(Author’s note: In my last report https://joylenebutler.com/help-i-need-advice-hank-quense/.html I explained that my characters have their knickers bunched up. My research has uncovered some of their activities. Here is a report I’ve managed to piece together.)
Characters File a Lawsuit
In Dun Hythe, Gundarland’s largest city, the bailiff called out “All rise!” and Judge Oakenleaf, an old elf, hobbled into courtroom. He wore the traditional carmine robe and peruke. With an effort, Oakenleaf ascended the step to his bench and sat down with an audible creaking of joints. He looked around the mostly empty and quiet courtroom. A fierce look came over his face and he pounded the gavel before ordering, “Quiet in the courtroom!” He scowled at the three plaintiffs standing silently in front of the bench. “If I hear another outburst like that one, I’ll clear the court.”
The plaintiffs exchanged worried glances.
“Who are you?” Oakenleaf pointed to the plaintiff on his right.
“My name is Sir Vatsik. I’m a knight-accountant.” He was a young man dressed in a tunic, pants and hose.
“I’m Brodwin, a wizard and a member of the Dun Hythe Wizards Guild.” The elderly man wore a robe festooned with symbols.
“Bianca,” a tall elf maiden said. “I’m an archer.” Her bow and quiver of arrows had been left outside along with Brodwin’s shillelagh-like wand and Vatsik’s sword and shield. Bianca wore a green hooded shirt and trews in the same color. Her silver hair hung down in two braids.
Oakenleaf cleared his throat. “Why are bothering me?”
Brodwin took a step forward. “We started a class action lawsuit against an author named Hank Quense.”
Oakenleaf frowned, lifted his wig and scratched his bald head. He dropped the wig back on his head skewed to one side. “Never heard of him.”
“He claims to be famously unheard of,” Vatsik said.
“That makes sense,” Oakenleaf said. “What’s this lawsuit about?”
“We are suing for unemployment compensation until he writes us into a new story,” Brodwin said.
Oakenleaf ignored the wizard and said, “Bailiff, I thirst.” He stopped the proceedings until the bailiff returned with a glass of liquid with a slight amber tint. Oakenleaf sipped for the glass. “Excellent vint . . . water.”
The judge squinted and examined each of the plaintiffs. “This lawsuit sounds suspicious to me. Why should the author pay you compensation?”
“Because,” Vatsik replied, “I don’t earn any coins when we aren’t in a story.”
“Likewise, I can’t use my spells unless I’m active in a story,” Brodwin added.
“The same with me,” Bianca said, “but I’m also suing for breach of promise.”
“Why,” the judge asked her.
“In a novel, the king and I decided to get married. But the story ended before we could get hitched. I’m gonna die an old maid if the author doesn’t get me into a new story so I can get married.”
“Hmm.” The judge drained his glass. “Bailiff, fetch a refill of this . . . er water.” He tapped the gavel a few times and said, “Your pos—“ He glared around the room. “Stop that singing or I’ll clear the room! Is that clear?” He paused a few seconds. “Much better. I hate that song. Where was I?”
“You were about to rule on our complaint,” Brodwin said. “I think.”
“Ahh, yes. I believe your complaint is legitimate, but I can’t rule untll I hear from the author. Bailiff!”
“Judge?” the bailiff placed another glass of liquid on the bench.
“Issue a subpoena for the author. Have him appear in this court in say . . . two weeks.”
“It’s gonna be hard to serve the subpoena,” Vatsik said. “No one knows where the The guy lives. We’ve been lookin’.”
“That’s his problem,” Oakenleaf said. “If he doesn’t show up on time, I’ll have some vigilantes go after him and drag him here.” Oakenleaf banged the gavel. ’This court is adjourned.”
“Wait,” Brodwin said, “we didn’t discuss the compensation we want.”
“Too late, I have to pee. This court is adjourned.”
(Author’s note: Vatsik and Brodwin both appear in several short stories. Bianca is a major character in The King Who Disappeared)
~ ~ ~
Three weeks later, Judge Oakenleaf sat on the bench. His white peruke, was skewed to one side so it draped over his right ear. A bailiff stood alongside the bench. Three males stood in front of the judge.
