The Green Monster

“You cannot outrun us!”

“Hiyaww!!””

Pixies. Again. Somehow, these bloody pixies always managed to rear their tiny little heads only when the wizard was already in a sour mood. And where there was one, there was usually two or three more. Today there looked to be seven – a whole flock. He breathed in deep and summoned an impatient fireball, hurling it toward the one who he could’ve sworn had just insulted his hat. Seven became six, six became five, five became four, until a certain tingly feeling in his stomach made him pause.

Screen-Shot-2019-12-18-at-1-44-22-AM-Pixies-at-Vilohin-Bridge.png

“My sisters!” cried a tiny voice from behind Ryen as the other pixies continued their barrage of arrows.

“Sisters?” Ryen echoed, trying in vain to shake off the pixie paralysis to steal a quick look behind him.

But he didn’t have to, for the newcomer pixie flew right up to the wizard’s face with furious intensity, stopping just short of attacking. “What are you doing?” she demanded. “I saw a green monster killing my sisters!”

And then, just at that very moment, as if by some grim cosmic irony, one of the attackers hurled an unbelievably strong magic arrow at Ryen’s green robes, causing it to explode into millions of tiny pieces, and leaving him all but naked. Just how long had they been fighting? He turned away from the inquisitive pixie hovering in front of his face, and made eye contact with the smug little one who had just destroyed his outfit.

“We were just playing a game!” Ryen said innocently, before casually sending a brilliant fireball at the smug-faced one, and watching as she withered away into dust and ashes. “A friendly game!”

“Stop it!” the newer pixie waved her hands furiously in front of his face. “I was expecting a sludge.”

Another paralysis spell came from his attackers, locking the wizard’s feet into place. But still the other pixie did not move to strike. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and counted to one. Two. Three. Four. Five. And suddenly he felt much calmer. He opened his eyes again. “In my defense,” he said, “I was just hanging around the bridge.” He stood there frozen and unflinching as three more paralysis spells came his way, one after another. At last, he gave up. “Lay down your spells, dear pixies, and I will leave you in peace!”

This seemed to placate the pixie that was in his face. “We can make a deal,” she said. “Hold your spells, sisters!”

Ryen nodded enthusiastically.

“This green monster might help us.”

At that, the marauding trio of pixies finally let up on their onslaught of spells. The paralysis wore off, and the wizard made a move to straighten out his robes – until remembering he was no longer wearing any. “Well,” he said, taking another deep breath, “what are you proposing, pixie friend?”

“We need to get to the party,” she said. “But it is too far to fly.”

“The party down south?”

“Yes, I foresaw a gentleman,” the pixie continued. “He would give us crystals. Is that you, green monster?

Screen-Shot-2019-12-18-at-1-42-25-AM-Pixie-Seer.png

“Well I may not be a gentleman, but I would be happy to give you crystals.”

“One for each?”

“I can do that.”

“The pure kind?”

“Only the purest.”

“Deal. Meet you at the portal! Heel, sisters!”

“See ya there, pixies!” Ryen waved a quick goodbye and then scurried back toward the city. Who was this pixie, important enough to command such respect among her unruly sisters, and wise enough to cut a deal with an obviously more powerful human? And what was that business about foreseeing?

Before he knew it he was strolling through the eastern gate, ignoring the smirks from the guards as he passed through. It wasn’t the first time they had seen him in such a state, and it probably wouldn’t be the last, what with the festival just around the corner, but he didn’t have time to worry about that right now.

He opened the door to Gemologist at Large, and marched right in. “Hey,” he said. “Nice place ya got here.”

Dvarin stared at him wordlessly for a few moments, and then moved over to the red crystal case with a blank expression. They both knew the drill.

“Oh,” Ryen said, “can you actually get me two hundred today? I, uh, found some friends.”

With a wink so subtle that Ryen wasn’t sure if he had imagined it, the good shopkeeper did as requested, and Ryen raced down to the temple as fast as his legs could carry him. He watched impatiently as Father Sarducci placed the crystals into the machine, bag by bag, minute by minute, and then as soon as it was done he scurried off to the east, with the father calling out after him to have a nice festival. Ryen snorted – was he really that see-through? No matter, might as well go along with it, he thought, making sure to cheer very loudly as he streaked past the eastern guards.

At last he reached the portal, coming to a sliding halt. By instinct, he lifted up the hand that carried the purified crystals, ready to go, and he very nearly dropped them before remembering that they weren’t actually his.

“Finally!” the wise pixie said. “Green Monster is a slowpoke.”

“Pixie friends!” Ryen blurted out, exhausted.

