‘”I am Gadabout,’ the Lady welcomed, ‘and this is Cellphone, which is Telephono in the language of the No-Older.”’
Extract taken from Lord of the Grins
By Mark Egginton
Published by Luna Press Publishing
Amidst a huge clearing sat Lostlotion, Fairground City of the Elves. Atop massive trees sat buildings with big, flashing neon lights above them. On the biggest tree, in the centre, was a huge structure with a sign that read, Cellphone’s Casino. All around through the forest was a track-way, along which trundled a rollercoaster. Moving closer to the city, they came to the main gates and upon the gates was a sign that read thus:
WELCOME TO LOSTLOTION
LEISURE PARK AND FAIRGROUND
ALL PLEASURES CATERED FOR (EXCEPT THAT ONE).
‘Come,’ said Haldrear, ‘here is Careless Gallivant. I will take you to meet our Lord and Lady.’
Through the centre of the great tree bearing the Casino, was an elevator into which they all entered. On the wall was a bank of buttons paired with the names of the different establishments next to them. The only one that Legless saw was for The Stagger Inn and he hoped that the greetings wouldn’t go on for too long, as his tongue was starting to think it was a worn out flip-flop. Haldrear pushed a large button marked, Casino. The elevator slowly started to move. On its way to the top, it slowed to a crawl. A metallic voice complained, ‘There are too many fat ugly Dwarves in the lift.’
Grimy looked around and said, ‘There is only one Dwarf in the lift: me.’
The voice replied, ‘One fat ugly dwarf is one too many. Please leave by the back door.’
Grimy looked out of the window of the elevator and saw that they were a few hundred feet up the tree. He was beginning to think that Elves didn’t like Dwarves.
When they reached the top, the doors opened to reveal their hosts.
‘I am Gadabout,’ the Lady welcomed, ‘and this is Cellphone, which is Telephono in the language of the No-Older.’
To Grimy they looked tall and beautiful, but then, other than the Halfbits, everyone did to a Dwarf. The hair of Gadabout was as golden as the sun shining on a golden thingy, strangely similar to Colorall No5.
Cellphone, who had been partying all night, was wearing a tinsel wig. ‘Welcome to the Fairground of Lostlotion. How r u gud ppl? It is gr8 2 c u,’ said Cellphone, lapsing into the Qwerty text of The Haughty Elves. He caught himself, and continued, ‘Welcome Paragon son of Paramount. It is thirty-eight of your years since we saw your smile in Careless Gallivant — the Botox injections have worked well. Forget your burden and rest for a while; you mortals do need your beauty sleep. Welcome Son of Thatfool; seldom do my kindred make the journey from the North, especially since they closed all the inns on the way here. It will be accounted among the marvels of our people that you made it this far.’
Legless looked quite drawn, and wasn’t actually listening; his mind was on the ice-cold beer that awaited him in The Stagger Inn.
Cellphone turned to the Dwarf and said, ‘Welcome Grimy, son of Grubby. Long it is since we fired your people from the Haunted House and Ghost Train; you frightened our young ones for a long time, but you know you went too far wearing those smiley politician masks. Maybe before you go we can renew the ties of old between our people and give the Nowgrim a contract to work on the Coconut Shy, as we have difficulties getting hold of coconuts these days.’
When the greetings had finished, Gadabout spoke again, ‘The message we got from Riverdwell was that nine set out on this quest.’
Cellphone looked at the companions, ‘Using both my hands and after a couple of attempts, I can only count eight of you. Did not The Grand Alf set forth on this quest also? I was hoping to greet him with you, for I much desired to see his stage act again. Where is he?’
Paragon looked pained as he told the story of The Bridge of Khaziboom. He told them of the fate of The Grand Alf. ‘He fell in Moribund, locked in combat with an ancient evil,’ and he would say no more.
‘It was a Labdog of Mortcough,’ explained Legless.
‘Yea, verily,’ moaned Grimy. ‘It was on that accursed bridge that I saw the monster that haunts our very dreams, that which is known as Dunins Baying, the nightmare of the Nowgrim.’
Cellphone looked troubled. ‘Long have we known that something evil had been woken by the Dwarves under Carbuncle, for we have spent many sleepless nights listening to the mad, incessant howling. We complained, of course, to the Environmental Elf, but he was virtually helpless as it was outside his jurisdiction. We sent several letters of which the first few came back unopened. It wasn’t until the third one returned that we thought maybe our neighbours were pig ignorant, uneducated morons. I was at that point told that the Dwarves had been evicted by even thicker individuals. Things went quiet for a long time after the Dwarves were sacked from our employment. We had no knowledge of these others but the howling ceased. Now you tell me of this Brawlin; if we had known that the Dwarves had disturbed this evil again, then the Dwarf would be trying on his new concrete boots by now. I would also add that, at his end, The Grand Alf fell into folly.’
‘No, he fell into a big hole,’ said the small voice of Pipsqueak from the back.
‘Amazing!’ exclaimed Cellphone, staring in disbelief at the Halfbit. ‘Who taught these things to speak?’
‘Now, that would be Lingo of Longwinded,’ said Pipsqueak proudly, ‘who introduced us to Wyrdsome, the language of the big people; that would be about the 37th of Yowl, in the year 34723 of the Third Stage, in the Snore Reckoning. And then-’
‘Do they always speak such rubbish?’ cut in Cellphone. ‘What possible use have they?’
‘They are disposable Ringbreakers, cannon fodder, not much use for anything else at all really,’ whispered Paragon.
‘Yes, I can see one of these carries the nose ring,’ said Gadabout.
Her gaze fell upon Foodo and he heard a voice within his mind, saying, ‘Foodo of The Snore, you have come through many perils. Ill-Farter knows how you got here. We will meet later when the others are asleep for we have much to discuss.’ Gadabout was Muddy Earth’s top Psychic, Mind Reader, Fortune Teller and Spoon Bender. Foodo was instantly worried, as he had never been alone with a female before and thought he had better stick close to Stan.
Lord of the Grins by Mark Egginton is published by Luna Press Publishing, priced £11.99