It Was a Time of Darkness

The origins of this document have been lost in the mists of memory and time, but I do recall it having something to do with the excellent old Speccy mag Your Sinclair, and Jonathan Nash. Nevertheless I present to you here, now, in its unfinished entirety, the truly excellent IT WAS A TIME OF DARKNESS!
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5


IT WAS A TIME OF DARKNESS
By TB Falsename
Episode Two

WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE:

Mart, Bazzer and Betty, role-playing game fans and some girl, have bought a strange new game called Orcish Wars from a mysterious shop. Opening the box they find themselves magically transported to The Land, the savage world in which the game takes place, and within six minutes are killed by a marauding band of orcs. Rufuxrufcud, a wizard, witnesses the slaughter and, recognising the three as the ‘otherworlders’ mentioned in the Book of Foretelling, is preparing a powerful spell to resurrect the chums as incarnations of the ancient heroes Martinus, Barrabus and some girl when he killed by a troll. Meanwhile, intigue is afoot in the faraway town of Akansaxchukabuk.

Now read on.

[Scene: The bustling market. There is much bustling. We dissolve to an alleyway. A merchant walks along. He has the look of a storyteller about him. A man steps across his path.]

MAN: A moment.

MERCHANT: Oh! Pardon me, sir – I was busy with my thoughts. What is to become of Princess Breasts? As you know, with her father, the king, Mortleigh II, away on a diplomatic mission, she is held captive by the villainous Captain of the Guards, Raxinfraxin. And we have all heard how he desires to be king himse-

MAN: I know all this already. Obviously.

MERCHANT: Indeed, and as you also know, there is a small but determined resistance to Raxinf-

MAN: Look, give me all your money or I’ll kill you.

[We pull back to show the scene is being watched from a high window by Captain Raxinfraxin.]

RAXINFRAXIN: The people appear displeased. [He rubs his chin.] If only I cared in the slightest way. No matter. [Two small boys enter.] Sumgrew – Sumtew – come here and let daddy dandle you upon his knee, although I’m still not quite sure what that involves. [He tries valiently, but it is an unpleasant effect.
]
How are you, my boys? Wasn’t there a third one at some point? I trust my brother took good care of you and that you stayed away from the locked room three corridors along and six flights up you undoubtedly would never have heard of had I not mentioned it.

SUMGREW: Uncle Saxinraxin was perfectly super, father.

SUMTEW: He took us to see the conjuoror, Mr Dixdastardlax, and we had jellies and fun.

RAXINFRAXIN: God, I hate you. [He shuts them in a cupboard. Suddenly there is a commotion from outside.]

VOICES: Hurrah! It is as the Book foretold! Sawtoad, the apprentice, has brought the ‘otherworlders’ who will free us from the – oh. Well, help your master down so he can perform the spell of – ah.

ANOTHER VOICE: Let me through, I’m a doctor. Like that counts for anything in the eighth century.

[Raxinfraxin turns back from the window.]

RAXINFRAXIN: Ha. The fools. Now I will marry Princess Breasts and ascend the throne to rule with the help of my brother and the magician. No longer will Mortleigh snicker at Saxinraxin, Raxinfraxin and Dixdastardlax.

[The door opens and Princess Breasts bursts in.]

PRINCESS BREASTS: Not so fast. Don’t reach for that sword. [She brandishes a Browning 9mm.] This is an anachronism – deadly at 20 paces. [Raxinfraxin leaps back 21 paces.] Curses.

SUMGREW [Muffled]: Can we come out now, father?

RAXINFRAXIN: Shhhh.

[What tricks has Raxinfraxin up his sleeve? Can Princess Breasts truly be free when she continues to repress that childhood memory of being lost in a milliner’s and so retains an irrational fear of hats? Who is the gaunt stranger not mentioned in this episode?]

