One day as I stepped out of work to grab lunch, a hawk swooped down and dropped something in front of me. My first impulse was to move on and let whoever’s job it was clean it up, but I glanced down and saw what appeared to be a mangled carrier pigeon with a message still attached to its leg. Against my better judgment, I carefully detached the scroll – a desperate plea for help from a princess imprisoned in a faraway magical kingdom.
As I read, an old man appeared out of the misty rain behind me. He had long, wild hair and, to put it charitably, smelled like the sea. Cackling madly is probably not the best way to start a conversation with me on the sidewalk, but he stopped me before I could brush by to go wash my hands somewhere. Still chuckling under his breath, he said that fate had chosen me for a noble quest. F*ck.
It got a little better from there, as he promised to help me prepare as best he could. He showed me a map through the demon-infested badlands. With his guidance, I would have to learn to play a special song on a pan-flute to bypass the manticore guardians, and master the wards that could get me close enough to the evil warlock to wrestle away his staff. He could also coach me in remedial gnomish so that I could find supplies and assistance along the way without them totally gouging me on price.
Even so, I had to look elsewhere for other necessary skills. Obviously, I’d have to learn to fight with sword and shield – and stage-fighting wouldn’t cut it, I needed actual death-dealing moves. I thought about bringing a bicycle with me, but what if it were to break down? So add horseback riding to the list. Also lots of cardio.
After more near-death experiences than I like to remember, I finally reached the end of my quest. I’d be lying if I said that, as I climbed the 1,001 steps of the princess’s tower, I wasn’t expecting some boning at the top. But she had a crazy-girl look in her eyes, so I switched a couple digits in the phone number I left her and went back to the office.
On the quiet side. Somewhat peculiar. A good companion, in a weird sort of way. "Hobbes" lives in New York City and works in consulting.
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