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.