Author Topic: An Absolute Waste of Time  (Read 25933 times)

Offline cliffette

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An Absolute Waste of Time
« on: June 22, 2004, 09:02:09 PM »
It lives! Or at least is undead!


An Absolute Waste of Time I
~Or, Earnest Yetbadd strikes again!~

The floorboards rattled in protest as she stomped over them, the squeaks of tortured wood sounding surprisingly loud considering her tiny halfling frame.

“And- and the things he calls her! And – and she likes it! Unbelievable!”

The dark-haired man sitting at the table nodded, “Aye, you have the right of it, my lady Footrestte. ‘Tis a wordly disgrace to use such unseemly endearments. From the way you tell of it, t’would make even the most stoic and noble knight blush.” He shifted uncomfortably in his armour. Was wordly even a word? For that matter, t’would sounded a little off-kilter. By Helm, he wished his intelligence was at wizardly standards.

Footrestte continued to pace. “Not only that, she does it right back! You were lucky, Anomen. You didn’t have to put up with it. All through the planes. Even in MY plane! Ooh, it makes me mad!”

The knight shifted again, his armour squeaking in the same key as the floorboards. “Verily, such behaviour would rouse this knight as well. But dear lady, does your sister know of your feelings in this matter?”

The chestnut-haired halfling stopped, her nose wrinkled with disgust. “Of course not! I can barely stand being near them… Getting close enough to shout at them involves seeing them. And seeing them? Blecch.” The floorboards began squeaking again.

He eyed the small ditch she was treading into the ground and sighed. Surely now he would be expected to offer his help, what with Helm seeing all and judging him. Being a knight was no piece of waybread.

“Lady Footrestte,” he began, “This knight will lay his sword- er- mace before your cause. What would you have me do?”

“You?!” Footrestte skidded to a stop next to the window, “You’re too busy running from that wife of yours to leave this inn, much lest go out vanquishing cuteness!”

On cue, the door flew open and an axe-faced woman stamped into the room, her expression promising painful, stormy, impending doom. With lightning.

“HAVE YOU SEEN MY HUSBAND?!”

Footrestte winced at the strident voice. “Er- no. I haven’t seen Anomen since your Anniversary party. Excellent catering, by the way. I’ve never tasted such good chocatl cake.” She cleared her throat loudly to cover up the sound of quivering armour coming from beneath the table.

“DAMN! Well if you see him, tell him WE’RE OUT OF GOODBERRIES! What did my mother tell me? Marry a cleric and you’ll never run out of goodberries! HA!” With those words she spun on her heel, briefly resembling a hurricane, and thumped down the hall at full pace. Footrestte caught the sight of laundresses and waitservants diving out of her way before the door swung shut.

“Is- is my- er- beloved Tiana gone?” Anomen’s voice came out as a timid squeak. A rat running across the floor stopped and winked at him before moving on.

Footrestte rolled her eyes. “Yes, Sir Anomen, your wife is gone.” As the knight crawled out from beneath the table, she folded her arms and raised her eyebrows. “For an ungainly human, you moved pretty quickly. And stop trembling, man. That armour’s giving me a headache.”

“Aye, my lady. I am most sorry.” He couldn’t let her know that the trembling was a deliberate attempt to hide the sound of his chattering teeth.

“How on earth did you end up with Tiana? You never told me.” She’d gone to the other side of the room and was rifling through her spellbooks.

He’d mastered his teeth. Now would be a good time to let loose a world-weary sigh, ala Keldorn. “(sigh) T’was the Copper Coronet that undid me. Her weak-willed husband had left her for a maiden most saucy.” He paused. Actually, that Priss probably wasn’t much of a maiden. But saucy, most definitely! He pressed on anyway. “Her plight touched my heart and I offered her my service.

”In reply, she bade me sit with her and drink a spell. In the course of our festivity, for our time together became more festive as the night wore on, she fell off her stool. T’was most foolish of me, but I spent the night at her bedside, nursing her headache and her bruise.” A blush rose from his beard and another blush descended from his hairline, the red glows meeting neatly at his nose. “A mighty bruise indeed, discolouring her fair- chee- er- skin.”

Footrestte was grinning, “And you had to marry her because you’d compromised her?”

His reply arrived packaged with the cadence of doom, “Aye, you have the right of it.” Another gusty sigh issued from his lungs and fluttered the pages of the spellbooks from clear across the room. “But let us move back to your problem, lady Footrestte.”

“Yes. Back to the problem. My sister. Her husband. The BABY- what was her name? Kimoen? Good grief, sounds like dresswear direct from Kara-Tur!”

“My lady, though you discounted my offer, it still stands. Though perhaps you’d agree to cast your Invisibility spell on me should my - er - dearest Tiana come into view?”

“Yes, yes,” Footrestte resisted the urge to petrify him into his expression of hopeful desperation.

“My eternal and unyielding thanks go to you, my lady.” The knight sat back in relief. “Now what do you propose we do?”

“Well now, let’s see…” A diabolical grin had been growing on her face and her eyes sparkled. He noted- rather uneasily- that she was also rubbing her hands together in wicked delight. He wondered if Helm would approve of whatever plan was formulating in that small, round head.

