The Pantope Campaign  |  Stickers On Our Luggage  |  New Blood Logs
Tom Noon's Tale  |  Puck's Tale  |  JT's Tale  |  Adventures in Babysitting
Of the Races of Earth  |  Faerie Geography  |  A Dialogue on the Demi-Spirits
Elves and Dwarves  |  Petty-Fays  |  Nymphs and Elementals

Adventures in Babysitting

New Blood Logs:

Tom Noon's Tale


In Chaos

Voyages of the Nones



Mother Goose Chase

Ancient Oz


Adventures of the Munch

Lanthil & Beyond

This story occurs about 10 years in the future, so far as the crew in the current FuRPiG game are concerned. Runyanna, the little girl in this story, hasn't been born yet. She is, or will be, the first child conceived in Lanthil which the New Blood are only now beginning to settle. She is the daughter of Daewen and Melusine, with a bit of genetic engineering assistance from Lorilei.
-- JimB.

Tom Noon sat in a study in Vinyagarond, working on his latest paper on parallel worlds. The problem was the audience. Was he addressing it to the Family and other Lanthilor? -- in which case he should leave out the technical notes and put in the personal anecdotes -- or the dwarven scholars at High Dwarrowgard? -- in which case he should put in the technical notes and leave out the anecdotes. He had just about decided to put in neither, write up an abstract, and glamour the thing onto everyone's breakfast cereal boxes, when the study door swung open.

It was Runyanna, the Family's youngest child to date, in her nightshirt. She was about six, fair-skinned, with a triangular face and curling chestnut hair. She was alarmingly thin for a human child, which she was not, but still quite cute. Human children, Tom reflected, were cute like puppies and kittens. Elven children were cute like fawns and foals. Which was misleading, because they were at least as predatory as humans.

"Uncle Tom," Runyanna declared, "there's something under my bed again." She was distinctly annoyed.

"The same thing as last night?"

She nodded. "I think so."

"We'll try to catch it this time." Tom surveyed the technical and thaumaturgical clutter on the desk and selected a white plastic object the size and shape of a cigar -- a personal psilencer bought in a hardware store on 26th-century Hellene.

He led the way through the dark, rambling halls of Vinyagarond. The two of them were alone there, with whatever was under Runyanna's bed. The rest of the Family was off at a battle in their dateless war with the Lamiae. Tom was timelocked out for the simple reason that he had already been in that battle. For the same reason, he had no anxieties about its outcome. But it made him the logical babysitter for Runyanna.

Normally, Runyanna would have led the way, and come skipping back, and darted off from side to side. She was not the sort to be intimidated by a dark, empty country house. Not this house, certainly. They couldn't feel really abandonned here. Physically, it was rather empty, but the household magics still wove through it in casual tangles, woven over decades by dozens of mages, all of whom they knew personally. Echoes of familiar minds met them everywhere. But even Runyanna was a little unnerved by an intruder under her bed -- and for the second time, too. So Tom led.

Were-lights gleamed here and there in the halls, but Tom decided Runyanna could do with more. He conjured a green nimbus, gathering into vivid emerald flames about his head and shoulders. Obviously encouraged, Runyanna put a thumb in her mouth and blew. With a slight wuf, crimson flames sprang up and wreathed her. They looked liked a Christmas display, and no coincidence. Last Yule's visit to St. Nicholas had left a lasting impression.

Thus decked in glamoured warpaint, they approached Runyanna's door. Silently. Runyanna was already good at stealth. And second sight, which was how Tom was sure her intruder was not just a piece of leftover glamour from some mischievous relative. And levitation. And she was quite unsafe to gamble with. Tom thought she would learn seemings soon. He also thought he knew how she would look when she was grown, but that image was in a locked part of his memory, just now.

Tom second-sighted through the door, into the room, and under the bed. She was right. A goblin was wedged there -- gray, raw-boned, hairless, and cat-eyed. It also had fangs, which it no doubt thought made it terribly tough, though it had not nearly enough muzzle to use them effectively.

