Fiction Tuesday – Privy Counsel

Today’s blog continues my long-neglected satirical fantasy, In The Land of the Penny Gnomes

“Kid, wake up. We’re here.”

Will felt a not-so-gentle boot nudge his side as he fought himself back to consciousness.

“Let’s go kid, it’s not nice to keep the cops waiting.”

As if to reiterate Bug’s statement a voice squeaked from the outside the van, “On your feet prisoner. Nap time is over.”

The words were ominous, but when paired with a voice which sounded like the speaker had recently inhaled helium, it came out as ridiculous. Will couldn’t help but snicker as he opened his eyes and sat up.

He immediately wished he hadn’t snorted a laugh. As he focused on the rear of the van, where the doors had been opened, Will looked into the visage of the most terrifying gnome he’d seen during his brief time in The Realm. The gnome’s beard was wild and unkept, and had streaks of grey sprinkled throughout its mane. His mouth was set in a tight grimace and his eyes were a cold, angry, grey.

“Oh, you find my voice humorous, do you?” The wild police-gnome squeaked. “Well I won’t stand for that from the likes of you. I’m a veteran, I am. I served two tours on the front line defending your home from the blasted lawyers, and what do I have to show for it? A squeaky voice and grey eyes.” The gnome pointed to his eyes and shrieked as he rapped a night stick against the van, “Grey!”

“Easy there, officer,” said Bug has his raised his hands cautiously. “Will’s new here, he didn’t mean offense.”

The police-gnome grinned maliciously as he cocked and eyebrow. “ Is that so? Well, let’s get him out of the van so I can make sure I don’t offend him while I get him up to processing.”

Will gulped, uncertain what to do. Bug turned, shot the teen a “well now you’ve done it” look, and offered him an hand to help extricate him from the vehicle. As he shuffled his way toward the offended police-gnome’s eager eyes, the voice of the sergeant who’d arrested them mercifully rang out in the courtyard in which they’d parked.

“Is there a problem here, Officer Gibble?”

“Oh, no problem Sarge. This wizard seems to find my voice funny is all.”

“I see,” said the sergeant as he stepped into view at the back of the van. “I’m sure the prisoner didn’t understand what he was laughing at.” He turned to Will and shot him a glare, “Did you, son?”

Will shook his head. “No sir, I didn’t.” He turned his gaze toward the wild-eyed gnome and nodded his head in apology. “I’m sorry.”

“There you are, apology given and accepted!” The wild police-gnome was about to voice his protest when the sergeant cut him off. “I’ll see to these prisoners, Gibb. Go get yourself a double-shot on me.”

For a brief moment it looked as though Officer Gibble would refuse to depart, causing Will to hold his breath. Eventually, however, he nodded curtly. With a final glare at Will, the police-gnome turned and departed.

After he was out of sight, the Sergeant and Bug helped Will from the van. The sergeant fixed Will in a hard gaze.

“You could show a bit more appreciation. That gnome lost a lot defending Boarsblemish.”

Will couldn’t help himself. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know. But, what’s ‘Boarsblemish?’”

The police-gnome sighed. “Son, if you think an insanity defense is going to help you, I think you’ll find yourself disappointed. The gnomes on the Mayor’s Council have all beaten you there.”

“Huh?”

“You’re a Wizard, and you expect me to believe you don’t know what Boarsblemish is?”

“But… I’m not a wizard. I’m just a kid.”

It was the sergeant’s turn to act surprised. “Huh?”

Bug came to Will’s aid. “He’s telling the truth. Will’s no Wizard, he’s from The Shops.”

“The Shops?”

“Yah, the Prof said he needed Will for his work so I went and fetched him.”

“Oh. Well this changes things.”

“It does?” Will interjected with hopeful anticipation.

The sergeant nodded. “Oh yah, you’re all in a lot more trouble than I thought.” He pointed to an opened door to Will’s left. “Let’s get moving, everyone’s waiting for you.”

Will and Bug were marched though the open door and up an ornate set of stairs. After ascending they were ushered though a large set of doors and into a wide hall. At it’s front were seated seven older gnomes in a raised semi-circle. The gnome seated in the middle of the arc was raised up slightly higher than the others, and wore a miserable scowl. Standing in front of the gnomes, oblivious to the obvious distaste they were radiating, was Professor Nobody.