“There’s this spell I’ve learned- nothing permanent, but it will hopefully stop their insufferable cuddling,” She stood at the window, her form stiff with pure, crazed halfling ire, and bellowed her next words into the street, “No more Kelsey-Welsey-Woos! No more Impy-Dimply-Imoen! And above all-!” Her expression of righteous fury rivalled even Anomen’s best attempt (a week ago, around hour 14, in response to a smelly beggar), “NO MORE GOOGLY-WOOGLY-KIMOEN-WIMOEN-GAHGAH! This I swear, or my name is not Footrestte Leadfeather-Bootkins!”

With that, she grabbed Anomen by his armour straps and pulled him down level to her face with unusual strength. ‘Now listen up, knighty, and I’ll tell you what to do…”

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Re: An Absolute Waste of Time
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2004, 09:04:05 PM »
An Absolute Waste of Time II
~Or, You can blame Talon for this :)~

Halfling doors were ridiculously low-set. Was he, a knight of the Order, expected to drop to his knees in order to knock at the door of a lower race? By Helm, no! Anomen kicked the door instead, knocking out a chunk of wood. He blushed and scuffled the chunk behind a nearby bush.

“Sir Delryn? You playing footkicks now?”

Anomen turned to see one of the irritatingly small folk grinning at him from beneath a gravity-defying head of hair.

“Mr Bootkins?” he asked.

“Heh, yes. But I’m Reginald and not the halfling you’d be after. You’d be looking for Footrestte’s husband?” That grin revealed the halfling’s crooked teeth in a most unbecoming manner.

Anomen tried not to sigh. “Aye, that I am. Tell me, is Arnold about?”

More crooked teeth were being revealed. “He is, in the garden out back in particular, but you won’t be wanting him, sir.”

“(Sigh) You are incorrect, runtling-” The teeth were now set in a grimace- “Nay, I mean good halfling.” Back to the smile, though it wasn’t an improvement. “I seek Mr Arnold Bootkins, husband to the good lady Footrestte. I have an urgent message to deliver to him.”

The halfling gestured at the knight to enter the house, “Well, let’s see if we can find Mr Footrestte – I mean, Mr Bootkins for you then. Watch the low ceiling, ogre- nay, I mean good human.”

Anomen drew himself to his full height and briefly admired the thatching on the roof before turning the extent of his disdain on the halfling, “Do you truly expect a Knight of the Order of the Radiant Heart to bend on hand and knee so that he may enter your abode?”

“Yes.”

“To prostrate himself before one of the lesser folk as if he were a common beggar?”

“Well, yes.”

“To sully his armour with dirt and filth because your houses accommodate only your diminuative race?”

“Yes?”

“To bow and scrape-“

“HAVE YOU SEEN MY HUSBAND?!”

Reginald looked over his shoulder at the quivering table in the front hall of Home Bootkins, then turned back to catch Footrestte’s wide grin as she approached the door.

“You’re a devil of a halfling, sister Footrestte,” he said, though the teeth were very much in evidence.

”That I am, Reginald, but it got him into the house.” She stopped to peck him on the cheek, “Now, for real this time- have you seen Warnold? I need to speak with him.”

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Re: An Absolute Waste of Time
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2004, 09:07:19 PM »
An Absolute Waste of Time III
~There once was a point to this story...~

The Bootkins triplets, Reginald, Arnold and Warnold were well known in the small town of Foot o’Dore. As youngsters they had made a meal of every farmer’s carrot crop, thus accounting for their excellent eyesight, and an even bigger meal of every storekeep’s candy jar, which explained their terrible teeth.

Their enormous hair remained a mystery, though o’Dorian myth held it that they had been born during a violent lightning storm- and that they had been conceived while Father Geronimold Bootkins had been flying a kite. The o’Dorian halflings didn’t know how the latter story related to the triplets’ hair, but it made the lasses giggle.

The triplets had been inseparable until the day the good village schoolteacher Mister Bulwer-Lytton had informed Mother Forabell Bootkins that glueing them together really wasn’t an effective way to keep them out of trouble. Mother Bootkins’ arguments that the glue impeded their movement- therefore reducing the rate of trouble, fell on deaf ears. Halfling children were blessed with strident voices, and Mister Bulwer-Lytton taught all grades from one to sixens.

The triplets weren’t identical in appearance or spirit. Reginald Bootkins was cheeky as a halfling could come, with a perpetually raised eyebrow and a wide, unattractive grin. His nimble movements bespoke his career as a part-time pickpocket, and from his belt jingled a set of lockpicks.

The second youngest, Arnold, was a gentle chap with an eye for a fine flower and the slow, dreamy manner of an imp swimming in sap. He had perpetually green fingers and was known to blush at the sight of a bee.

And Warnold, the youngest and husband to Footrestte, spent his days writing devoted poetry (mostly bad) to his beloved and favourite halfling lass, the famed contralto Gwenda Fuzzyfoot- and a verse or two for Footrestte, depending on how much she caravan-tracked him.

It was the Reginald, the eldest, who now nudged Anomen from beneath the table with his boot.

“For an oversize man-mountain, you do move quick, sir!” He said, “I’ve a mind to challenge you to a pocket-pick competition, I do!”

Anomen glared down at the halfling, “It is unfitting for a knight to discuss such matters, even in jest.”

“Yessir, and your armour’s unfitting too. See, you’ve got a chair sticking out of your bottom.”

Anomen sat down quickly, ignoring the chair’s groan of protest. “I assure you, Mr Bootkins, that it was my intention to be seated.”

