Kipster had just returned to Charlescomm after an intelligence gathering mission when he got the call.
He hoped it was another VIP assignment. He was good at those, and proud of his abilities. Even a truly unpleasant employer like the late Princess Imelda of Transylvito couldn't break his self confidence, though she had dented it quite a bit. But that was in the past and most of his clients were-- appreciative. He might not be quite as good as Dimple Chad, whose merest grin, it was said, could render his target totally confused over even the most vital of decisions. But he did well enough. He commanded a high fee and he always brought in bonuses.
The other Archons watched him enviously as he entered the citadel. It was a rare privilege to meet Charlie face to face. Everyone craved it no matter how often he contacted them mentally. Suddenly Kipster thought of the decrypted ones, the lost sisters who now heard the voice of another in their heads. He shuddered as a greater horror than any that Imelda's shoe exercises had ever produced came over him. No, he reassured himself, those sad cases would be redressed. He had faith in Charlie.
He went inside and found himself in a little square room. It held a simple cot, a single battered table, and a rickety chair. Charlie had once claimed that these minimalist surroundings helped him concentrate. The cable of the Arkendish ran in from a tiny square window, otherwise the dingy walls were solid. They were also covered with charcoal drawings and cryptic writing. He didn't try to understand them, it was not for him to fathom Charlie's thoughts.
Charlie himself was sitting crosslegged on the cot holding the end of the cable. He gestured for Kipster to sit, then looked at him with dark, languid eyes. Unable to meet those eyes directly, Kipster stared at the enigmatic, angular symbol nestled between them.
"So, Kippers-on-Toast, what have you learned?" Charlie loved to give nicknames. "Gobwin Knob is still attacking, in spite of losing their turn" answered Kipster. "Yes, i was aware of that." Charlie sighed. "That Jillian. Such a troubled child. She needs to let go of the hangups of the past and let herself be truly loved. But what are the rumors, Kippy?"
"The rumors are all about you, Charlie. You are credited with having a finger in every pie, and a plan for every contingency, even the ones you couldn't possibly know about!" "Those rumors are true-- i know everything. Sometimes i know things even before i know that i know them. Go on." "We-ell, it seems that Gobwin Knob's new super warlord got into the Magic Kingdom somehow. And it seems that there are at least two groups of casters interested in him. And there are people arguing that the casters are either somehow doing this out of fear of you, or that they are somehow being influenced by you."
Charlie smiled. It was a warm, comforting smile and Kipster leaned into it. But it also held danger as did most of Charlie's acts. There was always danger in Charlie's love, but Kipster and all the other Archons accepted that. Charlie took Kipster's face in his hands and kissed him. "You are a good son" he murmured.
"The thing is, i don't have to do anything to influence people. That's because they do fear me. They fear what i know and what i can do. So they have to react. Like this..." He waved a hand, indicating the cramped room. "They think they put me here, that they can know where i am at all times. The fools could never see that they were just following my plan and that this is my own sanctuary!"
Kipster felt more than usually bewildered, but he continued. "Oh, that. Um, there's this other caster and he went to confront the warlord. And the thing is, well. It wasn't just some people saying he must be working for you. There were a few that were even saying it really was you. You know, in the Magic Kingdom. By yourself!"
"Oh, Kipster. Don't you know, the only reason i didn't go to the Magic Kingdom, by myself, is i didn't want to. No one can stop me from being where i want to be. Where was i ten minutes ago? You don't know, you weren't here. For all anyone else knows, i could have been in the Magic Kingdom, teaching the Hippymancers how to really groove. But i wasn't."
He cackled. "They think they can control me. That they've curbed me. Or so they tell themselves! But deep down, they cannot deny that i am the true voice of the An- Titans! And sometimes, when they think i'm here..." He indicated the room again. "I am actually here!" He indicated the room a third time. "Do you understand, Kip-to-My-Lou?" "It's, um, difficult" Kipster stammered. "Well nevermind, you will in time. Everyone will when the Revolution comes at last. And when it does, it's evolve or croak, baby!" His voice dropped to a low hiss. "And that goes for both worlds!"
Kipster closed his eyes, felt all of Erf spinning around him. After a few seconds, or was it hours, he opened them again, and found Charlie watching him. "I think that's enough for today, Kip-o-rama. Put yourself back on the available list."
Kipster stood. "Actually, Charlie, there was one other thing. While i was scouting one time, i spent some time in this one hex on the border between Transylvito and Carpool. Neither side claims it because it would be too hard to defend. But it's got a beautiful beach and some of the gnarliest waves i've ever seen. And if you decide that you want to be, like not here, and be somewhere else by yourself, that would be a good place."
"Kippy, Kippy, Kippy" crooned Charlie. "You know i don't surf!"
Read, like there won't be a movie
Game, like the die rolls don't matter
Filk, like everyone is tone deaf anyway
10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
. . . . . . Dr Pepper
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .4