Hubby vs. Wifey Writing Prompt #8: A Wizened Old Man with a Beer and Staff
We had so much fun the other day getting back into our writing that we've already got the next one for you! This one came from Hubby's Pinterest Character board. I picked the character, and I gotta say, this one was FUN. They're all fun, but this was something special. We tried something new for ourselves and enjoyed it immensely. We hope you enjoy! Vote for your favorite in the comments!
Gimble was a humble gnome. You would never know it by his worn cloak and tattered hat, but he was the single greatest wizard in the realm. The King Grandhammer knew this, which is why he had asked Gimble many years ago to be the royal court wizard. Gimble kindly declined - his only comment being, ¨I don´t care for the court´s ale.¨
The ale he did care for was a house special at the Boar's Rump on the south side of the capital city. It took Gimble nearly an hour one way for his aged, stumpy legs to carry him there from his shop every night, but it was well worth the trip. Gimble would walk in an hour after the sun set below the western bell tower. The barkeep, an elf by the name of Aldarin, always knew it was Gimble who had arrived because only the very top of his pointed hat could be seen bobbing and weaving its way through the evening patrons toward the bar.
This night was just the same as others had been for many, many years. Gimble would climb up his stool on the far left of the bar and order two house ales and a lump of cheese. Aldarin had found some smaller sized children´s mugs years ago and used those exclusively for his favorite miniature customer.
¨Aye, good eve, Gimble!¨
¨´Tis, ´tis. Just fine indeed.¨
Aldarin waited a moment for Gimble to situate himself properly in his seat before sliding him his drink.
¨Anything interesting at that shop of yours today then?¨
Gimble caught the glass and set his staff on the counter, careful to keep the dimly glowing orb at its tip out of a small splash of someone else´s drink.
¨Well,¨ Gimble ran his fingers through his thick, grey beard thoughtfully a moment. His voice was small and old, but he had learned to project over the din of the bar. ¨The sun did come up this morning, but it went down again just recently, so no, nothing really.¨
Aldarin shook his head and chuckled as he attended another customer.
Later that evening, an oddity occurred that broke the usual routine of the night. Everything was progressing normally when three men in dark cloaks walked through the front door and scanned the room authoritatively. The general conversation quieted slightly at the sudden appearance of the strangers. The one in front caught sight of Gimble and started deliberately toward him.
¨You are Gimble Gadswallow of Raelwyn.¨ What normally would have been a question was put in a rather forceful, intimidating manner. The lead man was a human in his late forties but the hood over his face gave away little else.
¨And you are interrupting my dinner,¨ Gimble replied calmly. A second man on the right took a step forward, but the first man gestured for him to stay put. Gimble was halfway through his second ale and was fiddling with what was left of his cheese, clearly stalling.
The lead man lowered his voice, ¨You need to come with us.¨ He was professional, but apparently was not used to people ignoring his presence. It was clear that Gimble´s response was not acceptable.
¨Sorry, are these men bothering you, Gimble?¨ Aldarin walked over, his brow bunched with concern.
¨Hmm? Oh, them! No.¨ Gimble tapped the glowing orb on his staff and turned in his seat. ¨No, no, they´re not a bother. After all, that one´s just a sheep.¨
No one had noticed when, but the man on the right behind the leader had taken on the form of a sheep. The sheep was still wearing a similarly colored traveling cloak, but had abandoned his position and was dropping pellets on a nearby patron´s boot. The lead man glanced sideways at the spectacle, and when he turned back was looking directly into the end of Gimble´s staff which tapped him ever so lightly on the forehead. The man jumped back, eyes clenched, and the other man drew a small curved blade from inside a sleeve and lunged at Gimble.
Gimble simply flicked a wrist and his attacker was gone. There was no sound or flash; the man simply vanished like he never existed. The first man staggered slightly as if dizzy but steadied himself and took a defensive stance. Gimble snatched his staff from where it was floating in the air and peered into the blue orb.