The halfling’s face clearly registered his disbelief. Before he could open his mouth, Footrestte intervened.

“So Reginald,” she said, “Where can we find Warnold?”

He gave her a sulky look. “I think he’s in his study, sister. He mentioned somehing about a grand eighteen stanza ode to Gwen- I mean, to you, dear Footrestte.”

Warnold, had he been present, would have described Footrette’s smile as a boiled sweet- “It’s nice-lookin’ enough and full of sugar, but my grief you could crack a tooth on it.” She gathered the folds of her violet robe and marched down the hall towards the study.

The human and the halfling were left looking at each other in the entryway. Anomen’s expression was one of pained sympathy, but Reginald grinned from ear to ear. Both wore the slightly distracted expressions of eavedroppers.

Presently, Footrestte returned, prodding a rotund halfling down the hallway before her.

“But, my sweet flower,” he protested, “I swear it was about you!”

Footrestte’s glare made the Finger of Death spell written in her magebook quite redundant. “Oh really? Well what about the lines ‘O I love your golden hair/ Falling like a sunny stair’? Care to explain that, Warnold?”

He was backing away slowly. “Poetic license, my hairyfooted darling… Your hair could be described as golden… a dark, burnt gold of the brunette persuasion…”

“And ‘Your singing voice delightfully carries/ I wish by Sheela I wasn’t married’? Hmmm?”

“Uh…” Warnold looked desperately at his brother, but the halfling just whistled at the ceiling with an innocent look plastered over his face. Warnold glanced at the human crouched at the table, but the man just looked at him and nodded support while keeping his lips clamped shut. No help there, either.

“My dear- I..”

“Oh, never mind,” Footrestte rolled her eyes, but her lips carried the trace of a smile, “I need your help for a more important matter. Did Sir Anomen deliver my message?”

Anomen appeared to shrink into his armour, “Nay, I did not have the chance to do so, lady Footrestte, before your arrival. Although I set off long before you, I had only just managed to reach your door. These streets are of a crooked bent and I headed down many a road in error.”

“Got lost, eh?” Reginald shook his head in mock sympathy.

Footrestte gave him a dangerous look. “Well I’m here now, so I might as well deliver the message myself."

She pulled a small square of paper out of her pocket and smoothed it onto the table. The paper's surface betrayed its magical heritage, being deep blue in colour and patterned with gold stars.

"I had to send Sir Anomen ahead of me in order to get this first. But now that we're all here- actually, Reginald, get Arnold in here, would you?"

Reginald dashed out of the room and returned, carrying a small hand-trowel. He tossed it onto the table with a clatter. The three halflings and the human sat and waited.

The scent of primroses hit the room, followed by what appeared to be a short bush on legs. Arnold's small, anxious face was just visible beneath the cloud of green hair. "Has anyone seen my trowel?" he asked.

"Thankyou Reginald," Footrestte murmured, "Arnold, your trowel is right here. You'll get it back after you've done one small thing for us."

Arnold sat at the table with a sigh. "Well, do be quick about it- soil won't wait forever, you know, and there are seedlings to bed. The sun's warmth only lasts so long before the plants begin shivering."

Footrestte shuddered. "Sorry, just had a Cernd moment there."

Warnold clucked and patted her shoulder in sympathy. "If you feel you can't continue, dear," he said hopefully, "There is always another time..."

Reginald piped up, "Another time for mischief? Nah, go on, sister, what's your plan?" He avoided his brother's betrayed look by idly picking Anomen's pocket.

"Well, my Bootkins Three- and of course our honorary halfling here-" She paused while Reginald returned Anomen's hanky to him and Arnold thumped his back, denting the armour slightly, "Together we shall play a little trick on the Coltrane three."

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Re: An Absolute Waste of Time
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2004, 12:14:02 AM »
An Absolute Waste of Time IV
~If you're not groaning, then you've stopped reading~

“Here we are.” Footrestte’s comment was made through gritted teeth. Her face was screwed up in halfling misery, and the hair on her toes curled in dismay. Beside her, Anomen’s jaw dropped open with a squeak and he almost lost his grip on the small bowl he was holding. Arnold groaned and clutched his lucky twig convulsively, while Warnold closed his eyes and tried to think of Gwenda. Of the five, only Reginald remained capable of motion. He ambled to the water feature and tapped at the bowl of the fountain.

“Sir Sarles made this, you said? I thought he only worked in illithium. This is decidedly more… pink.”

Footrestte shuddered her way out of her paralysis. Averting her eyes from the object in question, she replied “Yes, but he made an exception here. Gods know how much gold they had to ply him with…”

“It’s quite nice.” Reginald stepped back and took in the rest of the fountain with a critical eye. “Of course, Mr Coltrane’s looking a little taller than he usually is. Mrs Coltrane, now, I’ve never seen her looking quite so…” His voice trailed off as the yellow teeth flashed. “Now there’s a dress she should wear more often.”

“Artistic license, I think,” Footrestte replied, “And besides, if she ever really wore that dress, the socks would show.”

“The way he’s got her bent back over his arm... Nice. Never seen Mr Coltrane shirtless before,” Reginald cocked his head, “Well, he’s got more muscles hidden beneath that robe of his than I’d ever have imagined. Though the poor fellow must’ve sweated a bunch, to hold her up all the while the artist was chipping at the stone!”

