popped his head out of the door also.
"Lo! I thinketh he got challenged to a duel!"
Austin snarled violently and slammed the door. He picked up one of his quills and started to write.
$%^#$%^#$%^#$&% STRAW SALESMEN. I hateth straw salesmen. Especially muscular ones. I hateth them, I hateth them, I hateth them, AND I HATETH THEM.
Okay, moving forward from that. Most Khanz like to believe that the High Penguins are conquering us so they can unify the nation. This doth be false. Sigurd the Stupid (formerly Sigurd the Sickly) tooketh a raiding party up to Freezeland. By some sickening twist of fate, they found...Arda. Arda art a legend. Supposedly, the great first home of the High Penguins. Unbelievably sacred.
And can ye guess what Sigurd did? He promptly razed the nearest buildings, stoleth the gold, beateth up the locals (he almost took them as slaves), and ran away in his little longship. Of course, he didn't get very far. The High Penguins hath a mighty navy-our longships are no match for their battleships. They even hath put metal plating to the sides of their ships. Anyway, Sigurd was caught, but in another twist of fate, he escaped from the prison caravan (due to luck and stupidity), and he managed to get back to Pengolia, relaying to us his story. He was then thrown into jail for destructing relations. Either way, the High Penguins were mad. Unbelievably so. Nothing knows wrath like an angered noobface. So, they hath sent a great army to avenge their brothers and homeland. It turneth out that Sigurd torched a temple. Ach. I expect the king would be coming soon to raise the garrison.
He closed his diary and laid in his fishbone chair, and he extinguished his lamp. For the rest of the day, he would probably just do what he pleased, and possibly prepare for the garrison. Then, realization struck him.
He had forgotten to get straw!
It was dinner. Austin, Japeth, and Chancer sat on one side of the table, and Smacklar, Penghis, and Douglas sat on the other. In the head-seat was Stoick. From the age of 12, all the males ate dinners in a separate area from the females. It was another tradition. The meal was...fish. The clay platter was loaded with fish, cooked decently and covered with salt (to preserve them afterwards). Penghis was in the act of stealing Smacklar's fish (both the twins were, admittedly, clever.) while Douglas distracted him. Japeth sighed and laid back, rolling his eyes at the three on the other side, and Chancer slouched as usual. His younger brother, being the youngest male, could probably get away with anything. He needed a good beating. His father wasn't paying attention to the others at his table. He was in the process of drinking his fourth cup of ale. Ale was a strong alcoholic drink-impossible to stomach by most.
Austin tried to stand to reach over to more fish, and he twinged. His shoulder still burnt from being whacked. Penghis laughed, and Stoick looked up.
"Ey. Did thy fall in a crevice t'day?"
Douglas tried not to grin.
"No, I think he got into a fight at the market!"
"Ach. So ye beat him, Austin. Right?"
There was an awkward silence.
"So, ye beat him, but you got hit too?"
"You got beaten. Horribly."
Austin nodded weakly.
There was more silence. Except for the sound of Douglas and Penghis laughing quietly and Smacklar's loud eating, it was all silent.
Stoick pretended to be unfazed.
"Well, it shall be pleasureable when the Khan draft arrives. War hath come-and the draft comes soon after that. It will be time for you to be a real penguin."
Austin angrily looked at him.
"I'm already a real penguin!"
Stoick looked amused, and resumed eating. Angrily, Austin shoved his plate towards the table and left. As he was walking back, he encountered Smacklar, who had finished eating a long time ago. Smacklar grunted, and then walked back into the dinner room. Smacklar ate loudly, quickly, and carelessly. Once, he had nearly choked on a bone. He had actually reached his flipper into his throat, crushed the bone, and then ate the powder. That was impressive. Austin knew that when the King's Draft came, Smacklar would be in the Heavy Infantry, or higher, such as the Bushido. Still, He couldn't see Smacklar being a general or general's assistant.
Smackler could end up as a Khanguarder. Khanguarders were the strongest, the best, and the toughest. Most were tall for Pengolians, strong, and loyal beyond question. They all wielded full size Mullets. For a uniform, they wore spiked boots, sealskin jerkins, and the special Khanz bucket helmets, each imprinted with the seal of the Khan. The Bushido were a special class of soldiers-they fought with katanas, not fish, and wore very heavy armor. As for himself, Austin only saw himself as a Captain of Ten or a Basic Infantry. He hoped he wasn't in a Basic Infantry corp.
