Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Adventure 6 (addendum): Gnome More Please

The gnome muttered to himself as he rifled through the chest. “Eccentric, they say. Strange, they say. Oversized lawn ornament, he calls me. If I was twice HIS size, he wouldn’t say such things. I’ll show him though. Before long HE will be begging ME for help, and we’ll see who’s bigger then. Ain’t that right?” Moonglum looked over at Odo, standing motionless, a look of anger frozen on the dwarf’s face. The hold person spell Moonglum had cast was still working like a charm.

The wizard shut the chest in frustration. “Where is it, dwarf? Where is my ‘precious’?” As Moonglum looked at the chieftain, he noticed a small bulge on one side of his tunic.

“Aha!” he cried as he lifted the red pendant from Odo’s clothing. “Well well, now I have MY reward,” Moonglum said, putting the pendant in a pouch at his hip and picking up his quarterstaff. “I do not envy you the headache you will have when you wake up, but sleep well, and dream of bearded women.” The gnome struck Odo over the head with his staff just as the spell wore off. He swiftly gathered his gear, quietly slipped out of the chamber, and began to make his way to the mine’s main gates.

Moonglum traveled unmolested through the dwarf city. He got a few suspicious glances, as he did everywhere he went (he was a GNOME, after all), but no one showed any indication that they knew what he had done. A smirk came across his face as he contemplated his own cunning. He had purposefully waited to make his move until the rest of his party left, suspecting that there was a good chance he would incur their wrath if he showed his face around them again. He didn’t think they were entirely justified in their anger, considering he was the one who almost singlehandedly killed that beast. But he couldn’t get too frustrated; after all, none of them possessed anywhere near the intelligence necessary to understand why he did the things he did.

That’s the way it’s always been, he thought, sighing to himself. Which of them could have hatched this plan? He had waited until Odo was alone in his room, snuck in, cast the spell before the dwarf could say Mibbifoodle, and took the jewel. His grin grew wider as he looked down at the pouch containing the glowing pendant. Moonglum began to imagine the price it would fetch from certain buyers he knew; he dreamed about the power he could wield if he decided to keep the gem for himself and tweak the magic just a little. The gnome was so engrossed in his own fantasy that he jumped five feet in the air when he felt a soft touch on his arm.

“It wasn’t me, it was the one-armed man!” Moonglum shouted as he turned around. There was Amaryllis, looking at him with an eyebrow raised in confusion. “Oh, it’s you. Why are you still here? Didn’t you leave with the others?”

“No, I decided to stay,” she told him. “You see, before my town was destroyed and I joined a traveling acrobatic troupe to earn my keep, I was a teacher in my community. I noticed there are a lot of children here with not many people to teach them. I may not be a dwarf, but Odo saw how well the children liked me and asked me to stay. I like the community here and I knew some of the others were going back to their own homes, so I agreed.”

She paused and looked him over, noticing that he had all his gear. “Where are you going?” she asked.

Moonglum thought for a minute. An idea formed in his head. He liked Amaryllis. The halfling had apparently already forgiven him for the fireball incident while the others had been either angry or dismissive toward him. She was a good companion and her skills as a rogue would be extremely useful on his journeys. Plus, he thought, she is pretty cute. He decided to tell her the truth – a slightly modified version of it, anyway.

“I am escaping,” he told Amaryllis, dropping his voice to a whisper. “I happened to overhear Odo talking to one of his clerics about that pendant he found. He was plotting use it to conquer Lord Bolt’s kingdom. He wanted the cleric to gather a council of magic users to study the pendant and see if it could be twisted to use for such a purpose. This horrified me, naturally, so when the cleric left, I snuck in and liberated the pendant by knocking Odo unconscious. It doesn’t appear the dwarves have discovered this yet, but they will soon. When they do, we will BOTH be in grave danger.” Moonglum paused to let this sink in. Amaryllis played right into his lie.

“Oh no! We will have to leave at once! But I can’t go without my things – I don’t have any of my gear!” the rogue exclaimed frantically, looking like she was about to burst into tears.