“And a crick in the neck, too.” Footrestte rolled her eyes, “I’m sure this scene came directly from Imoen’s imagination.”

“Oh, I don’t know- look at the way it’s been set up to have water trickling from his temples down over his chest…” He grinned in approval, “Now that’s art!”

Anomen found his voice (located somewhere in the pit of his stomach, conversing with Dread), “An… an affront.. to…”

Reginald’s eyebrows skyrocketed as he followed the direction of Anomen’s trembling finger, “You’ve got a good set of eyes on you, Mr Delryn sir,” he climbed onto the rim of the fountain and squinted at the statues, “At belt level too! Little old Imoen! Well I never!”

“And the colour… Yegods...” The murmur came from Arnold, who stood rooted to the spot.

Reginald hopped off the fountain. “You know,” he said, “If you squint a little, it’s almost exactly the same shade as Sir-“

“Lady Footrestte!” Anomen said, “We should not delay any longer! My dearest Tiana expects me back for supper.”

“Very well.” Footrestte pulled the magical parchment out of her sleeve. The golden stars were slightly obscured by writing, but reflected in her eyes as a mischievous glitter.

“Anomen,” she said, “You have Finnigan?”

The knight held down the bowl and nodded.

“Well, he should be fine in the fountain,” she said, “At least until we get back.”

With a plop, the tiny goggle-eyed goldfish slipped into the water* where he made the mistake of glancing up at the statue.

Footrestte tapped the fish on his belly, then shrugged. “He should wake up in time for me to complete the spell.” She shook the parchment, dislodging a few stars.

“I’ll start reading from this. Reginald- you’re in charge of collecting the samples from the Coltrane family.” She counted the number of teeth on display. “Discreetly, please. And give me back the scroll!”

“Ah, you’re no fun, sister.” He tossed it over his shoulder as he darted toward the house. Quite by accident (as Reginald would later claim), it bounced off Anomen's head before Footrestte caught it.

“Arnold,” she prodded the halfling on his belly, “You’re the distraction. Go up there, knock on their door and I don’t know, sing them a song or something.”

“Sister,” he replied with a sigh that set his hair in motion, “That task is more suited to Warnold, don’t you think?”

“No, Warnold stays with me. If you don’t want to sing, give them a lecture on horticulture or something.”

The halfling’s eyes misted over and a dreamy smile crossed over his face. “Ah, Footrestte, you have just made my day.” He set off for the large pink building, a whistle on his breath and a separate whistle coming from his hair, where a myopic bird had begun building a nest.

“Sir Anomen,” she checked her reflection on an armour-clad kneecap, “You’re here by virtue of your Dispel prayer. Please have it ready- I’ll tell you when to set it off.”

“Aye, lady Footrestte. Rest-" he winced, “I mean, you may be assured that I shall perform my duty with utmost care, when the time comes.” The knight walked over to the fountain in a chorus of squeaks that would have turned the Philharmousenic choir quite green (though Arnold would approve). He seated himself on the edge of the large bowl, his back ramrod straight.

“Well, what do you know,” Warnold mumbled, “He almost blends right in…”

“Warnold, dear,” Footrestte’s voice contained the purr of a jungle cat, “You’re here to record these events in your lovely poetry. But first-” Her eyes narrowed as she held the magical scroll under his nose so that he could see the tangle of words on the paper. Her voice now contained claws as well, “You’re going to help me decipher my spell from your latest ode to Gwenda.”

Warnold gulped.




* Immediately causing the death of Complymente, the god of colour-coordination and facilitating the rise of Classh, his evil brother.

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Re: An Absolute Waste of Time
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2004, 12:14:58 AM »
An Absolute Waste of Time V
~Never write when it's past your bedtime~

Meanwhile, Reginald was having indigestion. It might have been brought on by a sudden attack of vertigo, or perhaps Footrestte's latest breakfast. But most likely, he thought, it was the result of the pink gargoyle that was currently smiling at him.

"'Ullo," it said.

Reginald tried to ignore it, a hard task when he was using its ears as his handholds.

The gargoyle tried again. "So 'ow's the weather up 'ere, then?" It pawed gently at Reginald's stomach.

"Kind of busy here at the moment," Reginald said, grunting slightly as he tried to climb up the gargoyle without actually stepping on its face.

"Ah, I can see that, mister. I'll leave you alone, then." The gargoyle settled back with a sigh and extended its claws. "It's just you see, Rockset 'asn't been speaking to me for ages." He nodded at a sinuous (and apparently female) gargoyle who was brooding on another corner of House Coltrane. The motion caused Reginald to swing into the gargoyle's face with a gentle thud. "I'd go and see what's ailin' her meself, but you see, I'm a little petrified." He blushed and nodded at his back paws, cemented to the roof. "The name's Boulder, Boulder Gate, by the way, but you can call me Boll."

"Pleased to meet you, Boll." Reginald gave up and braced a foot against Boll's beak, swung himself over his head, then rolled over into a panting bundle on the gargoyle's back.

Boll turned to look at him. "And what's your name, then?"

"Reginald... Bootkins," he managed between gasps.

"Nice name, that." Boll turned back to stare gloomily at Rockset. "Got a wife, have you?"

Reginald had enough energy to raise a snort in Boll's direction. "No... free as a bird... I am..."

Boll looked at him again and stretched a wing, knocking Reginald onto the roof. "Free as a bird, eh? I s'pose you're free as a half of me." He glanced down at his paws and shook his mane, causing the pink ribbon around his neck to unfurl slightly. "Or a third, perhaps."

