Chapter 1- A magical morning
Dogsnob smiled as he turned his wet eyes to the morning sun. He knew this day would be spectacular, a feeble sprout of joy in his chest told him so as it wound around his heart.
It was a lovely day. Clear skies, low pollen count, and the soft, far off honking of early morning traffic could be heard as more of a muffled conversation as opposed to grating punishment to the senses. All in all Dogsnob found himself contented as he neared the end of his morning walk. This is what had given him cause to begin whistling through his teeth, tapping his cane to the rhythm as he walked. He was not very good at whistling, given the gap in his teeth he whistled through didn't allow for a change in pitch, but the cheery tooting he emitted was undoubtedly an attempt at a tune. He became so distracted by his whistling he would stop his walk to force a sound through his teeth, hopping and spinning. by the time he realized he had passed his home he was already two blocks away. With slight confusion he fixed his tie, flared out his coattails, and spun around on his heel to face his destination.
While making a distinct attempt to stop whistling he noted the trash cans by his neighbor's doorstep shivering and clattering loudly. Before he could make an attempt to investigate, a large globular figure hoisted itself out from the trash can, muttering quietly, seemingly using its fingers to list of some things. it must have been a long list, because it already had nine fingers on the one hand for each task. The creature's round face finally turned to Dogsnob, it's large eyes squinting slightly, past the banana peel draped over its head.
"Why if it isn't Dogsnob!" it gurbled, a large slimy smile alighting its features "from the look of you, you must have gotten lost on your walk this morning, just getting back now I see."
"Yes, but it was a very nice walk, if not exceedingly long," The man sniffed and chuckled. "about three hours of perusing and the sun rose and the birds chattered around me. Nearly magical, if you will allow the fancy. I had a very nice cry about it behind the Chinese restaurant on seventy second street."
"Well I'm glad you've finally made it home," it said finally retracting it's fingers into a mitten shaped hand. "Before I forget, a little lady named Cindy has stopped by, she need some help with something. I was looking to see if Margaret had thrown out any tea bags to offer the little miss a drink, but it seems our neighbor has gone back to coffee."
" In that case my dear Greeb we should greet her, seeing as I've finally arrived." The man said nodding soberly.
With that the pair trotted to their home, down Margaret's steps and down the sidewalk to a normal looking townhouse with a heavy green door. Greeb skipped along on spindly legs leaving lovely gooey footprints in its wake. Upon entering the house they were greeted by the smell of wood. More than one kind actually, damp wood, burning wood, shaved wood, fried wood and all other sorts of different wood smells. Not that the pair could smell it, having become blind to the scents after prolonged exposure, but to Cindy it must have been something less like a fragrance and more like a stench. The girl was sitting at the dining table looking out of sorts, maybe a tad put off by the ventriloquist dummies that sat at the table with her, strapped into children's booster seats.
"You must be miss Cindy, it is delightful to meet you acquaintance." Dogsnob said as he entered the room, taking his top hat off to bow politely.
Cindy was still and quiet her face scrunched in some sort of emotion, but Dogsnob and Greeb payed no mind as they too took seat at the table. Greeb formed himself a comfortable bottom and gently sat upon it on the opposite side of the table from its friend. The dummies lay slack, buckled into their seats, ruffled skirts and gloved hands pulled over the straps only a little awkwardly. One looked quite like a porcelain doll with rosied cheeks and sleepy blue eyes, while the other dummies were a rabbit and a vampire respectively.
The girl took this moment to take in the appearance of the pair she had sought. Upon first arriving she was met by a squat, green, being of some sort with large jelly eyes and skinny legs, that introduced itself as simply "Greeb". It was very round and drippy but hospitable none the less, kindly shuffling her in and offering her a measuring cup of water and stale gingersnaps. The little creature then went out through the front door to "find some tea". After nearly fifteen minutes a gangly, dark skinned man in a tuxedo ambled into the house following Greeb, who was talking about garbage.
Cindy waited, her ankles primly hooked together, as she tried to be polite and wait for the two to settle down and hear her out. Dogsnob turned to her offering the pot of cold tea but she shook her head with a Chopped "no thank you", so he went on to pour the room temperature liquid into the mismatched vessels before the dummies. Greeb smiled at her from across the table before it began to sip from its mixing bowl of tea.
"It's such a pleasure to have someone stop by, we gotten very few visitors lately," Dogsnob lamented, tucking in to drink from his own cup. "I gather that the world we live in hasn't much need for dolls or puppets, what with the internet and the robots and the telepathy."
"They don't have telepathy yet, Dogsnob" Greeb interjected. "You're thinking of telephones."
"Right, yes, of course, that's what I meant to say," the man said waving a hand dismissively. "they'll get telepathy eventually I'm sure. Now what was I talking about, I've plum forgot?"
Cindy opened her mouth to answer but the Green creature cut her off before she could get a word out.
"You were talking about puppets, Friend."
"ah yes, a dwindling art, if I do say so myself, why as a child my mother made every doll I ever owned. Now look, I'm the only one of my craft in the entire city, very disappointing indeed. I'll always have the message boards and my blog, but there's nothing quite like waking in the middle of the night to a doll you've never seen before looking at you from the foot of your bed." The tall gentleman sniffled, his face squishing to stop tears from dripping from his eyes. Greeb tutted and said ", Now, now, I've told you before that what you're talking about ain't really a universally relatable experience, haven't I? Plusses, ain't got time to be crying Dogsnob young miss Cindy has come to ask something of us, hasn't she? and she's sat right through our chattering, not a peep from her!"
At that Dogsnob's face cleared and he turned towards the girl with a semi-apologetic expression. Cindy took this chance to tell them why she'd come.
"Eherm," she cleared her throat and straightened her back," My name is Cindocleaseany Pentaghast." she paused with a crinkle of annoyance in her brow." I am in need of help for my apprentice, who must complete one final trial before they are allowed to graduate and travel the world. This trial is very difficult, unusually difficult, so the matron has allowed the help of outsiders. I would like you to help my apprentice with this task, I have scryed for answers and you are the ones who can help them. will you?"
Dogsnob's eyes had slowly slipped to the ceiling as Cindy spoke, and he was trying to figure out if the whirls of wood he saw looked like a face or a broken plate. He congratulated himself inwardly for thinking abstractly, and being cleverly unbiased towards different interpretations of wood.
"That sounds marvelous!" Greeb exclaimed snapping Dogsnob out of his daze." Oh, we've just got to do it Dogsnob. she's being little vague though isn't she though? Almost strategically misleading, eh what?"
"Right!" Dogsnob replied pleasantly. He had no idea what was happening. "That's right! What aren't you telling us miss Cindo-, er, Miss Sydneycl-... Miss Cindy?"
"Well," the girl stalled, not very surprised they wanted information." first let me ask you something; how do you feel about magic?"
The man and the creature exchanged knowing glances and spoke at the same time, entirely convinced they would chorus the same answer as the other.
While they had spoken at the same time, they hadn't said the same thing, so the sentence ended up a mess of confidant proclamations. They turned to one another surprised, Dogsnob looking a little embarrassed and his friend bubbling slightly with silent laughter. Greeb motioned for Dogsnob to speak with a gentle flick of its appendage, getting small drippy bits of itself over the table. The green thing went back to its cookies, making small towers out the brick like pastries.
"Magic is... nice," Dogsnob told her, eyes shy and tentative, but curious.
