Dr Gnome by A.M. Burns
A soft knock drew Alchemy’s attention to the door. Room service was prompt; he’d barely had time to hang up his jacket after Gavin and Staghorn left. He strode across the floor and opened the door. The beautiful brownie from reception had her drink cart again. This time she only had a few bottles there.
She smiled at him. “I understand you require a nightcap Master Pond.”
Alchemy gestured for her to come in. “That I do.” He returned her smile.
The cart crossed the threshold and stopped just inside the door. “Dwarven Ale Firtiatini shaken, not stirred?” she asked, uncorking the jug of Dwarven Ale.
“But of course.” Alchemy walked over to the small fire place next to the bedroom door. A small pile of wood sat on the grate waiting for a flame. Not bothering to take out his wand, the wizard gathered up a small bit of magical energy from the world around him. “Spark” he pointed into the fireplace. A small ball of flame flew from his fingertip to the waiting wood. The magic fire covered the wood and with a whoosh, a blaze started. Alchemy sat down in front of the fire. “Why don’t you fix yourself something too?” he called to the brownie.
“If you don’t mind,” she replied demurely.
Alchemy shifted to pull his tunic free of his pants. “Oh, I don’t mind.”
“So do you really think there’s something out there near that waterhole?” Gavin asked Staghorn as they walked up to the front door of the ursa’s cabin in the woods.
The big man opened the door. “I can’t say as I’ve seen anything out there that screams gnome to me. But they are getting better at hiding their activity.”
Something moved in the darkness of the cabin. “Look out!” Gavin shouted, shoving the ursa to the side. Something flashed in front of them, with a stink of sulfur a blast filled the small room. Something struck the doorframe sending splinters flying. Gavin pulled his sword and wished he could see in the dark. Nearby Staghhorn groaned. An uneasy quiet settled on the room as the elf waited for their ambusher to make the next move. He flinched as a hairy hand touched his arm. Staghorn patted him affectionately, silently letting the warrior know he was alright.
Someone ran for the back room. The crash of glass breaking came from that direction.
“Check outside,” Staghorn said as he lumbered into the darkness.
Gavin ran out and around the cabin, sword held before him. Outside the moon and stars provided more light than the inside of the cabin. The thick jungle came within feet of the home’s walls. Shadows lay heavy. He wished Alchemy were there with a bit of magic light. Movement just off to his right, Gavin dropped to the ground. Another blast shook the forest. Something whizzed past he head and slammed into the cabin’s side.
A short shadow ran from the sheltering darkness at the base of a large tree. Gavin charged after it. Within feet of the tiny clearing, the jungle closed in on him, slowing his advance. He hacked at the vines with his sword. Whatever he was after was smaller than he and easily navigated through the dense undergrowth.
The roar of an angry usra tore through the jungle night. Something crashed. It sounded like the window again. Gavin ran back toward the cabin. Something was running toward him. It was definitely smaller than Staghorn. The elf caught a glimpse of the short shadow crossing the clearing. He launched himself at the thing. The unique spicy smell of goblin filled his nose as he tackled the intruder. His sword fell from his hands as they tumbled to the ground. The goblin struggled in his arms. Sharp pointed teeth clamped down on his hand as he sought to get a better hold on the thing.
“Son of a bitch!” Gavin swore yanking his hand away. He wished he had his sword. He could knock the squirming little creature in the head. The goblin kicked hard, catching the elf in the groin. Pain shot through the warrior and he doubled over, releasing the goblin.
“Oh no you don’t!” Staghorn’s voice boomed across the clearing.
Trying to see through watering eyes, Gavin couldn’t tell what happened. He heard the goblin scream, the ursa cussed, then something crashed into a nearby tree. Seconds later large loving hands lifted Gavin up.
“You okay?” Staghorn asked, soft concern weighed in his voice.
“I will be in a couple,” Gavin said weakly.
Staghorn placed a soft kiss on Gavin’s forehead. “No fun tonight I guess.”
“At least not for a few hours,” the warrior moaned.
The big ursa gently patted the elf on the shoulder before he walked over to where the goblin lay crumpled on the ground. “It doesn’t look like we’re going to be getting anything out of this one.”
Gavin staggered over. “It’s okay, Buck. Let’s go in and see if we can figure what they were after.”
After Staghorn had the sconces lit, they saw that the inside of the cabin was a disaster. The goblins had obviously been after something. Staghorn went over to the large log that served as an end table for his couch. He tapped a pattern on the bark and a hidden compartment popped open.
“At least they didn’t find this,” he grumbled as he closed the compartment.
“They must’ve been looking for proof you’re working with the humans,” Gavin said, putting the couch cushions right before easing himself down onto them.
“Well, I guess we’re lucky that goblin’s aren’t very good at being sneaky,” Staghorn muttered as he headed for the bedroom.
“Bloody hell! They tore up the bed!” the ursa roared from the other room.
“Then I guess we’re just going to have to use mine tonight,” Gavin called out.
The ursa reappeared in the doorway. “I’ll be a bit cramped, but that’s okay. We got another one of these to add to our collection.” He held up an exploding rod.
Gavin shook his head. “As if we needed anymore evidence there are gnomes involved.” He reached out and caught the wooden handled rod when Staghorn tossed it to him. The craftsmanship matched the one he’d found earlier, where Alchemy fought the trolls. He wondered why the gnomes were using goblins as front men and why did they want to stop the human’s from using firebirds to augment their communications network?
His mini magic mirror beeped again, forcing Alchemy out of sleep. He grabbed the mirror off his nightstand and muffled the beeping in his hand. Glancing back over at the bed, he made sure that the brownie woman, Gatta Bagnato, was still sound alseep. She’d proved surprising agile in bed. He promised himself to sample more brownies when he had the chance.
Moving quietly, he went into the front room before opening the mirror. He stood near the dying fire, to keep his naked flesh warm.
“Pond, are you there?” K’s voice came through the fog of the mirror.
“Yes K, I’m here.”
“I need a progress report,” she sounded irritated.
“We have a name, Doctor Gnome. The goblins keep dying before we can get much out of them.” He ran a hand through his sleep ruffled brown hair.
“I’ll have intelligence see what they can find on Doctor Gnome. Let me know the minute you have anything else. The humans are getting antsy.” The swirling smoke died away as K killed the connection on her end.
Alchemy sighed as he closed the mirror. He walked back to the bedroom. Gatta sat up in the bed as he came in.
“Is something wrong?” she asked sleepily.
Alchemy shook his head as he set the mirror back on the nightstand. “Nothing a little more time with you won’t resolve,” he replied in a low tone as he slid back under the covers and took her lithe form into his strong arms.
“You know you’re in very good shape for a wizard,” she laughed between his kisses.
He chuckled, “So I’ve been told.” He forced her back down onto the bed.