I started up an “Ononokin Participative Story” regarding xMoose (the name I use for Christmas), and everyone chipped in! Below is the story that they all came up with. I thought it was a lot of fun, personally, and it’s quite humbling to know how much folks enjoy Ononokin this way! 😀
I want to give a very big THANK YOU to Beth Adams for piecing all of this together into one document and for doing tinkerings on it help flesh this out into a full story! Great work!!! 😀
Please note that I’m fully aware that there are certain element of this story that shouldn’t be allowed in the Upperworld! haha. 😀 But in the spirit of xMoose and the facilitation of the creative spirit, I shall turn a blind eye. I ask that you do as well.
Here is the list of folks who also participated in the creation of this story (listed in order of seeing them in the comments section on the Facebook group during the writing of the document).
Stuart Mayo, Martin Smith, Louise Thompson, Allen Start, Robin Lindley Kelleher, Dennis Browning-Saunders, Nigel Brett, Carolyn Jean Evans, Jamie Smith, Rachel Joan Pegrum, Paul Hathcox, Beth Adams, Deborah Ankrett, Noah Sturdevant, Sian Johnson.
Thanks to everyone who played along. This was really a lot of fun to read!!! 😀
It was Gungren’s first quest as a full wizard. He was equally excited and nervous. Whizzfiddle had offered to join him on the adventure, but Gungren knew that his former master was just being polite. Besides, it was time for him to be on his own. Where most wizards got simple quests when finally getting their credentials, Gungren was already a household name due to his recent battle in the UDFC tournament. That meant he was given his choice of all sorts of missions. The one he selected had touched his heart.
A young witch named Kimberly, who lived in the town of Rangmoon, had lost her puppy. Actually she had not so much lost him as the universe had conspired to bring about a series of events, the conclusion of which had not yet been revealed. The puppy’s name was Waggy and he had gone missing two days ago. Since Kimberly was the daughter of a prominent wizard who was out of town on business and a television home improvement show producer the matter had been brought to the Wizard Guild’s attention, in a rather demanding way. Whizzfiddle and Gungren were the only wizards in town and the television company had decided that it was a great human interest story for the company, perfect for X Moose Day. The case had been one of only three actually highly ‘suggested’ quests assigned to Gungren. There had been case loads and dossiers presented to Gungren. By virtue of learning to ignore his own nature and his careful tutelage from Master Whizzfiddle , Gungren had scanned the contents of the envelope for financial gain and decided to pitch the rest. He stopped only because there was a charming picture of an adorable young girl playing fetch with an equally adorable puppy. He didn’t so much read the files as he looked at the picture more closely and did a cursory wizard scan at the pertinent information. Based on Gungren’s investigation, the little mutt had inadvertently jumped into the cart of a merchant and had left the town.
Gungren didn’t believe that there was any foul play involved, as the merchant in question was none other than Nicholas Samuel Claws (he went by the name “Sammy”), a fellow known for bringing gifts and goodies to the children during the xMoose holiday. He was a rotund fellow with a big booming laugh that matched his ever-pleasant disposition. Samuel occasionally went by the alias Father Moose as he rode along in a magic cart pulled behind a giant elk when taking gifts to good children, picking up the dry cleaning and doing whatever other rat killing kind of errands Mrs. Moose demanded.
The problem was that nobody knew precisely where Sammy Claws lived.
And so Gungren set about with his backpack and walked through the main gate, determined to bring back Waggy before the annual xMoose celebration. Arrangements had been made for the parade, the Moosy Ball, the first class Moose meal and the lighting of the Moose Log. And the television company wanted to be sure the Moosemas events received the ratings they needed; and that Waggy was safely returned to Kimberly, of course.
“ Gungren, Mr. Gungren,” a voice called after him before he’d even made it twenty paces out of the city. It was Kimberly. “I’ve asked my parents and the teachers and they said that I could join you on your quest as long as you’ll look after me.”
“They did?” he asked in a surprised tone of voice. Most parents were reluctant to send their children off on a quest with a wizard, and teachers are notoriously famous for telling children to sit still to the last painful drudging moment before leaving school. Gungren did not have enough experience with children to question why, exactly, so many people were so eager to press little Kimberly off on someone else for a while.
“I promise to be good, Mr. Gungren,” she said desperately. “Please let me join you in finding Waggy!”
Gungren looked down to see a soot smudged face with tear streaked tracks trailing from her dark eyes and more than a little snot dripping off her nose. “ Am you Kimberly?” he asked carefully. She looked dreadful, and this was a former giant thinking it.
“I am.” said the small face with big eyes, shuffling from foot to foot.
Gungren didn’t want to let her down and he also figured that this wasn’t exactly a dangerous quest…though Master Whizzfiddle told him to never underestimate quests. That made him worry a little bit. He would have to keep his eyes open even more if she joined him. He only vaguely knew it was unexpected to be asked to take her with him. Still, he couldn’t let her down.
