Once upon a time, in a village where there was always a dragon to be slain or a princess to be rescued, there lived a young, red fox who called himself Echo. Echo’s dream was to become a sidekick to one of the three heroes of the village of Gofshire, so, every day, he worked hard on strengthening his humble nature and developing his keen sense of right and wrong. Very recently, rumours had spread that the three original sidekicks of the village had been kidnapped as a way to bait the heroes and trick them into ascending the dreaded Dark Mountain. The plan worked, and the heroes were preparing to travel up the mountain at first light. Knowing their quest would not be successful without a trusty sidekick by their sides, the heroes were hurriedly testing potential new sidekicks in the centre of the village.
Echo eagerly answered the call and had passed the first two tests examining his fitness and agility with ease. He was now into the final stage of being selected as one of the three sidekicks to travel up the mountain and was about to start working with all three heroes for a short time, to see if any of the potential sidekicks were a decent match for the three heroes.
The first hero Echo was chosen to work with was simply known as The Knight. The Knight always wore his black armour in an attempt to separate himself from the traditional silver-armour-wearing knights who were far more common and far less courageous than himself. Echo watched as The Knight leaned back in a chair, peeling an apple with a small blade. Echo introduced himself to The Knight and The Knight immediately drew his sword and held the tip of its blade underneath Echo’s chin.
“Where. Is. Your. Tail?” asked The Knight in a deep voice.
Not sure exactly how to respond, Echo lifted his tail up and nervously answered, “It’s… ummm… right here.” The Knight leaned forward and stared at Echo through his armour.
“Well, what’s wrong with you, then?”
“Nothing,” replied Echo. “Is that a problem?”
The Knight told Echo that this was not going to work, as he required some sort of visible gimmick from his sidekick. “It helps the villagers praise me more when I save a sidekick from danger and it looks as though he’s already injured.”
Echo accepted The Knight’s decision and moved on to the next hero. The next hero Echo worked with was Elise the Great. The job interview didn’t last very long, however, due to the fact Elise the Great had already chosen Astrid the Fairy to be her sidekick. Echo watched as Astrid zipped from one of Elise the Great’s ears to the other, whispering jokes that caused them to laugh hysterically. The two of them were already packing and preparing their spells for the quest ahead of them. Echo hoped he would get the chance to display his loyalty and companionship before it was too late.
Luckily, the final hero Echo had to work with was Prince Edward Markus Gregory the IV. “But, you can call me Prince Eddie for short,” he said as he rode up beside Echo on his beautiful white horse. Prince Eddie directed the horse to start circling Echo to better inspect him.
“A fox, hey? Something quite noble about a fox,” the Prince began. “But noble is not enough if you want to be my sidekick. You must also be humble, smart and willing to put yourself into dangerous situations. So, show me what you’ve got, then.” Prince Eddie requested. Echo hesitated for a moment.
“I know who kidnapped the village sidekicks,” he said.
Prince Eddie commanded his horse to be still and stared at Echo. “Well, speak up, young fox. We haven’t much time. Tell us what you think.”
“It was The Black Knight,” Echo said with confidence. Prince Eddie turned his head and squinted his eyes in The Black Knight’s direction.
“The Black Knight?” asked Prince Eddie. “Why do you say that?”
“Think about it,” began Echo. “It’s obvious he doesn’t want a sidekick because he is simply inventing reasons for why he doesn’t like any of them. And he certainly isn’t as eager as yourself or Elise the Great to start heading up the mountain.” The concern on Prince Eddie’s face grew.
“Black Knight!” the prince yelled. “Does this young fox speak the truth? Did you kidnap our faithful sidekicks?” The Black Knight immediately threw his apple to the ground and jumped up onto his horse.
“I don’t know how you figured it out, but you of all people should know there’s no way of coming out of this alive!” The Black Knight’s horse reared on its hind legs before galloping away at an incredible speed towards the mountains in the distance.
“Well, done, young fox,” said Prince Eddie. “What shall I call you?”
“Then come along, young Echo, we have a quest to complete and I cannot do it alone!”
Prince Eddie instructed his horse to begin chasing after The Black Knight and, with Echo by his side, the hero and his new sidekick entered the mist at the base of Dark Mountain.
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