Today’s blog continues my long-neglected satirical fantasy, In The Land of the Penny Gnomes
The parade through University City was one of the more memorable events of Will’s sojourn in The Realm. The crowds were immense, and people hung out of every window and lamp post as they showered their heroes with confetti and cheers as they passed. There were speeches, and a key to the city was given to Isme. Will’s friends were honored in similar fashion — each was handed piles of recognitions, awards, and gift cards to local restaurants. Will was even presented with an honorary doctorate in Useless Trivia, which he thought was strange but he accepted it nonetheless. While Isme had been invited to attend several parties once the celebrations had ended the General declined all offers and opted to instead push onward to The Empty Throne.
That was three days ago — and now Will was preparing to stand in front of another crowd, one which he was not looking forward to facing.
The teen looked down and spotted Grimby looking up at him. He and Fineflin had returned The Empty Throne a day after the convoy and Isme put the pair in charge of Will’s security.
“A bit, yah.”
“Heh, the green tint to your skin kinda gives it away. Don’t worry, you’ll do fine. It’s not like this is a big deal or anything.”
“Not a big deal! Grimby, I’m going to pick the ruler of The Realm!”
“Listen, Will. I’ve seen the candidates the Governors have picked. Forget the nice CV’s they’ve prepared for you, these people are idiots. I know for a fact the dwarf they’ve put forward can’t even decide what to order in a restaurant, much less run The Realm 1. Whoever you pick is going to be under the thumb of the Board’s bureaucracy. They just want someone to look pretty on the throne.”
“But the Professor and Sills think The Realm needs a real leader.”
“They aren’t wrong, but we’re being offered figureheads.”
Bug’s voice cut into the conversation. “Which is why, kid, you should feel free to pick anyone you think would make a good Sovereign. Forget the choices, the Governors aren’t running this show.”
“It feels like they are.”
“Well, I can’t do anything about how you feel, but it’s not true.”
“So if they aren’t really in charge, who is? Isme?”
Bug looked up at his friend and smiled. “Kid, come on. You’re in charge here.”
Bug nodded. “Yah, Kid. You’re the one who told the Governors you were the one to pick the next Sovereign. And, since you’re the prophet of Narrative they didn’t have any choice but to accept.”
Bug waved his arms, indicating all the preparations which had been made for the day. “All this, Kid, is window dressing. Anything you want to do, is what’s going to happen, and don’t let them tell you otherwise.”
Will shrugged. “I guess.”
“Don’t guess, kid, know. Now, these so-called interviews are about to begin. I know I said you’re in charge here, but I’d go ahead and humor the Governors. It’ll make them feel like they’ve taken back control. OK?”
Will sighed. “OK.”
Bug departed as Grimby escorted Will to a plush office attached to the penthouse in which he’d been put up. The interviews were nothing like Will expected. He’d read the CV’s the Governors had handed to him and expected the candidates to be intelligent, skilled, and competent. Well, all the candidates but the elf, whose CV had read, “Looks splendid in purple.” Instead, the people Will encountered appeared to been selected because they were the opposite of competent.
The gnome had shaken in fear, as his visit to The Empty Throne was the first time he’d been out of the Fifty Peaks Mountains.
I think The Realm needs a better Sovereign than Mr. Shivers, Will. Don’t you?
Will nodded back at the voice in his head.
A orange-haired centaur who’d been nominated entered into office and, before Will could even say hello, rattled off a platform to consolidate all political power in The Forest of Classics. “We should put power into the hands of the real Realmians.”
Don’t even think about it.
“He’d stand up to the Governors, at least,” Will repied to the voice in his head.
No, he’d ignore the Governors and pretend they don’t exist. Don’t even think about it.
“Will, there is no way you can choose that nag,” Grimby Agreed.
Will offered the dwarf candidate a choice of tea or coffee, just to break the ice. Instead, the candidate’s indecision had eaten up all the time allotted for the interview. On his way out Will told him to make some tea to take with him. At this the dwarf breathed a sigh and said, “Thank you, I never know what to do when people offer me choices.”
“Yah, no way,” Agreed Will.
“On behalf of all dwarf-kind, I thank you,” affirmed his IBI agent bodygard.
The strangest interview was, by far, the one with the elvish candidate. Two proud parents brought in an eight-month old toddler, dressed from head to toe in purple, and sat him in the interview seat. The toddler had no intention of sitting still. He hopped off the chair and began ransacking the room as only toddlers can. When his parents managed to corral him he blew a raspberry at Will on the way out the door.
There are many times when I don’t understand elves.
“It’s moments like this when I realize even elves can give fashion a bad name,” Fineflin sighed.
With the interviews over 2, Will stood and made his to the elevator.
“You know what you’re gonna do, Will?” Grimby inquired.
“No,” the teen bemoaned.
