Candygram for Bogroll
Bogroll the Twoll examined his ticket for the thousandth time. It’d been five turns since he’d worked up the courage to ask what it said. While many of the units milling about the City of Heroes could read Language, asking one of them never occurred to Bogroll, so he had queued up at one of the offices that served as service centers and gateways into the Inner City.
Bogroll had been waiting in the Outer City for over two thousand turns (although he had no way to keep track of time, even if he could have counted that high). When he first arrived, the archon at the gate had given him the ticket and told him that, due to his heroic sacrifice, he’d been granted access to the Inner City. However, when he presented his ticket at the box office, the customer service representative had asked him to wait until his “special present” had been delivered. Bogroll had been so excited that he’d forgotten to ask what the present was. No one had ever given him a gift before.
Directly in front of Bogroll was a chatty Gump named Forrest. Most of the trees that the Twoll had known on Erf had been silent, so Bogroll wondered what made this Gump different. He had once tried to ask Forrest about it, but the Gump’s ceaseless chatter made it impossible for him to get a word in edgewise. Thankfully, Forrest had reached the front of the line and was now speaking to the attendant, a creature that appeared to be some type of metal golem.
“I’m looking for an Archon named Jenny.”
The golem, although lacking the ability to alter its expression, somehow managed to look annoyed at the question.
“There are thirty-seven Archons in this district alone named Jenny. You’ll have to be more specific.”
The Gump scratched the top of its trunk with a long, branchlike appendage.
“Well, she’s pretty, and has long hair, and…”
The talking golem cut Forrest off mid-sentence.
“I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to help you, sir. Next, please.”
The Gump stared open-mouthed for a few moments before sadly turning to Bogroll.
“I guess this is it, friend. As my ruler always said, ‘life is like popping casters. You never know what you’re gonna get.’”
Bogroll was secretly glad when Forrest left. He stepped up to the counter and presented his ticket.
“Could you read this for me, lud?”
The golem sighed and took the ticket from Bogroll’s outstretched hand.
“Can I read your ticket? Really? Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and what jobs do they give me? Nothing that takes more than a grillionth of my processing power. Yes, of course I can read your ticket.”
Bogroll smiled hopefully. “What does it say, please?”
The metallic being began to read the ticket out loud in a tired voice.
“Good for unlimited admittance for one to the Eternal Concert in the City of Heroes (Inner City). No refunds, transfers, or deferments. What’s this now? See file for special dispensation? Great, now I have to get your file. Name, rank, and side please.”
The Twoll drew himself up to his full height and attempted to suck in his gut.
“Bogroll, m’lud! Lackey to Lord Parson, chief warlord of Gobwin Knob.”
The golem turned away from the desk and limped over to a small filing cabinet in the corner of the box office. He leaned over it and repeated Bogroll’s details out loud, and then pulled on the top drawer. It slid out a couple centimeters before jamming.
Bogroll waited patiently while the attendant swore at, kicked, and coaxed the filing cabinet. He repeated the strange words in his head over and over: “special dispensation”. He wondered what it meant.
The metal unit finally got the filing cabinet to open all the way and pulled out a single folder. He brought the folder back to the counter and opened it. Inside was a jumble of papers, but the attendant didn’t seem to have any problems making sense of the pile.
“Let’s see now. Cause of death, check. Total Score, check. Life story…”
The attendant looked the Twoll up and down. For a brief moment Bogroll thought he felt some sort of connection with the other unit.
“If I were capable of empathy, you would be the only unit I’ve ever met that’s come close to deserving it. But thankfully, I am not. I mean, what good is empathy for others, especially since others don’t seem to have any for me. And me with this terrible…”
“What about the ‘special dispensation’?” Bogroll interrupted. He surprised himself by pronouncing the words correctly.
The golem looked back down to the mess of paper for a moment.
“Hmmm, just as I thought - there’s been a boop-up. You were supposed to receive a special treat when you arrived at the City of Heroes. Unfortunately, there was a system glitch and it was never delivered. Let me get someone on the horn.”
The attendant leaned over and murmured into a brass tube fitted to the left of the box office window. After a few moments a female voice responded through the tube, but it was too soft for Bogroll to make out the individual words. The golem then handed the Twoll his ticket back.
“Mr. Bogroll, if you’ll wait over there on one of those benches, someone will be with you shortly. Remember, when you choose to redeem your ticket for entry to the Eternal Concert, no outside food or drink is allowed. Next, please.”
