Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Chapter XIII

Erilliance is a city of wonders - massive towers that let off a fiery glow, sorcerers throwing spells everywhere - even the pigeons frequently burst into flames. Yet for years it was impossible to get a good sandwich on the go. If the current Archmage was to be remembered for anything, it would be this - he had offered a large stipend and the lifelong protection of the Wizards of Erilliance to any good restauranteer willing to set up inside the city limits. Slowly, the fear of being turned into a hamburger by a disgruntled customer gave way to greed, and local businesses began to set up shop. One of these young entrepreneurs had been a friendly, optimistic Dwarf named Durner Ruckfendursteen.
Sixteen years later, Durner (Durney to his friends) had a booming business - the only Dwarf restaurant in the city. Dishes like his famous Stone roast stew and Potato smashes offered a little taste of home for the Dwarves of the city, and a hearty, slightly exotic flair for the others. It was well-known that Durney's Dwarven Diner was one of Xindor the Incredible's favorite restaurants, and it didn't hurt his business the plenty of young sorcerers ate there in an attempt to get in on his good side.
Therefore it was surprising how empty it was that morning as the two Gnomes came in.
"Good day to ye!" called Durney, as he walked briskly (for a portly Dwarf) to the door. "Welcome ta Durney's Dwarven Diner, delectables Dished out Daily! Ye ever been here before?"
"No," answered Halyn with a friendly smile, "But you come highly recommended to me,"
"Well, yer in fer a right treat then!" said Durney, "Can I int'rest ye in our breakfast special - Three of our famous thundercakes with sausages and a drink fer eight spiggins a piece! And fer firs' time customers, I throw in a coupla' flundusters fer' dessert!"
"That sound good?" Halyn asked his brother.
"The only word I understood was 'sausages'," Erdyn answered, bewildered.
"Right," said his brother, suddenly coming to a realization, "You've never had Dwarf food! Two of the special, my good man - do you serve Gnome-size portions?"
The Dwarf thought about this for a moment. "Not much call fer that around here, but how's about we make everything half size and charge ya' half price fer' it?"
"Sounds fine to me," said Halyn.
"And ta drink? How about some Dwarven ale? It's never too early fer ale!"
'Water's fine," said Halyn.
"Ye sure?" asked the Dwarf, "No extra charge,"
'Yes," insisted the Gnome, "Water is fine,"
"Alright, then," said Durney, "Two Gnome-sized breakfast specials, commin' right up!"
As he rushed off to prepare the food, the Gnomes sat down.
"Dwarves don't understand that no one else can handle a mug of their ale," said Halyn, as the soon as Durney was out of ear shot. "So, we have about a length and a half until your appointment - that should be plenty of time. You feeling up to it?"
Erdyn held his hand up to his face and stared intently at it. After a moment, three of his fingertips began to glow.
"Yeah," he said, "Once I get some food in me, I should be fine,"
"Good," said Halyn, "Just don't be shy, ok? Don't be afraid to show them everything you got."
"I just hope it's enough," answered Erdyn optimistically.
"It will be," said his older brother, patting his hand, "It will be. So, Xindor wanted me to extend his humblest apologies for his niece's behavior. He also wanted me to let you know that random acts of magic are actually really rare in this city, and you got really unlucky,"
"His niece?" asked Erdyn, a little confused.
"Yeah, the girl who attacked you last night. She was aiming for Bogue... Probably some little feud between them. It happens rather a lot here - sorcerers are known for holding grudges a long time, and I think it just kind of rubs off on everyone else. Why, last time I was here - are you listening to me?"
He waved his hand in front of his brother, who was gazing dreamily out the window.
"Wuh?" he said, "Oh, sorry. Spaced out for a moment. Go on,"
"What is it?"asked Halyn, "Something bothering you?"
"Just... er... Nervous about today," lied Erdyn hastily, "That's all. Don't worry about it,"
"Erdyn," said his brother sternly, "You're a good liar, but you never were able to fool me. What were you thinking about?"
The younger Gnome looked at his brother for a moment, as if trying to decide whether or not he should say what was on his mind.
"Amora," he finally sighed.
"Oh, that's just an after effect of her spell,"said Halyn, blowing him off. "Trust me, sometime tomorrow it'll wear off and you'll be pretty pissed off at her,"
"I don't think that's it," argued Erdyn. "She's beautiful, and she's Xindor's niece, and-"
"And that's all you know about her, that and the fact that she attacked you. You're not in love with her. Trust me. Now, let's talk a little about what Xindor and the rest of the sorcerers on the admission council will be looking for..."
He was interrupted by Durney's return, with breakfast.
"There ye go," said the Dwarf cheerfully, "Two Gnome-sized breakfast specials. I'll bring ye yer flundusters in a little while,"
"I'm... Not sure I'll still be hungry," said Erdyn uncertainly as he surveyed the breakfast.
"That's alright, I'll wrap 'em up fer ya! Ye can't decide how ye feel about Dwarven cuisine without tryin' a flunduster!"
"Of course," said Halyn, "Wrap them up. And could we get a third?"
"Sure thing!" answered the Dwarf, "I'll get them fer ye momentarily!"
He shuffled off to finish the desserts.
Erdyn stared horrified at the thundercakes, large blackened cylinders filled with so many little holes they resemble Swiss cheese. He looked up questioningly at his brother.
"Dig in,"said Halyn, his mouth already full of thundercake, "We only have about a length and five before your appointment,"
Erdyn picked up a thundercake and cautiously bit into it. As he crunched on it, a smile broke across his face.
"This's actually pretty good," he said. "A little crunchy, but it tastes alright,"
"Of course it does," said Halyn, "It's even better with syrup. Now eat up, we haven't got that much time,"
They ate on in relative silence, the only sounds those of contented crunching. As Erdyn munched away at his thundercake, he wondered what other surprises Erilliance had in store for him, and whether they would all be this pleasant.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Chapter XII

