As Chronicled by Dragonis ex Vici, Follower of Jerbiton
From the Files of Dr. Fritz V. Baugh, GBI Historian

The Second Year of the Age of Aquarius
Gregorian Year Anno Domini 1992
(Ghostbusters Omnibus Timeline Year Ten)

The Grey Oasis
Two Days Later...

"You really should sit down, Terchi." Uncle Rishot suggested. "You've been pacin' like that for almost an 'our."

Terchi looked back at his uncle, who was sitting with a bandage on his head. "I know, Unk, but it's been two days and we don't know 'ow the Archmage is doin' an'...well, I just..."

"The Archmage is far more 'ardy than 'e appears, Terchi." Rishot told him. "And I'm sure Coda is doing fine as well."

Terchi turned red. "Well, um, I..."

"Lady Silverwood gave her assurances that Miss Monkeyfang will be treated well." Styx broke in. "They know that I would be forced to obliterate them if they go back on their word."

"Whut would 'ey be doin' to 'er, anyway?" Terchi asked.

"Well, I understand delousing was one priority."

"Styx!" Rishot said slightly forcefully.

There was a knock on the door.

Styx opened it; an elf soldier was there. "I have been told to bring the three of you to Lord Nenecolindo."

Rishot got up. "Finally."

"Whut about Coda?" Terchi asked the elf.

"I have not been given any information regarding the female halfling." the elf responded. "Lord Hepsis or Lord Nenecolindo would be the ones to inquire about that."

Rishot laid a hand on Terchi's shoulder. "Fair enough. Let's go."

"Mist' Fallagar!" Terchi exclaimed when they entered the room. "You look all sorts of better!"

The Archmage was still in a bed, but it was obvious that his condition had improved greatly since they last saw him. Indeed, if he hadn't actually seen the wizard's bloodied, afflicted condition, he'd have trouble believing that it had happened just two days earlier.

"There are a few places on Kreen where the aura is not poisoned." Fallagar told him. "This oasis is one of those places; it's why the Grey Lord claimed it, and others--including Xorak--wish to take it from him. My recuperative abilities are...considerably greater than almost all other humans, and I would have recovered even in the broken ectosphere common on this world. But here..." He flexed his left hand, which had been covered with bleeding sores the last time Terchi saw him. "...Much like back at Dragonsfall, the process is vastly improved."

"We are relieved to see you well, Sir." Rishot added.

"I am once again astounded by your almost hobgoblin-esque resiliency, Sir." Styx added.

Terchi looked around, but didn't say anything.

"She should be here in a few minutes." Fallagar informed him, causing the young halfling to turn bright red again.

"Well, er..."

"It has become time to explain a great many things." Fallagar added. "But no one is owned that explanation more than Coda Monkeyfang. She is owned the answers to, in a fairly literal sense, the mystery of her very existence."

Rishot nodded.

Terchi looked at him. "You know, I forgot about it in all th' mess, but you said somefing back in the cave when" His face turned red yet again. "...Somefing about an 'arrow' or somefing like 'at."

"It was only speculation." Rishot shook his head. "I will await the answers like everyone else."

Things were quiet for a few minutes, then a familiar angry voice shouted from outside the door. "I AIN'TS GOIN' IN 'ERE DRESSED LIKE 'IS!!!"

"You don't have much choice." Nerwen Silverwood's voice replied. "All of the rest of your clothes are either in the process of being cleaned or were unsalvageable. It's either this or let them see you naked again."

There was a few seconds of loud grumbling.

Terchi started to get nervous again.

Nerwen opened the door. She was wearing a more formal look than on their journey two days before, with a skirt. "My apologies, Tsandric. The young miss and I were having a...disagreement."

"And where is Miss Coda?" Fallagar asked.

"You're not going to learn anything standing in the hall, Young One." Nerwen turned and said to the hallway.

Still grumbling, Coda stepped into the room.

She was barely recognizable from the "Goblinchild" they had met two days earlier; she'd been cleaned and pampered, with brighter skin and hair that was no longer course, dirty, and disorganized. It had been gathered into two tails by brick red ribbons, with another holding a left forelock into place. Her long, clawlike finger and toenails were filed down and no longer clawlike.

