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Basilisk Flu: A Novel Experiment
 
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Basilisk Flu: A Comedic Fantasy (Novel Experiment)'s LiveJournal:

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Saturday, November 11th, 2006
12:16 pm
Borscht Explains the Conspiracy (revised)
[Note: I changed this scene to include Mimsy and Rensilpoff instead of just Flib, and added some more content (including funnies).]

Flibberdee ran as quickly as she could to the castle, hoping to recruit her fellow alchemists in her quest to save Howya. Her friends had lagged behind somewhat, due to having to clear up a slight mishap involving an apple avalanche created when Flibberdee's luckless feet decided to introduce themselves to the shaky legs of a shopkeeper's produce cart.

As Flib neared the giant hole she had accidentally blown in the alchemy lab earlier, sounds of shuffling papers and clanking vials caught her attention. She peeked in and spied a short, stocky figure with a shock of white hair, back turned in Flib's direction, hastily stashing documents into a leather case. "Ms. Windsor? Is that you?"

"Not without cutting off all the long hairs and changing from elf-kind, yes?" answered a gruff voice with a chuckle. The dwarf turned around and smiled warmly. "Ah, the gnome is with us! How are you this day, young one?"

"Hey, Mr. Borscht! Where are all the others? Usually you're all here, working on your equasions and theories."

"You have not heard? Zangobia is in dire times; I was sent with Kibble, Windsor, and Nachtheim to rescue them," said Hans Borscht, another royal alchemist. "An epidemic has broken out there, leaving all who look at the afflicted with a bad case of the basilisk flu. Terrible disease, it is. You don't notice much at first -- except for getting a penchant for eating seeds -- but soon you notice strangeness: You grow feathers and chicken-cluck, until you become a giant chicken! Awful, awful. If we don't cure it, we'll be exporting henhouses to Zangobia by the thousands."

"Really? So you're going to cure the disease *and* bring a new source of income to our kingdom? Way to go, Borscht man!"

"Ah, no. Henhouses are for chickens. Giant chickens."

"You're creating a growth serum to make huge drumsticks?" Flib asked. Coming to conclusions was not her forte. She just sorta' meandered around until she bumped into one.

"People turned into chickens by basilisk flu. No people left. Anarchy. Bad happenings," Borscht attempted to explain.

A synapse or two finally fired and connected the dots in Flibberdee's brain. "Ahhhh, I get it. I think."

Ian and Mimsy made their way in at that point. "Well, look who's here! Hey, shorty!" Mimsy said, waving. Both Flib and Borscht turned to look at her. "Not you, the other one." Both of them turned away. Mimsy thwapped her forehead.

She tried again. "How's it going, Mr. Borscht? Long time no see."

"Ah, Miss Borogoves! How fares the shopkeeping? "

"I haven't been there since Flibberdee spirited me away on this little jaunt. I'll just be glad if I still have a shop to *keep* by the time all this is over with."

"I understand," replied the old dwarf. "What happened to good Howya is a shame. I wish you wellness in your goals."

"You can't join us?" Flib hung her head.

"If I could, I would, young svirfneblin."

"Gesundheit," Rensilpoff said.

Borscht continued. "As I said before, the other alchemists and I have to try to find an antidote in Zangobia."

"What're you doing there?"

Flib piped up helpfully. "They're making henhouses and drumsticks!"

"Not quite," explained Borscht. "The plague is turning everybody into chickens."

"A cowardice potion? Ingenious!"

"No. Big chickens, with feathers. Frankly, though," -- Borscht's voice dropped to a whisper -- "that is not all the dire times are involving. The other alchemists with me are not goodly motivated. They want to take over our fine land by bringing this sickness back and giving it to the king."

"That's generous of them," put in Flib.

"No, to poison him. They've hired Huge Crushing Army, Incorporated to join them in a big battle, then will infect Mr. King Beatrice to put the last nail in the coffin."

"Wow! It would take a big coffin to fit a country in it, wouldn't it?" Flib's face contorted in contemplation.

"Just be looking out," warned Borscht. "Trust no alchemist. They mean harm. I'll be contacting you later to help. I must go to not cause suspicions. Be faring well." With that, the elder alchemist ran out of the door, papers fluttering behind him.

"Oh, no!" Flib had a revelation. "I'm an alchemist! I can't even trust myself! And Borscht's one too, so does that mean we shouldn't trust him, either? Maybe because he said not to trust anybody, but he can't be trusted, that means we really *can* be trusted... But then he wouldn't be telling the truth! Or would he...?" She shook her head in confusion.

"Put that philosophizing on your To Do list, Flib," interrupted Mimsy, grabbing her gnomish friend's arm and dragging her back the way they had come in. "Now we've got an entire *kingdom* to save."

"Nice picture window," remarked Rensilpoff on their way out.

"Apparently Flib thought so, too," Mimsy replied with her trademark eye-roll.

"That's right! Now Mimsy, about your store, with all those chemicals you have I'm sure I could whip something up that would do the same for you. Maybe we could just make a few smaller open-air windows instead. I'd just need a bit less dragon's breath in the formula, or maybe I could substitute Tobasco sauce..."


Story: 877/12550
Thursday, November 9th, 2006
6:50 am
A Slight Detour
As our heroes were walking to the castle to find Sir Irksome, Flibberdee stopped short. She never stopped tall, of course.

"Hey! I have an idea!" Flibberdee exclaimed. Mimsy and Ian Rensilpoff gasped in shock. At least I *think* I do; I don't have one of those very often... What's it look like?" She scratched her head and thought about it. "Yes, I definitely had an idea. Oops.. Lost it."

"Are you sure that an idea isn't *all* you've lost?" Mimsy said.

"Well, I lost my marbles once," explained Flib. Ren and Mimsy exchanged glances and then suppressed a laugh. "Thankfully they were right in the trunk by my bed all along, though. Oh! Now I have my idea back, too. Maybe I should put any more I find in my trunk with my marbles... Anyway, let's invite some other alchemists on this mission. They were on pretty good terms with ol' Howya, so I bet they'd want to help out."

"A fine plan, odd one!" Rensilpoff explained. "Now where will we find these masters of the thaumaturgic mysteries?"

"Huh?" said Flib.

"Show-off," added Mimsy.

"Um, so as I was saying," Flib ventured, "I bet we could find some of the other alchemists back at the lab. Now, how can we get in there? It's all the way in the basement, and I doubt the guards will let me in there again..."

"As I recall," Mimsy suggested, "there's a rather large hole in the side of the lab, put there by a somewhat accident-prone gnome."

"Really? What a happy coincidence! That was nice of him. All right, then, let's go!" Flib trotted off with her friends a step behind.

279/12134
Monday, November 6th, 2006
10:14 pm
Silas' Advice (part 2)
"Tell ya' what," said Silas. "I know the perfect match for ye. Listen, friends, to the story of the renowned Sir Irksome of Zent."

"What a coincidence!" exclaimed Rensilpoff. "I studied under Sir Irksome years ago."

Mimsy looked at him with raised eyebrows. She couldn't see anything with those, though, so she tried using her eyes. They worked much better. "Ian, you worked under the great Sir Irksome?"

"The same," he replied with a smug grin.

"Looks like our little run-in with you could give us more than parlor tricks after all," she said, stroking her chin.

Silas jumped in again with his story. "Believe me when I tell ye, Sir Irksome is nearly as good a fighter as I, he is! Why, he once battled the five-headed hydra named Aaaaugh!--"

The group jumped back in shock. "What's scared you?" asked Mimsy.

"Nothing's scared me, young lady. Aaaaugh!" -- everybody jumped again -- "is the name of the hydra."

"I've heard of stranger names," chimed in Flib. "My poor cousin's parents must have been on a mind-altering potion when he was born. They decided to follow the goofy trend of giving gnomes human names, so they named their kid 'John.' Of all the crazy things to call somebody! Everybody made fun of him for not having a decent, normal name like Boffubumpkin or Skittledeedee. Poor guy..."

The others raised their eyebrows, looked at each other in turn, and collectively shrugged.

"Anyhow," said Silas, trying to steer the conversation back to himself, "Sir Irksome of Zent fought the five-headed hydra blindfolded, just to win a dare! Let me tell you a tale of high heroics, intrigue, and romance, of--"

Mimsy wasn't very interested. "Sir, our friend is rotting in the dungeon. Please get to the good part."

