This story takes place sometime between the birth of Bremorel Songsteel and the birth of Inshala ‘la Fey’ Frostmane, in a bitterly cold cave, somewhere up very north of any known civilization.
I hate this shit..!”
A somewhat raspy and tenoric voice echoed in the darkness of a very large, bitter cold cave. It was, however, a bit unclear whether the bitterness was in the voice or the arctic cave. A number of glacial stalactites did shatter and crumble down though.
A single candle danced and fluttered inside an elegant, copper framed lantern in one corner of the cave where a small figure wearing goggles with thick, darkened lenses banged and fiddled with a very large, rusty, mechanical..
It was hard to say what this thing really was. It vaguely resembled a bear.. perhaps.
Many cogs, gears, clockwork springs, moving arms, and levers shifted and shuffled inside it with a great amount of vertical noise as sharp columns of steam hissed out of areas where they probably shouldn’t.
“What are you doing..”, another, sleepy and voluptuous voice said, out of the reach of the stuttering candlelight.
“I am working on my project. What does it look like I am doing?”, the raspy voice replied in a grouchy tone.
“Come on, girl. It’s the dead hour of the night. Come back and sleep..”, the sultry voice said with a yawn.
I remember once when some dolt with nothing better to do asked me what my ideals were.
When everyone despises you for your family, you have no future and ideals become overrated..
Thanks, uncle, for buggering my life!
And thank you too, Nadine Graciousward.. for, so graciously kicking my retarded uncle’s gnomic arse six ways to hell and milking it for all you are worth..
“You may have time to sleep, but some of us have actual work to do and don’t rely on the size of our breasts to get them done!”, the raspy voice cracked.
There was a surly moment of silence followed by a rustling sound and then, a pair of soft, naked feet approached the dim candlelight.
“That was a tad uncalled for, Tonic, even for you.. Besides, there is nothing wrong with the size of my breasts. Neither with yours, for that matter, proportionally speaking, of course.. Only if you could be bothered to sulk less and wiggle them some —the way I showed you. And speaking of work, nothing you have done actually did work, you know. Might as well sleep.. or wiggle, at the very least!”, said the voluptuous voice as an impossibly tall and very much dark figure entered the dimly glowing light.
“My goggles work. So does my lantern..!”, the little figure snapped indignantly. “..And don’t call me ‘Tonic’. We are not friends enough for you to get familiar with my name.”
“This is quite a big leap from a pair of goggles and a lantern.”, said the tall figure, pointing dubiously at the mechanical ‘whatsit’. “And I have been calling you ‘Tonic’ since the day we were introduced for the scholar pairing, back in the academy. And that was nearly two years ago.. What just changed?”
“I just got around to it..”
I have no bonds, only chains.. and this idiot with a pink fetish, shamelessly running around in a retarded mini skirt-dress that defies gravity, i am paired to..
Pink skirt.. Really? What kind of a demented and abysmally stupid girl goes to the dig site of some ancient ruin in a mini skirt!
“Hey boys, I am going to bend over here to brush the dust off these skeletal remains, don’t be shy..”
I mean, it’s not even sending mixed messages!
Hells bells, girl, you are slim as willow and tall as the Raven Queen’s hallowed spire. I can see your laced, pink panties under that piece of laced, pink swab you call a dress, just by looking at your face, and I am not even trying.. I have seen things there, I am never going to scrub out of my mind!
The owner of the raspy voice turned to look at the tall figure with compounded irritation and quickly averted her eyes.
“Can you at least put something on? Anything. Even that sham of a dress I wouldn’t use for a cloak will do!”
“For all that’s good and not, why? We are alone, in a cave, in the middle of nowhere.. literally.. for all three cases!”, the tall figure replied.
“Besides, it’s quite warm in here. Hot even, I dare say.”, she added..
..and shrugged her slim shoulders, causing some other things to bounce as well.
Some people ask me what my flaws are.
Don’t need any. I have this stupid girl to look after and the deeds of a retard uncle that follow me wherever I go..
Nobody can be this unlucky, yet here I am..
It’s like the sky’s wanted a laugh and said; here, let’s make a particularly midgety gnome.
And while at it, let’s make her as pale and skinny as a hundred-year-old ghoul.
Then let’s make her a relative to someone famous.. Famous for engineering something as abysmally stupid as a demon gate, just so she gets the special treatment of a leper.
..And then make him get owned by a little girl that just turns out to be the most beautiful minx in the king’s land. So beautiful in fact, that she destroys the legendary Arcanton with her pretty, rather than brains and gets to marry a friggin elf ri!
Really?..AN ELF Rİ!
What?, “Marry the handsome prince and live happily ever after’ routine wasn’t good ‘nuf for you? I am certain there was any number of them around, just waiting to be grabbed by you!
I mean, can you even get any brasher then that?
But that’s not all.. Let’s kick the midget some more while she’s down and pair her off with another beautiful girl. Preferably with ‘the most popular girl of the academy’ made of two long legs, a little ass..