She was wearing a white and olive green blouse over a wine-colored skirt that went down to just below her knees.

Terchi realized he was having trouble breathing. Quite frankly, she looked...achingly beautiful.

"Pick your jaw up off the floor again, Nephew." Rishot nudged him.

Coda blushed, and then she looked away. "Mist' Augusty, I think you should be careful whut places y' take yer nephew from now on. The low 'umidity 'ere is givin' 'im nosebleeds again."

Terchi went beet red as he realized his nose was, indeed, beginning to bleed again. Styx quickly passed him a kerchief. "F...fanks, Mist' Styx..." Terchi stammered.

It's not the 'umidity, it's the 'eat. Rishot chuckled to himself.

The Archmage settled into this pillow again. "I am relieved to see you doing so well, after that prolonged ordeal."

"Yeah...well...darn elves didn't give m' much choice. I don't fink I ever been scrubbed so 'ard." she said, scratching her left arm.

"It was necessary, believe me." Nerwen pointed out.

The wizard sat back up. "I first must once again apologize. I haven't visited this world in ten years--a great many things happened in the world of my birth since then, requiring my attention."

Coda was genuinely curious. "Like whut?"

"Earth has spent much of the last decade beset by all manner of spirits, some of them beings that can only be described as 'gods'. It brought me out of my self-imposed exile from the mystic order I belong to, and last year I had to take a rather direct role to prevent human civilization's destruction at the hands of an astrological imperative." Fallagar sighed. "But that does not matter today."

One of the elves on guard signaled another. The second elf nodded.

I detect it too. was the message.

A kreen scout appeared; he was waving a white flag.

"State your business." one of the elves commanded.

"I come under the banner of nonhozzztililty." the kreen answered. "I have been ordered by the Great Xorak to azzzk the indulgenzzze of the Grey Lord."

"Go on." the elf nodded, placing his longsword back in its scabbard; the other elf lowered his, but did not stow it.

"The Great Xorak wishes to vizzzit this plazzze. He doezzz not exzzzpect to be allowed inzzzide...but for hizzz purpozzze outzzzide, where I am zzztanding, is szzzufficient."

The unarmed elf nodded at this colleague. "I will relay your message to the Grey Lord. Wait here."

"I thank you for your conzzzideration." the kreen bowed.

The two elves on guard exchanged one more quizzical look, then the first went inside.

"Kyrie intended to tell you everything when you were sixteen." Fallagar continued. "She even, at least as of the time of your birth, intended to bring you to Dragonsfall at that time, to tell you there." He shook his head. "Fate obviously intervened."

"Dragonsfall?" Coda asked.

"It is the Hermetic covenant I belong to." Fallagar answered. "My home, basically. At the moment, I'm the only wizard who is a full member, though I have another currently staying there."

"Mister Styx and I are companions in employ of the covenant." Rishot added. "Terchi is aspiring to do so, and Lord Fallagar took 'im on this assignment. I now suspect I know why."

Fallagar nodded. "In all honesty, I thought it might be helpful having a hobbit of about Coda's own age along. But because of the promises I made to Kyrie, I couldn't admit that ahead of time."

" 'Own age'?" Coda asked.

"You were born on August 1, 1976 by the calendar of my world." Fallagar answered.

"I wuz born on September 22, just a month and so later!" Terchi said.

"But we're getting ahead of the story." Fallagar shook his head. "We should begin with Kyrie Wheatberry." He looked at Coda. "I will cast an illusion of her, so that Terchi might understand better, but I know it could be...difficult for you."

"Not compared to the bullshit I been fru the last free years." Coda shook her head.

Fallagar gestured, and an image appeared.

The hobbit woman had a cheerful, fleshy face framed by loose brown hair. She wore a purple and pink blouse and greenish skirt that was almost a color swap of the outfit Coda was currently wearing.

Terchi heard Coda inhale. She said something he couldn't decipher, it was so quiet and mournful.