“Gimme gimme!” she said, reaching out her tiny hands.

“Hang on.” He took a seat on a nearby rock, just outside the confines of the portal. “Let me do this very carefully.”

The pixie’s wings fluttered excitedly. “Hazel called us. We have a job to do!”

“Huh. Pixies with jobs!”

She nodded. “A very seeeerious job! She told us to tell people some tales about the future.”

With as much caution as he could muster, Ryen placed the crystals down on the ground, away from the portal. “There. You’ll have to grab em. I’m a little too intoxicated to hand them over. I’m afraid I might drop em.”

“Gimme gimme gimme!” She dove for the crystals with a greedy look in her eyes. But just before picking them up, she stopped and looked up at Ryen. “Take that!” she yelled.

Ryen winced, preparing to take another magic arrow to the chest. But the arrow never came, and instead, something red and shiny landed in his lap. “Apple!” he exclaimed. “Candied apple!”

“Hi hi hi!” said the pixie.

“Yes, thanks, and.. wait. What was this about the future again?”

“Hazel told us to tell stories. We can do that.”

“Stories are good, yeah.”

“I foresee the enemies of the forest will pay us well.”

“The enemies of… huh. I’ll keep that in mind.”

The pixie turned toward the three others hovering closely behind her. “Let’s have fun, sisters!”

“Happy Blue Moon!” Ryen yelled out, but it was too late - they were gone, and so were the crystals. He knew he couldn’t go back there, not just yet. For there was something of utmost importance occurring back home at the Vale – something which demanded his presence and his fashion sense, and that of his friend Annabel as well. And what else could that something be, besides the Waltham’s World of Wool Blue Moon Festival Beauty Pageant?

He set out on the long road north. The partying was just going to have to wait.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––

“And when you place the accessory here, and turn this just right… bam! I think we’ve got it,” the wizard said, shutting the sketchbook and tucking it into his fresh set of robes. “I call it… Fishing for Trouble!”

“Wow,” said Annabel. “Love it. Really love it.”

“It’s bad,” Ryen said with a grin. “And oh! Maybe one with the dragon egg, too!”

The magnificent green dragon egg, a relic from over ten years back, the one recovered at the end of the war, and the one that ended up in his bag in what was probably the luckiest day ever in his sweet short life. Once it started to grow, he had wasted no time in casting a form of paralysis on the egg, halting the process. But the constant attention the egg required, the constant paralysis, was so incredibly draining. And so it wasn’t too long before they realized they just needed to keep the thing inside one of their food chests – turned out, the magic preventing the food from spoiling and the magic preventing the egg from growing was all one and the same. And so that’s how the egg remained for all those years. But now, at long last, it would be serving a higher purpose…something other than sitting unused and unseen in a fancy box.

“Fabulous.” The ranger turned back to the book. “Hey, do we have any extra poles?”

“Yeah, should be right there besides the forge.” The wizard clapped his hands together as the ranger went rummaging through the tools chest. “Oh, this is gonna be goood!”

The rummaging stopped, and Annabel stood up straight, fishing pole in hand. “It’s snow time.”

The journey up the peak was largely uneventful, as was the portrait sitting session itself, after the perfect spot was selected for the background. All told it looked like the day was going to be an unqualified success, and the feeling was bright. In such high spirits did Ryen help to pack up their instruments and supplies and props, making extra sure that the egg was in reach so he could maintain the required paralysis regiment. Once everything was all accounted for, he felt a magnificent sense of accomplishment. He couldn’t help but think of the toasty fireplaces back at the Vale, and of the warm cooked meal that he would surely be enjoying upon his return.

Screen-Shot-2019-12-17-at-7-46-22-PM-Portrait.png

But then a lowly creature, just one lone gooey in fact, came slurping on down from further up the mountain. A local gaper quickly joined in on the commotion, and a brief skirmish ensued. Thanks to the many patrols Ryen had joined over the years, he was no stranger to the natural defenses offered by the streams of water running through the mountains, and so he stayed safely out of reach while Annabel engaged the creatures. And just like that, the battle was won. But something in the rocks must’ve caught Annabel’s eye, something that gave her an idea so brilliant and crazy that it left him dumbfounded.

“These rocks look weak here,” she said, inspecting the area where the stream emerged from somewhere inside the mountain.

“Yeah,” said Ryen, “I know the spot well, we spent ages trying to find another route through there. But this is the end of the road.”

“Wait.” Annabel hoisted up a war hammer, and suddenly brought it swinging down with a thunderous and mighty crash. Splinters of stone scattered in all directions. She took a first step forward - and was now standing before a mountain path which could be seen extending much further along and up the mountain than what the wizard had ever seen before. The stream too, could be seen in previously unseen detail, running parallel to the new path.

