Fiction Tuesday – In Session

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

Following Will’s unveiling of the treason planned by the Board of Ordinance the teen and his companions were kept on lock down in a guest house near the Board Building. The rooms were well appointed, and opened out into a beautiful interior garden, but they weren’t permitted to venture into the city.

“But I wanted to bring the kid to Lil’jacks!” Bug had complained when the guard had not permitted them to leave the building.

“I’m sorry, sir, but my orders are to keep you here until the Board calls for you.”

Bug had pointed at Will, who attempted to merge with a nearby pillar. “You’ve got orders to keep a poor, lost teenager from the best fries in The Realm? That’s monstrous.”

The guard had shuffled back from the enraged gnome, who was nearly two feet shorter, and glanced around for help.

It was Sills who’d come to his rescue. “Give it a rest, Bug. It’s not like he ordered you to stay here.”

“But… Lil’jacks!”

Sills had rolled her eyes and tossed a coin-bag to the guard. “Horace, give this to your partner and tell him to order everything on the list. He can keep the rest as a tip.”

The guard had nodded in relief and run off. Forty-two 1 minutes later the companions enjoyed a delicious fried feast in the middle of the garden.

That had been two days ago, and Will was growing increasingly impatient with his confinement. Ever since his arrival in The Realm he’d been on the move, and it had kept him from reflecting. Now, with little else to do but watch Gnomish Reality TV with Bug and Sindy 2, or be used as a taste tester for Nobody’s new chip ideas 3, he found himself homesick. Much of The Realm felt familiar. Bathrooms looked the same, there were lights, familiar foods, and even on demand video 4. But every time things felt almost normal a wizard would light off a fireball in order to chase off a squirrel and his situation became alien once more. He wanted to move.

Relief came on the afternoon of their second day of confinement. Grimby and Fineflen showed up at the guest house and ordered everyone to get ready to address the Board of Governors.

“Try to look your best,” the elf purred. Looking Will up and down he added, “Or whatever qualifies for you.”

Grimby kicked his partner in the shin, and Fineflen limped out to the street in pouting protest.

“Never mind him,” the dwarf grunted. “He can’t even try to be nice, I chalk it up to his breeding.”

“Breeding?”

“‘Course! He’s an elf. There aren’t any nice elves!”

“Right,” Will nodded with a grin. He was finding confusion to be a wonderful remedy for his homesickness.

As Will ran to get changed into an outfit Sindy had picked out, the others gathered at the entrance to the guest complex. When he finally arrived, Grimby clapped his hands together to get capture the group’s attention.

“OK, here’s what we’re going to do. Fineflen will have pulled the van around to the front of the guest house by now. We’re going to exit, head down the stairs, and get into the vehicle. It’s important you all head right to the van. Do not answer any questions.”

“But I love answering questions!” Nobody protested. “It’s one of my favorite pass-times!” The old gnome grinned conspiratorially at Will, “Sometimes I even let other people ask the questions. When I’m feeling reckless.”

Having seen Nobody’s normal behavior, Will truly hoped he’d never see the professor in a reckless mood. But before he could comment Sindy stole his moment.

“What do you mean about questions, Agent Grimby?”

“Oh,” the dwarf blushed. “Well, the press has been camping out here for the past couple of days. Keeping the pixies out has been a nightmare.”

“What’s the press want with us?” Will asked.

Grimby shook his head in frustration and glared at Sills. “I thought you said this kid was smart.’

“Just answer the question, Grimby,” Sills retorted.

“Fine. Kid, you all just revealed that the Ordinance Board — you know, the board basically in charge of the war effort — was planning on committing treason. We call that ‘news’ around here.”

“Oh.”

“But they haven’t gotten wind of what they were actually planning on doing?” Sill asked.

Grimby shook his head. “Nope. We’ve managed to keep that little tidbit out of the press.” The dwarf then turned to Will and added, “Until today, that is.”

“Why the change?” Sindy asked though her best suspicious glare.

“Because your teenage friend is going to publicly testify about what happened at the meeting in about twenty minutes.”

“I am?”

“Yup.”

Grimby then turned and thrust open the door to the outside world before Will could protest. He was greeted with a incomprehensible roar of shouted questions and the blinding glare of flash bulbs going off. Sills reached up and placed her hand on Will’s shoulder.

“It’s OK, Will, just take one step at a time.”

Five minutes later the group was settled in the van and on the way to the Board Building as part of a large convoy. Rather than repeat the gauntlet of reporters a second time, the van travelled underneath the building, after which the group was led up to the main floor through several tunnels.

Will had no idea what he was going to say to the gathered Board of Governors, or even how the process was going to work. But before he knew it he was being ushered through a set of huge and ornate doors, whereupon he was greeted with the roar of applause. The teen grinned as he became oriented to the chamber and began to walk with unexpected confidence. He made his way down to an empty table set before the gathered Governors and he took notice of the room’s surroundings. Desks were seated in a multi-tiered semi-circle which faced a raised dais. Behind each of these were sitting the various beings of The Realm. Gnomes, elves, wizards, dwarves, pixies, centaurs, and even a unicorn or two were all staring down at him as they cheered. He had just enough time to register the empty chair seated before the governors when the world suddenly changed.

I’m sorry.

All Will remembered in the days to come was a flash of brilliant white light, and the desperate voices of people screaming for help.


  1. Sometimes things don’t fall on the quarter-hour, excuse me for story-telling. 
  2. Master Brew. 
  3. Clam and jalapeño was particularly awful. 
  4. Elflix. It primarily streamed Romanticized versions of popular culture with which Will was familiar. Though he thought the Duel fought for the heart of the King, between two female characters from a well-known fantasy world, was a bit much. 
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