Terchi looked at the woman again; at first blush, he couldn't see much obvious resemblance. Kyrie even had a more "normal" hobbit overbite compared to Coda's left fang (an uncommon, but not unknown, trait). But as he studied closer, he saw brown eyes very much like Coda's lined with similar freckles.

"Kyrie had already worked for the covenant for a few years when the most important part of the story begins." Fallagar continued. "That would be on the day of the Equinox Festival in 1975..."

" 'Equinox Festival'?" Coda asked. " 'Ut's 'at?"

"Oh!" Terchi piped up. "It's 'eld on the day of the March Equinox every year, th' start 'a spring--a great big ol' party 'ere everyone catches up after bein' inside all winter!"

Coda's eyes glazed over.

"Nephew, seasons aren't really a thing on this world." Rishot said. "But the fact that it's one of biggest social occasions of the year is the important part."

March 21, 1975
First Day of Aries, 2114 Age of Pisces
Kyrie Wheatberry walked out of the Mercer Building of the Covenant of Dragonsfall. She never did ask the covenant's leader what "Mercer" building meant, but figured it probably didn't matter much.

It was a short walk over the stone bridge over the stream dividing the covenant into two halves, and then she followed the moat surrounding the central tower to the bridge into the tower. Dulk, the covenant's resident creature resembling a bright purple hybrid of a dinosaur and a centaur, lay snoozing in the moat.

"Halt!" came a small, squeaky voice. Kyrie turned to see a boy with brick-red skin brandishing a wooden mallet. "State your business!"

Kyrie chuckled. 'At's Ironbeard's new protege...whut's 'is name? Stacks? Strax? Oh yeah... "I'm 'avin' lunch, Styx. Y'want some?"

"I really should not." Styx replied. "Marshall Ironbeard told me I was in charge of covenant security while he attended the Festival!" He looked around. "Though if you did make one of your barbecues..."

She shrugged. "Fraid not. Jus' a bit'a bread wiv snozzberry jam."

"Oh." Styx replied, looking dejected. "Well, I must decline then, Miss Wheatberry. It would be dereliction of duty!"

She rolled her eyes as she sat down on the bridge. "Suit y'self." She unpacked the lunch and started to eat, feet dangling in the air.

Styx made a satisfied grunt, and marched off, resuming his course back and forth across the front gate.

"You don't like snozzberries?" Coda looked at Styx suspiciously.

"I didn't say that!" Styx replied indignantly. "Actually, I have never had any. But I was on duty! It would have been improper to eat while on duty! Child that I was, though, if she'd had some of her barbecue, I would have accepted it. Her barbecue sauce was just that delicious."

"Coda..." Fallagar continued. "It is at this point that the other protagonist of your story entered the narrative." He paused before saying the name. "Haro Monkeyfang."

She visibly stiffened.

" 'Aro..." Terchi realized. That's what Uncle Rishot said back in the cave!

"I will again generate an image, unless you decline." Fallagar said.

Coda exhaled deeply. "Mist' Fallagar, I only been waitin' to see 'is guy since 'e day I wuz born."

The image appeared. Terchi and Coda both leaned forward to get a better look.

Haro Monkeyfang was tall, by hobbit standards, with a lankier build than most. His grey eyes peeked out from under a wide white hat that didn't completely cover his unruly hair.

His left fang protruded in what already felt to Terchi like a familiar--in a fairly literal sense of the word--way.

The leaner build, the fang, the blond color of that unruly hair--the resemblance to the young woman standing next to him was obvious.

Coda stepped forward, reaching up and almost touching the apparition. She simply stared for a few moments, then wiped her eyes.

"Well, I guesses I could be biased, but I'd say Mum 'ad good taste..." she finally said, with just a hint of a smile.

Terchi just wanted to go over and hug her, but wasn't sure how she'd react to it.

"And 'ere I thought I wuz the only 'obbit skippin' the festival..." a male voice interrupted Kyrie's contemplation.

She looked up at the tall male hobbit standing there. " 'Pears not." she said drolly. "You do know there's a vicious 'obgoblin patrollin' the premises?"

"Only 'cause the cranky dwarf who usually does it's at th' Festival." The male hobbit laughed. " 'At's all right, Styx knows me. I work 'ere."

