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 Klikk the Kobold and The Very Bad Witch 
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Joined: March 29th, 2015, 12:28 am
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Klikk the Kobold sat on a mossy log at the edge of a forest. He looked down at a small town where the strange creatures called Humans lived and worked. It was a strange kind of warren, he mused, rubbing a claw on his chin absently. The humans seemed to have it all backward. They mined in the rock, like Kobolds did, but instead of living inside those perfectly good tunnels and the caves they discovered the Humans carried all the stone waste from mining far away from the mountain and piled it up to make their houses. Very strange. Strange, and inefficient, to his Kobold sensibilities.

Still, they seemed happy with the arrangement, and Klikk supposed that was what was important. Not far from the Humans “reverse warren” were a series of farms that spread out like a patchwork quilt around the town. Large squares of yellow corn, beige wheat, orange pumpkin, and green leafy vegetables spread out on one side, while smaller orchards of fruit trees dotted the sides of the valley on the other. Further on Klikk could make out the forms of some large, frightening animals that the Humans had managed to erect walls to defend against. They seemed to be various kinds, they all had four legs, some had horns, and the smaller ones seemed to try to disguise themselves as small, puffy clouds like Klikk saw in the sky to try and lure the Humans close. He could hear their terrifying moo-ing and b-a-a-ing even from where he sat at the edge of the wood.

Clutching the Princess Coin he’d tied around his neck with some string Klikk finally made a decision. He would go down and see if he could make friends with the Humans. It was a bold decision. It seemed like just yesterday Klikk had gotten lost in the Warrens of the Dragonback Mountains, encountered some frightening adventurers, and then stumbled into the outside world. These would be the first Humans that he’d encountered since then.

Klikk was used to being cautious, so he crept silently down into the town just as the sun began to rise over the edge of the valley. He slipped carefully between the buildings while the Humans began to wake and the pleasant scents of their morning cook-fires began to waft from windows and chimneys. As the Humans finished their meals and stepped into the light of day, exchanging pleasantries with neighbors and picking up their tools, farm implements, baskets and barrels, or in the case of the children simply ran outside to play, Klikk stepped into the center square of the town and raised a claw in greeting.

The humans panicked.

They ran to and fro, dragging children and pets inside, slamming doors, shuttering windows, and crying out “Monster! Monster!”

Klikk heard a dog barking somewhere, and a lonely scrap of paper tumbled by on the breeze, coming to rest in a lovely bush near a shrine. Klikk looked around, but he didn’t see a monster anywhere. Casting a nervous eye at the terrible empty sky and peering into the shadows between the buildings anxiously the little Kobold, ever cautious, hunkered down under the bush for a while, just in case.

No monster presented itself. He went back to exploring the town, but everywhere he went the doors and shutters that were open JUST A CRACK slammed shut. Every house he approached went quiet. A dawning realization began to creep over Klikk.

Were the Humans talking about HIM?

Klikk didn’t know what to do, and so after a little while he simply started doing the thing he loved best. He explored the town. He saw the way the wind carried the little leaves from the woods atop the valley down and put them on houses and streets of the town. He saw the way that the dirt and mud from the passage of the Humans and animals scattered on the cobblestones. He saw the way that the animals that lived among the Humans made messes of their own, and the way that the Humans themselves occasionally left sawdust, scraps of paper and leather, and bits of food strewn about.

After seeing the entirety of the small town Klikk noticed a fine broom leaning up against the wall on the stoop of a house. He realized that what this town really needed was for him to do the thing he loved second best. Klikk picked up the broom and began to clean.

As the warm autumn sun rose fully over the trees Klikk swept the porches of the houses. As it began its slow rise into the sky, Klikk raked leaves and cleaned the gutters.

The astonished Humans began to come out of their houses.

After Klikk had made many large piles of leaves and swept all of the porches, his tummy rumbled loudly. One of the Human women carefully approached him with a plate of delicious-looking food, and as she set it down nearby she pointed at the large Princess Coin that hung around Klikk’s neck.

“Where did you get that?” She asked.

“My friend gave it to me.” Klikk said. “Thank you for the food!”