“Well, it okay with me,” he said finally, “but you got to promise to be good. And if there am trouble, you do like I say. Does we have a deal?”
“Yes, sir, Mr. Gungren!”
“Let’s go then!” Gungren and Kimberly said their goodbyes to Whizzfiddle and set off on Gungren’s first full quest.
They hadn’t gone 20 paces when Kimberly suddenly exclaimed ” Wait, we must go back. I have forgotten my lucky mascot! I can’t go without him”.
Then he remembered he had a bit of a problem, a flash back of last week started up in Gungren’s head. They had been watching the local children playing some game with a large triangular ball, he and a few townsmen were having a few drinks and enjoying the fine weather. The game had become exciting. The triangular ball did not roll, it sort of flopped over on itself when struck by a grawlf club. The club however was released rather unexpectedly when a small wet and filthy dog had run through the crowd. It had paid no attention to the unhappy dark haired girl running after it. It had, however knocked over the mayor, three town watchman and several founding fathers who had demanded that the loveable pup be caught and handed over to the town butcher. The defending team had been incapacitated and the triangular ball had been kicked through the goal held by Gungren’s favored team. A happy side consequence was that the club had hit the opposing grawlf team’s flamper in the head, essentially preventing them from a win. The pup got away.
However, just as Gungren was enjoying the flashback of a nice goal, Kimberly skipped up and squeaked, “Got him!” while waving a rather ratty stuffed werewolf in front of his face. He groaned as he realized it had been Kimberly’s frightened face and the smelly bedraggled dog who belonged to her and he was now her responsible party. Waggy had started causing him problems last week and he was only finding out about it now, it was likely to be a very long quest, no matter how much time it actually took.
Now he could only hope the puppy was as easy to find as the mascot. The Warted Werewolves tri-ball team had had the werewolf dolls made by a disgraced and disgruntled dark elf and they occasionally bit children themselves. They also imprinted on the children making it nearly impossible for parents to throw them away. And clearly, the girl had a “thing” for dogs. He hoped that wasn’t going to be a problem too.
After thinking about it, Gungren asked himself, “who doesn’t have a thing for dogs, especially after a few beers”. He could hardly get through town without being followed by hungry mutts that had marked him as a soft touch after a few drinks. Gungren made a mental note to self along the lines of I must stop looking for a companion after a few beers. His actual words were, “ No more drinking with strangers, or dogs”. More people would do well to heed such words.
Heading out of town took quite a while, with everybody wanting to wish Gungren luck on his first quest. Finally, around midday, they were finally on the road outside of town. “Outside of town” in this instance meant that, while they were away from hustle and bustle, they were now walking through The Durbs, a name given to the area by those who were fortunate enough not to live there. In the ‘Durbs’ Gungren felt as if he were being watched. There were no obvious people around, but he could feel little eyes following his every step.
In the center of town, in the middle of the hustle and bustle, Sammy Claws had become aware of the little scratchy noises in the corner of the cart and had seen Waggy snuggled down in the blankets covering a few toys Sammy had meant to unload at the town store. The brown dog had a white patch on one ear and a small almost circular ring around his nose. It resembled a bull’s eye. For some reason the sight of the reddish bull’s eye reminded Sammy to pick up some milk, candy and holiday decorations from the store in town.
Meanwhile Waggy was negotiating with Sammy Claus for a very large bone, at least three times Waggy’s size. Waggy had been busily chewing the contents of a large bag in the cart he had jumped into. Sammy was preoccupied with the dry cleaning and buying ribbon for Molly’s pig tails and having his suit let out. He did not respond to Waggy’s pleading eyes. There were no bones left in the cart, at least the taste had been licked off the ones that remained, and the bouncy balls had not been loaded yet. Waggy was getting bored. And he needed some relief.
And that’s when the dog decided it needed to take a walk and examine several trees for possibilities. And the trees in question were often quite far apart. And you couldn’t be entirely sure that the tree you had carefully chosen for your comfort break wouldn’t suddenly pull up it’s roots and walk away, giving you a scowl of disgust in the process. There were no ways to tell what the possibilities were either. At least not until it was too late.
There had been wizarding experiments in developing trees that could be grown in clusters to form into housing developments which could be used as habitats. Waggy had been chasing butterflies when he found himself in one such small abandoned village. It was currently inhabited by tree-herding hunter gatherers. What they were currently gathering was illegal firewood. Their ill advised campfire had been built of wood that retained some magical qualities which, when ignited by their lanterns that Waggy knocked over, exploded into a spectacularly brilliant display caught by local news agencies. The flash was visible for miles, and town leaders, eager to mollify the good will of the tree loving light elves, launched an investigation. It was a good thing Waggy had run into the surrounding woods.