She stood up and dusted off her skirt. " 'En why ain'ts I see you 'fore? I works in the kitchen." She extended her hand. "Kyrie Wheatberry."

" 'Aro Monkeyfang." he replied, shaking the offered hand. "I kinda been gone on the Archmage's business a lot."

"Makes sense, I guess." she replied, offering a piece of bread. "Snozzberry jam?"

He took the bread and took a bite. " 'at's unique..."

" 'At's a little ambiguous." Kyrie retorted.

Haro chuckled. "It's delicious. Never 'ad the like 'fore--where'd you come up wiv it?"

"It grows on a place called Kreen--I went 'ere wiv the Archmage free years ago. A local--kid who looked like a giant bug--innerduced me to the stuff, an' I brought some back, jammed it, and canned it." She shrugged. " 'Is is the last jar, actually--saved it for the Festival."

"Didn't want to share?" he asked.

She turned away from him, and sat back down. "Maybe I didn't."

"And yet 'ere I am eatin' it." Haro laughed again, and plopped down next to her. She hated the fact that she found that laugh quite endearing.

"I don't like the Festival eivver." Haro shook his head.

"Whut makes you fink I don't?" Kyrie asked, a note of annoyance in her voice.

"Whut uvver reason would y' 'ave for bein' 'ere?"

Kyrie looked at him. Those grey eyes were deep, but the curiosity was obvious. "I...don'ts get along wiv me family." she admitted. " 'Ey fink me workin' 'ere means I'm touched in the 'ead. 'Next fing you knows you'll be marryin' an Augusty or somefin' ' me Mum always bitched." She shook her head vigorously. "I don't fink she even wants to unnerstand."

Haro grinned. "Well, the Augustys are a little odd. But 'en again, so am I!"

"You know Rishot Augusty?" Kyrie asked.

"Oh yeah." Haro nodded.

"An' 'is sister?"

Haro groaned.

Kyrie laughed. "Oh yeah, you do..."

"I fink she finks I been a bad influence on 'er bruvver."

"She finks I'm in love with 'im."

" 'E's gettin' married 'is summer, y' better 'urry!!!"

After they laughed for a few more moments, she looked at him a little more seriously. "So 'en whut's your story, 'en?! Why ain't you at the great big spring bash whut every ovver 'obbit looks forward to all bloody year? An' I only been skippin' th' last few--'ere wuz y' 'fore 'en?"

He exhaled. "Okay, fair question I guess...It's 'cause I'm an orphan."

She blinked. "An orphan?"

"Didn't start 'at way, 'course." Haro shook his head. "But 'en I was a little tyke, my Mum and Dad, 'ey went climbin' up the Arber. Made it 'alfway up the slow way..." He shrugged. " 'En came down the quick way."

She didn't want to laugh at the offhand way he said it. Thankfully, she didn't.

"I was raised by the covenant after 'at." Haro finished. "Never socialized outside it much."

Kyrie nodded. She understood all too well now.

"Rishot Augusty's really th' first 'alfling friend I ever 'ad." Haro finished. "Since 'is sister finks I'm weird, really th' only one."

Kyrie took his hand. "Well, 'at ends now. I would say you finally made a second one today, 'Aro Monkeyfang."

He took the last bite of the snozzberry bread, smeared a bit of the jam on her nose, and then ate the bread.

She wiped the jam off her nose and licked it off her finger.

They both started laughing.

"The Grey Lord is intrigued by the Xorak's request." the elvish guard told the kreen. "He finds the terms acceptable. But know that we will not lower our defenses--the Xorak and his party will be safe as long as they show no aggression. Break that peace, and there will be many archers ready to show you the folly of that decision."

The kreen bowed again. "That izzz azzz the Xorak exzzzpected, and is aczzzeptable to his Greatnezzz. He will appear within the hour."

"You did know 'Aro Monkeyfang!" Terchi exclaimed to his uncle.

"Yes." Rishot sighed. "Though not as well as I thought I did, it appears. I never 'ad any idea he and Kyrie 'ad even met, never mind..." he glanced at Coda.