"Well, then I hope you won't be bothered to hear that I'm a witch," Cindy said. Dogsnob's eyes bulged slightly while Greeb let out a polite "oh my" and kept at building a cookie structure. "I'm quite old now, and for the last few decades I've been training my apprentice, now she is at the last step in her journey towards becoming a true mage, which is not quite a witch but similar enough. This last step she is taking will require all her bravery and smarts, failure should be avoided at all costs. I am not allowed to know her assignment, but I have looked to the spirits for answers and they pointed me to you."
The odd pair chewed on this information for a while, half doubtful of the so called witch, half excited at the prospect of an adventure. Dogsnob was grinning when he made up his mind and turned his good eye to lock with the two semi-transparent eyes of his friend. Greeb blew bubbles with the goo from its mouth while considering the offer, but when it met its friend's hopeful eyes, the decision was obvious. The great glob of a creature blew one more bubble before giving a hearty wink. The man smiled and gave a conspiratorial wink back and turned towards the witch, giving his pencil moustache a pleased twirl and steepling his gloved fingers.
"After some consideration, my partner and I have decided to accept your request," his voice rumbled with contained joy. "when are to we expect your apprentice to need our services?"
"Tomorrow," she quipped, standing, her short stature put her only a few inches above the back of the chair. "She will be arriving at nine in the morning, with a pack of supplies, and she will need to begin her task immediately. good luck. Oh and here is your payment."
She dropped a leather bag of coins onto the table and promptly disappeared in a puff of green smoke. Dogsnob had a coughing fit after inhaling the smoke in surprise, while Greeb sidled over to the pouch of coins turning it upside down and spilling the contents onto the table. Approximately one thousand American dimes scattered all over the table and onto the floor.
"what- kahack- was that," the man asked, as he recovered from his fit.
"How strange, she gave us dimes..."
"that's ten dollars worth of dimes, Greeb!" the puppeteer exclaimed after a glance at the mess.
Dogsnob took a deep breath and let out a satisfied sigh before going to his knees to pick up the coins. He put them in his pockets and they soon bulged, chunky and clinking, Greeb scooted together the coins on the table into a pile.
"say Dogsnob," the creature turgled amongst metallic tinkling. "do you think she'd have cursed us if we didn't accept?"
The kneeling man shot up, slamming his head onto the underside of the table. The force with which his ascension was halted caused objects that were not securely fastened, to detach themselves and shoot away onto the floor.
"OOOOOH!"The man groaned in a mixture of frustration, surprise, and pain. "Greeb! You've made my eye fall out!"
Greeb had the grace to look a touch sheepish and leaned down to pick up the glass eye. It rubbed the fake eye on its belly as if to remove a touch of dirt, but only succeeded in sliming it up before putting it onto a handkerchief in its friend's outstretched hand. He cleaned the gooey eye and popped it back, blinking and winking to adjust their placement with a quick "thank you".
"She seemed like a pleasant enough girl- er, witch, and we weren't spectacularly rude or anything, so I don't see why it would she would want to hurt anybody…" He said, rubbing where he'd hit his head.
"You're being quite the optimist, it's very sweet, but not practical in life or death situations my friend," The slimy friend tutted, putting it's collected coins back into the small sack they came from. "and anyways, I very much doubt she's a real 'witch'. All magic is just science we've yet to understand."
"Right," He nodded dumping his filled pockets onto the table and going back to the floor to pick up more coins. "I'm rather fond of fairies, and gnomes and that sort, but I've never met a real witch. I'm quite excited about what's to come. But- oh that apprentice isn't a witch are they… what did she say they were? a wizard?"
Greeb let out a sigh, scooping coins into the pouch. "I think that the miss said they were a mage, though I'm hard pressed to see the difference between witches and wizards and whatnot. That smoke and disappear trick she did wasn't so impressive, I hope the apprentice can give us a bit more of a show."
Dogsnob nodded his head, depositing the last of the coins onto the table in silence just as a quiet knocking was heard from the entryway of the home. Greeb held up a hand, saying, "I'll get that, miss Cindy must have forgotten something." and it sauntered over to the door pulling it open with an expression of curiosity mixed with a touch of pomp and guile.
Upon opening the door it was apparent that the doorstep was empty save for the usual toilet seat flower pots and a small square of paper. It was about as big as a fingernail, with miniscule writing and illustrations, indecipherable from far away. Greeb swung it's face around, having suddenly grown a neck that twisted from side to side pointing the face in different directions, searching for the mysterious and presumably small messenger. After a few moments without any sign of receding thumbelinos, the slimy companion stuck the paper to the end of a finger and retreated inside.
Chapter 2- Theatre Miniatura
Soft snoring floated through the evening light, Dogsnob lay buried under a pile of quilts, suspended in a hammock, only his nose and gangly legs poking out from underneath. The room was lit by a window facing the city, skyscrapers for miles, dusted in dusky purple, on a backdrop of warm orange and pink. Under the window, a short nightstand squatted, half shadowed by the falling sun, covered in knick knacks. Amongst the cacophony of trinkets a small space was cleared where a small sheet of paper lay, once completely legible, now all smudged with a wet green slime. Some parts were decipherable, an address, a time, but the ink of the introduction and graphic at the side had leaked into each other, leaving only the barest impression of the word "dance" and what seemed to be a pink flower, bending its blurry stalk and stamen towards the tiny words.
' 7'00pm - 9'00pm Est '
'Basil Theater Centre for the Performing Arts 7425 F Street, Rosarona Heights, NQ 13[illegible]'
Suddenly an alarm sounded, clamoring bells startling Dogsnob from his rest. He bolted up, with a sour mouth and a slightly dazed frown, he checked to see if his hair had survived the nap, fingers plucking off the bonnet and smoothing through the hair. Satisfied, he swung his hammock towards the twin bell alarm clock, turning it off with a violent tap. After as few moments of swaying he slipped down into some soft novelty slippers. made to look like two toads were eating his feet. he quickly changed out of his nightgown into his usual suit just as the sky turned from purple to dark blue.
Once dressed he skipped out of the bedroom and into the one next door, where Greeb slept, amongst its towers of hubcaps, road signs, and computer parts. The aforementioned gooey friend was sleeping formlessly in a tub, it looked much like someone had left a vat of toxic waste in a trash dump.
"Greeb," Dogsnob said flicking on the light, "it's time to get up! Unless you want to miss that thing?"
At the suggestion of skipping out on the mysterious invitation, a sleepy eye formed at the surface of the pool of green to look at the man. Slowly, the creature pulled itself from the tub and rubbed at its now two eyes with balled fists.
"Just let me get ready, Dogsnob, we never get to go anywhere special, I want to dress up," the glob said, rolling over to a short stack of multi colored toilet seats.
Greeb sat with legs crossed underneath it, scratching a large dimpled chin, considering its options, finally deciding on a clear seat with shells and sand buried inside the plastic. It took a moment to admire the toilet seat, 'what a spectacular find' it thought, remembering stealing it not more than a week ago from a building set to be demolished the next day. The 'u' shaped plastic was promptly pulled onto Greeb's neck, as if to emulate an Elizabethan ruff.
"How does that look, friend?" it asked, making a coy spin, and forming into a green woman with a dress that fluttered with her movements, but morphing back as the spin ended.
"Simply dashing my good Greeb!" The puppeteer grinned with approval, quickly glancing down at his slippered feet. The frogs stared back unseeing and he was forced to the conclusion that they were not appropriate for fancy social outings.
"Well let's head out then, but, don't forget that invitation!" it called scurrying out the door and down the stairs. Dogsnob was left to retrieve the paper, which he slipped into a pocket inside his coat, changing his shoes, and stopping to pluck a small pink flower from among the tidbits on the nightstand. The flower was secured to his lapel and traveled with him down the stairs and out the front door to where Greeb waited under the street light, watching fireflies dart about. The fancy green thing gave a grin and held out a hand which Dogsnob clasped in one of his own gloved hands, and they set out to the Basil Theater Centre for the Performing Arts .
