Dr. Gnome part 25

16

The dark-haired Gnome led them down a long shiny metal hallway. Alchemy watched the amazing number of people moving along the underground path. He recognized most of the races there, but there were a few he didn’t. A short man with dark skin and a large bulbous nose, had the basic build of a dwarf, but was like no dwarf he’d ever seen before. Some kind of tall insectoid with bright yellow strips along it barrel-shaped tail scurried along with a flat piece of metal like the Gnome woman carried.

The hall opened up into a large metal cavern, it looked more like an expensive inn than a cavern deep inside a hill. Another Gnome, that could have been the sister of the first, scurried up to the dark harried one.

“Mistress, the suite is prepared,” the newcomer announced.

“Very good,” the other Gnome said. “Mister Pond, you rooms are ready.”

“This is a very extensive complex you have down here,” Alchemy observed as they started off down another corridor. “I wasn’t aware that Gnomes were this industrious.”

“Doctor Gnome is of a very advanced mindset,” she replied stopping at the first door they came to in the new hallway. “But you will discover the genius of the doctor when you dine with him this evening.”

She opened the door to a suite that was larger than the small cottage Alchemy lived in back in Salmania. Thick black carpet covered the floors, a small fire blazed in the center of the far wall. Dolce` gasped as they walked in.

“Please make yourselves comfortable,” the Gnome woman said, not moving from the door once the Elves walked in. “I’ll return in a few hours to escort you to dinner. The maids have drawn baths for you both so that you may wash off the jungle filth.” She turned and closed the door, leaving the two Elves by themselves.

As the door closed, Dolce` threw herself into Alchemy’s arms. “Gnomes as such hideous creatures.”

Alchemy ran his hands down the long silky violet hair. He sighed at the feeling of her in his arms. Her firm body played well under his hands, even through the thick fluffy robes they wore.

“I’ll get you out of this, Dolce`, I promise,” he soothed into her hair. With each breath he took the soft musky floral scent of it filled him. It was a very intoxicating aroma. He wanted to take her to Lady Kamala and see if the mistress of the Fragrance Guild could duplicate it.

“But how?” Dolce` whimpered into Alchemy’s shoulder. “We are deep under the hill, and surrounded by all these awful creatures. Can’t you feel the earth pressing down on you? Elves aren’t meant to be underground. We are creatures of the green and the air.”

Alchemy recognized the growing panic in the woman’s voice. “We must meet with Doctor Gnome, then I will get us out of here. Get you back to the safety of the green above.” He put his hand gently under her chin as lifted her mouth to his. Her kiss was as sweet as her hair. He wanted more. She molded herself to his body. It may have just been the excitement and the danger they faced, but Alchemy knew she wanted him as badly as he wanted her.

He pulled away from her lips. “My dear, why don’t we go enjoy the baths they so graciously prepared for us. Clean warm water will help you relax.”

Dolce` smiled weakly. “As long as you stay at my side.”

“Of course,” Alchemy said as he claimed her hand. “It will take more than maniacal Gnomes to separate us.”

In the bathing chamber two large tubs waited, water still steaming in them. Alchemy gently lifted Dolce’s robe off and hung it over the back of a chair near the wall of the small room. He helped her into the tub.

“Here, let me rub your shoulders while you soak,” he said as she settled her lithe body into the water.

She looked back over her shoulder. “You know, there’s enough room in here for both of us.”

“Are you sure?”

Nimble hands reached up for the belt of his robe and slid it open. She pushed the robe away and took him gently in her hand and pulled him closer to the water. Alchemy’s heart beat faster as she smiled at him.

“Of course I’m sure,” she replied right before her mouth closed around him.

***

Dr Gnome part 24

So after a couple of really busy weeks, here’s another installment of Dr. Gnome.

***

Several Gnomes appeared as the Trolls extracted the two Elves from the net. Alchemy watched one of the Gnomes, a woman with short black hair, nervously tapping the rectangular piece of metal she held. The sound of her nails on the metallic surface rang through the chamber. When they were finally freed of the net, it managed to catch on every buckle, button and even ear on each Elf, she stepped forward trying not to look at the Trolls looming over them.

“Mister Pond, we’ve been expecting you for some time now,” her high voice rang out. “If you would please follow me, we need to get you processed.”

Alchemy raised an eyebrow. “You’ve been expecting me?”