IT WAS A TIME OF DARKNESS
By TB Falsename
Episode Two

WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE:

Visiting their Uncle Selwyn at his country house, cousins Eric and Penny and their lower-class friend Snifter are astonished to discover a glowing doorway at the back of a large wardrobe. The doorway leads ot a darkened building, and upon stepping outside the chums find themselves on a grassy plain where they are met by a magnificent lion, who mauls Snifter badly. Racing back to the building our friends realise that by ill luck it is a discout furniture warehouse, and the lion with little effort catches and eats them. Uncle Selwyn dies in his bed, ringing futilely for help. Meanwhile, in the faraway town of Akansaxchukabuk, the villainous Captain Raxinfraxin has once again captured Princess Breasts, imprisoning her in a dungeon with
little regard for her lovely hair.

Now read on.

[Scene: The town’s back streets. Night. Flickering torches. We dissolve to a cloaked figure scuttling furtively. It is careful to keep away from the security chimeras, artistic lizards who sit atop strategic poles and sketch suspicious citizens. There is a sudden begger.]

BEGGAR: Spare something for a the homeless. [The figure gives him a wide berth.] God bless you, sir.

[Soon the figure arrives at a certain shop and enters mysteriously, an effect that works better on paper. Cut into the shop. Eyepatched shopkeeper buffs a shiny counter.]

FIGURE [Mysteriously]: Good evening.

SHOPKEEPER [Proudly indicating to the counter.]: Look at that. You could eat your dinner off that. [Produces a cleaver.] Go on – I dare you.

FIGURE: I’d like to hire some mercenaries. Some currant mercenaries.

SHOPKEEPER: Would those be mercenaries using wheat from the south-eastern province?

FIGURE: I believe my sister tells me so.

[The shopkeeper hands over a packet of buns. The figure accepts it and leaves mysteriously, then comes back in immediately.]

FIGURE: Hang on, I’ve got it this time.

[Cut to heavily-fortified tower. Mix into Princess Breasts’ room. Rochangrafel, an immense man, stands guard.]

ROCHANGRAFEL: It is useless to attempt and escape, Princess.

PRINCESS BREASTS: Try to escape, you idiot. If I try and escape, then I succeed. God, I hate you illiterates.

ROCHANGRAFEL: An illiterate can’t read, Princess. I was merely grammatically slack.

PRINCESS BREASTS: Curses.

VOICES [Off]: Yabu! Zuks!

PRINCESS BREASTS [Alarmed]: What was that?

ROCHANGRAFEL: There are many strange creatures about the tower. It discourages visitors. I myself fought my way here single-handed, challenging each foul swamp-thing to a ritual duel – in their language, a minoot.

PRINCESS BREASTS: But you had sixty soldiers with you.

ROCHANGRAF
EL [Dissmissively]: My seconds.

PRINCESS BREASTS:What, all of them?

ROCHANGRAFEL: Everyone knows there are sixty seconds in a minoot.

VOICES [Off]: Droomwrol! Simbacrache!

[Sounds of a wild applause.]

PRINCESS BREASTS: At least I have my faithful nurse for company. She who suckled me as a babe and grew up to be my mentor, and that’s one for the folks at home.

ROCHANGRAFEL: I fear she tried and attacked Dixdastardlax. His magic typhoon dispatched her to Hades.

PRINCESS BREASTS [Almost musical in her grief]: Hell – oh, nurse!

VOICES [Off]: Boyce! Goephik!

[Cut to misty forest. Cloaked figure enters, followed by mercenaries.]

FIGURE: Stand back – I shall invoke the lord of the wood to help us. [Gestures in the manner of a conjuror. A rumbling shakes the clearing. Mist roils from a tree, which bulges and parts to reveal a human form. Track in on spirit’s face.]

ASH: Grovey.

FIGURE: Right then.

[Is the Spirit of Ash enough to overcome the magician Dixdastardlax? What ghastly buttered secret does the cloaked figure’s lunchbox hold? Who is the gaunt stranger not mentioned in this episode either?]

