“So, my great wizard,” Dolce smiled at Alchemy as they toweled each other off, “how do you propose to get us out of here?”
Alchemy stopped rubbing the soft white towel over her long violet hair. “I’m working on that. It depends a lot on what Doctor Gnome does. I’m curious to meet the man. He appears to have a most ingenious mind.”
Dolce shivered under the wizard’s hands. “I’ve never liked gnomes. There’s something about them. All short, they always smell of grease and oil. They seem to have an aversion to the natural world.” She gestured to the cold metal tables and chairs in the room with them. “What’s wrong with real wood? They have to work so much harder to make the metal. And where are the plants? I know we’re deep inside Manticore Hill, but there should be some kind of plants, just to make the air better.”
“You sound like my boss,” Alchemy chuckled pulling the elf woman close to him. “She’s worried that the gnome’s are trying to force their mechanical ways on the world.” He gently kissed her forehead as he glanced around the room. “I think she may be right.”
A large carafe of tea sat steaming on a nearby table.
“I wonder when that arrived?” Alchemy asked as he released Dolce with a soft kiss and walked over to it. He sniffed the vapors rising from it. “Smells like a berry blend, possibly some dandelion in it.” He turned back to Dolce. “Would you like some? It might help us relax a bit.” She nodded, but her smile was tight.
Two porcelain tea cups sat by the container, on a small metal try with a bowl of sugar. He smiled at her, trying to ease some of her fears the way she’d helped ease some of the tensions in his body, back in the bathing chamber. She’d proved most skilled with her mouth and her body. The wizard wondered what it would take to have her in his bed for the rest of his stay in Buteamore.
“Would you like some sugar with your tea, my dear?” Alchemy asked as he filled the two cups with the steaming warm liquid.
She reached for her cup. “Let me sip it first.” She swallowed a bit of the brew, then nodded. “A little please.”
Alchemy took a long sip of his tea before reaching for the sugar. It was just the way he liked it. He spooned out a little sugar for her, then after a sip she nodded slightly. He took her elbow and led her over to the couch.
“Let’s relax a bit while we wait for dinner with the good Doctor,” he suggested.
The shattering of the second tea cup on the metal floor, alerted Blica Butuna that the sedative in the tea had done its job. The dark haired gnome motioned to the troll behind her to follow. The lumbering oath fell into step as she turned the corner in the hallway and headed toward the door to the elves’ room.
Shards of porcelain lay in front of the couch where the two elves slumped. The gnome “tisked” and motioned for the troll to stop. She should have thought of it before. She turned, walked out into the hall and called for a maid. Returning to the troll and elves, she frowned.
“Why did these things always cause a mess?” she thought to herself. Being a gnome she was used to a mess, but disliked cleaning up after other people.
“Do the woman first,” she instructed the troll. Not for the first time she wished that her stature wasn’t so diminutive, or that other creatures were smaller. Having the use the trolls as hired muscle irritated her, but the lesser races had to be good for something.
“Where?” the troll asked, a deep line furrowed his mottled brown brow.
“Carry her to the bedroom,” Blica commanded. “Put her in the bed. To one side so you can get the male in the other.” She shook her head, she hated having to spell things out so explicitly.
The elf woman nearly disappeared against the massive bulk of the troll. Blica followed and watched as he placed her on the far side of the bed. She stepped out of the troll’s way when he came back through the doorway.
“Now the man,” she ordered, not bothering to move back into the main room. She could see what the troll was doing just fine from where she was.
As the troll settled the elf into the bed, the outer door of the suite opened.
“It’s over there in front of the couch,” Blica ordered, expecting it to be the maid she’d called for. She had no idea what had kept the little goblin woman.
“I know where the cups crashed,” the high, distinguished voice of Doctor Gnome answered her. “Where is the wizard?”
Blica paled. “He’s in here, sir.” She pointed into the bedroom. “We were just getting them settled as you instructed.”
Doctor Gnome walked past the couch and the shattered tea cups on the hard floor. “So my potion worked on elves. They should be out for several hours.” His shiny metal ears swiveled just a bit as he strolled over to the bed. “It’s amazing that they still believe in magic, when the forces of science are obviously so much more powerful.”
Blica wanted to leave the room, the Doctor’s pale green skin made her shiver, and his metallic ears. She’d often wondered how, even with the wonders of gnome-made technology he could stand to have the cold things on the side of his head. He was one of the most brilliant minds in their world, but his mixed heritage gave her a shudder.
“So Blica,” the Doctor turned his attention from the bed to her. “Any problems?”
“No sir,” she replied, forcing herself not to avert her eyes from his dark-green gaze. “It was almost as if he wanted to be captured.”
Doctor Gnome chuckled, a strange noise not quite a deep gnome laugh, and just shy of a goblin snicker. “Of course he wanted to be captured. Mister Pond wanted to be inside the hill so he could figure out what I’m doing in here. He’s too intelligent to think he could sneak in. Even with his deplorable magic, he’d still stick out, like an elf at a gnome party.” The genius turned to leave the room. “Make sure that they have appropriate clothing when they wake. I wouldn’t want them showing up for dinner underdressed.”
“Of course sir,” Blica replied. “I’ll get the maids on it immediately.”
The strange metal ears caught the light as he shook his head. “Not the maids, Blica. You handle getting it done. You’ll do a better job of it.”
The gnome’s heart sank. “Yes sir.”
The door opened before Doctor Gnome could touch the handle. The little goblin maid was there with her bucket and towels. The Doctor didn’t appear to notice her as she had to stop suddenly to avoid rushing into him. The little woman’s green face paled, and her ears drooped in fear, but Gnome didn’t even pause in his exit.
“It’s over there in front of the couch,” Blica instructed the maid as she followed the mastermind out. She hoped they’d have something back in the storeroom in the right sizes for the elves. She wasn’t sure, even using the new sewing contraptions; she’d be able to get her women to crank out something to fit them in a couple of hours.