After eating an uncomfortable lunch while being stared at by the Humans, Klikk got back to work. Some of the Humans started to help as he picked up the papers and put them in piles. They Humans then showed him how they gathered up all the scraps of food and put them in big troughs in order to appease the beasts that ranged near their homes, to prevent them from attacking. When that was done They all pitched in and swept the streets. By the time that the Humans were lighting their lamps in preparation for the sun to set even the DIRT gleamed in the setting sun.

The next day before Klikk set off to explore the forest around the town the Humans gave him a wonderful gift. They gave Klikk a backpack full of good food, useful tools, a bit of rope, a small hatchet, a sharp knife, and some fishing line. They even let him keep the fine broom that he’d found on Mrs. Delwin’s front stoop. They promised that they would have a feast that night in town square when he returned in honor of their first Kobold friend.

The woods were alive in ways that the caves and tunnels of the Dragonbacks never were. Hundreds of birds fluttered and called in the trees and bushes. Squirrels darted playfully to and fro. Klikk even saw red foxes playing in the boles of the wood, though he didn’t know what any of those animals were called. Late in the morning he found a bush with beautiful, shiny, big pink berries on it. He plucked one from the bush and sniffed it, and then moved to pop it into his mouth.

“Don’t eat that!” Came a voice behind him.

Klikk spun around to see a skinny young girl, all knees and elbows, standing behind him, one hand still outstretched toward him in alarm, concern written on her face. The girl wore simple rough-spun clothing that was a size too large and bore the scars of many stitches and patches. In one hand she held a tattered old broom, and on her head was a wide-brimmed pointy hat.

“Those are bad for you! They’ll make your stomach hurt if you eat them.” She said.

Klikk slowly dropped the berry and wiped a claw on his scales. Then he nervously extended it the way the Humans at the village had taught him. The girl broke into a wide smile and grasped his claw.

“I’m Kalliope Rosewood.” She said, giving his claw a good shake.

“Klikk.” The Kobold replied. “I like your broom. And your hat.”

“Thanks!” Kalliope said, before glancing around and leaning in conspiratorially. “I probably shouldn’t tell you, but since you’re a Kobold ‘n all… I’m a witch! Well. A Witch-Trainee.”

“What’s a Witch?” Klikk asked.

“A witch is a person who can use magic!” Kalliope said.

“Magic!” Klikk stuttered, suddenly frightened and backing away. “Dragon Priests use magic to make everyone do what they say!”

“No, no!” Kalliope said, rushing forward and trying to calm the Kobold down. “Witches aren’t like that! Witches do magic so that nobody else can tell THEM what to do, and they can do whatever THEY want! Witches don’t boss people around.”

“Oh.” Klikk said after a moment. “That sounds like a fine way to do magic!”

“It is!” Kalliope said. “And I’m actually just doing my Witch Test today! If I pass it I will be a real Witch, and not a Witch-Trainee!”

“Are Witch tests fun?” Asked Klikk. “I’ve never seen a Witch Test before.”

“All the other girls said that the test was very fun.” Kalliope said, frowing. “It doesn’t sound fun, but I guess I’ll see. Why don’t you come with me? It will be even more fun with a friend along!”

Klikk and Kalliope set off, and the little Kobold was surprised to see that their route took them back to the edge of the forest overlooking the town. Soon they were hiding at the edge of a large pumpkin patch, with a farmer and her son tending to the crop.

“Let’s see.” Kalliope said, pulling a parchment from her pocket and nibbling the tip of battered old wand. “Step one. Animate a scarecrow with a Frightener’s Hex. That seems simple enough!”

Klikk watched as Kalliope closed her eyes and muttered under her breath for a few seconds, and then waved her wand. A shimmering beam of light shot from the end of the wand and struck one of the ragged scarecrows standing watch over the pumpkin patch, knocking its head from its shoulders.

For a long minute nothing happened. Kalliope’s shoulders slumped. Then, with an eerie creaking sound, the headless scarecrow climbed down from its frame and picked up a pumpkin, plopping it on its neck to form a new head. The top of the pumpkin blasted off, and seeds and pulp sprayed the area around it, drawing the attention of the farmer lady and her son. Klikk cowered deeper behind his cover as green fire burned from within the now hollow pumpkin, searing two eyes and a jagged mouth into the side of it. It turned its new face toward the humans, and advanced upon them.

The woman and her child screamed and ran for the town. After a short pursuit the enchanted scarecrow stopped and began smashing the pumpkins still growing on the vines.