"Aye, lassie, isn't every part the good part? But I see yer point. Almost as shocking as his battle with the hydra were his exploits in earlier years. I've one I know you'll love: There was young Irksome, no more than two years old, armed with nothing but a rattle and toy cart. Then, all of a sudden, a shadow lunged out of the bushes and he found himself staring into the face of the dreaded were-tortise!" He paused for effect. Flibberdee got out a potion, popped off the cork, and got ready to pour it onto the table.

"Nooo!" screamed Mimsy, stopping her hand. "Do you want to blow us all up?"

Flib grinned and shook her head. "Don't worry, Mim. I know what I'm doing this time... I think." She shook the bottle slightly and a single drop fell, turning into a piece of popcorn when it hit the table. "Hey, it worked! I was hoping I hadn't gotten that recipe mixed up with the caustic acid again." She rubbed her tongue as she grimaced at the memory, then poured out the rest of the flask until it became a bowl filled to the brim with the fluffy kernels. "You gotta' have snacks for this kind of entertainment."

Silas cleared his throat. "As I was saying," he began again, eyeing Flib, "it had huge teeth, claws of steel, rock-hard armor -- this was one reptile who you didn't want to mess with. Long story short, our man Irksome made mincemeat out of it faster than you can say 'shell shock'! The village feasted on some fine turtle soup that evening, let me tell ye. And that's not all. I've not even begun to recount the glorious victories over fearsome monsters such as the three-headed giant ostrich, an entire gryphon eyrie, and a score of sea serpents, just for good measure. You'll definitely want to have this man's sword on your side. Now, for just the price of an ale, I'll tell you all about each of these stories..."

Now it was Ren's turn to get impatient. He snapped his fingers and they began to flame. Harbringer got the hint.

"Did I say an ale? Oh, no, I just meant if it were anybody *else*. I'll tell you what you need to know for free this time. I heard tell that you can find your man practicing his swordplay in the castle's courtyard. Now I've, uh, got some timbers to shiver." With that, the old salt, raising his eyebrows nervously at the fire in Rensilpoff's hand, dashed out of the room. The adventurers weren't far behind.

Story: 645/11694
[update 11/7/06: Added 73 words to Recruiting Mimsy. New word total (not updated until here): 11767 ]
[update 11/9/06: Added 88 words to this entry: 11855 ]

Story: 11855
Sunday, November 5th, 2006
11:08 pm
Silas' Advice (part 1)
When we left our protagonists they were racing from the dining room of the Waltzing Matilda to the meeting hall next door, seeking advice from an old salt named Silas. They're still racing. Let's go back to our story and let them have a rest now.

Finally let out of suspended animation and allowed to move, Flib and company barreled into the meeting room where the famed mariner Silas Harbringer was regaling his audience with tales of piracy, swashbuckling, heroism, meyhem, and other really adventurous nouns. Each tale of course included a generous smattering of "Arrr!'s," "Avast, ye landlubbers," and of course the classic orders to swab the poop decks. Our group sat down at a few seats near to the charismatic speaker in order to move the story along.

"Mr. Harbringer?" Mimsy ventured. She was fairly good at venturing, so she had been chosen by the group during the intermission to speak first. "We're on a quest and thought you could help us."

"Aye, are ya'?" said Silas. "Seems every man and his kin be questing for some sort of loot or heroic rescuin' these days. Why should I help you?" His eye peered menacingly from under a slightly-misaligned eyepatch. "Oops," he said, adjusting it. "You didn't see that. Just good for the pirate image, anyhow. So as I was saying, there I was in the middle of a pack of rabid, twelve-armed giant rats..."

"Um, you don't sound very much like a pirate," ventured Flib, proving that she was not all that shabby at venturing herself.

"Don't worry, lassie. The pirate bit's just fer attractin' dames. 'Sides, I just have a bit part here." Silas explained.

"Okay, then. Sorry for the interruption."

"Whatcha' be needin', lubbers? Gold? Mercenaries? Treasure maps? They won't come cheap, I warn ye," the old sailor peered intently at the newcomers. "Not nearly as cheap as the congo drums I bought from the rascally Oteju man I met in the Great East. It was only--"

"We just need a bit of advice, if you would." Flib thought a moment. "Or if you wouldn't, for that matter. But if you would, it'd help us out a lot."

Mimsy broke in. "Frankly, we could use some more people to help us get a friend outta' the dungeon. Know any adventurers for hire around these parts?"

"Hmmm," Harbringer thought in a very piratey manner, "I might be able to point ye in the right direction, I imagine. Lessee.. There's Nina Smiley. She's the town executioner. Rumor has it that her eyes are a bit poor and she thought the want ad said 'Executive'. Never really used an axe, far as I can recall. They say she can't stand the sight of salsa even, let alone blood. Instead she just treats the criminals to a swig o' whatever's coming out o' the alchemy labs that day."

"Hey!" Flib interjected as she was wont to do. "They said they were using those extra potions we gave them as energy drinks for the sporeball team."

Silas shrugged. "Just sayin' what I hear. Anyway, there's also Spook the invisible kid. Nobody's seen much of him around recently, though..."

He was silenced by Rensilpoff. "Mr. Harbringer. Silas," he began. "Can I call you Si?"

"No," Silas said cheerily as he fingered his knife.

"Uh, never mind the nickname, Mr. H.... We're just looking for more of the warrior type, someone who we can trust to help us in battle, not just be nice. Do you know of anybody by that description?"

[to be continued]

Story: 589/11049
4:15 am
At the Waltzing Matilda
As planned, our heroines eventually made it to the Waltzing Matilda to meet Rensilpoff. It was a typical eatery: Jolly music came from the jukebox, courtesy of the talented pixie inside; ogres and trolls exchanged blows in the wrestling pit without causing too much distress to the other patrons; and the magician Rensilpoff twirled a coin through his fingers at a corner table. Flib and Mimsy made their way toward him and took a seat.

"Ah, ladies, you've arrived! I hope you had a splendid trip. Fine day to be walking, is it not? No more run-ins with the law, I assume?" He winked.

"Does he have something in his eye?" asked Flib.

Mimsy was unimpressed with the man's greeting. "You, sir -- and I use the term loosely -- are a sad excuse for a gentleman. What would possess you to take a handbag from a hapless, scatterbrained gnome?"

"Hey!" Flib interrupted. "I'm not hapless! Am I? It would be terrible to be all out of haps."

Mimsy was on a roll. She scowled at the leftover food and shook it off of her foot, continuing her rant. "We were minding our business, walking on our way to the castle to save our friend, and you snatch our sack without so much as a how-do-you-do!"

"I'll be sure to greet you before I steal from you next time," suggested Rensilpoff.

"Don't even start! Why would you take anything from us, anyway? Wouldn't it be better to rob from the rich and *give* to the poor instead?"

Rensilpoff smiled. "Hey, that sounds like a good idea for a story."

"Don't change the subject, you! I demand that you give us our handbag back immediately."

Ren shrugged and tossed the bag to Flib. "No problem, m'lady. I just thought it would be a fun way to meet a lovely young damsel such as yourself. Now, about your quest... Might I be of service? Is there treasure involved?"

"Maybe," piped up Flibberdee. "I'm an alchemist. We can make stuff into gold. Well, at least that's what it said on the job brochure. I haven't seen any yet, though. As a matter of fact, Howya said that there isn't any money in alchemy these days. A few decades ago a guy named Fuehl thought he had made gold, but it wasn't quite right. At least he was credited with the invention of Fuehl's gold.... Uh, what was the question?"

Her partner chimed in this time. "We're just looking for a way to impress and/or repay the king enough to let our friend Howya Mizemup out of the dungeon. We could use someone with your illusionist abilities. And yes, there may be treasure involved, depending on how things turn out--" Mimsy eyed him warily -- "as long as you don't try pulling another one of your stunts again. Don't make us use a less-than-pleasant potion on you."

"Tell ya' what," Ren said as he streched back and propped his feet up on the table. "Business has been slow these days. What say I help you in exchange for my fair share of the loot. Sounds like fun. Deal?" He stuck out his hand.

"Deal," said Mimsy reluctantly, offering her hand. "Hey!" she cried a moment later. "Where's my watch?"

The magician dropped it on the table. "Just keeping my skills sharp." He grinned. "What's the plan, kids?"

Mimsy frowned at the man but was ready to give him the benefit of the doubt. "Well, I suppose we could ask somebody for advice. Isn't it standard practice to have a wise know-it-all at a joint like this?"

