Making Friends, Part 4

Arlyle held up the badger, glaring at him.

“Who are you? Who sent you? How do you know I exist?”

“Ari!” Bethany gasped.

“He wants something!” Arlyle snapped. “And seems to know who I am. He even knows my nickname!”

“I said it!” Bethany said.

The badger gurgled something. Arlyle looked at him, and realized she was squeezing too tight for him to breathe. She loosened her grip, and he repeated.

“Thelonius Bricklebook, the fourth. I was sent my the Witch of the Murky Meadows, my adoring little witch for whom I am employed as familiar. And as to how I know you exist, if would be so kind as to let me reach my hole.”

Arlyle was going to obliterate him out of existence, but Bethany’s disapproval quelled that notion immediately. She released Bricklebook, who promptly scurried into his hole.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to persuade the most powerful being in six counties, but really!” He scrambled through the hole, looking for his accoutrements. “I made it here posthaste, and yet retained my high standards of cleanliness!”

“You did!” Bethany called down the hole. “You’re one of the best-looking badgers I’ve ever talked to!”

Bricklebook stuck his snout out of the hole. “Little ma’am, I am a familiar, not an ordinary badger. I am almost certainly the first badger you have talked to.”

“Fifth, actually.” Bethany said. “The Raspthickets were nice, but not really clean-minded.”

As Arlyle thoroughly calmed herself, she noticed the spell trinket now clutched in the badger’s paw. She snatched it out of his grasp, and stared at it.

“A power attractor. Measuring magnitude and magical force, set over a distance of…a league or so?” When the badger nodded, she felt much better. He wasn’t looking for the Scourge of Darrenfell, just the most powerful being. That was manageable.

Bethany crouched next to the hole, and patted his head. “We’re sorry, Mr. Bricklebook. Ari doesn’t really like being snuck up on, and it seemed that way.”

“Announcing my presence without our intention was perhaps obtuse of me,” The badger admitted. “I will attempt to clarify.

“My employer and closest friend, Clissandra the Witch of the Murky Meadows, has been set upon by a horde of vandalous spellcasters. They are tearing apart the grasslands, disrupting her spellwork, and being a general nuisance that is bordering on dangerous. They are more than she can handle, and getting worse. She sent me to find the most powerful being in the county to deal with them.

“Would you please aid us in this quest?”

Arlyle looked at Bethany.

“Is the Witch a nice witch?” Bethany asked.

“Indubitably.”

Bethany frowned.

“That means yes,” Arlyle clarified.

“OK!”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

Making Friends, Part 3

Several hundred miles away, Arlyle, the Scourge of Darrenfell, was chuckling. It was an evil chuckle, or at least as evil as she could manage in recent days. To passerby it might sound just a tiny bit malicious, or only kind of evil. It did not help that she was three feet tall, and was best described as the cutest death goddess of vengeance one could ever see. Still, she chuckled.

She was going to destroy the world.

…after lunch time.

Lunch was a particularly delicious affair of jam sandwiches. The berries were collected from seven different realms of existence, while the bread had been baked by a lovely couple just on the other side of a local lake. Arlyle had tried to intimidate the bakers with a plague of ten thousand weasels, but was stopped by her worshiper, who insisted on some strange concept called “good manners.” Instead, Arlyle grudgingly blessed their wheat field for a good harvest, and they had lunch.

Her worshiper was annoyingly insistent on good manners. Even as she stuffed her little face with jam and bread, she managed to smile. Her sticky hands were sure to be washed in the lake, and she would say please and thank you for the delicious meal. Arlyle found it sickening, but Bethany was…adorable…

“That might have been the best sandwich ever.” Bethany said. “Thank you, Arlyle!”

“It might have been better,” Arlyle muttered. “The screams of the weak can add to the flavor and crunch of sandwiches.”

“Really?”

“Ye…” Arlyle trailed off, and sighed. “So I have been told.”

Bethany gave her goddess a long, hard look, making sure Arlyle knew exactly what she wasn’t saying before looking over the lake.

“What do we want to do today?” Arlyle asked.

“What’s the next adventure?” Bethany replied.

Arlyle did not know. There were so many options that they could go with. Go beneath the lake, to see if there was a passage into the sea. There were several realms of fancy that Bethany could not even grasp yet. Or maybe they could just sit there, and play pretend for a while before making a fort out of pillows, then think about bedtime and how they would conquer it.

“Pardon me.”

Bethany looked down, and saw a badger. A badger with particularly green eyes, poking his head out of the mud. He whuffed and sniffed.

“Again, pardon me. Mud does not agree with my sinuses. Could I trouble you with an egress and a moment to compose myself?”

With no dissent from Bethany or Arlyle, the badger wriggled out of his hole. He shook himself off, and meticulously checked his coat for any blemishes. Thankfully, the mud had just been concentrated around his snout, and he was presentable.

“Much better,” He said. “Now, then. I am looking for the most powerful being in the land.”

Bethany smiled. “That’s my Ari!”

Arlyle frowned. While the accolades were appreciated, a badger seeking a power was unusual.

“Well, Ari,” The badger extended a claw towards the goddess. “My name is Thelonius Bricklebook, the fourth, if you please. I have been summoned here to this place for one question.

“Are you willing to go on an adventure?”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder