Thirty-Three

On day zero, at high noon, the Minotaur arrived at Castle Manchego. At the gate stood a kindergartener.

"I believe I'm expected," said the Minotaur.

"...ribbit," said the gatekeeper. Rather than lead the Minotaur through the main corridor, however, she instead ran berserk and free around the tiny living areas of the castle reserved for the coupon fairies. The bumping and crunching and stomping of the Minotaur could be heard throughout the castle. At long last, the Minotaur carried the exhausted child into the main hall, where waited Mimbleshaw, Little Eva, Brian, and Spot cloaked in his princely form.

"I seek to duel the King's champion," said the Minotaur.

"No, Monsieur le Cow Head," said Spot. "I instead dare you to fight me. For Mademoiselle Princess. Whom you hold diabolically as the hostage."

"What?" said the Minotaur. "That's outrageous. Why should I agree to your dare? What's in it for me?"

"Myself," said Spot. "And the crown. That is what you want, no?"

"Very well, I accept," said the Minotaur. "Since the crown is part of your stake in this duel, giving me the match if you use it is only fair."

"Very well," said Spot.

"Excuse me, Miss Evangeline," said the Minotaur. "Could I bother you for some water and baking soda? I'll need it later."

"You want a bicarbonate soda?" said Little Eva. "You show up and ask for things easy enough."

"Think of how small a privilege for accepting a dare a soda makes," said the Minotaur.

"Alright, alright," said Little Eva.

"More than the upset stomach waits for you, monsieur," said Spot. "Engarde. Now I squeeze the breath from you as the giant calamari, no? Ah ha, still too slow to undress from me the pliable obstinacy. Now I am the mouse too small and too fast for you to catch."

"Drink," said the Minotaur, who then gave the girl his soda.

"Ker-belch?" said the girl, from whose throat the frog escaped.

"—le meow-meow," said Spot, whom the Minotaur then caught in the drained glass.

"Do you yield the match?" said the Minotaur.

"No," said Spot. "I cannot. Why must you do this to me? Why must I always have nothing? Why? Why? Why? Again, and again, and again—"

"Spot into the bag," said Brian, who gave victory to the Minotaur. So damp Spot tumbled from the bag. Damp not from water, but from tears.