Her large round ears swiveled unnervingly toward them asthe Gnome paused in her turn away from them. She looked over her shoulder at him. “You, but not the woman.” She gestured at Dolce`.

“We come as a package,” Alchemy smiled at her as he put his arm protectively around Dolce` delicate waist. The Elf woman didn’t resist, and plastered herself to his side.

“So we noticed,” the Gnome sneered and resumed her march across the chamber. “First we must make sure that you are free of any magical contamination.”

“Any what?” Alchemy asked, well aware of the Trolls close behind them as they followed the Gnome.

“Magical contamination,” the woman repeated as they reached a door at the far side of the chamber. “Unfortunately we Gnomes are very susceptible to magic, so we must make sure that you are not exposing us to any.”

Alchemy wished he hadn’t lost his wand. “Magic isn’t something that can contaminate people. It’s all around us. It’s part of the force that binds the world together.”

The Gnome snorted in disbelief. “That is what you Elves are always telling everyone. Gnomes get by just fine without magic. We remove it from the world whenever we can.”

Alchemy wanted to come back with a sharp retort about that was why the Fragrance Guild viewed the Gnomes as a threat, but kept his mouth shut as they entered a brightly lit hallway. He wanted to find out more about the operation here inside Manticore Hill, and he wouldn’t do that by irritating their host. Better to try charm.

“It looks like you’ve made some recent advancements,” he said, looking at the flameless lights running along the ceiling of the hallways.

“Doctor Gnome is a brilliant man,” she replied without stopping. “You’ll see many things here that you’ve never even dreamed of.” She paused at the large looming metal door that covered the end of the hallway.

***

The Gnome woman led them through the doorway into a metal room. The Trolls didn’t follow. Several other Gnomes occupied a series of tables and benches. They looked up. Their large round eyes grew bigger at the sight of the two Elves in their midst. They all wore matching white coats that covered their tiny frames. All the Gnomes appeared female. Alchemy wasn’t an expert in Gnome physiology, but most of the Gnome men he’d met had larger noses than the ones he faced. Several of them also had tiny round earrings in their large lobes. The men tended toward more exaggerated decorations. The Gnome who led them to the room walked over to the nearest table and laid the piece of metal she carried on it. Alchemy noticed a piece of paper on the metal just as another gnome picked it up.

“If you would please remove your clothes,” the dark haired Gnome woman said, walking toward them.

“You know this jacket cost me a lot,” Alchemy objected with a smile.

The Gnome woman looked up at him with an intensity in her black eyes that made him pause.  “Mister Pond, you are a guest here in name only. If you anger me, or anyone working for Doctor Gnome, we are authorized to kill you.” Then she turned her attention to Dolce` who clung to the wizard’s arm in alarm. “Or perhaps harming the woman would be more effective. Now please, remove your clothes. They will be decontaminated from any exposure to magic and you may reclaim them when you leave.”

Alchemy patted Dolce`’s hand. “I think we better do as she request my dear.”

He pulled off his coat carefully and folded it so that it would be small enough that the Gnome who stepped up to take it from him wouldn’t drag it on the floor. As he pulled off his trousers, a gasp sounded from the Gnomes gathered around. Alchemy couldn’t help but smile. He was used to pleasing women of many species, but this was the first time he’d gotten a gasp from a room full of Gnomes. Other than the smile he didn’t acknowledge their reaction, but turned to look at Dolce`.

The wizard wanted, more than ever, to sweep the comely Elf off her feet and carry her to the nearest bed. Her body cried out for his attentions. There was something about the way her breasts perked up in the chill of the underground room that caught his eye. Without clothes, the paler parts of her body had a more pronounced faint-violet cast to them than he noticed outside. He wanted to wrap her in his arms and make her warm. Protect her from harm, while at the same time claiming her for his own.

“This way,” the Gnome woman ordered and walked toward a strange brass contraption hanging on the wall. A number of gears and dials covered the outside of the thing. The Gnome reached into the contraption and pulled out a long tube made of some kind of metal and cloth, the cloth part extended toward them, while the metal covered the end. She turned two of the dials then stepped toward Dolce`.

“Please don’t hurt me,” Dolce` said, covering her upturned breasts with her arm.

“I won’t hurt you my dear,” the high voice replied. “We just have to make sure that there is no magical residue on you.”

Dolce` glared down at the smaller woman. “He’s the wizard, not me.”

