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Once a jester, always a jester - By Mohamed Lotfy

Characters:

Anum, the court jester.

King Dryhtweras

Dwaes, the court alchemist

Feohgitsung, Anum’s wife.


The year is 1314. A few hours before sunrise, in the middle of December of our calendar, sleeps Anum, the court jester in a small room in the castle of the Kingdom of Deorfald.

(Someone knocks at the door)

Anum: …What? In the middle of the night? Again? No no. I shan’t even move a finger. This woman has disturbed my nights since this blasted month started. A thousand blights plague me if I even-

(From behind the door) Feohgitsung: Open the door you hare-brained jester!

Anum: I…I am your husband! Nay, I am the greatest alchemist this land has ever known! You call an investigator of nature hare-brained? What injustice!

Feohgitsung: Investigator of my posterior, more like! You’re no alchemist Anum. Not anymore. Now open the door or I’ll call the king’s guard and tell them you’re escaping.

(Opening the door) Anum: Blast you, woman. Forsooth, for my life is purgatory indeed. What brings you at this time again? Have you more drivel to spew unto me?

Feohgitsung: Oi! Stop it with the fancy yammering already! I came to tell you about your son. He’s been rejected from the alchemists’ academy. On account of his failure of a father.

Anum: Rejected? But the boy’s been raised under my tutelage! I’ve imparted upon him alchemical secrets unbeknownst to wisest of men!

Feohgitsung: You’re the court jester. You do backflips. Hardly alchemical secrets. And besides, why’re you complaining? You make us good gold!

Anum: No! I mean before…before I was reduced to this state. And money is hardly of import next to a man’s dreams!

Feohgitsung: Well no one told you to go about mewoing in the streets! Or at least do it at times other than the king’s annual stroll through the streets.

Anum: I like a good meow when the mood strikes me. Is that so criminal? Why can’t I be an alchemist that meows? A meowing alchemist!

Feohgitsung: Because, idiot, unless your brain’s a smooth pint of…brain stuff, you don’t meow in the streets. Let alone if you were a “so-called alchemist”.

Anum: Idiot! The nation’s finest alchemist branded an idiot! Fie! You are right! I am but an idiot now. Nay, I am the very embodiment of idiocy. I AM IDIOCY. My true self is long gone. Locked away in a prison of ridicule and insults. If it were in my hands, I’d have taken my own life. Long afore I-

(King Drytwheras barges in, with a platter of French fires)

King: Eyyy muh boy whassup. Yo ani-boi, who’s this?

Feohgitsung (whispering): Who’s this…creature? Why’s his speech all…simpleton-like?

Anum (whispering): That’s the king! Behave yourself! (To King) My lord! A thousand suns bow before you. This is my wife, Feohgitsung.

Feohgitsung: Erm, pleased to make your acquaintance, your kingship!

King: Bruh, I’d love to be on a king ship right now. So, Ani-boi, I had a…request.

Anum: My lord, I am at your service.

King: So, I was in bed, eating, ok? Then I thought, “the foot is cold”. You know what would make it hotter? A FART!

Anum: Umm..A fart, my lord? Well, uh, I am skilled in the art of alchemy. I can alter your bowel movements to-

King: Nah that’s lame, bro. I already got a court! alchemist for that. I believe in devising labor. Alchemist makes paper planes. You make farts.

Feohgitsung: Devising labour? Don’t you mean divi-

Anum: The king means what he means, love! Language is but an instrument of communication, and his lordship has communicated his meaning!

Feohgitsung: And what do you mean by alchemist makes paper planes? Don’t an aclh-

Anum: Alchemists do what the king says, love!

King: So….fart?

Feohgitsung: Give his kingship what he wants, “love”.

(Anum lets out a measly fart)

King: No no no. This ain’t good enough. Ok bruh, see this candle over there? I WANT YOUR FARTS TO MAKE IT GO WOOSH. I like it when things go woosh. Anum: Your kingship…this…supreme flatulence you ask of me is not withing my capabilities. You appointed me a jester simply because I meow. But I used to be a respected alchemist. I used to have scholars as infinite as sand drink from my sea of knowledge. I…I appreciate your hospitality and appointment of myself as a courtier. But I ask of you, allow me to return to my research! I cannot bear it. Everyone treats me like a heap of manure. When I walk the streets, the people hurl at me insults, stones, and one time a cat. Do I deserve all of this simply because I meow? Do we not all have our minor peculiarities? Why must I be shunned so when-

King: Aite. Your big talk is starting to make me angry. You don’t wanna be a jester? The frick even is wrong with you? I know talent when I see it. And the talent I saw in you was jester! Anum: But I do not feel myself as a jester!

Feohgitsung: Well you certainly act like one. The king is, obviously, right. A mewoing cook like you’s good for nothing but jestering.