¨Ahh...I see.¨ He looked up at the man in front of him. ¨Four years in the ranks at the eastern front...ooh, time in the Iron Assembly, impressive...Now a mercenary with the McDoulgahan´s Guild.¨ A glint of torchlight caught the man´s eyes go wide. ¨And it looks like you´re here for...¨ Gimble´s countenance dropped considerably. He stood up on his stool so he could look eye to eye with the man. ¨Look here, Galvus Andon: go home. Forget this thing. It really is quite beyond you.¨
Galvus blinked repeatedly, trying to regain his composure. ¨Gimble Gadswallow, you will come with me to...¨
¨Nope. I said go!¨
Gimble waved his staff in the air. There was a sound like the crack of a whip and suddenly Galvus´ slowed to a halt. He seemed frozen still for a moment before starting to move backward, away from Gimble. As he moved away, his movement became quicker until he had retraced all of his steps and actions and walked his way backward out the front door and back into the street.
Gimble closed his eyes, raised his staff again, and shouted up at the ceiling.
His voice echoed unnaturally in the room and caught everyone´s attention. He then plopped back down jovially and stuffed the rest of his cheese in his mouth. Everyone sat and stared in amazement at the little man who was going on with his night as if nothing had just happened. Aldarin cautiously stepped up to address Gimble.
¨So, uhh...what just happened, eh?¨
¨Hmm?¨ Gimble looked up curiously. He casually wiped some cheese crumbs from his beard onto the counter.
¨The um, the men there. And what did you do to them?¨
¨Oh, of course.¨ Gimble swalled his mouthful and finished off the last of his ale. ¨It seems something has come up that has been following me for a while. Consequences of some adventure from some time ago. I think I´ll be leaving then.¨ Gimble skootched off his seat and patted his pockets for coin to pay Aldarin.
¨So...what did you do with those men?¨
¨Well that one I turned into a sheep.¨ Gimble nodded his head at the cloaked sheep who was now absentmindedly chewing on the end of a barmaid´s apron.
¨Right, sure,¨ Aldarin accepted the explanation. ¨And the second one, then? Where´d he go?¨
Gimble gave a shrug and a deep sigh. ¨Tricky spell that one. Never know where they´re gonna end up. Ah hah!¨ He found a loose silver piece in his cloak pocket and tossed it up on the counter. It fell short and clanked on the ground. Gimble started after it before it rolled away.
¨And the last one, he just...¨ Aldarin looked around at the other patrons as if one of them had a better idea of what just transpired, ¨just walked back out...but all backwards like?¨
Gimble caught the stray silver and managed to set it on top of the stool he had occupied. ¨Exactly, you´ve got it!¨
Seemingly satisfied, several customers got back to their drinks and a few conversations started back up. Aldarin, however, was not entirely satisfied. ¨And that last bit you said. To...Toba...¨
¨To´batha,¨ Gimble clarified.
¨Right, what was that?¨
¨That´s the arcane word for ´turtle´.¨
¨Yeah, why´s it you declared ´turtle´ after all that?¨
¨Oh yes, that would be confusing. I enchanted the man before sending him on his way, rather, back on his way. By this point he should be living the same direction we are, but he will perceive your establishment as a giant turtle.¨
Aldarin stared blankly at Gimble.
¨It will keep him from reentering your place.¨
Aldarin continued his stare.
¨Someone looking to find me in a bar wouldn´t want to look in a giant turtle, you see.¨
Aldarin shook his head slightly. ¨Right...sure.¨ He decided it was best to just move on. ¨So are you off then?¨
¨I think I should be, yes. I will head back to my shop for the night. The turtle should keep him occupied until tomorrow night.¨
¨Won´t he be suspicious of you walking out of a giant...turtle bar?¨ Aldarin thought he might be catching on.
Gimble look at Aldarin impressed. He winked and tapped the side of his nose. ¨Good thinking, my friend, Aldarin!¨ Good thinking indeed.¨ He surveyed the room briefly. ¨I´ll just use the other door then.¨
Aldarin had lost what sense he thought he had. ¨Other door, what other...¨
Gimble walked past the side of the counter to a blank section of an outer wall. He reached out and took hold of a gnome sized door that had most certainly not been there a few moments ago. He open the brand new door into what was apparently his room above his magic emporium on the other side of the city.