He turned at the sound of the doors opening and beamed a smile. “Oh good, you’re here! Now we can all get this settled and I can get back to work.” Nobody turned back to the gnomes seated behind him, “So much to do, you know.”

The particularly grouchy gnome in the center of the arc huffed in indignation. “I’m afraid, Professor Nobody, your work is going to come to an end.”

Nobody cocked his head in confusion. “Really?”

“Yes, really,” the gnome replied.

“Well nobody told, me,” replied the professor as he crossed his arms.

“We are telling you now.”

“Well, I find this most inconvenient. I’ve gone to much trouble locate Will. And Bug had to give up seven shopping trip in order to bring him here. What am I supposed to do with him now?”

“That, Professor, is not up to you.”

“It isn’t?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“Because you are going to jail for harboring a known fugitive, immigration violations, and illegal snack chip manufacture!” The angry gnome tossed a bag of “Snack Like Nobody’s Business” catfish and mayo chips on the ground before him. Will couldn’t help but notice the bag was empty.

Despite the pronouncement, Nobody seemed utterly delighted. “Oh, Catfish and Mayo! I made those especially for the tastes of older gnomes. Did you like them?”

“Yes,” the surly gnome replied instinctually before catching himself. “But that is not the point. The point is, you are manufacturing these chips illegally using the experimental process known as ‘Applied Imagination.’ Do you deny it?”

Much to Will’s shock, Nobody produced a card from his pants pocket and handed it to the highest-seated gnome. He then hopped up on to the steps which lead to the gnome’s perched and pointed to the card.

“Of course I don’t. It’s right there on my card.”

Will’s mouth dropped open in disbelief, and bug was twisting his hat nervously in his hands. The surly gnome, however, smiled.

“Well, that does makes things easier.”

“Oh good!” replied Nobody, flashing a confident wink toward his companions. Not sharing his enthusiasm they didn’t respond in kind.

“Yes,” said the surly gnome. “You’re all being formally charged and held for trial. You really are going to jail.”

Nobody stepped down off the chair as a look of shock washed across his face. Before he could respond to this revelation, however, the doors to the room burst open to reveal a tall gnome with an impeccably stylish and trimmed beard. Trailing behind the gnome was Sindy, which caused Bug to perk up and wave.

“Hi dear!”

“Later,” she replied curtly, causing Bug to return to his anxious twisting.

“Now see here!” cried the surly gnome. “These are closed proceedings young lady and I do not appreciate interruptions.”

“These proceedings are over, Mr. Mayor. These gnomes, and their charge, are to be released immediately.”

The gnome stood, which wasn’t nearly as menacing as he though it should be. “On who’s authority?”

The gnome flashed a badge and declared, “Special Agent Sills Masterful, Imaginary Bureau of Investigation.”

The Mayor pointed an accusatory finger toward Sills, “The Throne has no jurisdiction here, Agent Masterful. This is internal gnome business!”

“This is a matter of Realm security, Mr. Mayor. Professor Nobody is the most important weapons developer for The Realm’s war effort. Without him, we’re sunk.”

The mayor sat down in disbelief. “Please let me understand this. You gave a gnome who dabbles in Applied Imagination, a weapons development contract?”

Sills nodded. “That is correct, though we had to keep the true nature of his work classified for obvious reasons.”

The mayor looked down incredulously from his perch. “You’re mad.”

“Oh. Well, I must say I don’t agree,” Nobody chimed in helpfully. He then proceeded to step toward the mayor’s chair once more and lowered his voice, “Though I do find weapons development rather anti-social. All those secrets, you know.”

Nobody proudly stepped away from the mayor’s perch. The surly gnome stared at him in shocked disbelief. This caused an uncomfortable silence which Nobody finally felt compelled to break. “I had that social insight all on my own last year. I’m quite proud of it.” He grinned up at the seated gnomes, obviously hoping for a confirmation of the quality of his social insight. When none was forthcoming he pointed to the door, “So we can go, then?”

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