They walked for some time, exchanging stories and singing at the honking cars, Greeb's arm stretched up from where it stood at the height of Dogsnob's knee, and never letting go of his hand. After a half hour searching they couldn't seem to find the Centre, they had arrived at the approximate area, but upon asking the people there the nearly unanimous response was that no such place existed. it was very near the time of the event, whatever it was, and with no success finding the venue the thin man was getting anxious. He sat down on the sidewalk, his back resting on building 7424, which was next to 7426, with no 7425 in sight. His friend sat down next to him patting his shoulder.
" let's keep looking old chum, we're bound to find it sometime." Greeb reassured, with a smile that was returned in a small way on Dogsnob's lined face.
"I don't know Greeb, I'd hate to be out here all night on a wild goose chase when we have an appointment tomorrow," a defeated sigh escaped him as he turned his head to the side to pick at the leaves of one of the potted bushes between the buildings.
"oh, you're being too negative, not very practical in life or death situations my friend. Now get up and we'll go around-...," it stopped suddenly, its eyes going towards the potted plants, watching mice scurry between the pots. It might not have caught Greeb's attention if not for the fact the mice were dressed to the nines in miniaturized formal wear. They stood on their hind legs, with shoes on their lower paws and gloves on their upper ones. As they disappeared into the darkness between the shrubs, the well dressed jelly creature spotted more mice, running towards them.
"Dogsnob," Greeb said, giving the bent over man a jab. "Dogsnob look at this."
"Oh, I'm not in the mood for a distraction," He mumbled with a trembling lower lip, "we should call it a night and pick up a hotdog or ten."
"No, no I think I've found it, look at those mice!" it said pointing at them with vigor.
The man's head rose to glance at them, but dropped back down to his shoes, that had somehow become untied, " Yes I've seen the mice, Greeb, they've been walking around here since we arrived. I don't see how that has anything to do with our invitation." he glumly stated, scuffing a shoe poutily on the sidewalk.
"It has everything to do with our invitation! Our tiny, mouse sized, invitation!" Greeb blatantly hinted, "and what do you mean 'since we arrived'? why didn't you say anything?"
"I make it a point to mind my own business in all situations." Dogsnob returned, finally getting some colour back in his cheeks and looking up to stare into space, putting two and two together.
Greeb waited as its friend stood up to examine the two pots, accidentally blocking the entrance for a mouse couple and their swaddled baby.
"pardon me, sorry for the bother, m'am, sir, bean," he said sliding out of the way tipping his hat as he addressed the father, mother, and child. He waited until their winding tails disappeared into the darkness of the shadow that consumed the alley, then he stepped forward, past the shrubbery. Once enveloped in the shadow he could make out small lanterns that just shed enough light to illuminate a pair of double doors at the foot of a larger, human sized, door.
Dogsnob, after a moment of awe, began rummaging in his coat pockets, eventually pulling out a travel flashlight, which he shined on and around the door. As he had suspected, just above the door were the number 7425, and the catch of light on the metal numbers filled the man with much emotion. A wide grin pushed at his blushing cheeks, and his eyes became wide and wet as he ran back towards Greeb. He tripped over his friend, as it had followed him into the alley and stood behind him as all was revealed.
"Greeb!" The man called from where he had tumbled into the shrubbery. "This is it!"
"Yes, I had already figured that out, thanks," Greeb said with a grin curled in amusement at its friend.
"W-well, let's go in, then!" Dogsnob coughed a little embarrassed by his tumble, he went forward to grasp the handle of the darkened door. His friend pulled a few leaves out of his hair, and he pulled the door open.
Immediately they were hit by wafting warmth and light that seeped out into the alley. The room behind the door had a ceiling about eight feet high, with a crystal chandelier that came down to the height of Dogsnob's chin. The soft but sophisticated theme of gold and cream colours gilded walls, balconies to three more floors looked out onto the cherry coloured carpet. Mice looked from the balconies, some high enough that they could look at the shoulders of the tall, dark man that did not seem to notice yet how out of place he was. Mice on the ground floor milled around making casual conversation, and only sending a few confused glances at the slime creature with a toilet seat and the human who was now crying.
"Oh, Greeb," He warbled through tears, a large crooked smile on his face. "It's so beautiful…"
"It is certainly unexpected," Greeb responded taking a deep breath, smelling perfume in the air. "Who knew mice had taste."
The sound of a violin had been playing over the soft chatter that filled the hall, though the pair hadn't noticed until it stopped. The lights flickered low and then to full brightness three times and the crowds began to quiet down and file through a large double door at the other side of the room.
"Excuse me?" Someone called from Dogsnob's feet. It was a mouse in a red usher's outfit, it looked up between the two non mice. "Would you happen to be and… ?"
"I am no miss," Greeb said quickly with a small huff and an amused smile. "I'm just Greeb thank you."
"Yes," The tall man responded after his friend was done, rubbing remnants of tears from his face. "I am Dogsnob and this is Greeb, how may we help you?"
"well misters, uh, mister and Greeb, I'm supposed to help you to your seats," the mouse said, twitching his nose and whiskers. "The manager said I have to make sure you find the right ones cuz you won't fit in the normal seats. He said to say they're the best seats in the house, even though they're not, they're just the only ones that will fit you."
"Lead on then," Greeb said chuckling a little with Dogsnob, and adjusting its collar.
The two were lead to the left side of the room and made to wait while the mouse usher scurried through a hole in the wall. A few moments passed before a loud clank was heard and a piece of the wall pushed outward on concealed hinges. The hidden door revealed a narrow, steep staircase that had sparse white light shining from the top of the dark passage. The usher stood on the carpeted handrail, his tail twitching.
"This way, please," He said gesturing with his paw, waiting until the two odd characters had squeezed into the passageway. The door shut behind them, the yellow light from the entryway couldn't be seen anymore, they were in complete darkness save for the faint white light coming around the corner at the top of the stairs.
As soon as they were completely inside and the door was shut, the mouse dropped on all fours and ran to the top of the stairs, stopping to wait for his two charges. They exchanged incomprehensible whispers between themselves as they climbed the stairs, it didn't take very long. At the top they were able to see the source of the light; it was a brightly lit stage that at first appeared far away, but upon closer inspection, was actually just small. The curtains were down, hiding the set from the audience that spread out in front of it in hundreds of rows, curved toward the stage. An orchestra took up a large alcove at the left of the room, stray notes could be heard from violins and trumpets and such over the lazy chatter that simmered at the bottom of the room.
"Eherm!" The odd pair turned towards the noise; the mouse was standing up straight, his arms folded behind his back.
"We here at the Basil Theatre Center for the Performing Arts are grateful for your patronage to our first production of the season…," the mouse faltered, he lifted a glove, peeking at the palm of his hand. He seemed to be reading words from where he looked because he mouthed them while squinting at his hand before he continued. "Tonight marks the opening night for a project we have worked on for a long time, we hope you enjoy our production of Coppelia. As you are esteemed guests that we owe a great great deal to, you have been admitted free of charge and are invited backstage at the end of the program to be personally thanked by the cast and crew. Please take your seats, the show is about to begin."
He gestured to the two chairs looking off the veranda with a bow then hurried away. The two stood side by side, the man stared at the spot the mouse had been with a crumpled confused expression, lips in an 'o' of unspoken question. The green creature's face morphed into a different thinking expression with every second, desperately trying to remember doing anything for a mouse at any point in its life. The lights dimmed, and the crowds quieted, the confused pair slowly took seat in silence and looked toward the covered stage for answers.