"In fairness, Mister Augusty, they made it a point to keep their interactions secret." Fallagar continued. "And you did have a rather large distraction of your own in that time frame."

Rishot nodded. "I was wrapped up in wedding preparations that summer--it was when Peaches and I got married. But I still can't believe I never even suspected..." he shook his head.

Coda was quietly swimming in her own confusion, trying to make sense of it all. She'd always suspected Mum was keeping a lot of things from her, but to see how much... "So what did 'Aro do at the covenant?" Coda finally asked.

"Like me, 'e was what the Archmage likes to call a 'troubleshooter'." Rishot answered. "Our job was to give aid to the Archmage's allies, such as Lord 'Epsis, or to 'elp those in trouble, especially if monsters or demons were involved."

"A little like whut we're doin' 'ere?" Terchi asked.

"Somewhat." Rishot continued. " 'Aro and I trained as swordsmen together since we were about ten, and 'e was as good as I am, maybe even better. But 'e was a lot smarter--studied alchemy and actually became a 'alf decent 'edge wizard at it." He rolled his eyes. " 'E also made candy, which probably 'elped Kyrie like 'im."

Fallagar nodded and gave a smile of fond memory. "It was about the time of the Harvest Festival--the marking of the September Equinox six months later--that Kyrie and Haro's relationship became..." Fallagar looked uncomfortable for a second. "...Physical. It was during Yule that they made several important decisions..."

December 25, 1975
Fourth Day of Capricorn, 2114 Age of Pisces
"So, Kyrie Luv, did you enjoy yer Yule present?" Haro asked.

Laying next to him, still flushed with afterglow, Kyrie responded "You know I did, 'Aro Luv..."

Haro chuckled. "I meant the one I made, not did..."

She laughed. " 'Ow could I not enjoy cherries dipped in chocolate?" She sat up and gave him a mischievous look. "We need to get some more snozzberries an' try chocolating 'at some time..."

"You an' yer snozzberries..."

After a few minutes, she wrapped a sheet around herself and sat up. "I was feelin' a little out of sorts 'is mornin', but you definitely made 'is day worf it. 'Is may be the best Yule since I was a kid."

"Fank you." Haro said. He rolled over and sat up. "I gots an idea."

"Not tonight, 'Aro, Luv, I do 'ave to work tomorrow!"

"No, not 'at." Haro shook his head. "Let's get 'itched."

" ' 'Itched'?" Kyrie asked incredulously.

"You know...married."

Kyrie fretted, understandably. "I loves you, but this seems so sudden..."

"I know." Haro nodded. "An' I don't mean today. I mean like next summer; do it all proper like. But fink of th' look on Orchid Bagwise's face when we announce!"

"Fink of the looks on ev'ryone's faces!!!" Kyrie pointed out. "I mean, yeah, it's been kinda fun keepin' it from ev'ryone...but it'd also be a relief to stop 'idin' it too..." This seemed to make up her mind. "So, alright, 'en, let's do it. We bof don't 'ave no family, so why not make our own?"

" 'At's the spirit!" Haro smiled.

"So what you fink?" Kyrie asked. "We shock'em once by showin' at the Equinox Festival next year, 'en shock'em twice or free times I guesses, by sayin' we're getting 'itched next summer?"

"I likes the way you finks, Kyrie Luv."

Coda stood there, arms crossed. "So whut happened?"

Rishot answered before Fallagar could. "Tarven."

January 2, 1976
Twelfth Day of Capricorn, 2114 Age of Pisces
"Tarven?" Kyrie asked.

Haro nodded. " 'Ere's an undead wankbag 'oo calls 'imself the Lich King. Likes turnin' 'e folks 'ere into zombies. 'Ey need 'elp--an' 'at's why I gotta go."

Kyrie looked nervous. " 'Ow long?"

He kissed her forehead. "Should be back well 'fore the Equinox. We gots a surprise to spring in 'e spring, after all, Kyrie Luv!"

Rishot shook his head. "But 'Aro didn't make it back."

Terchi felt himself misting up. He knew in advance that this was how that story had to end, but it still upset him.

