"Ok, honey, how do I look?" asked Hellocthul.
"I keep telling you, babe, you look beautiful, graceful and just lovely. You sure are getting worked up for just a simple lunch." replied Nalia.
"Well, Zaerini of Candlekeep is one heck of a lady, and quite famous. I was so pleased and flattered that she would want to meet us. Got the presents we bought yesterday?" fretted Hellocthul.
"Of course, you've only checked that about six times...just relax, and enjoy this nice weather we're having. Just think of this as a double date." Nalia smiled, and grabbed her girlfriend's hand.
The pair approached the Mithrest Inn, and spotted Zaerini and Edwina at one of the small outdoor tables the owner had set out for people who wanted to enjoy the cool and crisp spring day. Hellocthul waved at Edwina and Zaerini, and she and Nalia approached the pair, who were both smiling at the couple. A extremely cute black cat was asleep on the table, curled up next to an adorable little monkey. They were both drowsing in a pool of warm sunlight.
"Hi! I'm Zaerini and this is Dwina. And this is of course Softpaws and Insufferable. So pleased to meet you!" Zaerini was all smiles and sounded very pleased as she took Hellocthul's and Nalia's hand. Edwina also seemed pleased to meet Hellocthul and Nalia, even kissing their hands instead of shaking them.
"My, what a lovely collection of ladies! I seem to be surrounded by beauty as far as the eye can see. (Of course, not excluding my own considerable charms and attractiveness.)" said Edwina.
"Urm, Edwina, it kinda doesn't work when a girl kisses another girl's hand." replied Nalia with a impish grin.
"She's still adjusting. Please sit, let's not stand on formality. Have you eaten yet?" said Zaerini, playing the hostess. At this point, Softy and Suffy raised their heads for a peek, and went back to drowsing at the silent reassurances from Rini and Dwina.
The four of them ordered from the waitress, and settled in for a nice lunch. While enjoying a filling and delicious meal, they chatted about their adventures and their lives. Hellocthul, looking a bit embarressed, pulled out two brightly wrapped boxes out of her bag of holding at the end.
"Urm, please don't feel like you need to reciprocate, but we just wanted you both to have these things to remember us by." Both Zaerini and Edwina looked at the packages in surprise. Then, with a big grin, Zaerini pulled out two packages of her own.
"Presents for everybody!" said Rini to a startled Hellocthul and Nalia. They all grinned. Both groups had brought presents, but had felt awkward about bring them out, in case the other two felt embarressed about not bringing their own gifts in return. The four girls eagerly tore into the bright wrappings.
"Oh my...how exquisite!" Hellocthul's present for Rini was a wonderfully worked mithril collar, obviously for a cat, damascacened in pure gold with "Softpaws" in flowing, elven letters. "Oh, but this is a bit too much, mithril is so expensive..." fretted Rini.
"Oh not at all. When Jae, Immy and I ran into Drizzt near Beregost, and Immy stole all his gear, Jae had to have his mithril mail shirt completely resized to fit her. I mean that drow had a enourmous beer belly. The shirt was so huge, the armorsmith had to remove yards of mithril chain mail to fit Jaheira. So I kept some of the links, and when I got your invitation 2 days ago, I did a bit of jewery work. I like to keep in practice, and it was a lot of fun." replied Hellocthul.
"You did the work yourself? This is lovely craftsmanship. Thank you! Softy!" called out Rini. Softpaws awoke from her nap, and flowed to her mistress. Rini carefully put the collar around her neck, and Softy purred in pleasure. Everyone stopped to admire the rich jewel-like tones of the mithril accent her rich, velvety black fur. "I look great!" said Softy to Rini's mind. "Of course you do, dear-heart." replied Rini. "Well, a lady needs her jewelry to really look her best!" replied Softpaws. Softy began to preen and pose with a dramatic flair, trying to find exactly the right stance to show off her new collar in the best possible light.
"Urm, I'm afraid I also bought you a present for your familar, Edwina." said Nalia.
"Well, this is excellent! Suffy! Try this on!" Edwina took out the tiny cowboy hat, and chaps, and a gunbelt with a lasso, and two tiny hand crossbows. There was even a itsy-bitsy black silk mask, with two eyeholes precisely sized for a monkey. Suffy woke up with a jerk, and seeing the Tethryian cowboy costume, jumped up and grabbed. Suffy quickly dressed in the cowboy costume, and Edwina began to hear in her mind comments like "Yipee! Yipee kai-yai-yo, get along you little werewolves, its all your misfortune, and none of my own!" Dwina hid a grin behind her hand as her familiar began to stump around in his adorable little chaps.