Silence and darkness changed the feeling of the room from that of a dinner party to something else entirely and casual anticipation filled the room. Not long after the silence began, a mouse in a tuxedo walked across the stage to the orchestra and took a bow. The crowd clapped, waves of the sound echoed off the corners of the room, like a rainstorm had broken out inside the building. The sound pittered off as the conductor turned to face his orchestra and once it was silent again. It begins.
Dogsnob was entranced by these small creatures twirling around the stage. Greeb sat amazed that mice would have the higher brain power to successfully conduct complicated dance routines. It was only at intermission that the two snapped out of it.
"Did those clothes look familiar to you?" Greeb asked, forgetting to let itself drip out of concentration.
The creature's friend, turned silently to him, mouth opening to deny the notion before the pieces in his mind fell into place.
"I made them," He breathed out, his hand floating up to cover his mouth. Goodness, I made all the outfits."
They stared at each other, the now thoroughly slimy creature's face changed with each question as they occurred to it. 'What?' 'When?' 'Why?' 'How?' At least there was little doubt about the 'where'.
"You… you never told me you made an entire ballet's wardrobe! An entire wardrobe for ballet dancing mice!" The man's oozy friend was bubbling with emotions, literally, and was speaking a little more loudly than was strictly appropriate.
"Well, I didn't know it was for mice," The doll maker by profession confessed. " I thought it was for dolls. You know how I am, never think to ask any questions, just mind my business and work. There was also the fact that I was so sick of having to make them and so happy to have finished them, that once they were done I blocked them from my mind entirely."
"That doesn't sound very healthy Dogsnob," The blob said wagging a finger full of gooey bubbles. "I just wish you'd told me, you silly man."
"I wish I could ask them about the clothes," the silly man confessed. "I'm quite selfishly wishing they liked them."
"Of course they like them, they put them in the ballet, didn't they? Why don't we just go down and ask if you're so worried?"
Dogsnob's doe eyes widened to timid saucers.
"Oh no, no I couldn't, I simply couldn't imagine bothering them with something so paltry…" he mumbled, and looked down to watch his hands fuddle with the flower in his lapel.
"no let's go ahead and ask, it's intermission anyway, I'm sure the director-"
Before the last words could leave Greeb's mouth, a shrill scream erupted from down the stairs, in the lobby. Immediately The blobular creature shot from its seat and rolled quickly toward the source of the noise. Its companion sat frozen, his eyes so wide the glass ball in one of them was spinning with fright. He stood as well and made his way, slowly, toward the shouting and screams that came from the lobby. In the dark of the long staircase, hearing the muffled noises of fear, he wished Greeb had stayed. The door at the base of the steps hung open to the cacophony of light and sound that didn't reach into the darkness very well. Finally He stepped into the light, blinking at the chaos. The pungent smell of cologne saturated the air.
Greeb held onto the cloak of a dark dressed man, who strained against it to reach the entrance and make his escape. The creature shouted and bubbled at the man unintelligibly, digging its goopy heels into the lush carpet, ruining it for good. In a split moment the dark clad man shouted and snapped his fingers, and his cloak which had previously prevented him from escaping burst into feathers. They covered Greeb so completely that it could not see nor speak, its mouth was filled with feathers.
The man barreled through the door leaving the shouting mice and poor feathered Greeb in his wake. Dogsnob rushed over to his incapacitated friend and began to wipe and pluck away feathers. The creature was fuming mad, spitting out feathers every few harsh words it had for the escaped man.
"What happened here?" Dogsnob asked shaking gooey feathers from his hands and looking around the room. Chairs were overturned and crushed, draperies torn, man sized muddy footprints littered the floor.
"There's been a kidnapping," Greeb sputtered between feathers.
Dogsnob gasped loudly.
"There's been a what?" he choked out, having breathed in a feather with his gasp.
" A kidnapping! Or a mouse-napping I should say." Greeb stood from where it had fallen, and, though it still looked like a gosling covered in spotty down, It rushed toward the door. It looked out into the night, but soon realized that the kidnapper in dark clothing had successfully evaded it. Who could know where the man was now.
"who got kidnapped, why, why now, why here? Was that man invited? Does anybody know him? d-" Dogsnob's unending flow of question was broken by a gooey hand over his mouth.
"My dear friend let me answer those questions one at a time." Greeb removed its toilet seat ruff and sat upon it in the messy hall but it stood again almost instantly to pluck uncomfortable feathers from its behind. "first of all some young mice were taken by a man with blue eyes who dressed in black. I'd only just gotten here myself, but I knew he was bad news, then I saw the mice he was holding in his hand I knew."
Dogsnob nodded, sitting with his legs crossed in front of his seated friend. Mice were running around frantically on the floor, some were still yelling. The two sat and watched and listened to snatches of conversations people were having about what had just happened. A man no one seemed to recognize burst in at intermission and scooped up the six bell-boys that were closest to him. just as he was about to escape a the sentient goo they'd all seen before the show stopped him, grabbing hold of his cape.
The duo chewed on this less than substantial information for a few moments, sitting in the midst of the settling chaos around them. Dogsnob almost opened his mouth to ask even more unanswerable question when he felt a tiny tug on his sleeve. Upon inspecting the tug he was greeted with the tiniest little mouse, it had a ribbon round its ears and was dressed in a ballerina's tutu.
" are you going to after him?" she asked, her brown eyes booring into Dogsnob's. " Because if you aren't then I will."
Dogsnob was stricken by this tiny brave mouse child, done up sweetly in her mint colored tutu and white bows. Greeb on the other hand was curious.
"what do you mean you'll go after him, he's long gone, I couldn't find him in the crowd after he'd left." the creature claimed eyed the brown mouse carefully.
she put a paw to her nose and sniffed, saying "I can smell him out, I'm the best sniffer around and I'm only six months old!"
"the best sniffer?" " you can smell him from here?" the man and his friend asked at the same time, curiosity beginning to float above the tension they felt a moment before.
"you're silly, of course I can't smell him from here, but I can follow his scent. He was very, very smelly," She said scrunching up her nose, suddenly she looked down. "that smelly man has my brothers, I need to get them back no matter what. I don't even know what sort of bad things that guys gonna do..."
Greeb stood while Dogsnob was still thinking, and chortled out ",Well then miss mouse, I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. Now let's go find ourselves a mouse-napper!"
Chapter 3 - The Urban Gorgon
" My name is Gigi by the way," the ballerina mouse piped from Dogsnob's breast pocket, as he ran in a direction she had indicated. "Turn left now!"
The man and the creature skidded to make a sharp turn, barely stopping themselves from tripping. the warm night air was pleasant at first but now it made Dogsnob sweat terribly as he ran . He hated running most of the time, because it most often meant something was chasing them. But in that moment they were the pursuers, and to Dogsnob that was almost as bad. He wanted to be at home carving away at a lovely doll for someone to take care of.
Greeb on the other hand reveled in the chase, it threw off excitement like it threw off globs of slime at the high velocity it was traveling. Oh how it loved a chase, a mystery, an adventure. Staying at home with Dogsnob was fine, but what Greeb really enjoyed was helping people, face to face. Though Greeb had given up the mantle of vigilante long ago, the spirit of justice still burned within. To be on the tail of a criminal once more, while nostalgic, was invigorating. It was fun. Then again, most things were.
"Left- No wait Right!" Gigi called again holding up her paws in the shape of 'L's. the creature and its friend skidded once more, only this time it couldn't turn fast enough and slammed into a wall, splattering bits of itself all over. Dogsnob paused slightly only to snort at seeing Greeb as a cartoonish smear on the side of a building. He belatedly ran over to help scrape his friend from the wall.