Coda was silent, her face neutral.

"For what it's worth, 'Aro died a 'ero." Rishot continued. " 'E lead the charge that broke the Lich King's siege. 'E defeated the Lich King, and brought safety to the people of Tarven for decades to come."

Coda exhaled. "Guess I can't 'old 'at against 'im much. If 'e 'ad to go, 'e went putting the 'urt to some undead arsewanker."

Rishot shook his head. "I regretted, even then, not being able to go with 'im on that mission."

"You had obligations of your own, Sir Augusty." Fallagar reminded Rishot. "You had only just married, and your sister was already pregnant with her first child. I had no intention of sending you into that--and I wouldn't have sent Haro either, had I known."

Terchi realized. "Do the maths...'obbits take nine monfs to get ready to sprout, like a 'uman. If Coda was born August 1st, Miz Kyrie'd been carryin' 'er since like November or so. Did she know when Mister 'Aro left? Did 'e?"

Fallagar shook his head. "She suspected, but didn't know yet. If she shared her suspicions with him, she didn't tell me--though I personally suspect not."

"I don't either." Rishot agreed, placing a hand on Coda's shoulder. " 'Aro Monkeyfang may have acted as though life was an enormous game to 'im, but 'e took 'is responsibilities seriously. If 'e'd known 'e 'ad a child on the way, 'e wouldn't have be'aved as recklessly as 'e did."

Fallagar continued. "It was the night after the covenant held Haro's funeral that Kyrie came to me, her face stained with tears..."

"But m'...y'know, monfly visitor was runnin' late even 'fore 'e left." Kyrie sobbed. "An' it still ain't 'appened, yet, an' I know whut 'at means..."

Fallagar looked downcast. "My deep condolences, Kyrie. If I had had any idea, I never would have sent him."

Kyrie shook her head. "I ain'ts blamin' you for 'at, Sir. I just...I need yer 'elp. I got no family, 'Aro 'ad no family, an' I ain't lettin' my baby grow up listenin' to all the wags 'od treat 'im or 'er like crap because 'Aro and I didn't do it 'the right way'." She exhaled, but her face became harsher. "If we'd done it 'the right way' I wouldn't even 'ave 'is left'a 'im."

"I understand your feeling, Kyrie. Better than you realize." Fallagar said. "What are you asking?"

" 'Elp me keep this secret." Kyrie answered. "Tell nonea' the other 'obbits, not even 'is friend Rishot. An' after the child is born...I want to leave. Go somewhere else to raise 'er or 'im." Kyrie teared up again. "We'll come back someday, when the baby's about sixteen or so, an' able to take carea' 'erself, and know noffin' anybody says is 'is fault. I'll tell 'em everyfin 'en. But I don't wants 'im or 'er growin' up around folks 'at'll treat us like freaks."

"I agreed." Fallagar continued. "She remained isolated from the rest of the covenant, and the only ones other than myself aware of the situation were Marshall Ironbeard and one of the fae folk of the nearby forests, an experienced midwife."

"Granny Mouse, the cat pookah?" Rishot asked.

Fallagar nodded. "And on the Tenth Day of Leo, Kyrie Wheatberry gave birth to a halfling girl with very strong lungs." He paused for a moment. "The first thing Kyrie said afterward was 'Lor, she looks just like 'im'."

Terchi choked up.

"The rest of the story you know." Fallagar finished. "A few weeks after your birth, she took you to Kreen, with the blessing and occasional aid of Lord Hepsis and the Grey Oasis, raised you exactly as she intended. Until..."

"...Until it all went bad, yeah." Coda nodded. "But the first firteen years..." she wiped her eyes. "...Were everyfin' she 'oped 'ey would be..."

Terchi had been less successful at fighting off the tears. And this time, he didn't resist the urge to hug Coda; she didn't hug back, but she didn't push him away, either.

The Grey Lord himself, Valross Hepsis, stood ready. He was not armored--at least, not obviously armored; the regal robes he wore had been ensorcelled to be more protective than any plate armor. A longsword, its hilt baring Valross' triangular royal seal, was hanging from his right hip.

