MaltaToday | 06 April 2008 | Sir Jeffrey at the Final Battle

OPINION | Sunday, 06 April 2008

Sir Jeffrey at the Final Battle

Being the third and ultimate instalment of this curiously never-ending epic of chivalry and corruption. By Raphael Vassallo

Three days and three nights after Sir Alfred the True chickened out of single combat with Sir Jeffrey (thus passing up a rather convenient and timely occasion to read aloud the incantation that would banish the Green Knight’s credentials forever), the Day of Doom itself dawned mercilessly upon the realm of King Lorenzo.
Now, it must be remembered that in those far-off days, the Kingdom was still enthralled to a curious and entirely unnecessary enchantment, dating back to the age of the dreaded Mintoffaur himself.

The Mintoffaur! Ever with quaking hearts the Bards still sing of that fell hybrid creature, half man, half-horseshoe belt-buckle; for long it wrought terror in the mists of antiquity. But though the Mintoffaur itself hath largely faded into a labyrinth of his own nebulous imaginings - pursued (or so it deems) by its own Curiously Imaginary Antagonists - its name is yet a portent of terror and doom... especially among the mindless chimera-men of the Oracle of Austin: whom the Mintoffaur, in its paranoia, and even at the utmost end of age, would fain pursue and bludgeon mercilessly with its dreaded walking-crutch.
But if the creature hath since faded from all seriousness, the enchantment of its forgotten empire is still taken very seriously indeed. For is it not written that throughout the realm, no Man, Woman, Child or Newspaper may speak of War or Politicks on the final day before the Ultimate Battle? (A fact which verily explains why Men, Women, Children and Newspapers all tend to be rather dull on pre-election Fridays.)
And so, upon the eve of the Day of Doom itself, King Lorenzo the Magnificent rode forth unto the Fosos plains, there to relish in the grovelling flattery of his sickeningly obsequious, Smurf-like subjects. (Blue was their attire at the time; for proud were they of their DNA, despite Charlemangio’s malediction.) Bedecked in glory, Modest King Lorenzo addressed the assembled multitudes, saying unto them thus: “Friends, inferiors and miserable peasants, all; mark ye my humble words! Regrets have I none, for all my deeds hath been mighty, just and O, so very clever! So let us rejoice, worthless subjects, that the Good Lord Himself, in his Infinite Omniscience, hath deemed fit to bequeath unto ye a Magnificent Monarch like unto myself in Wit, Beauty, Modesty, and Infallibility. For hath it not been decreed by all the sages of the land – the Mage Saliba, the Enchantress of Bidnija, Fra’ Petrus of the Discarded Breeches... heck, even the Emperor Riccardus Cacaruanus, who in far-off Flanders dwells – that none but Lorenzo the Infinitely Brilliant (that is to say, my humble self) can ever rule this land, without making a Right Royal Mess of Things? And was it not also said, that ‘Together, Yea, All Things May Possible Be Made” (Except, of course, a Coalition with the hated Greens)? So worship me, ye vile and lowly worms, and count thyselves blest to bask in my fair presence!”
And lo! The Mage Saliba pulled strings on his magical device, and throughout the land were unfurled great portraits of the noble and most humble King Lorenzo: all magically retouched, so as to remove all blemishes, and make the King resemble his French mentor, Roi Nicolas le Sarcastique. And long and loud the lowly worms did cheer; for the portraits bequeathed unto them Peace of Mind; and besides, this was precisely the kind of codswallop they liked to hear in those far-off days.

Then one by one, the King displayed unto the masses his few surviving champions: Sir Tonio of the Causes Just, who richly from the kingdom’s coffers doth reward his closest henchmen... “just cause” they happen to be Nationalists; Sir Carmelo the Especially Clean, who waged endless wars against the Amazons of Gzira; and Dame Dolores of the Invisible White Parchment, who hath so long pledged us Tithe Reform, that the white of her promised parchment hath faded yellow as the skin of King Lorenzo before its magical rejuvenation.
But none was cheered louder or quite so long as Sir Jeffrey Orlando himself; for this was the selfsame knight who had defeated Sir Alfred in single combat, or so the peasants deemed.

But lo! With a bang and a flash and an explosion of little fairy ballerinas, Sir Alfred the True himself did appear, and aloft he held the scroll that sealed Sir Jeffrey’s fate. “Hear ye, O genetically defective ones,” the sorcerer said; “for verily now shall I read aloud the fell truth of Sir Jeffrey’s nefarious crimes, of which King Lorenzo is most certainly aware!”
And forthwith he read the scroll aloud, and his voice did transform as the untold horror of its contents poured forth. For there, written by quill and sealed with Jeffrey’s unmistakable design, was no less than the Deed of Lease itself, which would condemn fair Mistra vale unto development most cursed and corrupt. And no sooner had the spell reverberated in every corner of the realm, than...
Nothing happened.

Alas for Sir Alfred the True! For so beguiled was he by the prophecies of Priviterus, that verily he disdained the Sorcerer General Warning, and quite forgot about the enchantment of the Mintoffaur. For on pre-battle Friday did all this come to pass, when no Man, Woman, Child or Newspaper was permitted to repeat the spell. Thus it was that Sir Alfred the True, who held within his grasp the Sceptre of Victory itself, did squander the potent magic of the scroll; and as predicted, its sorcery rebounded upon its wielders.

Anon! Sir Michael’s Lions of Change did verily change… into fearsome tesserati Laburisti, next to whose fury and unbridled ferocity lions are like unto pitiful kittens; and bravely did Sir Michael flee before their savage wrath, wailing “Oooo, Eeee, Aaaa, Ooo” as he went. And long Sir Jason hid in the Naxxar Counting House; until Good Sir Peppi the Unbiased, he who commandeers the golden Charabanc at the Oracle of Austin’s bidding, did find the coward as he cowered, and placed him in the stocks, to be pelted by furious Labour pundits with his own magic mud.

And Sir Alfred the True? He at once abdicated (truly, this time), and never more regaled us with his prosy Wednesday points; but not before anointing his rightful successor. For though King Lorenzo was victorious, his crumbling empire had been further weakened in the fray, and his Magnificence was diminished. For his Kingdom was now held aloft by none other than Sir Jeffrey Orlando himself: and though he had survived the wicked designs of the grim sorcerer, and was hailed as victor by the Enchantress of Bidnija herself, Sir Jeffrey hath yet to reckon with the magic of the scroll.
For the Mintoffaur’s enchantment hath now expired; and the prescribed three days and three nights are verily elapsed; and Lorenzo’s reign hath yet to expunge the blight of grim dishonesty, with which it hath been truly stained.


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