As soon as they were able, they set off once more until finally they caught sight of the man, on his knees lifting a sewer grate and slipping underneath it.
"Ew" The mouse commented, recoiling into Dogsnob's pocket. The man shared the sentiment on a superficial level but also felt a distinct excitement at finally getting the chance to explore the sewers in this part of town.
The duo, plus the mouse they carried, did not hesitate to open up the grating once more and plunge down into the dark sewers.
They landed in a patch of moonlight that shone through the open manhole, and were struck by how strange the place looked. Dogsnob had expected the smell, but the space was nothing like what they show in movies and T.V. shows. While he had been expecting dark concrete tubes, filled with unsavory rats and most notably sewage, instead he got this. The ceiling was so high, maybe ten to fifteen feet, and natural light from outside shone in from holes and cracks in the high walls. Ivy slithered up the walls, giving it the look of a stone cave as opposed to a dirty sewer. Was this part of the city waste management system, or was it some sort of secret underground tunnel? He would have investigated for hours had it not been for the echoing of solitary footsteps ringing through the hall like gunshots in a cathedral.
"There he is!" Gigi's high voice rang out, jumping off the walls down the hall like the song of a choir. "GET 'IM, GO GO GO!"
The figure they had been pursuing turned suddenly, his cold, piercing eyes pinning them down. His expression was full of anger and surprise at finally being caught up to after being chased for so long. He'd opened his mouth to yell at them from so far down the hall, in the shadows of the seeping light, but a deep sound, that shook through the walls and vibrated Dogsnob's clenched teeth, stopped him. In the crushing silence that followed the groan, The blue eyed man's face slipped from anger to blank fear. He backed away, his footsteps suddenly seeming much quieter when compared to the bone aching sound before.
"Hey, stop!" Dogsnob called, his own voice echoing after the quickly retreating figure. The lot of them quickly gathered themselves and gave chase after the kidnapper. The hailstone beat of Dogsnob's smart shoes and the wet clapping of Greeb's feet filled the silent tunnel. They all heard the unidentifiable sound again throughout their running. Maybe it was the pipes. Whenever there was a frightening noise people always say it's the pipes but, how could anything so benign make as terrifying a noise as that?
They turned corner after corner, it seemed they had entered a dizzying underground maze. Darkness and the occasional gleaming eyes in corners set everyone but Gigi on edge. She leaned so far from The man's pocket she was near falling. The mouse's brow was scrunched in concentration as she shouted out directions. The groaning was now accompanied by a muted thud and stone grating against stone. Maybe it was the pipes. Soon they came upon the man, who was out of breath, standing at a dead end fondling the wall.
"I said STOP!" Dogsnob shouted this time. the man turned around to face them, his face was still stony with caution. "You know earlier… when you were running away."
"We've got you now, mouse napper!" Greeb proclaimed falling into a fighting stance. "surrender now and we will let you turn yourself in unharmed."
"Turn himself in? No, I'm gonna beat him up!" Gigi announced, leaning forward as if to dole out an uppercut, but she fell forward out of Dogsnob's pocket. Luckily he was quick enough to catch her in his hand as she was tumbling out, before she could fall too far.
"you'd best hold her back for now, my friend, we want him conscious." Greeb warned keeping close eye on the suspect.
The grinding noise of stone had grown louder, but the trio barely noticed as they were distracted by finally catching up to the criminal. Now that they were faced with him, it seemed unclear exactly how to get him back out of the sewer, the passage, wherever it was that they were. The man with the cold blue eyes stared back at them barely breathing, his hand in the middle reaching inside his dark jacket. Suddenly he spoke, his words swathed in a thick Australian accent.
"You don't know what you've done, shouting about like that, do you?" he whispered from his dead end. The sound of the stone against stone had grown so loud is seemed to be just around the corner. All of the sudden the blue eyed Australian whipped his hand from his jacket, holding something dark. It was only when he put the dark object on his face that Greeb and his friends realized they had been sunglasses.
"You wear sunglasses inside? Now I really wanna punch you," the mouse girl quipped from back in Dogsnob's pocket, which resulted in the criminal's smile falling slightly.
"I'm not wearing these to look cool, you little rat!" he shouted at her and paused looking behind them as the tunnel suddenly became even darker than before. "I'm wearing them because of that."
He pointed behind them causing the all to turn and look at what he was pointing at, and what they saw chilled them to the bone. A giant woman made of slick black stone moved towards them dragging herself with her arms, as she was too tall to stand and her lower body was that of a slick green serpent. It was hard to see at first but covering the top of her head was a writhing mass of obsidian snakes, hissing constantly. Her tail dragged on the ground loudly behind her, like bricks shearing against each other.
Dogsnob and Greeb didn't dare take a breath, they were frozen in fear at the massive, intimidating creature before them. Thinking quickly, Dogsnob cupped a hand over Gigi at his breast and used his other to flash over Greeb's eyes. Just as his good eye closed the beast turned to face them, and though they couldn't see her eyes were that of molten rock, shifting and glowing through her sockets.
Gigi squirmed under Dogsnob's hand.
"what's the big deal," she questioned quietly trying to peek around to see the source of the scraping sound.
Dogsnob shushed her, as quietly as possible and Greeb grabbed his hand in front of its eyes, not to remove them but in gesture reassurance.
"what is it, Dogsnob?" the blob whispered, its body only somewhat trembling, like jello in an earthquake.
"I've never seen one before," Dogsnob said in as hushed a voice as possible, trembling about as much as Greeb. "usually no one does… and lives, but that is-"
"-My gorgon, the Medusa under the city!"The Australian interjected, loudly with a flourish towards the beast. It was a wasted motion as everyone who would have conceivably appreciated it had their vision obscured.
He seemed as if he would say more but before he could the giant woman ahead of the group, let out a familiar groan, and now that they were so close to the source of the sound it vibrated throughout them like their spines were jackhammers.
"AAAAAAAAAAAARRRZZZZZZZZZZZZOOOOOOUUUUUUULLLLLLLLEEEEEE…." She moaned, her voice like the deep earth they were trapped beneath, dark and cold.
"Erm, yes?" The kidnapper, Arzoule, answered, with considerably less bravado than when he introduced her.
"ARZOOOUUUULE!," She screeched like nails on chalkboard. She twisted her body to turn to the dead end the group was sequestered in. She quickened her pace, her arms clawing faster and faster, dragging herself towards them
"that doesn't sound good you guys," Gigi piped from where she was still shielded under Dogsnob's hand.
They had slowly and subconsciously moved backwards until their backs were pressed against the wall that had seemed so fortuitous earlier. Just as Dogsnob began to start imagining being crushed be giant stone hands the kidnapper let out a frantic "aha," and the whole group was launched upside down by flipping of the wall itself. Arzoule had apparently triggered some sort of mechanism that moved the wall of the dead end, so one would end up on the other side of it, in some other part of the tunnel system. The two humans ended up landing uncomfortably on their heads, and it was only then that Dogsnob remembered he had at some point forgotten his hat. Greeb morphed its legs underneath itself before reaching the ground and landed safely on its feet, though its eyes ended up in its toes.
The lot of them heard, and felt, a strong crash followed by a scream on the wall behind them. Dogsnob was getting tired of his teeth rattling, Gigi was getting annoyed at all the yelling, and Greeb was getting together a plan. The gorgon began to pound against the wall with her fists, making bursts of dust and rock explode from the walls and ceilings.
