Thursday, December 13, 2012

Day Three-Forty-Nine: No worlds on this back

I haven't talked about Robert much lately.

My brother, I mean. Not the librarian. (Poor guy's still trapped with June. Gods, I really need to set up a library…)

Despite the constant destruction and reconstruction of Pubton, Robert's been in high spirits. Sure, he supported my dad's covert mutiny during the problems with Pagan, and sure, the animal mishaps put him out a bit, but he's happy to experiment with his meals. He's also shacked up with the most beautiful woman in Pubton each night, and they make a lot of noise.

A LOT of noise.

Egh. Disturbing.

Anyway. Robert's got it good. Life is swell. He's generally excused from watch duty, he doesn't do much manual labour, and he gets the best pickings of the food. So I figured, what the hell, time to contribute.

"This… this is… this is your idea? Bro? What the hell?!"

It was my idea. I'd employed five seamsters and seamstresses to cobble together a costume the two of us could wear. Cobble they did, and had it ready by this morning. (I would've gone with something bigger but we didn't have time or materials.)

"Get in, bro. As in, get under."

"You're crazy!" Robert hefted the head, testing it for a second, then dropped it on the ground. "Batshit loco! Mom'll kill us if we try this!"

"Look," I said, slipping my legs into the back end, "I don't know what 'loco' means, but this is the only way we'll get Philip into that forest. Don't you remember how animals reacted to 'im back home? We need his help!"

It's true, too. Remember how I wrote about the rats reacting badly to Philip, way back in the day? The same happens with other animals. Whenever Philip floated into the barracks, for example, or wandered into any of the stables, the animals would freak out. Granted that these other animals didn't ENSLAVE Philip like the rats, but the point remains. Ghosts and beasts don't mix.

"Bugger. You only want me 'cause we…" Robert hesitated. "I mean, you… I… it wasn't my idea - "

"Yes it was. It totally was your idea. And I TOLD you it was bad."

"But I didn't ask him - "

"You told ME to ask him! That's even worse, ya coward!"

"I did not! And I am not! Your insinuatin' nonsense is… is… uh… nonsense!"

I picked you up off a nearby table and waved you in Robert's face. "You can lie to yourself, bro, but you can't lie to this. I have it aaaaaall written down."

He stared at you, eyes fluttering with recognition and irritation. "Gah… you still writing in that thing…? The cover's getting' kinda green, y'know… should clean it better…"

"Don't change the subject." I stowed you in a small pouch at my side and hitched the legs up the rest of the way. "C'mon. They're waiting. And so's he."

Robert's a jerk, but he's not a bad guy. Not really. I also think that, deep down, he can appreciate a crackpot scheme. He comes up with his own all the time. He donned the head, and we buttoned up the tabs and hoisted the crude wooden frame under the fabric, and soon we were plodding into the sunlight of a snowy Thursday afternoon, followed by a small group of people.

As we walked towards the forest, we yelled. We yelled for Philip.

"Phil!" I screamed from the buttocks, hoping my voice wasn't muffled by the disguise. "Phil! C'mon out, you ghostly bastard! Lookit this!" 

"Phil!" Robert wailed, uncertain. "Don't hurt us, Philip, please! Uh… we… uh… we're not what we look like…"

"Shut UP, Robert, it's supposed to be a disguise!"

"YOU shut up! I don't wanna get killed by a ghost!"

"You two are the worst saboteurs ever," Grylock commented dryly from somewhere outside our misshapen suit.

"Dunno if saboteur's the word, but I agree, they're lousy." Libby snorted and yelled. "Ghost guy! C'mon! You always like fuckin' around and making Grayson float, so get out here and mess with somethin' more your own size!"

My mouth went dry when Libby mentioned Grayson floating, and I thanked the gods that she attributed it to Philip and not Grayson HIMSELF, but then we heard a howl and a swoop, and I knew Philip had finally seen us. The chase was on.

"RUN, ROBERT!" I cried, pumping my legs forward, vaguely aware that a few other sets were following warily behind us. "NO, NO, RUN IN STEP WITH ME!"


From what I heard later, Philip appeared from the barricades and dove at us with a giant, distorted, ugly grimace on his wavering face, no doubt put out by the fact that we were wearing, yes, you've probably guessed it by now, an elephant costume. One that was already coming apart at the middle, but still an elephant costume. 