“Is it supposed to do that?” Klikk asked, his voice trembling.

“I… think so.” Kalliope said, wincing as a large pumpkin exploded under the scarecrow’s foot.

“It’s not a very nice magic spell, is it?” Klikk said.

“No.” Kalliope said, sheepishly. “I don’t like this spell at all, to be honest.” She waved her battered old wand and said a short incantation, and the scarecrow fell apart.

“Do you think it would be okay if I just wrote a note to apologize for the smashed pumpkins?” Kalliope asked hopefully.

Klikk thought that Kalliope would probably get yelled at if she apologized in person, and he remembered all the times the Dragon Priests (and all the other Kobolds, really) had yelled at him for mistakes he’d made.

“I think that would be okay.” Klikk said. “As long as you mean it.”

Kalliope turned the first piece of paper in her hands open and wrote an apology, and left it on the fallen form of the Scarecrow. When she was done she led Klikk around the edge of the town some more until they were standing at the back of a large home looking out over fields of corn and wheat.

“Step two.” Kalliope said, looking at the next scrap of paper. “Make crops shrivel with a Blighting Hex.”

Kalliope uttered her next spell and gestured sharply with her wand, and the girl and the Kobold watched in amazement as the corn and the wheat turned brown and drooped, shrinking and withering right before their eyes.

“I did it!” Kalliope exclaimed, and Klikk patted her on the shoulder with a congratulatory claw.

Just then, they heard a baby cry. The two of them stole up to a nearby window and looked inside. It was the Thompson household, and Mrs. Thompson had just had twins join their already large family. The exhausted young woman tended to the infants while an elderly woman tried in vain to quiet several other small children. Off to the side they could see into the small mill where Mr. Thompson and his oldest son and daughter, both younger than Kalliope, ground the wheat and corn into flour.

“Oh no.” Kalliope said, looking at all of the children, the elderly woman, and the tired but happy mother. “Oh no.”

Wiping a tear from her eye, Kalliope turned and undid her Hex. The wheat and the corn sprang up again, firm and lush and full, ready to harvest. Klikk just nodded approvingly, saying nothing.

Slowly, lost in thought, Kalliope led Klikk between the houses and toward town square, where the Humans were busy decorating for the big feast in the evening. They sang and laughed as they worked, always finding a few moments to play and jest with one another while getting everything ready.

“Step three.” Kalliope said, glumly. “Change someone into a frog with a Transformation Hex.”

Leaving the shadows between the buildings she waved her wand and cast her spell, pointing the incantation at an old man who was drinking from a frothy mug and loudly overseeing two younger men as they hung a colored strip of cloth between two high posts. There was a flash of light, and the mug bounced and spilled next to a thoroughly bewildered mottled old frog.

“Ribbit?” The frog croaked.

“Witch!” Someone yelled, pointing at Kalliope.

The townsfolk fled, much like they did before when they first saw Klikk. In mere moments the town square was empty, save for the young Witch-Trainee and the panicked frog. Hesitating a moment, Klikk approached Kalliope Rosewood.

“Why did you do that, Kalliope?” He asked.

“Because I had to. It’s part of my Witch Test.” She said, despondently.

“But you didn’t want to do it?” Klikk pressed.

“No.” Kalliope sobbed, and wiped her eyes with the back of her sleeve.

“I thought you said Witches used magic so that nobody could tell them what to do.” Klikk said. Kalliope looked up and into his eyes for what seemed like a long time before taking a shaky breath.

“You’re right, Klikk.” She said in a small, but steely voice.

Kalliope trudged purposefully to the frog and picked it up.

“I’m sorry.” She said, and kissed it on the nose.

There was a flash of light and a loud “POP!” sound, and there was a surprised old man standing before her. As Klikk rushed happily to her side and people started tentatively coming out of their houses the old man carefully placed a hand on her shoulder and nodded to Kalliope. He looked like he was about to say something, but looked up as a chill wind suddenly blew through the valley and the sky darkened.

Thunder rolled from the heavens as three witches, a young witch, a middle aged witch, and an old crone, descended from the sky on their brooms, landing before them. Kalliope’s shoulders sagged again, and Klikk stepped back away from the elder witches frightening, angry faces. The townsfolk fled back to their homes.

“Kalliope Rosewood!” The Crone yelled. “We have been watching your progress all day, and we are VERY disappointed.”

