Chapter IX

Internal Rhyme will come in Time

It was in the days of yore that there came a legend of a man who spoke with an odd twist.  To the law-abiding citizens of England he was known as William Shakespeare, but to the villainy found lurking in the darkness he was known simply as the Cadence Crusader.

This week we find William in his office as he put the finishing touches on a play that will put all of his other plays to shame.  There was a light knock on the door as his editor entered and carefully made his way through the dimly lit room now filled with countless amounts of crumpled paper.  He found a chair, removed the contents resting upon it, sat down, and began with his introductory question. “So, what have you got for us this time, Will?”  Shakespeare stood up and started into the plot of his play,

‘This story takes place in Zaire,
where the hero has a great fear,
of spiders and snakes,
and rivers and lakes.
So he stays inside and drinks beer.”

The editor glanced from side to side and rolled his eyes over to where William was standing as he said, “Will, I’ve got to be honest with you.  This new play of yours doesn’t seem as inspired or as action packed as some of your earlier plays.  Frankly, that’s all that people are looking for these days.  They all want a play where they can escape into an exciting reality that’s distinctly different from their current lives.  Your new play doesn’t seem to be able to do this.”  Outraged at this obvious criticism of his talent, Shakespeare went into a rant,

“Do you know how long this play took
to write and compose, you dumb schnook?!
I slaved on it days
and nights ‘till the rays
of the sun beamed into my nook.”

William raised his manuscript over his head so he could give his editor a good smack.  Just as he was about to knock some sense into his editor, a flaming arrow broke through the window and pinned the play to the wall.  Seeing his opportunity to exit, the editor meekly got up and made his way out of the room as the pages of Shakespeare’s play curled up and turned to ash.  William grabbed a glass of water and threw the water at his smoldering work as he sat back down at his desk and rested his head on his hands.

Taking a deep breath, he glanced over to the arrow sticking into his wall.  Standing back up again, he cautiously took a few steps over to where the arrow was.  He examined the projectile and slowly turned around to look out the broken window.  While he was examining the shattered pane, William noticed a flash of light as a window that was being closed across the street caught the light of the candle from a nearby lamp post.  Like a flash of lightning, he was out the door and running across the street and into the building opposite his.

Inside he found the room where the shot had come from and started looking for clues.  From first glance, there was nothing in the room except the crossbow that fired the flaming arrow and the wrapping and lantern to light it.  Yet there, pinned to the back of the door with a writing quill, was a note that read, “Cadence Crusader:  I know your secret identity.  If you don’t want anyone you know to get hurt, come to the London Bridge at midnight tonight.”  The note was not signed.

Suddenly, a large man lunged out of the shadows with a knife.  Shakespeare acted quickly, placing a swift blow to the brute’s stomach.  While the man lay on the floor, writhing in pain, William bolted across the street once again and into his office.  Once inside, he pressed a button hidden on a bust of himself that opened a secret passageway behind his bookcase.  At the end of the passageway was a room containing various pieces of equipment and a large, armored door.  William quickly put on a black cape and mask and grabbed a crossbow that he slung over his shoulder.  Using the secret door, he stole off into the night.

Moving quickly through the alleys, the Cadence Crusader arrived at London Bridge just as Big Ben was striking twelve.  A cool breeze blew through the empty streets as the Cadence Crusader waited for his mysterious enemy.  Glancing suspiciously around, and seeing no one, he craned his head upward as he watched the full moon come out from behind a patch of clouds.  Unexpectedly, the moon went out as the blackness of the tranquilizers set in.

The Cadence Crusader slowly awoke to the beats of steps on a wooden floor and a pounding headache.  Taking a quick look around at his surroundings, he could tell that he was on the stage of his Globe Theater.  Upon further inspection, he found that he was gagged and tied to a chair with his hands behind his back.  In front of him was the silhouette of a man walking towards him.  Once again, the moon came out from behind a cloud and he could see that this man was also in disguise.  The mysterious man removed the Cadence Crusader’s gag and immediately, our hero begins his interrogation,

“Who are you and what do you want?
Couldn’t you be a lot more blunt?
Instead of the stealth,
just ask for some wealth,
and call off this asinine hunt.”

Chuckling to himself, the mysterious man responded, “Cadence Crusader, you certainly get to the point.  To answer your first question, I am the Free Verse Foe.  In regards to your second question, I am not going to answer because it might give away my secret identity.  Also, I am not in the business of blackmailing for monetary gain, but for something much more lasting.”

With a snap of his fingers, the Free Verse Foe signaled for his thugs to advance on the Cadence Crusader as he made his way toward the exit.  The two thugs drew their knives and made their way over to where the Cadence Crusader helplessly sat.  Without warning, a bright light emerged from the floorboards as the trap door in the stage opened and a man clad completely in white and sporting a black pair of glasses rose out of the portal and onto the stage.  Momentarily blinded by the sudden burst of light, the thugs were easy prey for the man in white.  Within seconds, both thugs were on the floor, unconscious.  The man in white used one thug’s knife to cut the ropes binding the Cadence Crusader.  After expressing his thanks, the Cadence Crusader said,

“Stranger to whom I share a bond:
we must quickly go and respond,
to the treat at hand.
I, for one, demand
that this madman does not abscond.”