Clearly armed elves and a few eladrin (the jewel-eyed "high elves" like Valross himself) stood nearby.

A party of kreen arrived; four carried the seat of the Xorak, much like Fallagar and the others had seen two days earlier.

"[We have a great many disagreements, Valross Hepsis.]" Xorak said, stepping down from the chair. "[They will almost certainly bring our people to violence some day. But not today.]"

"That was my understanding, Xorak." Valross replied. "Tell me--what, then, is the nature of this unusual parley?"

"[I owe a great debt to one who is no more. But that debt has passed to another, one who has sanctuary in your oasis.]" Xorak answered. "[I am here to pay it.]"

Valross said nothing.

"[I speak of the hatchling of Kyrie Wheatberry.]" Xorak finally told him.

Fifteen Minutes Later
Terchi gulped audibly as he saw the Xorak and the other Kreen. Beside him, Uncle Rishot tensed, and kept one hand on Snowdrop's hilt, ready to draw it with only a second's notice.

Coda, now wearing a cloak much like theirs and a pair of elvish boots that had been quickly procured, stepped out from the rest, Styx right beside her. The elvish archers and other warriors were also ready if necessary.

"Ohright, I'm 'ere, Xorak." Coda said firmly. " 'Ut's 'is about?"

"I am pleazzed to zzzee you well." Xorak replied. "I do not zzzee the zzzorzzzerer."

"The Archmage will require some time to recover from his injuries." Styx told him in clipped tones.

Xorak nodded. "Very well. Hatchling of Wheatberry, I have a zzztory to share with you. About your hatch-breeder."

Coda chuckled slightly. "Seems to be m' day for stories about Mum."

"Two zzzcore zzzolzzztizzzezzz ago, a kreen hatchling wazzz lozzzt in the Zzzea of Zzzilt. He'd become zzzeparated from hizzz clutch by mizzfortune." The Xorak shook his head. "It zzzeemed he had lozzzt the battle with thizzz world, and was zzzoon to zzzuccumb to zzzun zzzicknezzz."

"But then a creature of a like he had never zzzeen before appeared." Xorak continued. "Like an elf hatchling in zzzizzze, but full grown--she zzaid she was something called a 'hobbit', and her name wazzz Kyrie Wheatberry."

Oh Lor... Terchi realized. Xorak did seem to know somefin' 'bout Miz Kyrie...

"She took him back to hizzz clutch." Xorak continued. "Even though the elvezzz and the kreen have not been...amicable. Thizzz kreen owed the Wheatberry hizzz life."

"Fine way to show it." Coda sneered.

"I agree." Xorak nodded. "That kreen hatchling, you zzzee, in time grew into great mind power, and eventually became the Xorak."

Terchi inhaled. The elf lord Valross raised an eyebrow. Even Coda looked surprised.

"You?!" Coda said, still incredulous.

"And then my moronic zzzervantzzz dizzzhonored greatly I do not yet know. Tell me, Hatchling, what izzz it the Wheatberry named you?"

"Coda." she replied. "Coda Monkeyfang."

"Tell me then, Monkeyfang, did G'Gat's actions cauzzze the death of your your hatch-breeder, the Wheatberry?"

Coda sighed, and shook her head. "No. She was dead 'fore 'e found me."

"Very well." Xorak nodded. "But I am zzztill dizzzhonored by hizzz treatment of you." He snapped his fingers; two burly kreen literally threw another kreen to the ground in between Xorak and Coda.

It was G'Gat, the stump where his missing arm had been was covered in bandages. He buzzed and started to grovel before the Xorak.

"It izzz not to me to dezzzide your fate, G'Gat." Xorak said simply, causing the shocked G'Gat to fall silent.

"Monkeyfang, hatchling of the Wheatberry. The life of the grub who abuzzzed you izzz yourzzz." Xorak announced. "That izzz the only way to atone for my failure to your hatch-breeder."

Terchi couldn't breathe. He heard his uncle inhale sharply.

Coda's eyes narrowed.

In a swift motion, she took Styx's mordenkrad, and even though the weapon looked comically large in her grip, she swung it with ease, much like the oversize bone she wielded when they first met her.

