The scene; a dark dank bar, just outside an average size city, deep in the Midwestern United States, far removed from their homes and time. Three unknown travelers sat within a small booth whose light flickered with a furry that it was sure to burn out at any moment. The sounds that wafted from within the jukebox nestled in the corner spoke of a distant time before the present. How many times had they reconnected over the centuries, none could remember. For their fate had long since forgotten that they belonged in another time and place.
It had been like this for near twenty reunions now, each time a fight would ensue and nothing would have changed but whom was blamed. What did blame matter in the light of the destruction they had caused one another? If they would ever return from wence they came, each knew, there would be hell to pay. The only hope had always been that it could be accomplished before anyone had become wiser of their absence. Now, it seemed all too clear, as they again partook of argument, that this would be their lot for all eternity.
“Idiot, what the ell were you thinking?” Shouted the rather large boned man with a pot belly hanging over his leather belt. Allyn’s beard was short and his mustache tended to tickle his nose but he kept it. The eyes close in proximity to his average size nose. The hair atop his head had begun to thin and the beginnings of a hairless patch looked from within the few strands that clung to life. Everything visible from below his chin was inked with colors and pictures that portrayed the life that he could barely remember these days. His clothes, non-descript, but for the odd shoes whose springs made squeaking noises when walked upright. He often hunched over to avoid the stares because he stood near twice as tall as the average man in this time and place.
“I am not an idiot, you stupid prat.” Retorted the less than gentle man who sat across the table from the first. He too had inked the greater part of his meager body with pictures of a life so long desired.. A troll like man with angry furrows and large protruding forehead, Dumas looked to his friend and frowned. The jeans he wore were grease stained and ripped, he wasn’t a graceful man. His shirt, a leather vest and well worn, reminded him of his elders. An eye, single, the other an empty socket covered by a leather patch once worn by men more Nobel than he. The friendship long lived, since childhood, crossed all boundaries now. Each would lie down a life for those they traveled with.
“You two are pathetic, absolutely pathetic.” Spoke a voice. Beside the man with the tickled nose, sat a minuscule figure, dwarfed by her bench mate. Lace’s long hair had many colors and fell to the well worn bench upon which she knelt to be seen over the Formica covered slab of wood which served as a table. Deep blue eyes looked out at the room, scanning for others they waited and for those who should not take notice. Her involvement with the two had come only in the last years. For reasons she would not tell, she had come to live with those she did not share her blood.
“It was not my fault; you bloody well know that, it was your turn to discover what the effing thing was doing there.” The Allyn said, irritated at Dumas for not remembering their last discussion of the topic, what seemed nearly a decade ago.
“You obviously weren’t paying attention either and I will not take the blame this time.” Dumas looked to Lace waiting for her comment.
“This is a waste, again! Has neither of you found out anything?”
“Us,” they spoke in unison for the first since arriving and looked one to the other for it. “What of your part in this whole debauchery?”
“Travesty, I have done the calculations again; it is as we thought nothing more than perfect.” Lace protested. She eyed the room, someone listened but who?
Smoke billowed from a pipe a few tables down, an old man with cherry tobacco. A woman at the bar stroked the young boy, man maybe who could tell of them, and whispered in his ear. Too much perfume, the man pulled back. The bar keep motioned to the far end and slid a beer toward a man dressed in a business suit. “coming at you,” he yelled.
“So, it is not my fault then, and you can stop blaming me you great troll.” Allyn’s voice rose above the din and Lace motioned he be calm.
“And you figure then it is mine?” asked Dumas with utter contempt.
“Can we please ignore whose fault it is and get back before we are missed?” Lace asked.
“Who’s got the book this time?” inquired Allyn, his size, that of a small giant.
“Oi, it was your turn to bring it.” Said Dumas.
“Twas not, you moron. Why does your mother keep you around?”
Pulling a small bag from underneath the table Lace took an oversized book from inside and slammed on the table. Leather bound, the cover tattered and torn, it had seen more than a few days without proper care. On the front a picture from the past, a waterfall, dragon flying with rider and unicorns in the meadow below, she could barely remember the scene.
“I’ve got it. For crying out loud would you please stop this insistent bickering before I lose my lunch on you lot.” Lace opened the book and looked to Allyn.
“’owed you do that? Can’t fit it in that less than adequate bag o yours.” Dumas said, his eyes growing in size at the spectacle.
“You really are a troll. It’s bigger than it looks. Again, every time we meet it is the same. Please, can we just get on with it?”
