I'm a little late with this one, but better late than never...
“A horse a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”
Illya Kuryakin was relieved that his partner had no direct influence with the choosing his clothing for this unusual assignment; the last time the Russian was forced to wear tights was for a mission involving a Renaissance Faire.*
Napoleon had switched out the tights, part of his Medieval garb for the mission to a size far too small for the already slender Russian.
Illya spent the day tugging at his backside as the tights kept riding up on him in the most uncomfortable way, the ummm, front as well.
Yet in this case Solo had nothing to do with Illya’s current garb.
Now Kuryakin found himself dressed, but at least comfortably, or as comfortable as one could be while wearing chain mail. Beneath the mail was a gambeson for the body, which was not unlike was a quilted coat.
This one was at least blessedly light unlike the ones worn by true medieval knights. Over the mail shirt was a surcoat printed a colorful shield with the emblem of the liege lord.
It was a large letter P for none other than G. Emory Partridge.
Kuryakin was disguised as a king’s guard, and completing his attire was a heavy helmet. It thankfully helped disguise his face, as there was a rather large nose guard.
Thought it was a bit large for the slender built agent, he managed to stuff a hand towel beneath the helmet to prevent it from slipping too low over his face.
He was stationed beside the king’s throne, ‘King,” Illya sniggered to himself.
“Only Partridge would fancy himself the ruler of his own little kingdom in the least likely of places.
Taking over East Snout was bad enough, then trying to set himself up as lord and master in Alaska was even worse but now calling himself king was the cherry on top of the sunday that was G.Emory Partridge.
His current attempt at dominating the landscape was in Ireland; the man having somehow bought a decrepit castle in the middle of nowhere.
The landscape surrounding it was part of what was known as ‘the Burren,’ consisting of rough, cracked limestone known as karst that formed it; it made up the whole of northwest County Clare.
The Burren looked like what one would imagine the surface of the moon would appear. Rocks of every imaginable size pockmarked from the thousands of years of Irish rains surrounded the castle, which was half in ruins, yet there were delicate flowers that plants that survived in this harsh environment.
Local lore said that people had taken stones from the castle walls to build their own cottages, making them strong enough resist the powerful winds blowing along the coast from the Atlantic.
These now whitewashed homes had neatly trimmed thatch roofs anchored by rocks wrapped in rope, dangling from the roof edges keeping the thatch in place.
The cottages dotted the land like white sheep scattered along the coastline, along with fishermen’s black currachs lined up in the sand. They were a type wooden frame fishing boat over which animal hides and now canvas were stretched and waterproofed with tar.
It made for a quaint picture, though with Partridge arriving on the scene, it was anything but that.
Solo and Kuryakin were sent yet again to shut Partridge down before he enslaved all the locals into doing his dirty work, whatever that could be; it was never anything good.
Illya watched and waited, holding his breath in hopes he wouldn’t be recognized by Partridge as he stood beside the throne.
The man was busy lording his attention over what were supposed to be his loyal subjects, but they seemed to be anything but that.
There were guards dressed just as Illya, standing at attention beside the entrance to the great hall.
Partridge was wearing clothing of the medieval period, but now he was sporting a moustache and goatee, obviously dyed. Atop his head sat an atrocious wig. It seemed to be an attempt on his part to make himself look more youthful.
There was a commotion in the room as two guards dragged a man in front of Partridge, tossing him to the flagstone floor.
As the prisoner looked up, Kuryakin forced himself to not react.
That prisoner was Napoleon.
Dressed in black cargo pants and a black turtleneck, Solo found his hair grabbed by one of the guards, jerking back the UNCLE agent's head. His head was smeared with black greasepaint.
“Oh dear dear, Mister Solo. How you do manage to turn up at the most inopportune times,” Partridge said. “So if you’re here, where is that insufferable Russian partner of yours? Whither thou goest, so follows your Soviet dog, dare I say?”
“Illya’s...dead.” Napoleon lied as he recognized the guard standing to the right of Partridge’s throne.
“Oh really, and you expect me to believe that?”
“Yes he slipped and fell into a bog. He drowned.”
“I find that to be a rather ridiculous lie Mister Solo, surely you could do better than that. Here I thought you had a flair for the dramatic?” Partridge snorted. “Couldst thou not recite something from the noble bard, just to amuse me? If you do then I’ll let you live another day.”
He waved his hand, indicating to the guards to let Napoleon stand.
“Yes, a Shakespearean recitation to amuse us,”Partridge droned with that annoyingly superior attitude of his.
Solo rose, composing himself as he glanced at his partner as he began to speak.
“Rescue, my Lord of Norfolk, rescue, rescue. The king enacts more wonders than a man, daring an opposite to every danger. His horse is slain, and all on foot he fights. Seeking for Richmond in the throat of death. Rescue, fair Lord, or else the day is lost.”
“Ah, yes Act V scene IV of Richard the III. Good show Mister Solo, jolly good show.” Partridge applauded. “I knew you had a flair for the dramatic! More, more!
“A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!” Napoleon blurted out.
Illya, taking his cue, pulled his Special from beneath his surcoat and throwing off his helmet he quickly pressed his gun barrel to Partridge’s head.
“Not a horse, but will I do my friend?” Kuryakin announced.
“Illya you’re a sight for sore eyes,” Napoleon called back.
“If you do not remove that gun from my head and surrender it Mister Kuryakin, I will have Mister Solo killed,” Partridge calmly said.
“I think not,” Illya deadpanned.
“What are you waiting for you idiots,” Partridge now barked his order.“As your King I order you to kill these men!”
His guards armed with swords, and a few with crossbows looked at each other in confusion.
“Sure we’ll not be killin’ anyone yer lordship,” one of the guards said. “And we don’t have a king. Ireland’s a Republic.”
“Aye,” the others agreed in unison.
“Oh no, boyo! There was nothing said about killin’ anyone.We just took this on as it was a payin’ job.”
“I’ll do it myself then…”Partridge snarled.
“As I already said, I think not,” Illya repeated himself as he poked the man with his gun.
“Oh yes quite. Tsk.” Partridge lifted the left arm of his throne and he along with it disappeared as the floor beneath it opened. A flagstone covered trapdoor snapped shut in its place.
Illya slammed his foot on it, trying to make it open but the effort was pointless. G. Emory Partridge had disappeared on them again, and Waverly wouldn’t be happy.
“Talk about a flair for the dramatic,” Kuryakin said.
“Thank you,tovarisch,” Napoleon bowed.
“I was referring to Partridge.”
The people filling the hall threw off their costumes with a shout of celebration.
“Jaysus we though he was just play acting,”one said to Solo and Kuryakin.
“G. Emory Partridge never play acts,” Illya said.
“Any idea what he was really up to,”Napoleon asked the locals.
“Haven’t a clue, we were just turnin’ a blind eye ta that bleedin’ eejit because he said he’d pay us, but that doesn’t look like it’ll be happenin’ anytime soon. More’s the pity.”
“Ahhh, there’s an old saying,” Napoleon winked.” In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.”
Illya slowly turned his head, squinting at his partner.
“Partridge has two eyes and as far as I know they were both working fine.”
Napoleon pinched the bridge of his nose as he shook his head... he had no retort to that whatsoever.
Kuryakin knew exactly what he was doing and he started to chuckle, but once Solo got the joke, he joined his partner in having a good laugh.
* ref to "A Renning We Will go" or https://section7mfu.livejournal.com/2147044.html