The Prankster

An innocent stroll in the city

Putty takes a firm grip on the door and pulls it open just enough for them to exit the building. Putty puts out his torch by dipping it into the snow, and puts it back into his backpack.

“Now what?” says Arnald and flaps his arms around him.

“We could always see if the Moonstone Mask has opened early.”

“And if they haven’t?”

“There must be some other establishment opened. It’s a rather large city.”

“As long as we don’t run into any more crooked dwarves with phoney dice, or elves that break into other peoples’ homes!”

“We don’t know if the elf did live there or not. And we were none the better.”

“Yes, we were.”

“No, we weren’t.”

“He broke into and entered that home first! Therefore, we could’ve not, since the building had already been broken and entered.”

“I don’t believe that’s how Lord Nasher would see it.”

Arnald doesn’t answer. He flaps his arms around his body a couple of more times before heading off down the street. Putty, not unfamiliar with this situation, follows his friend into the town centre again. 4

Well out in the fresh air again you notice that there are many more people about. From the sun you estimate time to be some hours past noon and you have a few more hours to kill before free alcohol potentially flows through your veins.

You move yourselves forward and very much like tourists you feel forced to stop and watch the ingenious architecture and inanimate beauty that this town has to offer. Buildings look similar at first glance but offers the eye skillfully crafted details which at second glance distinguishes the buildings. It is not without a feeling of some sort of pride that Putty strolls along the now snowy streets.

You reach a river that looks to be running through the whole city, at least as far as you can see. Even though the snow is falling into the river, the man-made banks bares no snow. You understand quite quickly that it must have defrosted considering there is a radiating warmth that comes from the river.

You take left at the river and manage to end up in front of an impressive tower, both in size and grandeur. The tower offers a fence surrounding an outdoor academy like area. Though the fence itself is so exquisite that it is welcoming rather than threatening. At the bottom of the tower two gates are providing an entrance. Arnald’s “sausages” seems to have gotten a life on their own as a result of a tingling feeling in their tips.

“So…what do we have here?” says Arnald and looks up.

“A tower”, says Putty.

“Nooo! Really?”

“Yes. It’s a tower.”

“Who could’ve guessed… I mean, my first guess would’ve been -”. He interrupts himself, and adds after a moment: “You know what? Nevermind. You’re immune to that stuff anyway. Let’s just examine.”

They walk up the gates and enter.

Before you are able to enter, even touch, the gates you are stopped by two guards. They both wear a dark blue robe with an emblem of five stars on their chest and each of them has a golden circlet on their heads. They lean on a long wooden stick, perhaps a good tool when you are stationary all day. They look anything but intimidating.

“Well met but please halt. Do you have a pass or do you seek membership?” one of the guards, an elf, asks while the other, a human, leans somewhat tired on his stick.

“A membership?” asks Arnald surprised, but suddenly shines up. “Ah, I see! A membership for the Bored Guards? Order of the Tired? Of the Stick?”

“We do not have a pass”, Putty adds.

“Order of Those Who Do Not Speak Their Order’s Name? If this is about a membership for the Men Who Dresses in Fabulous Gowns, I’m already in, thank you.”

The guards inspects arnald from feet to head while showing no emotional response to Arnald’s mockings. Quite seriously they respond “Forgive us. We are used to people knowing what guild they have come to. You are tourists, we take it. Yes?”” the elf then stretches his back and neck and to announce with a ceremonial tone of voice “Behold, then. Before you stands the Cloak-Tower, the home of the order of the Many-Starred Cloaks. The Good must prevail where evil fail! You may become one of us if you share our vision. You may walk our halls if you are a follower of the Good. You may seek the knowledge residing in our benevolent tower, should you wish to pursue our goals.”

“And those who only wish to take a peek?” asks Arnald. “Does the guild offer a day-pass for me and my little friend here? And we’re good, no question about it. We’re so good, women call us tasty!”

“I have never heard that”, says Putty. “Nor do I understand why they would.”

“Perhaps they don’t like beard in their dessert, my little pudding!”