..and pretty much nothing else.
You know, just to underline the difference in size, color, and.. everything else. I don’t even qualify to reach her waist. When I look straight at her, I just see.. pink!.
Look at her; my little gnomic arse is frozen numb and she dares says ‘it’s hot, even’!..
It makes me and ‘irony’ bleed!
A sharp clanking sound came from the mechanical monstrosity.
“Is it supposed to do that?”, the tall figure asked.
“Possibly..”, the raspy, small figure replied evasively.
An arm shot out from the mechanical ‘thing’ and grabbed at the tall figure!
“Umm.. is he really supposed to do that? Grab my ass the way he has, I mean..”, the tall figure said, more with surprise than any kind trepidation.
“No.. maybe..”, the raspy-voiced little figure replied, somewhat dismayed. “But it’s no wonder he would, the way you keep running around the way you do..”
“What’s wrong with the way I run? Although, now that you mentioned it, I do feel funked!”, the tall figure said, looking down at the mechanical arm. “If he squeezes, and leaves a mark, I will have to demolish him. You know that, right?”
“Funked?!”, the small figure said.
“Yea, funked. That was the popular word in the academy when we left.. Probably dropped out of use, though. Nothing lasts in the academy for long.”, the tall figure signed.
The little gnome snorted as she kept fidgeting and tuning the cogs, wheels, and gears inside the mechanical monstrosity.. but with a hint of desperation now.
“Where did you get all these parts anyway. We are in the middle of an arctic desert!”, the tall, dark figure asked.
“Magic, duh!”, said the small figure.
“Ahh, right.. I suppose all is okay if there is a ‘duh’ in it.”, sniffed the tall figure. “You know, I never really liked that word. It’s not even a real word. It’s impolite, patronizing, very unscholarly, and sounds so silly.”
The small figure ignored her.
“And why in all that’s good and not, do all your clockworks have a sad, worried expression on their faces?”
“Because I find that hilarious..”
“You find sad faces hilarious.. There is something seriously wrong with you girl. I mean, who finds sad faces, funny?”
The tall figure reached out to touch something that looked like the single antenna of a sawyer bug, sticking out of the rusty, elongated egg-like head of the monstrosity.
“STOP!”, the little figure shouted.
“DO NOT TOUCH THAT!”
“What? Why?”, the tall one asked.
“Because it will disintegrate you!”
“No, it won’t!”
Multi-tasking a conversation with this tall figure and trying to tune the mechanical thing was starting to get to her. All she wanted was to be left alone, all to herself.
“You are just cranky because it just doesn’t work. Like, at all.. Now tell me, why?”, the tall figure asked softly, with an unexpected change from her voluptuous voice.
“Why are you always chewing me out? I am not the real reason for the disposition of your ire. Merely your happy excuse.”
“The disposition of my ire?”, snorted the gnome. “Using the big words now, are we?”
“Casting yourself in the third person now, are you? I am simply your G.T.B.G.”
The little gnome stared at the very tall, very dark figure through her thick goggles in blank incomprehension.
“Your G-T-B-G.. Your Go-To Burn Girl!.. To be used for the amusement of your cumulative anger; hey look, Tonic is feeling irritated, just dump it on the tall, pretty girl. Tonic is feeling angry, just burn the tall, pretty strumpet. And now, Tonic is feeling waspish, go right ahead and claw, bite, sting, and stab the tall, stupid girl.
It must be all right to hurt the Go-To Burn Girl since you think so little of me. In your mind, I am just a stupid, pretty idiot that I can not help but be. You have no regard whether the things you say may really hurt because some of them might actually be true, but nevertheless, things I can not change nor do anything about, save taking a knife and carving myself with it..
I can’t change what I am. My height, my color, my face.. and hey, my incomprehensible, mindlessly obsessive passion for pink! And you are accusing me, punishing me and pushing me away for them.. and your family. None of which I had nothing to do..
Other than the inevitable, I have never once looked down on you. Never have I judged you by your size, your appearance, your past, nor your family.. When I look at you, I see a lovely, smart girl who is angry and feels that anger justifies burning her pair.
Has it ever occurred to you that they might not have paired you to me to get rid of you, but paired me to you so we could help fix each other?
For everything that’s good and not, have you ever wondered why I call you ‘Tonic’ and never once by your full name? Or why I never asked you about your uncle?”
There was a long moment of silence as a stubborn minute snailed by..
..followed by another.
The little gnome tried very hard not to say anything but failed, and finally gave in.
“No.. Yes.. Why?”
“Because I saw the hurt in your eyes every time some idiot did.. and asking about it one more time just to have satisfied a passing show of interest at the cost of more pain to you, was not acceptable for me. You don’t do that to your pair. And to be totally honest about it, I only felt indifferent to your uncle. He meant absolutely little to nothing for me. Neither did your kinship to him.