IT WAS A TIME OF DARKNESS
By TB Falsename
Episode Two

WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE:

Seeing his parents mugged to death when he is six years old, embittered creep Bruce Spruce pledges to devote his life to fighting crime. After fifteen years of training he embarks upon his crusade, but the strain of battling evil all night and posing as a millionaire playboy by day proves too much, and within three weeks Bruce is hooked on amphetamines. He dies a broken man, foiled by villainy’s ploy of timing many crimes to happen simultaneously, and his crafty butler is able to sell his secret equipment at enormous profit and negotiate himself an executive position in Twodor’s defence labs.

Meanwhile, in the faraway town of Akansaxchukabuk, Princess Breasts is confounded in another escape attempt, unaware that a mysterious cloaked figure is planning to spring her from the outside.

Now read on.

[Scene: Princess Breasts’ cell in the he
avily fortified tower. Her captor, Rochangrafel, crumples a chisel in his meaty paws.]

ROCHANGRAFEL: Breaching the window would have done you no good, my lady. It is a hundred foot drop to the ground.

PRINCESS BREASTS [Defiantly]: I’d have made a rope from my blankets, you oaf.

ROCHANGRAFEL: This is a duvet, Princess.

PRINCESS BREASTS: Ten thousand curses.

[Knocks rap upon the door. Or raps knock. Whatever. Rochangrafel unlocks the cell. Enter Captain Raxinfraxin.]

PRINCESS BREASTS [Dumbfounded]: Captain Raxinfraxin – I thought you were dead.

RAXINFRAXIN [Oilily]: No, my dear. You are thinking of somebody else.

PRINCESS BREASTS: Perfidious fiend! What would you mean have done with me?

RAXINFRAXIN [Scornfully]: Inhibiting clarity will not help you, Princess. you will remain here as a safeguard against strong feeling over my becoming Lord Protector in the absence of your father. In that case I will marry you to secure my position.

PRINCESS BREASTS [With steely resolve]: Insidious devil. You will never win. I shall not rest until I have escaped and exposed you. And if you intend to use me for politcal means, think again. No threat or wizardly incantation will make me betray my people.

[A pause.]

RAXINFRAXIN: Right, fine. [To Rochangrafel.] Have her killed. [Leaves.]

PRINCESS BREASTS: Christing puce.

[Cut to edge of swamp surrounding tower. Cloaked figure and mercenaries discuss tactics while the Spirit of Ash looks on smartly.]

FIRST MERCENARY: With my Cloak of Darkness I shall lurk in the shadows.

SECOND MERCENARY: Calling on my Ring of Illusions, I’ll draw out the guards by appearing as a small family in distress.

THIRD MERCENARY: This +2 Enchanted Crossbow will fill the air with deadly bolts.

FOURTH MERCENARY: And while my Gleaves of Encumberment tangle the survivors…

FIFTH MERCENARY: … the Key That Seduces All Locks will get us inside.

[Ash bludgeons the mercenaries with a s
hovel.]

CLOAKED FIGURE [Gathering up the artefacts]: Well, that’s saved some money. [Peering into the swamp.] There’s a trampled path, almost as if a division of soldiers had fought their way across the swamp at the behest of a nittish commander. What luck. Bun?

ASH [Shading his eyes]: Stay your aerated pastry, my friend. I see that the swamp monsters have lost their fear of iron and are waiting on masse; also that Princess Breasts has just been hurled from the top of the tower. [Gravely.] We’ll never make it in time.

CLOAKED FIGURE: Nevertheless, we must try and. [They race into the swamp.]

[Can Ash and the cloaked figure possibly force their way through the swamp in the seven seconds before Princess Breasts hits the ground like a soggy child? And that gaunt stranger, eh?]


IT WAS TIME OF DARKNESS
By TB Falsename
Episode Eighteen

PREVIOUSLY ON “IT WAS A TIME OF DARKNESS”

In the faraway town of Akansaxchukabuk, Princess Breasts has been hurled from a prison tower on the orders of Captain Raxinfraxin. A cloaked figure and the wood spirit Ash rush to save her.