On the edge of the city, Simile buzzed around a small cabin. She was annoyed to find the small crack she'd used in the past to gain entrance had since been sealed. Aw well, she thought, nothing else for it! She hovered in front of the window gathering up her magical strength, then let out a blast about her size, incinerating a small hole in the wall. She flew through it.
The cabin was very sparsely furnished. There was a pile of tools piled half-heartedly in one corner. There was a small table, a wardrobe, and a bed, and that was all. She flew towards the bed, and landed on Dukalb's pillow.
"Good Morning!" she intoned, leaning into his ear.
Dukalb literally jumped to his feet. Within seconds, he was standing on top of the bed."What the underealm?!" he said.
Simile floated up to right in front of his face.
"Hey, plenty of guys'd kill to wake up with me in their bed!"
Dukalb glared at her.
"It's Four lengths and two and a half twigs already! What did you do last night?"
"Nothing," answered the Dwelf, jumping off his bed. "I usually get up this late. I try not to let my internal clock be bound by the rules of society,"
"How very Druidic of you," answered the pixie. "However, if you wish to remain in Erilliance, I would suggest you get dressed and get to that clearing,"
"What do you mean, get dressed?" asked Dukalb. "Like I own more than one pair of clothing,"
She surveyed his wrinkled clothes.
"Wow," she said. "You really are a slob. I didn't know you slept in them too,"
Dukalb shrugged. "I don't interact with people very often these days. I figure, what's the point in looking nice. No one see's me anyway. This way I can just... wake up and leave," As if to demonstrate, he walked towards the door.
"So what's that wardrobe for?" asked Simile as she floated next to his ear.
"Things," said Dukalb, "None of your concern - did you burn a whole in my door?"
"That?" said Simile, indicating the whole. "That was there when I got here,"
"Right," said Dukalb sarcastically, as he began striding through the forest, "So it just... Turned up. Should I even bother getting it fixed?"
"Uhhhh....No," said Simile.
"Because next time you needed to get into my house another one would just turn up," said the Druid irritably.
"Probably," answered Simile coyly, "You know how these things are,"
"One of these days you're going to have a nasty encounter with a fly swatter," said Dukalb dryly.
"You gotta catch me first," intoned the pixie playfully as she zoomed out over the trees. Dukalb wandered towards the clearing, thinking about what was about to happen. A master, he reasoned, could never be a good thing. Up until now he'd been setting his own timetables, living a life of relative solitude, and interacting with others only when absolutely necessary. And he was learning a lot. His teachers were the trees, the rocks, the animals. How a druid should learn, he thought. Now he would be subject to the whims of an older druid, one who thought he could teach him to commune with nature through lessons and instruction.
But what else could he do? He couldn't leave Erilliance. Where else could a Dwelf live in peace? Everywhere he'd be an outsider. But here, in a city ruled by a council consisting of a human, a Dwarf, and an Elf, everyone felt like an outsider. And that meant no one did.
He stopped in the same clearing where Thurigen had delivered his ultimatum the previous day. And there, standing in front of him, was a goblin.
It was very tall for a goblin - thin and wiry, with wrinkly green skin and ridiculous bat-like ears. The upturned snout on the front of it's face was rather humorous looking as well.
Dukalb glanced around for a weapon. Eyeing a heavy stick on the ground, he picked it up and held like a club, ready to swing if he was attacked. Goblins were dangerous, hostile creatures, and he wasn't about to take any chances.
"Underrealm of a way to greet your knew teacher," said the goblin, in a raspy voice. "My name is Grosk. You would be Dukalb, I presume?"