Basic Infantry was pretty much an organized militia. The draft was when the King sent messengers to every city and village in Pengolia. Every male over the age of 14 would head off to war. Most Pengolians were ready for war. War was part of the culture. You could see it everywhere. Swords hanging from mantels, the old tales of war, high penguin goods that had been pillaged, and constant military training.
Austin wasn't the best at dueling with most items, but he had some skill with the katana and some with the fish. The katana was named after Katan the First. He was a Khan who ruled approximetly 400 years ago. His sword had the the upper part chopped off, but he still used it in a ferocious battle and won.
Austin sighed. The draft had probably been issued. Now was time to wait. He walked to his bed, exhausted, and fell asleep.
Austin was awoken early. The sun wasn't going to rise until noon (only to be up for half an hour), but the darkness of night made Austin realize it couldn't have been past six in the morning.
Austin turned his back to the voice and mumbled.
"Nay; just give me a few moments... of slumber..."
"-AUSTIN, THEY JUST EMBARKED A FULLY DRESSED MESSENGER DOWN THE YAM, STRAIGHT FROM THE HIGH COURT OF OUR KHAN. HE IS OUTSIDE AS WE SPEAK, AND HE BE HOLDING A PAIZA. WE MUST GATHER IN YONDER TOWN SQUARE NOW."
In Pengolia, a "yam" wasn't a sweet potato, it was a major road or thoroughfare. (Even in modern times, to this day, both East and West Pengolia call a highway a "yam". Their interstate or international highways were "inter-yams" and numbered them like "Y1", for "Yam One".)
As for a Paiza, a Paiza was a tablet signed by an authority- usually the Khan -that carried both the authority of law and allowed a compelled act to be carried out. A messenger with an authenthic Paiza had the authority to carry out whatever was written on it, by force.
Austin was seized by the flipper as he and all of his family ran to the cart. Stoick, who was looking somewhat flustered grabbed the bridle to Scorch and tied him. He leapt on top of Scorch, and everyone else piled in. Smacklar was there, Penghis and Douglas, Japeth, Chancer, and his mother and sisters. Drizelda (one of his sisters) grinned at him. She was always argumentative-he pitied the noble she was married to. His other sisters, Priscilla and Agnes were sleeping in the back of the cart. Gracia was also there in the back of the cart. Quickly, Stoick pulled out the stick, and Scorch jerked forward, jostling the cart. They reached the town rather quickly, and only hit a few ruts in the road. There, they stood at attention and formed an aisle where the messenger would be approaching.
In minutes, he arrived, dressed in a purple, silken robe with yellow trim. In his left flipper he had a lantern- a sign of authority -and in his right, a juvenile Puff Daddy attatched to a thick rod -a sign of being a judge in the Khanate. On his head was a helmet not too different from the Kings Guard, but it had a little set of miniature scales on its top- like a hood ornament -instead of any real protection. On his beak were a strange combination of wires and lenses of glass. Apparently, these helped him see.
Around his neck as the item everyone was paying attention to. This was the Paiza (pronounced "PAY-ZAH"), and written on it was whatever he was about to order. Knowing the situation, it was probably a draft. The draft had finally come, apparently. Austin knew he would rue this day. But then he realized something. And so did the rest of the crowd.
This was no messenger. This was a full-blown Khanate Judge.
It was extremely rare for a Khanate Judge to appear. Khanz didn't usually need judges as they existed in this country now. Back in the days of the truly famous Khanz, when Pengolia held quite a large chunk of Antarctica, Khanate Judges were a class of nobles that possessed full police power over the land. They WERE the law. Khanate Judges could arrest, try, and covict in one move.
When the Khanz grew weaker and the Confederacy began to take over the many feudal states, the Judges were converted into ceremonial positions and handed to weaker, more frail Khanz that were gifted with brains, not brawn. This being said, they still dressed like the days of old. Present-day Khanate Judges oversaw disputes between nobility and helped with diplomacy, border settlements, deeds, and most things that "real" Khanz left to the "weaklings". That being said, they were nonetheless revered and treated well because of their authority.
This Judge was short, but all of the Khanz in the town bowed to the floor and fell prostrate as he walked by, in a show of respect. When he waddled to the podium they had placed for him, he motioned for the populace to get up.