Greeb took a moment to check for the kidnapper, but he had made a stealthy getaway during their struggle. It let out a sigh and righted its eyeballs to its face. Another strike against the wall had Dogsnob rolling forward, launched with the force of the blow. She had punched a hole in the wall, and went down to search through it, her eyes pouring light and heat into the other side of the wall, illuminating more pathways. Fortunately none of the trio was in a position to make eye contact, and be turned to stone.
Greeb acted quickly, grabbing its friend and setting him upright the taking the leftmost pathway. Dogsnob followed close behind, remembering how good it had been not to be running away from things.
"Gigi," the blob called keeping one eye at the front but shifting the other to the back of its head to look at the mouse. "can you smell the outside?"
"Only a little bit.." she sniffed the air, mostly smelling mold and damp stone. Various other scents all swirled around her until she pointed ahead of them into the dark of the tunnels they ran through. "that way, I can smell trees and dogs, I think there's a park."
They set off in the direction she indicated as best they could, just as the beast behind them finally broke down the wall enough to pull herself through. Her crystalline tail began to move, lashing from side to tide, smashing up against the tunnel walls. If Greeb had any hair it would be standing on end, but since it didn't, its default reaction was to stop dripping as much as usual. Greeb ran on legs with little more structure that a stream of water, but somehow managed to pull ahead of its friend, going in a vaguely northwest direction, taking whatever turn it had to get there. It was working under the assumption that this was not in fact a maze they were traveling through, just a complex grid with multiple exits. Maybe it was some sort of escape tunnel not designed specifically to confuse and disorient, but to lead naturally toward the intended exit. That's what it hoped at least.
They could hear the beast barreling closer and they could feel the increase in tremors as she neared. She screeched after them, following the hollow sounds of footsteps. Gigi didn't fear as she pointed the way, catching the scent of forgetful dog walkers, pesticides, and fresh cut grass. The scent of the Australian's cologne was a stale constant through the caves, she sneezed quietly a few times after her nose had had enough of being assaulted over and over with the musky pepper smell. She worried she might be allergic. Wouldn't that be just perfect? On the chase from some crazy monster that could turn them to stone with a glance and then she develops an allergy to some guy's perfume.
"Here!" She suddenly called, her eyes looking for the source of the fresh air she felt finally wafting through her fur. She spied faint beams of light filtering down in a circle, probably slipping past the edges of a manhole. "up there, there's an opening!"
Dogsnob reached up only to realize he was too short to reach the exit on the ceiling. It was strange being too short to do something for once, it was a rare feeling, as disempowering as it was refreshing.
"Greeb my dear-," Dogsnob was about to ask for help when the gorgon smashed through the wall next to them, raining stone debris all around. the man fell back onto the floor immersed in a cloud of dust, blocking his vision nearly entirely except for the tendrils of light that dangled down more temptingly than before. That and the sinister glow of the gorgon's molten eyes.
Greeb was currently full of assorted sizes of rocks and splattered on the ground. This had happened a lot more often than usual that night, the splattering. It had been annoying the first time but now the blob was fed up. It quickly reconstituted itself only now it took the form of a warrior, with muscles bulging from under the tunic Greeb had modestly formed. it had also crafted a ribbon of ripped cloth that was tied around its head, obscuring its eyes, whipping in a nonexistent wind behind it.
"Stand and deliver, foul beast!" It called, falling once more into a fighting stance, though this time it was more impressive with the addition of a barrel chest and glistening pectorals.
The gorgon was unmoved by the picturesque bravery and collided the back of her clawed fist with the other creature, once again smashing the poor thing into modern art and unconsciousness.
The violent action had swept enough of the dust away that Dogsnob was able to witness his best friend be felled. In that moment he couldn't call out, he couldn't move. Then just like that he stood, a stone in his hand and lobbed a rock at the woman. His eyes were chock full of tears, his chin trembling.
The gorgon turned as another badly aimed rock bounced off her shoulder. She hissed at him, her own fiery tears dripping down her cheeks. All of a sudden one of the many rocks the man was throwing sailed straight into her eye, causing her to recoil and curl into herself, screaming as she cupped her hands over her eye.
"take that you big mean monster," Dogsnob said with only minor stuttering.
Before he could do anything, he felt rather than saw the ballerina mouse jump from his pocket. He wiped away the tears that had blurred his vision so much, but still they welled up again so that all he could see were big blobs of color. Gigi, scurried on all fours, making her way toward the lamenting gorgon. she climbed up the tail, and stopped at the beast's hips looking back at Dogsnob and then Greeb. She began to wave erratically while maintaining her silence, trying to communicate what she was thinking without cluing off the beast. Dogsnob could make out her pale green tutu bouncing against the unnatural dark of where the serpent became put two and two together when he saw after a few blinks how the light travelled shortly from the exit only to bounce of the slick back of the beast.
he moved towards her, stopping to gather globs of an unconscious Greeb in his arms. he climbed up the stone woman, slipping every now and then until he stopped to kneel and let Gigi climb up his pants leg. Then he kept going, his smart leather shoes clinging the fine crags in her dark skin, stopping at her shoulder blades, directly under the exit. He was able to push open the manhole and throw Greeb up and out before the woman shifted. She wept loudly, swiveling around the hall looking for them, the snakes of her head wildly squirming. The man took a chance and jumped, gripping onto the lip of the opening and hanging there. Lucky he did because the gorgon set off deeper into the tunnel, and he would have gone with her if not for the risk he took.
He pulled himself out of the manhole, huffing and puffing, his face wet with sweat and tears. Dogsnob collapsed topside onto the grass of the park, dirty, smelly and riddled with the aftershock of an adrenaline rush. That had been one of the most unpleasant experiences he'd had in years. The relief he felt now that it was finally over was short lived when he realized it wasn't really over. There was a monster under the city, six mice had been kidnapped, and they had to meet the mage's apprentice that morning. The sun was just starting to rise over the benches, casting everything in misty shadows. The birds were just beginning to sing sweetly to the new day, with its low pollen count, and soft far off honking.
His panting devolved into hurried sighs, and his sighs into deep calming had become itself again as opposed to a cohesive pile of slime, and it was sparkling in the early light like a romance novel character. Dogsnob looked to his chest to see Gigi asleep, curled in his pocket. At least she was safe, at least Greeb was too. He folded his hands over his stomach and watched the sky change its colors as the morning hours crept about.
Chapter 4- Canine Occultis
The trek home at six in the morning was made slightly easier once Greeb had decided to stop pretending to sleep. It had awoken shortly after being picked up a second time as Dogsnob was set out on the journey home. There wasn't actually much of a journey, seeing as the park was close by where the two lived. They had actually come to that park the week before to steal flower seeds for the garden they would never plant. Greeb recognized the crop circles Dogsnob had told it not to make in the grass.
The blob walked quietly next to the man, holding hands with him and picking out small rocks and twigs from its body. Dogsnob was filthy too, but took rather less enjoyment being in that state. The little flower in his lapel had lasted the excitement of the night, but hung limp and grimy. He unpinned it once he'd noticed and put it in his pants pocket. Gigi still lay curled in his breast pocket, her dress crumpling slightly, the frills and gossamer of the tutu wafting slightly with each breath she took. He'd have to give her something to change into, the dress, though lovely might be uncomfortable to wear for long periods.
