Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mifflevan Reaches the Summit

"This sucks," Mifflevan the warlock muttered to himself while dressing his wounds from a battle. The remains of a two-headed monster (originally three-headed, but Mifflevan had changed that) oozed a sludgy ichor from one of several perforations Mifflevan had introduced to its body.

"Tell me about it," said Gakmir, Mifflevan's imp minion. "He stinks! And he's getting blood all over my feet. At least you've got shoes on! I have to go around virtually naked in the snow!"

"Hush, you," said Mifflevan irritably. "And let me concentrate. I'm supposed to collect these things' horns and your last fireball singed it."

"Oh, like that's my fault?" yipped Gakmir. "The thing was throwing huge bloody boulders at you and I blasted him in the back with a fireball like you told me to and he dropped it on his head. You want me to do your dirty work for you politely now?"

The horn Mifflevan had been worrying at broke in two and crumbled into dust. "Shut up!" Mifflevan snapped. But Gakmir was on a roll and could not be stopped. He pantomimed tapping an imaginary opponent on the shoulder.

"Frightfully sorry, my dear chap," Gakmir drawled, "But my master over there has asked me to kill you. Do be a good sport and try not to crack your horn when the force of gravity causes your severed head to fall on the ground. Thanks, Guv'nor."

Mifflevan sulked and drank a mana potion. The liquid tasted like chalk and made him retch. He threw the empty flask at Gakmir, who phase shifted and rudely extended a knobby digit. Fortunately, the phase shift made his speech inaudible. The two turned and watched as the flask hurtled downhill and shattered on the head of a passing three-headed monster.

"Ouch," said the monster, looking up the hill and observing the scruffy warlock and his obscene familiar. "Why don't you idiots be more careful?"

Mifflevan did not speak Monsterese, so all he saw was a hell of a lot of teeth and heard something that sounded like a warthog attempting to gargle with a chainsaw. He did not interpret the sounds as friendly. He noted a gleaming horn on the middle of the monster's three heads and elected not to waste time in diplomacy.

"Sic 'em!" he yelled at Gakmir, who was in the process of mooning the monster. "And watch out for that horn!"

Mifflevan made a series of complex hand gestures that resulted in seriously offending the right-most of the three heads. An arm raised a small boulder and threw it at Mifflevan. The warlock ignored the rock as it sailed to the right and returned fire--literally--with a cone of purple flames that shot from his palm.

When the flames cleared the monster's eyebrows smoked. The right and middle heads concentrated on Mifflevan while the left head scanned the ground for likely boulders to hurl. Mifflevan launched an assault of verbal abuse. Despite the language barrier, the monster was clearly offended and distressed. The right head fainted, throwing off the monster's balance.

It was then that Gakmir's fireball hit the monster. The imp had sidled around behind him and launched a basketball-sized ball of flame that hit the monster square between the shoulderblades. The middle and left heads clonked together. Mifflevan observed the eyes of the right head dilate, roll back and close. The monster's body swayed and fell backwards, snuffing out most of the flames. Mifflevan beat out the rest of the flames with a large stick, being careful not to mar the horn, still intact, on the middle head.

Satisfied that the monster was sufficiently dead for his purposes, and that touching its carcass would not ignite himself, Mifflevan removed the horn. "It's perfect!" he exclaimed.

"You're welcome!" said Gakmir. "What's that? Oh, you didn't thank me, did you? What a shocker there! Bails your butt out again and not even a 'nice shot, Gakmir!' or a pat on the back."

"You want a pat on the back?" rasped Mifflevan. "Come here, I'll give you better than that."

"Umm ... no. I think I'm good for now. I can tell you're happy and that's all the thanks I need!" Gakmir backed away uneasily.

"Good," said Mifflevan. "Now bugger off. I need to give this here horn to that guy on the hill."

Gakmir grumbled an unkind goodbye and vanished in a puff of greasy smoke. Mifflevan commenced the summoning spell to produce his dreadsteed.

"Heigh ho, Mittens!" he yelled, feeling stupid. "Heigh ho! Heigh ho! It's off to ride we go! Heigh ho, heigh ho! Heigh ho, heigh ho! Heigh ho! Heigh ho Heigh ho Heigh ho!"

Mittens the dreadsteed appeared. As usual he smelled like a sulfurous barnyard. Mifflevan produced a greyish lump of sugar from the depths of a pocket for the animal and climbed onto his back. The two shambled off in the direction of the foul-mouthed gnome in the miserable hut on the bleak hillside who had set Mifflevan on the quest to collect three-headed monster horns.

Hours later, Mifflevan watched with increduality as the gnome used the end of the horn to pick tea leaves from his teeth. "Thanks, Mate!" he chirped happily. "Nothing worse than having something stuck in your teeth. Know what I mean?"

"I can think of worse things," Mifflevan said. "Like getting stomped on by an angry monster upset that you're cutting his horn off to use as a goddam toothpick!"

"Oh relax," said the gnome placatingly. "Horns like these have a thousand uses. Now then, as I promised, you bring me the horn and I'll do something for you. You've earned it."

As he spoke the clouds cleared and the sun shone brilliantly. The air grew warm and pleasant. Flowers Mifflevan was sure were not there previously had appeared all over. The trees stood up straighter and their leaves grew brighter and greener. The gnome's annoying cat purred and rubbed up against Mifflevan's leg. Mifflevan was preparing to kick it into the fire (which he noted was now blazing cheerfully) when he was distracted by a sound.

The sound came from nowhere and everywhere at once. It rose from the ground, fell from the sky and gushed out from every pore in his body. It suffused his being with a golden light and cascaded through his soul.

"DING!" said the sound.

"Thank you, Mr. Gnome," said Mifflevan. "That will do nicely." So saying, he again mounted Mittens and the two were last seen galloping generally Southwards to where warmer climates where sandy beaches and rum-flavored drinks are rumored to naturally occur.

Here endeth Mifflevan's quest to level 80.