At this point Flib had been reading to herself from a small pamphlet she had found on the table. "What's this? Silas Harbringer, adventurer extraordinaire... advice for any quest... at the Waltzing Matilda's meeting hall today only..."

"Perfect!" Mimsy exclaimed. "That's exactly what we're looking for, Flib. Sometimes you absolutely amaze me. Once in a purple moon, at least." With that she grabbed her friend and dashed toward the meeting room.

"All right! Glad I could be of service," Flibberdee replied. "What'd I do?"


Story: 686/10460 (Woo-hoo! 20% down!)
Saturday, November 4th, 2006
8:56 pm
Minstrel Audition
While waiting for their audience with King Beatrice, Flib and company were entertained by a music show. The king watched from his throne as Advisor Squill announced their arrival by stating that they would be auditioning for the position of royal minstrels. At that point the group tumbled and danced onto the center of the hall, then sprang into a jolly chorus:

"From Meadowburgshire come we five,
the most wonderful troubadours alive.
For a joyous, fun romp
Devoid of dull pomp
Pick our fabulous group every time!"

The song finished and the segued into a fast-paced tune about how you should never kiss a chimera. Both Flib and a young boy in jester's clothes that matched the performers' did their own dance to the song. The verse rose in volume until they all belted out the chorus in unison as Flibberdee gleefully joined in:

"A chimera's a wonderful kisser
If you're a chimera, too
But otherwise you had best miss her
'Cause three times the fun
Ain't true if you run
With a beast who--"

The king raised a hand, a gong sounded, and the troupe froze mid-phrase and mid-twirl. A moment passed. Then their smiles immediately became frowns as they began a haunting, sad canon.

"I really can't stand these sampler performances," muttered Mimsy. Nobody heard her, though; Flib was singing along with the minstrels as she wiped away a tear.

"Howya's an unfortunate soul,
Accused of producing the castle's big hole.
What will become of the royal concoctionist?
Oh, what's a poor alchemist to do?"

The king yawned and raised his hand again. The gong didn't sound quite as quickly, though, as the little tyke in the front row was fighting the gong-ringer for control of the mallet. The elder won, though. The boy sat down on the ground and hugged his teddy bear, pouting. At this point the Meadowburgshire Five went on to the stately "Gryphon's Waltz" which got everybody dancing again. Next it was the Zangobian Anthem, followed by a march.

At this point, the little boy was getting bored again. He stood up, eyed the mallet, and pounced. The ringer was caught of guard and just barely kept a hold of the stick. The two struggled for a few moments, wildly pulling back and forth. Then the boy's bear hit the gong hard with a muffled *bomp*, which could still be heard throughout the throne room. Half the troupe thought that it was time to go to a new song and began a rollicking jig, while the others continued with their march. Throughout this time the gong-ringer and boy were running circles around the gong.

The audience was split on what to do: Some stood in place and goose-stepped; others picked partners and spun in time to the dance, some of those mimicking the child and man's antics. To complicate matters, the boy decided to hit the gong every so often, changing the song of at least a handful of minstrels at each whack. They found out rather quickly that the songs "Two for Brew," "Serpent's Stroll," and "Frabday Rock" don't exactly mesh well together. In short, utter pandemonium -- which is always more fun than plain old everyday pandemonium -- ensued.

Story: 537/9313
Friday, November 3rd, 2006
8:53 pm
Going To An Audience
"At this point," Mimsy mused, "I'd say we should try to get an audience with King Beatrice."

"We're gonna' have an audience?" Flib asked excitedly. "Ooh, I love being on stage! Should I sing a song or do my comedy routine?"

Mimsy rolled her eyes. "You *are* a comedy routine."

"Huh?"

"I said that it's not that kind of audience. We're going to ask the king a question."

"What kind of question? Like a game? I'd rather play charades. I can do a good impersonation of Advisor Squill. 'As punishment for his crime of sabotage--"

"No, don't you remember? We're going there to-- On second thought, keep going with that bit," Mimsy said with her hand to her chin.

Flib cheerfully obliged. 'As punishment for his crime of sabotage, Howya Mizemup, formerly the royal alchemist, will be thrown... into the... dungeon.'" She frowned. "Oh, yeah."

"For curiosity's sake, whas that a word-for-word quote?"

"Yup," Flib's head bobbed like a cork in water. "You don't forget something important like that."

"So what's your name, then?"

"Um, it starts with an F, I think. Fibberloo? Funmillee? Funky... Don't help me. Just a sec... Francis?"

Mimsy sighed -- several times, for good measure.


Story: 200/8976
8:28 am
Final Battle Phone Call
Warning: Story End SpoilerCollapse )


WORD COUNTS
Story: 434/8776
Background: 2766
Notes: 1026
6:49 am
Basilisk Flu Character Photos and Starting Again
I've hardly touched this story in two years, so I think it's definitely time to give it another go. To begin this new session, I've opened up a gallery of many characters in the story. Check 'em out!

Also, if you plan to read this story and are already on my Friends List, please tell me so I can know you're active. Then we can both read and comment on each other's stories. Thanks!
Thursday, December 9th, 2004
8:40 am
Hiatus
Alas, I didn't pass the 50,000 mark by the November 30 deadline... Guess I'm not cut out for the whole write-1500-words-a-day thing. Maybe 500 would work. It was a good experience, though; I got a good story started, which I plan to finish at some point, and it showed me that I could create a story out of the air more easily than I thought. For now, I think I hear another muse calling. I'll probably come back to the story in a month or two. Until then, farewell and successful writings!
Monday, November 22nd, 2004
11:27 pm
Expanded Synopsis (public)
When he hears of a plague breaking out in Zangobia, King Beatrice the Dense sends his royal alchemists there in an attempt to find a cure. Victims of this disease cluck and bawk like hens, their skin turns feathery, and they eventually become giant talking chickens. A king can't go without any alchemists, so he sends the town crier, weeping as usual, to announce the opening. Howya Mizemup, currently the town's pharmacist/beauty-needs-supplier/candyman, responds to the ad. He comes into the king's employ and works on experiments while also supplying the elf Mimsy Borogoves' potion store.

Unfortunately, a svirfneblin woman drinks one of his concoctions which is past its expiration date and gets turned into a hamster. Her husband is irate, demanding that Howya take his bumbling daughter Flibberdee as an apprentice until he comes up with an antidote to reverse the hamsterization. She tries her best, but soon she accidentally blows up part of the castle after discovering that a forgotten pot of boiling dragon's breath goes boom. The king is not amused. He accuses them of sabotage, throwing Howya into prison and kicking Flib out on the street.

Flibberdee desperately wants to rescue Howya since she put him in this predicament, so she seeks out allies to aid her in her quest. Meanwhile in Zangobia, the royal alchemists are plotting to overthrow the kingdom using the very disease they were sent to cure. Whatever the cost, Flib is determined to come out victorious. What's the big deal if she doesn't yet know how to make cough syrup? So what if she can't even pronounce her race's name? She'll save the world and make her parents proud!
Friday, November 19th, 2004
2:12 pm
Suspects
Our unlikely heroes chased the thief several blocks until they neared the clearing which was the town square. The man they were pursuing turned around to wave and grin mischievously at them, one masked eye winking -- and then ran straight into an invisible wall.

The man was suspended in the air, apparently stuck to the barrier, so that nothing but his face and one hand could move. The latter twiched, and suddenly the mask was gone. In spite of the fact that he had just stolen her pack, Flibberdee couldn't help but note that he was actually a rather handsome man, at least for a human. He wore an immaculately-pressed formal suit with a coat that reached nearly to the ground, his dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. His lips curled into a smirk even as he hung in this embarrassing position. "Ian Rensilpoff's the name, good ladies. I'd just love to chat with both of you, but it appears I've gotten into a bit of a bind. Could you be so kind as to lend assistance to a poor, unfortunate soul?"

"Who stole whose pack from who?" ranted Flibberdee. "Or whom. Whom's? Whatever it is, you're a thief, and I don't care if you rot up there!"

"Ah, the little lady is a feisty one! I'm afraid I really don't know what you're talking about, though. You see, I was just going for my morning jog, and I happened to bump into you. My apologies for that, miss."

"The fact still stands, mister," put in Mimsy. "She had a handbag before you came by, and when you passed, it disappeared. Whaddaya' say to that?"