The tiny spurs in his boots gave off a tiny musical jingle as her familar began to line dance. Dwina heard in her mind the lyrics to "Achey-Breaky Heart" as Suffy began to kick, do the heel-toe tap, and sidestep to the tune. Everyone giggled at the enthusiastic antics of the fluffy little monkey.
"Oh wow! I love ribbons!" said Hellocthul as she opened up her present. It was full of ribbons of all colors. Blue, purple, pink, and all the colors of the rainbow. She pulled out a particularly ornate red and gold one, and her eyes lit up. "Look, Nally, I LOVE the design on this one!" The beautiful scarlet of the ribbon was intricately embroidered with a tiny stylized dragon in gold thread, and a stylized human foot was right above it. The detail was quite extra ordinary, obviously celebrating Hellocthul's victory over Firkraag. Edwina smiled in pleasure at Hellocthul's and Nalia's delight over the workmanship and motief.
"I thought you would like that one! (I nearly drove myself batty doing embroidery that fine.)" said Edwina.
Nalia opened up her present, and found an intricately worked silver and leather archery bracer, with the De'Arnise seal enameled on the silver. "Thank you! And it fits!" bubbled Nalia, as she strapped on her new bracer on her left forearm.
Everybody sat back and enjoyed the pleasant company, watching Suffy's antics, and Softy trying to find a way to duplicate a runway model's walk with four feet. The patrons at the other tables were enjoying the antics of the two familars, one dancing outrageously, and the other's graceful and artful movements. However, this pleasant scene was about to be disrupted.
"Zaerini of Candlekeep! Only You can save all of Toril from the Evil Plans of the Dark Lord, Sauron, OH CRAP, NOT YOU AGAIN!!!" The idiotic and perverted Elminster appeared at their table, with an unusually tall halfling in tow. He started spouting off about some insane and moronic quest that he obviously fabricated out of his mind, until he saw Hellocthul sitting at the table with Rini.
"Chuuuu!!!" said Hello Cthulhu. She waved her paws, and like before Elminster was shrunk to 3 inches in height. Nalia pulled out of her belt pouch her turnip camcorder, and started taping the whole incident.
"YOU CAN'T DO THIS TO ME AGAIN!!! I AM THE CENTRAL CHARACTER IN THIS SERIES, I AM THE PERFECT MARY-SUE CHARACTER, AND YOU CAN'T DO THIS TO THE STAR!!!" The tiny Elminster started squeeking in the loudest voice he could, which sounded like remarkably like a squirrel chittering in outrage.
"Suffy! Sic-em, boy!" said Edwina. Suffy pulled the lasso off his belt, and then jumped on a startled Softpaws. He twirled the lasso over his head, and threw it with perfect aim at the miniaturized and still sputtering wizard. He yanked the cord, and Elminster was pulled off his tiny feet.
"Chuuuu...miniature cactus-ivy! Cheerleaders! Chuuuu..." said Hello Cthulhu. The table was suddenly full of tiny dwarf cactus plants, however each plant not only had the tiny needles of a cactus, but also curiously familar five pointed leaves on each barrel. Dwina and Nalia's forms shimmered, and suddenly each of them were wearing blue and gold cheerleader uniforms, with tight sweaters, short skirts and pom-poms. Each sweater had "Athlankha University" embroidered in yellow thread on the front. Nalia handed to Rini the turnip camcorder. Rini took over the filming.
Suffy, seeing his chance, pointed out to Softy the cactus-ivy plants, and Softy bounded away with Suffy on her back. The rope, still held in Suffy's firm grip, dragged the tiny Elminster along the table, and as Softy delicately wound her way around the dwarf cactus-ivy plants, Elminster was dragged against them.
"AAAAAAAEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!" cried the tiny Elminster, as each cactus-ivy deposited a full load of tiny needles all over his body. Edwina and Nalia, hearing the diminutive wizard scream, started a cheer.
"What an obnoxious little turd, the ancient old farter,
hit him again, hit him again, harder, harder, harder!"
