February 13, 2001
Spring is in the air and an old god's thoughts turn to... - By Excrucior
"Erm, am I interrupting anything here?"
"Hmmm? Oh, hello Nykaul. Not sure what you mean by interrupting," said
Excrucior as he tied the last trailing ribbon to Mank's tail. The Imp merely
scowled back at him, baring his fangs.
"It looks a little... personal..." she noted doubtfully.
"I beg your pardon? I'm just getting him ready for the Valentine's Day
festivities. Don't you think he looks cute?"
"No comment. How did you get roped into this? Romance has never been your
strong point, or so you keep telling everyone."
"Well, we needed a sort of Cupid or Eros figure so some of the coders trawled
through the romantic potential of the various mobs in the game. Unfortunately,
they did that the hour before Mank had a date with Spusty," he explained as he
affixed a tiny pair of wings to Mank's back, "and so we have an Imp in a
"Spusty? Isn't that..."
"Aye, one of Gamina's Impettes. They've been seeing each other for a while
"So, what's he going to be doing? Just flying around and adding to the
atmosphere? He's not very... romantic looking you know. At the end of the day
he's still an Imp."
"Oh, we'll be redoing his description..."
"...temporarily before he does his little routine. If he does it well we put
his own face back afterwards."
"So will he just be levitating around wreathed in clouds?"
"Well, the coders spared a little more time than that. You ready to try out
those wings Mank?" Mank grimaced and wiggled his shoulders
uncomfortably, trying to get used to the balance. Excrucior picked up a small
crystal ball from the table and peered at it for a while before waving a hand
over it. The wings, swanlike but very small, flapped hesitantly at first.
Gaining speed they began to create a downdraft and within seconds Mank rose
from the desk top, his face a picture of panic. He flailed around with his
tail, desperately trying to keep his balance. "Don't overcompensate,"
Excrucior advised as if he knew what he was talking about.
"And we'll have less of that sort of language, there's a lady present. Now
we'll try to move around a bit, slowly at first so I can get a feel for it."
Mank's body tilted slightly and he began to float to one side, his eyes bulging
with fear. "Looks good to me," Excrucior commented to Nykaul.
"Seems like you may need a lot more practice," Nykaul replied as Mank nearly
overbalanced while Excrucior attempted to change course. Within minutes,
however, he had managed to work out the controls to his satisfaction, and he
was even able to fly the Imp backwards at a slow rate.
"Fancy trying a bit more speed there?" asked Excrucior. "You're supposed to be
flitting and darting about like a swallow, from what I've read." Ignoring the
Imp's frightened look, he guided Mank to the far side of the office where he
let him hover for a moment.
"Chitter?" asked Mank, his face draining of color.
"Come on, I know what I'm doing. Now try to look angelic, hmmm?" Excrucior
manipulated the miniature crystal ball again and the wings increased their
flapping. Mank tilted in the air and he began to move a lot faster than
anticipated. Within seconds he was just a blur in the air.
"Chiiiitttttteeeerrrrrrr!" he screamed, tearing past at eye level.
"Doppler effect on an Imp? I'm impressed," admitted Nykaul.
"The speed controls seem to be stuck," muttered Excrucior as he executed a one
hundred and eighty degree turn at the far wall. The Firedrake ducked into a
corner, gibbering slightly. "I should be able to free it in a moment but I'm
slightly taken up with keeping him from crashing. Do me a favor and descript a
window in his flight path, eh? I'll get him outside and give me more room to
"Well, it's your office but I'll give it a go." She concentrated and a patch
of wall shimmered, forming a rather ornate sash window with heavily embroidered
"You know," said Excrucior after a moment had passed, "I really like that
window box. It's a lovely touch."
"Very decorative - not that I'm an expert in the field."
"It could have done with being an open window, though."
"They load closed."
"Ah, that'll be it then." Excrucior sighed and bent over to restore Mank who
sprang back to his feet with an angry "Chitter!"
"At least you can get some speed up," Nykaul observed as Mank shook himself
back into shape. Within seconds Excrucior had Mank's wings on straight
(despite the biting and clawing) and the Imp was back in the air.
"Chitter!" he told her from eye level.
"I'm really getting the hang of this now," Excrucior said, pleased with himself.
With a frown of concentration, he began to move Mank around again, building up
speed slowly. Two pairs of eyes watched his flight path carefully as he
attempted to perform an impression of a moth, spiraling around the miniature
sun at high speed. This performance was greatly enjoyed by the other Imps who
had gathered together in a huddle on the desk to to cheer and jeer alternately.
"Do you think that's a grimace or a grin?" Nykaul asked eventually.
"Doesn't matter on the big day, as long as we descript him a smile.
"So he's just going to flit around in the City and maybe Trellor, adding to the
atmosphere?" asked Nykaul.
"Actually, they've proceed a little more than that. The main reason he agreed
to do this was that he gets to use a bow and arrow." Nykaul backed away
slowly, her hands raised protectively. "Slow down, he's not got hold of them
yet," said Excrucior. "Besides, they're not damaging arrows, they're proc
arrows." He landed Mank on the top of a tall bookcase to delay any revenge.
"Let me guess," Nykaul said as they sat down either side of the desk, "Anyone
they hit will fall in love with the next member of the opposite sex that they
see?" Excrucior nodded and gave a slight yelp that was dictated by the laws of
bad comedy routines.
"What the..." he muttered, fishing around on his seat. He dragged something
out, something that looked uncomfortably like a broken bow and some bent arrows.
"Sayonara," squeaked Nykaul, slightly faster on the uptake. The implosion of
air came not a moment too soon as Excrucior's vision began to swim.
"Mank? I think I need a really strong cup of tea right now," he commanded in
an unsteady voice. "While that's brewing I'll be looking for a rainstorm. A
nice... cold rainstorm."
Some time later...
"Come on, I wasn't feeling like myself and you know it."
"Yes, different species - but it's not as if I said yes to my chat up lines,
bad though they were."
"Look, Spusty's able to make her own choices on who she goes out with. Maybe
she fancied a change, someone taller..."
And little more was said on the matter.
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