“Annouce yourselves,” the judge ordered.
“My name is Zarro,” said a dwarf dressed all in black: shirt, pants boots, hat, cape, bullwhip and mask.
“And I’m the Lone Stranger.” Another dwarf, this one wore brown leather breeches, a gray wool sweater and a tan cloak. His black boots matched the color of his mask. A holster held a slingshot.
“I am called Pinto,” said a tall elf who pointed to the Lone Stranger. “I am his companion.” Pinto wore tan leather tunic, breeches and boots.
Oakenleaf frowned and said, “if you are the Lone Stranger, why are there two of you?”
Startled, the Lone Stranger paused before replying,” He’s an elf. Elves don’t count. I’m the Lone dwarf Stranger.”
“All dwarves are strange, “Pinto said, “but this one is stranger.”
“One more crack about elves and I’ll hold you in contempt of court,” Oakenleaf growled. “A week in jail will change your mind about elves.”
Oakenleaf scratched under his wig and continued, “You two vigilantes are empaneled as my posse to track down and apprehend a rogue who didn’t respond to my subpoena to appear in my court. The rogue’s name is Hank Quense and I want him standing in front of me in chains. Am I clear?”
“The name sounds familiar,” the Lone Stranger said.
Pinto kicked his ankle. “He’s the author who created us.”
“Ahh, now I remember.”
“Where is this rogue?” Zarro asked.
“If I knew where he lived, I could hand the job off to a policeman instead of a vigilante. Finding him is your job. Bailiff, give them a copy of my subpoena.”
”All this tells us is his name,” Zarro said after reading it. “Not very useful.”
“Bah! You youngsters want everything to be easy.” Oakenleaf pointed his gavel at Zarro. “None of you want to work for your coins. Well, be on your way and if you don’t bring this author back in a reasonable time, I’ll hold all three of you in contempt.” Oakenleaf stood, tottered off the step and disappeared through a door followed by the bailiff.
Outside the courtroom, the Lone Stranger said, “This is tough one. Where should we start?”
“Let’s ride south for a while,” Zarro replied, “then we can turn left and see if anyone knows where the guy is.”
“Sounds good,” the Lone Stranger said.
Pinto shook his head. “We’re all going to jail before this one is over. I can feel it.”
(Author’s note: Zarro, the Lone Stranger and Pinto all appeared in the story Chasing Dreams.)
~ ~ ~
Dun Hythe Times Editorial
It has come to the attention of this newspaper that a number of characters created by our renowned author Hank Quense have launched a class action lawsuit against the author. The characters are seeking unspecified unemployment compensation from him since they are all currently without work.
This is nothing more than a scurrilous attempt to use their fame to extort money from an innocent author. We ask, to whom do these characters owe their fame? More, to whom do they owe their very existence? The answer to both questions is to the author. Yet the grateful louts now sue their very creator.
This paper demands this pernicious lawsuit be thrown out of court and the lead litigants whipped through the streets as a lesson to others whose greed gets the better of them
~ ~ ~
Zarro, the Lone Stranger and Pinto sat at a table in a nearly deserted saloon on the edge of the Great Southern Desert. They had been on the road for over a month and had traveled throughout Gundarland. During their journey, they could find no one who had any idea where the author Hank Quense lived.
Three shot glasses and a half-empty quart bottle of sarsaparilla soda sat on the table. The vigilantes were dirty, exhausted and depressed.
Zarro poured three more shots of soda. “So what are we gonna do?”
“I have a suggestion,” Pinto said, “if you want to hear from an elf.”
“In desperate times like these,” the Lone Stranger replied, “even an elf’s words are welcome.”
“Let’s ask a librarian about the author.”
“Why would we do that?” Zarro asked.
“Librarians work in buildings filled with books. They may know about our author.”
“And where would we find such a librarian?” Zarro asked.
“Centi has the largest library in Gundarland. And Centi ain’t that far away from here.”
“I hate to admit it,” the Lone Stranger said, “but I think Pinto’s idea has merit.”
“Then let’s do it.” Zarro stood up.
“I ain’t leavin’ until we finish this bottle,” the Lone Stranger replied.
“Good thinkin’.” Zarro sat down and poured more shots.