We ran. Philip gave chase, gibbering in his ghostly tongue. At some point we hit the forest, me unable to see a damned thing from the rear, and my legs got tangled in a bush. Robert managed to clear the bush and kept going, the ghost on his tail, probably more fixated on the patchwork elephant's head than the butt I was meant to represent. The wooden framework collapsed around me.

I didn't see the animals run. I honestly wasn't sure at first that our plan had worked. Then it occurred to me that we were in the forest, and soon after I heard frightened hoots and squawks and howls and growls, and the flutter of many birds taking flight, and I knew that every damned animal was making way for the horrible ghost and his ungainly prey. If we were going to find June's hut, that was the time.

Pushing the framework off of me and hitching up my gray-and-green pants (we were a damned ugly elephant), I motioned for the rest of the group (Grylock, Libby and two hunters) to follow us in. We dashed into the trees, not sure what we were looking for, only hoping that June would appear magically, as always, and usher us into her weird hut thing.

She did not usher us into her hut. It did, however, open suddenly in front of our group, a way-too-big gaping maw in one of the trees, and we were sucked into the door and deposited dangerously close to June's fireplace.

June was not home. Her little spider, Julius, was. With a tiny wiggle of one of his legs the door slammed shut in our wake, and he scuttled to higher ground as we picked ourselves up and dusted off the snow.

"That you, June?" Robert the Librarian yelled from his tiny cell. "Got some new scrolls for me, old gal?"

'Old gal?' Libby mouthed to me. I bit my lip. "Uh, no, Rob, it's me! Dragomir!"

"Oh, okay," Robert responded with a laugh. "I'll get right to work sorting them. Just let me rearrange the periodicals like you asked! Busy busy!"

I looked at Julius with one eyebrow cocked. He shrugged in return, or gave me the rippling, eight-legged approximation of a shrug. Poor Robert, June must have him hopped up on some really weird magic.

I asked where June was. Julius, sitting atop a broken birdbath, shrugged again. I asked when she would be coming back. He shrugged. Frustrated, I asked if he knew a way for me to find out - and he shrugged again. I figured I'd wasted my time until he pointed to the bag hidden in my pants.

I pulled you out and set you on a table. Grabbing a quill from an inkpot, Julius skittered onto your pages and began to write the following with surprisingly good penmanship:

"June is somewhere in the forest. She suspected you might come calling, and she told me to send you to the deepest part, to the places in the valley that you haven't yet visited. She thinks the perpetrator is hidden somewhere in there, and she wants you to draw them out of hiding so she can strike."

"Do ya know who's behind this, Julius?"

More writing. "No. Not precisely. If June has a hypothesis, she hasn't shared it with me. She has said that the person must hate your guts, Dragomir, to go to these lengths."

I scratched my head. Definitely the person Pagan used to bother us, then. Somebody who hates me, somebody who can control animals usin' the same weird powers as June. And the bastard noble, may his soul rest peacefully in hell, or something. Still not sure how to feel about him.

Julius advised us to settle down for the evening, as it's apparently not a good idea to go outside while the animals are fearful. He wasn't terribly clear on why, though he says he'll explain tomorrow. He hasn't steered my wrong yet, and he served us tea, so I'll accept the word of this little tarantula.

Poor Robert. I don't think Philip will harm him, and I doubt he'll stop pestering him so the animals shouldn't be much of a threat, but he's probably so damned lost right now. Poor, poor Robert.


Dragomir the Mayor


  1. My vote is the disease that affected everyone but Drag. It made him walk for a long time. AND run. For a lazy sunovagun like me, that's the most horrid kind of evil.

    1. Poor foulfungus. It shall have its day in the sun... eventually...

  2. Replies
    1. You know shtuff's going down when priests quote a religion different than their own.

  3. Unfortunately I've been having interweb complications (Damn Dwarves running the generator in my cellar must've revolted again). But I've been keeping up-to-date by going online during lunchbreaks at work XD

    LOVE the patch-work Elephant XD

  4. I have to go with the rats because I'm still not certain they aren't villains. What makes a better villain than someone who make me think sometimes they might be good? Then, like any of the other villains, they have done things only to further themselves. Ambiguity is evil.