“Ifin you’ll quite saying please, I have had it with your crap of being nice all the time, since we’ve got here, knock it off. The trips been long, I’d care to go back.” The smile Allyn sent Lace did not touch his eyes, they spoke the truth, he was dead tired. Overgrown teeth sparkled as if sunlight touched in the dimly lit room. Heads shifted and hands covered eyes by those close enough to see. Allyn had all but forgotten the magic he had used.
“Oh for crying out loud, what have you done to your teeth Allyn?” asked Lace.
“Found rather interesting bit o information from a rather batty ole hag.” He replied with a shy smile as she brought his attention to his trial. “You like?”
“You’re gonna blind someone. Stop it.” Dumas cried out.
“Jealous are you Dumas.” Said Allyn, with mach sincerity.
“OI, knock it off, told ya I don’t want anyone here, to know me name.” He looked at Allyn with boiling rage in his trollish eyes. Even best friends grow weary. “An why would I be wanting to blind folks?”
“Where are the others?” Lace tried for distraction a few within the tavern had looked toward them. She motioned to Allyn and he looked at the patrons before back to Dumas and the conversation.
“Dunno,” said Allyn “Thought it was yur turn to bring em.”
“Was, Egg said he’d be catchin up with Dumas.”
“Stop it…. If I can’t be called by something else, I be leavin ya both then.”
“Ridiculous.” Lace said on a sigh.
“Don’t you even!” warned troll wrinkling up his nose and making an awful face. Beneath the table, near Allyn’s feet, lay discarded a colorful umbrella that had begun to emit an odd odor. As it wafted up Lace too put hand over nose to block the smell. “You brought the damn thing with?”
“’Was I suppose to do with it?” Asked Allyn.
“Leave it in outside?” Answered Dumas, sneering at the oversized man with the ticklish mustache. “Send it to timbucktoo, dunno but not bring the thing here.”
“It’s safer this way,” he protested, “So what’d happen to Egg?”
“I waited but he never showed. Waited near hour past the time we were to meet. That is an hour according to these blasted time markers.” Replied Dumas. “Can’t be waitin all day, got stuff to do.”
“Does he even know where we were meeting this time?” Asked Allyn.
“I explained the whole thing but ya know he gets lost between the ears on his head. Fat lot of good it’s gonna do.” Offered Lace, she knew his limitations. “Maybe ifin we’re lucky he’ll run into Elliott.”
“Should have been here already too. Ya don’t think some em happened to em do ya?” Inquired Allyn, Elliot was irritating but could be fun. “Neither can find their way out of a paper bag.”
“Doubt it; we would have had some sort of warning by now ifin so.” Spoke Dumas.
“What of the others? Why are we the only ones who ever show up on time? I need still to retrieve it, I think I found the other end over near Key West.” She turned several pages scanning till she found the correct one. “Says right here, look in the key not in the east.”
“They’re coming now, the whole lot.” Stated Dumas. “Thought you’d all got lost or worse.”
Walking up to the rather small table was a set of five severe looking assortments of odd looking fellows. Leading them was a somewhat tall gent with black slick hair and very pale complexion that only intensified his rather dark colored eyes which seemed to ingest everything they lay upon. Covering his thin frame he wore a black hooded cape which he had opened over his shoulders showing his black shirt and matching pant. Only when he smiled could you see that the vampire had rather pointed eye teeth and a crooked smile. In his right hand he held a cane of ebony topped by a skull of ivory.
Behind him could be seen a hat bouncing up and down as its owner beboped in a rather dashing swagger to his own beat that was heard from under his breath. It seemed he sung to himself as he walked or swaggered about his daily life. The hat as it could be seen once closer to the table was a rather large cowboy hat which sat upon his perfect hair that fell atop his shoulder full of muscles. His arms were massive bulges that could barely be contained within the shirt that stretched over his chest that too hid ripples above his washboard abs. Like Dumas he wore a vest of leather on his upper body and below jeans, whose covering, was well worn leather chaps. His dragon hide boots made clicking noises though the floor was dirt but his spurs jangled as he walked.
“Thought you were gonna git rid of them blasted boots?” inquired Dwarfish but cowboy refuse to even acknowledge the remark.
“You left me you big oaf!” Accused another man, walking next to the cowboy hat. He was tall and very hairy, including his face which seemed to have but one eye brow over his bulbous eyes of darkest brown. He wore a sport coat of many colors and his walk was oddish as his feet were drug upon the ground. Atop his head sat a pair of dark glasses that surely would have blocked out any sun if there had been any out and about. “Thought we were to be meeting earlier this day?”
“Was Egg I planned to meet not you, Lu.” Retorted Dumas with a sneer. “Thought you’d given up even trying to find a way back home?”
“Like I want to be stuck with all these normals, for the rest of all eternity.” He replied looking sideways at the vampire.