“You’ve spent time with him,” the Gnome sneered. “You could have magic on you. We can’t be too careful.” She waved the strange tube around the shaking Elf woman. Some lights sparkled on the wall. The Gnome woman frowned and shook her head.

“You are acceptable. Please go wait over there while I deal with Mister Pond.” She gestured to the other side of the room where another Gnome from the group at the tables waited, holding a bundle of brown cloth.

“Now Mister Pond, if you would please step closer,” the Gnome leered at Alchemy.

He took a couple of steps toward the machine. The thing emitted a strange energy. He noticed it when the diminutive woman passed it over Dolce`, but as he got closer it became more obvious to him. The energy was something he’d never encountered before. The contraption was obviously Gnome made.

As the woman passed the tube near him, the energy pulsed strongly. Then a loud clanging noise sounded from the contraption. The Gnome smiled at him.

“Just as I suspected,” she sneered.

“What do you mean?” Alchemy asked, as strange apprehension building in his gut.

“You’re need to be cleansed,” the Gnome smiled.

“What does that mean?”

The woman ignored him. “Step over here, Mister Pond.” She walked over to a large metal grate in the floor. It looked like a sewer grate. She reached up and placed her cold hands on his hips positioning him in the middle of the grate. “Now stand perfectly still.”

She stepped back away from him with a leering smile on her tiny face. Had she been a goblin, pointy little teeth would have been showing, and her ears would have been flopping. Something told Alchemy he wasn’t going to enjoy this.

Without warning, a cold thick fluid washed over him. It stank. Alchemy didn’t recognize the smell, but it was awful. Gagging as the fluid poured down over his head, into his long blonde hair, across his shoulders and down his well sculpted chest, he managed to close his eyes just in time to prevent the fluid from getting in them. He shivered as the last of the gunk passed between his toes and into the grate.

“You’re not done yet, Mister Pond.” The Gnome’s high voice said before he could open his eyes.

Water, colder than the fluid, poured down from above. The deluge lasted longer than the fluid had, leaving the Elf shaking from the cold. When the water ended, he carefully opened his eyes. Dolce` stood where she’d been, but now she was clothed in a thick brown robe.

“Come back over here if you would please, Mister Pond,” the Gnome demanded as she walked back to the fabric and metal tube. Alchemy followed her and stood there shivering as she passed the tube around him again. She frowned when a light blinked on the panel, but no alarm sounded.

“So, it appears I’m now clear?” Alchemy said cheerfully as the Gnome slide the tube back into the contraption it extended from.

The tiny woman sighed. “It appears so. It’s possible you weren’t as contaminated as we feared.” She raised her brow ridge that passed for eyebrows. “Which is strange, considering you are a wizard. Could it be that you aren’t a very good one? Or maybe Doctor Gnome has improved the cleansing gel.” She walked over to retrieve her metal with the paper on it. “Please, Mister Pond, if you would cover yourself.”

Alchemy walked over to the attendant who held out a folded brown robe that matched Dolce`’s. The strange soft fluffy fabric felt good against his skin. It blocked most of the chill from the underground metal room and soaked up the bit of water left on his skin. Leaning over, the Elf wrung some of the water out of his hair, not bothering to move to the grate, then gracefully stepped over the puddle.

“Now Mister Pond, and woman,” the Gnome began.

“Her name is Dolce`,” Alchemy interrupted her as he pulled the Elf to his side.

“Oh how sweet. So, Mister Pond, if you and Miss Dolce` would please follow me, Doctor Gnome has prepared for you.” She turned and walked toward the door opposite where they’d entered.

Alchemy sighed. “Seems we have no choice.”

“Stay close to me, Alchemy,” Dolce said as they followed the Gnome. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

Part 23

15

As Dolce`’s scream died down, a hot reeking breath blew the back of Alchemy’s blond hair. His heart beat faster, he lunged sideways, grabbing the woman as he dove for the ground. A heavy clawed paw covered in large gray scales landed inches from their rolling forms. An exploding rod blasted above them, the projectile hitting the ground beside the paw. A roar shattered the quiet of the hillside. As they came to a sudden stop against a large boulder, Dolce let out a soft cry of pain.

“Sorry about that,” Alchemy said as he pointed his wand at the monster above him. It towered many feet over the two Elves. Large dark gray scales covered most of its body. It stood on two legs, and looked down at them with hateful red eyes above a mouth full of huge sharp teeth. Its forepaws were little more than stubs, making almost comical grabbing motions. Its large leathery wings were spread in alarm as the Goblin on its back goaded it to press its attack.

