The Writer leaned back in his black leather, professional-looking chair and cracked his knuckles at the screen. He did this out of the sense of satisfaction that inherently follows the defeat of a worthy adversary. He'd seen powerful lawyer types do this on TV before. The Writer felt powerful too, and cracked with gusto.
"Yes you are powerful, dear," his girlfriend said. "Powerful as all git-out. Handsome too," she giggled.
The Writer was very pleased with her for saying this, and vowed to fetch her something pretty or delicious the next time he ventured outside. This would not happen for a while yet, of course, because he was still working on his dwarf story.
"Oh, right. I have decided to..."
Sticky Jake, in all his double-breasted-plaid-turtleneck-with-corduroy-caped glory, stepped upon the tabletop to continue his statement from a more impressive vantage. He drew the air of ages into his lungs, hoisted an index finger atop the valiantly extended forearm of wisdom, and bellowed.
"Eat a SOCK!"
The throne room fairly echoed with silence.
Becky and Stubs stared at the Lord of the Nitwits, mouths open in pure dumbstruckery, as he stood upon the dining table with one foot in a bowl of potato salad.
The Lord's arm wilted. "Er, I mean..."
Becky buried her face in her hands. "This was a mistake," she muttered through her shame.
Stubs emitted a poot of optimism. "Not all is lost, Becky! I'm sure the Lord here will allow us to take some leftover swine wads with us, wrapped in aluminum foil. Our larder thus stocked, and a friendly basecamp established, we'll be well on our way!"
"Great. Now we can just go outside, throw a stick into the air, and head off in the direction it points to when it lands. We have no idea where to start looking."
"Yeah, but...swine wads?" Stubs said, an encouraging grin rustling through his beard.
Tiberius roused himself with a snort and as his eyes flickered open, he gave voice to his own splendid idea, formulated inside his very own head:
"Looks like you two oughta find y'selves a wizard!" he ejaculated. "I know they got magic sticks. It's a fact. Use 'em to turn rocks into porridge and whutnot."
"Excrement idea, Tiberius! Pay me many heeds, Belchy and Squids, for 'tis a journey of capitalized danger to the nearest wizard in these lands. First, you must gravitate your way through--"
"You should have one of the other characters tell Becky and Stubs how to find the wizard. That Nitwit guy's speech is a little tiresome," said the Wife.
The Writer hated it when someone presented a good argument for editing an idea or character he was particularly fond of. He threw a raisin at his wife when she turned her back, and reluctantly put her counsel into effect:
"I shall sermon my faithful guard and partition him to emasculate on the pearls of this journey, for I have become tiresome and wish to adjoin to my bumchamber for a refractive snortle."
The Lord of the Nitwits shouted for his guard. Tiberius the Chunky came on the run. Because he was already in the room at the time, he achieved this by running out and then back in again. This appeared to please the Lord.
"I reward you with a striped one!" he said, handing Tiberius a sock. "And the best of luck to you, dear questers! May your socks be not fouled with bog water, and your way fraught not with unintestinal misshapes!"
"May your Pogs sparkle as a beacon of freedom with the intensity of a thousand suns," said Stubs, bowing his way out.
"I'm taking these leftovers," said a stern-faced Becky, stuffing baseball-sized, foil-wrapped swine wads into her knapsack.
Tiberius led Becky and Stubs out of the palace and into the courtyard. He waved a hand at a range of mountains to the West.
"See them mountains? That's the Mysteriolith Range. I ain't rightly sure of the best route to git to 'em, but a great wizard lives on the top of that biggun thar," he said, indicating a formidable peak with one sausage finger.
"That's Merbert's Peak," said Becky. "That'll take us days to climb! Not to mention all the equipment we'll need. Carabiners, rope, crampons--"
"Eeew!" said Stubs, giggling like a schoolgirl.
"They're like cleats. Spiky soles to grip ice and stuff," explained Becky.
The Writer stopped to think for a second. If he made the mountain really hard to climb, he would either need to bend reality, or he would have to go into depth about the equipment his characters needed to climb it. This latter frightened him. If he got any of his facts wrong, he was sure to be bombarded with smuggery in the Indulge in stupidity section by mountaineering Internet mavens more than happy to remind him that he was an ignorant putz.
As a Writer, though, he was pretty comfortable with bending reality.
"You should take a liberty," grunted his wife, bent double under the weight of the bathtub she was lugging across the room.
"Good idea!" said the Writer, and rummaged happily in her purse.
"Wrong!" said the Wife, lobbing a crescent wrench at him. "I meant with your story. Put my mints back."