“Well,” Fineflin chimed in, “I’m sure you’ll think of something.”
Discouraged, Will exited the elevator and was assaulted with a roar. He peered through the all glass lobby, where he spied a mass of people fanning out before a raised platform. Cameras flashed as he exited the doors and the roar redoubled. Seated on Will’s left were most of the teen’s friends. Nobody beamed, thrilled by the excitement. Bug smiled and shook his head. Sindy’s ears whistled with steam, her piercing grey eyes fixated on those seated across from her on the platform.
Following Sindy’s gaze, Will looked to his right. Here was seated Isme, along with his aides. Sills was seated next to Stevens. The lawyer was frowning as she whispered something in his ear. The candidates, along with the Governors who’d nominated them, were also seated on this portion of the platform.
As Will approached the podium he was joined by Mr. Purple, who raised his hands and called the crowd to become quiet. When they settled down he began to speak.
“My fellow Realmians, we have waited for this day for centuries!”
The crowd roared once more, and Mr. Purple had to wave his arms to quiet them down enough so he could continue.
“With our recent victory over the Copyright Horde, General Isme and the Board of Governors have agreed it’s time for The Realm to have a Sovereign once again!”
The crowd renewed its roar, and Will took the opportunity to look over at his friends. Each was frowning, though the teen had a difficult time making out their faces through all the steam now pouring from Sindy’s ears. Glancing to his right he saw Isme smiling and nodding, the general seemed willing to go along with Mr. Purple’s narrative if it got him home faster. When the crowd again quieted, Mr. Purple plodded on.
“The remaining Governors, those of us who survived the cowardly attack on the Board several weeks ago, have selected four qualified candidates. Your leaders have agreed it should be the Prophet who determines who our next Sovereign will be.”
Turning back to Will, Mr. Purple extended his hand and beckoned him forward. “Will, will you come here?”
Will stepped to toward the podium, whereupon Mr. Purple draped an arm around Will’s shoulders. The crowd cheered and, despite himself, Will smiled at the attention.
“Now, I ask all those assembled, will you accept whomever the Prophet selects as your Sovereign?”
The cheers became so loud Will thought his ears might start bleeding. As they roared Mr. Purple stepped aside and offered Will a clear path to the microphone.
“I don’t know what to do,” the teen mumbled as he approached the microphone.
I suggest doing the right thing.
“Thanks,” he spat back under his breath.
As Will stepped up to the microphone the roar drowned out all other noise. His heart raced and sweat began dripping down his brow. Nevertheless, he attempted a smile and risked letting go of the podium to wave for the crowd to quiet. His legs wobbled as he did so, but somehow the teen managed to stay upright.
“Well, um… hi. I’m, happy to be here today so The Realm can take it’s first steps into a new era.”
A cheer went up, but it was less enthusiastic than before. The mob wanted a name, not a speech.
“So, uh… after meeting all the candidates and reading their qualifications I’ve made a decision.”
Silence followed, as the mass held it’s breath in anticipation. Will caught Bug’s eyes, and his friend smiled at him and offered him a thumb’s up.
Will closed his eyes and tried to grab enough of a breath to speak his next sentence. When he managed to catch his voice it quivered as he blurted out “As Sovereign of The Realm I choose Sindy Moume.”
There was a moment of silence, followed by a growing confused murmur. The relative calm was broken by Mr. Purple, who ran up to Will and grabbed him by the shoulders.
“No! She wasn’t one of the candidates!”
“That wasn’t part of the deal, Governor,” Isme spoke as he approached the podium.” “You agreed whomever the Prophet chose was Sovereign.”
“Well, yes. But…”
“No buts, that’s the deal. The Prophet has spoken.” Isme leaned over so he could see Sindy. Upon gaining the the shocked gnome’s attention he offered a hand in invitation. “Sindy, would you come here.”
Sindy stood and approached the podium, where a step was being positioned to make it gnome-sized. As she approached, Bug and Nobody followed. Nobody glowed with pride, while his son-in-law looked to be in full-blown shock.
As Sindy approached the podium Will stepped away. The gnome offered a brief, “Why me” glance to the teen as she passed — but it was replaced with a steel gaze as she stepped up to the microphone. Isme shouted as she stepped into view.
“Realmians, here is your Sovereign!”
The crowd roared, breaking its previous decibel record, and Sindy managed to smile and wave. As she soaked in the crowd’s adulation Will felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned and looked down at Bug, who was twisting his floppy cap in his hands.
“I thought you were going to choose Isme!”
- The dwarf was, in fact, Grimby’s brother-in-law. They never got along. ↩
- The wizards submitted no names to be considered as Sovereign. They felt the proceeding was an insult to Isme, and though running a country would get in the way of research. Mr. Purple was forced to accede to the will of his constituents, but never forgave them for not putting his name forward. ↩