Moxie’s Problem by Hank Quense – Blog Tour
Moxie’s Problem by Hank Quense – Blog Tour
(Princess Moxie Book 1)
Author – Hank Quense
Publisher – Strange Worlds Publication
Pages – 294
Release Date – 11th July 2014
Do you enjoy untypical coming-of-age stories? Well you find one more untypical that Moxie’s Problem. Moxie is an obnoxious, teen-age princess who has never been outside her father’s castle. Until now. The real world is quite different and she struggles to come to grips with reality.
The story takes place against a backdrop of Camelot. But it isn’t the Camelot of legends. It’s Camelot in a parallel universe. So, all bets are off!
While on an adventure, three Knights of the Round Table, Percivale and his companions, Bors and Gareth, meet the legendary Green Man who offers to speed them on their way out of Sherwood Forest. Gareth is a knightly chef, uses a spatula and a skillet instead of a sword and shield. Bors is also an accountant and Percivale makes drawings of his adventures and battles.
The knights request the Green Man to send them south close to Camelot. Unfortunately, the Green Man is ignorant of human directions and sends them north.
Percivale hit something. He groaned in pain, smelled pine needles, and continued to fall. He thumped into the ground and passed out.
When he regained consciousness, Percivale sensed people around him and decided to act like he was still unconscious until he could assess any possible danger. The ground were he lay was cold and Percivale shivered despite his attempt not to.
“Looky here, my pretties,” a high-pitched voice said.
“A bonnie lad,” a second voice replied.
“A warrior, methinks from the ax he carries,” first voice said.
“Is he dead, you think?” second voice asked.
A toe gave Percivale’s ribs a hard nudge making him move involuntarily.
“He lives.” The footsteps rapidly retreated.
“Can we keep him?” a third voice asked.
“Nay, Carla, warriors make poor pets. They hate captivity and are dangerous when caged.”
Percivale rolled over and sat up. His first glance at the three strangers startled him. Middle-aged women with scraggly white hair, all had nightmarish features. Their black, tight-fitting kirtles threatened to burst from the mass of flesh the cloth attempted to control.
“Good morrow, handsome visitor. Where are ye from?” The voice belonged to the first speaker. She seemed a bit older than the other two.
“I hope he ain’t a bloody damned Brit,” said the second. “Are ye?”
“Where am I?” Percivale ran a hand over his body searching for broken bones. “Where’s my horse?”
“Ye are in the bonnie Highlands,” replied the third woman. “And a horse grazes over yonder.” She pointed deeper into the woods.
Percivale’s mouth dropped open. How did he end up in the far north when the Green Man was supposed to send them south? Apparently the Green Man didn’t understand directions.
“He’s a wee one,” second voice said.
“How can ye tell, withal he still wears his pants?” third voice asked.
“Ye have a filthy mind, Carla,” the oldest one said.
“Aye, and proud of it I am.”
“A filthy mind is an awful thing to waste,” the second one observed. “So, who are ye?”
“My name is Percivale. I’m a knight inna service of King Artie of Camelot. Who are you three?”
“He is a bloody damned Brit,” the oldest one said. “But I guess we can’t be choosey at our age. I’m Agatha, and this is Bertha.” Bertha dropped a curtsy that set mounds of flesh rippling and quivering under her kirtle. She had a large green wart on the right side of her nose.
“And this is our baby sister, Carla.” Carla looked boldly at Percivale and slowly licked her upper lip. She had nostril hairs so long she weaved them into twin braids.
“We are the Wryd Sisters, witches all,” Agatha added.
“Here,” Bertha said handing Percivale a small flask. “Take a wee sip of this. It’ll restore your natural humors.”
Percivale took the flask and pulled the stopper. A whiff of alcohol escaped from it. He sipped and swallowed. Immediately, his throat and stomach felt like he had swallowed liquid fire. “What is that stuff?” he gasped.
“Double malt,” Bertha replied.
“From a secret family recipe,” Agatha said. “We age it in oak casks.”
“Aye,” Carla said. “Sometimes as long as a week.”
“Mayhap, Percivale will join our quest,” Bertha said. “We could use a bold lad to dismay the laird.”
“Aye, especially since this one is twice beholden to us,” Carla added.
“I’m beholden to you?” Percivale frowned and tried to work that one out. “How so?”
“First, we stood guard over ye and didn’t leave ye for the wolves. Second, we didn’t steal from ye, even though ye lay helpless as a new-born newt.”
“Carla has the right of it,” Bertha said. “You owe us recompense and we need help. Will you honor your debt or must we turn you into a beetle, food for the nearest snake?”
“What’s this quest?”
“We seek to protect our pet Nessie from the wrath of the Laird of the Loch,” Agatha replied.
“The scion of Malcolm,” Bertha said, “the one who killed MacBeth and seized the throne.”