However, it was determined that trees specially designed to grow into towns was generally a bad idea, especially after the other mishap that landed Grandmother Moose in the top of a tree. Father Moose had not been pleased, he had loved his mother very much.
Meanwhile the little eyes that had been following Gungren and Kimberly emerged furtively from the shadows. The eyes belonged to diminutive elves who had pledged their skills and service to helping Mr. Claws, aka Father Moose, to bring about the dreams of good children everywhere. Of course, some of them were also on prison work release programs and only wanted to avoid the work gang. They began discussing Gungren’s quest to ensure a child’s happiness for XMoose and decided they wanted to help. They also knew that Father Moose himself would want to help because Kimberly had been a good little witch all year; except for the fire, then the flood that she had used to put it out. And the town had needed refurbishing anyway. She was still on the good list, but only because Sammy insisted the lists be based on intent, not effect.
The elves pulled out their miniature version of the talky thingy and called Sammy Claws to inform him of their findings. Not only was Gungren helping Kimberly but he was proving that kind heartedness still existed in Ononokin. For some reason Sammy Claus had left his mobile on silent this meant that he missed the call from the elves regarding Waggy. Waggy was currently intent on negotiating with Sammy Claus for a very large bone, at least three times Waggy’s size.
The 12 were monitoring the situation with great interest as well. Well, as much interest as they could muster. They had no desire for any particular good feelings being generated by a touching human interest story. Feelings caused problems and quests which were not conducive to their quiet existentialism, they were taking a break for the season and just wanted to sit around eating a dish called ambrowsia. It was filled with fruit and bits of marshmallow and the odd, hidden nut. The gods got a little buzz from it, most people became tired of the soggy marshmallows with odd bits of nut in a bite they had expected to be fluff. Ironically, the 12 person jury was still out as to whether Ononokin should be allowed to exist.
“No”, said the 12 in unison, because it gets boring sometimes to be Gods. “This cannot happen”. They avoided emotions themselves and had no intention of allowing others to have them if they could help it. They also had a strong aversion to Moosy carols and could not, in good conscience, allow them to be broadcast through those loud, incessantly droning inventions that busy little goblin hooked up through town. The Fates themselves intervened this time, Heliok sent out a memo that they were to do nothing to hinder the quest, questors; or to allow or cause others to allow harm to anyone involved.
Waggy had meandered amiably through out the universe, smelling things and stopping to leave messages regarding his whereabouts to other dogs. He stopped suddenly, he had picked up the scent of Gungren’s supplies, so while Gungren was hunting Waggy, Waggy was hunting him. Gungren felt Waggy looking at him, but couldn’t locate him. Gungren explained the situation as scientifically as possible to Kimberly.
“ Me can feel him looking at me. It itchy”.
“I”, she replied.
“ What color eye, where other one”?
“You mean ‘I can see him looking at me’, his other eye is there too” she replied. Kimberly considered herself to be helping Gungren obtain a better grasp of language, a thing which her mother frequently said would advance her position in life. She wasn’t sure which position this was, but she tried to practice her yoggly poses every day so she would make her mother proud.
Gungren was afraid that Whizzfiddle’s language disabilities and subsequent confusion was infectious and spreading in wizard families, and that Kimberly had been afflicted with the grammar related disabilities that so plagued his master. So he did not pursue clarification as to the location and color of Waggy’s eyes. He had noticed that there was particular difficulty with the wizard’s “am” conceptualization. He did not want to correct her as it might hurt her feelings. He was uncomfortable when children cried and was not in a hurry to have her repeat the experience.
Each wizard in the land of Ononokin has their own particular source which will spark their magic. Gungren thought it was time for a location spell to find Waggy. He began to prepare for the spell.
There was a huge pile of dirt located nearby, Gungren grabbed a large handful and before Kimberly could say ‘manure’ he’d eaten it. Kimberly was laughing. ‘It still work but I now has smelly mouth’ said Gungren.
‘Locatum doggydum’ choked Gungren whilst holding his nose. His here and now vision blurred as his somewhere, somewhen else vision began to materialize. Gungren had already learned the importance of sitting down to perform the spell. Double doubled vision really increased the risk of falls.
Strangely, it seemed that Waggy was, well, up. Not in a high spirits kind if way, but actually in the sky. The wind was gentle and the sun was shining. It was a warm day, not hot, not cold, but just right. Waggy had initially sought higher ground when the fire first erupted, but was enjoying the sensation immensely and had no immediate plans to descend though he missed the smells.
Gungren had not been told that Waggy had some unique magical tendencies, one of which was perhaps not quite flying, but an ability to levitate, then bounce around in the breeze like a balloon in the x-Moose parade he had seen on TV. Coming back down again was interesting as, on a calm day, a sudden wind could cause him to be some distance away from his starting point! Jet propelled would be a good description of his deflation method! This meant that Waggy may, depending on wind currents, come down several miles away from his starting point; his current response to this was usually a guttural ” Ruff! “.
