Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Chapter XVIII

"In the mountains of Orgakaborka
Far beyond the Shadow Ring
Lived an Ogre named Morshagalorka
Who loved to dance and sing!"
Durner Rockfendursteen was uncertain as to why the popular children's ballad had popped into his head, unaware as he was that it's author had been in his restaurant that very morning. As we plowed through the chorus, somewhat off-key and an octave too low to accommodate his booming dwarven baritone, he heard the bell tell him a customer was approaching.
"Welcome ta Durney's Dwarven Diner!" he cried "Delicacies Digested -" he stopped, recognizing his customer, "Archmage!"he cried, pleasantly. "Lovely ter see ya! What can' I do fer ye today?"
"I need a private table," said the archmage, "I'm meeting someone for lunch, and we have things of a... sensitive nature to discuss,"
For a moment the normally Jovial face of the Archmage of Erilliance seemed unusually grave. As quickly as it came, however, it passed, like the shadow of a bird crossing over his face.
"Of course, sir!" Said Durney, "I'll get the private room set up fer ya upstairs! Just one moment,"
The restaurateur hurried upstairs to prepare the room. A few minutes later, the door chimed again, and a sandy-haired wizard in maroon robes approached. He appeared to be talking to himself. The Archmage thought it only polite to wait for him to finish.
After several minutes, he gave up on this sentiment.
"Bogue?" he asked tentatively. The taller wizard continued his mumbling. "Bogue!" intoned the Archmage sharply. The runemaster seemed to come back from a trance.
"Yes?" he said, startled, "Oh, right I'm here. You summoned me, sir?"
"I did," replied Archmage, returning to his usual, friendly demeanor, "And that means I need your mind as well as your body!"
"Of course," said Bogue, "I was working on a possible way of getting around Kreegan's third law of summoning. It occurred to me that perhaps, if a cluster of dragon-tallow candles were positioned opposite each wizard in a summoning circle, and Suveny's Incantation were cast on the candlesticks, we might be able to create a resonating magical field which could, with the proper runic inscriptions guiding it, of course, be used to replicate both the power and the control components of an additional participating wizard,"
During this explanation, Durney had reappeared at the bottom of the stairs. He was now standing there with a bewildered expression on his face.
"Uh, Archmage?" he said, "Yer table is ready,"
"Excellent," said the portly wizard, obviously glad for an excuse not to discuss Kreegan's laws with Bogue.
The three preceded up the stairs to a small, dimly lit room with a single round table in the middle. There was a small window on the far wall which emitted all the light in the room. The archmage sat down at the table and gestured for Bogue to do the the same.
"Are we ready ta order?" asked Durney, "Or do ye need a little more time?"
"I'll have my usual," said the Archmage. Bogue was staring intently at the menu.
"What's a flurgamburger?" he asked after a moment.
"Well it's a flurgam between two pieces o' bread, of course, what else would it be?" Durney replied impatiently.
"Yes," said Bogue, "But what's a - never mind, I'll try one of those,"
"Very good sir," said Durney, "And to drink?"
"Do you have vorum juice?" Bogue asked.
The Archmage and Durney shared a hearty Dwarven laugh. When they'd finished, Durney leaned over the table.
"Ye don't have much experience with Dwarven food, do ye?" he asked.
"No," Bogue replied, "I can't say I do,"
"Well, we Dwarves like variety in our cuisine, make no mistake!" he said, "But when it comes to drinks, there's really only two options. One is Ale. Do ye know what the other one is?"
"Milk?" asked Bogue, after a moment.
The dwarves shared another chuckle, then bellowed in unison "More Ale!" This sent them into another hearty Dwarven laugh. Bogue remained stoic.
"Only jokin', sir," said Durney after a minute. "I have some milk we use in cookin', you want me ter bring ye some o' that?"
"Sure," said Bogue, "Thanks,"
"Alright," said Durney, "Be right back,"
A few minutes later, he returned with a large mug of dwarven ale for the Archmage and a mug filled with a pale blue substance Bogue could only assume was supposed to be milk. When he had departed, Bogue spoke.
"So, do you think it would work?" he asked.
"What?" asked the Archmage.
"Dragon-tallow," replied Bogue. "It has enough internal magic to power Suveny's Incantation, so the ambient magic could be channeled into the summoning spell. I mean, if it were to work, we might just have to write off Kreegan's laws as obsolete. You see, I'd never consider using the inherent magical properties of the focus components to augment -"
"Look," the Archmage interrupted, "This is all very fascinating, but I didn't call you here to discuss your new theory,"