She glowered over G'Gat, her face twisting into a disturbing grin.

"[Mercy, Goblinchild! Mercy! I beg you!!!]" he cried.

"Coda..." Terchi wanted to move, wanted to run over and stop her.

" 'Mercy', G'Gat? Really?!" she snarled. "As soon as I start whackin' you wiv'is, I won't stop until you're nofin' but a green stain an' some chitin shards. Really. TINY. Chitin shards."

One of the elvish guards looked ready to move. Valross gestured for him to stay where he was.

With a mighty blow that rattled the wall of the Oasis, the mordenkrad struck...

...the ground in front of G'Gat.

G'Gat lost control of his body functions, covering himself in piss.

Coda handed the mordenkrad back to Styx. "I already 'urt you. 'At was in battle. 'Is would be murder, an' m' Mum raised me better 'an 'at. Even after free years as yer attack slave, 'at ain't 'oo I am."

Terchi exhaled.

"Y'see, I already got my best revenge on you, you wankbag." Coda continued. "I got away from you, an' I'm gettin' away from 'is whole 'eatstroke shit'ole of a world."

She turned away from G'Gat, and strode back to her new friends. "Great Xorak, I will consider it well enough if you get this piss-soaked arseclown away from me. I 'ad enough of 'im."

Xorak made a buzzing laugh. "Very well, Monkeyfang, very well. Compazzzion and merzzzy are not traitzzz often prizzed by the kreen. But they do you---and your hatch-breeder---credit."

Xorak shouted at his guards, and they picked up G'Gat, taking him back with them. Xorak turned to Valross. "[I thank you for your time, Grey Lord. This matter is concluded.]"

"May all such matters end as amicably." Valross nodded.

Terchi took a hesitant step toward Coda. "You allright?"

"I will be once I get inside an' out of 'ese dumbarse boots." she replied.

Rishot smiled slightly. I fink 'Aro and Kyrie bof would be very proud of 'er... He rolled his eyes. Especially the fake-out. 'At was totally 'Aro Monkeyfang...

Terchi sighed. He'd run a gambit of emotions from the moment he'd met her. Terror. Pity. Lust. And heaping helpings of confusion.

Which one was the real Coda Monkeyfang? The savage Goblinchild? The scared little girl who missed her Mum? The young woman who just showed mercy to a being that had treated her like filth? All of them? None of them?

The only thing Terchi Bagwise was certain of at this moment, though, was that he dearly wanted to find out.

As scribed on the Tenth Day of Taurus in the Twenty-Ninth Year of the Age of Aquarius
Questions? Comments? Go to the Ectozone Message Board Editorial Staff: Dr. Vincent Belmont, EGB Fan, TheRazorsEdge
Additional Beta: Kingpin, OgreBBQ, Brian Reilly
Characters herein created and owned by Fritz Baugh unless otherwise noted. .

Hobbits/Halflings are, of course, the creation of JRR Tolkien, though our interpretaation also draws on the halflings seen in fantasy RPGs such as The World's Most Famous RPG, 13th Age, and Pathfinder

Ironbeard created by OgreBBQ

Styx created by OgreBBQ and Fritz Baugh, and any resemblance to a character created by Steven Moffat is a complete coincidence, you Rutan scum. "Maglubiyet" is a dark god from the World's Most Famous RPG.

Advice on hobbit accents provided by EGBFan.

Reference made to material from Ars Magica, created by Jonathan Tweet and Mark Rein•Hagen; now owned by Atlas Games save a few concepts owned by White Wolf Games.

Inspiration for the kreen race and their world came from the Dark Sun scenario created by Timothy B. Brown and Troy Demming for the World's Most Famous RPG . The Xorak is inspired by a character designed by Alex Toth for Hanna-Barbera as an alien warlord, later a band leader.

The Lich King isn't intended as a reference to World of Warcraft. The Lich King is intended as a reference to 13th Age

#4746-20190430t (X Taurus, XXIX Age of Aquarius)
Established 20190513m (XXIII Taurus, XXIX Age of Aquarius)