We got to meet our first Realmian Elf! I’ve been hinting about their attitude for a while in my “unpacking” posts, so finally getting to meet one was a lot of fun for me. Let’s unpack.
Driving in a Sauna
Pretty much everyone has some experience with being forced to sit in a location which is so hot or humid you mind winds up turning to mush. This is what happened to Will during the ride south toward The Empty Throne. The trip between Boarsblemish and the Capital takes four hours in normal circumstances, with the military checkpoints and refugee traffic 1 it took the group nearly eight.
This is loosely based on the first Thanksgiving after I got married. We wanted to see family, and so drove from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania over the holiday. It was normally a six hour trip. It took ten coming down and twelve going back up. We didn’t travel for Thanksgiving again for over a decade 2.
No Roads direct from Boarsblemish?
The only answer we got for this infrastructure omission is “politics.” But there’s obviously more to the story than that.
The Darned Elves are extremely frustrated by the amount of economic influence the other races have over The Realm. The combination of their inability to switch the economy over to the sock standard 3, a general technological incompetency, and jealously concerning the magical strengths of the Wizards has left them bitter and resentful.
So of course they’d fill the ranks of the bureaucracy for any position which might give them a bit of control. And this is how the Elves took over the committees which have oversight of The Realms roadways. They have blocked any attempt to make entry to The Empty Throne possible from any angle but their own forest — citing environmental studies 4. The other peoples of The Realm are willing to allow the Elves to hold sway in this because they figure it keeps them happy and out of the way of how the government actually works.
The Tractor-Trailer Accident
No one was hurt, in case you were wondering. But the chickens were freaking out.
Agents Grimby and Fineflen
Despite appearances, this elf/dwarf partnership has been quite successful. In their years of service they’ve broken two counterfeiting rings 5, proved successful at counter-intelligence 6, and are the best foosball team in the IBI 7.
The success of the pairing is possible because, while Fineflen is obnoxious, Grimby is pretty much a jerk.
That Elven Attitude
I wish I could claim credit for writing the elves as obnoxious style-mongers who are only interested in themselves, but I can’t. That credit goes to the late Terry Pratchett. In his Discworld novels the Elves are pretty nasty and hateful, but have “glamour” so humans pretty much enjoy being mistreated by them. It’s said all fantasy after Tolkien is simply a footnote to his work. When it comes to satirical fantasy, I feel the same way about Pratchett.
The Elves in The Realm aren’t that bad. They’re just self-centered and vain, rather than nasty. Many are productive citizens of The Realm, who have friends among all the different peoples who make up it’s population 8. It’s an interesting experiencing writing them, I’ve never had a set of characters which are meant to be unlikable.
The board of ordinance membership is made up of the more technologically adept peoples of The Realm. Most elves would just mentally shut down, overwhelmed by the technobabble, and only voice their opinion when it looked like they could derail a project. The few elves on the Board are considered “strange” by their fellow elves. They tend to be socially well-adjusted, interested in how things work, and are known to forget to use “product” in their hair 9.
The Board is not fond of Nobody, and see him as a necessary annoyance. The truth is, the members of the board are so attached to the workings of the bureaucracy they’d be lost without him. Both Bug and Sills are slightly resentful at the lack of respect the Professor receives 10. They understand, without Nobody The Realm would have lost the war.
Pudding. The Board of Ordinance wanted to delay a meeting crucial to the future of The Realm because of butterscotch pudding. When I look at our world, especially in the wake of the 2016 election, I’ve come to realize we’re ruled by a bunch of children. In The Realm, this is also true 11.
There’s been a running feud between Ordinance and the Park Service ever since the Great Dessert Fight of ‘73 12.
The Narrator Speaks Up
The loss of the Firewall shook the Board to their core. Prior to Nobody’s arrival, they rashly voted to set off the Penny Ore Detonator if the news of it’s failure did, indeed, prove true. This would have ended The War, The Realm, and Imagination for the better part of three-hundred years. Had Nobody handed over the activation device they would have pressed it without hesitation 13.
So the Narrator told Will to speak up, and Will did. His deflection will prove effective, but it’s also going to create quite a mess. The Hoard wanted Nobody because of his importance to the war effort. When they find out what Will is, they’re going to out of their way to neutralize him.
- Caused by Nobody’s pronouncement. ↩
- And even then we scheduled our trip specifically to avoid high traffic days. ↩
- Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like. ↩
- The study questioning if a proposed highway would endanger the natural habitat of snipes, if snipes actually existed, was a particularly brilliant maneuver. ↩
- People were cutting down nickels and painting them to look like pennies. It was quite the scandal. ↩
- A lawyer who’d been posing as a Wizard still mutters about the duo in his sleep. ↩
- Defending champions of the league, four years running. ↩
- Though these friends often have to utter the phrase, “They really aren’t as bad as they sound. You just have to get to know them.” ↩
- I love the thought of elven geeks being socially well-adjusted. It gives me hope. Though I’ll personally never achieve “social well-adjustment,” there might be a chance my children will experience this. Or they can keep being weird the unveil the insanity that is the modern world. Truth be told, I’m really hoping for the latter. ↩
- Though, they are slightly resentful of life in general, so I suppose that’s not saying much. ↩
- Or, given The Realm is the source of our imagination, perhaps we’re learning our childishness from them. ↩
- Ordinance lost the battle when the Park Rangers encircled their lunch table in a brilliant flanking maneuver — soaking the besieged geeks with Mountain Dew. ↩
- Well, they probably would have first eaten their pudding, then pressed it without hesitation. ↩