Elwina, blood cousin, thrice removed, of the albino prince of the Dragon Isle, grasped Hellbringer, the Demon Sword, in her ebon armored right hand. The armor gleamed, polished and pristine. Eldritch black sparks cascaded down her left arm, fist raised on high.
High being optimum, standing at just over seven feet. With those heels? Ahem. I had to stretch my neck back to see if another weapon was being equally grasped. Nope. Just her fist, which was formidable enough as is.
I had done the Sacred Dance of Interpretation, sacrificed the Two Glazed Legs of a Chicken (they were yum), and dropped a drop of Ceremony Wine into the Silver Chalice of The Dead God. Poof! She appeared. Angry, but she was here.
I had summoned here in the dungeon cell of my place of habitat. Twenty foot ceiling, plenty of light pouring through the barred high windows, and wall to wall Enchanted Weeping Stone. The black shag carpet was a nice touch; mother did well in that respect.
Elwina stamped a mighty thump on the carpeting, which wasn’t the effect I think she was going for. It was followed, though, with a booming, echoing voice, amplified by the curly-cue helmet she wore.
“Todd, Master of the Flickering Candle, Supreme Master of the D20, Devourer of Smoked Meats, Keeper of the Chilling Collectables, and Scion of Queen Yen-Tah,” she paused, whether for a breath or effect, then continued, “Why have YOU summoned me hence?”
“Um,” I stalled, bowing as far over as my cinched pants would allow. “Um, my lady, I do not think “hence” means what you think it means.” I unbowed. “You see, hence means…”
Her left sparkly hand was suddenly in front of my face, mere inches from my nose. As the tip of proboscis began to emit the aroma of a summer BBQ, I knew enough at that moment to not let the “Ouch!” leave my lips.
Bits of stone, from the walls, shattered, dropping onto the shag with her next words.
“Am I here to amuse you, Todd? Do you think I am a Jester?” Her already red eyes, glaring at me through her armored head, were ablaze. “Do I make you laugh?”
I felt my mustache and eyebrows singe.
“Chaos forbid, O’ twelfth Princess of The Dreaming City. Farthest thing from my mind. Please forgive my, um, basest of conjectures.” Bowing again, not as deep as before, because I wanted to keep an eye on Hellbringer, I added: “I am but discarded foliage adrift in a hailstorm.”
I waited, hoping I had abased myself just enough.
Elwina lowered her twinkling fist, at the same time slamming her demon sword into its scabbard. Not too gently, she pushed me back enough that I almost lost my footing. A few feet separated us now.
“Well?” The word bounced around the room. Thunder was in her voice. Very, very frightening.
“Methought, m’lady, um, you might behoove a simple, tiny request. A wish.”
She stood stock still and silent. I took that as a good sign. That, and Hellbringer was still sheathed.
“Tonight marks the beginning of the Centennial Celebration of the War That Should Never Have Been. The Dowagers of the WTSNHB have prepared for this eve for the last decade. Everyone who is anyone in Evermore will be there.”
“So?” Her hand went ever so quietly to the hilt of her damned sword.
I mumbled incoherently. My heart was in my throat.
She took off her helmet and through it at me. My shoulder throbbed. Better than it hitting me square in the face.
“My gods, are you a man or a slithy tove? State you wish. Now! What did you summon me here for, Todd?”
I was still rubbing my shoulder.
“Yeah, um, well…It’s a big night. An event. Happens only once a century.” Her eyes narrowed, a deep depression formed between her at the bridge of her nose. She swept a lock of her red hair out of her face, having fallen with the tossing of her helmet.
“Um, Lady Elwin, would you do me the honor of accompanying me to this most illustrious ball?”
The silence that followed felt as if another century had passed before she spoke again.
“Are you, Todd, asking me on a date?”
I stood, looked up into her eyes, and nodded.
“About frigging time! Why do you think I spent the time polishing my best armor?”
Once outside, passing by my mother and assuring her I would be back at the appointed time, Elwina drew Hellbringer and commanded it transform itself into a Coach and Four.
We arrived at the ball fashionably late.
I did not make it home until a week later, but that is a tale best told at another time.