Whilst Waggy was in his keeping, Sammy Claws had noticed this ability of Waggy’s once he found him hiding in his cart. As someone a of kind heart delivering presents to children all across Ononokin he had felt that Waggy could help him in his mission. Had he known that Waggy was a runaway, or guessed the trouble Waggy would cause, he would have taken Waggy to the local wizard guild and run his errands by himself. But it was such a cute little doggie, or would be after a bath, and the East Post was such an isolated cold place. He reflected on the warmth a furry animal would bring to his bunions as it lay across his feet. He had wanted to name it Alfie and teach it tricks. He was to be very disappointed to find Waggy missing.
Gungren, unaware of the attention of all the special interest groups, asked Kimberly, “Why Waggy can do magic, am he a wizard in disguise? It not normal for a doggy to fly”.
There was no reply and Gungren turned to find that she had fallen asleep during his spell. He sighed resignedly as he took out a small lap quilt and covered her up. She was no longer crying but there was a crust of dirt and sticky stuff around her eyes and mouth. He wondered if he would ever enjoy tucking in his own children someday.
He was left in peace to consider the fate of Waggy who was blithely inching ever closer to a new adventure/ disaster every minute.
Of course, Gungren couldn’t know any of this, so he was stuck trying to find a way to search the sky. Gappy had last been seen in the same area that they were travelling. When Kimberly woke up Gungren discussed it with her and off they went in search of a famous inventor that he’d read about. Gappy he’d heard, had invented some kind of flying machine.
Now Gappy was a curious man, some said that he was given the name Gappy because there was nothing between his ears. Despite this apparent shortcoming, he still managed to cobble together things that occasionally worked and occasionally came in handy.
It wasn’t hard finding Gappy, he pretty much stayed in one place now that he was married. And because of this he was happy to quest a little and get out of the house. His bride was still unpacking the wedding gifts and had adapted so well to the newlywed state that she didn’t need him around and barely noticed when he said he was leaving. She could always make a list if she found things she needed his help with, and she knew he would be happy to get right to the list when he got back. That’s what marriage was all about after all.
Gappy invited them into the shop and the two of them sat down and began an engrossing conversation after consuming a plateful of delightful sandwiches and copious amounts of tea, and started discussing how Kimberly and Gungren could take to the skies whilst searching for Waggy. Kimberly and her doll looked around the shop and spotted a few things she thought were interesting. She knew not to touch things that weren’t hers so close to Moosemas. It could not have been attributed to her that the enchanted wolf doll went back to procure them for her. One of them was an amulet with certain interacting qualities. But that is a different story, for another day.
The two men discussed things for hours, ignoring Kimberly who was jumping up and down with a suggestion. Remembering a balloon that floated by itself that her father had brought back from the town fayre one year she shouted ‘balloon and a basket’ and busily began describing her idea using rope, a pillow case and her lucky mascot.
As they eagerly discussed the possibilities a light bulb came on in Gappy head, ‘A balloon’! he exclaimed much too Kimberly’s annoyance. In order to mechanize the balloon he would have to find or make some specialized parts, parts that were not easy to come across having been heavily taxed in town. They headed south and out of town in hopes of obtaining them further away from the town’s tariffed items and zoning laws.
Whizzfiddle was bored. Although he wouldn’t admit it out loud he realized he was missing his one-time apprentice. He had 2 options. He could have a go at conjuring up a new apprentice, even though he was banned from doing so by the wizard’s council after the slight mishap with the man eating post box last time or he could check up on Gungren. He decided that the second option was safer so, with a deep sigh, he set off to follow Gungren. Whizzfiddle had not used magic in recent weeks, having had no need to do so, what with the last quest coming to an end and no pressing need to do anything but sleep and pay the hired help. Unfortunately this meant his body was in detox mode, which left Whizzfiddle rather disoriented, to say the least. And fidgety while also feeling very tired. He was alert, clever and stupid all at once. So, normal for Whizzfiddle really!
Deciding that search, and possibly rescue, was his next order of business he rummaged around his stores and found a rather tasty Moosemas Ale brewed with seasonal favorites like hops and yeast and maybe a few pinches of cinnamon or cloves or something. It was important to drink enough, but not so much that he actually enjoyed listening to the endless drone of Moosemas carolers. Too much alcohol would affect his questing outcome in negative ways. He shuddered to remember the quest of undoing, and he wasn’t even all that smashed during that one. He reached a point of saturation where he was able to pack a reasonably small pack, shrink down a reasonably large cask of ale and find his hat in preparation to leave. He didn’t expect a long quest as not much time had elapsed and how much trouble could Gungren, a small doggie and a young girl get into? A cold chill ran up his spine as he remembered exactly which girl it was.