“Indeed!” Said the young maiden witch. “THIS is how you curse a pumpkin patch!”

The Maiden waved her wand and a bolt of blue lightning shot into the clouds, and then split. A separate coruscating bolt fell from the sky and struck every scarecrow in every field across the town. After a moment Klikk could see all of them lurch to terrible life.

“And THIS is how you blight a crop!” The Maiden yelled over the now howling wind.

With a flick of her wrist a dark, oily rain began to fall, and where it touched the plants withered and animals immediately fell ill. Klikk felt his stomach turn as the town’s food supply was devastated.

“AND THIS!” The Maiden shrieked, now cackling in delight, “IS HOW YOU TRANSMOGRIFY PEOPLE!”

A wave of black energy pulsed outward, passing through the witches and Klikk harmlessly, but Klikk heard the song of frogs suddenly pour from all directions.

Finally the middle aged witch approached Kalliope, a scowl on her face.

“I’m sorry, Mother.” Kalliope said, weakly.

“Kalliope Rosewood.” The witch said. “Never before in the history of our coven has a Witch-Trainee done so badly on their test. You have failed utterly at every simple task that was put before you. You, Kalliope, are a VERY. Bad. Witch.”

The witch snatched the ragged, tattered old broom from Kalliope’s hands and, in once swift motion, broke it over her knee and then cast the pieces at Kalliope’s feet. Then, without another word the three witches mounted their brooms and spiraled into the air, circling the town and laughing at the chaos their magic had caused.

It wasn’t fair, Klikk thought, that all of his friends should be punished because Kalliope had simply done the right thing.

Kalliope stood there in rain, her gaze cast downward at her broken old broom, fists balled together, cold and crying.

Wordlessly, Klikk laid a comforting claw on her shoulder and offered her his fine broom, the one from Mrs. Delwin’s front stoop. Kalliope looked at the broom, and then back at Klikk, and then slowly took the fine broom from him.

“Oh.” She said, running her fingers along the length of the broomstick. “Oh, thank you Klikk. Thank you!”

Kalliope hugged the broom to herself, and then threw her arms around the little Kobold as well.

“Thank you, Klikk.” She whispered tearfully in his ear, though difficult to hear over the icy wind, cackling witches, and croaking of frogs.

But simple acts of kindness have a magic all their own… and in a time such as this, where a thoughtful gift, freely given, at just the right time, to just the right person…

Well something like that can change a person.

FOREVER.

As Kalliope held Klikk close, her fine new broom between them, she felt the magic within her swell and blossom. Not a cold, hard magic like the Witch Magic she had grown up with, but a soft, warm, light magic that filled her up from her toes all the way to the top of her head.

It filled her chest. It poured from her mouth and eyes. It tingled and twirled and sparked down Kalliope’s arms and into her fingers.

Kalliope laughed then, a full, joyous laugh that poured from her whole body and rang through the town like silver bells. A powerful burst of magic followed the laughter through the town, flowing across the fields, over the pumpkin patches, and into the houses of the townsfolk, ringing through every corner, swooshing through every nook and cranny.

Where the Magic touched frogs became Humans again, and cursed scarecrows collapsed into piles of sticks and straw. Withered crops shimmered and grew straight and tall and full. Cold winds turned to a warm gentle breeze and the three witches flying on their brooms, stunned into silence, were blown far away over the lip of the valley and into the woods.

…..

Several days later Klikk, and his new backpack full of useful things and tasty food, found himself waving goodbye to the Humans, and their new friend and protector, Kalliope. They’d asked him to stay, but Klikk loved to explore, and the thought of the great, wide, beautiful world that lay just out of view made his feet itch. So Klikk was leaving, but he was never sad. He’d made some new friends and seen some new things and at the end of the day that was all that the little Kobold really ever wanted.

Klikk the Kobold set off down the road, wondering what sort of adventure he would have next. For despite his initial fears, and despite all of his early misgivings, it seemed that Klikk was becoming an Adventurer after all.
…..

And that is the story of how, in the mist haunted lands of Glauerdoom Moor that lay in the shadow of the cursed Von Drakk Manor, a tiny town in a narrow valley was saved from certain destruction.

By a Very Bad Witch.

With a Very Good Heart.

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End


November 24th, 2015, 10:05 pm
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