"I'd say I'm not the only one who has a few tricks up his sleeve, then," the man said, twisting one hand with a flourish -- as much as one can flourish while stuck helplessly to a wall, at least -- and snatching a coin out of the air. His fingers twirled again and the coin dropped out of them, falling to the ground with a clink. "Whoops... I suppose I have to work a bit on perfecting that one. Ah, well; I have more money where that came from."

Flib couldn't contain herself. "Then why did you steal mine? I don't care what you say or what tricks you pull, I can't wait until you get caught by the police!"

Right on cue, a bald gnome in the armor of a king's guard came into view with his arms thrust outward. He was pushing a wheeled post which apparently was connected to the left side of the wall, because it shifted as he walked. Rensilpoff was towed along with it, pulled backward and to the right until he was parallel to the visible wall nearby. When Mimsy and Flib moved into the square to get a better view, they saw that their criminal wasn't the only one stuck to the barrier: a cyclops wearing a sweatsuit, a foot-tall beetle, a tiny winged creature with glitter trailing off of her, and a giant spider were also attached to the sticky stuff. The women were taken aback by the strange sight and stood wordlessly in confusion.

"Take it from me, bub," the cyclops told his new guest in a gravelly voice, rolling his eyes. "The 'morning jog' story doesn't work with these tinhats. I had just finished my exercize and was getting ready to stop for a bite to--"

"Himspivyiksa neplin!" interrupted the guard, who happened to be accompanied by a little old lady and the soldier Flib had talked to earlier outside the castle. "Eenie, meenie, miney, moe" -- he pointed to each suspect in turn -- "spin lupfi fars bashino nagla. Peelna spoo?" he growled in a voice that tried to be intimidating but which ended up sounding like a cat coughing up a hairball.

The other guard spoke up. "You heard the man! Which one of you stole it? Hey --" he stopped, suddenly noticing the tiny suspect's trailing sparkles. How many times have I told you not to do that? Keep it up and I'll cite you for littering, too."

"Don't worry, Officer Lebarge. Fairy dust won't hurt anything. It's totally biodegradable, I assure you," squeaked the winged one.

"I didn't ask what it was made of, pixie. I said to stop letting it out."

"Um, it's actually rather difficult to do that, sir..."

"Okay," Lebarge rumbled. "You've asked for it now." He peered at her, scowling and stating his next sentence emphatically. "I don't believe in fa--"

"Nooooo! Don't say that, I beg of you!" the fairy cried. "Do you have any idea how hard it is to find your way back here after being transported away like that? I'll obey." She squeezed her tiny fists and creased her brows, obviously taking some effort to keep the sparkling dust from falling.

"That's better. Now, let's get on with business."

Rensilpoff laughed. "Good one, guardman! I knew you didn't have it in you to say 'I don't believe in fairies.'"

With a shrill "Eeeek!" the tiny girl shuddered and dematerialized with a pop.

"Oops," said Rensilpoff.

"Have fun in fairyland," Mimsy muttered as she waved to the air.

"At least we've gotten one of them out of the way," Lebarge said with a sigh. He turned to the elderly woman, who had a shock of unnaturally-black hair that looked like a poodle who had been barbed by a blind barber. "Ma'am, do you know which one of these men, er, people... uhm, creatures stole your scarf?"

"It's so hard to tell, officer!" the lady whined. "You see, he was wearing a mask over his eyes, so there's no way I could see his true identity. I really don't know."

"Please, lady, just give it a try," urged the guard.

"Well, that one on the far right looks suspicious. Those folks with eight shifty eyes can never be trusted."

The bald guard snickered.

"Uh," began Lebarge, "begging your pardon, ma'am, that wouldn't be the one. That's Swift. He's an officer, part of the new insect division of the force."

The spider spit venom toward the guard.

"My mistake -- the arachnid division. Swift was the one who made this here web to catch the suspects," he explained, gesturing toward the wall.

At that, Swift made a face which, if one looked closely and was familiar with the facial patterns of insectoids, might possibly, if one squinted, look somewhat like a proud smile.

The little guard shrugged dejectedly. "Fipla, nlee skoon beff."

"You're right, Top. It was worth a shot, though. We're sorry we couldn't help you, ma'am, but rest assured we'll find the criminal yet."

The woman wept as she mumbled something about the scarf being all that was left of her favorite sheep. Flib dug into her pocket and produced a handkerchief for her as she passed by, wiping a tear of her own at the sad story. As the woman's crying died away in the distance, Lebarge took command again. "Okay, let's wrap this up. Set 'em free, Swift."

The spider did his duty quickly, slicing into the webs near the two humanoids. When Rensilpoff reached the ground, he whispered to Flib and Mimsy, "It would be a pleasure to see you again. Let's have dinner today at the Waltzing Matilda, okay? Fabulous!" He bowed gallantly, and just as he neared the lowest point to the ground, a cloud of smoke erupted around him. "Until then, ladies!" they heard his voice say through the cloud. Soon after this there were sounds not unlike painful grunts and a body bumping into wall-like objects, then silence. When the smoke cleared, Rensilpoff was gone, while the cyclops was ambling toward the other side of the square.

"But-- how-- what--" sputtered Flib.

"All we can do now if ya' hope to get your bag back," said Mimsy, "is to meet Rensi-whatever and see what happens. Sorry, kid." She sighed. "Thanks for nothing, tinbrains," she added under her breath.

"Spevy!" the little guard waved cheerily as they departed.

"All right, then," Lebarge said to Top. "We've got everyone out of the way now except the bug. Why in the world did we catch that thing in the first place, anyway?"

Swift's eyes grew larger as he did the arachnid equivalent of licking his lips.


WC: 1389/8342
Sunday, November 14th, 2004
11:29 pm
Here Be Dragons
Flib and Mimsy were within blocks of the restaurant when they passed a building being destroyed by a trio of dragons. The heaviest of the three rested on the ground and battered the foundation; a muscular one alternately blew fire and kicked chunks out of the building's walls; the third, a serpentine beast, circled over the structure as he attacked its roof. Each was wearing a navy cloak draped over its scaly shoulders, emblazoned with the words "Loghrin's DDT" in bright silver print. The heat from their flames poured over the two observers until each thought they were going to get a nice suntan from it. A leathery man gnawing on a sugarstick leaned nonchalantly against a portion of the wall that was not yet the object of the lizards' wrath, watching their progress. One dragon sneezed.

"It's always a sight to see those things at work, isn't it?" Flib said in wonder.

Mimsy rubbed her chin. "I still say a dragon's a better guard than demolition worker."

"Maybe all the guarding jobs were taken. There are only so many huge treasure hoards and legendary artifacts around, you know."

The snaky dragon sneezed again.

"Be healthy," Mimsy said to him.

"Thanks. Sorry about that -- smoke gives me the sniffles," the dragon responded.

"You're welcome." Then she did a double-take. "Waitaminute... Dragon's don't usually talk. Howdya' do that?"

"The big dragon's a ventriloquist," said the flying one, making a goofy smile while the one he was talking about rolled its eyes.

"Don't listen to Fizzle," drawled the man standing against the building. "He just thinks he's special because he gets to wear the amulet today." He moved the candy from one side of his mouth to the other. "Came as part of the payment for the work we did on some alchemist's house. The ol' mixswisher liked generosity and dragons above anything, so he made a deal with us. Each of my greenbacks here" -- he jerked his thumb toward the dragons -- "gets to use the jewel two days a week plus every third Spinday, but if they're stingy with it, the thing loses its power. Works nicely when they need to cover for the receptionist, too."

Flib nodded. "So it's a little like Insane Wallaby, except you don't place any bets, and you're not using cards, and, um... No, I guess it really isn't, after all."

"Uhhh..." the man replied eloquently.

"Don't mind her. She just has trouble thinking when she's hungry," explained Mimsy. Then she mumbled to herself: "Not that she doesn't after she's eaten."

Just then, a blackish form passed by the talking people, grabbing Flib's pouch from off her shoulder and tucking it out of sight. "Stop, thief!" the junior alchemist yelled. "You know," she said as she and Mimsy began to run toward the scoundrel, "I would think a robber who obeyed that command would be rather touched in the head..."

"Stop philosophizing and catch him!" urged Mimsy.

"Happy travels," muttered the man.


WC: 499/6953
Thursday, November 11th, 2004
5:29 pm
The Rescuers Plan
The two would-be rescuers were walking along the cobbled streets of Meadowburgshire, brainstorming ways to save their friend.