"I know," said Bogue, eyeing the milk suspiciously. He had yet to take a drink. "I just thought - since we're here, I might run it by you, see what you think. I mean, I've been mulling over it for days now, and I think, if I could just streamline the runic inscription for the summoning circle, we might actually be able to-"
"Bogue!" the Archmage interrupted, "You need to think about something other than work once in a while. You're a very promising young wizard and a very powerful runesmith, ridiculously powerful for a human - no offense meant of course- but if you keep going at this rate, you're going to burn out. You need to relax every so often, take time to recharge," He leaned back and took a hearty swig of ale. Bogue's milk was still untouched, but had now been pushed to the far corner of the table.
"I don't think so sir," said Bogue. "With all due respect, the only time I really feel fully charged is when I am working. People make me... uncomfortable,"
"I realize that," the Archmage was taking a gentler, almost fatherly tone with the young human now, "But sooner or later you're going to have to learn to deal with them, and not just other Wizards. Which is precisely what I wanted to talk to you you about. Now, I know Amora of Tiesan is not the easiest person to get along with. I've had difficulties with her myself. But you have to pick your battles! I'm not sure you're aware, but things on the council have been a bit... dicey lately. It's not a good time for an impromptu duel between a wizard and a sorceress, especially not when the sorceress involved is Xindor's niece. It makes the people... uneasy,"
"With all due respect, sir," said Bogue, "She attacked me,"
"That as it may be -" the Archmage began.
"And I did not fight back," said Bogue, "I deflected. That's all. What else could I have done?"
The Archmage's reply was cut off by the arrival of Durney with the food.
"One Kurgaloth combo, and one flurgamburger," he said, laying down a plate of food in front of each of them. "Anything else?"
"No, thank you,we're fine," replied the Archmage.
"Ye haven't touched yer milk!" Durney observed, "Ya sure ye don't want some Ale?"
"Really, I'm fine," said Bogue, somewhat impatiently.
"Alright, Alright," said Durney, "I'll leave ye ta yer secret meeting. Let me know when ye want the bill!"
When he had gone, the Archmage resumed.
"My dear boy," he began, "I didn't call you here to scold you or to give you guidelines for how to behave. I called you because I have a job for you,"
"If this is about that lecturing post professor Mayborn left open, I'm really not your man," said Bogue, "I specialize in the practical application of runes, their historical origin is little more than a diversion for me. I hardly think -"
"Bogue!" bellowed the Archmage, losing his calm again for just a moment, "You would do well to wait until I am finished speaking to ask questions. Now, I am not talking about a lecturing post. Nothing so... official. There are things going on in this city. Things I don't know about. And I don't like being out of the loop. I need someone close to Xindor to keep an eye out. Now you don't have to tell me you're not the ideal choice for an informant. But that's what I'm counting on - Xindor likes you, thinks you're harmless, and is far more likely to let something slip around you than around me,"
"Do you need me to find out something specific?" asked Bogue.
"I need you," said the Archmage, "To get yourself into a position where you have Xindor's trust, and his ear, then await further instruction,"
"And how, exactly, do you propose I do that?" asked Bogue.
"Those three gnomes who arrived in town yesterday," said the Archmage. "They're the key. Xindor has an unusual interest in them. They're new here, they're tiny, and they'll be wanting friends. You protected the gnome boy, so they're likely to trust you. Cultivate that friendship. Use them to get to Xindor. Tell me anything and everything you find out,"
Bogue sat for a moment, munching on his burger and thinking.
"I'm a wizard," he said after a moment, "Espionage is not my strong suit,"
"It doesn't have to be." replied the the Archmage, "Just keep your ears and eyes open. This goes well, there may be a lecturing post in practical runes opening up after all."
And with that, he got up and left the table, leaving Bogue staring pensively at the untouched, blue substance in the glass. He wondered if it might have inherent magical properties he could use to augment a summoning spell...


Kylie said...

I'm jumping back into the story after a long absence and can't quite remember which chararacters I've 'met' and which I haven't, but this flowed well and I was able to follow it nonetheless.

One nitpick: why do you insist on capitalizing "Ale" at every opportunity?

Nathaniel Cornstalk said...

Only in dialogue - Dwarves take their ale very seriously.

Marten said...

I like Bogue. I also like how you've kept the story very coherent despite long breaks between posting.

Erin said...

Nice chapter! I like how you're handling exposition through dialogue and your continued awesomeness in characterization.