AR 1208-10 Krunch's Journal - The Circus
Krunch looked at the small fortune in his hands. Five whole silver pieces! Between him and his sister an entire gold piece! With the entire circus full of wonders waiting, how could he best spend his loot. They already had a pass to see the shows and to meet the performers (being a prince did have some benefits) but the big question remained. Trinkets or candy? Maybe some of thet ginger-root-ale?
Looking sideways at Sparky, Krunch spoke slowly “So … about those silver pieces”
Not even looking up from her pamphlet Sparakal responded “Don’t even think it. I’m savin’ ‘em to buy a present for mother.”
Krunch sputtered a response feigning disbelief “A present? But … this is supposed to be for us ta spend” knowing thet this is what Sparky always did. “What’re ya lookin’ at anyway?”
Finally looking up from her pamphlet “I’m tryin’ ta figure out what acts we need ta see so I can get autographs.” continuing on in a hushed voice filled with awe “I think the animal trainer is a Revi … Revihe … umm … Tundra Elf.”
Paying little attention to why his sister wanted the signatures (she was always doing weird things) Krunch perked up as he remembered the tent he had noticed earlier “If ya want ta see somethin’ from the tundra why didn’t ya say it!” Looking over his shoulder to ensure thet their escort Curly, the bald and battle scarred dwarf built like a tree stump, wasn’t listening “ther’s a great shaggy beast, taller then an ogre! We’ve got ta go!”
Leaning in to whisper so no one else could hear, Krunch continued in a conspirational tone “And I’m not talkin’ about Uncle Laris either. It’s a real, live wooly mammoth with tusks bigger then the biggest trumpet horn.” Which was quite large since the biggest trumpet horns required two men to carry.
Looking back skeptically, Sparakal responded “I can’t tell if you’re fibbin’ again or just tryin’ to get me inta trouble.”
With an overly dramatic look of shock, Krunch put his hand to his chest and solemly repeated the most sacred oath he could think of “May me best hammer rust before me eyes if I’m a’fibbin’.” With a quick nod to Curly he continued in a whisper “But we’ve got ta slip the supervision. We’d never get permission ta see somethin’ this scary.”
The inner conflict between seeing a mammoth and sneaking off unsupervised played across Sparakal’s face for only a moment before the call of seeing something so woundrous won. With a muttered “If I get into trouble because of this”. Sparakal walked over to Curly and whispered something into the fighter’s ear.
Watching Curly walk away, Sparakal brightly announced “We’ve got prob’ly half an hour, but I promised we’d be here when he returns” looking sternly at Krunch “I never actually said we’d stay here so we have ta be back before he comes back” after the elder dwarf was out of earshot.
A few minutes later Krunch was holding up the edge of the tent as Sparakal wriggled through “Ya never said anything about sneakin’ in! If we get inta trouble cuz of this…” her rant was cut off abruptly as she looked up to see the great beast. “the must be more then 40 hands tall”
“Close ta 50 by me reckonin’.” Krunch responded as he pulled his sister to her feet.
Voice shaking with genuine fear, Sparakal looked at the huge creature. “Ar-are we safe?”
“Aye. It’s chained to a post” Krunch nodded toward a heavy chain attached to the beast’s leg “an’ ya can tell it canna’ reach this far if ya look at the straw on the ground.”
Hearing the voices behind it, the mammoth swung it’s head around (and it’s tusks were truly enormous and bigger then the biggest trumpet horns) with a low rumble emanating from the beast thet was felt more then heard.
The twins stood frozen in amazement at the great beast and for a moment the only sound was the clinking of the heavy chain as the mammoth slowly shuffled as close to the two as it could get.
When the low rumble started up again and started to rise in pitch to a low moaning trumpet, Sparakal nudged Krunch and whispered urgently “Ok genius, what now? If it makes much more noise someone will find us fer certain!”
Straining at it’s chain and reaching out it’s trunk, the mammoth started gently snuffling at Krunch’s waist, who suddenly forgot how his legs should function.
“Canna’ reach us huh? What now?”
“Nuts.” was the only response Sparakal got from her brother as he slowly reached into his pouch to pull out a paper sack. Sighing slightly as he remembered the vendor’s promise of roasted and lightly seasoned to mouth-watering perfection he undid the twine knot holding the open bag out to the questing trunk.