"Fine. I have my granola. You have your mints. As long as I know where we both stand."
"That's Merbert's Peak," said Becky. "Tallest mountain in the country. Wonderful."
Tiberius scratched his head and furrowed his brow. "Don't know the feller. You're right about it bein' a tall 'un, though. If I was y'all, I'd take the elevator," he said, bending reality.
"Thank you, Tiberius. We'll do just that," said Stubs, shaking hands with the corpulent guard and loosing a poot of gratitude. Tiberius stumped back into the castle, giggling quietly, and Stubs gauged the time of day by looking at the sky.
"Night has fallen," he said.
"I heard it," said Becky, and the two of them spent the night in the guest house.
"Won't that send the wrong message to impressionable readers?" opined the Wife. She was building a digital thermostat out of PlayStation 2 parts to control the water temperature in the shower. "I mean, the two of them, sleeping together in the guest house?"
The Writer coughed granola bits onto the rug. "You're right, pretty one! I cannot believe I let such a glaring moral faux pas slip past me!" The Writer patted his soul reassuringly. "Almost lost you there, little guy!"
"I heard it," said Becky, and the two of them spent the night in the guest house after first asking Tiberius if it would be okay.
When dawn came, sneaking over the horizon like some sort of golden, moth-frightening burglar, the questers donned their knapsacks and britches and glaves and clavicles and set out.
"Soooo," wheedled Stubs, "you haven't told me what humiliation drove you out of the Fairy Syndicate. I mean, you don't have to if you don't want to, but if you ever need someone to talk to, I'm your dwarf."
Becky stopped in the path and sighed heavily. Stubs kept walking until he was brought up short by a tree. He landed on his back, noticed that Becky was no longer beside him, and scooted, still on his back, over to her.
"I'm sorry," he said, looking remorseful. "The wind'll blow it away in short order and--"
"Have you noticed anything...strange about me, Stubs?" she asked, her face, sad, pointed skyward.
"You're not impressed by a pristine collection of Pogs?"
"No. Something missing. Something that should be there, but is not. Two somethings, actually. It's why when you met me, I was on foot. It's why I am still on foot."
Stubs got to his feet and looked down at Becky's. She had two small, pretty fairy feet encased in what looked like silver ballet slippers. He frowned thoughtfully.
"Wings! I'm a fairy, and I don't have wing one!" Becky screamed. She ripped off her cloak, exposing a pair of shoulder blades on an otherwise bare back. "Can you imagine the shame my parents felt, knowing their only daughter was a wingless freak?"
Tenderness welled up in Stubs' gassy little heart as he stared at Becky's back. Empathy hissed out of him as his face softened.
"I'm sorry. If it makes you feel any better, I'm afraid of the dark."
Becky re-fastened her cloak. "I don't know what that has to do with me," she sniffed.
"I'm a dwarf. Dwarfs work and live in mines. In tunnels underground. It's, uh...dark underground."
The two of them looked into each other's eyes and bonded.
"I think we should shake hands," said Stubs.
"I think you should fall down and die!" said an evil voice from the shrubbery. Stubs knew that voice.
"Indeed!" said Tony, stepping out. He was carrying a rusty crowbar and was wearing a catcher's mask. "I'm ready for you this time, dwarf!" he sneered. "It's been far too many paragraphs since you were last hassled!"
Tony raised his crowbar and advanced. Then, he noticed Becky.
"Oh, shit! A fairy!" he squealed, using the first real cuss-word on the Blog because he was that evil. He fled into the deep green fastnesses of the forest whence he came.
"Honey! Tony just ruined the PG rating we had going here!" said a panicked Writer.
"That bastard," replied his wife, her calm voice muffled by her welder's mask.
"I thought you'd be more broken up about that."
"I'm sorry, dear, but I'm in the middle of something kinda delicate. Once I get the uranium and graphite rods in place and start the reactor, I can pay more attention."
"Oooh! Gonna save us some money on the ol' electric bill this summer, huh?"
"Yessir!" she said, her face suddenly lost from view behind a shower of sparks. "My own design."
"Must be scared of fairies," muttered Stubs.
"We'll see him again. He is the antagonist, after all, and he can't be vanquished already," Becky said, shrugging.
"Who would we battle?" agreed Stubs.
"Who would provide the necessary friction to slow us in our quest and add that spice of adventure all the great stories have?"
"Who would we throw swine wads at?"
"Of course!" said the Writer.
"So, now that we have established Tony's relative role in this story, how are we going to get across this giant, bridgeless chasm?" said Becky, gazing down into the abyss, where light was swallowed alive and no echo found its way back out...