Just as he was about to leave his cottage there was a loud banging on his door and a deep, booming voice yelled……” Trick or treat, trick or treat. Give me something good to eat. . . NOW!”.
Whizzfiddle opened the door a crack, peeped out and said ” I can offer you a sandwich but you will have to make it, my apprentice has left me and he used to do all of the kitcheny things”
‘My friend’, came the booming reply. It took Whizzfiddle some time to recognize him as he was wearing huge glasses and a duffle coat but it was his good friend Mole, who had left his home for the first time in a long time.
“Murray, come in, come in. I’m getting ready for a trip, but I have time for a sandwich”. Whizzfiddle was glad to see Murray, but knew he would never be able to go if Murray started talking. The wizard cast a small spell to cause Murray to be ravenously hungry in order to prevent him starting a long conversation. He also hid the cookies and sugar. Murray the Mole had become very comfortable in the kitchen and soon had whipped up beer cheese sandwiches for both of them. He privately felt sorry for the wizard, as he was clearly too down on his luck to afford even a few small crickets for sandwiches. No self respecting mole would allow their pantry to become so depleted.
Murray had heard a rumor about a dog skimming the top of a house and relieving itself beside a chimney. The hot scent of magically infused dog pee had irritated the neighbor and caused temporary respiratory problems among the (en)titled gentry. Mole was not quite accustomed to being out of doors, but when the news of a magic flying dog got to him he had known he needed a wizard to figure it out, flying doggies were not normal, no matter where you live.
As they ate, they discussed the problem of finding Gungren, then the problem of helping Gungren find Waggy. Whizzfiddle would not have made this decision had he not been able to imagine the influence Kimberly could have on Gungren. The elderly wizard vividly remembered the gossip about her at the last guild meeting.
Whizzfiddle’s blood alcohol levels would not be built up enough to perform a locating spell for several hours. Mole had a solution to the problem. So he pulled out his portable lappy toppy computable device, and proudly explained to Whizzfiddle all about his special navigation system. It could be used to find people (or magically flying dogs,) wherever they might be. Whizzfiddle didn’t like the idea of all this technology, especially in his kitchen, but he was an old wizard and frankly quite lazy, so decided that this was acceptable. The two of them set to work finding Waggy and, more importantly to Whizzfiddle, Gungren.
Gungren, Gappy and Kimberly had come to a large fork in the road, an actual 4 tined fork which was 5 feet tall in the middle of a road.
“Wise man once say, come to fork in road, take it’.”, said Gungren. So he walked up, picked up the fork, and put it on his shoulder.
As it turned out the wise man didn’t take all possibilities into account and could not have predicted that when the fork was pulled out the ground on either side of it cracked, an enormous crack.
“That odd,” said Gungren.
“Indeed it was,” said the fork.
Gungren said, “That odd too, how you am talking?”.
The fork had previously been an unfortunate wizard whose magical impetus was silver and who had tried to channel that into a roadside dinnerware stand; when lightning struck the transmutational field had altered the magical phlygmonotronic transmutation circuitry and he had been turned into a fork. Some witnesses had reported that a dish ran away with a spoon, but this was never substantiated.
Being a bit grumpy , his reputation long tarnished, the fork spoke out. “Well, What the fork do you want?”
Kimberly sat down and sobbed loudly saying, ” I want Waggy, we can’t find him, there are beady eyes following us, if we don’t get home soon Sammy Claws will skip my house, Gungy is eating dirt, Gappy needs a funtabulating squarm monitor to look for Waggy, Father Moose can’t bring me a baby brother for X-Moose if he isn’t home, there’s an enormous talking fork but nothing to eat, I need to find a potty, and I looked in my witch glass and saw a drunk fat old man and a naked mole rat thing coming toward us on the road!”. As she spoke the ground around the crack began shaking and the crack began expanding. The fork had been silent until now but, as the temperature from Waggy’s fire heated the air around them the air waves rubbed him the wrong way and he began to whine.
”There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home”. Gungren nostalgically recalled simpler times throwing rocks off a cliff overlooking the giant fields of home.
Whizzfiddle and Mole had been one of the earliest witnesses to Waggy’s fire. The illegal wood gatherers had assessed the damage to their stockpile, remembered the fines and punitive repercussions related to selling magic fire wood and decided their best course of action was to run away. Mole’s footpads were more sensitive to temperature alterations than Whizzfiddle’s, both because Mole did not wear shoes and because Whizzfiddle had had several hundred years to finely hone old man foot phenomenon. They were coated with a thick outer layer of snowy, powdery skin cells that fell in flurries when his socks were removed, under which there were at least two extra shoe sizes of callouses. Mole felt the radiation of heat before they saw the bright flash.