With a delicacy belying the mammoth’s size, the beast was soon using it’s trunk to transfer nuts from the bag to it’s mouth at what to Krunch was an alarming rate. Overcome by the wonder of the moment, Krunch slowly stretched out his arm and stepped forward so thet the mammoth did not have to strain to reach the tasty snacks.
A tinny voice echoed down from the top of the mammoth’s head “It looks like you’ve made a friend!”
Krunch was too stunned to move or even speak and after a moment Sparakal politely asked “We did’na know thet ya could speak … ummm … Mr Mammoth.”
“Don’t be silly you goofus! Rumbler can’t speak!” Came the same voice as the fur on the top of the mammoth’s head seemed to come alive, waving wildly moments before a small figure flew out of the tangled mess.
To all appearances a tiny winged female elf dressed in leathers and furs with snow white hair and pale skin. Barely six inches tall but carrying both a sword strapped to her hip and a bow strung across her back. The faerie flew down to eye level a few feet from the astonished dwarves.
Bowing low (quite a feet considering she was hovering three feet above the ground) before standing tall and saluting with a serious look on her face she solemly proclaimed “Pippasquellian Moonborrower the Fourth. At your service.”
After a moment of silence broken only by Rumbler’s snacking, the faerie leaned forward squinting at the two “You gotta be careful around here. Rumbler attracts a lot of flys and I’d hate to see you swallow some with your mouths hanging open like thet.”
Not wishing to be rude, Sparakal stuttered out “It is a pleasure to meet ya Pippask … Pippiske … “
Krunch interrupted with a monotone “Pipsqueak” without taking his eyes of the flying humanoid.
“Umm … is it ok if we call ya Pipsqueak?” not sure how to address the faerie but not wanting to be rude, Sparakal added a quick “Ma’am”
Fleeting emotions danced across the diminuative faerie’s face to be quickly replaced by a wide grin full of teeth thet never seemed to quite reach her eyes “Of course!”
“It’s a pleasure to meet ya, Madame Pipsqueak. My name is Sparakal, and this lump of brilliance is me brother Karunchar.” with a deep curtsy and a quick thump to the back of her brother’s head, she continued the introduction “Our parents are ” was interrupted by a loud “OWW” as Krunch clumsily bowed and accidentally punched her.
Shaking his head slightly as if coming out of a daze, Krunch queried “And what can we do for m’lady this fine day?”
With a dramatic sigh, Pipsqueak responded “It’s not what you can do for me, but what you can do for poor old Rumbler.” Flittering over to lay a tiny hand on a massive tusk “He’s a prisoner here, kept against his will.”
Sparakal responded with a look of genuine concern on her face “Do they hurt him? Not feed him?”.
“No, they treat him well. But look at him.” Giving a grand flourish and taking a moment to take in the giant fur covered animal Pipsqueak continued in a reverent tone “He deserves more then this. He deserves to be free!” This last statement was punctuated with what should have been a comical stomp of her foot as she looked at the twins once again, hands on her waist with a defiant look on her face.
Sounding a little confused, Krunch asked “What is it thet ya think we could do?”
“Simple enough for such competent young folks as yourselves. Simply unlock the chain.”
“And ya can’t unlock it yerself because…”
“Well … ” Pipsqueak made a sweeping motion with her hands from top to bottom “as you can see I am not the largest person in this tent. thet and well, iron makes me itchy.” Looking appraisingly at Krunch “But something tells me you may know your way around locks?”
Standing a little taller in spite of himself Krunch responded “You did indeed come ta the right dwarf.” In a quiet mutter to himself as he started to step warily forward “As long as I remember ta check for traps.”
“No.” Sparakal stated forcefully as she pulled Krunch back to whisper in his ear “Don’t even think it. I sympathize with the beast, trust me, but it is not our place. Not our right.” Pausing for a moment before continuing “Think of what would happen.”
Krunch looked up at his sister, face red with anger ready to protest thet he didn’t care what his punishment would be and how he was tired of her having a stick so far up her ass thet she couldn’t bend her neck (he was quite proud of thet insult and made a mental note to remember it for later) but something in her eyes caused him to pause. So he took a breath and really thought about what would happen. The mammoth free. In the middle of a crowded circus. With children and innocents underfoot. The beast seemed calm enough in the tent, but once released there was no telling what would happen.
Shuddering slightly and feeling like he was waking up from a nap he didn’t know he had taken, Krunch kept looking into his sister’s eyes as he spoke just loudly enough for the faerie to hear “I’m sorry. But we canna help ya.” Pushing Sparakal to the edge of the tent “It’s time for us ta go.”
