Today’s blog continues my long-neglected satirical fantasy, In The Land of the Penny Gnomes
After Sindy’s verbal explosion, the rest of the trip to The Empty Throne passed mostly in silence. The Steam, which continued to pour from her ears, probably contributed to the silence. The heat in the transport turned the passenger compartment into a mini sauna, sapping Will of energy — a feeling which seemed to be shared by his companions. Attempts to open the windows to vent some of the steam were barked down by the sergeant in charge of their convoy.
“It’s a war-zone! Are you trying to get injuncted?”
So they rode on in increasing discomfort, and Will had to repeatedly wipe away the condensation so he could see out the windows. And so it was as Will wiped away the moisture from the window when he first saw The Realm’s capital. Rising from a low rise of hills stood a tall dome.
“That’s the Board Building, Will,” Sills pointed out.
“So we’re almost there?” he asked. The trip had taken much longer than he’d expected, and he was looking forward to being able to stretch his legs.
The agent shook her head, “Not quite. This road loops around to the western part of the city. It’ll probably be another forty-five minutes until we get there.”
“There’s no roads into the city from here?”
“Politics,” announced Bug.
The gnome then turned his head and dropped off back to sleep without offering further explanation. Sills merely nodded and sat back herself, apparently thinking “politics” explained the lack of roads perfectly well. Will, not wanting to appear unintelligent 1, decided not to press the issue.
About an hour later 2 their convoy pulled up to a plain brick building surrounded by a low wall. As they pulled up to the front door two persons emerged from the shadows and opened the doors to their transport. One was shorter than a wizard, but stocky. The other was tall, slender, and had pointed ears. Both wore sunglasses even though the day was overcast.
“Agent Sills,” the tall agent spoke as though he was utterly bored by the proceedings, but offered his hand in greeting. “I’m Agent Fineflen. This is Agent Grimey…”
“Grimby,” growled the dwarf.
Fineflen rolled his eyes and and corrected himself, “Grimby.” Though his correction was seasoned with a strong dose of annoyance.
“We’ve been told to escort you to the Board of Ordinance meeting.” Grimby offered his own hand to Sills, who took it into her own.
“Great. Well, welcome to The Empty Throne. I’m sure Grimey can see you to the meeting. I’ve got work to do.” The elf turned and walked away, but Grimby called out after him.
The Elf sighed and turned around. “Please don’t say you expect me to go with you to the meeting. I know you’re only a dwarf, but I think you can handle that all by yourself.”
Will thought the attitude of the Elf was a bit extreme 3, and half-expected his partner to lash out against the abused. He was shocked then, to find the diminutive agent grinning maliciously at his arrogant compatriot.
“Nah, I’m fine there. It’s just that…” the dwarf blushed slightly and lowered his gaze. “Nah, I can’t say.”
“Oh please go on, I’m tingling with expectation.”
“Well, OK. It’s just that…”
“You have three hairs slightly out of place on the left side of your head.”
Fineflen’s eyes shot open as he attempted to cover his head with his hands. “No! Don’t look at me, I’m hideous.” With that, the elf spun on his heels and ran into the building, sobbing uncontrollably.
The dwarf’s grin widened. “Every time,” he chuckled. “All right, folks, come with me. Grimby let them around the side of the building, where they discovered a set of stairs leading down toward the basement. They descended the stairs, and then passed through a security checkpoint. After being ushered down a narrow hall, they ultimately emerged in a large lecture hall. About a third of the seats were filled with various races of The Realm, though Will noticed there were only a few elves present in the room 4.
“Ah, and here is our resident public relations nightmare,” declared a wizard from the lectern. “Welcome, Professor Nobody, so glad you could join us.”
Nobody Smiled. “Oh, did I get a new title? I’m not sure that one will work, though. I just caused a PR incident and…” the gnome leaned forward to make certain the wizard could hear him, “I think it might have been bad for morale.”
Those seated in the chairs groaned in frustration, but the wizard at the lectern managed to retain a plastic smile. “Indeed,” she said. “We’ll have to keep that in mind.”
“Glad to help!” Nobody cheerily replied. Sindy’s ears were now whistling from the amount of steam pouring out of them.
“Madam Speaker,” cried out a dwarf in the crowd. “Is this really the time for this conversation? The Professor is clearly exhausted from his journey and harrowing escape from some raiders. Perhaps we should reconvene tomorrow?”
“Your point is noted, Dwellik, but I’m afraid you’re lunch plans will have to be delayed somewhat.”
“But they have butterscotch today,” Dwellik whined, causing the assembled members of the Board of Ordinance to mumble amongst themselves.
“If we don’t leave now those Park Service snobs will snag it all.”
“Call for a recess!”
“No, you call for it. I called for the last one!”
“It doesn’t matter to me, I’ve cut out all sugar from my diet and I feel great 5.”
This went on for a few moments, until the Speaker banged her gavel and called the group back to order.
“I promise this will not be long, but just in case I sent Millie up twenty minutes ago to secure us all the Butterscotch we require. I assure you the Park Service will eating vanilla today.”
This pronouncement brought forth a resounding round of applause from the assembled members. Until they were banged back into order once more.
Turning toward Nobody the Chair asked, “Professor, reports are saying you believe the firewall is doomed to failure. This couldn’t possibly be correct.”
“Oh no, it’s true. They haven’t applied the last four patches to the code-base, and the Horde found a way to insert a self-replicating unauthorized fan-fiction virus. It’s weakening the protection.”
“I see,” the Chair spoke calmly, though the color had drained from her face. “And how much longer should we expect the Firewall to remain in place.”
“Oh, another two or three days I should think.”
This led to more muttering among the members, which was quickly gaveled down.
“Very well, the Firewall is failing. Then I must ask you about your other project. What is the status of the Penny Ore Detonator?”
Don’t let him answer, Will.
“Nothing Bug, sorry.”
I said don’t let him answer. If you like your world, jump in right now.
“What should I say?”
“Well, right now, nothing.”
“I wasn’t talking to you, Bug.”
“Oh, well, that’s ok then.”
Nobody had spent the duration of Will’s internal conversation rummaging through his pack for something. Finally, “Ah. There you are” echoed from it’s depths.
It’s now or never, Will.
Swallowing a gulp of air, the teen cried out, “The Penny Ore Detonator won’t work!”
“What?” exclaimed the Chair.
“What?” declared Nobody as he emerged from the depths of his pack. Sindy kicked him.
“I said, ‘The Penny Ore Detonator won’t work!’”
The Chair’s eyes narrowed. “And who are you?”
Gulping another pocket of oxygen, Will exhaled and pronounced, “My Name is Will MacGil, and I’m a Prophet of Narrative.”
Why in The Realm did you say that?
- This is a survival trait which first appears in adolescence, and unfortunately becomes a permanent part of the character of people for many years. ↩
- There was a tractor tailer accident two miles before their exit which added fifteen minutes to the trip. This is a universal constant for travelers everywhere. ↩
- And he regularly read comments on Instagram, so that was saying something. ↩
- The pointy ears were a dead giveaway. ↩
- There’s always one. They’re often rather angry people. ↩