“The despicable Laird has sworn to kill Nessie with a great hunt,” Bertha said.
“I’ve raised her since she was a wee tadpole,” Carla said. “Why, only last year, I loosed her in the loch when she grew too big to care for in our hut. And now, the Laird means to harm her.”
Percivale stood up and knocked dirt and pine needles from his pants.
“Have ye always been so short, or are ye enspelled?” Bertha asked.
“Mayhap, upon kissing a virgin, ye’ll regain your natural height.” Agatha winked at him.
“Here now,” Carla huffed. “I saw him first. I’ll be one doing the kissing.”
“I propose we all take a turn to break the spell,” Bertha said.
“I’m not enspelled and no one is kissin’ me.” Percivale barely restrained himself from shuddering at the idea. A quest would occupy his mind while he figured out how to return to Camelot. Percivale looked around the area. “Have you seen two other men around here?”
“Nay. Perhaps we will come upon them as we travel,” Agatha said.
“Two more men?” Carla clapped her hands. “How wonderful!”
Percivale had a bad felling about the Wyrd Sisters as he reluctantly followed them and trudged along a path. Percivale sensed the sisters would make Moxie seem like a minor trial. He’d be a lot less nervous if he could find his mates.
A strong wind blew from the north and whipped branches into their faces as they walked through a woods heavy with fallen and bent trees as if the wind never stopped blowing.
“What’s a loch?” Percivale asked. “I heard you mention the word a few times.”
“‘Tis water, nothing more.” Agatha said. “Some lochs are big and some are a bit wee. O’er that hill is a big one.” She turned off the path and climbed the hill. “‘Tis where Nessie now lives and swims.”
On top of the hill, Percivale looked down on a huge lake. Perhaps a mile wide, it disappeared out of sight around bends in the hills in both directions.
Percivale heard a groan and whirled around while his hand reached for his ax. Several feet away Bors hung from a stout oak branch, his legs and arms hanging down. His sword and scabbard banged against his left ear as his arms slowly swung back and forth.
“‘Tis passing strange,” Carla said. “Warriors are popping up everywhere.”
“A virtual shower of them,” Bertha replied. “Perhaps they are a gift from our goddess, Hecate.”
“Aye.” Agatha cackled. “Mayhap, ’tis our lucky day.”
Percivale climbed onto a boulder and slapped Bors’s face a few times. His friend groaned again and opened his eyes. “Perc? Why are you upside down?”
Percivale helped Bors get his bearings and drop off the branch. While Bors straightened his clothes and scabbard, he caught sight of the sisters and gasped.
Carla rolled her eyes.
A sip of the flask restored Bors’s wits. “Where are we?”
“The Highlands, I’m told,” Percivale said. “Wherever that is.”
“The Highlands are right where they’ve always been.” Bertha stabbed downward with one finger. “Here.”
“Where’s Gareth? And my horse?”
“I’ve not seen him yet.” Percivale noticed Bors’s eyes widen and his face turn red. Percivale turned and saw Agatha preening like a teenage girl in the presence of a handsome lad. “Ignore them,” Percivale whispered. “Whatever you do, don’t encourage them.”
They scrambled down the hill and continued south on the path with the sisters in the lead and soon came to a clearing. Percivale saw a groggy Gareth sitting beneath a pine tree. The horses, Escrow and Saffron, grazed nearby.
“By Hecate!” Bertha cried. “Look at the hunk sitting there. ‘Tis the answer to a maiden’s dream.”
“Just gazing ‘pon him,” Carla said, “sets my nether regions atingle.”
Gareth heard the commotion and looked over at the group. Alarm or possibly panic spread across his face. He grabbed for his skillet and spatula and didn’t relax even when he spotted his two friends. Carla grabbed Percivale’s forearm in a claw-like grip. “Is that your missing friend? Introduce me quick before the others make a move.”
It took a few minutes for Percivale to reassure Gareth that the sisters meant him no harm. “The women are on a quest to save a pet from being slaughtered,” Percivale said. “It’s not like we have anythin’ better to do.”
“How do we get back to Camelot from here?” Gareth asked.
“I’m guessin’ we ride south for a long time,” Percivale said, happy to be reunited with his two companions. The sisters struck him as really strange and he didn’t want to be the only man around them. He hated to think what would happen if the sisters got amorous.
Hank Quense writes humorous and satiric scifi and fantasy stories. He also writes about fiction writing and self-publishing. He has published 14 books and 50 short stories along with a few dozen articles. He often lectures on fiction writing and publishing and has a series of guides covering the basics on each subject. He is currently working on a series of two humorous novels that take place in the Camelot era.
He and his wife, Pat, usually vacation in another galaxy or parallel universe. They also time travel occasionally when Hank is searching for new story ideas.