Wriggling out under the tent without waiting for an answer, the twins gasped slightly at the suddenly too-bright sun and overly-loud circus as they emerged. Exchanging no words but giving each other a what-the-hell-was-thet look, the young dwarves started back towards their meeting with Curly.
A bellowed “By Moradin’s rusty hammer what do ya think yer doin!” by a red-faced Curly stopped them in their tracks.
As the angry warrior bore down on them, to all appearances ready to knock their heads together, Krunch stepped in front of Sparakal putting his hands in front of him “Curly … this is all my fault.” Looking back at Sparakal and giving her a wink “I took off and Sparky just came ta drag me back before I got inta too much trouble.”
Huffing like an enraged bull, Curly stood before the smiling boy before letting out a huge sigh, seeming to deflate slightly before putting up a hand to stop Sparakal’s admission of guilt before she could start.
“Lad, I’m glad ya already know the way to the kitchens cuz yer gonna be washin a lotta dishes.” Looking at Sparakal he continued in a low voice “Lass, ya should be knowin thet if someone is willin’ to take the heat for ya then ya should let’em. An’ if ya suffer more from guilt fer yer brother takin yer punishment then so be it.”
Later thet night, hands red from washing dishes, Krunch stopped by to say goodnight to Sparakal. He found her laying on her stomach, hands propping up her head, lost in thought as she looked over her circus pamphlet which was now covered in signatures.
Curiosity getting the better of him, Krunch asked gently “What’s so important about the scribbles?”
Looking up with an angry retort on her lips only to see the serious look on her brother’s face, Sparakal let out a breath before responding “It’s complicated.” Biting her lower lip before slowly sitting up, not speaking directly to her sibling “I know how thet mammoth felt. Trapped. A prisoner. Pampered and well cared for, even loved. But not free.”
Picking up the pamphlet and carefully folding it before putting it in a drawer she continued. “I be just as much a prisoner as the beast. Trapped by duty. By law.” Leaning her head against the dresser she continued so low thet Krunch had to strain to hear “I will never feel the cold tundra wind on my face any more then Rumbler will. Tradition dictated me life before I was born.”
Closing the drawer slowly before sniffling slightly and turning to face Krunch’s direction while staring down at her feet. “I get the signatures because they represent a freedom ta travel. Ta be free.” Looking up now with eyes clear and a little too bright. “But it is an honor ta embrace me duty. I am proud of me heritage.” With a wistful smile she finished “But every once in a while a girl wants ta dream.”
Nudging a package partially hidden under the bed with her foot after a moment of silence she continued in a playful tone “Hunh … I wonder what that could be?” Grabbing the package and seeming to be astonished to find several more, she shook her head sorrowfully “These should na be under here. Rats could get ta them.” Tossing small bundles on top of her bed until there was a small pile, she finally looked up, hand on her chin. “If only thar was someone who could help me eat all this.”
Krunch, who had no idea what to say in answer to the revelations from his sister he put Sparakal’s words down to more girl-weirdness and was happy to change the subject. “I think I may be able ta help ya with that.” His stomach, half-empty from a supper of bread and water, growled in agreement. The thought that he may some day be king did not cross his mind as he could not see his parents as being anything but healthy, hearty and full of life.
The young dwarf hesitated for a moment “But … I thought ye were goin ta save yer silvers for mother?”
With a broad smile, Sparakal responded “Curly gave me yer silver … and I made some good bargains in exchange fer me bendin’ Deter’s ear about importin’ some goods next season.” Tossing a bag to Krunch before opening one herself. “Mother will understand if I did na spend all of me money on her.”
Paying little attention to Krunch’s joyous exclamation of “Nuts!” Sparakal continued. “Thank ye fer takin the blame. Gettin the autographs meant a lot to me.”
Staring deep into his sack to hide his reddening face, Krunch shrugged. “Bahh. Yer family.”
Sparakal looked at Krunch sideways before asking teasingly asking “So … I hear it was Tizzy’s shift in the kitchens. I dun’na suppose she was there?”
With a face now turning bright red Krunch pretended to have a mouthful and just mumbled “I dunno.”
Purposely off-key, Sparakal started singing “Krunchy and Tizzy sneakin to a cave K-I-S-S-” which was interrupted by “OWW! Now yer gonna get it fer sure!” and much laughter.