It was an ideal morning for a walk, warm, quiet, and misty; the man wished he weren't so tired so he could enjoy it. Despite his fatigue his mind ran with worry, he was afraid for Gigi's sisters, stolen away by a mysterious man who messed about with monsters and dark, hidden passageways. There was also the matter of the apprentice they had yet to meet. he didn't want to meet anybody right then. He was not in the mood to do anything at that moment, he didn't even really want to walk home. He wanted to lay down on the sidewalk and fall asleep until everyone forgot he was alive. He'd become a myth, that man who fell asleep on 46th street and never woke up, asleep for fifty years. When he'd wake up there would be floating cars and people would have antennas on their heads to connect to each other's thoughts. He would wander around, blinking in awe at successful world peace and an end to world hunger. He wanted to be there, to dance. He would skate about on air, floating along the street in anti gravity shoes, dipping to trumpets and swaying to violins that would inevitably play.
"Dogsnob."Greeb said for the third time, recognizing a daydream when it saw one. "Dogsnob we're home now."
"Oh," The man finally realized his friend was speaking. "right, well let's go in then."
They walked up the steps to the Green door and empty toilet seat flower pots together. The door wasn't locked, as per usual, and it swung open with a heavy creak. They stepped in and set upon cleaning themselves up. Greeb grabbed a strainer from the kitchen and brought the utensil up to its room to work on getting rid of all the rock stuck in its jelly. Dogsnob carefully removed The mouse from his pocket and climbed up the stairs his room where he tucked her into a soft yellow doll bed. He untied the ribbons of her shoes, embroidered to look like the climbing vines of flowers with a hint of pink blossom against the green and white, and set them next to the bed. Once he was done making sure she was comfortable he collapsed onto his own bed, falling asleep instantly.
It was an hour later when the doorbell went off and Dogsnob heard Greeb answer the door, he couldn't hear what was being said down the stairs but it sounded like there was a dog barking softly on the lower floor of the building. He rose, wiping at his face, his eyes grainy and tired and went into the bathroom to splash water on his face. When he came back out he checked the bed where Gigi had slept only to find it empty. A note had been left behind, words too small for Dogsnob to read leading him to dig around his bedside table for his reading glasses. After some puttering around, he found the glasses with a lens missing, lucky for him the remaining one was over his good eye. He set to reading the note, chuckling as he read the chicken scratch handwriting of a child, realizing it was from Gigi. She wrote that she'd gone home, Greeb had seen her out, and she was going to hire a detective, the best detective, to find her sisters.
The man folded the note and put it in a music box on his dresser, the tune 'Beautiful Dreamer' started up but was cut off as Dogsnob closed the box again. He gradually made his way down stairs after switching from his scuffed leather shoes into his soft slippers. As he descended the stairs, he heard Greeb in the kitchen clanging around with pots and chatting loudly to the visitor. A peek into the kitchen revealed that said visitor was a dog. It had a grey, white, and brown coat, and wore a large purple hat that had a tall tip that folded on itself near the top. It looked like part of a witch costume, something you would buy at a convenience store last minute for Halloween. Not the strangest thing he'd seen recently but odd nonetheless.
"Greeb dear, why is there a dog in the kitchen," Dogsnob asked, stepping into said room and leaning down to scratch the dog's neck softly. Its eyes were two different colors, one blue and one brown, they were startlingly clear, and intelligent. The man gazed into them and suddenly his questions, as to who this dog was and where it came from, didn't need to be answered anymore.
"That's Gladys," Greeb said offhand, as it messed about looking for dog treats they most likely didn't have. "her collar only had her name on it. she wouldn't let me see the hat, growled if I tried to touch it."
"I've just spoken to her," Dogsnob announced, referring to the eye contact he'd shared with the animal.
Greeb was unsurprised at this given that Dogsnob could always speak to dogs. His entire family could as a matter of fact, hence the name Dogsnob. It had been a nickname first given to them by jealous neighbors but reclaimed into a legacy of speaking for those who couldn't. Every weekend Dogsnob would go to the shelter and match lost dogs with their owners and unclaimed dogs with the perfect child. He always cried loudly and annoyingly at every dog and caretaker brought together, but the shelter employees bore with it because he was an excellent matchmaker.
"She is the apprentice." The man proclaimed sitting onto the tiled floor in front of the dog and scratching under her chin. "she is the young mage we have been waiting for, who has been training under the Witch, miss Cindy."
"Well I'll be," Greeb exclaimed, turning around to get a better look at the dog. her tongue lolled out, and her tail began to wag where she sat. "What a clever girl you must be."
She gave a soft bark in response, and wagged her tail more vigorously.
"so what now?," the blob asked, giving Gladys a bit of a leftover hard biscuit.
"She is looking for something," Dogsnob said looking at the dog again. "no, wait, someone. A great and powerful magical being, one that has power over truth and perception, life and death."
"oh my, that sounds awfully important," the man's friend commented. " though that mage type would do better doing away with the perception bit, all one really needs are the cold hard facts."
"I don't know about that, friend," the man countered, wilting slightly at its lack of excitement. "perception plays a heavy hand in what we say is the truth. Faith is a perception but science is too. it's only a matter of what our the organ of our heart tells us versus the organ of our mind."
"The organ of our heart is the organ of our mind, dear," Greeb said, attempting to give a scratch to the dog's ear, but she wouldn't let him get close enough for his gooey hands to touch her. "In any case we shouldn't be waxing through elementary philosophy at the moment, we should begin searching for this "magical being", whatsoever it might be."
"I haven't the faintest idea of where to begin," the man said after a moment of thought. "I suppose we should go somewhere where people know stuff about magic… or we could research it on the internet."
"Oh, you and the internet! Why can't you ever just take a chance and go out to find answers for yourself." Greeb huffed, giving up on touching the dog and moving to the cupboards, to search about for something. "Now i'm no luddite, but there's nothing quite like talking to people face to face and reading from a genuine book make of real dead trees."
"Now now greeb there's no need to get yourself into a huff, if you wanted to go to the library you could have just said so," Dogsnob said placatingly, as Greeb turned around with a halloween prosthetic of a witch's hand held before it. It peered a little sheepishly at Dogsnob before using the plastic witch hand to itch under the dog's chin.
(new paragraph here for the switch to gladys' perspective)
Though The man could sense the thoughts specifically directed at him, the more unrefined and foggy thoughts that flitted about her mind at light speed. From Gladys' eyes the exchange between the slime creature and the tall thin man was observed with bemused indifference. She thumped her foot as the odd, green creature began to scratch her with a piece of old plastic in the shape of a hand. Both of them smelled like deep underground, with worms, bones, and snakes, that and the cloying stench of a spell gone wrong. Curiosity simmered within her, but she didn't have time to hunt down everyone in the city who botched a spell. The vague clues she she received about her target were bad enough, but to send her to a city with so much magic in it was really quite unfair.
"What do you want this person, or thing, for anyway?" The Green blob asked, not pausing its divine scratching with the toy hand.
'Wouldn't you like to know' She thought, taking a page from her master's book, taking a stab at being mysterious. Despite her attempt at seeming like a hound of mystery, she just ended up looking like any dog when you asked it a question; her tail wagging, and slightly confused but excited eyes.
"I don't think she can tell us, Greeb. Super secret mage business and all that." Dogsnob said solemnly, seeing right through her attempt at being enigmatic, and letting her salvage a bit of the pretense she projected.
Gladys seemed happy enough with that explanation, as she stood from under the plastic hand and trotted out of the room abruptly. Almost as soon as the man and his friend decided to to follow her, she re-entered the kitchen, dragging behind her a large yellow backpack, it was nearly two times her size, and stuffed full of all kinds of odds and ends, some particularly obtrusive objects stuck out of the bag. She bit at the clasp until it opened and she stuffed her snout into the bag, sniffing deeper and deeper until the entire upper half of her body was inside.