Bogroll slumped down on an uncomfortable looking metal bench with a grateful sigh. After five turns of standing in line, it was nice to rest his legs for a bit. There was a smattering of units occupying the row of benches, mostly important looking warlords. The Twoll felt a little out of place for a moment before remembering that he had personally croaked Ansom at the Battle for Gobwin Knob. He sat up a little straighter.
Over the course of the next hour or so, several archons flew up to deliver packages to those waiting on the bleachers or guide them elsewhere. An almost equal number of new faces appeared during the same time. Bogroll was just starting to wonder when his turn would come when he heard gasps, cheers, and wolf-whistles coming from his right. Flying towards him was one of the highest ranked servants of the Titans – an Archarchon.
From the distance she appeared as a blinding blue-white haze, but as she flew closer Bogroll was able to make out her features. Her face and figure were similar to those of a normal Archon, although possibly even more attractive. But it wasn’t the Archarchon’s beauty that captivated the Twoll, it was her wings. They were clearly ornamental, being far too delicate to support actual weight, and a soft rain of magical sparkles fell to the ground beneath her. Units vied with each other to place themselves in her wake, for where the sparkles landed there was joy unspeakable. Bogroll wondered what was in the box she carried as she flew toward the box office.
The beautiful lady descended through the open roof of the office until she disappeared from sight. There was discontent among the assembled units until she emerged a few moments later from a side door. A crowd instantly formed around her, but she ignored the assembly and walked right up to Bogroll.
“Are you Bogroll? THE Bogroll?”
Bogroll sprang to his feet at attention, wondering if it was appropriate to salute or not.
“Oh my Titans, it’s really you! My name is Gabrielle. When I heard that there had been a mix-up with your prize I couldn’t believe my ears, so I decided to check it out myself. I’m so sorry about you having to wait for….”
Gabrielle checked a piece of paper that sat on the top of the box (which Bogroll could now see was a large covered dish) she was still carrying.
“Two thousand turns! How is it that you’ve been wandering around here all this time? You’re a hero! Your name is up on the big board!”
Without waiting for a response, the radiant creature shifted the dish into her left hand, reached into a pouch resting on her right hip, and pulled out a slip of paper.
“When you get into the Inner City, and the Eternal Concert’s on break, give this to one of the doormen.”
Bogroll took the piece of paper and tucked it into his hand with his other ticket. This time, he managed to remember to ask what the paper did.
“What is this for, m’lady?”
“It’s a backstage pass to meet the Titans.”
“Can I ask them questions?” Bogroll asked, thinking back to the Battle of Gobwin Knob. He had no way of knowing if croaking Ansom had actually saved Lord Hamster’s life.
The Archarchon looked at him knowingly.
“Not about Erfworld, or anything like that. They mostly like to talk about music. But don’t be sad, I can see the question burning in your mind. The one thing you wanted most when you were alive, isn’t it? To save your master’s life? You succeeded.”
A single tear streamed out of Bogroll’ eye and down his nose. If the box hadn’t been in the way, he would have given Gabrielle an enormous hug, servant of the Titan’s or not.
“Oh thank you! Thank you m’lady! I'm so happy!”
Gabrielle smirked and held the box in her hands up a little higher.
“I’m about to make you even happier. Do you know what’s in here?”
Bogroll shook his head.
“Then I guess I’ll just have to show you.”
With a flourish, the Archarchon pulled the lid off the dish, revealing an elaborately decorated strawberry cake.
“This is for you – savor each bite knowing that the Titans reward the faithful. Now, allow me to escort you to the Inner City; it’s high time that you experienced the Eternal Concert.”
“But that metal golem told me no outside food or drink was allowed in.”
Gabrielle leaned in close and gave Bogroll a peck on the cheek.
“I think we can bend the rules, just this once. Now come on, let’s rock.”
***Special thanks to Noip for his outstanding portrait of Bogroll***
(Note: writer received 40 Shmuckers and artist received 25 Shmuckers for this post. -Rob)
Aww man, this is a fanfic? The writing was so good, I thought it was by Rob himself! I was so excited to be learning something about the City of Heroes!
Don't take my disappointment personally, though--it was a really well-done piece. Made me tear up a little bit. A perfect send-off for everyone's favorite twoll. Thank you for sharing this!
It reminds me of a picture of Bogroll and a cake that I drew a few years back. My picture had a bit of a different ending though...
Wonderful! So many little touches make it all the better -- especially that the jokes don't stop, even in the afterlife. (I can see how Marvin could empathize with an eternally degraded lackey.) Most of all, Bogroll is so humble from start to finish that his happiness feels all the more tender and beautiful. That face, that elegantly-presented reward -- so nice.
Great work, both of you!