The UCPO Spoon of Glory

Chapter 7: The conclusion

The UCPOites walked as they talked, meeting up with the rest of their number nearby. They were soon past the cave and the rocky mountain pass, and came upon a soothing green wood with impossibly tall trees.

The UCPO chair recognised the wood. With a gasp, he said, 'I know how to save Sam!' The UCPOites gathered around excitedly.

'In this wood lives a being called Caramiriel. Her people are of the elf race, and her practical engineering skills are second to none. She can design and build a great bridge that stretches over whichever fence that Sam is imprisoned behind!' His eager face turned to his peers for approbation. It was not forthcoming.

'Yeah, but what if there's no fence?'
'It'll take weeks to build a bridge.'
'We don't even know where Sam is.'
'OK, OK,' said the chair, flustered. 'So come up with a better plan.'
There was a pause.
'Maybe he'll escape', someone said.
There was general scoffing.

Nikolaus turned to Martin Owlwrangler, a humble but devout UCPOite. 'Martin, you know how you keep a tribe of owls.'
Martin blinked. 'You mean my parliament.'
'Yes, yes, your parliament,' said Nikolaus. 'Well, would they be able to scout around and find where Sam is?'
'Yes! Not only that, but they could follow the scent if we had something of Sam's to work with. I've trained them specially.'
'Brilliant!' shouted the chair. 'Sam's bag is here.'

As luck would have it, the day had almost ended, and after making camp on the edge of the wood, and partaking of a meal, it was time for Martin to summon his parliament with a sudden and unearthly screech. A dozen giant owls soundlessly alighted on a branch above his head.

They soon had the scent and were airborne again. Now there was nothing to do but wait. After an hour of tense conversation, there was a movement beyond the firelight, and before the UCPOites knew it, Sam was walking towards them.

There was general disbelief.
'How on earth did you get here?' the chair finally stammered.
'The owls picked me up and carried me. Clever aren't they?' said Sam. 'The hamsters had taken me to Daniel's palace, and while I was able to disarm all the security in the guest suite by unscrewing it from the wall and disconnecting it, I couldn't get over the fence or through the gates. The owls saw to that.'
All eyes turned to Martin.
'Oh yes. Didn't I mention that?' he said. 'They always retrieve what I send them to find. It's just never been a person before.'
Everyone looked at Martin with a new respect.

Their mission accomplished, the UCPOites had a jolly evening of food, music, and drinking (someone had actually remembered to bring a bottle opener), and slept soundly. Except for Nikolaus. Something awoke him in the small hours, and with a sense of unease, he reached for the Spoon. It was gone. He sat up abruptly, looking around the camp. He was just in time to see a shadowy figure with a blue hat disappear into some bushes.

The UCPOites were soon awake too, and Martin quickly summoned the owls again, aquainted them with the scent from Nikolaus's pocket, and gave them slightly different instructions this time. They vanished.
'What did you ask them to do?' asked the chair.
'I instructed them to get the Spoon, then pick up that creature and drop him in the Bog of Eternal Stench, ' said Martin, with a satisfied grin.
'Nice,' said the chair.

The owls were back within fifteen minutes, and dropped the Spoon into Martin's hand. Nikolaus took it and wrapped it very carefully, far out of reach. And the UCPOites slept again.

Now the UCPOites had a long and dismal walk ahead of them; one that got increasingly cold, rocky and icy the further north they went. Day after day they trudged, with their spirits sinking each mile. Their supplies were getting low, and they weren't sure whether they were going to make it back to the UCPO capital city.

Eventually, they reached a thin bridge made of ice that crossed a yawning chasm and disappeared into an otherwise sheer wall. Crossing nervously, the UCPOites tried not to look down, and headed for the castle's entrance. Once inside, a long series of stone steps led up to an altar of sorts. As they climbed, they saw that upon it sat a diminutive person, with long hair of tight curls and a piercing gaze. This was the great Robert of Nimmo. He radiated power and composure, and the UCPOites felt small in his presence.

Robert spoke: 'Who are you, and why do you enter my castle?' If his audience had expected a booming authoritative voice, they were disappointed. Robert spoke into a small microphone to the side of his face, and the amplified sound was strangely tinny. It was punctuated by a hint of feedback.
Nikolaus and Sam shuffled forward. Nikolaus was the one to speak. 'We have been sent from the UCPO capital city by the Mighty Kendall. We carry a dreadful cargo: the Spoon of Glory.' A shudder rent the assembled crowd. 'It must be destroyed.'

Robert nodded sagely. 'You are correct, and you have undertaken a weighty quest. It is now at an end. I will ensure that the Spoon of Glory is no more.'

Everyone had heard stories about the great fire that Robert of Nimmo commanded, and held their breath as he drew forth a small instrument. As he lit it, they could see that it was a very small blow torch, which burned with a bright blue flame. He took the Spoon from Nikolaus, and with a flourish, moved it into the path of the fire.

Nothing happened. Robert grunted, and tried again. The Spoon did not melt or even bend. His frustration evident, Robert tried a third time. At that moment, Daniel burst in to the castle, tore up the steps and prostrated himself at Robert's feet, imploring him to spare the Spoon.

Robert drew himself to his full height, crossed his arms, and raised one eyebrow. 'Who is this broken man, cluttering up my hallway?'

Nikolaus had well and truly lost his patience by now. 'OK "Robert of Nimmo", if you're so great, why can't you destroy the Spoon? Your fire is utterly pathetic and so are you.' He marched right up to Robert and seized the Spoon.

Daniel saw his chance, and leapt at Nikolaus. They struggled violently, but despite Daniel's desperate attempts, Nikolaus kept control of the Spoon, managing to break it in two with a satisfying snap.

A joyful cacophony began. Daniel, heartbroken and vanquished, sank to the floor, nursing the broken Spoon. Robert demanded silence. Nikolaus did not listen and continued to taunt the great Robert of Nimmo, to his peril. Robert unleashed his considerable wrath, turning Nikolaus into a cow-print umbrella.

UCPO, as one, gasped, and then were silent. Daniel crawled along the floor to the cow-print umbrella, lifting it gently. 'Nikolaus,' he said brokenly, 'I am your father.'
The cow-print umbrella said nothing. Daniel turned to the UCPOites. 'Can you ever forgive me?'
'Don't push your luck,' said the chair.

And lo, UCPO rejoiced, putting on a special performance of The Planets in Robert's castle for whoever wanted to listen. The plastic cutlery was finally free, a party was held in UCPO capital city that lasted a whole week, and the Mighty Kendall smiled from her self-imposed exile in faraway Oxfordia.


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