Dancing rather erratically from foot to foot, Mole shouted, “ My feet are burning, there’s a fire, there’s a fire”!
The poor, pained mole jumped onto Whizzfiddle’s back. Whizzfiddle was caught off guard and both of them fell on the ground. Mole had not fully grasped the concept of human fashion and was only wearing the trench coat and dark glasses. The fall left other of his anatomical features exposed to the heated ground. He screeched in pain and jumped on Whizzfiddle’s now recumbent back.
“I wonder if it was Kimberly or the dog” grumbled the wizard. He tensed, hoping against hope not to be deluged by a wall of water. The girl had set precedent.
He huffed as he asked Mole “ Could you reach into the pack you are sitting on, the one on my back, and hand me the flask at the top? I need to top off the magic.”
That was when the cheery, Moosemas-red embers from the fire rained down on Mole’s trench coat. Mole frantically scrambled out of the trench coat and patted at various parts to check for blistering. Once assured of no disfiguring wounds he settled down a bit but did not get off the wizard. It was a good thing the wizard’s pack was larger on the inside than on the outside, a frequently occurring dimensional anomaly oft associated with wizardly belongings, since Mole chose this opportunity to climb into the finest of Kornaythian leather bags. It had cost Whizzfiddle the entire proceeds of a small quest some 50 years ago, and he still regarded it as money well spent. The flask popped out but Mole stayed in.
A muffled response came from inside the bag “You’ll have to carry me old friend, unless you have heavy solved boots and a new coat, I’m rather naked in here”.
“ Well stay where you are then, things look bad enough already” grunted the wizard as he began quaffing ale, a difficult feat from a flask, but there was no mug to be found.
The Moosemas Ale had lent the seasonal equivalent of a minor miracle to his magic and the spell he used to put out the fire was accompanied by the unintended and, at least to Whizzfiddle, unwanted concert of Moosemas carols and a shimmering haze of glitter so fine that it shone like sugar on the ground around it. The fire and smoke cleared leaving the abandoned structures looking ethereal and nearly pretty. It did not impress the wizard, but after applying some sort of salve he found while perusing the content of the bag, Mole was delighted with the holiday appearance to the area.
He also found the makings of a splendid alfresco lunch in the forest, nuts, acorns, a few worms. Whizzfiddle drank then performed a locator spell find Gungren again. He was delighted to learn they were less than a mile away. It was his fondest hope that they could catch up before something else happened.
Gungren looked at Kimberly and said, “ Why you watch me eat dirt if you have witch glass?”. He was having an ever increasingly difficult time understanding small girl children and was suspicious that she was having a laugh at him.
Kimberly was surprised at his question and said,” I thought you like dirt, what does my witch glass have to do with it?”.
Gappy explained that Gungren’s magic source was dirt much the same as Whizzfiddle’s was alcohol and Kimberly’s father’s was a particular formulation of bat guano and yak butter that he had been offered for his tea by tribal elders when he was on an anthropological expedition to the Forveren Forest on the Antirhinigean Continent. Gappy’s ancestor had gone as a goblin consultant to the group because he was learned in a similar dialect to the one spoken there, and also because he had been asked to at the point of a spear. Anthropology was a different culture back then.
“ Oh” said Kimberly, “I just thought he learned to eat dirt when he was still a giant”.
“That specieist” grumbled Gungren. “Can you am looking in glass for Waggy now”?
Kimberly pulled out a small glass mirror hung within a locket from a chain around her neck. When opened the glass projected an image onto the road. There was an image of an older, plain and rather ugly woman riding a two wheeled conveyance with a seat, behind her was a basket out of which stared a small black dog.
“Who dat am?” asked a bewildered Gungren.
Kimberly thumped the top of the locket with her index finger and the image changed to Whizzfiddle carrying a large leather backpack walking past the place they had stopped for lunch. “I don’t know who she was or where, but that is the same old man I saw earlier, now that he is closer I can tell it is old Master Whizzfiddle. I’m glad that naked dancing rat thing is gone. He is quite close now, maybe we should wait for him to catch up”.
Whizzfiddle told Mole that He did not want Gungren to know he had been worried about him or that they were looking for him and Kimberly. “Can you just tell them that you needed help on a quest?” he implored mole.
Mole looked puzzled as he peered over his glasses at the top of the wizard’s head from the inside of his now warm comfortable nest, “What kind of a quest?” he queried.
“ Is there anything you need to have help with? Something we could call a quest, even if it isn’t really a quest and we don’t really go looking for it. Just some reason to be on the road together, just an excuse?”. This had already become more trouble than the old wizard wanted to go to and he wanted to be clear he wasn’t actually consenting to a quest for Mole too.
“Well. I was thinking the other day what a good idea it would have been to be able to move a number of moles over land, in case of invasion again” Mole avowed. “Could we use that as an excuse”?