"So we gotta' have some kinda' plan," Mimsy was saying. "Any ideas?"

"Maybe we could do something nice for him, like repairing the wall or cleaning out the moat. Or getting him a really nice birthday present..."

"No, no, none of that will work," the shopkeeper replied. "What we need is a real, knock-'em-dead, wondrous feat. Let's try goin' about this another way... What things have ya' got that can help us, Flib?"

"Um, well, I have a bunch of these potions," she began. Mimsy winced as she thought of how this fact was what had given her a new tail moments before. It was presently stuffed inside the back of her trowsers, and was not entirely comfortable. She pulled her shirt down self-consciously in an attempt to cover it up. "I think I might still have a few formulas and recipes, too," continued Flib, pulling a handful of paper scraps out of a pocket, "but for the life of me I couldn't decipher most of them."

"Ya' wrote down formulas ya' didn't understand? Didn't Howya explain 'em?"

"We have our lessons right after lunch. I bet you get drowsy after eating a really big meal, too!" Flib retorted. "Ooh, that sounds good right now. When do we eat?"

"Lessee... Rescue Howya, or go get food. Tough choice."

"You're telling me! When I went to the dungeon the last time -- well, actually the first time, because I've never been there before, not until just a little while ago -- but it was the last time, too. Anyway, when I was almost ready to go down there, I smelled that delicious stuffed turkey they make every Frabday, and I just couldn't resist. They had some great--"

The elf shook her head in disgust. "We're talking rescue! Saving a friend from immenent doom! Can't we at least get a smidgen of an idea of what we might possibly think about doing before you go on another one of your inane tangents?"

"It wasn't inane, it was relevent! Sorta. Maybe." Flib knit her brows as she returned again to pondering.

"That's better, kid. Now, I think I could probly grab some o' those potions from my shop, too, if we had any idea what we'd need. Other than that I just have a bag of makeup, perfume, hair dryer, automatic massager -- just the usual necessities for any fashionable elf. Not much on the heroism scale, though..."

"Hey," Flib piped up, as she was wont to do. "I know what we need! Galoshes!"

"Galoshes?"

"Yup. You never know when you'll be caught in a thunderstorm or some nasty bog where who knows what can jump out at you and try to grab you with its fangs and take you back to its lair where it ties you up and waits until it's hungry to... Uh, come to think of it, I guess galoshes wouldn't help all that much if that happens."

"Brilliant deduction, Flib," Mimsy said, rolling her eyes. "Now, what we need are some tools: daggers, chainmail, climbing ropes, hair spray--"

"Hair spray?"

"Ya' can never tell when a charming young elf knight will come by, riding on a majestic steed decked in gold and purple cloth, ready to sweep you off your feet." She sighed wistfully. "I wanna' be ready, ya' know?"

"Hey, that's exactly what we need: a warrior! We wouldn't be any good with those swords and fighting things, but if we could find someone who could join us -- sense of duty and goodwill and all that -- he'd be great for helping us to slay a dragon or whatever we need to do to get into the king's good graces."

"Now if only we could find where the friendly neighborhood blade for hire is..."

"Maybe old Silas Mariner would know," suggested Flibberdee. "Besides, he's in that cafe' where they serve the deliciousest wispcakes in town."

"Kill two wyverns with one arrow, eh, short stuff?" Mimsy smiled. "I could go for some fodder now, too. Let's dash."


WC: 688/6454
Wednesday, November 10th, 2004
8:20 pm
Recruiting Mimsy
"I tell you, it seems like nothing's going right for me. First the bad potion, now the dungeon." Flib was venting her troubles to a statuesque guard outside the castle's gates. "Do you know how difficult it is to tell people that your mom's a rodent? Then there was the little incident about my messing up the king's precious wall. It's not like he doesn't have a hundred more of them in that castle!"

"Haven't you goofed up before? I'm sure you have -- let in someone who wasn't supposed to enter, forgot an assignment, attacked the wrong fortress... Easy mistakes, aren't they? Why would they be so hard on poor old Howya? He's a nice man, really.

He really knows his stuff, too. Did you know that you can make a yo-yo out of the right mixture of bat wings, formaldehyde, silly putty, and grass? Howya can mix chemicals without a recipe book, and even make up his own on the spot! He should try out for Iron Alchemist Zangobia. I know he'd win, especially since a bunch of their alchemists are probably turned into chickens by now. It's hard to mix chemicals using your wings. At least I imagine it would be. I've never had wings. Have you? Anyway, Howya may not be the top winner in Iron Alchemist, but I bet he'd get a nice consolation prize like a King Beatrice bobblehead doll. Wouldn't that be fun? You know you're famous when they make you into a bobblehead doll..." Flib mused on that for a moment before continuing. "Howya was doing just fine before I came along. I wish I'd never gotten into this mess. What do you think?"

The guard didn't respond.

"I mean, there he was making a good business for himself, working for the king and sending potions over to Mimsy Borogoves... Hey, that's it! I bet she can help me get Howya out of there!" Flib skittered away toward the direction of the shop as fast as she could run, potions clinking in her satchel.

Cocking an eyebrow and glancing at his partner, the guard muttered, "Rodent?"

His partner scratched his bald head and shrugged. "Seeple fleppin." They both grinned.

*****

As our favorite svirfneblin alchemist was running to Mimsy's shop, she passed by the town crier. He was weeping, as usual, shouting out the city's news between sobs. "Zangobia is plagued by the terrible basilisk flu! The royal alchemists have been sent *sniff* to cure it! More at eleven! Waaaah!"

Flib wondered exactly why the poor child was always crying, and what in the eight islands this strange disease was, but she had more important matters to attend to. She made it into the store after a few more minutes. She was going so fast that she couldn't stop, and let out a shriek when her shoulder slammed into the counter with a *whump*. The vials on top of the bar shuddered and a bowl of candy clattered to the floor.

A chuckle came from behind the counter. "That reminds me of a joke," the female voice drawled. A goblin runs into a bar..." An elfin face smirked as it peered down at the gnome from on top of the barrier.

"That's enough, Mimsy! We've got big trouble going on! Didn't you hear about Howya?"

"Settle down, kid! Yeah, I heard all about it. Rotten luck, that. Whatcha' gonna' do about it, short stuff?"

Flib scowled, trying to ignore the jibe. "It's what we're gonna' do! If Howya doesn't get out of there, your business will dry up and you'll never make enough money to sail back home to your family! Besides, isn't he a friend, too?"

The elf looked calmly down at Flib as she crossed her arms and rested them on the countertop. "He's a decent chap, I'll give ya' that, and I do owe him for getting my business on its proverbial feet again after the accident. But ya' know, kid, getting locked up next to ol' Howya for trying to break him out isn't exactly my idea of great fun. Maybe another time." With that, she turned and busied herself with putting a box of bottles onto the shelves behind her.

The gnome was enraged. "You listen to me, you, you, merchant, you!" She wasn't very good at insults. "You and I both know that we owe our livelihoods to that man, and we should do everything we can to help him. Besides, I wasn't going to do anything illegal -- I wouldn't want to fight Bobo or anything crazy like that -- but we should try to find some way, shouldn't we? You really should come along, or else..."

"Or else what?" sneered Mimsy.

"Or I'll throw this!" Flib countered. She lifted a vial filled with orange fluid into the air, her eyes piercing into the elf like a pair of really pointy things.

"Let me tell ya' something, Flib." Mimsy jumped down from the crates she had been standing on, walked around the counter, and moved her view down a dozen inches to look Flib in the eye. "You really don't strike me as the gambling type. You don't have it in ya', I'd imagine. Ya' got a good point, though. Tell ya' what. I'll help you rescue Howya, for old time's sake, even though I haven't got a clue how we'll do it. Sounds like fun. I'm in, kid."

The alchemist smiled. "You're actually right. I didn't want to do anything bad to you. Don't worry; there's nothing dangerous in this tube, anyhowhhoooa!" Her shoe had found a breath mint at that instant, which, while making her foot smell minty-fresh, was very poor for traction. Flibberdee's legs flew into the air as her body did a beautiful quarter-turn which would have made a gymnast proud. Her landing left something to be desired, though, as it happened on several appendages, only one of which was a foot.