“Burn!” Alchemy flicked the wand. The fireball shot out and bounced harmlessly off the monster’s chest. The Goblin astride it laughed.

The wyvern took a clumsy step forward, trying to pin the elves down under one of the massive feet it balanced so precariously on. The monster was made for flying, not walking. Distant cousins of dragons, Alchemy had heard from several reliable sources that they weren’t the most intelligent things around. When it tilted its head to get another snap at them, he saw a strange metal helmet on the thing that had reins running back to the Goblin. Maybe this was how the little green man controlled the great gray beast. As the monster went for them again, Alchemy pointed the wand at the reins. “Cut!”

Nothing happened.

The Goblin laughed. “It’s immune to your magic Elf.” The rider swung something around his head and tossed it toward the boulder where the Elves tried to shelter. A net flared out. Alchemy scrambled to his feet, but he wasn’t fast enough. As the net hit him he lost hold of his wand and it went sliding down the hill. Dolce` screamed again as they became entangled in the strong mesh that felt like some kind of thin metal. Alchemy could only assume it was Gnome made. The Goblin tied the end of a cord attached to the net onto the Wyvern’s saddle.

“Don’t struggle,” Alchemy told Dolce` as he pulled her to him. She only nodded into his chest as the creature hoisted them up into the air with labored wing beats. Alchemy tried to think of what they could do. His wand was gone. Her knife was gone. And his sword was back in the safety of the rocks where he and Staghorn had spent the night. He tried not to think about the Ursa lest tears begin again. He needed to be clear headed if he was going to find a way out of this for him and Dolce`.

***

The wyvern carried them around to the hill’s north face. The manticore colony was thickest there, and a large cave dominated the hillside. The nesting monsters fled the hill for the safety of the air. Below them, Alchemy saw hundreds of young manticores frantically calling for their parents, beating their tiny leathery wings in fear and alarm.

About a dozen Trolls stood just inside the cave entrance with large pikes and maces in their huge mottled-brown hands. Gaslights provided light further into the cavern as the wyvern carried them beyond the area where sunlight reached. The Trolls rushed to keep up with the flying monster and it captured prizes.

Above the clamor, Alchemy heard the Goblin trying to force his mount to land. He untied the cord to the metal net, and the two Elves fell the couple of feet to crash on the cavern’s hard stone floor.

“Are you alright my dear?” Alchemy asked as he started struggling to remove them from the net.

“What do they want with us?” she asked.

“I presume they’re going to take us to Doctor Gnome,” the wizard responded as a Troll pike stuck between the holes in the net, indicating they should be still.

The wyvern roared in anger. Trolls shouted. Goblins screamed. Heavy chains clanked as they brought the great flying lizard down to earth. Alchemy watched as they somehow got large chains attached to the strange helmet of the beast’s head before Trolls forcefully drug it down a shadowed corridor at the far end of the chamber.

Dr Gnome part 22

Wow, it’s been a busy week. Had a novella come rushing forth and demand to be created. Then we set up Mystichawker Press to start doing themed anthologies. See the submissions page to find out more about the two anthologies we’re taking submissions for.

So I finally got back to Dr. Gnome today. I’ve been thinking about Alchemy and the little guy all week and have had several exciting thoughts which you’ll get to see play out over the next week or so. But here’s the latest installment.

***

The sound of sword cleaving bone rang across the hillside. A loud thud shook the mountain as a manticore went down. Another of the beasts bounced off Alchemy’s hastily erected shield. The wizard glanced over his shoulder toward Staghorn. The big Ursa was down. The dead manticore covered the lower half of his body. The Goblin on its back leveled its exploding rod at him.

Alchemy frantically flicked his wand. “Burn!” a huge fireball erupted. It seared across the hillside. A deafening boom from the exploding rod sounded as the fireball engulfed the Goblin’s green head.

“Alchemy, look out!” Dolce` screamed behind him.

The wizard dropped to the hard ground and rolled just as one of the Goblin-ridden manticores avoided his shield and flew at him. He gestured at one of the large boulders nearby and then made a similar looping gesture toward the manticore. “Snare!” This was the first of the beast that flew low enough that the spell might work. A rope formed between the rock and the monster halting the thing in its flight and bringing it down to the ground. With a shudder the manticore died, having broken its neck in the crash. The little green Goblin flew from its back and rolled down the hill.