"HERE YE, HERE YE!" he shouted, his squeaky voice making Austin cringe. He took that puffer fish on a rod and slapped it on the podium to order silence. It made a squeaky sound. One member of the audience snickered, and there was a hasty slap of the fish.
"IT BE A GLORIOUS MOMENT WHEN OUR GREAT KHAN EMBARK-ETH AN OFFICER OF THE PWNSOME JUDICIARY TO A SETTLEMENT."
The Khanz cheered.
"I was sent by Ogehdai Khan- blessed he his PWNage -to personally name another member of our military's highest, most glorious order. All stand at attention; I am here to annoint a new KHANGUARDER!"
Silence was the immediate reaction, but then the penguins began mumbling as to who was the choice. The Judge removed the Paizah from his neck and read it.
"...by order of the Khan, I hereby hold-eth the authority to instate a new Khanguarder. In accordance with the editcs issued, the recipient must be present to receive his blessing. Will Smacklar, Son of Stoick the Strong, please approach-eth me?"
Silence. Complete silence.
Austin turned to his family as Smacklar, for the first time since he could remember, looked humbled. Immediately per custom, all of the Khanz fell prostrate to Smacklar, except Stoick, who took Smacklar's flipper and escourted him up to the Judge. The two foot five judge was far smaller than Smacklar, who was almost an unnatural four feet. He made Austin look collosal. Some wooden planks were used to prop the little Judge up to Smacklar's eye level.
The Judge closed his eyes and laid his flippers on the penguin. He recited some old Pengolian chants in their native tongue, and opened his eyes.
"THE ANNOINTING!" the judge shouted, his high voice painful. "BRING FORTH THE HALLOWED BUCKET!"
Another penguin that had come, unnoticed because of the attention going to the Khanate Judge and Smacklar, was carrying a large, clylindrical barrel. It was painted a deep purple color- another sign of the Khanate, since purple was so hard to come by -and had a lightning bolt engraved onto it. Inside the barrel, a bright orange liquid was sloshing in it. This drink was a sweet, sugary substance said to quench thirst and keep warriors hydrated better than plain water. This drink was practically sacred in Khanz culture. Only Khanguarders and the Khan himself could ever touch or consume it.
As Smacklar stood at attention, the penguin passed the purple barrel and handed it to the judge.
"WITH THE HALLOWED KHANADE BATH, I HEREBY DECLARE-ETH AND ANNOINT THEE AN OFFICIAL MEMBER OF THE ORDER OF THE MULLET, DEFENDER OF THE NATION, WIELDER OF ALL PWNAGE, EPIC VICTOR, AND KEEPER OF THE KHAN. Now, by the tradtion of our elders, please bow."
Smacklar did so with grace. Austin never thought Smacklar was even capable of grace. As he did, the Judge dumped the Khanade all over Smacklar. The drink rolled off the penguin's waterproof feathers and seemed to make him shine in the light. All was silent. All was quiet.
Smacklar got up as a penguin draped a purple cloak over him. He was handed a Mullet about twice his size. The famous bucket helmet, used by elite warriors, was handed to the Judge, who held it up for the crowd to see. He turned to Smacklar.
"Smacklar, by coronating thee with the Helmet of PWNage, you are hereby Sir Smacklar of the Order of the Mullet."
Slowly, dramatically, the Judge placed the helmet on Smacklar, and then hopped to the floor and bowed, as the rest of the village did the same.
"Sir Smacklar," the Judge said, still prostrate on the ground, "today begins a new chapter of your life. Ye shall bear the honor of protecting this nation with the finest of warriors. Ye shall be blessed and be allowed to consume Khanade to keep thyself from thirsting in the heat of war. Ye were chosen, personally, by our great Khan to serve our people in the days ahead. May ye always PWN thine foes."
The Judge rose and got back on his platform. He had Smacklar stand next to him as he read the Paizah. He clared his throat.
"The ordeal finished, I shall now read-eth the Paizah of Ogehadi."
There was a pause as the Judge adjusted his bifocals to see properly.