I acknowledged that kinship, it’s unavoidable existence and how it related to you, not because of him or his deeds, but because of what those deeds cost you and did to you. I never saw him as a great researcher, nor a loser. I saw him as a reckless megalomaniac who gave no regard to the possible outcome of his actions and what those actions might entail.. It is possible, though not acceptable, for someone to be careless with the lives of some far, faceless strangers. But knowing you have a family and still doing what he did it is simple baseline lunacy! If I so desperately wanted to know about him, I still wouldn’t have tormented you, I would have just gone to the academy library, seeing as how there is a whole section dedicated to his idiocy..
Just like the things you despise me for having but I could do nothing about, you could do nothing about your connection to him either.. But you know what hurts me as much as you being kin to Arcanton do you? Your deliberate indifference to the things you say to your pair!
You don’t get to be snippy with me all the time. Nor to burn me because you think I supply you with an outlet of convenience. You don’t do that to a pair. I am sorry I fall short of your standards or your expectations all the time. I try very hard not to. I really do.. But your expectations are not some high standards for perfection. They are a mere excuse for your private misery. I can’t meet those standards because deep down, you and I both know, they are not there to overcome, but they are there to stay. It is your inner, impregnable castle where people around you must bash their heads to get through, but never will. You know why? Because you can’t break a wall by bashing it with heads, no matter how many of them you throw at it. And by some remarkable off chance that you did, the wall is now ‘broken’ and the castle has likely been raided.. and left behind. Abandoned without its dignity or soul.
You have to lower your bridge and let me in..
‘Wow..’, thought Tonic, grudgingly. There was no way in hell she could ever make a speech like that and on the spot. Her best would have had nothing but lots of cussing and grunting!
And here was her idiot of a pair, one-half naked, the other half in pinks, had just given her the analytic run down of all her base issues..
“And I am also sorry your.. whatever this thing is, doesn’t work. “
“It works..”, said the little gnome in a surly tone, trying very, very hard to ignore all the things the tall, dark figure just said.
To be totally honest with herself, the little gnome was expecting a speech of this sort for quite some time now and thought it was long overdue.
By one and a half years..
The silly girl standing in the dim candlelight in front of her had a remarkable resilience for her plaguing misery and patience to rival the arctic night winds howling outside; it took hundreds of years for those winds to wear down an inch of a mountain..
Yet, they did it anyway..
A bit like this very tall, very dark figure.
But what hit the little gnome harder than a six-horse cart was the deep, mind wracking content of the speech.
And how it had been served.
What she expected was lots of yelling and moaning, along with some arm-waving, possibly some tears and hopefully, an extended duel of ‘you did, I did’s..
But not this.
This, she did not expect..
“Ow?”, the tall figure asked, her face drawn and strained.
“It grabbed your butt..!”, the gnome said grudgingly.
“Nothing new there. Everyone wants to grab it. This one just happened to be the lucky catcher.”, the tall figure said with the hint of a smile.
“What is this thing supposed to be anyway?”
“Mechaber. Short for Mechanical Bear.”
“It doesn’t look anything like a bear.”
“How would you know?”
“Animology class at the academy zoo..”
“You took animology?”, the little figure scoffed in total disbelief.
“Among many other things, yes.. Why? Is that so hard to believe?”
“What’s hard to believe is that you went to animology for the class and not for the pretty face that gave it..”
“Why do one, when you could do both? I am surprised you noticed the pretty face, though —any pretty face, really, considering you never took the class and you can’t even stand mine.. The fact, however, remains; I took animology at the academy zoo and this thing looks nothing even remotely like a bear.. Not even a Grudran bear, which technically isn’t a bear, but an acceptable sub specie of the bugbear. I also know all the classes you took.. and your grades!”
The little figure’s face darkened.
Alright, it did, in fact, look nothing ‘even remotely’ like a bear, but she was going to call him ‘Mechaber‘ anyway, damit!
And she silently conceded that perhaps she should quit blaming and chewing out her pair for everything.. or anything, for that matter.
Hells bells, the silly idiot had taken the time and effort to get to know her, going as far as asking around to find out about the classes she took along with her grades. Especially the grades.. Those were confidential information. The academy staff wouldn’t have just handed those to her.
Considering how no one wanted to talk about ‘that demon summoning fool’s niece’, it must have taken her quite some effort, and no small amount of charm on her part to get people to want to talk about her..
What kind of a demented sort of person does that?
The competent counterpart of the ‘pair’..
Whatever else her very tall, very dark pair might be, one thing was clear; she was no fool, and she was no one’s fool.
And she certainly had an unexpected amount of steel in her..
The little gnome felt like she was one of those jerks who took the frustrations of work out of their wives and kids..
..and quite suddenly, and in spite of herself, a hint of shame appeared in her eyes, hidden behind the thick goggles.
You literally can’t add any more flaws on top of what’s already there, that’s worth worrying over.
Perhaps you think I am bitter.
WELL, AREN’T YOU A BOSSY ONE?!
*Sigh* I hate this shit..
(continued in the next story: “A Shift in Perspective“)