There were still at least two manticores in the air. They circled high above. Alchemy wanted to run over and check on Staghorn. He resisted. He needed some rest. Too many spells in a short time were starting to weigh on him. Dolce` handed him a water skin.

“Here, you need this.”

The water was warm, but refreshing. After savoring a long drink, while not taking his eyes off the circling manticores, Alchemy handed the skin back to the Elven woman.

“Thanks,” he smiled at her. He wished the Goblins had waited a little longer before starting their attack. With any luck they’d all get out of this with their skins intact and he could explore Dolce` sweets later.

Pointing it straight up, Alchemy flipped his wand around in a tight circle. “Burn!” he tried to visualize the fireball erupting right below the closest manticore. If the magical attack appeared too soon, the beast could easily maneuver away from it. Too close and it wouldn’t do much damage.

The fireball appeared right where he needed it to. The manticore saw it and tried to swing away, but it was close enough that even with the change in course, it still managed to catch the center of the monster’s wing. The beast’s scream was eerie as it plummeted toward the hillside. The Goblin baled off its back, and some kind of strange green cloth bubble carried the little green man slowly toward the ground.

Alchemy wasn’t in the mood to have the little man get away. He pointed his wand at the green bubble. “Burn!” The bubble wasn’t maneuverable like the manticore had been. The fireball struck it. It burst into flames. The Goblin screamed as it fell toward the hard unforgiving ground of Manticore hill.

***

The last Goblin wheeled his manticore and headed for the far side of the hill. The wizard was too powerful. The little green man had lost count of how many of his brethren the Elf had killed since coming to Buteamore. It would take more than Goblins and Manticores to bring him to heel.

On the far side of Manticore Hill, a large cave opened up amidst the nesting monsters. The Goblin turned his mount downward and landed.

“Where are the others?” a Troll asked, coming to take the reins of the manticore.

“The wizard and the Ursa killed them,” the Goblin snarled. “We need something bigger and stronger than manticores and exploding rods!”

“Then take the wyvern,” the irritated voice of Dr. Gnome sounded throughout the cavern.

The Goblin paled to the color of new fern leaves. He looked across the cave to where two massive Trolls struggled to drag an enormous beast out of the shadows.

***

As the last manticore flew off toward the north, Alchemy ran to where Buck Staghorn lay beneath the last monster he’d killed. Part of the Ursa’s large form lay under the manticore’s gore covered body. With the carnage covering so much, it was impossible to see where the fur of the manticore stopped and Staghorn’s began.

“Staghorn are you alright?” Alchemy called, running toward his friend. Dolce` followed a few steps behind.

The big Ursa didn’t respond. Alchemy’s heart raced as he cleared the short distance to the scene on the downward slope. Staghorn’s massive sword stuck out of the neck of the monster. It had cleaved through the head and stopped when it struck the massive shoulder blades. Gore still dripped down from the blade onto the Ursa trapped beneath the carcass. The huge furry chest wasn’t moving. Alchemy knew this wasn’t a good sign. He dropped to his knees beside his friend.

“Buck?!?” he called as he tried to see if the Ursa was breathing.

As he touched the side of Staghorn’s face, the shaggy head rolled with an unnatural jerk. A large hole dominated the other side of the Ursa’s head. Alchmey felt warm tears start to roll down his face. Staghorn had died defending him. He’d never had another person do something so selfless before. How was he going to tell Gavin? His friend had been so happy the last few days, and it was due to the Ursa, that now lay dead, buried under the body of a monster.

A soft hand touched his shoulder. Alchemy turned and looked up into Dolce`’s violet eyes. He knew his own were watery with tears.

“He must have been a good man,” she said softly, running her finger up Alchemy’s face to catch one of his tears. He just nodded as he stood to move away from the carnage.

The sound of an exploding rod, followed by a lead ball bouncing off a boulder next to them turned Alchemy’s attention down the hill. The Goblin rider of the dead manticore stood there frantically pouring something into the rod.

Alchemy grabbed Dolce`’s knife and flung it at the little man. It landed with a satisfying thunk in the bald green head and stuck there.

“I think that’s enough from you,” the scratchy voice of a Goblin said from behind them.

Dolce` screamed before Alchemy could turn around.