The patrons of the Mithrest inn were treated to two lovely girls in tight cheerleader outfits cheering, dancing, and waving their pom-poms, as a tiny monkey in a cowboy outfit, riding a sleek black cat dragged around a tiny screaming wizard at the end of a rope. The wizard was dragged amongst dwarf cactus-ivy plants, and his crying was being filmed by a red haired bard on a turnip camcorder. On the other side, her mouth tentacles waving in happiness was a 4 foot tall kitty, with bright green fur, and bat wings folded behind her back. The poor halfling of unusual size was simply staring with his eyes bugging out.
As all the cactus-ivy plants had fully deposited their full load of needles on the blubbering wizard, Softy finally stopped, and the poor helpless Elminister curled up in a fetal position on the middle of his table, crying. Rini picked up her spoon, still covered in guacomole, and with an evil grin, scooped up Elminster. She reached for her belt pouch, and sprinkled the wizard with some powder she took out of her purse. She then set the spoon on a breadstick lying on the table, so it made a little teeter-totter with Elmo weighing one side down, and the handle sticking up in the air. She gave another evil grin, and started a countdown.
"Three, two, one!" with the one, Rini whacked the handle of the spoon with the heel of her hand, and the tiny form of Elminster was catapulted away to the small dirty alley behind the Mithrest inn. Everyone cheered! The patrons clapped and stamped their feet in approval, and after one final pom-pom shake, Edwina and Nalia sat down. Rini turned off the turnip cam with a huge smile. Nalia picked up Hello Cthulhu and put her on her lap.
"So, Rini, what did you sprinkle on that dirty old man?" asked Nalia with a impish grin.
"Catnip!" replied Rini with a grin.
"Oh my, you know that dirty alley has got to be full of smelly, mean alley cats, right?" giggled Nalia. "They are going to go absolutely insane when they smell the catnip!" Right on cue, they heard the yowling of literally hundreds of cats.
"So, Hello Cthulhu, what is cactus-ivy?" asked Edwina.
"Chuuu...cactus and poison ivy!" purred Hello Cthulhu from Nalia's lap. Nalia was stroking her fur.
"Oh my gods!!! The poison ivy is going to make him itch like crazy, and when he scratches, the cactus needles are going to really, really hurt!" said Rini with a big grin.
"Urm, excuse me, can you help me, please???" said the unusually tall halfling. His eyes were still bulging and his hands were shaking.
"Hey, you're not a halfling at all, you're just dressed like one! Who are you, and what were you doing with that old pervert anyway?" asked Nalia.
"My name is Elija Wood. I was on set at New Zealand, filming "Return of the King" when that, that thing showed up. I first figured some of the stagehands were playing a practical joke, since he was in this really sick and perverted parody of the Gandalf costume. Not to mention he literally reeked, like he had been sprayed by a skunk, several times. He waved his arms, and I couldn't move!!! I could only obey his instructions to follow him out of my trailer, and I couldn't even shout for help. I knew that "thing" wasn't anyone I knew, especially when he made rude and lewd remarks to poor Cate, and insulted our director, Peter Jackson. He waved his arms again, and made this hole in the air. He forced me to follow him, and suddenly I was in this world! He handed me a page with this script on it, and told me to memorize it. Essentially, I was to enlist your help in some weird quest to look for the chamberpot of power. That thing was so stupidly written, I felt embarressed just reading it. You know the rest, when you zapped him, his control over me ended. I just want to go HOME!!!" said Elija.
"Honey, can you do something?" asked Nalia.
"Chuuuu...." said Hello Cthulhu.
A portal appeared in the middle of the patio, and Elija could see others dressed like he was, as halflings, and a bunch of strange equipment, and lights, and a very annoyed and familiar figure tearing his hair.
"Oh thank you!!! That's Peter, and those are my buddies. Good-bye!" Elija ran into the portal, and it closed behind him. Nalia fed Hello Cthulhu a cookie.
The four of them sat down again, their minds awhirl with all the funky and wacky things that happened in the last few minutes. The final capper on the eventful lunch date was Softy, with Suffy on her back, rearing on her hind paws, while Suffy held his cowboy hat in a dramatic pose, with his eyes twinkling behind his black silk mask, and they all heard his mind voice saying "High-Ho Softy, Away!"
All four of them said in a chorus "Who was that masked monkey???!!!"
Intermission 2: When Familiars Attack!
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