Songwriter X hadn’t been in the Kingdom of X23 all that long. In fact, he didn’t really know how he ended up here in the first place. One minute he was shooting YouTube videos with his self-proclaimed “Skeleton Band”, deep in the bowels of his makeshift garage turned music studio, and the next he had literally fallen from the Sky and washed ashore on some salty beach which he was unable to recognize.
He knew right away this wasn’t Earth anymore. He could tell by the metallic taste of the air, that he was a very long way from Whittier, California in the Grand Old US of A. He had spent the last few days mending his headaches and trying to recall his memory. There were no complaints, as he was well taken care of by the people that had gathered him up, but he still couldn’t quite tell if he was considered a guest or a foreign prisoner.
Now he found himself, in the elaborate Royal Court of His Highness, King X23. He could tell by the way people spoke here, and by their mannerisms, that they most likely weren’t human at all, although they certainly looked in on the outside. It was explained to him that there was probably some clerical error in the multiverse regarding the rather mundane tasks of filing historical events along the space-time continuum. Songwriter X, Planet X, definitely a misfiling as clear as the skull on his face.
Oh right, Songwriter X was a skeleton humanoid and he had a literal skeleton band. They went by the apt moniker “The Boney Bois” and had actually made quite the name for themselves in the parallel universe known as Southern California. Their hit “Fell In A Well” was nearing a million views, no easy feat considering 95% never got past a thousand. But X knew that songs and music were the way to bridge the gap between universes. The saying “Music was universal” was just as literal as it was figurative. He saw it time and time again, in his vast lifetime. Songs like “Give Peace A Chance”, “Imagine” and “We Are The World” were just a few examples, in the mankind world, through which the brightness and positivity of humanity really shined through.
But after all, Songwriter X wasn’t a human, and neither was this race of beings he now stood court in. He wanted to get to the bottom of why he was here, and more importantly, when he would be allowed to leave. Thinking of the alternative of being trapped here forever, was much too much for his boney brain to ingest right now. Suddenly the Queen entered and she was quite lovely. Songwriter X found himself immediately attracted to her, and one of his sophomoric jokes about a skeleton getting a boner raced through his head. A wide grin split his face, as he chuckled to himself.
“Does something amuse you, Papa Calvera?”. The voice was loud and booming and echoed through the chambers of the vast walls, and off the gaudy gold and marble furnishings. It seemed that even on this planet there was no accounting for the tacky tastes of the rich. X hadn’t been called by that name since he was in his early 30s, well 230s as a skeleton’s lifetimes is quite different from yours and mine. He immediately spun on his heel as King X23, entered followed by an entourage of servants, a small girl named Hope, who had actually found X in a cave near the beach, and the unequivocally beautiful Lady Magally. They were all very attractive, even the King, save for his mighty ego and the girth that comes to a man who indulges in excess. Thankfully, as it was abundantly clear, the King’s entourage kept him well primped, manicured and most of all, feed. The least of these was the King’s Fixer, from the Village of XOPop, Xactly, pronounced like “Exactly”, who was a sycophantic kowtower, and whose only job seemed to be as a Yes-man and suck-up.
Songwriter X turned slowly to address the King. Even though he was in a foreign land, he had enough sense to bow and lower his eyes as he spoke. This seemed to also be a pretty universal trait when addressing Royalty.
“No, Your Majesty.”, X began humbly. “I simply had a wonderful thought from back home and it made me smile.” He was lying, of course, but until he could figure out exactly What and Who he was dealing with, he would have to use every toll in his kit to come out of this alive. Well, as alive as a 500+ year old skeleton could be. “I’d like to get back there soon.” He was trying to open the door for an appeal to return.
The King looked him up and down, like a soprano opera singer, the proverbial singing ‘fat lady”, eyeing a tart at intermission. Skeleton X was used to being seen as an outcast. If people could get past the sight of his bare bones, and the general fear which that usually induced, they usually wrote him off for his all black-duds, black snake skin boots, and unruly locks of wavy pitch black hair. He looked as though Ronnie James Dio, Slash and Tim Burton had a child, which died, burned in hell, and then walked the earth 500 years later. The Grim Reaper might as well have been a Kardashian when compared to X’s outward threatening and rebellious appearance. But it was what was on the inside that counted. Ironically being that X was a skeleton, he was quite literally inside-out, and would have worn his heart on his sleeve, if he actually had a physical one. For whatever reasons went on inside the King’s simple brain, he dismissed X and his comment, and instead turned to his beautiful Queen.