¨Hup. Come, come.¨ Gimble clicked his tongue twice and gesture toward the sheep for it to follow him. The sheep gave a contented bleat and shuffled through the door ahead of Gimble. Gimble waved over his shoulder, stepped through the door into his home, and shut the door behind him which immediately vanished as mysteriously as it had appeared.
¨Now then,¨ Gimble patted the sheep on the head and stepped past gingerly, ¨time to pack up, I believe.¨
Gimble spent the next few minutes collecting papers, potions, and trinkets into drawers and trunks. He arranged everything neatly around the edges of his room. Lastly, he went over to a tall cupboard and removed a single item wrapped in rune-covered cloth strips. He uncovered a small, golden idol of a menacing looking foreign deity with two red rubies for eyes. He placed it deep in his cloak and patted it gently.
Gimble walked back to the center of the room and took hold of his staff. He raised it above his head and let go as it slowly drifted by itself into the air. Circles and symbols lit up all around the room on the walls, floor, and ceiling. There was a faint crackle of arcane energy building in the air. Everything began to glow a bright blue hue and seemingly meld into one color and shape. With a sudden burst of light and a crack like thunder, Gimble and his shop vanished.
My name is Sig. I’m…eh…I’m not importan’. But I’m here to tell ya a story. So sit yeh down, close yer yap, an’ lissen good. The story’s importan’, not me.
I was what yeh call a wizzerd. A wizzerd in the capital city no less, a wizzerd with the ear of the king no less, yeh see?
What’s that? Eh? Din’ I tell yeh ta shut yer yap and lissen? I’m not importan’ – the story is!
Now, now. Yeah. So.
So there was these two boys, kids really, and they came to the capital…seekin’ their fortunes, that kinda thing. Ya know. Country kids who didn’ know nothin’. Well. They came to my house, askin’ to see the great wizzerd, yada-yada. I said no way, ya know? Dumb kids, interruptin’ my business, my king’s business. Pshaw. So they left. My servant gave them the foot. Yeh know. Well. The next day, they come pokin’ around, yeh know? One of ‘em said he wanted to ‘prentice to a wizzerd, and I was the best, so wouldn’t I see him? Nah, course I wouln’! Snot-nosed kid. Ha.
So the next day, they show up at my door again, and I’m in the middle of this very importan’ ‘speriment, see, for the king, see, and what does that snot-nosed kid do? His older brother waylays my servant, muckin’ about in the courtyard, and this kid climbs my vine to my window where I do my ‘speriments, and hops in! Pops right through my window like a jabberin’ monkey, that’s what! I just about poured sulfur in his hair and lit him up with a blast spell; I was that mad. Well, before I could lay into him, what does he say but that he was the doggone whelp of my own youngest cousin, Lorena! Ah! But I almost strangled the boy!
What was he doin’ here, climbin’ in people’s respectable windows and lookin’ like a rotten beggar when he’d come from one of the finest households in the southern realm, from the sweetest damsel who ever walked this here dusty earth?
He shook his head, and I knew then it was all wrong. He had Lorena’s look, but there had to be a reason for his stink and sneak. Well, there was.
Eh? What’s that? Well, I’m getting to it, but yeh better sit down and give me a moment. It was that shocking and sad, it was. Drat this handkerchief, it’s too dirty to wipe yer feet with, let alone my poor, delicate eyeballs.
So what happened was this. Lorena’s wicked husband had made two deals too many with the cursed lord of western land against his own lord. The lord found out, as they always do, and raided their farm and made an example of ‘em all. The boys escaped; Lorena told ‘em where to go. She knew I’d take ‘em in.
Well, that made me feel all kinds of foolish and ashamed, don’t ya know, but that’s not importan’. Eh, what’s that? Righ’, yeah. Just the story.
So I took ‘em in. Angels help us, that young whelp did indeed show talent for magic – yehwouldn’t quite believe how much, in fact, even if I did tell yeh the details. But that’s for another day. Maybe yeh’ll see yerself sometime.
