So it begins, sirs and madams. Welcome back to the blog-about.

Well, I am in the thick of it now. Sir Quincy's grand adventure is underway, and Heaven take me if it has not thus far unfolded in a manner more ridiculous than even I could have predicted.

I rose at eight yesterday morning in a foul mood, having slept poorly, and was further aggravated when, descending from my quarters, I discovered that I was the only one of our company who had awoken on the wrong side of the bed. Sir Quincy's jolly demeanor I had anticipated (although his incessant grinning and childish nudging of my ribs with his elbow annoyed me tremendously, good-humored though the intent may have been), but I had also expected Roland and Fuser to share my negative outlook. Instead, they were busying about, completing their tasks and conversing pleasantly as if it were any other morning, seemingly unaware of the misfortune and lunacy which the day promised to deliver. I suppose it is the way of servants to find comfort in the routine of their toils. I fear there will be very little comfort to be had on this trip.

All too soon the limousine was packed, our provisions were checked and rechecked, and the plantation house was locked up securely (although this hardly mattered, as Sir Quincy had so thoroughly wrecked the interior that a burglar would be hard-pressed to salvage anything of value). At nine-thirty we piled into the vehicle—Roland at the wheel, Fuser navigating from the passenger seat, and my deranged associate and I in the spacious backseat—and set off “to find the rest of the story.” As we embarked, I cast a long glance back at the Jones estate which, though it had felt to me like a prison these past few months, I now saw as the embodiment of my hopes for a quick and peaceful resolution to this awful situation. The house was lost from sight as we rounded a corner, and a sinking feeling came over me. The limousine drove on.

We traveled east out of Charleston and headed north on highway US-17. Up front, Roland and Fuser continued their friendly chatter; in back, Sir Quincy babbled excitedly about King Orofyld XVIII and other fantastic nonsense while I did my best not to listen. When an hour passed and I had barely said a word, Sir Quincy finally took notice of my altered state and inquired after my health. Suppressing a bitter laugh at the irony of the question, I gave a noncommittal reply, not wanting to be dragged into conversation. Oblivious to my wishes, he continued, asserting that no, something is certainly wrong, and could it be homesickness, I wonder, and yes, that must be it, surely, and so on.

I was able to ignore him until he did something rather strange. We had in the backseat with us several grocery bags that Roland had filled with an assortment of snacks to sate us in between meals during our travels. From one of these bags Sir Quincy procured a package of potato crisps and tore it open, filling the air with the scent of oily starch. He set the package down on the seat beside him and, reaching into another bag, pulled out a small box of Swedish Fish. He popped open the box and poured the red gummy candies into the bag of crisps, mixing them around so as to ensure an even distribution. This done, he held the bag out to me, smiling.

“Fish n' chips,” he said, as if it were obvious. “A little taste of your homeland, eh Darcy?”

Baffled, I stared at him blankly. Interpreting my silence as refusal, he shrugged and helped himself to the unappealing blend of sugar and salt, consuming it by the handful and occasionally remarking that he did not think he would ever fully acquire a taste for “the peculiar flavor of English cuisine.” I caught Roland glancing amusedly at us in the rear-view mirror. I shook my head and returned to the privacy of silent contemplation.

Two and a half hours of driving found us in Myrtle Beach, a coastal town whose warm sands and flourishing miniature golf industry attract a large number of tourists and vacationers in the summertime. Now, however, the Atlantic waves are frigid, and the town is quiet except for the humdrum sounds of everyday life—or, at least, it was, until Sir Quincy arrived.

As I said, it was about noon as we were passing through the seaside town, and Roland asked if we would like to stop somewhere for dinner. Sir Quincy thought this was a capital idea, and suggested that we locate a tavern, for he had read that many daring adventures began in taverns, and if we were to take our midday meal in such a place, we would likely hear a rumor or some other piece of information that might turn out to be of great importance to our quest. Accordingly, Fuser performed a quick search on his smart phone and compiled a short list of quality bars in the area; before he could read them off, however, Sir Quincy was pointing out the window at a restaurant he had spied across the road and demanding that we head there at once. His reasoning was that the signboard for the restaurant was graced by the depiction of an owl, which he claimed was an omen of wisdom and good fortune, and having seen the bird hovering over this particular establishment, he would dine nowhere else. Roland cast me a questioning look in the mirror, and I, knowing the futility of arguing with Sir Quincy, waved my hand dismissively in a response, which my faithful servant knew to be an expression of acquiescence. We turned about at the next traffic light and pulled into the appropriate parking lot, and when I saw for myself the eatery that Sir Quincy had chosen, my face flushed with exasperation.

If you have never been to a Hooters restaurant, sirs and madams—and I do not mean to insinuate that you have, for you are all well-bred people who have not resigned yourselves to the company of a madman—it is an informal, plebeian sort of dining environment. The air is loud with raucous laughter, and the banal jabbering of sports announcers can be heard from the large, flat-screen displays scattered around the room. The menu, reasonably priced, consists mainly of cheeseburgers, sandwiches, chicken wings, seafood, and, of course, beer. Though Hooters serves all kinds, the majority of its patrons are men, many of them middle-aged or older, who have come to enjoy the cheerful company of their young, buxom, scantily clad waitresses. It is, in a word, a chain of restaurants that could only have been conceived in America. It is also, in many ways, not unlike a tavern, and Sir Quincy was as delighted as I was disheartened by the ambiance of the place.

I should mention (although I am certain you have not forgotten, my friends) that Sir Quincy had been wearing his steel breastplate for the entirety of the drive, and he was still sporting it proudly as we entered the restaurant. At the very least, I tried to persuade him that his trusty blade was far too impressive to be brought into a tavern where it might frighten the barmaids, and he argued in turn that a tavern so great as this must regularly play host to many brave adventurers, and that the barmaids must therefore be quite accustomed to seeing a variety of impressive blades. Eventually, however, I managed to convince him, and the billiards cue was left in the car with my shirt of chain mail, which I have thus far successfully refused to wear.

We were seated with surprisingly little commotion—a few strange looks from some of the patrons, and a slightly concerned smile from the hostess, but nothing further—and indeed, most of our meal passed without incident. Our server was a friendly young blonde who, when confronted with Sir Quincy and his delusions, seemed completely unfazed and even played along to an extent, referring to him as “brave sir” and “my good knight” and laughing shyly when he called her “fair maiden.” Roland, of course, was all too eager to join in their conversations, while Fuser and I concluded that either the Hooters franchise trains its employees remarkably well or our waitress was slightly unhinged herself.

As we were about halfway through our meal (which, for peasant fare, was really quite tolerable), there was a sudden swell of noise, and looking across the room we saw what appeared to be a birthday celebration taking place. Several waitresses had gathered around a table to sing to a young, dark-skinned woman, who was smiling and looking slightly embarrassed by the attention. As their singing drew to a close, a blast of electronic dance music suddenly blared out over the restaurant's sound system, and the waitresses pulled the young woman up from her seat, led her to the center of the room, and began dancing to the obnoxious beat. This, apparently, is how birthdays are celebrated at Hooters.

I noticed a twinkle in Roland's eye as he watched the scene, and instantly I became concerned, for a twinkle in that man's eye never heralds anything but mischief. Before I could distract him, he politely excused himself to the restroom. Our waitress was heading over to our table at that moment, and I saw him intercept her. They shared a brief discussion which the music rendered inaudible, and at the end of it she gave him a nod and skipped off to talk with her co-workers.

Roland returned from the restroom a few minutes later, and I asked him frankly what he had done. He merely grinned in response as three waitresses, our server among them, approached our table, and shouted in unison, “Congratulations, Sir Quincy!” They draped over his shoulders a sash of thin white paper on which they had spelled out “Sir Quincy Jones” and had signed their names in sprawling cursive, and they tugged at his arm, urging him to join the dance that was still taking place on the restaurant floor. Blinking his confusion away, Sir Quincy replied:

“Well, fair maidens, though I perhaps rank among the greatest of warriors, I must admit that I am not the greatest of dancers, and I am hardly fit to act as partner to such beauteous young women as those who now entreat me. But I sense that you will insist, and so I cannot deny your invitation, for the great Bida Bo Bida was a knight who was known to dance, and the same shall be said of Sir Quincy Jones. Come, then! Let us make merry!”

And with that, the eccentric fool leapt up and joined the festivities, much to the glee of the girls.

I looked sternly at Roland, and he explained that he had informed our waitress of Sir Quincy's recent ascension to knighthood. He had spoken of it very soberly so as to convince her that it was true, and she had believed him, agreeing that it was certainly an event worthy of commemoration. He assured me that he had only mentioned it to her in passing, and he said that I should not be angry with him, for the rest had been devised solely by the restaurant staff, and that really this sort of fanfare is to be expected when one is adventuring with so brave and distinguished a knight as Sir Quincy Jones.

I have never abused one of my servants, sirs and madams, but then and there I was tempted to indulge myself. Instead, I stared anxiously at Sir Quincy, who had now clambered onto a chair and was dancing gaily above the congregation of waitresses, occasionally asking them if they were familiar with the tale of King Orofyld XVIII, or if they had ever heard of the fabled town of Arkham and its Miskatonic University. The dark-skinned woman was standing on a second chair beside him doing much the same thing (minus the inane questions). I looked over at Fuser, who shrugged and smiled weakly, and I let out a long, defeated sigh.

Fortunately, the incident ended without...well, incident. At one point, Sir Quincy, his balance impaired by the steel cuirass wrapped around his chest, nearly slipped over the back of the chair on which he was standing, but he managed to steady himself with the help of the birthday girl. What a sight that would have been, as Roland phrased it, to see the dancing dandy take a spill and dent the floor with that archaic breastplate of his! Yes, indeed, what a sight. What a cheque I would have had to write, is more like it.

Following our mishaps at the restaurant, Sir Quincy was adamant about spending a few days in Myrtle Beach, for he was having a terrific time, notwithstanding the paucity of rumors to be found in the tavern of the owl. I did not offer opposition to the idea, so Roland went ahead and secured us a pair of suites in a quaint little hotel just outside of town. The room is markedly smaller than I typically prefer, but it is quiet enough.

I write to you now, my friends, from this room. It is very early on Tuesday morning; Roland and Fuser are across the hall, Sir Quincy slumbers heavily in the bed next to mine, and I, unable to sleep, am alone with these sheafs of parchment, this medieval fantasy-dribble that has sowed the seeds of idiocy in my associate's brain and forced months of turmoil upon me. Yet here I am, still reading, still transcribing.

As Sir Quincy said, the manuscript is indeed unfinished; I looked ahead and found that it trails off at what I presume is roughly the midpoint of the narrative. In spite of this, I aim to finish the work I have begun with this text, for the reason that I bear a scholar's pride, and also because I fear I will go mad from boredom if I do not pursue some form of academic enterprise on this trip. Dear God, who knows how long it will be before I am able to return to England? The thought is almost too much to bear...

The eighth chapter, for your reading pleasure. Perhaps when we next speak, I shall take up my literary critique of the tale once again—it might serve to distract me from my current circumstances for a time:

Read Chapter Eight

Fare thee well, friends. I must try to get some rest, for I know there will be none once my associate awakens.

Ever yours, and ever classy,

Good Sir Darcy