"Can I borrow this?" The halfling was flashing extraordinarily bad teeth at him while tugging on the end of his ribbon.

"Sure," Boll shrugged. "Though do me a favour, Reginald, and um-" He blushed again, glowing briefly, "Tell Rockset I didn't mean it when I said..." He shuffled his paws, "When I said she was looking a little flat lately."

The teeth briefly overpowered Boll's senses. "Ah," Reginald said, "Erosion problems?"

Boll looked as sheepish as a stone gargoyle that was part-lion, part-eagle, and part-tortoise could look (which wasn't very sheepish). "I just said (ahem) that she could lose some slate."

"HA!" They glanced up at the voice. Rockset's expression could have been made of stone (whereas it was, in fact, cement).

Reginald whistled and patted Boll on his shell. "I'll give her your apologies, friend Boll. But first, hold this, will you?" He slipped the end of the ribbon into Boll's paw, then slid down its length onto the ledge of the topmost window of the building.

The locks were no match for his picks and the window slid open in no time. Reginald stepped off the ledge and into the master bedroom of House Coltrane.

~

Meanwhile, Jaheira was yawning. Although the small brooding bird was amusing her, the speech issuing from Arnold's mouth was enough to send a bear into hibernation. In fact, a quick shapeshift, and she'd have a good reason to excuse herself. It was winter after all.

"Ah, and the cotyledons unfold, much like the unfolding of a new leaf, which is exactly what they are really..."

If you took Cernd and Jan and bred them, she thought with a quiet spasm, they might produce such a halfling. Such ridiculous hair! And were those silver stars scattered throughout the gravity-defying mess? It was against all things natural. Her palm itched for her stick. One good whack was all she asked...

"But then you get the sap, and what could be more glorious than sap rising through the stem, much like sap rising through the trunk of a tree, although that would be much bigger and more complicated, even though it's really the same thing..."

Gods, could he not leave the droning to the bees?

"Arnold Bootkins," she snapped, "What is the meaning of this? Why are you at the Coltranes' doorstep? Above all, why must you assault my ears with your infernal lecturing? Make your answer quick, man!"

The halfling's brow creased. "I want to see Mr Coltrane?" he guessed.

"Why did you not just say so, instead of starting on a diatribe that would make Nature's most devoted servants weep? You waste my time, when there is a child I could be attending!"

Not giving him a chance to reply, she spun around and shouted up the stairs, where faint giggles and splashes could be heard. "Kelsey, Imoen, Mr Bootkins is here to see you!"

A male voice floated down the stairs, along with a scattering of pink bubbles, "Um, there's some milk in the cookery, fairly fresh. Just pour it into the saucer on the front step."

Jaheira's face was only missing the lightning bolt. "I do not mean your cat! Mr Arnold Bootkins, the brother of your sister, is here to see you!"

"Oh- ah, just let us dry up first." More bubbles came wafting from above, choosing to stop on Jaheira's head. She stormed up the stairs, with Arnold trailing behind.

"Honestly, the way this house is run, it would not surprise me if it should fall down tomorrow! Or today, rather." She stood in the entry to the bathroom, where Kelsey and Imoen stood, each somehow managing to look more guilty than the other.

The floor was slick with bathwater and the scent of strawberries filled the air. Kelsey's robe was soaked and Imoen's dress was being used as an impromptu towel for a small slippery bundle. Hazel eyes peered at him. It was Arnold's first glimpse of Kimona Coltrane.

As he watched Imoen and Kelsey take it in turns to dry the baby's curly pink and orange hair, he came to two conclusions.

The first was that Kimona was a fine young sapling. The second, accompanied by a slight reel in his senses, was that Classh certainly would approve.

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Re: An Absolute Waste of Time
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2004, 12:17:56 AM »
An Absolute Waste of Time VI
~A plot development has been sighted!~

Meanwhile, Footrestte was grumpy. But then, thought Warnold, this was quite normal and just meant that the natural order was in force and proceeding as usual. It didn't take a Jaheira, or even an Anomen, to figure that one out.

A prismatic spray interrupted his reverie. Warnold sighed. He really ought to have a talk with her about the less genteel aspects of her language some day... He looked at her face, which was harmonising quite nicely with her robe. Perhaps not today.

Currently her diatribe was directed at the scroll that was crumpled up in her hands. The stars on the surface reflected her husband's face rather well, right down to his guilty expression, and the sheer proliferation of Warnolds made for quite a satisfying audience.

"Do you know what I went through to get this?" she said.

He hung his head. "No, dearest, but..."

"Hell and highwater!"

He looked up. "But you've been to Hell before, Footrestte-"

"And it doesn't get any better the second time around. But Highwater made Hell seem blissful in comparison."

"So how were Mum and Popsie?"

Footrestte fixed him with an icy glare. He hung his head again, this time to hide his grin.

"Anyway," she said, "There are plenty of scrolls for you to write your poetry on. Why did you have to choose this one? I can barely read what's going on, and I wrote the spell!"

He shuffled over to her, his expression now suitably downcast. "Sorry dear... I just get carried away, you know? Besides, this poem was about you."

She snorted a little. "As you always say." The mention of Forabell and Geronimald Bootkins had deflated her somewhat. Warnold took his chance for a change in topic.