The two humanoids watched her, one tapping its foot, not out of impatience but out of habit, the need to move siphoning out through its foot. The man had his head tilted to the side, as if listening to a tune no one else could hear. He stroked his moustache as his eyes unfocused from the dog rifling through an oversized yellow bag in his kitchen and he stared at nothing in particular, retreating into the bounty of his mind. Just as the thought of how silly it was Gladys had such a large pack when she had magic, and could conceivably do anything, even make a tiny bottomless bag, the dog retreated from inside the backpack with her mouth full. She dropped the two things she held onto the floor, one of which was a long scroll of paper and the other a necklace with a cone shaped pendant.
"Well what do we have here," Greeb said, squatting down to examine the items laid before it. Dogsnob was quick enough to pluck the paper from the floor before his oozing friend could, and he unrolled it onto his lap. It was a map of the city, hand drawn and painted with care, illustrations of major landmarks like the casino, the library, and the big blue space needle. The compass rose was just that, a flowering rose ,red petals spiraled about with a bee securing nectar from the inside, it's stinger protruding from the top indicating north.
Greeb contented itself with the pendant, which was a simple stone or crystal, smooth and cool to the touch. It was an enchanting periwinkle with marbled blue streaks the seemed to shift and swirl. The creature took it between two fingers and spun it like a top on a whim. When it stopped spinning it did not fall, but instead stood perfectly still balancing on its elongated point. Greeb pushed it over.
Gladys paced towards dogsnob and after turning about in a circle she lay herself down and put her head on his knee. Her eyes looked up at him, she waited a moment before giving him an order that rang between their minds. The man waited for an explanation as to why he should do these things but a whiny yawn from the dog told him none would come. So he set about rising from his seat to look for heavy things within reach. He came back with a rusted kettle, a broken porcelain figurine of a child, his mother's carnival glass pitcher, and a saucepan. He used these objects to weigh down the corners of the map which he had spread across the floor. He proceeded to take the pendant from Greeb by the slim, silvery wire that hung from a hook at the fat end of the stone. Greeb let him take it and watched him in a detached way as the man knelt before the map and hung the pendant, dangling from the end of the spider silk wire clutched in his hand.
The dog arose from her spot and stood opposite of Dogsnob. She had her legs set sturdily apart and made herself look as commanding as possible as she held intense eye contact with the stone. The room seemed darker now that Dogsnob looked at Gladys, who had shadows about her as if she were facing a bright light. The brim of her hat began to wave in a breeze that hadn't been there before. Greeb itched at its arm, couldn't seem to tear its eyes away from the blue stone that was glowing in the sudden dark. Cold air made crystals of frost form over Its arms which Greeb scratched away unconsciously and the toymaker was vaguely aware of his breath fogging out in front of him.
A voice spoke from nowhere to no one. Dogsnob knew it was Gladys but was temporarily shocked at the sudden intrusive speech that shattered the silence that had grown thick in the moments before.
"When i am lost and all alone
I rely on my dowsing stone.
now in time of strife and woe
There is something that i must know
Help me o dowsing stone
To find what i do seek.
Now I beg your power on loan
Though i may be weak"
"That barely rhymed," Greeb mumbled, but still watched the stone with rapture.
As gladys finished her spell the pendant began to sway, though it had been dead still before, even despite Dogsnob's shivering. It was only a small movement at first but after a few moments and the far off chiming of bells, it sped up, lazily swinging in a circle, then into a distinct triangular shape. It reached the peak of its swing in three different spots, each over a specific location on the map.
At the beginning of its rotation it stalled over The Calligula Batiste high school, whose mascot was a frog with tiny feet. It was only about five miles away from their home and was slightly run down despite being halfway into the rich neighborhoods. None of the three in the kitchen had ever gone to school there but Dogsnob at least was aware it existed before the moment the pendant pendulum had pinpointed it. The gooey creature hadn't had much patience for anyone under college age and Gladys was a dog so neither of them had any particular interest in discovering human high schools.
The man was surprised when he asked about it how many people didn't even know there was such a school in the city. Public records were sparse if not non existent in regards to achievements and events in relation to the school. It reminded the toymaker of forgotten errands and people on the street who tried to get you to sign up for things and how you had to ignore them with a stern "no thank you" and forget about them a moment later.
Next was the "Great Mall" shopping center, the 1,508th largest mall in the country, known for its lavish parking garage. It was a very popular place during the day, which made it all the more eerie during the night when all the people were gone. There were whispers of a society of vagrants that lived in the highest floor of the parking garage, which was always empty considering how much of a waste of gas it would be to park all the way up at the top. Dogsnob knew better, he had went up the elevator as far as it would go and hiked the rest of the way to the final floor. He had arrived just in time for the the sun to lay shadows over the city, he cried a little at how lovely it all was and how frightening it was to be up so high.
Finally was there was the abandoned circus grounds, a place rife with mystery and forgotten curiosities, not to mention the rumoured about evil spirits.
"Oooh the fairgrounds?" Dogsnob whispered, the glow from the rotating light threw shadows all about his angled face. "I've only ever been there once before."
"Really? What happened?" Greeb asked, also in a whisper as light filtered through its slightly opaque body, the light shone onto the wood behind it as if through a prism. Greeb had never bothered with the (fair)grounds before, more concerned with the people, no point in going somewhere abandoned. Maybe not so abandoned after all.
"..." The man sat in poignant silence for a moment, gazing at the swirling pendant with his good eye. The blob and the dog leaned in unconsciously.
"Nothing," he piped anticlimactically, leading Gladys to sag slightly with disappointment. "It was quite spooky though what with that big, empty tent and rides."
Just as greeb sighed out a huff of laughter, the light returned to the room and the pendulum slowed to an eventual stop. The creature felt as if a noise that had been clanging in the back of its awareness had finally stopped and ushered in the tethers of a headache, one that its human companion seemed to share as he rubbed at his temples with his thumbs. A short bark made the blob remove it's delicately formed hands from its eyes, trailing strings of goo.
Gladys looked restless, she scratched at the floor and turned in circles multiple times snuffling and whining while she apparently talked to Dogsnob. Greeb had always been proud of its friend's abilities, though it very much doubted they were supernaturally driven; after all, communication between humans was mostly non-verbal cues anyway, his friend was most likely just very well attuned to the body language of dogs.
"She says we have to go the school first... Erm, why there first miss Gladys?" The human asked before nodding sagely. "Because the magical signature is strongest."
The real reason was that it was the closest to their current location, but she wasn't about to tell anyone that. What kind of mage would she be if she didn't give everything an arbitrary meaning with manufactured substance. Then again, assigning random importance often worked in her advantage when she wanted something from a non-magical person, particularly when she wanted to get something over with. She scooted the rusty kettle off of the corner of the map, allowing the freed bit to curl towards the other three corners. The man scooped up the carnival glass pitcher before she could tip it over with her nose, which she thought was a shame; it would look much better in pieces.
"I didn't even know there was a school around here, shows how much our society values the education of the youths," Greeb huffed out.
"It's been here for at least a decade and we've walked by it several times,"The man pointed out.
"Ah, well," Greeb waved him off. "What's important right now is getting there."
A muffled noise from behind them drew their gaze as they saw the dog shoving the large bag out of the room and out of their sight into the front hall. Dogsnob peeked around the corner to see if the bag would shrink to fit on her back, but what he saw was an empty front hall, no obtrusive yellow bag in sight.
"Where has your pack gone?" Greeb asked from right behind him. The dog simply sneezed and ignored them, trotting to the door.
The man sighed and made his way upstairs to change back into his good shoes. Maybe he could find his spare hat.
and that concludes what ive written so far, if theres any interest i may keep writing.