The Adventure of Igdryll the Drunken Gnome (Part 6)

          “For this to work,” the Elder said, “I will need to cross us through the Vale. That means they could see us easier so you must be very careful. Crossing the Vale also means…well, you’ll see.”
          The Elder raised his staff and chanted words similar to what Igdryll heard earlier at the council door. This time he did not lose consciousness but, instead, suddenly felt very ill. As the Elder’s chant reached a crescendo, Igdryll felt something wash over his body, like a cold breeze, and his senses dulled as if he had drunk too much cider. Darkness enveloped him for a moment and then he could see again, it was as if all of the world’s colors had been muted. He vomited.
          “That sometimes happens, Igdryll. It’s nothing to worry about.”
          “Why no warning?” Igdryll asked while wiping his mouth on his sleeve.
          “Not everyone has that reaction. Listen, we are in the mortal sphere now. Things are different here. You probably noticed the colors are dull. Sound is heavier, uglier. Also, we can’t speak with other creatures so easily.”
          “I don’t like it here.”
          “Fear poisons this world. That is what you are feeling.”
          “What a darkish place.”
          The Elder walked through the field with Igdryll. They used the tufts of grass stalks as cover. A rabbit darted and all three of them were startled. They continued, making their way to the edge of the field. They were now less than twenty feet away from the two Tall Men and their moving house. The noise from the machine sounded like the growl from some beast and shook the ground.
          The Elder held up his staff, it flashed and the house shuddered and stopped. A close silence fell over the valley. The two Tall Men could be heard talking back and forth. They walked around the machine, occasionally climbing up and down parts of it and scratching their heads while they conversed.
          “Now, do you see those wheels, Igdryll, and the metal band that goes around them?”
          “Aye.”
          “Okay, I will send the two Talls away and I need for you to smash those pieces apart. Got it?”
          “Got it? That’s forging stupid talk. How my wooden hammer break up that metal craft?”
          “Here.”
          The Elder took Igdryll’s hammer from his belt and gently blew on it. The implement glowed softly. He handed it back to him.
          “It’s heavyish now,” Igdrll said.
          “It will work now.”
          The Elder raised his staff again and chanted. Nothing seemed to happen but then in a far off corner of the work site, a loud whump reverberated through the air followed by a rising tendril of black smoke. The two men ducked, then turned towards the source of the explosion. They both ran off towards it.
          “Okay, Igdryll.”
          Igdryll ran across the clearing. His hat fell off, he stooped to pick it up and continued running. He stopped at the base of the machine. ‘It’s farking huge,” he thought. He raised his hammer and brought it down on the track. A hollow thud traveled from the hammer, up his arm and into his skull.
          “Fark,” he shouted, “it no working!”
          “Keep going!”
          Igdryll raised the hammer again and brought it down, more gingerly this time. The metal gave way slightly as if it were ice cracking. Encouraged, he struck again and the track shattered.
          “Ha!”
          He continued, smashing more of the track, the guides and even several items that the Elder hadn’t pointed out. He was making good progress on the house’s scooper thing when he heard the Elder shouting. He turned to look. The Elder was waving frantically and pointing towards something in the distance. The bigger Tall Man was walking towards the machine.
          “Shayt,” Igdryll said as he turned and ran back across the field. He slid to a stop next to the Elder and turned to look. The Tall Man was climbing onto the top of the house. He grabbed something and walked back towards the direction from where he came.
          “That was close, Igdryll.”
          “Should I go back?”
          “Nay. That’s enough. They are crippled for now.”
          “But what about sendin’ ’em to the Spirit?”
          “Not today, Igdryll. We need to get back now.”
          Igdryll thought that the Elder looked very tired. The two of them retreated into the underbrush and walked towards the river. As they approached the Vale, the Elder raised his staff and Igdryll passed out. He woke a moment later and he felt normal again. They were both back on the other side of the Vale again. Colors and smells returned to normal. The oppressive fear subsided.
          “I need to sit for a moment,” the Elder said. He sat down on a smooth stone near the river and closed his eyes.
          “You okay, Oldish?”
          The Elder breathed deeply for several moments before opening his eyes again. He looked at Idgryll and smiled.
          “I’m okay, Igg. We aren’t what we once were.”
          “What you mean?”
          “Our magic grows tired which means I grow tired.”
          Igdryll sat down next to the Elder. The two of them gazed out at the river saying nothing for several minutes.
          “Are you dying, Elder?” Igdryll asked.
          The Elder turned to Idgryll. “Let’s go, Igg.”
          The Elder stood up and walked to the river bank. Igdryll followed.
          “Remember, relax,” the Elder said.
          “Aye.”
          The two of them floated back across the river. Igdryll felt much more comfortable now as he what to expect. They both landed on the far side safely and walked into the woods together.
          “Why you no answer?” Igdryll asked.
          “I think you know the answer, Igdryll.”
          “We’re all dying, aren’t we?”
          The Elder didn’t answer and the two of them walked back to the village in silence.