"Just what is this spell you've been working on anyway?"

His timing was perfect. A tiny light began to dance in her eyes and the expanse of her grin would have put Reginald to shame.

"Why don't you watch it and see?" The grin melted into a frown as she looked down at the scroll. "I suppose this is as good as it'll ever get. Did you really have to use indelible ink, Warnold?"

He was insulted. "That's a work of art, my Footrestte, and don't you forget it!"

"I have my doubts." She glanced up at the house and shrugged. "Let's hope that Arnold holds out the happy family until Reginald gets here." She padded to the fountain and poked a finger into the water. Finnigan, awake and with eyes firmly downcast, swam up, kissed the finger once, then continued his solemn laps around the fountain. Thus empowered, Footrestte began the spell.

~

At that moment, Reginald was pocketing bottles of an oily substance. Robbery was a satisfying art, he thought as he uncapped a bottle and took a taste, particularly when the rewards were so sweet. Kelsey's Oil was a slick substance on the Shadow market and would do wonders to grease the ladder to success 1.

Funny, he thought, it just tastes like sugar water. Don't see why it's so-

His thoughts drifted off as he made the fatal mistake of looking into the mirror. He moved toward it, his heart pounding, and smiled at himself...

~

Arnold stepped forward, slipped on a puddle and slid into Imoen's knee.

Kelsey looked at him in horror. "Be careful, Arnold! You might have hurt Imoen!" He turned to Imoen, "Are you all right, my love, my pinky winky temptress, my imply dimply Imoen?"

"Right as rain, my Kelsey cupcake!"

Kelsey's brow furrowed. "What's a cupcake, Imoen?"

Imoen looked baffled. "I don't know... it just came out, Kelsey Welsey, you hunky spunky!"

Arnold was prevented from going into convulsions by a tug on his hair. Kimona blinked at him, her eyes soft with sympathy. Arnold reached up and grasped the tiny hand. "Hello, little one," he said. She smiled.

Jaheira threw the oblivious parents an aggravated look, silently wished for an entangle prayer that could be localised to the tongue, and helped Arnold to his feet. "I see that Kimona is pleased to meet you," she said, "Perhaps it is a blessing that you have come. Now what of your message to-" She frowned. Arnold began to panic as he noted that she was staring over his hair, out the window.

Footrestte had chosen her distraction well. Jaheira turned to watch him as he raced around the room, the bird trilling merrily in his wake, and in her amusement, promptly forgot the three characters she had seen on the Coltrane's front lawn.

~

"Ashtor, gresank, thydane, cadu...
What is, is not, is made askew
Grant me now my boon, my dear
Your lovely singing and lovelier rear-
(Oh crud)
Put what is right and wrong misplaced
My wish is just to smooch your face

(Warnold, this is YOUR fault!)
Put what is right and wrong misplaced
Make my wish, my heart, en-

ANOMEN GET THE CAT AWAY FROM FINNIGAN!!"

Anomen snapped awake to see the tiny, fluffy ginger itten about to close its jaws upon the bug-eyed fish. He shot out a hand to grab it, missed, and fell spectacularly into the bowl of the fountain. The ensuing tidal wave swept Mr Bootkins off the edge of the fountain and into a bush, where his fur became entangled. Finnigan, being magical, finned his way back to the bowl and refused to partake in any further discussion, besides the odd petulant bubble.

Footrestte was aghast. "Sir Anomen- you must watch over Finnigan with more care!"

The knight splashed upright and stood, glaring down at her. His beard sloshed a little as he spoke. "A knight of the Order of the Radiant Heart should not be babysitting fish, Lady Footrestte!"

She stamped her foot into the puddled mess of the scroll. "I promised you my aid in return for your help!"

"And I am aiding you, Lady Footrestte," he said shortly, "Though I do not see why my duty must demean me in so grevious a way. Could not your husband care for the amphibian?"

Warnold piped up. "Sir Anomen, amphibians aren't fish and fish aren't amphibians. Besides, I'm no good with that fish. He can't abide me... not ever since the Vintage Teapot and Bullet +1 Incident."

Anomen puffed up, a stout figure in the fountain. "Then perhaps I should read the scroll and Lady Footrestte can look after the fish! He is her familiar after all!"

Footrestte's eyebrow twitched. "I'd like to see you try completing the spell, Sir Anomen." She folded her arms. "First of all, you are not a mage-"

"I should think that I could handle spouting off a few words written on a scroll, even if they are of magical origin."

Footrestte was unimpressed. "Second, you wouldn't be able to distinguish between the spell and Warnold's poetry. The heavens know that I couldn't." The glare she gave Warnold made him thankful, yet again, that they did not live in a literal world. "Last of all, even if you were a mage and could tell the difference between his words and mine, you would be inappropriately dressed for spellcasting."

Anomen glowered and started to steam a little. "I trust this is not another slur upon the Delryn shield colour, lady Footrestte?"

She sighed (an 8 out of 10 from Sir Keldorn, had he seen it) "I mean your armour, Sir knight."

"I will remove my armour, then, Lady Footrestte!" He shouted. He stepped out of the fountain and undid the straps, tipping the balance of the bowl as he did so. Water poured out of his armour as he threw the sections of metal away. "Next we will address your other objections." He moved toward her.

Warnold began to nudge Footrestte away from the knight. "Watch out, dear, I believe our Sir Anomen's going a little potty..."