Simultaneously, the bottle in Flib's hand flew upward, twirling in the air as its audience stared open-mouthed. Everything slowed down to a snail's pace like it usually does at terribly suspenseful times like this. The vial made one, two, three spins, soaring toward the ceiling. Soon the suspense got tiring; Mimsy glanced expectantly at the clock on the wall and rolled her eyes, while Flib managed to free a few fingers to drum them on the floor. Finally, the dreaded potion hit the ground with a crash, shattering as it spewed a fine mist over the two friends.

*****

Mimsy was the first to recover from the shock and knelt to examine her comrade. "Fliberdee! How do you feel? Is anything wrong?"

Flib rubbed her eyes and then gingerly patted her body. "Nothing feels any different... I guess I'm okay. You?"

The shopkeeper shrugged. "Doesn't look like anything's different. Hey-- something's not right here... She frowned, twisted her leg as if she was uncomfortable, looked behind her, and screamed. "Eeeek!" She was quite good at screams. "I have a tail!"

"Oh, good!" Flib jumped up excitedly. "I love stories!"

"Not that kind, you fool! A monkey's tail!" A pinkish tentacle wrapped its way around Mimsy's body at that moment as both of them looked at it in wonder.

The alchemist bent down to pick up a glass shard which happened to have its label still intact. "Oh, chimpanzee! I thought it said 'champagne.'"

"Oh, swill... How am I going to find a shirt to match that?" Mimsy moaned.

Her companion tried to comfort her, saying, "Look on the bright side: At least now it'll be easy to reach the potions on the top shelf."


WC: 1276*/5766
[*See Silas' Advice (part 2)]
Tuesday, November 9th, 2004
10:48 am
The New Alchemist?
Thankfully, Bobo was apparently content to stay in the dungeon and not chase after Flibberdee. Perhaps he had other prisoners to attend to -- that or he couldn't fit through the stairway. Whatever the reason was, Flib had managed to escape without feeling the wrath of the man-mountain and had lost nothing but her composure.

She looked thoughtfully at the branch in her hand, then said, "Thanks for your help, Mr. Talking Torch, but it looks like I have to get going now..."

"No, don't do that!" it cried. "Whatever happened to adventure and seeing the world? Do you think I enjoy living my sorry life stuck to a dungeon wall?"

In spite of its protests, she gently placed it back into its holder. "I would, but I don't want to blow another chunk out of the alchemy lab's wall -- although a view of the forest would be nice," she mused as she meandered down the hall again as he continued shouting objections.

Sounds of shuffling papers and clanking vials caught Flib's attention soon after this. "Borscht? Is that you?" When she peeked into the room from which the sounds came, she spied a person hunched over a table, back turned in Flib's direction, hastily stashing papers into a leather case. The figure turned around when she entered the room, and Flib was greeted by an elderly man with bad hair. Well, "greeted" isn't exactly the right word. It was more like "met a man who trembled in a panic and then made a feeble attempt to gain his bearings and act like he was supposed to be there."

"Hey, mister! Are you the new alchemist?" Flib asked him.

"Alchemist? What's that?" he responded in a shaky voice.

"You know -- someone who mixes potions, creates things like truth serums and antidotes, and the like. I made this great stain remover the other day, actually. I'm sure the king would have loved it if I hadn't blown up part of his castle while I was making it."

"Yeah, I saw that hole in there, climbed in it t' grab some loot. That is, I mean, I noticed how it made breakin' into the castle conveni... Um, yes, I'm an alchemist." He tugged nervously at one side of his mustache, using his other hand to shove a stack of documents farther into his satchel.

"Really?" Flib's eyes widened. "Where'd you come from? I haven't seen you around, and Howya -- that's my boss, who turned my mom into a hamster, and who's in the dungeon now, so I'm gonna' try to rescue him -- he knows most of the alchemists around here. I haven't seen them lately, though... Do you know if they're on a business trip?"

The man scratched his chin as his eyes wandered about the room. "Yup, they was out going to... Um... Well, I forget where, but I bet they did. I'm sure they did, I mean. They sent me, uh, t' come back an' get some o' the recipes they needed. Yeah, that's it. And, uh, some mixture things." With that, he clumsily tossed more papers and bottles into the sack. "Oooh! And money. Lots of money," he added, grabbing a small bag of coins that had been carelessly thrown onto one table.

"That's good. For a minute there I was afraid you were trying to steal things," Flib said with relief.

"Do I look like a thief?" The man looked down at his hole-filled vest and threadbare tunic. "Don't answer that. Let me tell you something," he said, putting his hand on his heart. "There's not a man in this entire city who -- whoops!" He had swept his hand outward for emphasis, which rammed into a flask mounted on the table, which fell to the ground and shattered, pouring out a billowing smoke that engulfed the room.

*****

When the air finally cleared, Flib and the burglar had found a couple seats and were chatting together like old friends.

"You mean you got into the castle," said Flib with a giggle, "by the hole I blew in the wall? Wow, what a small world!"

The man guffawed. "Ain't it, though? Whoowee, there must've been some good stuff in that bottle there... I can't stop laughing!"

Flib wiped a tear from her eye. "You know, it's good, really. If we hadn't breathed that gas, I would have never known how decent a fellow you were -- for a thief, of course," she snickered.

"That I am. The sad part is, I ain't been able to pick a pocket rightly for twenty-odd years now!"

"Oh, that's terrible! Hee hee..." She looked perplexed. "Uh-oh, I just remembered -- my master's stuck in the dungeon!"

"Dungeon? Ahhhahahaha!" the old man roared for no particular reason, pounding his fist on the table. The action shook the table so hard that a nearby vial of fluid toppled, splashing all over his hands. In a moment, his fingers and then his entire body faded out of sight.

"Where'd you go? Are you still in there?" Flib asked the empty, animated suit of clothes in front of her.

"Eh? Huh?" a disembodied voice said. The sleeves of the shirt moved up toward its neck. "My hands! Where are my hands?" the voice cried. The sleeves went together, rolling around each other, and Flib heard a sigh. "Wow, I'm invisible! An invisible thief! This is terrific!" shouted the unseen man, returning to his senses. "Meadowburgshire, beware the wrath of the Artful -- the Invisibly Artful Codger!" There was a stomping sound, a set of shelves next to the door shuddered and dropped a few empty bottles, and then the old man's footsteps and cackling voice softened and finally died away far down the hall.

"The invisible codger -- hahaha!" Flib chuckled to herself, still woozy. "That's a good one." She stumbled out of the room, and when she reached the cool air in the corridor she finally came to her senses, such as they were.

"Howya! I still have to get him out!" With that, she rushed down the hall, finally reaching her destination. She frantically searched the bottles before her: "Let's see, here. I need something to escape a dungeon... Cough syrup, snail shell, phoenix-form elixir... Aw, whichever." She took a few handfuls of potions at random and gingerly placed them into a small shoulderbag, then ran back out the way she came.

WC, Story: 1072/4563
Friday, November 5th, 2004
12:31 pm
Dungeon Escapades
Flibberdee shuffled dejectedly down the corridor leading to the alchemy lab, her usual undauntable spirit now daunted and whimpering in a corner. What would she do now that her master was in prison? Shouldn't she have taken the blame for what had happened? Howya really hadn't done anything to deserve such a punishment. Well, there was that bit about his potion changing her mom into a hamster, but it was an honest mistake. She was the one who had set off the explosion in the castle. She really should do something to help her master, like sending a sympathy card, or finding a way to get him out of his bondage.

She perked up considerably with the thought. "That's it!" she exclaimed, a newfound resolve burbling up into her mind. "I'll go and break him out of the dungeon! Now, let's see.. I'll need some supplies, like a crowbar and a shovel, and maybe an all-powerful wizard for good measure..."

Unfortunately, for the life of her she couldn't even remember the name of a single omnipotent wizard living in the area, and all this thinking made her head ache. Her tummy was rumbling, too. With that, she followed her gut instincts and trotted off to get a bite to eat. Howya wasn't going anywhere, anyway, she decided with a shrug.

*****

Wiping the last drop of mustard from her sandwich off her mouth with a sleeve -- oops, she'd need to whip up another batch of stain-remover to get that out -- the alchemist's assistant wracked her brain in an attempt to formulate a plan. Her brain, however, was still in the kitchen, salivating over the frosted wispcake she had passed up. It returned again when she came across a key lying on the stone floor which was labeled "Cell HM". She picked it up and put it in one of the many pouches attached to her belt. "Maybe that'll fit my sister's toy chest," she mused.