Anum: That’s not even a verb!

Feohgitsung: Bugger off with your fancy words. I thought “language was about communication”, eh?

King: Communication’s cool. I should know; I know words. I have the best words.

Feohgitsung: Aye your kingship. Better than he-who-cannot-talk-like-a-human.

King: So, either you fart like the jester you are, or your head falls off. And it’ll happen one way or the other. Now tick tock, boi. I wanna eat fart food!

Anum: I…yes, your lordship. Here goes..

(Dwaes enters, just as Anum prepares).

King: IT’S A PARTAAAY! Dwaes you big nerd, what be up?

Dwaes: My lord..I…I bring troubling news.

King: Troubling? Who’s it troubling?

Dwaes: Everyone, my lord. I..I can’t convert gold to paper planes any more!

King: YOU WHAT? Explain!

Dwaes: Alchemists, my lord, require an elemental charm, that allows them to transmute objects from one form to another, sort of like a catalyst.

King: Lol, cat.

Dwaes: Umm, yes, my lord. As I was saying, each object requires its own charm so it can be transmuted. I..I have run out of the gold elemental charm.

King: Bruh, then make another one.

Dwaes: I can’t, my lord. No one can…other than Anum.

King: Ani-boi? Nah. Anman is a jester. J E S T E R. Devising labor!

Anum: But my lord, with my alchemical prowess, I am but the only person capable of creating a gold charm! Had you kept me in my previous position as a researcher in the academy, I’d have been able to create the inverse gold charm and transmute anything to gold! Think of the riches your lordship-

King: JESTER! THOU ART A JESTER!

Feohgitsung (whispering): Well he’s suddenly gained diction!

King: Yo wtf. Look what you made me do. You made me speak all baddy and stuff.

Dwaes: My lord?

King: Right. So, when I was a child, my dad was like “yo, you should like, speak properly and stuff”, but in his big man words. So I was like, ech, you’re the king dude, fine. He used to make me dress formal and stuff. He taught me about basic alchemy, basic anatomy, and stuff about being a “good” governor. Until one day, he got killed by a marauding band of icky people. That’s legit what they call themselves. Anyway, we were out on a hike and the icky people were like “Ey! Gimme your money or you’ll bleugh bloch”. These were dying sounds. Anyway, the dude bleugh bloched, and they kept me as a prisoner. For two years no one came. Council must’ve loved I was gone. I had to slowly gain icky people’s trust and murder them in their sleep. I mimicked their way of speech, their thinking, everything. That’s what kept me alive. Not them rules my dad gave me. I don’t need no damn rules! But when I get angry. I dunno, I turn all formal and stuff. So, Dweeb, get me my gold paper planes, and I’ll be not formal!

Dwaes: My lord, without Anum’s knowledge, I cannot do much.

King: I said no! Anum is a jester,

Anum: But my lord! I have repeatedly told you, I am no jester! I am an alchemist! Can you not see the pressing need for my skills?

King: Silence, cur! If thou speaketh thy venom once more, I shall endeavor to marry thy skull to my sword! Thou art a jester, try not my patience.

Feohgitsung: Oi Anum, I think the king’s a bit angry, no? Sit down and do as you’re told, eh?

Anum: Like I care anymore! I can’t bear to live in this shell of an existence. I must break free. I am an alchemist! No more shall I abide by this madman’s ravings. I must break free. I miss my old self. For too long has it been shelved.

Dwaes: Anum! Stop talking!

King (drawing his sword): That vagrant shall speak no more indeed! En garde!

Anum: There’s no turning back, eh? I’ll break free yet!

(He grabs the candle, strengthens its fire through alchemy, and hurls it at the king, who screams and writhes in pain.)

King: But I..I gave you a home. I gave you money.

Anum: Aye. But you deprived me of myself. You turned me into an outcast. But I am an outcast no longer! I am Anum, the alchemist!

Dwaes: What have you done?

Anum: He would have had both our heads! I saved our lives.

Dwaes: Then our heads should have been had! We have killed the king. No fate shall befall us but the cruelest!

Feohgitsung: Aye, you got that right

(With a quick motion, she grabs the king’s sword, and cuts Anum’s head off).

Dwaes:…you..what is…

Feohgitsung: Listen here, little man. Either you scurry off right now, or I’ll do you in like I did him. He’s a traitor, right? I’ll get me a handsome reward for this! Far better than anything his alchemiching would’ve got me.

Dwaes: I…I have seen nothing (he hastily exits).

Feohgitsung: Pfft. Go against Dryhtweras’s wishes, eh? A fool you are! Dryhtweras created you. Molded you. You try to fight against that mold? Aye, Dryhtweras will end you. Even in death. Once a jester, always a jester.

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