Moonglum looked around for potential eavesdroppers. Seeing none, he whispered, “We don’t have much time. They may sound the alarm at any second. You have the ability to sneak out of here whenever you want, but I need to be long gone when they find Odo. You go get your things – I will wait for you near the fork in the road two miles north of here. Meet me there at dusk.”

The frightened halfling nodded and hurried off to her quarters. Moonglum walked calmly but briskly on to the gates. He nodded at the stationed guards as he strolled confidently through the large arch carved in stone that represented the main entrance to the city. As he did so, he became aware of a commotion arising somewhere behind him. They had found him.

He headed south a short distance, summoned a giant centipede in the middle of the path, and hid himself in the foliage on the side of the road. Not a moment too soon, either, he thought as the guards arrived mere seconds after the gnome had moved out of sight. The wizard knew that the centipede would keep them busy for awhile. He also knew that the giant bug would confuse any tracks he may have left. Combined with most dwarves’ poor tracking skills and the rocky terrain, Moonglum was certain that he would be almost impossible to follow. That ranger may have been a boorish pain in the keister, but he did teach me a few valuable things. If only Taran could see me now! he thought triumphantly.

The gnome stayed off the path during his northward trek until he arrived without incident just as dusk fell at the prescribed meeting place. Moonglum was diligently surveying the road when he felt another tap on his shoulder. Once again, the wizard nearly soiled his robes in surprise.

“You’re good at that,” Moonglum said to Amaryllis after his heart rate had slowed to a manageable level.

“Thank you!” Amaryllis said cheerfully. “We halflings are all gifted that way, although I have always been especially good at it. I could sneak up on my friends whenever we played Find-The-Hobbit. I remember one time when I scared my friend Berys so badly…”

“Yes, yes. Wonderful.” Moonglum interrupted. He liked the rogue, but he was starting to wonder what exactly he’d gotten himself into. He had a feeling it wouldn’t be the last time he wondered that. “Did they follow you?”

Amaryllis scoffed at the gnome, “Of course not. But they were organizing search parties as I left. They will probably be setting out within the half hour.” She became melancholy all of a sudden. “I was sure that these dwarves had good hearts. Why would they want to attack Lord Bolt? It doesn’t make sense to me…” She trailed off as she looked at the gnome, hoping for an answer.

“I’m sure I don’t know!” Moonglum said, trying desperately to keep the nervousness that was wracking his brain from creeping into his voice. The confidence in his own brilliance he’d enjoyed just an hour earlier was fading fast. Now there was a hoard of dwarves preparing to hunt him down. It was time to move on. He put on his pack and gestured north to Amaryllis. The halfling nodded silently and followed the wizard as he picked his way through the undergrowth west of the path.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building,” Moonglum muttered under his breath as they vacated their hiding spot.

“What was that?” asked Amaryllis from behind him.

“Nothing…” Moonglum rolled his eyes. No one ever understands me, the wizard thought dejectedly for the second time that day. But then a realization came to him. Here he was, a powerful magic item in his pocket, traveling with a skilled rogue who was so pure and innocent that she would never question his motives. And she was a babe.

The gnome brightened considerably. At the very least, this was going to get interesting. Very interesting. And that was just fine with Moonglum.


Moonglum said...

No one understands me either!!! Wow, it's almost like me and Moonglum are the same. And just think of all the scrolls I can buy once I sell that stupid jewel...

Taran said...

I guess I characterized you wrong - you're more the psycho mischievious type rather than the all-powerful type. Oh well, I tried.

I thought it was fun writing from your character's perspective, although I decided to use a third person limited omniscient because first person just didn't feel right. I hope I did you justice.

Taran said...

Thanks for reading it by the way, I know you're busy. I realize I'm kind of annoyingly narcissistic when it comes to asking people to read these, but I really enjoy writing them (who knew that an accountant would need a creative outlet?) and I enjoy hearing from people who read them, mostly because I also somewhat egotistically think they're pretty good.