Today’s blog is a section from The Darned Conspiracy, the sequel to my first novel In The Land of the Penny Gnomes
By the rules of Narrative it should have been about midnight, because tales which unveil nefarious doings should start when only heroes and miscreants are out and about. The Realm, however, didn’t tend to follow Narrative rules. And our protagonists enjoyed getting to bed early so they could wake up and enjoy the day.
It was about two thirty in the afternoon, and the two occupants of a non-descript car 1 had been staring at a particular warehouse for over five hours. One of the aforementioned occupants was a dwarf. And sitting in the passenger’s seat, peering out a crack in the window with some binoculars, was an elf. Each wore the new regulation uniform for agents of the Imaginary Bureau of Investigation–an open collar shirt, a dark sport coat, and khakis. The elf’s shirt, in true elf fashion, was emblazoned with a bright floral print. The dwarf wore an iron helmet, though it was trimmed down to be more of a cap. It seemed to say, “This may not offer me any protection, but I’m a dwarf, and that means iron helmet. Now stop staring before I kneecap you.” The IBI had come a long way in the four years since the Sovereign ascended to the throne, but no amount of uniform codes were going to erase the peculiar cultural habits employed by the distinct races which made up The Realm.
“They’re late,” grumbled the dwarf 2. And he wasn’t alone in his sentiment. The dwarf and the elf were both not happy with the waiting. It was beginning to eat into their schedule, and the elf had an appointment to try some new robes at four.
“Our informant did say they could be here any time between ten and three. Something about waiting for a particular customs wizard to come on duty,” replied the Elf, not taking his eyes off the warehouse.
“I don’t know, Fineflin, six months for this bust? All for some actualized chicken and tri-corn hats? It seems like a waste of resources.”
Fineflin huffed, “Grimby, you’re the one who insisted we request a transfer from Sovereign security back to ‘real investigation.’ It doesn’t do much good to complain now.”
“Yah, yah. I know. But following Sindy around wasn’t a waste of resources. It was just boring. After three years terrorizing local shop owners whenever Sindy went traveling on a good will tour got a bit old. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun for a while. But I wanted to catch some real criminals again.”
Fineflin rolled his eyes. “And this leads us here, to this stake out.”
“Then stop complaining and keep listening to the radio in case the delivery van shows up.”
The two sat in silence for a few minutes, while nothing interesting happened around the warehouse. They sighed in unison, and then spent another few minutes trying to make sure their breathing was no way in sync with the other 3.
“I’m trying to pay attention, Grimby.”
“Eh, we’ve got twelve units around this place, and we’re the closest to the building. If we’re the first to see the van a lot of folks are really not doing their job.”
“Fine,” the elf sighed. “What was it you wanted?”
“Do you think we need to give The Throne a proper name?”
“It has a proper name, Grimby. It’s ‘The Throne.'”
“Well, yes. But, it was ‘The Empty Throne’ back before the Sovereign. Seems like a wasted opportunity to just rename it ‘The Throne’ now that someone’s sitting on it.”
“You want something with a bit more panache, is that it?”
Grimby nodded. “Something which says, ‘This here is the capital, and we’re not messing around.'”
“And I’m assuming you have a name picked out?”
“Not necessarily picked out, per say…”
“What’s the name, Grimby?”
“Well, if you insist, I was thinking of pitching, ‘Burning High Rule Iron Forge.'”
Before Fineflin could comment, their radio crackled to life.
“Delivery van spotted. All units be on alert.”
Grimby adjusted his driving gloves, while Fineflin pressed his eyes into his binoculars. A nondescript van 4 made it’s way up the street and stopped in front of a loading dock at a nearby warehouse. As it backed in, several wizards emerged from a door and waited for the van’s driver to exit. A single gnome emerged and worked their way up the steps, where there appeared to be a bit of a disagreement unfolding. The gnome waved their hands, while the wizards pointed to the truck and shook their heads. Just as it appeared the exchange would come to blows, the gnome threw up their hands in surrender and waved the wizards toward the truck. One jumped down, disappearing from view for a moment, only to reappear holding something high in his outstretched arms.
It was a chicken.
Grimby keyed his microphone. “That’s it! All units move in, move in!”
The dwarf fired the engine and the vehicle roared to life, accelerating toward the loading dock at reckless speeds and skidding to a halt inches away from the van. The beings up on the dock were frozen in shock, until eleven other vehicles roared into the scene and Fineflin kicked open his door and pointed a weapon in the miscreant’s direction. Then they froze in fear.
“IBI. You are under arrest! Nobody move!”
Grimby huffed as he shifted out of the driver’s side door. “I thought you were going to let me say that.”
“Sorry, I got carried away.”
“Uhh, can I move a little bit?” squeaked the wizard who’d jumped down from the dock. “This chicken seems to have pooped on my hands.”
It didn’t take long to process the scene and arrest the smugglers. None of the people involved were really hardened criminals, so they didn’t put up a struggle. By the time the IBI agents stormed up the steps to the loading dock there were, in fact, several puddles which had not so spontaneously splashed into existence on the concrete. As the perpetrators were put in cars and taken away to be booked several agents did their best to keep the van full of chickens calm.
“Don’t let any one of those birds escape,” Fineflin instructed from the dock 5. “We can’t allow actualized animals on the street, it could alter Narrative as we know it!”
“Yes sir,” replied a non-descript agent 6. “But why bother with these things, anyway?”
“Because, Agent Smit 7,” Grimby grumbled in. “They taste better than Realmian chickens.”
“Really?” Agent Smit’s eyes opened wide. “What do they taste like?”
“Like Chicken,” the dwarf replied while rolling his eyes.
Disappointed, but still wanting to appear keen, Agent Smit asked, “And what about the tricorn hats?”
“Illegal imports from Colonial American Fiction,” Fineflin responded. “It’s the new fashion choice for the Johnny Tremain gang, and by seizing these we may have put a large dent in their organization. It’s hard to be a colonial-themed gangster in a fedora.”
Grimby smiled, “Well, I guess this wasn’t a waste of resources after all. Wanna grab a bite before we go back to the office?”
Before the elf could respond, his phone began to buzz. He flipped it open and said, “Agent Fineflin.” The elf nodded, listened a bit, and then nodded again. “I see, we’ll get right on it.”
“What is it?” asked Grimby.
“That was Sills, we need to get out to the powerplant. There’s been an explosion.”
- The odd thing about non-descript cars is, if you mention one in a story everyone knows what it looks like. I wonder if “descript car” would be a better turn phrase. ↩
- This is so common it may seem like a waste of a word. The basic level of communication for a dwarf was, in fact, “grumble.” But this dwarf was in a rather sour mood, so we’ll leave it applied. ↩
- It’s a dwarf/elf thing. I don’t get it. ↩
- Again, readers know what this looks like. I am certain there are imaginary car lots out there which specialize in selling nothing but non-descript cars and delivery trucks. All of them used, but not a single one had a previous owner. There’s no such thing as a new non-descript vehicle. ↩
- No elf would risk beging the target of a chicken poop attack. ↩
- I have no idea where non-descript beings come from. ↩
- OK, so there was some descript to him. The missing letter in his name is a big clue. ↩