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The Adventure of Igdryll the Drunken Gnome (Part 2)

          “What talk is this?” The Elder asked, eyeing Igdryll suspiciously.
           “I say it twice times now. A third won’t change it.”
           “You say you were on your way to Mr. Dallver’s?”
           “Aye. To, nay from. “We,” he motioned to Evellya, “see yellow moving house that lifts dirt. More dirt than our town size, it seemed.”
           “Consult the others, I must.”
           The Elder ascended the steps of the town hall and opened the large, carved door. The door closed behind him with a labored creak. A few bystanders had gathered near the steps and discussed the event. Igdryll sat down and Evellya sat beside him.
           “What you think it is?” she asked.
           “Dunno. Know it’s not good though. Know it by my bones, Eva.” Igdryll removed his peaked cap and smoothed his hair back. “Goin’ to Dallver’s now.”
           “But the Elder comin’ back in short.”
           “The Elder use his magic to find me if he need me.”

           The pub was nearly empty. Mr. Dallver was wiping down the bar and Tragdryll was sitting in a corner drinking a cider.
           “Hey, Igg,” Tragdryll said. His speech was slurred.
           “Hey, Trag. Hey, Mr. Dallver,” Igdryll raised a hand. “Cider pint, please you.”
           Mr. Dallver filled a mug. The foam spilled over and he handed it across the bar to Igdryll.
           “Thank ye,” he said, taking the pint jug. Igdryll sat down by Tragdryll. No one knows exactly just how old Tragdryll is but he is easily the oldest gnome in town. He lost his wife almost two years ago. Literally lost his wife. They were walking in the Old Wood which is on the other side of town opposite the Vale and she simply vanished. The town spent a halfmoon looking for her but she was never found. Ever since then, Tragdryll spent most of his time in Dallver’s. A few whispered that maybe he helped his wife get lost but he was cleared after the Elder cast the bones. The bones said that he was telling the truth and they never lie.
           “You be pale, Igg.”
           “Aye. Strange day.”
           They both took sips of their ciders. Igdryll had a passing thought that he was looking at his future self.
           “Eva and me see something beyond the Vale. Something I don’t like.”
           “The Vale, eh? Why you kids always be messin’ with it.” He sipped his cider. “When I was youngish, no one went there. We respected it. Respected it because we respected the Elder.”
           “Eh. I heard stories’bout your youngish years and nay one of ’em included the words ‘respect’ and ‘elder’ in em.”
           “What you see, anyways?”
           “Dirt moving house.”
           “A dirt moving house? ‘Kay.”
           “Nay. For real.”
           “I be drunk twice over and I still know your story be shat.” Tragdryll took another sip. “Ain’t nothin’ beyond the Vale but…well, not sure. But it sure as shat ain’t a dirt movin’ house, I can tell ya.”
           “Well, I seen it,” Igdryll sipped his cider. “Smokin’, movin’, yellow house.”
           “How’s, Eva?”
           “I dunno. She does her things. I do my things.”
           “She fancies you, ya know.”
           “Eh,” Igdryll grunted. “I’m out. You want another?”
           “Aye.”
           Mr. Dallver poured two more ciders. Igdryll took them back over to the table and sat down. The door behind them opened suddenly. The Elder walked in.
           “Fark,” Igdryll muttered.
           “You know I can hear you, Igdryll,” the Elder said. “Come now, the Council needs to talk with ya.”
           “The Council?” Igdryll said. “The Council can talk fine with me right here.”
           “Nay. Come now. Let’s go.”
           “Fine then.” Igdryll stood up. “I’m takin’ me cider though.”
           Igdryll dropped three silver coins on the bar, looked at Tragdryll and dropped one more.
           “Take care of Trag, too.” Mr. Dallver nodded. “See ya,” he said as he waved at Tragdryll and walked out the door.

The Adventure of Idgryll the Drunken Gnome (part one)

I finally dusted off this story which has been lying around my office under various piles of radio gear, other piles of half-finished stories and lord knows what else. I intend to post it here in bite size pieces from time to time.

          It was early Autumn and although Igdryll wasn’t entirely finished with what he was doing, he decided to stop anyway. You see, Igdryll is a gnome and a carpenter. The best one in town–carpenter, that is. That he is the only carpenter did little to dampen his impression of his own abilities. He dusted his hands off on his pants and left the cricket barn to make his way back to the village.
          In the distance, a white tendril of smoke drifted and the faint fragrance of burning leaves filled the air. This was Igdryll’s favorite time of year. The crops are coming in, the orchards are heavy with apples and figs, the combs are thick and dripping with clover honey. And, most importantly, Mr. Dallver rolls up last year’s cider from the cellar and uncorks it.
          Igdryll fully intended to head straight to Mr. Dallver’s at this very moment because it wouldn’t be very crowded since everyone else was working. Lost in this thought, he didn’t notice as Evellya approached from behind.
          “Afta noon, Igg!”
          He dropped his toolbox scattering an assortment of chisels and hammers into the tall grass by the path.
          “Bullfachs, Evey! Ya shorn’t do that.” He stooped down to collect his tools. “Might ya help?”
          “Ya shorn’t curse like that now. I help ya. Here.” She picked up a hammer from under a bush and handed it to him. “Ya know I be in the woods a lot.”
          “Yah,” he said.
          “I see somethin’ peculiar might, I did.”
          “Yah.”
          “Now I serious, Igg. I seen something beyond the Vale there.”
          “Now you shain’t go beyond that Vale,” Igdryll said. “Nothin’ there for us. You know me Uncle Olltort, he went beyon’ the Vale and came back actin’ all funnyish.” Igdryll picked up his toolbox and walked towards town. “Still all mumble mumbles.”
          “Yer uncle drinks too much,” Evelya said.
          “True told. But the drinkin’ came after the Vale, nay before.”
          “Come see it with me.”
          Igdryll stopped and looked at her. “Nar.”
          “Please.”
          “Twice nar.”
          “Two drinks?”
          “Let me drop my tools off firstish.”