“Wait, what?” Ryen finally managed to say.

Annabel took another step, and another and another. “It’s. A. Miracle.”

Ryen stumbled afterwards, feeling as if he were going to trip at every step of the way. Speechless, they followed the snowy path up the mountain, and before long, it began to narrow and narrow, so much so that his very shoulders began to be squeezed and attacked by the jagged rocks, at which point he had to push the massive egg in before him, so that it wouldn’t break. It was then that he felt a snowflake land on his nose, and in that moment he realized something which was the most oddly terrifying thing of all: it was getting dark.

A deafening crack broke the silence, and a flash of light illuminated the dusk-cloaked mountain.

“Gaper,” Annabel shouted, pulling out her bow.

Well, Ryen thought as he aimed a fireball, At least -something- is alive here. Even if it is a bloody gaper.

The floating creature was brought quickly to the ground, and Ryen stepped closer to pilfer its reagents. Just then he noticed that they had reached another clearing. Something about the place felt safe, and the two seemed to be in silent agreement: here they would take a moment to rest.

While Ryen weaved his webs of paralysis on his trophy, Annabel laughed a carefree laugh, and let out a yell that echoed endlessly throughout the barren, snowy winterscape. “IT’S A BLUE MOON MIRACLE!”

“Well @#$%,” said Ryen. “Clearly we found this because of our costumes. All those years…”

“Today,” Annabel began, “you learned—“ suddenly she gasped, looking up. “WHAT IS THAT?!”

Screen-Shot-2019-12-17-at-7-44-47-PM-What-Is-That.png

Ryen spun his head around and this time, he actually did fall backwards. There, looming large in the distance, was a crumbling stone spire, barely visible through the falling snow.

“Come come!” Annabel said. “I see something else… frost giants. Spiders too.”

Ryen picked himself up off the ground and ran ahead of the ranger – and straight into the eyes of a gaper. “No no no no,” he stammered, backtracking his way toward the narrow passage. “Don’t port me into that mess, no sir not today.”

With a snicker, Annabel nocked an arrow and loosed it on the gaper just as it turned the corner. The arrow tore straight through its big eye, pinning it to the stone, where it wriggled and writhed in pain.

“Thank goodness.” Ryen unleashed a bolt of lightning, finishing the thing off.

Annabel nocked another arrow, eyes scanning the perimeter, before striking an approaching spider. “We must investigate one day.”

“Agreed.” Ryen slung another bolt, sending the spider running. But the beasts were stirring – when was the last time they had been disturbed, really, in this stretch of these god-forsaken mountains? The giants and spiders were starting to congregate now. He knew that he and Annabel were safe on their vantage point on the river, but there was no way they could press further, not with their meager numbers. But what if he could get a better look, get a better mental image to sketch from? He took a step closer, making sure to stay out of the spiders’ reach. “Let’s see if I can nab a—“

Suddenly, the world spun and shifted. He felt the sickening snap of teleportation. The last thing he remembered was a massive club flying at his face, a tingling sensation, falling on his back, and seeing a towering wall rising above him in the dim, snowy sky, and then all things fading to black.

Screen-Shot-2019-12-17-at-7-45-23-PM-Let-s-See-If-I-Can-Nab.png

––––––––––––––––––––––––––

The embers of the fireplace glowed softly as the two sat before the hearth, the ranger still protected by her full plate armor, the wizard by a tattered gray robe. Somewhere across the hall, a distant and soft snoring could be heard - Sul, no doubt. Ryen stretched out his feet, ankles popping as he went. At last, his aching and unfamiliar bones felt like they were finally starting to thaw.

“Now that was one high-quality trap,” Ryen said.

Annabel laughed. “Talk about famous last words. At least we learned somethin’ on our silly venture.”

“Yeah, I’ll say. And we can always go look for my rings some other time.”

“Wait.” Annabel’s face turned as white as a ghost’s. “There’s something far more valuable than any old ring you left up there.”

“Huh? What do you—oh.” Ryen felt his face twitch. “Oh no. Oh no no no. The egg.” It was at that moment that the thought first came to him, the thought that there was something far greater than cosmic irony at work when his robe had exploded, all those long hours ago at the bridge. “Annabel?” he said.

“Mhm?”

“I think I just figured it out.”

“And what’s that?”

“I just realized… the prophecy of the Green Monster that the pixie foretold? It wasn’t about me, Annabel. It wasn’t about me.”
Sign In or Register to comment.