Putty doesn’t answer, and grins as if he didn’t quite followed everything his friend said. Arnald turns to the guards and says: “Yes, my gentlemen, we’re friendly natured, or good as you say. Gooder than that, actually. I wouldn’t hesitate to call ourselves the best of the good! Unless, of course, that’s against the law in your fair town. If so, we’ll settle with just slightly-less-than-best-good, or second-to-best-good. At least we’re not evil. Right, Putty Pudding?”

“What…” The elf is interrupted by his human colleague “Allow me!” The guard then speaks a sonnet of holy words while bending down to draw an invisible circle on the ground.5

A faint white glow can be seen gleaming from the guard’s finger in concert with a low frequency vibrating “hum” as he draws the circle. He then rise and says “You are Good alright! You share our vision and may enter. However, we need to hold your belongings for the moments you walk our halls. Here takes this!” he hands you each a soft star-shaped stone. “The pass will last for 24 hours. You are now welcome to enter the tower.”

“Told you so!” says Arnald with a pointy finger at the guard, after accepting the stone. Putty receives his without a word, and follows Arnald into the area surrounding the tower. They walk around casually, inspecting it.

What the surrounding area provides your eyes with is visually impressive but is skewed in a way that makes it somewhat unnatural, as usually is the case when humans try to recreate nature. Some unremarkable trees has been planted here and there, some stones and rubble as well. A quite large pool can be seen to the left of the giant tower but it seems to be devoid of any life forms. But who knows?

There are no others than the guards, who let you in, in the vicinity. Perhaps people here are too sensitive to the cold.

“Maybe he knew him?” Arnald says while flapping his arms around him, trying to keep warm.

“Who?”

“The elf.”

Putty takes a long look at the guard at the gate, and then turns to Arnald again.

“The guard?”

“Yes, Putty, the guard.”

“Whom did he know?”

“The guard?”

“Yes?”

“Maybe he knew that strange elf in that house into which we did NOT break and enter since it was already broken and entered…”

“Why would he know him?”

“I don’t… Whatever, come on, you barrel you”, says Arnald and starts walking toward the tower.

The gate of the tower is daunting in a sweet way, having both cute animals and other ornaments on it. There is a star-shaped niche in between the two doors that makes up the gate.{2}

Putty walks up to the doors with confidence (and because Arnald is helping him with a “friendly” hand), and opens them.

Try as he may, the gate does not want to open in any common manner. The doors remain shut.

“Hmm”, says Putty and steps back. “That is strange.”

“What’s the matter, my little door opener?”

“I can’t get the door to open.”

“Oh my, skipped our greens, have we?” says Arnald with a meaning look. “It’s alright. I’ve read about this in a book. Behold!”

Arnald steps up to the doors, stretches his arms towards the sky and utters the word: “FRIEND!”

Against everybody’s hope, the door remains unbefriended. One of the guards runs up to you. He seems excited and alert with a touch of paranoia when he addresses you “Is something the matter? Are you hurt? If it is those Luskans…!”

Arnald steps back, and while lowering his arms he says: “Only my pride…” He then turns to Putty, and adds: “Well, it didn’t hurt trying. The door in the book was a dwarven one, so maybe that’s why. ”

“Maybe it’s the stones?” says Putty and picks up his from the backpack.

“Yes!” says Arnald excited with eyes wide open. “We should absolutely bombard the tower with these little rocks! That’ll teach them a thing or two about having stupid doors! Take that, you lousy tower!”

“Are we supposed to use the stones?” Putty asks the guard, while clearly ignoring Arnald.

“No Luskans, eh!” he says disappointedly. “Anyway! Place the stone in the niche there.” he points to the star-shaped niche in the gate and gives a eye-rolling look at the other guard, who acknowledge with the same eye movement. “One at the time, mind you. Place the stone in the depression. The door opens and you step in and the door close behind you. Your friend here then does the same. Easy as pie!“

“Yes, that was my next guess”, Arnald mumbles and places his stone in the niche and enters, closely followed by Putty.

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anteolsson

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