"IN THE THIRD YEAR OF OGEHADI KHAN- BLESSED BE HIS NAME -BE IT DECLARED, ENACTED, AND SEALED THAT THE PENGOLIAN HOARDES ARE HEREBY ACTIVATING A FULL CONSCRIPTION OF ALL ABLE-BODIED KHANZ PENGUINS. THE HIGH PENGUINS ARE SOON TO ADVANCE, AND THE HOARDE NEEDS EVERY PENGUIN IT CAN OBTAIN. THIS CONSCRIPTION IS COMPULSARY SHALL BE CARRIED FORTH IN THESE PARTS. FIRST, ALL MALES OVER EIGHTEEN SHALL IMMEDIATELY DEPART TO THE RECRUITING STATION AT THE NEAREST YAM FOR PHYSICAL EVALUATION, TESTING, ASSIGNMENTS, AND INSTATEMENT. SECONDLY, ALL PENGUINS OVER SIXTEEN SHALL DEPART FIVE DAYS AFTER THIS. THEN, EXACTLY ONE FORTNIGHT FROM THE ISSUING OF THIS PAIZAH, ALL MALE PENGUINS OVER THIRTEEN SHALL IMMEDIATELY DEPART TO THE SAME. FAILURE TO OBEY THIS CONSCRIPTION SHALL RESULT IN PUNISHMENT THAT NE'ER SHALL BE NAMED. LASTLY, THIS CONSCRIPTION WILL NOT CARRY CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTIONS. ANY PENGUIN THAT IS MORALLY BOUND NOT TO FIGHT FOR THE HOARDE WILL BE ASSIGNED TO A DIVISION OF THE HOARDE WHICH DOES NOT DIRECTLY FIGHT A BELLIGERENT, SUCH AS WEAPONS MANUFACTURING OR ADMINISTRATIVE OR BUREAUCRATIC POSITIONS. PENGUINS PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY INCAPBLE OF FIGHTING FOR THE HOARDE WILL BE ASSIGNED THE SAME. NO EXCEPTIONS. SO BE IT."
Austin moaned softly. There it was: in two weeks, he was going to be drafted. He was rather surprised that the Khan had lowered the age from fourteen to thirteen. There must have been an extremely serious shortfall of penguins in the Hoarde to do that. He was also surprised that the Khan didn't permit conscientious objection this time around. Khanz penguins could usually opt-out of the Hoarde if they could prove that they weren't morally or physically capable of handling it (though they would be looked down on by their peers). This time, though, even those who refused or failed would somehow be put to work in the Pengolian war machine. There was no way out.
Austin wouldn't admit it, but he was truly scared. The Judge snapped hinm out of that when he called out.
"NOW, LET THERE BE A BANQUET TO CELEBRATE SIR SMACKLER'S HIGHER CALLING! All penguins over eighteen will report-eth to the Recruiting Station immediately after."
Austin awoke. His head ached, he felt exhausted, and he blinked several times. He winced. His head felt awful. Where...was...he?
Suddenly, it all flashed back. The banquet last night. The party. The alcoholic Cream Soda. No wonder his head hurt. The party had gone wild quickly, and nearly everyone had dranken at least a couple cups. He couldn`t exactly remember all that had happened. He could remember a couple things. A couple failed one-liners (which he would have peferred to forget), a drinking contest...a balalaika player...his sister slapping a drunk guy...
He winced again. His headache was intolerable. He groaned and rolled over, and quickly fell asleep.
Austin was brutally jolted out of his sleep by Douglas`s flipper.
Austin moaned. "Please, I beg thee let me sleep!"
Douglas roughly shook him. When Austin refused to respond, Douglas whacked him again. Still no response.
"Wake, ye dolt! Ye have to arrive at the Station in an hour! "
Leaning on the bed, Douglas stroked his beak and thought. Suddenly, a malicious grin broke out on his face.
"Wake up, Austin the Girl-Chaser!"
Austin flew out of bed, managed to land on his feet, and stared at Douglas with bloodshot eyes. If he had done something like that, Douglas would know. Cream Soda made him vomit on the ground. He was usually the last-or only sober one at a party.
"What'd I do? How drunk was I? How drunk were they?!?"
"Doth not worry. I needed to wake ye up. All ye did was dance with a couple of them...you actually tried to snog a couple. Of course, ye were so ridiculously drunk, it was a bit obvious. Nobody really cares that much-did ye see Shakal the Angry? He dranketh a whole barrel, then proceeded to RIDE on it!"
Douglas laughed as he recalled that.
"Anyway, ye need to get down to the station. Military training, all that."