Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Grommet, Interlude

              Grommet sat at the table across from the mailbox, enjoying the last light of the day. A blast with the tell tale ring of arcane sounded from within the bar. Grommet chuckled, she'd fallen for the Arcane Academy's joke as well and had run screaming from the bar with four angry rift spawn on her tail.
              There was a girlish scream and then a male human acolyte bolted from the door of the Blue Recluse, three rift spawn on his tail. Grommet ducked beneath the table and fired a blast of frost outward from her being, feeling the heat leeched into the twisting nether through arcane conduits. Only one of the rift spawn was caught. The being howled, locked in magical ice between the mailbox and the table. His prey was escaping, chased by two of his companions. Grommet made short work of stunning him. She knew he would slip away into the rift soon enough, so half jumped half climbed into the human sized chair.
              A whisper. “Grommet. Grommet Cogswaddle?”
              Grommet turned to the rift spawn, none had ever spoken before, let alone known her name. Perhaps she'd been spending too much time in the bar lately. “Yes?” She turned to the rift spawn, it was still out cold. An old gnome, ghostly looking through the spawn, pulled back his hood. Grommet stood and leaned to look around the spawn. There was no one at the mailbox. She leaned back to look through the spawn. The faded image of the old gnome waited patiently, smiling.
              Grommet recognized the smile. It belonged, in her mind, on a much younger face, less care worn, one framed with bright green hair like the rest of her family rather than the whisps of white edging a large bald spot. “Uncle Castpipe?”
              “Grommet, what luck, the rift! Facinating! Tell your mother I'm alive! Tell her I....”
              The rift spawn struggled to its senses and slipped sideways to the world and was gone, along with it her connection to her long lost Uncle.
              “No! Rusted sprockets of doom!” Grommet cursed and headed into the Blue Recluse.
              The young male mage, looking a little slimed and out of breath held the open scroll out in front of him as he approached the door of the Blue Recluse with his face determined, and his hands shaking.
              They ran through the door together. Grommet needed a rift spawn for herself.
              “Stop! Think a second. What happened when you read from the scroll?”
              “Some sort of wide-area, low-yield arcane blast brought four rift spawn out of hiding.” The young mage lowered the scroll a moment.
              “Right. This is an intelligence test. Can you handle four of these at once?”
              “Uh, no,” the young human mage shuffled his feet, embarrassed. “What do you think I should do?”
              “You'd better do some thinking, this is a test after all.” Grommet hoped she'd slow him down long enough for her to collect her own rift spawn.
              Grommet walked over to the stair well and tossed out a small fire spell. The magical fire spread across the stairs, bathing them in a magical glow but not igniting them, These flames only hungered for living energy. In moments the flames reached their maximum radius and there enveloped a spawn. The spawn howled, Grommet raced towards the door. The young mage hastily set aside the scroll and began casting.
              “This is mine! Get your own!” Grommet reached out with her staff and rapped the young mage lightly on a shin, breaking his concentration, she hoped that was all she broke. “Sorry!”
              Grommet ducked out, feeling the rift spawn's slime spray against her back as its claws narrowly missed. She barely heard the young mage curse and hop about. She positioned herself just after where the other spawn had been stunned.
              A flash of ice, she leaped backwards and blasted the spawn with fire. Running to where she could look through the stunned form to the mailbox, the alignment wasn't exactly the same, but she hoped it would be close enough.
              A moment later, a partial rift shape overlapped her own. The old gnome, her Uncle, if he was to be believed, peered through the gap. “Smart cog, just like your ma.”
              “Uncle Castpipe, Where are...”
              “It's Axelpyre now. Is your mother still in Gnomregan?” His question was oddly intense.
              “Yes, both parental units are still there.”
              Her uncle looked hugely relieved, years dropped from his face, it was as if a shadow had been lifted from his soul.
              “The Threadneedles, do they still have a shop in Stormwind?”
              “I don't know.” Grommet had never thought to look up her Uncle's friends, they would be old now. Old humans frightened her somehow, it wasn't natural for someone with so few years in their tool belt to be so used up.
              Uncle Axelpyre looked lost for a moment. Then spoke hurriedly, “Same time tomorrow.”
              “What's the...” the rift spawn on both sides seemed to merge and twist out of existence, “same time...” Grommet smacked herself for being dense. “Of course the same time tomorrow.”
              There was a blast, again with the tell tale ring of arcane, and the young mage hobbled from the Blue Recluse with three rift spawn on his tail. Grommet thought for a split second of freezing them in place for him, she was the reason he was hobbling, after all. Upon an instant's further reflection, Grommet decided to let the lesson work itself out, as he had unwisely used the Arcane Academy's joke scroll a second time.
              When her dinner arrived, Grommet wrapped it up in the cloth napkin, “I'll bring it back tomorrow, I promise!” she shouted at the server as she ran back to her room to write a letter to her mother. “Uncle Axelpyre,” she said the old Gnome's new (to her) chosen name, and decided that she didn't like the sound of it at all.

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