Now read on.

[Scene: The swamp at the base of the tower. The cloaked figure sprints into view, charging through the monsters’ ranks.]

CLOAKED FIGURE: Must… reach… Princess…

[He throws his sword into the air and staircases up a crouching monster, launching himself diagonally into a high sumersault. At the apogee of the move, the Princess plunges into shot. He curls over her, hurling knives outwards. They thud into more monsters. One staggers back into the figure’s path; he lands upon its shoulders, driving its legs into the marsh, springing off instantly into another sumersault to absorb the Princess’s momentum. He lands adroitly, holding one arm out for balance. Two monsters run forwards. The figure’s sword drops into his free hand, and with a classy sweep he decapitates one foe, its head rocketing off at a flat angle to stun the other. The figure whirls to face a bank of monsters, who are suddenly blown down by a terrific explosion. He whirls again, and we zoom forwards to the Spirit of Ash stepping out of the shadows, carrying a huge flintlock sawed-off.]

ASH: Grovey. [He spin-holsters the firearm.]

PRINCESS BREASTS: Who have you come done why for me?

CLOAKED FIGURE: No need for that, Princess – you are among friends. [He pulls back his hood to reveal that he is a woman.]

PRINCESS BREASTS: Private Petit-Pivic!

PETIT-PIVIC: Inspector now, my lady. But there is no time to reminisce about the days in National Squad when along with Bitsie and “Peps” I knocked the haughtiness out of you and we came to be known as The Famous Four, solving, among others, the Mystery of the Nine-Times House, although after we graduated we drifted apart, as it’s a fact of life that you must always lose your friends – I’ve come to enlist your help against a threat so powerful it could sweep Akansaxchukabuk from the map like its a big stupid car driven by a bear and a whiskered redneck. There’s a boat leaving tonight – and we have to be on it.

PRINCESS BREASTS: Tonight! Why, that’s later today. [Determinedly.] We must hurry – and quickly.

ROCHANGRAFEL [Off]: Not so fast, my friends. [The mighty jailer steps into their path.]

PRINCESS BREASTS: Move aside, dutiful foe, or face death.

ROCHANGRAFEL: We all die some time, Princess.

PETIT-PIVIC [Scoffing]: Peasant superstition.

ROCHANGRAFEL: Very well. Draw your sword.

PETIT-PIVIC [Coolly]: No. You draw first.

[A tense pause. Rochangrafel draws his sword. Petit-Pivic runs him through.]

ROCHANGRAFEL: Curse you, Inspector. You were always faster than me. [Dies.]

ASH [Conversationally]: You had me completely fooled.���  Not just the voice, either, but the impression of weight and the comportment. First-class.

PETIT-PIVIC: Come on. [They dash through the swamp. Pull back to show they are being viewed through a crystal ball by the wizard Dixdastardlax.]

DIXDTASTARDLAX: Curse that dolt Raxinfraxin.

[Enter his servant, Pen-y-Bhystab.]

PEN-Y-BHYSTAB: Master, I bring pleasing news.

DIXDASTARDLAX [Hugely excited]: Speak, fool.

PEN-Y-BHYSTAB [Wearily]: But I don’t speak Fool. [Dixdastardlax is convulsed with laughter.] Look, we found the tomb of Peyton Pendant, just as you said.

DIXDASTARDLAX [Thrilled]: And the Sacred Tools?

PEN-Y-BHYSTAB: We have the whole set. And an extra one – a glowing spanner inscribed with a seemingly Oriental name. [Realises] God – no…

DIXDASTARDLAX [Waggling eyebrows]: Well, I didn’t expect the Spanner Shin-Quasi-Shin.

[A blinding flash. A gaunt stranger has appeared.]

GAUNT STRANGER: Good day. I am Gaunt-Stranger.

[What terrible fate awaits Akansaxchukabuk? Is Dixdastardlax involved in some way? Will there be a third question now the gaunt stranger is here?]

IT WAS A TIME OF DARKNESS
By TB Falsename
Episode Q

PREVIOUSLY ON “IT WAS A TIME OF DARKNESS”

Escaping death at the hands of the villainous Captain Raxinfraxin, Princess Breasts flees with Ash and Inspector Petit-Pivic, unaware they are being spied on by the wily magician Dixdastardlax.

Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away, a space princess and a courageous farm lad discover too late that they are related and their cretinous inbred offspring prove a poor match for the evil Lord Yorkshireman-in-a-Cape.

Now read on.

[Scene: The spiral staircase of Raxinfraxin’s prison tower. He descends leisurely, accompanied by another henchman, Endo M’b. Soldiers follow.]

ENDO [a lounge-lizard]: You have to practise, Rax, m’dear. The people aren’t going to stand for a failed dandler as Lord Protector. What the devil?

[They have reached the bottom, emerging into the carnage left by the smashing fight from the last episode. Endo barks orders, and soldiers rush about. Raxinfraxin sternly awaits a report.]

ENDO: There’s no sign of the princess, of course. The horses have been driven off. We found Rochangrafel run through. Somebody finally beat him to the draw.

RAXINFRAXIN: How vexing.

ENDO: The men ask permission to bury the body.

RAXINFRAXIN [absently]: Here in the swamp?

ENDO: It’s a common religious belief among the soldiers. They have to bury him where he fell, painting his skull with ‘head lines’ to ward off demons. Apparently the reeds circling the tower can be used as brushes.

RAXINFRAXIN: You see, Endo, this is what I mean. Akansaxchukabuk is in the stone age. I want to bring it into the
present – a fast-paced, modern city with street vendors on every corner selling exciting merchandise to an efficient, ambitious populace. [Sighs.] Let them bury Rochangrafel, and have Corporal Max run up to the belltower and signal for a coach. And bring me the schedules and worksheets; I’ll go over them while we wait.

ENDO: Right, Rax. [Shouts.] Headlines! Reeds all about it! Max back up stack to blag rax tax! [Hands over itinerary.] Your paper governor.

[Cut to Dixdastardlax’s inner sanctum. His servant faces the cadaverous gaunt stranger.]

PEN-Y-BHYSTAB: What do you want, gaunt stranger?

GAUNT-STRANGER [fiercely]: That’s Gaunt-Stranger, gimpy midget. [Smoothly.] My partners and I are puzzled, Dixdastardlax. We were under the impresssion we had a deal. If memory serves, in return for our magical powers, you’d persuade Mortleigh to go on that crusade, suggest to Saxinraxin and the Captain you could rule as a triumverate, then double-cross Raxinfraxin, elevate doubles of his sons to the throne, declare a holiday, blow up the palace, use the sacred tools of Peyton Pendant to spin the soul of the Princess into the fabric of the new building, declare war on the entire region and have the Princess-creature seize control of the other kings when they attended the truce talks.

DIXDASTARDLAX: Yes, well, things have become a little complicated since then. That cursed Inspector’s bargained for the aid of the wood god Ash.

GAUNT-STRANGER [curtly]: He is merely a hire power. We want results, Dixdastardlax, extremely soon.

[He vanishes in a blinding flash, during which we cut to a boat sculling downriver under cover of darkness.]

PRINCESS: Now, Petit-Pivic – tell me of the dangers facing Akansxchukabuk.

PETIT-PIVIC: Looking directly past the spires of the palace into the sun, I suppose. Oh, right. Well –

ASH [cutting in]: Silence. I sense a presence on the bank. [His voice booms.] This boat is under my personal protection. Any threat of violence will be most severely dealt with. I repeat, most severely.

VOICE [off]: Oh, there they are. Fire.

ASH: No, wait, it was a ventriloquial jape.

[Arrows splatter into the boat.]

[Is the Princess’s company doomed? Will Raxinfraxin discover Dixdastardlax’s treachery? What is the new threat to Akansaxchukabuk?]
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