Along side of the wolfish looking man was a wiry whiskered face, of thin proportion and slanted eyes that pupils looked but slits within the whites. Her nose twitched with each breath it took in and it appeared that she rather slinked than walked beside the others. If one looked closely they would notice the twitch of what looked to be the tip of a cat tail protruding out from under the top coat of black that she wore. Hair, loose hair, covered most of the clothes she wore as each breath another one was loosened and shed from her head. You could listen closely and hear the faint whispered of a purr.
The last of the group walked tall and proud, his chest stuck out and his chin held high, If was possible his nose would have been turned upward and able to catch any rain that came from up above. He wore robes of brilliant blue like those a wizard might wear and sitting jauntily on his long flowing hair covered head was a pointed hat of black. On his face was a long silvery beard tied in a knot near the middle of his chest so that it would not impede his walking. Eyebrows also gray in color bushy and uncontrollable gave his face the look of wisdom that his young years did not behold. Teetering on the very tip of his long pointed nose he wore specks small as a quarter and round as well.
Stopping before the occupants of the small table the group opened their ranks to allow the elderly looking gent to stand and address the others. “I trust there is news this time, our meetings of late have been more than pointless.” Taking a pipe from his pocket he lit the thing and a circle of smoke surrounded his face then traveled to enclose those seated at the table.
“You’d bring anything yourself?” asked dwarfish with a severe inflection in her tone. “Thinkin you are above the rest of us lot?”
“I am the son of the great wizard….”
“Yeah, yeah, we know,” Interrupted Egg, the vampire. “The son of the “great” wizard Merlin, does us no good ifin you can’t get us back now then does it?”
Everyone standing chuckled at this little bit of amusement but a stern look from, the wizard’s son, made then quiet with an uneasy deathly silence. Looking from one to the other waiting for one of the others to speak none would look at Marvin but stood shacking in their boots… or whatever it was that they wore upon their tired and weary feet.
“Oh for crying out loud!” announced dwarfish. “You lot are a bunch of freakin cowards. Thinkin he can do a thing to you. He can’t even,” Letting her voice trail off she noticed a young man, eyes of deeply blue, brown hair curly hanging to his shoulders, quite familiar of sorts, sitting at the bar a few feet away, looking as if in wonder at their little party. “Best be finding a bigger booth before we draw more attention than we already have.” She pushed her bench mate out with such force that he fell upon his bum landing with a thud at the feet of the vampire.
Without another word they all quickly walked behind a tapestry into a large room filled with pool tables and two old geezers laughing over a sloppy game of darts. With one look from Allyn and Dumas the elders left the room with murmured whispers that only the dwarfish could make out. “Gits.” She said.
Mumbling a few words of enchantment as the last of the group entered the room; Allyn closed the curtain and ensured it could not be opened by anyone. “What information do you have for us tonight Lu?”
Covering his eyes with his hands, Lu let out a small howl as the flash of white brilliant light fell upon his face from the shocking teeth that Allyn now coveted. “What the hell dya do that for?” He asked at being blinded by Allyn’s unusually white teeth.
Covering his mouth with his hand as he replied Allyn said with care “Sorry Lu, didn’t think about it. Got me some teeth that will cut through any rock patty, that’s all. Will keep it hidden from you.”
“That would be appreciated. Found the second to last piece deep in the blarney stone but don’t have the slightest idea how we are going to get to it without breakin the thing.” Lu replied.
“Perhaps I can suck it out.” Stated Egg a sheepish grin upon his face as he licked his lips looking at the exposed portion of the dwarfish neck.
“Oh, for rizzle,” Purred Elliot “ya think ya can suck a key from a stone, suck this!” she said grabbing a hold of cowboys, well let’s just say it gave him a thrill.
“Maybe you can keep your paws to yourself for now.” Scolded Allyn “we’ve got more important matters at hand.”
Dwarfish hand carried the rather large book into the room when they entered and now laid it upon one of the pool tables. Opening it up to the page she had shown Dumas and Allyn she pointed it out now to Marvin who skeptically looked over the passage she had her dainty finger under. “What do you think Marv?”
“Could be onto something with that one Lace, think you, Allyn and Dumas can handle checking it out, I’ll take Elliot and Cowboy with me to the Stone.” He looked over at the others; Egg and Lu were now arm wrestling on the top of the other pool table. “These will be the last we need.”
“Ain’t fair,” Started Lu as he let go of Eggs hand and stepped towards Marvin. “I found it, should be allowed to go along don’t cha think?”
“Fine, fine, come with and Egg can join with the others going to the keys.” Said Marvin with exasperation.
“How long you think this is going to take? I got things to get to if we ain’t gonna get back?” Asked Dumas.