“Excellent, excellent. Er, you do understand we are not actually on this quest, don’t you”? The older man was longing for a foot soak and a fireplace and needed to be sure nothing else was expected from him.
“ To be sure, to be sure. But just in case we do find something, I wouldn’t have to pay quest prices, would I ?” asked Mole.
“Of course not, just stick to the story”. There was a hint of irritation seeping into Whizzfiddle’s voice
By this time they could just see Gungren, Gappy, the fork and Kimberly watching a small grayish image of Whizzfiddle coming toward them. Them meaning Gungren, Gappy and Kimberly; not Whizzfiddle coming toward himself and Mole, though he had seen stranger things than that before as well.
“What am you doing here Master?” Gungren called out suspiciously to the approaching wizard as he came around the corner. He did not like thinking that he hadn’t been trusted on his own quest.
Mole’s head popped up out of backpack behind Whizzfiddle. “ I have engaged him on a quest, on behalf of my people” he called down to the party. “I hope you don’t mind, Gungren, your prices were too large for me after your Dragon Challenge fame. I had to settle for Whizzfiddle here”.
“Hey” muttered Whizzfiddle.
“It am okay” said Gungren.
Kimberly said, “ would you like to join us for tea or lunch” politely. Her mother would have been very proud.
“ Do you have any crickets?” asked Mole?
“Is there any stout? asked Whizzfiddle.
“ We have ham and cheese sandwiches and milk” said Kimberly, a little less politely. Her mother would still have been proud.
“ We stopped a while ago” they both answered as they sat down to talk.
“How is your quest to find Waggy going?” asked Whizzfiddle nonchalantly.
At this point Kimberly began crying again. Gappy led her off to divert her attention while they taped. After about twenty minutes he and Kimberly returned to find the conversation coming to an end. The two of them had enjoyed a quiet walk and sat a few minutes. Kimberly was in better spirits and was wearing a daisy chain wreath in her hair. The fork and Gungren had just finished filling master and Mole in on the details of the adventure.
Whizzfiddle sighed, and said “life is pretty normal right now then!”
Kimberly was confused by that comment. She looked at Whizzfiddle and asked, “How is that normal?”
Whizzfiddle looked down at her dirty, tear stained face and sighed. “Normal is a relative term,” he said, putting his hand on her shoulder. “What’s normal for one person may not be for another.” “Although, come to think of it,” he continued, “I’ve never met anyone who claimed to have normal relatives.”
“Abby Normal does,” she said. “She lives 2 doors down from me.” Kimberly gave her first genuine smile since the quest began. “Everybody in her family is named Normal.”
Waggy had been blown about 20 miles from where he had run into the firewood gatherers. His magical field built up a great deal of flatulence when he became frightened or stressed but it served mainly as a compensatory mechanism and, once the danger was over, he gently let down by a gypsy caravan.
The danger for the caravan had just begun, however. For Waggy was now feeling cramps from the build up of gas inside. Flatulence needs to be released, and the gypsies were now at ground zero. Gypsies on Ononokin set up camps as they travelled and lanterns were their primary light sources.
Waggy was seen to lower his head and put his front paws over his nose before cutting loose. The gypsies were overcome by the stench and mercifully passed out. But the gas was heavier than air and hung in the area for days afterward before dissipating.
This time the blaze was not as aggressive, but it was large enough to be visible to Sammy Claws as he trekked back toward his townhouse, it was in a quiet area outside of town by the woods mostly populated by retired people and he and his rosy cheeked wife fit in well with the neighbors.
They say that resulting bang was even heard in the underworld.
Sammy, fearing that there may be casualties, reigned in the elk and the cart lurched forward toward the fire. The smell of smoke wafted on the wind and the luster of ashes on the now falling snow gave the darkness of midnight to the purity below. It also melted into a nasty, ugly mess as it was trampled under the elk’s hooves.
He arrived on scene to find Waggy in the middle of running, screaming gypsies. Ononokin gypsies were normally rather reserved and non confrontational, preferring the peaceful solitude of a life well lived to the hustle and bustle so often found in eleven camp life. Sammy Claws was shocked to find them running off the bedraggled puppy. They were actually chasing him with weapons. He grabbed the dog, tied him into the cart and Elvin the elk took off.
Murray’s whiskers were more sensitive than his feet. They quivered in the wind alerting him to more air current changes, though he was not close enough to cause him physical pain. He had been given a pair of shoes and clean clothes from the spares in Gappy’s pack. He was happy to be out of Whizzfiddle’s bag but found himself missing the smell of Kornaythian leather and Moosemas Ale.
“I’ve had a feeling”, he exclaimed. “ My whiskers are quivering, my whiskers are quivering, do you know what this means”.
” It means the spell wore mumbled the wizard”.