“Z’Orion the Wizard is coming, my Love. He should arrive any minute.”, stated the King louder then he needed to, amongst such an intimate gathering.
“I know I have already prepared everything for his arrival, including a volcanic bath for his faithful dragon!”, exclaimed Xactly, just like the overexcited lapdog that he was. The King shot daggers from his eyes. He didn’t need to say “Was I was talking to you?!” to the omnipresent ass-kisser, as his demeanor did all the talking. “I’m sorry Your Highness.”, Xactly said, as he bowed deeply and stepped backwards from the King.
The Queen only gestured with a raised hand. She didn’t need to speak. Her presence and aura alone were a delight to be around, and everyone in her company was honored simply for the acknowledgement. Songwriter X always wondered how that happened. How did these beautiful gifts to creation, always end up with the pompous over-inflated egocentrically asshats like the King? And why did good guys, nay good skeletons, always finish last? He had seen this many times in his half-millennia of existence, and, it too, stretched across the bounds of the multiverse.
Suddenly trumpets raised and there was much commotion outside. There was a loud crash and the smell of fire, as tendrils of smoke made their way through the expansive windows, and up to the tops of the overly vaulted ceilings. If X didn’t know any better, it sounded like the palatial castle might even be under attack.
A footman appeared, out of breath, and bowed to the dual Majesties. “Your Highness, Wizard Z’Orion has arriv….” But before he could finish his sentence, an electric ball of purple luminosity formed out of thin air, and in a puff of smoke, the towering Wizard appeared. He genuflected before the King and Queen, bowing his head low, and offered a wand and some crystals, as gifts.
The King belly-laughed in spite of himself. It was always a treat to have an old Wizard come to visit, especially one as renowned as the Honorable Z’Orion. The Wizard was tall, and the creases in his forehead showed the wisdom of ages and the strengths of battle. Songwriter X guessed he might have been as old as the Skeleton Race, if not older, judging by the gravity he carried in his eyes, and his long flowing grey beard that cascaded down his chest, nearly to his stomach. Every one in the room was in awe and waited for the Magician to speak.
“My Lady, King X, and Little Hope. I bring you these gifts from the Mountains of Z’Lagon, in the constellation Orion, in honor of our renewed friendship and mutually beneficial partnership.” Even the Queen’s cheeks flushed. Wizard’s sure had a way with words.
“I trust your dragon flight across the parallaxes was ok?”, enquired the Monarch.
“Of course, Your Lordship”, said the Wizard as he continued to curtsy. “My Lady we must discuss our dragons. I know the X dimension doesn’t seem so far from the Z dimension, alphabetically speaking, but boy my girl is getting ornery in her old age.” The group shared a hearty laugh. “I have come to speak to the Founders. We must go to Sky City, and I’m afeared we might have to breach the unpredictable Vortex, once again….” The Wizard stopped mid-thought. What had started as a small buzz, now became an almost defining hum, inside his head. He was surprised no one else had heard of it. “I… I…”
‘Is Everything ok, Z’Orion?”, asked little Hope. She was a cute as button, and was as genuine as the day is long. She had said what everyone else had been thinking.
Songwriter X, had remained silent, as this was all new to him. If there was one thing he learned in his fifty or so decades of existence, it was that the quiet and still ones often learned much more, than the loud talkers and boasters. Also when it came to negotiations, like bargaining for your freedom for example, the less you said the better. But he had felt it too. The buzz that grew to a humming inside his head. His eyes meet the ice blue ones of the Wizard, the magician’s most pronounced feature. Unbeknownst to the both of them, apparently Wizards and Skeletons had some sort of telepathic connection. The Wizard had heard rumors of such a thing, but honestly had never met a living skeleton in his entire life. There was always a first time for everything, thought the magical dragon rider.
Z’Orion spoke to the King with his mouth, but now connected with Songwriter X only through the words inside his head. “I’m fine.”, he responded to Little Hope and then went on to talk, outloud, about all the things he needed to accomplish on the trip to the Royals and their adjuncts. “Watch and learn.” was the last thing he had said to Songwriter X… Inside his mind.