“As long as it takes, what humping a rhino is more important?” Retorted Cowboy looking at Dumas with disgust, their friendship had always been thin. “Dumas has a rhino to hump!”
Dumas stepped over to Cowboy and pushed him lightly placing his massive troll like hands on his chest. “Don’t call me that.”
“Dumas, Dumas, Dumas” He chided and as he said it each time it sounded more and more like he was saying dumb ass which would be precisely why he hated the name. Decking Cowboy in the jaw he lunged again at him as he fell over the table and landed right beside Elliot.
“Stop it boys!” shouted Lace and a flash of green light flew from her hand, knocked the two of them apart throwing them in opposite directions both falling to the floor with a loud thud. “You should be mindful of how you lost that eye Dumas.”
“Ha,” He laughed “Cowboy has but one nut left, so who should be mindful?”
“Does your mother know?” Asked Lu “That you bit off a nut?”
“Did not, wasn’t like that…” offended Dumas.
“Does that matter right now?” Egg said with an anxious tone. “I’d like to get home this century ifin you two don’t mind.”
“Nah, go ahead.” Allyn and Dumas answered in unison.
“We’ve got the weekend then, we’ll meet back here on Sunday night ‘round the top of the clock.” Marvin said to the group. “You all know who is going with me”?”
“Sure,” they all answered.
“You’ll be leaving from here then?” Asked the Lace.
“Best that way. No witnesses.” Answered Marvin.
“Leavin me to explain things,” She smiled at him though her voice was less than pleased. “Like always.”
“So how are we getting there then?” Asked Egg, he had always been the nervous one of the bunch, worried over every detail and helpless when it came to directions. “It won’t hurt will it?”
Rolling her eyes Elliot smacked him on the back and rather loudly said “Buck up you wimp. You think Lace isn’t going to take care of you? She hasn’t let anything happen to you yet.”
“Why do we let you come on these trips?” chided Cowboy. “Shall mommy hold your hand?”
“No, but I’ll hold yours.” Said Allyn taking his great hand and smacking Cowboys hand into his own face. “I think that hat has dimmed your brain, that or its cause those pants are so tight you can’t think with your other head.” Everyone laughed at this but Marvin who was becoming impatient as the minutes were ticking away on the pocket time piece he kept glancing at.
“Didn’t let him come, it was his idea.” Announced Lu. “He’s the brains of this misaligned traveling.”
“You had no arguments when we started this little adventure. Didn’t hear you complaining, in fact…. If I remember correctly, no one invited you.” Stated Elliot. “You’re such a leach, give me some damn room to breathe it’s not even a full moon. Wonder if Mommy has noticed you’re missin yet?”
“Yeah, you’re parents are probably relieved that you aren’t around, one less mouth to feed.” He replied with more gum shun than he actually had. Everyone knew he had been a mama’s wolf, never going far from her and Elliot’s family had more mouths than they could handle.
“What do you two see in each other again?” inquired Dumas with a look of puzzlement on his face as he looked between Elliot and Lu. “Or did ya have another tiff? And don’t remember you being invited either.”
“None of your beeswax you troll.” Answered Elliot but he could tell by her annoyance, as could they all, that there had been a difference of opinion.
“You can’t speak to me like that. I will be Lord one day and you’ll all be wishin you had treated me better.” He stuck his chest out and said with great authority.
“You’re not going to be anything if we don’t get back.” Allyn said to his friend.
Marvin was now in a heated argument with Cowboy and Elliot to the point of not paying attention to the others. While his back was turned four of the group disappeared with a loud crack which resonated and bounced between each of them, leaving a ringing in Lu’s head. “I don’t think so,” announced Marvin and reached out into the empty room grabbing for something none of them could see but, all his hand came back with was a small tufted of multi colored hair. “Not fair.” He yelled into the empty space.
Those who remained looked at him in disbelief. None of them, none that is but Lace could have possibly gotten away with such a stunt. And that he could do nothing, or would do nothing, didn’t make much of a difference, for it baffled those who now stood beside him mouths hanging open and eyes wide. Surely he would turn her into a frog or worse when they again met. Thinking to himself he would have to find a way to regain their utter obedience and awe or all would be lost. Their friendship had lasted longer than any others, near since birth and it was because of this that he “Allowed” Her to get away with such shenanigans. If it had been any other he would have made them wish they had never been born.
Murmurs moved between those who stood beside the son of Merlin, he was supposed to be as great a magician as his father and yet, a small thing just out witted him. “I will have none of that.” Marvin said to the group. “Doesn’t matter, changes nothing. We have work to do.” He looked at each of them in turn daring them to disagree with anything. Once his eyes fell upon them each quickly turned away for fear he would blind them.