“ No, wait, what? It means the the thermodynamic updrafts have cause a fluctuation in the wind current that indicates another fire. It is no where near as close as the last one, yet it can’t be More than 12 miles. I can’t tell much about the source of the blaze or the fuel levels or cause, but I am certain that the conflagration is relatively contained Now. You see the relative moisture content would have been about 4,00 parts per mililiter in order for the blaze to have not spread further than 3 miles per minute”. He pulled his pocket contained talky thing from his pocket, punched a button that revealed a self contained keyboard and said,” I estimate it to have been generated from 12 miles away”.
“ What are you talking about? The wizard asked.
“ Him says the draft from the fire was put out by water. He doesn’t know what caused it, but it was about 12 miles away.”. Gungren filled in.
“ I need a drink” said the wizard. He found the cask in his bag, filled his flask and took a swig. He was a generous man and poured one for Gappy and Gungren and the fork as well. Murray took a small sip, but he did not drink in the quantities the others enjoyed. Kimberly sipped some cocoa her mother had packed.
“ Locatum Doggydum” the wizard intoned. Xebigdon Whizzfiddle had been a wizard for so long he could stand on one foot while his double double vision took hold. He could now see clearly that Waggy was contained in the cart of none other than Father Moose, a man Whizzfiddle had dined with on more than one occasion. He also knew that they were being chased by otherwise mild mannered gypsies and that Elvin had thrown an elk shoe. They would need to take action to help his old friend Sammy.
After explaining the situation to the group he said, Murray, can you find Sammy and Waggy and bring them here”?
“ To be sure, to be sure”, said Murray. The words were barely out of his mouth before they watched dust spread as his feet carried him underground to tunnel to the cart. He was able to easily adjust course according to vibrations and arrived to tell Sammy where to find the waiting group.
In the meantime Whizzfiddle asked Kimberly if she had any potion supplies with her. He told the group that Sammy Claus would be arriving with Waggy soon but according to his calculations, but they would need to find a way to transport all of them to town in time to get Kimberly home for x-Moose and he wasn’t sure how to do it. It was his hope that Kimberly could make a potion to hurry Elvin and the cart along.
Gungren and Gappy had been talking as well. Gappy explained that the cart could not carry all of them even if Kimberly was able to decant a potion, it was a few hours until Father Moose needed to leave in order to get to the East Pole, change out the cart and get the toys packed for all the children. The additional need to take them all home first meant that Moosemas may be cancelled. Kimberly began to cry. Whizzfiddle felt himself close to tears as he thought of the cries the town’s children would set up, on finding no toys on x-Moose morning. He genuinely liked children and wanted to do all he could to help bring joy to them at this most festive of seasons.
As the discussion came round to how to get them home Sammy and Waggy arrived. The cart was blackened in a few places, the blanket Waggy had snuggled under was been badly burned, but the errands were finished and he was ready to see how Elvin and get home. But the fog had descended in earnest and it seemed impossible to manage. “ I’m afraid xMoose will have to be cancelled unless someone can figure out a way for Elvin to fly” he said sadly.
“ A balloon, a balloon!” exclaimed Gappy, Gungren and Kimberly together. When the details were explained, Sammy said that he had the parts Gappy needed in his cart. Gappy was able to use the parts to fashion a balloon with the rugs in the cart. Whizzfiddle drank the rest of his Moosemas Ale and was able to enlarge a small basket that Murray found in his leather bag. They were underway.
They arrived, tired, sooty and disheveled; at Kimberly’s house at a quarter to ten on Moosemas Eve. Whizzfiddle dropped from the balloon at the edge of town and walked to Kimberly’s house in time to stand with onlookers when the balloon pulled in.
Kimberly ran from the cart into the house to get her mother. Her father had arrived home earlier that day following her call on the talky thingy when Kimberly and Gungren left and they were beginning to get worried, it wasn’t usual for someone not to have brought Kimberly home well before now. There were several television crews and cameras clicking as the weary group climbed out onto the grass.
Festivities were underway and there was a large committee waiting to congratulate Gungren on his first quest. Members of the Wizard’s guild were apprised of the story and it was suggested the Ford’s story may come t light, along with their rather harsh punishment. They decided that returning him to human and reinstating his full powers and status on the council was better than having the story released on television on Moosemas Eve.
Kimberly pulled her mother and father aside to tell them that Elvin and Sammy Claws would not be able to get home, get loaded and be underway without help. They, Whizzfiddle and Murray, the fork, the balloon and the cart were hidden in the back yard while Gungren was interviewed in public. Kimberly and her mother found Mother Marjarine, Kimberly’s tutor and the brewed a potion to enable Elvin to fly the balloon the rest of the way to the East Post. Father Moose was heard to exclaim, as they flew out of sight, Merry Moosemas to all and to all a good night”!