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Storybook: Meeting Mischief

by Niami DenMother

GU38 heralds the return of Bristlebane, the diety responsible for the creation of the halflings. When added to the recent rare harvestables brouhaha, Mum sees a chance for mischief.

"It is aboot time he stopped skulking an' admitted he was back!" Mum exclaimed as she read the news in the Norrathian Herald. "Now, if I could jus' figure out a way tae welcome him back properly. His royal mischievousness will be a bit put out if we do nae have th' appropriate pranks an' such lined up frae him. Ah well, I'll ponder on it later an' summat will come tae me."

With that, the flame-haired halfling closed and locked her front door and started scampering through streets of Qeynos. It wouldn't do to be late for her first day on the job, even if the job was purely volunteer work.

Tired of seeing people preaching from atop soapboxes on almost every corner, the People For the Prevention of Abuse to Soapboxes, set aside a meeting hall where concerned citizens could rally and air their concerns on a variety of issues. Of course, at the same time that they did this, Beulah Bristlebutton, self-proclaimed leader of the organization, sprained her wrist and was unable to handle the scheduling. (Some sources say that the injury was caused by beating on a protester with their own placard. Other sources say that the rich and eccentric Beulah was making the hall, which she owned, available for free as part of some community service penance as part of the civil suit involving her actions against said protester.)

Niami still wasn't sure how she'd ended up "volunteering" to help for a few hours each week while Beulah's wrist healed, but she had been reassured that it would be very quiet, which should give her some time to ponder her Bristlebane prank a bit more.

It was pure chaos.

A basket of written meeting requests lay overturned beside a rickety desk, which looked to be ready to break at any second. Of course, the dwarf jumping up and down on it, screaming into the face of an equally irate barbarian had nothing to do with the desk's rickety state at all. Of course not! Nor did the snot, erm, high elf trying to use a battered placard as a giant flyswatter against a fae have anything to do with it. (Nor the fact that she missed most of the time, bludgeoning desk, dwarf and/or barbarian with her uncoordinated efforts.) A screaming horde cheered them all on, making enough noise for 50 people.

"ENOUGH!"

Mum's best bellow, worthy of the most hardened drill sargeant, brought instant silence. Well, either that, or the silence was due to the sight of the tiny halfling wielding the very solid-looking Rolling Pin of Doom as if she meant to start breaking skulls, kneecaps, and whatever other body parts were in handy reach.

The silence was broken by the sound of the desk finally collapsing in a heap.

"That be more than enow' from ALL o' ye!" Mum's voice lowered in volume to something less likely to shatter eardrums. Her brogue getting thicker and thicker as she built up a full head of redheaded steam, she started pointing with the RPoD.

"Ye lot, gather up all th' spilled meeting requests, an' be quick aboot it!" Pointing directly at the screaming horde, which sullenly resolved into five wood elves, she gestured expansively with the rolling pin, sniffing disdainfully as they began to gather the trampled and mangled bits of paper. Glad to be let off so easily, they began to smile, until she added, "That includes reassembling any that were shredded!"

In perfect counterpoint, one ragged scrap of paper drifted down from the chandelier.

"Ye an' ye will fix that desk, an' replace th' chair that seems tae be in pieces all o'er th' room." The barbarian, now sporting a lovely black eye, reached down to bodily lift the dwarf, who seemed to be suffering from a broken nose, up from the wreckage of the desk.

"An' ye twa!" Whirling, she rounded on the high elf and the fae, just in time to see the fae making taunting gestures at the elf, while the elf prepared for another swing with the placard.

Both immediately froze as the RPoD was gripped in a two-handed grip by the irate redhead.

"Since ye are sae fond o' th' placards, miss hoity-toity high elf, ye will go aroond town an' pick up every single discarded placard that is litterin' up th' place." Her face drew into a fearsome scowl as the elf drew breath as if to complain. Discretion being the better part of valor, only a pained "Y-yes Mum" squeaked out.

"As frae ye, ye little flitterbiget, ye will park yuirself right there until I be done sorting out all this mess, an' will deliver all th' meeting schedules tae their proper spots." The fae, who had been feeling pretty secure in the fact that he was too small for much of the grunt work, visibly drooped at this pronouncement.

"Now, MOVE!" This was bellowed at the room at large, as everyone but the fae leapt into a flurry of panicked activity.

Tucking the RPoD back in her haversack, she grabbed the first few meeting requests from the pile that the wood elves were creating, scanning the organization names: Rares are Too Rare Association, Rares are Too Common Association, People for the Removal of Common Recipes, Bring Back the Good Old Days of Harvesting, Not Enough Ore Association, Make Loam a Separate Node Society, Association for the Make Every Resource a Separate Node, Coalition for More Pelts, Organization for More Meat on Dens, People for the Removal of Imbue Gunk...

Och! Gi'e them an inch an' they want ..."

She stopped, bemused frown turning into a grin of mischief. "Och!"

Hastily, she began scribbling on the back of one of the abandoned placards, with lots of lines, arrows and arcane shorthand.

Three nights later ...

6:00 pm: Puffing and panting, Mum dragged the last of the placards and soapboxes into place. The kerchief covering her hair was askew, and a smudge of dirt streaked one cheek, but she still looked quite pleased with herself as she scampered home to clean up and fetch a few ... special ... refreshments.