Anomen chose to ignore this. "Give me the-"

"HAVE YOU SEEN MY HUSBAND?!"

Anomen stopped in terror, looked up at Lady Tiana Delyrn as she entered the gate, looked down at his half-naked form and turned pale (as well as undead- an unfortunate reflex action when confronted with a terrifying situation.) "Helm- nay, Footrestte, help me!" he cried.

~

A small explosion shocked Reginald out of his romantic fantasy involving himself running toward himself on a beach. As this required no actual running, it was a particularly good fantasy to have.

A second later, Boll's head popped into view in the window, upside down. "'Ullo," he said, "You all right there?"

Reginald peeled himself away from the mirror. "Aye, good Boll," he said, "But I felt Faerun move..."

Boll clicked his beak. "No, Reginald, it was just the closet. Seems Mr Coltrane kept his old skeleton in there. His first skull trap, you know?" The gargoyle sniffed. "That, and alot of shoes."

Reginald darted toward the blackened closet, where a skull sat smoking sadly at him from its perch atop a jaunty looking boot. Boot. Foot. Footrestte.

He cursed and scooped up the skull and boot. One belonged to Kelsey, he reasoned as he dashed towards the window, the other must belong to Imoen. "Boll!" he shouted, "I need a lift to ground level- can you manage it?"

Boll blinked in surprise. "Guess I can... this cement's a little loose, and if you lend me some of that oil..." He winked as the halfling scrambled onto his back. "Not to worry, a secret between friends, eh? Just don't forget about Rockset and that... er...  slate issue."

They both heard the "HA!" as they left the roof.

~

The blast was loud enough to shock Arnold out of his panicked laps around the bathroom. He collapsed in a panting heap as Jaheira ran past him, toward the Coltrane bedroom. He grabbed her leg and hung on desperately. As he bounced along the carpeted floor, he realised that he wouldn't cut it as an anchor, although his hair was cushioning the blows. Behind him, he was aware that the Coltrane three were keeping up and above him, the bird looked at him reproachfully as it clung on.

Jaheira slammed open the bedroom door in time to see a gargoyle swoop past the window. "Damn!" she swore as she noted who was on its back.

It was nothing compared to the curse she used when she saw who they were headed towards. In her favour, though, was the argument that the word she used was quite natural.

~

Footrestte's eyes widened as she heard the curse echo towards her. They widened further as they took in Jaheira's shaking fist and Arnold waving beside her. "Ah, the Jae's up," she thought, "They'll be down here in a moment, but I still have time to cast-"

"Footrestte!" Anomen was desperately trying to pull on his armour.

From somewhere behind her she could hear Tiana's footsteps. She looked at the trembling Anomen, then down at the puddle of ruined scroll at her feet. She made a decision.

The invisibility spell was almost complete when a boot landed on her head, closely followed by a grinning skull (courtesy of midair lessons from Reginald). She fell like a brick.

"Footrestte!" Warnold cried and ran to pick her up.

"Complete the spell," she said to him through gritted teeth.

"But Footrestte!"

"I'm all right, Warnold.. I'll just have a headache in the morning." She sat up, then lay down again. "In fact, I think I'll have one right now." She squinted at him. "The spell, Warnold. Please."

"Yes, yes- Footrestte." He fumbled together the sopping parchment and ignored the sight of Anomen accelerating around the fountain, closely followed by a broom-wielding Tiana. He read as Jaheira disappeared from the window. Reginald shouted an apology to Footrestte from the sky above. Warnold continued reading.

The fourth last word of the spell was spoken as Tiana caught up to Anomen enough to give him a solid club on the head with the broom.
The third last word was spoken as Jaheira, Arnold and the Coltranes burst out the front door and onto the lawn.
The second last word was accompanied by Bolle's graceful landing atop the statues gracing the fountain.
Warnold cleared his throat somewhat bashfully and completed the spell.
"NO!" shouted Jaheira.

And then there was silence.

And more silence.

And more.

They looked at each other.

Then the silence was broken as a voice trembled onto the edge of hearing. It was a beautiful voice, rich and deep as velvet. It rose in volume and threaded its way through each person's ears and directly into their hearts.

Kelsey and Imoen saw each other. Jaheira saw Khalid standing in knee-deep grass. Arnold saw knee-deep grass. Anomen envisioned Moira, smiling at him. Tiana was lost in personal bliss at the sight of an orderly table full of food.  Kimona gurgled at the picture of her parents. Reginald saw himself on a beach (the secret to Kelsey's Oil's success was its longevity). Boll sighed as Rockset nuzzled against him. Footrestte, through the pain, felt Warnold's hand on her forehead.

And now they could hear the words that the voice was singing. Only Warnold had heard the song before. He'd heard the opera often enough.

The Magic Boot.

A cracking sound woke them all from their inner visions and they all looked up simultaneously as the statues of Kelsey and Imoen broke apart.

And Gwenda Fuzzyfoot, the famed half-orc contralto of Waterdeep, stepped out.




1A perfectly logical strategy for reaching the uppermost rung of a hierarchy, provided that those at the top absorb the oil as they slide their way down to the bottom of the ladder.