The man in white turned around and came within an inch of the Cadence Crusader and said, “Listen, Shakespeare, I’ll help you, but you’ve got to stop this limerick thing that you’ve got going here, it’s starting to drive me crazy.”  Taken slightly aback, the Cadence Crusader replied,

“To speak in limerick is my thing,
it has quite a distinctive ring.
Because of my name,
I’ll talk all the same.
To which dialect should I cling?”

Trying to get moving towards catching the Free Verse Foe, the man in white suggested, “Why don’t you change your name to the Couplet Crusader and talk in couplets instead?”  Shakespeare thought for a second and said,

“You know, mystery man, you may be right.
I’ll be Couplet Crusader as of tonight.”

The Couplet Crusader seemed to be in a rush to catch up with the Free Verse Foe since it took so long to get dialects straight and objectives clear.  As they rushed out the exit that the villain escaped from, the Couplet Crusader asked,

“Could you tell me one thing, my new-found friend?
Tell me your name before we meet our end.”

“Captain Random,” he replied right before bursting through the door with the Couplet Crusader.  They both knew that the Free Verse Foe could not have gotten far enough away from the theater, but they had a choice to make: to turn right, to turn left, or to go straight ahead.  Captain Random turned around to ask the Couplet Crusader’s opinion of the matter.  Before he could say anything, Shakespeare caught sight of something reflecting off of Captain Random’s sunglasses.  The Couplet Crusader turned around to see the Free Verse Foe clinging to the side of the building above the exit they just burst through.

“There you are you fiendish brute!
We are going to kick your glute!”

The Free Verse Foe leapt from the doorway on which he stood and withdrew two swords from inside his cloak.  Landing on the ground, the villain raised his head and gave a creepy smile as he said, “Try me.”

The Couplet Crusader took aim and let an arrow fly from his crossbow.  Deftly sidestepping the attack, the enemy came at our hero with a guttural roar.  Captain Random put a hand on Shakespeare’s shoulder as he jumped up from behind and came over the top of the Couplet Crusader.  His foot came down on the Free Verse Foe’s head just as he was about to reach them.  Back on the ground, Captain Random used this opportunity to steal one of the swords from the stunned enemy.  “Here you go, Will!” he said as he tossed the sword to the masked writer “This is your fight, so why not play by his rules!”

Captain Random stepped back as the Free Verse Foe regained his focus and resumed his charge.  The Couplet Crusader skillfully defended against the wild and powerful style of his opponent.  Seeing an opening, he thrust the sword into the side of the Free Verse Foe.  This caused the enemy to falter once more, giving the advantage to the writer as he knocked the Free Verse Foe to the ground.  Landing on the ground caused his other sword to be thrown away.  As he scrambled to retrieve it, Captain Random put his foot on the blade as the Couplet Crusader came behind his opponent and put the tip of his sword at the Free Verse Foe’s throat.

“The damage I’ve done will not kill you,
But I want you to talk ‘till you’re blue.”

Reaching down, Shakespeare removed the mask of his enemy and stared in shock as he realized who it was.

“But you’re just my editor for my works,
when did you pick up these quirks?”

Lying on the ground, the defeated man spoke, “There’s a lot you don’t know.  For instance, that stab you gave to my side will kill me because I’ve coated the swords with poison.”  Will took a look at the sword in his hand as the moon reflected a residue of moisture on its surface.  “I guess that since I’m dying I should get some things off my chest.  Yes, I am the Free Verse Foe.  I’ve also never liked your works.  They were always too long and they felt like they were written by someone like yourself who only talks in rhymes.  The main reason that I oppose you is because you keep getting all this recognition.  You throw some story together about star-struck lovers and you achieve instant fame.  But who slaved away making sure that your work made sense?  It was I!  Just once, I’d like to be known for what I do.  I’d like to have your fame!  I’d like to have people know who I am!  I guess that’s impossible now that I’m going to die.”

A cough of blood erupted from the editor’s mouth.  “I figured that if I could kill you, I’d be able to steal your unfinished works and claim them as my own.”  The Couplet Crusader stood silently over the dying man.  Captain Random came over to the scene and sighed, “The things that people do to obtain recognition.”  The editor’s eyes glazed over as he exhaled his last breath.

“We should get out of here before the authorities come,
I just know that once they arrive it just won’t be fun.”

Back inside the Globe Theatre, Captain Random said his goodbye.  “It’s been nice working with you, Will.  Keep up the good work, both in writing and in crime fighting.  The underworld of England should beware the name of the Couplet Crusader.”  With a flash of light, another trap door opened and the mysterious man in white was gone.  When his eyes adjusted to the shadows of the night, William Shakespeare tilted his head to the side as a smile came across his face.  He always got this look when an idea came into his head.  Pulling his black cape tight, the Couplet Crusader disappeared into the dark alleys of the city.

Note: Definitely one of my better chapters, probably due to the fact that I started writing it, got stuck, then came back and finished it. Not only does it start getting into action writing that will be a key element of my NaNoWriMo novel in November, but the fact that I have a historical figure like William Shakespeare as the main character might be a bit of foreshadowing to future writings.

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