Today’s blog continues my long-neglected satirical fantasy, In The Land of the Penny Gnomes
Sills pursed her lips in defiance. “This is insane.” She and Will had been escorted to the tent of the lawyer who’d rescued them from captivity, Roy Stevens.
Mr. Stevens breathed out a sigh. “I’m aware of your feelings in this matter, Agent Sills. But, nevertheless, this is going to happen.”
Four days had passed, and a tentative cease fire between combatants was holding, pending the result of the trial. None of The Realm’s representatives had yet to arrive in camp, so Bug was tasked with representing Realmian interests until they arrived. One of his non-negotiables was for Sills to always be present when Will met with representatives from The Bar. The teen never enjoyed these meetings, as Stills and Stevens spent their time speaking about Will more than they spoke with him. He suspected this was Sills’ strategy, and this latest interview looked to be following the same pattern.
“General Isme should be here any time, and you’re wasting time interviewing a teenage boy.”
“A teenage boy who, According to my notes” Stevens picked up a stack of papers and began thumbing through the pile. “‘Single-handedly broke up an ambush by a special forces brigade,’ and ‘re-directed a blast which should have leveled most of The Realm’s capital city.’”
Sills shrugged. “What can I say, he’s a powerful wizard.”
“No magic did those things, Agent Sills. Let’s be honest about that, at least.”
Sills shrugged again, but offered no rebuttal.
“And in the capital, am I correct in this terminology, Will was heralded as ‘a prophet of narration?’”
“Narrative. A prophet of Narrative.”
Stevens smiled, “Oh, good. You can be interacted with in a constructive manner.” The lawyer then made a note on the sheet of paper he’d been reading, “Thank you for the clarification.”
“I don’t see why it’s so important, Mr. Stevens.”
The lawyer set his papers back down on the table and removed his glasses 1. He set the spectacles down and began to rub his temples as he answered.
“Agent Sills, it matters because we believe Will is going to become the lynchpin of the case against The Realm. If we can’t get a handle on who he is there is a chance the Attorney General may rule against you. I need you to trust me. You need you to trust me.”
“How am I part of the Horde’s case?” Will blurted out, ignoring a stabbing glance from his friend.
“Not a part, Will, the entire case. You display abilities not common to The Realm, yes?”
“I guess so but…”
“And these abilities are beyond The Realm’s current capabilities, correct?”
“And isn’t it true you were smuggled into The Realm in order to stop the assaults of the Horde?
“I wasn’t smuggled…”
“But you were brought to The Realm to stop the Horde?”
“Kind of, I guess.”
Stevens turned his attention back to the IBI agent and lifted a finger in Will’s direction.
“There, Agent Sills. That is what we can expect from our adversaries when Will is called to take the stand. Unless we have a good way to redirect his cross-examination, the boy will be made out to be just another smuggler looking to get one over on The Bar.”
“Him? He’s a kid.”
“I’ve seen pre-teen magic students smuggling faux latin magic spells out to space faring laser-sword wizards, Agent Sills. I assure you, Will’s age is not going to be a defense.”
“So what is?”
Stevens turned back to Will, “Will, tell me. Where are you from?”
Tell him Will.
Will shook his head. “Bug said not to.”
Stevens cocked his head to one side. “He spoke to you, didn’t he?”
It’s OK, Will. Bug’s given you some bad advice on this one. The Bar needs to know.
Will grunted, and was about to respond, when Stevens’ question managed to filter it way through the teen’s ears and into his brain.
“Wait, what do you mean, ‘He spoke to you?’ Can you hear him? Can you hear the Narrator?”
Stevens grinned. “No, we can’t. At least, not like it seems you can. But members of the Bar are able to sense when a Narrator’s attention is near by, and when one is communicating.”
“Yes, Agent Sills, a. I’ve looked at Professor Nobody’s notes on this topic 2, and they confirm what we in the Bar have always suspected — Narrative is shaped by many narrators. And it appears The Realm has been in contact with one particular succession of Narrators who have guided your existence. A Narrator which has not appeared in any of the other lands, and seems to have always been separate from the Accords.”
“So why’s this important? How’s it help us?”
“Because we need to prove two things. First we will have to demonstrate Will is, indeed, in contact with this Narrator.”
That’s easy, maybe I’ll stick his glassed back on his head for him.
“Please don’t” replied Will under his breath.
“And, second, it is clear Will is not a Native to The Realm. So we will have to prove he’s not from a land currently under the Accords. Because if he is found to be so the claims of smuggling illegal technology would carry a great deal of weight. If he is not from one of these lands then we will be able to establish Will as a religious figure rather than a smuggler.”
“You want me to be a religious figure? You mean, like a priest or something?”
“Weren’t people in the capital calling you a ‘prophet,’ Will?”
“Well that is a religious office.”
“Oh, I guess I didn’t think of that. I’m not very religious.”
Sills shot the teen a “why would you say something that stupid” look, but Stevens only chuckled.
“As it turns out, a predisposition to religious belief doesn’t seem to be much of a prerequisite for holding the office. In fact, sometimes, it helps to not be ‘religious.’”
And we’re going to have a talk about that later, you and I.
Stevens reached down and picked up his glasses. As he placed them back into position he looked over the lenses toward the teen and asked, “So, Will. Where are you from?”
Tell him, Will.
“Well, Bug called my bedroom a ‘store.’ But where I’m from we don’t have the stuff you all do here. There aren’t elves, or dwarves, or gnomes, or magic, or applied imagination.”
“But are there armies of lawyers?”
“Well, my dad mentioned something about lawyers being a mob, but nothing like here. I mean, the lawyers where I’m from don’t carry guns or wear camouflage suits.”
“I see, and how is your world shaped?”
“It’s shaped like a ball, why?”
“And what’s outside your world?”
Will’s brow scrunched up in confusion. “I sorry. I don’t understand the question.”
“When someone crosses the boundary mountains, what’s on the other side of them?”
“What are boundary mountains? I mean, we have mountains and stuff, but there’s just another country on the other side of them.”
“So you’re saying your world is really shaped like a ball.”
Will looked at Stevens as though the Lawyer had just discovered water was, indeed, wet. “Uhh, yah.”
“And outside of it is only space?”
“What else would be out there?” the teen snapped back. The frustration common to his kind oozed out as he continued his response. “Why is this important?”
Stevens grinned and held out his hand in greeting. As Will reached out and took it, confusion etched on his face, the lawyer shook it with enthusiasm.
“I do believe we have a case. And it’s an honor to meet you, son. I’ve never met a real person before!”
- Typical narrative convention meant he should have had a cloth nearby in order to begin a methodical cleaning of the lenses. Roy had meant to bring such a cloth, but left it in his tent by accident. Being near to raw Narrative can do strange things to convention. ↩
- Nobody had a small research library in his bag. Just in case he wanted to work on new snack chip flavors during his trip. ↩