Offline cliffette

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Re: An Absolute Waste of Time
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2004, 12:19:05 AM »
An Absolute Waste of Time VII
~Please disregard the following~

The note sputtered to a stop as the statue-exque singer realised that she was no longer onstage in Waterdeep. Her mouth shut like a trap (Lev 11 special trap to be precise) as she beheld her audience, and her forehead began to crease as she counted ten mouths open in stunned surprise, one spread in a monstrous, yellow-toothed grin and a complete absence of applause, accolade or swooning.

"Gwenda," she decided, "Want applause!"

Five rounds later, Warnold snapped to his senses. He scurried to the still-stunned Anomen and shuffled him into position in front of the half-orc songstress. With a brief muttered apology, he climbed onto the knight's shoulders and squinted at Gwenda.

"You're.." he said, "You're rather big for a halfling.."

He slid down the stricken knight and peered at Gwenda's feet.

"And, well, if you don't think me rude," he concluded, "You're looking a little baldy about the feet there." His nose wrinkled. "Not to mention greeny."

The half-orc's eyes flared in indignation as she drew herself to her full height.

"Gwenda Fuzzyfoot not halfling!"

"Eh?"

"I said Gwenda-"

"Sorry, you're too far up for me to hear-"

They stared at each other for several seconds before Gwenda reconsidered, flared her eyes in indignation once again, and erased herself to her empty depth.

"Gwenda Fuzzyfoot," she repeated, "Not halfling!"

"But your name!"

"Is stage name! Am sponsored by Frogaine, hair tonic distributor for feet!"

Warnold stared at her feet, "Well sorry to say, it's not working for you." He heaved a sigh +1 ("Heftiness in the sigh is the mark of a naturally talented individual" - Sir Firecam). "You look so much smaller on the posters."

"Painter take off 110 pound," sniffed Gwenda. "I tear him to shreds with bare hands."

Warnold resisted the urge to panic, "And might I say rightly so? If you will excuse me a moment-"

He backed up until a gentle thump and a quiet, "Oof!" told him he'd located his wife.

"Footrestte, dear!" he said urgently, "I think something might have gone wrong with the spell!"

The glare he received would have made a horse salivate. "You don't think?" she muttered, rubbing the bump on her head, "And whose fault was that? If you hadn't messed up my parchment with your Ode to-"

"My sweet, there isn't time! Is there a way to reverse or dispel this?"

"We'd have to look to Sir Anomen," she replied.

~

He was standing surrounded by rose-coloured rubble, the dust of which was settling on his armour and turning it a uniform shade of rather manly pink. The sun glinted off the specks in the marble, dazzling his eyes, when before him appeared a vision of breathtaking beauty.

"What," he stammered, as his face was suffused with a blush that would have earned strong applause from Imoen, "What brings so lovely a form to this-" he glanced down, "Fountainbowl of-" a particular intact part of the statue caught his eye for a moment, "Corruption?"

"I CAME TO FIND YOU, HUSBAND!" she replied.

His expression changed from besotted to one of wonder, "It speaks! How could this be so?"

"BECAUSE I'M YOUR WIFE, FOOL!" she shouted.

"How couldst this be? It is my dearest Tiana's voice, yet is not of her form!"

"Of COURSE I'm not of my form! Something went wrong with that halfling's spell! Honestly, you are as stupid as RUMAR sometimes!"

Anomen blanched, "Tiana, my love?"

"How many times do I have to tell you it's ME?!" She shook her leaves at him threateningly, "So much for calling me your little flower!! Now PICK ME THIS INSTANT, Anomen, and we'll get to the bottom of this!"

The knight regarded his wife in dismay. Helm smite me, he thought as he plucked the rhodelia gently from the ground, images of pot pourri and other assorted dried flowers dancing merrily across his mind. He deposited its stem into Finnigan's bowl.

"Lady Footrestte?" he said, "A job for you."

~

"I tell you!" she shouted, grinding a ditch into the Coltrane front lawn, "I don't know how to undo it! I don't know why you can't dispel it! I can only assume -" She gnawed her lip, "That the mix of poetry and my altered spell created a hideous monster, with all due respect to Madame Fuzzyfoot and Tidelia!"

Reginald sauntered over, jingling a shiny set of lockpicks at Kimona who was tucked under an arm. "Not to mention the disappearance of Mr and Mrs Coltrane."

Footrestte cast a worried glance at the piles of clothing representing the former Coltrane parents. "All I know," she said, "Is that my spell was supposed to brand them with their words to each other for a day. It was only supposed to make them see how ridiculous they were acting! Not make them disappear into the ether!" She plonked onto the ground in a worried heap.

Warnold sat beside her and stroked her hand, "There there, dear. Perhaps I could compose a poem to cheer you?"

She gripped his hand rather more tightly than expected and shook her head.

"At least nobody else is missing," Warnold said, "See, Kimona is still here, with Reginald. That strange gargoyle thing-"

"Boll! Nice to meet'chu," it said, waving a claw.

"Er- Boll is quite happy in the fountain bowl... Arnold and Jaheira are still here, and with the addition of Gwenda, we are only down one person!"

"HA! Nobody ever thinks of the FLOWERS!!"

"And the lady Tiana and Sir Anomen, of course," Warnold concluded hurriedly.

"Always you were quick to jump to conclusions, Footrestte," Jaheira said. Her eyes unfocussed slightly, "The balance has not been disturbed by so wholesale a disappearance. Kelsey and Imoen are still alive."

"Then where," Reginald unhooked his lockpicks and began juggling them for Kimona's general amusement, "Could they be?"

 

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