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Chapter XI

"Hey there!" said a familiar voice, rousing Erdyn from his slumber. "Time to get up! We've got a big day ahead of us!"
Erdyn sat up and looked around confusedly at the unfamiliar room. Where was this place? And how had he gotten here? "Wha?" he said.
"The witch said the sleeping potion might disorient you a bit when you woke up. Give it a moment,"
The voice sounded familiar, but distant, removed. He looked around and finally saw his brother Halyn.
"You were hit by a stray enchantment," he said, "They tried to counter-curse you, but eventually they just ended up giving you a potion to sleep it off. I let you sleep as long as you could, but Xindor made an appointment for the guild to test you today,"
Slowly it was coming back. He was in... Erilliance. He'd come here to be... a sorceror? Yes, and he'd gotten here, and seen the most beautiful elf maiden... what was her name?
"Amora!" he cried out.
"What?" said his brother, "Are you alright?"
"I think so," said Erdyn, as his brain began to solidify. "Yeah, I'm gonna be fine. What time is it?"
His brother stared out the window and squinted a bit. "About four lengths, give or take a twig*,"
"Wow," said Erdyn, "I did sleep in. When's my appointment?"
"In about two lengths. I figured you'd need a little time to get ready,"
"Yeah," said Erdyn, climbing out of his bed, "Where's Tiryn?,"
"She was up almost a fig ago," He answered, "Wanted to see the whole city. Xindor arranged to get her a guided tour,"
"Good," said Erdyn. He looked around, "Where are my clothes?" he asked.
"You're clothes are in that dresser," said Halyn, pointing at a small chest of drawers behind the bed. It jumped a little.
Erdyn approached the dresser cautiosly, unsure of what to do. Eventually, he decided to risk it and get his clothes. He put his hand on the handle, but hesitated.
"What are you so worried about?" asked Halyn.
"I saw it move," answered his brother.
"Quit being such a baby," chided the older gnome, "You're never gonna be a sorcerer if you're afraid of the dresser,"
"I'm not afraid!" defended Erdyn. "I'm just... exercising caution,"
"Just get dressed," said Erdyn, "We haven't got that much time,"
Defeated, Erdyn stepped pulled on the handle. Immediately there was a deafening roar. Erdyn felt the sensation of strong winds blowing past every inch of his body, As if he were caught in a whirlwind. This is it, he thought, I'm going to be torn apart, or carried away and drop from high up, or both or worse. One day in Erilliance and I'm killed by a closet.
And then, just as suddenly as it had started, it was over. He was standing in front of the dresser, and he was dressed, in the green and white vest-tunic ensemble he had picked out for this very purpose.
Halyn was laughing.
'What's funny about this?" asked his brother.
"The look on your face!" answered Halyn.
"What was that?" asked Erdyn, indicating the drawers.
"A dresser," answered Halyn, "A real one. The ones we have back home are just called that. They don't actually dress you. Here in Erilliance, on the other hand... well, never mind. You hungry?"
"A little," answered Erdyn.
"Good," said his brother, "There's a great place across from the Library I've been wanting to try. Let's go,"
Still a bit disoriented, Erdyn followed his brother out the door.

*A Length is a standard unit of both distance and time. Once the two may have been connected, but now they just confusingly share a name. In either case, there are eighteen twigs in a length, and nine lengths in a fig.