Tom turned on the psilencer -- his flames quenched -- burst open the door, and tossed it on the bed. That put an end to any magic going on underneath it. Half a second behind the psilencer, he grabbed under the bed and pulled out the bogey. A moment later, it was face down on the bedroom floor, Tom crouched on its legs, its hands pinned into the small of its back.

"New in the neighborhood?" Tom asked cheerfully.

The bogey tried to look around. With one cheek now pressed against the floor, all it could see was a curtain of green fire and, through it, a small column of red fire with a short figure inside, arms akimbo. The bogey moaned a little.

"Nasty surprise?" Tom asked, sympathetically. "Must have looked tempting. The place looks run down -- I must ask the fauns to see to the lawn -- and only a child with what looks like a Low Elf to protect her. You couldn't know that the lady here is a princess of the High Elves, and--"

The bogey started to splutter. "Prin--! High--?!" Tom felt it make a frantic start at some magic. He blocked it and went on, still genial. "And that the protector is a wizard and her mortal godfather, rather unpredictable and given to fits of--" He dropped the geniality and hissed the last word: "--sanctity." He added some gold and white sparks to the flames. He had guessed right; the thing had a healthy case of hagiophobia. It writhed under his hands and moaned again.

"Now, what are you doing here?" He drove a spike of awareness into the creature's mind, down to the conceptual level. "Really? Common bogering, nothing more? No, I don't see any little seals on your memory. Thought you'd drain some energy off my lady here, did you? You'd have been disappointed. Runyanna knows what to do if someone pokes at her mind." To wit, yell for Uncle Tom. It worked. At any distance.

"Now, HOW did you get in here? Ah." Helplessly, the bogey's memory yielded the trick. It could take the shape of a gnat, small even as gnats went. Rather a good piece of shapeshift, to make so great a change of size. It must have worked hard at that one. The gnat was so small, even the scries on the house wards didn't notice it. And it was a true shapeshift, not a seeming, so there was no running spell for the wards to notice.

"I really think I must put up some telepathic wards," Tom mused aloud. "The others think it's too intrusive, but, well, just look what can happen, eh?" He stood up, but the goblin found itself still glued to the floor by a binding.

"I could flay you," Tom said, still genial, "and quarter you, and leave your head hanging from a tree for the crows. Still alive. For a while, anyway. But I won't. It'd be messy, and it'd upset Runyanna."

"Not really," she corrected, playing along perfectly.

Tom walked around the goblin, binding in the block he'd made on its magic. This wasn't unbreakable, but it would be a major bother to get rid of. "Instead, I'll let you go. Want to know why?"

"Um. Do I?"

"So you can spread the word. And you will, right?"

"Right! Right!"

Tom stuck a tracer on the bogey, then released the binding that held it down. The bogey leapt up, jumped for the window, tried to turn into a gnat, failed, and crashed to the floor. "Oh, and before you go," said Tom, "one more thing. What is your Name?" The bogey moaned as he drove into its mind again. "Sevikstor? Thank you. Got that, Runyanna?"

"Sevikstor," she repeated. "Got it."

"Good." With a blast of green fire, Tom hurled the goblin through the window, which was a bit small for it in that form, but these things happen. They heard the thump of its landing, a short silence, panting and the tread of a stumbling run, some bushes rustling, then silence.

"I'll stay with you here, tonight, if you like," Tom offered.

"No, that's okay. But I'd like another story."

"Certainly." A few minutes later, they were well into the story: "...Pooh was saying to himself, "If only I could think of something!" For he felt very sure that a Very Clever Brain could catch a Heffalump if only he knew the right way to go about it...."

Updated: 7-Oct-06
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.
The Pantope Campaign  |  Stickers On Our Luggage  |  New Blood Logs
Tom Noon's Tale  |  Puck's Tale  |  JT's Tale  |  Adventures in Babysitting
Of the Races of Earth  |  Faerie Geography  |  A Dialogue on the Demi-Spirits
Elves and Dwarves  |  Petty-Fays  |  Nymphs and Elementals