The Adventure of Igdryll the Drunken Gnome (Part 8)

          Igdryll opened the door to his house and let his hammer drop on the floor beside the entryway. Whatever magic it once held was spent. Hanging his hat on a peg by the entrance, he closed the round, oaken door and sat on his unmade bed. Puffs of dust skittered into the pale light of the room. Evening approached. His walk back with the Elder was silent and he thought about the implications of what was said, or rather, what wasn’t said. Igdryll never gave much thought to notions beyond the day-to-day events that primarily occupied his time. A job done half-well and a mug twice filled had been contentment enough.
          Igdryll looked out the window. A few folks meandered about but as the glow of evening dwindled, the street was largely absent of the usual bustle. He took his boots off, letting them clunk to the floor and rolled into bed. He stared at the ceiling, counting the cracks and the cobwebs over and over until sleep finally came.

          “Igdryll,” an unfamiliar voice said, “Igdryll.”
          Igdryll was awake now but couldn’t open his eyes. He tried to get up but his body was paralyzed.
          “Igdryll,” the voice repeated.
          “What?”
          “Open your eyes now.”
          “Can’t open…” Igdryll’s eyes flew open and he looked around. He was in a lush garden. It was dark and a sliver of moon hung in the indigo colored sky. Stars were strewn above like flecks of glittery powder. The Milky Way, brighter than Igdryll remembered, arched above him. A heavy perfume from what he guessed was a flower clung to the warm night air, it’s cloying scent broken only by an occasional light breeze.
          “Where this,” Igdryll asked.
          “You’ve been here before. This is the chamber inside the council.”
          “Who speaking to me?”
          “We are the Nameless Ones, the Bornless Ones. We have been with your people since the beginning. We help ensure your legacy remains unbroken.”
          Igdryll touched a leaf on a low hanging limb. It felt real enough but it shimmered in a strange manner. Birds chattered back and forth in the distance but he couldn’t see them. Their calls sounded shrill and ethereal.
          “Walk with us, Igdryll.”
          Igdryll couldn’t see anyone but felt compelled by something to move forward. An invisible but tangible presence guided him down a cobble path into a copse of hoary cedar trees, their ancient trunks twisted and braided. Within the center of the stand of cedars stood a large stone with a water filled hollow. Tendrils of moonlight danced across the surface of the basin.
          “Drink of this,” a woman’s voice said.
          Igdryll was not generally keen on drinking water from old stones but felt compelled by some unnamed sense of responsibility to do as he was told. Cupping his hand, he scooped the cool water and brought it to his lips. As he drank, he felt the cool moisture crawl throughout his body seeking out every hidden recess of his veins. He felt a crushing feeling in his chest and he fell to the ground, the scent of rotten cedar filling his nostrils. ‘What’s happening,.’ he thought. The icy feeling slithered from his chest to his neck and up into his head. His eyesight went dim then danced with sparkly dots of light. His blood flowed feverishly, thumping and occluding his hearing. Paralysis slowly crept from his toes to his legs and then to his arms.
          “I’m dying,” he whispered. There was no response.
          He tried to cry out but his voice was nothing but a hoarse rasp. His body stopped responding. The whooshing of blood hammered his skull, slowed, then stopped entirely. A still, velvet blackness encompassed his being and Igdryll remembered nothing else.

          The next morning, Igdryll woke up, took his hat off the peg and placed it on his head as he had done innumerable mornings before. He went to Dallver’s to drink his breakfast as per his custom. The streets were empty. The door to the pub creaked and chattered as he opened it.
          “Mornin’, Igdryll,” Mr. Dallver said.
          “G’morning, Mr. Dallver.” Igdryll took the pint Mr. Dallver extended to him and sat down at a corner table. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary and anyone who would have taken notice of Igdryll would not have suspected that he had lain dead last night for nearly two hundred years.

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