Illustrations © Zenobia 2018
FELIX’s Encampment in the Hills above Delirium.
Enter FELIX, VISCUS and Soldiers.
VISCUS: Brother, what are we doing? Here we sit
Up on this hill, i’ th’ wind and rain, making
Infrequent raids upon the enemy,
Winning some powder here and victuals there,
But in the main achieving naught at all.
We have lost Jenkin, may God rest his soul,
And Tubby hath a nasty wound i’ th’ bum.
How can we shift to do them serious harm?
FELIX: I hear what thou art saying, brother mine.
I have been thinking deep about this matter.
We are few and weak, but are on our home turf,
Surrounded by our folk in countless numbers
Who hate the Thetan thugs with all their soul.
How can we rouse them to unite against
The foe, and drive them from our motherland?
(Enter TILDA, VULPECULA, ETTY, JESSICA, HUMPHREY and PATRICK.)
FELIX: Tilda, my darling love! What dost thou here?
My dearest Jessica, mother dear, and Etty –
I though ye all were safe in Tapioca
With Sago and Semolina at their court,
But here ye are, right in the dragon’s jaws.
And who are these friends that ye bring with thee?
TILDA: My darling Felix, how I have missed thee lately!
These are my stalwart friends Humphrey and Patrick.
The former is an innkeeper, and below
This place we have left a wain loaded with liquor.
SOLDIER: Aha! Show us the way, for we are thirsty.
ETTY: Ye always are for one thing or another;
Patience, and ye shall have a pint or two.
TILDA: And Patrick is an Irish soldier o’ fortune,
A mighty man of war, who’ll be our ally.
FELIX: Welcome, good people, to our humble home.
HUMPHREY: Your majesty …
FELIX: Forget these silly titles:
We are soldiers now, intent on our campaign
– Such as it is, with our scant band of men.
All who join us are welcome as valued equals.
TILDA: We never saw the coast of Tapioca:
Pirates assailed us.
FELIX: Ah, I know that feeling.
TILDA: The crew surrendered and we could do naught.
They set the women adrift i’ an open boat.
TILDA: But ’twas to our advantage:
We fetched up on th’ isle of Orosius,
A strong enchanter, who befriended us
And taught us skills that thou wouldst scarce believe.
Little Vusillus stays there, cared for by Maisie.
My love, I have something to say to thee:
I am a witch.
FELIX: Thou always didst enchant me.
Fear not to say that, for my dearest mother
Is too – so welcome to the sisterhood.
They have always been as nice as pie to me.
TILDA: And Jessica …
FELIX: Yes, she’s one, but we knew it
From those pink bears that drifted from her thoughts.
TILDA: She can make more than bears, after our teaching.
Fear not for her safety, she’s the strongest of us.
Bare hours ago, she saved us from the Thetans
By conjuring up a monstrous goat that brought them
Down to their knees and gibbering in terror.
She’s not permitted to do any harm
To folk, lest she grow into a dark witch
And yet, aside from that, the sky’s the limit.
She could call up an imaginary army
Routing the foe, before a shot was fired.
FELIX: Come to my arms, my lovely magic daughter!
What hast thou wrought, to save thy mum and granny?
JESSICA: I made a goat, and granny did its voice;
’Twas funny, but O, how it scared the Thetans.
TILDA: Thinking of this, may I suggest a plan
We hatched with th’ counsel of Orosius?
FELIX: Gladly, for we have not a plan at all.
TILDA: There’s little we can do here in the hills:
We must move the Thetans to a killing ground
Where our small forces can dispose of them.
The northern mountains are just such a place
Where armoured regiments creep through the valleys,
And our irregulars upon the crags
Wreak ruin and destruction on their ranks.
We must entice them to the Drongo valley,
A narrow gorge where we command the heights.
FELIX: A splendid plan, but how do we get them there?
TILDA: The Thetans send their spies about the country;
But shepherds in the hills know they are there.
We must discover them; then Jessica
Will conjure up an army in their sight.
They’ll think the northern Zinnians are invading
And flee to Gonbad with a false report,
And he shall send his army up to meet them.
FELIX: Jessica, canst thou really make an army?
JESSICA: O yes, father, should they be unicorns
Or goats or men? I can do all of them.
FELIX: Men would be best; we’ll save the goats for later,
My lovely daughter, strongest of us all!
ETTY: Come, we’ll refresh ourselves with wine from th’ wain,
And dine in style. Soon we’ll move on again.