Then she saw a sign with the words "To the Dungeon" scrawled on it. There was also an arrow pointing down a set of stairs which led into an impenetrable gloom. "It's a shame dungeons can't be happier places," she said to herself, because nobody else was listening. "Maybe I could talk to the decorator about that." The sign also got her mind back onto the task before her, though, so she took a torch from the wall and prepared to descend.

At least that was the plan. The torch, on the other hand, had other intentions.

"Hey! What do you think you're doing?"

Flib was astonished. She'd heard singing swords, watched horses fly and all, sure, but not this. "Are you talking to me?"

"I don't see any other people here, do you?"

"Begging your pardon, sir... ma'am... your, uh, lightedness, but I've never seen a talking torch. I wouldn't imagine they'd make very good conversationalists, anyway -- no offense intended."

"As a matter of fact," responded the torch, "I have more to converse about than you might imagine. My heritage is one imbued with wisdom and nobility. Do you know the forest a few hundred paces from the castle?"

"Oh, you mean the one with the shimmering veil of enchantment, where all the trees can talk and move about, and amazing creatures of all types frolic and dance in the light of an eternal sunshine?" Flib asked.

"That's the one, kid. There's a huge, noble tree standing in the middle of the glade, a great oak which has withstood the ages and rules over all the trees there."

"Really? Wow, that's amazing! Uh, so what?"

"Don't you see? That noble tree has had its body mercilessly chopped up by the lumberjack's axe. Now it's been spread all over the kingdom, used to build houses, burned in those horrendous stoves, and made into handles and torches and other objects."

"Ah, so you were made from one of its branches?"

"Precisely," confirmed the torch.

"Sounds like quite the rough life..."

"You have no idea. How degrading to go from the majesty of the king of the forest to the servitude of a torch! How would you like it if they left you in the depths of the castle and set your head on fire? In all my years, I've never been so humiliated!"

The torch sputtered, looking ready to extinguish itself, so Flib did her best to say some words of encouragement. "On the bright side," -- she stifled a chuckle at her pun -- "you've helped countless people to find their way in the darkness. That must mean something to you, doesn't it?"

"When I was part of the great oak, he constantly poured out his knowledge to the plants and people who visited him. What am I going to do here, spout proverbs to the guards? I want to visit exotic places and see the world, to go on adventures. Is that too much for a limb to ask? I can't stand the torture of this existence!"

"Speaking of torture," replied Flib with a slight smile, "I have some work for you."

"You're not going into the dungeon, are you?" the torch said as she moved to pick him up. "I'm, uh, scared of the dark. Yeah, that's it."

"A torch. Scared of the dark." Flib said, unconvinced.

"Well, it's really creepy down there! There's that one huge guard who could break me in half with one hand, and all those crazies locked up..."

Flib was determined. "Whatever's down there, I have to go and try to save my friend. Come on."

With that, the two of them made their way down the stairs as the torch protested all the way.

*****

At the bottom of the steps they came to the bailiff from the trial. He was in somewhat less-regal attire now, fitted with a motley array of armor which she expected to fall off his gangly frame at any moment. "Hey, rattlekeys! Lovely day in the dungeon, eh?" the torch chided.

"Who are you? What do you want?" the guard asked, adjusting his spectacles. It wasn't every day a guard was approached by a visitor, much less a ventriloquist who was apparently making her torch speak.

"Don't mind the torch, Guardman," explained Flib. "You don't have to be alarmed. It's only me, the spiffpebblin... shurfpepsin... the gnome from the lab. I just came to break a friend out of his cell."

"Well, that's g-good to hear," stuttered the guard. "I thought you were going to do s-s-something like-- hey, wait a minute! That's not a smart idea."

"Why not? You've got lots of other prisoners, don't you? Would it hurt too terribly to let one of them out?"

"I'm not sure if I can do that, miss... Bobo probably wouldn't like it."

Just then the far wall began to close in toward them. When it got nearer, the dungeon's guests discovered that it was not a wall, in fact, but rather something much more dangerous. A giant came trudging toward them, fang-like teeth glistening in a face that was somewhat less than cordial. If an ogre had fallen in love with an ape, this would likely have been their offspring. He grunted. Apparently he had the brains and beauty of both his hypothetical parents.

Flib waved at the behemoth amiably. "Let me guess -- you're Bobo, eh? You look like a reasoning sort."

"The kind who needs a reason to not beat us into a pulp, I'll bet," put in the torch.

"Don't mind him. Really, all I want is to let my buddy Howya out of the stocks for a while. Let him have a bit of fresh air, you know. You'd allow that, wouldn't you?"

The skinny guard's neanderthalic companion let out a growl that held all the force and persuasion of a learned orator. Roughly translated, the it meant "Get out of here, troll-bait, or I'll fold your body where it's not supposed to fold."

"Uh, I see..." Flib didn't relish that prospect, so she creased her brows and tried to figure out how to talk her way out of this mess. While she was pondering, her feet formulated an entirely different response and fled back up the stairs, taking the rest of her body along for the ride.


WC, Story: 1383/3491
Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004
8:37 pm
The Trial
"Hear ye, hear ye!" intoned a rather scrawny court bailiff, his teenaged voice cracking embarrassingly. "The royal trial is now, um, in session. King Beatrice presiding, Advisor Horatio Squill of the Scarlet Adhesive officiating and stuff. Mister, uh..." -- he checked his notes -- "Howya Mizemup and his assistant Flibberdee Gibbet are being tried today on charges of sabotage to the castle."

"Thank you, young man," the king responded. He looked confused for a moment, as would be expected, then asked, "Isn't there usually someone else who does that job?"

"Uh, yes, your Denseness, but he fell ill a week or so ago. I heard he caught it on vacation in Zangobia. Something about a sickness that makes a person grow feathers."

"What a shame... Well, we'd best get on with this trial; I want to see the gryphon races before suppertime. Let's go, Squill."

Jumping down from the chair he was sitting in and righting himself awkwardly with his cane, Advisor Squill grumbled under his breath about the proper way to address an official as he bowed to his king and queen. Then he raised his voice so that the entire assembly would hear him. "Your Majesties, ladies, gentlemen, and other beings of the court, the great law of this land states most clearly the dire consequences of treacherous acts. In article fifteen, section C, paragraph two, sentence seven of the Dictates for the Regulation and Implementation of the Values and Edicts of the Land, it refers clearly and concisely to this matter." He stopped a moment to catch his breath, then stated the law: "'If thou dost cause thy king or any of the possessions wherewith he has received to be harmed, then thou shalt be dealt with forthwithly and quickly inasmuch as the crime for which thy person hast committed requirest within the dictates of the law of thy government.'"

"Huh?" the king and several of his advisors replied.

"To put it in a manner specific to this case, sire, sabotage is punishable by a trip to the dungeon."

Flibberdee piped up. "Ooh, a tour of the castle! That sounds like fun!"

Squill peered at her, scowling. "The two of you would be staying there for a very long time, locked in chains and eating gruel, never seeing the light of the sun or feeling the breeze on your face. You will be imprisoned for years without number, if you're not beheaded first."

"Oh... Any chance we could at least have some board games, then?"

The advisor ignored Flib. "As I was saying, these two miscreants are charged with destroying our beloved castle."

"Only a little piece of it, really," Flib put in.

"Two nights ago," continued the advisor, "a deadly explosion wracked the west side of the lower level -- which happens to be the area in which our suspects were working at the time, with several combustible elements, mind you. The blast left a gaping hole in the wall, exposing the inside of the castle to the ravishes of weather, the possibility of thieves trespassing and stealing from us, and, most heinous of all, allowing our enemies free access to the very bowels of our citadel! If this isn't a case of sabotage, I don't know what is. Mizemup and Gibbet, how did you get started on the dreadful path that has led you to attack the monarch who has protected and provided for you?"

Howya stood to his feet -- because it was much easier than standing to his hands -- and began his testimony. "If you mean how we came into the employ of the king, your advisorship, it all began with a concoction I made. There's a place called Mimsy's Discount Elixers here in town, and I supply the shop with potions like cough syrup, healing ointments, energy drinks, and so forth. Apparently Flib's mom, a svirfneblin by the name of Spitznibbletska, drank a beauty potion that was expired -- and terrible things can happen if you drink something like that after its best-use date has passed."