          After stopping by the cricket shed to drop off the toolbox, they entered the nearby woods. Idgryll never liked the woods much. When he was four summers old, his cousin, Myrdrigg, took him deep into the forest to play hide and seek. Well, actually just hide. After burrowing deep into the hollow of a willow tree by the Old Grey Stream, Igdryll promptly got his foot caught. Myrdrigg was more than halfway home by this time and figured that his little cousin would soon figure things out and come home on his own. When the first stars appeared, Myrdrigg got worried and told his mom who, after whipping his backside with a hazel rod, organized the town to search the woods. They found Igdryll pretty quickly. The town’s tanner, Ogdlot, heard him screaming. Although, Idgryll was only stuck in the willow for a few hours, it felt like an eternity to him. Always after that, he swore to anyone who would listen that the willow whispered to him, “Iya eats you now!” Igdryll figured that if the willow felt that way, all the trees harbored similar dispositions so he avoided the woods when possible.
          They ventured deeper into the woods and Idgryll turned around. Noticing that the field was occluded by the cedars, he began to seriously reconsider.
          “Three times,” he said.
          “Aye now,” Evelya asked. “Three times what?”
          “Cider drinks, fowl face.”
          “Two were promised and agreed upon now. Two it stands.”
          “Fine,” he mumbled.
          The cedars gave way to oak and hickory. The ancient canopy of golden and red leaves blocked the afternoon sun, giving the light a cheery but diminished hue. Just ahead was the Old Gray Stream.
          “This a way,” Evelya said, motioning downstream. “We can ford there now.”
          They walked to the edge of the stream. A slow but steady column of water swirled amongst several boulders. A hickory, its bark flaked and ragged, had fallen across the stream. They crossed with little difficulty and continued along the moldy forest floor. Occasional mushroom balls puffed, scattering dark earthy smelling powder into the still, damp air.
          They continued and the hardwood trees slowly gave way to towering sycamores. The Vale was close now.
          “We made it,” Evelya said as she stepped through a cluster of elderberry bushes. Before them a wide river churned and chortled.
          “The Vale,” Evelya whispered.
          “Aye, the Vale,” Igdryll said. “So where be it?”
          “Yonder. Look you.”
          “I be lookin’ but seein’ nothin’.”
          “Through there,” she said pointing between two mammoth sycamores.
          “Fark,” he said. Through the trees he could just discern the top of what appeared to be a yellow house.
          “What is it?” Igdryll asked.
          “Dunno.”
          A puff of black smoke came from the top of the yellow house and it began to move, slowly at first and then more quickly. A giant yellow scooper rose up carrying a pile of dirt and rock.
          “Go back now,” Igdryll said as he turned back to the woods.
          “Stay and see it.”
          “Nay. We tell the Elder. Come now.”
          Igdryll retreated into the woods. He didn’t know what he had just seen but he knew that it wasn’t good. He raced to get away as Evelya struggled to keep up.
          “Slow now, Igg!” Evelya shouted.
          “Nay.”
          Igdryll stopped running but still continued at a brisk pace not caring if Evelya kept up or not. He crossed the fallen tree and made his way out of the woods. He was in such a hurry that he forgot his toolbox that was still at the barn.
********

Flawed Heroes and Drunken Gnomes

gnome-prank

I’m not completely sure how I feel about this, but my most developed story so far concerns a boozer gnome who is pegged to help the town elder defeat a family of people that are building a house too close to their village. Basically, the village is protected by a magical veil that, for the most part, shields them from the prying eyes of pesky humans. However, the elder, who is the last of a dying breed of magi, is concerned because his magic is failing and the oracle bones he threw chose a lazy, cider-sopped gnome to be his replacement. Will they be able to push back the humans? Will the drunkie gnome be able to grab hold of his destiny and lead his people to victory? Or will he instead wake up to the sound of bulldozers ripping through his shitty tree stump house? Don’t know yet. Stay tuned.

On an unrelated note, why is WordPress always “new” and “improved” so much so that I can’t navigate to settings pages that I am fairly sure used to exist sometime within the last six months. Bah humbug.