The older boy made himself useful around the place – right handy he was with any kind of tool, but I tell yeh, if there was a gift that boy had, it was with the sword. I never saw him beat. And courage! Well. If you wanted to see a good fight with a boy who had mounds of heart and a right skill with a blade, young Art would give you everything you wanted and more. I was proud, I was, and not ashamed to admit it.
But the younger! Ah the younger and his magic…I never saw the like. I could tell you stories…well, I’m tellin’ ya one right now, and if you’d stop fidgetin’ around, I could tell you more. But ya won’t. I know yer kind. I’ll move on to the most importan’ parts.
One woulda thought the boys had different sires with how different they were. I knew Lorena and the old king had been friendly in their day, but I never could abide the gossip spoken against my sweet cousin. It had been years ago anyhow, but sometimes I’d look at Art and wonder.
Well, they got older, and once they were dressed right and presented in court right, and lost that beggar look, I was that proud to call them my sons, and no one at court the wiser. Hearty boys, though the older was always the looker, and the younger didn’t get too many ladies’ eyes turned his way. But it was better that way. He had time to focus on his studies, time for me to show him everything I knew and then time for us both to discover – oh! so much.
Well. The king was gettin’ on, and I won’t deny, people were talkin’ about the old dragon and his temper and forceful ways, and without a son to take the throne, things were gettin’ fidgety at best. I stayed less and less at court and more and more at home with my boys, who were happy to avoid the gossip and turmoil, too. My boy and I were hard at work on what turned out to be the king’s last request – he was on his sickbed then, see, but it was to be his deathbed, too. We had no time for the court mess. This request proved my allegiance to the old man, who’d never done me wrong anyhow, and I was determined to show him right. It was good I had my boy to help me – ha! Help me. Forgive an old man his foolishness. Didn’t I tell yeh I’m not the importan’ one? My boy thought it up – all of it – how to make it work, how to enchant the rock, everything. I helped him. And was proud to do it, too.
When we finally presented it to the king, as he lay gaspin’ for his las’ breath, I let my boy present it as his own, ‘cause it was. The old dragon used his final strength to give us the las’ piece, the sword, and it was all over.
I say it was all over, but of course that’s foolishness. Forgive me again. It was only the beginning.
Eh? What’s that? Got people tryin’ to knock down yer door to tell yeh somethin’, do ya? Well, I’m almost through, and then they can all come and yammer yer ear off.
That was the beginning, wasn’t it? Didn’t I tell yeh? And after the sword came out of that rock that my boy enchanted, well, Art’s life was changed, and my life was changed, and so was my boy’s – he became the head magician at court. And there were some who cited favoritism and all sorts of loads of tosh like that, but when all the magicians examined every bit of it, none of ‘em could say otherwise, and it turned out that Art was the old dragon’s son, too, and had the most right to the throne even without our ingenious test.
Well, that tickled my boy’s heart, and mine too, though it was odd for the two brothers, of course, to find out they were only half brothers. But that’s…
Those blasted servants can’t wait, eh? Well have ‘em come in. It’s about time anyway. I ‘spose the explosions and like can’t be kept quiet forever.
Eh? What am I still yammerin’ about my history for? Din’ I say the story was the importan’ part? If yeh’d only lissened right from the beginning, yeh’d’ve known it was all over the minute yer servants started poundin’ at yer door here. Why? Well, they’ll tell yeh, but I’d ruther do it my way.
My boys are at yer gate, Lord Orkney, and I tol’ yeh, if yeh’d been lissenin’, yeh never saw a fiercer man with a sword than my Arthur. Plus, I think my Merlin just blew up yer front door.
Yeh’ll be wantin’ to apologize then, I’m sure. Well, save it. I’m tired. Distractin’ yeh has been no picnic for this old man. I’m ready to take yeh to my boys and see what they do with yeh. No strugglin’ there, Orkney. I’m not as skilled as my boy, but I’ve got enough left in me to do you in at least.