"Yeah," added Flib, "you can get turned into a hamster like Mama did! I remember it like it was just three weeks ago, because it was. I hope she likes the new cage I'm getting her for her birthday. It's got these neat little tunnels--"

Barely containing his shock at the thought of Spitznibbletska's fate, Squill tried to return the discussion to the topic at hand. "Yes, what happened to your mother was a tragedy, but this really has nothing to do with the trial."

"As a matter of fact, sir, it does," responded Howya. "If your wife got transformed into a rodent, you'd be upset enough to locate and punish the person who did it. Understandably, that's what Mr. Gibbet did. He found me in the market buying supplies and pointed a wand of disentegration straight at me. After a short discussion, we came to the decision that I would take Flibberdee as my apprentice until I could make a potion to return Mrs. Gibbet back to normal. Soon after that Flib and I began working for King Beatrice."

"You haven't yet explained what happened during the night in question," said Squill. "Why weren't you concerned for the welfare of our defenses? Did you or did you not destroy part of the castle? What do you have to say for yourselves?"

Making a sweeping gesture with his hand, Howya addressed the crowd. "Your Majesty, honored officials, I assure you that Flib and I have no ill will whatsoever toward the king or his kingdom. We're aware of the generosity he's given us in allowing us to work for him, and there's no way we'd be ungrateful or traitorous enough to join the ranks of those filthy Uberunterlanders. Our intentions were entirely honorable; we just happened to have a slight, uh, mishap that inadvertently broke a hole in your castle. We're terribly sorry, and we'll use every resource at our disposal to make amends for what's happened. Isn't that right, Flib?"

At that moment, Flibberdee was idly twiddling all four of her thumbs and staring at a tapestry mounted on the far side of the meeting hall. When she heard her name, she turned around and responded, "That's absolutely right, boss. Um, what did you say again?"

"I was just saying how loyal we are and how what happened was a total accident." In an aside, he added, "Sorry, Your Majesty. She's a couple heads short of a hydra, if you get my drift."

"Oh, yeah, I remember now," nodded Flib, her eyes lighting up. "There was this batch of dragon's blood or something in a big pot, and Howya told me to watch it for a minute. Well, just then I remembered that stain on your carpet, Mr. Majesty, and I got an idea for how to fix it. What was the recipe? Salamander's tail and horseradish? Anyway, the next thing I know, there's this KABOOM! and I look over, and I can see the hills and that pretty little lake I like to fish in. I thought it was weird, because there's usually a wall over there, but at least it let some sunshine in. It really makes it nice down--"

Squill was irate. "This is a mockery! What is this blather about stains and salamanders? Monarchs and court officials, these two purported alchemists are obviously deranged saboteurs intent on undermining the very essence of the society that our government has worked so diligently to make thrive. The next action could be a direct attack on a member of the royal family. Swift and harsh punishment is a necessity. Is it not, my lord?" Squill demanded of the king.

King Beatrice's head was propped up on his hand, and the light sound of snoring came from his direction. He could be heard talking in his sleep about having breakfast.

"Your Majesty, please wake up. This is a terribly important matter," pleaded Squill. "Shouldn't these villains pay for their crimes?"

"Just throw one of them in," muttered the king.

Squill jumped on the command, addressing the court loudly. "Thus it is the royal decree: As punishment for his crime of sabotage, Howya Mizemup, formerly the royal alchemist, will be thrown into the castle's dungeon until further notice. The court is hereby adjourned."

The king mumbled once more: "I'm not hungry enough for two eggs."


WORD COUNT:
Story: 1400/2108
Monday, November 1st, 2004
2:49 pm
Opening: After the Mishap
She really hadn't intended to blow up the castle. Anybody could have easily made the same mistake. It's like when you put a kettle of tea on the stove and then go away to whip up a batch of gryphon-egg muffins. In this case, though, she was working with a pot of dragon's breath instead of tea, and an experiment that had something to do with harnessing a sliver of the infinite energies of the cosmos in order to clean a rug. Just business as usual, you know.

Anyone with a basic knowledge of alchemy -- which, unfortunately, this person didn't have -- would know the consequenses of letting a container filled with the breath of dragons boil a second too long: it goes boom. The aforementioned pot had proceeded to go boom in the general viscinity of a wall on the castle's lower level, in which she and her master were working. It just happened to leave a little crack in the wall the size of, oh, a family of ogres.

"Oops," she observed.

"Flibberdee Gibbet! Of all the ridiculous, goblin-brained things to do! Why didn't you listen when I told you how dangerous it was to not watch that kettle? What could have possibly possessed you to make you ignore such a command?" Her master's robes flowed in the breeze which was now able to waft into a place the castle-designer had not expected it to waft.

"Well, you see," she explained, craning her head upward to her master's face, "when I put the pot over the fire, a few drops fell out onto the floor. That reminded me of the stain on the king's magic carpet -- you know the one that Advisor Flumpf likes to use to make trips to the Wallaby? Anyway, he spilled juice or somesuch on it the last time he went out, and I was thinking: If you mixed some pixie dust with a radish or two..."

Her master balked. "So you think that getting a stain out of a carpet takes priority over not blowing up a castle?"

"It wasn't an entire castle, really, just a tiny little piece of it in the big scheme of things. And look -- now we have this lovely view of the meadows!"

"You're unbelievable."

"No, I'm Flibberdee."

"Do you realize what you've done? You could have blown us up, you've just jeopardized my career -- and we'll be lucky if Beatrice doesn't relieve us of our heads for this! Oh, why did your mother have to go and drink that expired potion?" He slumped into a chair, put his head in his hands, and wept.

"Uh, I think I have to go and change Mom's litter box. Bye." With that, Flibberdee dashed out of the room as quickly as her little gnomish legs could carry her. Or they would have carried her out, if a tall and rather king-shaped object had not been in the door at that moment.

"Oof... Oh, hi, Mr. B! Great news -- you know that spot you have on--"

The king looked around the room confusedly, then peered down at her. "The name is 'King Beatrice,' Flit, not 'Mr. B.' Also... Um, was that hole there before?"

"No, sir -- and I'm Flib, by the way -- but isn't it lovely? I really think it brightens the place up, don't you think?"

The king pondered a moment, looking thoughtful -- or at least as thoughtful as someone dubbed "King Beatrice the Dense" could look. "Actually, it does bring some fresh air into the room. Nice effect. Howya, are you thinking up some fantastic ideas for me there?" The master's mumbling response was lost in his sleeves. The king continued: "I was going to say something else... Oh, well; it must have not been that important. Carry on." With that, the king swirled around, tripped on his robes, barely caught himself on the doorway, and made his way back out.

Flibberdee was close on his heels. "Wait, Mr. King B! I forgot to tell you about my new mixture. I'm sure it'll get your stain out. Besides that, I bet you could make a nice picture window where that hole is. Sunlight is good for morale, you know..."


WORD COUNT:
Story: 708
Friday, October 29th, 2004
1:26 pm
More Notes
*Artful Codger
.old, bumbling pickpocket w/bad hair
.always fails at picking, makes random excuses
.successfully picks once, celebrates and cheers, thrown in prison w/alchemist

-dragon allergic to smoke

-Bali Daama's snake on vacation - tries to tame chimera

-goofy nicknames

-best hero in the world, Sir Irksome of Zent, turned into wildebeast in first scene he's shown


-"I thought you said you studied under Sir Irksome of Zent!"
"I did. I was in math class while he practiced swordplay upstairs."


-char who speaks a language nobody understands

-female dwarf constantly mistaken for a man (beard)

-villain with ring of electricity
.prepares to shoot
.self and allies put on sunglasses
"Uh-oh," GoodGuy observed.
"That is one cool-lookin' set of baddies!" exclaimed OtherGoodGuy.
.shoots ring - shocks self
."Who makes a blinkin' shocking ring out of copper?!"

-Rensilpoff steals woman's purse (or somesuch) while wearing eyemask, runs away
.captured
.put in police lineup - Rensilpoff, Codger, ogre, pixie, etc
.officer asks woman who did it
"Oh, I really can't tell, officer -- he was wearing a mask!"


"Hey, shorty!"
*both short people turn around*
"No, the other one."
*both turn away*
*thwaps forehead*


"No offense, but you're a little scrawny for a dwarf, aren't ya'?"
"Yes," he said glumly, "my mother was a human."
Flib piped up. "Don't let it get to you. My mom's a hamster."
They all stared at her incredulously.
"It's a long story."


WORD COUNT:
Notes: 235/1026
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