~ ~ ~
The Centi library was a large, ornate structure covered in pink marble with six columns flanking the entrance. Centi and its citizens suffered from an inferiority complex. It was always second to the northern city of Dun Hythe. That city was larger than Centi, had a bigger sea port and the folks who lived there looked down on the Centians. The library was Centi’s attempt to even the score.
The vigilantes stood in awe at the entrance for a few moments before entering. The high-ceiling in the main reading room reminded them of a temple in Dun Hythe.
Looking around the almost empty room, Zarro said, “There’s someone who may help us.” He pointed to a figure standing behind a desk on the far side of the room. The figure was shroud in semi-darkness. “I’ll bet it’s a librarian.”
As they approached they could discern the features of the librarian. He was an elf dressed in formal attire and he looked like he was in pain.
“Hello,” the Lone Stranger said. “We’re lookin’ for a librarian who can help us.”
The elf made a face at the three road-dirt covered vigilantes. “Surely, you do not expect me to teach you how to read. The library walls are filled with signs on how to find information.”
“We’re tryin’ to find an author,” Zarro said. “Can you help us?”
The elf sighed. “Perhaps. What is the author’s name.”
“Hank Quense,” Zarro replied.
The elf’s eyebrows rose marginally. “And why would three ruffians want to know about a prestigious author like Mister Quense?”
“We’re vigilantes, see,” the Lone Stranger said, “and we gotta serve him with a subpoena.”
“Hah! You will have enormous troubles serving Mister Quense. Wherever it is he lives, it is far, far away. When we order his books, it takes two years for the order to be fulfilled. All our other book orders are filled with a month.”
“But you don’t where he is?” Pinto asked.
“No. Now leave me. I have work to do.”
Pinto snorted. “All we saw you doing was looking around the room.”
“That is my work.” The elf made shooing motions with his hands. “Leave, so I can get back to overseeing the room.”
Outside the library, the three stood around, wondering what to do next.
“No sense travelin’ around anymore.” The Lone Stranger reached under his mask and scratched his nose. “I’m thinkin’ the author ain’t in Gundarland.”
Zarro gasped aloud. “I’m not goin’ onna ship to another country. I get seasick.”
“Does anyone what to hear what I think,” Pinto asked.
“I suppose it’s possible that words of wisdom can come outta the mouth of an elf,” the Lone Stranger said. “Tell us.”
“I think this author lives on a different world where he makes up all the stuff he writes. The only way we’ll find him is to ask the zaftans for help. They might know where he lives and even if they don’t, they may be able to take us to a different world where we can continue to search.”
“I take back what I said about possible words of wisdom,” the Lone Stranger slapped his forehead.
Zarro shook his head. “Talkin’ to the zaftans is even worse than gettin’ onna ship. Their smell makes me sick and I throw up.”
“We’re screwed,” the Lone Stranger said. “If we don’t find the guy our reputations will be ruined. No one will ever hire us again.”
“And the judge will hit us with contempt of court,” Zarro said. “We’ll be in jail.”
Pinto chuckled. “I guess it’s time for you two to stop pretending to be vigilantes and get real jobs.”
“That’s not funny, Pinto,” the Lone Stranger growled.
“Still, the elf speaks the truth.” Zarro shook his head.. “Change our names, don’t tell anyone about this subpoena and start over. I always fancied bein’ a forest ranger.”
“I’d have to go back to my family business. They’re into minin’ and I can’t stand being in a mine shaft. I need to do somethin’ else.”
“Let’s all of us become forest rangers,” Zarro said.
“Yeah,” the Lone Stranger replied. “The judge will never look for us in the woods.
(Author’s note: My information indicates other characters are plotting mayhem. More reports will follow.)
For vacations, Hank and Pat usually visit distant parts of the galaxy. Occasionally, they also time-travel.
Besides writing novels, Hank lectures on fiction writing, publishing and book marketing. He is most proud of his talk showing grammar school kids how to create a short story. He used these lectures to create an advanced ebook with embedded videos to coach the students on how to create characters, plots and settings. The target audience is 4th to 7th graders. The book’s title is Fiction Writing Workshop for Kids.