6:25 pm: "Jus' stay there a moment, please, Thrudh-lad, while I get past th' barriers. Then I'll need ye tae start handing o'er th' boxes."

Eyeing the maze created by the placards and the soapboxes, the large barbarian nodded. "But why all the barriers, Mum? It looks like a battle zone."

Voice wafting out from behind a gaudy soapbox-turned-barrier, she responded, "Because some o' th' groups meeting tonight seem tae be mortal enemies o' other groups. We could nae hae them on separate nights, else they'd hae thought we were favoring one o'er th' other, sae we keep them separate while they're waiting tae get in."

Thrudh nodded his shaggy head, even though he knew Niami couldn't see him. "Hokay. Um, aren't there more paths here than there are meeting rooms?" Anything more than two was "many" to Thrudh, and even that was a major accomplishment. However, he seemed to remember there was only one large meeting room, and one small broomcloset, and there seemed to be, well, many more many lines than that. Many.

"Dinnae fash yuirself aboot that, tallstuff. I've got everything all set inside frae them. These things are great frae turning one room intae many smaller ones. An' some o' the meetings start later than others." She patted a box beside her, then clambered up on it. "Now, gimme!"

Carefully, the large man started tossing well-cushioned boxes over the barricades to Mum's waiting arms. It seemed as if there should have been an easier way to get all the items inside, but if Mum said to do it this way, this way it would be done. None of the boxes got squished ... much.

6:35 pm"All right, now, bigun, uncover th' sign an' point folks tae th' labeled paths as they arrive. Once it be seven o'clock on that belltower o'er there, ye can head back tae my house an' I'll break open a keg o' me best grog frae ye." Her voice carried from one of the several doorways leading into the meeting hall, separated from him by a mere 20 strides, and four pathways. "I'll jus' recall home when done here, tae save some crawling."

6:45 pm The members of People for the We Must Have Something To Complain About Because Everyone Else Is Complaining arrived (all three of them). Theirs took the most roundabout path through the barricades, so she had told them an earlier starting time. With any luck, they should be just out of sight by the time ...

6:49 pm Several more groups started arriving in rapid succession and started wending their way through their designated pathways. Much chatter and grumbling ensued, but most of it settled down when they heard the words "Free refreshments."

6:58 pm All groups other than the Domino Fan Club were still weaving and clambering. That group was mysteriously waiting off near the belltower, confusedly staring at a gazer pet ... which obligingly stared back at them.

6:59 pm Taking one last look around the (single) large meeting hall, Mum grinned and giggled like a little schoolgirl. Piles of Beghn's Death by Chocolate Cake sat upon the lone table up against one wall, looking properly gooey and, well, chocolatey. A few jester caps sat off to one side, and several bowls of the "Hair of the Dog" brew, looked to be ready to quench the thirst of folks as they finished the mini-marathon of getting to the meeting room.

Giggling, she activated a mini-gazer-thingamabob, and let it float up towards the ceiling, waving as she did so. Whatever the mini-gazer saw was mirrored to the irises of the gazer she'd left at the Fan Club's spot, so with any luck, they were seeing the inside of the meeting room as events started to unfold.

With a murmured incantation, Mum disappeared in a puff of illogic, to reappear over at the belltower. The varied members of the fan club started to jabber at her. "Mum! They get refreshments and we don't?" "Why is there only one room?" "What ..."

"Hush now, wait an' see, lads an' lasses. It will be worth th' wait."

7:00 pm First one, then another person burst through the doors into the meeting room and began to mill about. Incorrectly assuming that their issue had drawn more followers than expected, or that folks were there for the free food, everyone was initially all smiles as they greeted each other.

7:01 pm The first halfling declared the cake a "total flop" as far as edibility, other than the frosting, moments before the first dwarf fell over, dead drunk, from guzzling the Hair of the Dog.

7:02 pm As soon as the last stragglers entered the room, all the doors closed without anyone laying a finger on them. Confusion reigned, and angry murmurs came from the professional protesters who had tagged along. After all, they'd come for the free food, and if the food wasn't worth it, well, neither was the protesting.

7:02:30 "What do you mean, rares are too rare? THIS is the meeting of the Rares are too Common Society!" "No, this is the meeting to bring back the good old days ..." "Give us more ore!"

7:03 pm The light was dawning, on even the slowest of them, that they were sharing space with people who claimed to believe the exact opposite of what they did. Fists and voices were raised.

7:03:05"Annnn' ACTION!" Mum giggled as she said it. Sure enough ...

"FOOD FIGHT!!" The voice wafted from the broom closet, where she had left a voice-mimic on a delayed trigger. First one piece of cake, then another, went airborne.

The last view from the mini-gazer, before the orb was occluded by frosting, was of pure chocolate mayhem.

Turning to the other members of the fan club, who had been watching with a mixture of horror and humor, she dusted off her tiny hands with a huge grin.

"Now, THAT, lads an' lasses, be th' proper way tae welcome Bristlebane back!"

Created: 2007-09-10 10:57:46          
Last Modified By: Niami Denmother          
Last Modified on: 2007-09-12 10:10:38          

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