X felt a sharp pain in his boney temple, and yes skeletons, like all living things, could feel pain, just not in their bones. Then a white flash blinded him like the pulse of a million dying stars, before his vision finally became clear again. He wiped his eyes, but this time he was on the opposite side of the room and in fact was starring at himself. He put a hand to his mouth and wanted to scream, but the skeletal exclamation wouldn’t come. “Relax” he heard again in his mind. “Your in my head where a skeleton belongs”. But the laugh he heard was not his own, but the deep below of the fantastical Wizard. Songwriter X looked down, and sure enough, he was definitely a good foot higher off the ground and his feet were no longer in snake-skinned boots but in much larger magical slippers, affixed with Dragon spurs. What’s more, as he looked down a long grey beard was draped across his chest; He, in fact, was seeing things through the Wizard’s sparkling eyes.
The Wizard droned on about his latest accomplishments. He cajoled the King into telling everyone about His own feats of battle and those amongst his subjects. Z’Orion continued to flatter the Queen with utmost respect, and even took time out to play with the energetic Hope. But the whole time he was speaking to them, he was talking to Songwriter X, in his head. Like a skilled concert pianist doing scales with his right hand while performing complex melodies with his left. A feat saved alone for aged wizards, and not to be tried at home by the faint of heart, or those who lacked proper brain power.
“The King is full of himself, but I think you’ve already realized that on your own. But he’s powerful in this world and if you want to make it home safely, you’ll play along.” , came the voice inside X’s head. Songwriter X watched his own body rock back and forth on the balls of his feet, from across the room. The Wizard’s unexpected appearance had ruined any chance of him pleading his case to go home today. The King’s limited brain couldn’t fathom more than one solid interruption and one major decision in a single day. X didn’t mind though, this was a once in a lifetime experience.
“The Queen. Beautiful right? In another lifetime even I might have loved her, but alas she has been succumbed by the King’s position of Power. She wants me to help speak to the Elders about her fertility problems, and producing an heir is the main reason she stays with his insufferable Majesty”.
X suddenly became frightened of the Wizard. If he knew all their secrets, that meant he knew X’s innermost thoughts as well. “Oh well”, he thought. “He’s already inside my head.”, as he again chucked to himself.
The Wizard immediately quelled the Skeleton’s concerns. “Relax.”, he said inside the hollows of X’s skull. “With you inside my head and me inside yours, I can see immediately what a noble life you have lead. You have always helped others and spent your lifespan creating a legacy for those who come after you. Your work, persistence and dedication will be rewarded. I vow to offer my service whenever you are in need, and I will get you out of this place, as sure as my name is Z’Orion the Wizard. But enough about that, now for more dish…”
The Wizard continued to speak of everyone in the room, down to every last detail. He conveniently left out Lady Magally, however, saying it was too personal and a little painful, and that Wizard’s kept some secrets of their own, too. He proclaimed that out of all the supposedly powerful people around them and those vying for the throne, that it was actually Little Hope who had the most promise. There was no doubt in the aging Wizard’s mind that she, herself, would one day run the Kingdom, and in fact, the entire dimension, including the Vortex. She was definitely one to watch.
As the day drew to a close, all that was needed to be said, had been. It was time to rest up, clean up, and retire until the big evening soirée that the King threw every night in His own honor.
Z’Orion the Wizard was engaged in conversation with Xactly, the King’s fixer. The Wizard had, thankfully, let Songwriter X back into the comfort of his own skull. X was reeling from the whole experience and was still high off the euphoric aftereffects of telepathy. Xactly had mistakenly called Z’Orion’s dragon “A simple lizard” and was quickly losing favor with the mighty sorcerer. As Xactly made one last off-handed comment to the Wizard, something about tonight’s festivities, the Wizard once again turned his gaze to Songwriter X and spoke with his mind a final time. The words came out towards Xactly, but their implications were felt by X. “Ever seen the bottom of a well?”, he asked the annoying Fixer.
“All’s well that ends well”, thought X with the power of his skeletal mind, “Just don’t fall into one”. He, too, now had been able to exploit the powers of telepathy and speak back to the Wizard. They had been part of the lyrics to his most popular song. He was flattered that the Wizard even knew them.
The Wizard gave X a wink and left the room, satisfied with their newfound and never-ending friendship. Their exploits can still be found on the internet to this very day. This would go down in the annals of multiverse history, as the actual day “Songwriter X and the Skeleton Band” solidified what would be henceforth known as “The Legend of Z’Orion”. It seemed Songwriter X’s songs, music, and love of humanity were universal as well.