A Mystery Solved
Father pushed his plate away from him and turned his chair a little the better to be warmed by the evening fire.
“Mother, thank you, that was a splendid meal. We should have you come over to dinner more often Gormat Toobudding. If you inspire mother to these heights,” he said with a laugh.
“Oh, Father, please, you’re embarrassing me!” Mother replied.
“Nonsense. That was the best Ham Rumble I’ve ever tasted,” Father said just before letting out a massive burp.
The two boys broke out into great laughter and even Mother couldn’t help but giggle quietly. Ham Rumble was a dish that was common to the area but took a long time to make as the Ham had to cook slowly all day before being stuffed into a massive amount of spiced dough and finished off in a pot of vegetable stew. The smell alone seemed to fill you up.
“And that pie that Gormat’s mother sent along. Perfect,” said Father.
“Your mother certainly is a magician in the kitchen,” Mother said with a smile.
“Actually, she is a magician in the kitchen. She’s a magician all the time,’ Gormat replied.
Again, there was a lot of laughter and Mother went to gather her sewing kit to finish a bit of work for the next day.
“How did your father and mother meet, Gormat?’ Father asked.
“They both had their Emergence together,’ said Gormat. ’In fact, mother saved father’s Emergence when he almost brought forth a Water Ghoul instead of the trout he was trying raise from the river. The officials didn’t see it, but mother did and broke the spell before it could materialize. And she didn’t say anything about it, so father Emerged and went on to become the town magician. Probably it should have been mother, she was even better than father, but I came along, and she sort of let a lot of it go. Magic, I mean. She actually baked that Shroomberry Pie by the way, she didn’t conjure it.”
“Oh, you can tell that,’ Sethbard said, ’You can tell a conjured pie. It always tastes a bit burnt.”
“So, do you two actually intend to stay up all night and wait for those stupid boots to appear,’ said Sethbard’s mother.
“Yes, that’s the idea,’ Sethbard said.
“If they can stay awake,’ Father joked. ’I’ll wager they don’t make it to midnight before they both fall asleep.”
“Oh, we’ll make it all right,’ said Gormat. ’If we start to fall asleep I’ll cast a cold water spell over our heads.”
“I suppose that would work,’ Sethbard said, nervously.
“Just joking,’ said Gormat, ’We’ll make it.”
The rest of the short evening was consumed with talk and laughter and playing with the cat until Father declared enough and went to the bedroom to sleep for his early morning start. Mother too, because of the effects of the Ham Rumble and the pie, couldn’t stay awake very long and the minute her repair work was finished, she was off to bed.
Gormat and Sethbard sat themselves at either end of the table and began their vigil.
“If worse comes to worse, we can take turns watching while the other sleeps’, said Gormat.
“Yes, if worse comes to worse. But I don’t want to miss anything. Say, how about a game of Criminy?” Sethbard asked.
“Sure, but you’ll lose,’ Gormat replied.
“Probably,’ said Sethbard and he went and fetched the Criminy board. Criminy was a popular game throughout Rill. It was a simple enough game to learn and you could enjoy it on that level. Others, though, took the game very seriously and studied it at length. Many the brawl had resulted from a hotly contested match. The board itself was patterned with two expanding spirals laid out over top of each other and segmented into squares. The pieces were placed, one by one on consecutive moves, at the small end of the spiral and movement was decided by the previous move. If one was to say move a Snake piece, that would mean that the other player could move any two pieces, one space. The object being to move all your pieces to the main large circle of the opponents spiral. Those were the basics, but the game became quite complex further on as certain moves could result in a complete transfer of pieces. That was when trouble would usually start as there would be arguments over interpretations of the move. Of course, usually that could be resolved by looking up the appropriate rule in Oliver Rangwart’s 'Rules To Criminy'.
The two boys began their game and over the course of several hours played seven games of Criminy. It was during that seventh (and deciding) game that the boots appeared.
Gormat and Sethbard were tied in games, three to three and Gormat had the upper hand in the seventh. However, Sethbard had been saving his best move for just such an opportunity and with a flourish moved his Lion piece to the center of Gormat’s spiral and shouted ‘Transfer!’ which meant that all his pieces would trade places with Gormat’s and make him virtually unstoppable for the win. But just as he was about to place his piece down, the board began to shake. Well, actually, the table began to shake. Not violently but with a soft sort of hum. Then the board began to lift off the table. It slid to one side and before the startled boys could save the pieces from falling off, the board slid off on to the floor.
The board was being pushed up by the blue boots which were emerging from the table itself. First the uppers appeared and to their amazement in a few moments the completed boots were sitting on the table in front of them. Gleaming in all their blue booty beauty.
“That was amazing!” Gormat said, finally. “Amazing! They just came right out of the table. There weren’t any elves after all.”
“But how could they come out of the table?’ Sethbard asked. “It’s just a table.”
“Well, that’s what happened. Where did your family get this table?”
“I made it,’ Sethbard said nervously. “About two years ago. I’m pretty good with this kind of thing. It was a present for my mother.”
“You made it?’ Gormat said, excitedly. “Amazing! But what did you make it out of?”
“Wood’, said Sethbard.
“Well, I know that. But what kind of wood? Where did you get it?”
“It’s just pine. There was a giant old pine tree down by the lathing shed and one night, during a storm, it was struck by a bolt of lightning. Most of the tree burned from the fire but there was a section of the trunk, maybe six feet in length and four feet thick, that didn’t burn because it had fallen across the stream. Father and I cut the burnt section away and hauled the good section out of the stream and let it dry for a few days. Then I cut the wood into boards and built the table right by the shed.”
“Well, that’s it!’ cried Gormat. “You made that table out of Transcended wood!”
“Transcended wood?’ asked Sethbard.
“Yes, under certain circumstances at certain times of the year a lightning strike can induce a magical force into inanimate material. We call it Transcendence. The great sword Vanguard was made from iron that was hit by such a strike. And the famous Gormanstone was formed from some marble of the same kind. I’ve never heard of it happening with wood before but that is undoubtedly what has happened.”
“Are you saying I made a magical table?” Sethbard said, astonished.
“Yes, out of magical wood.”
“But why the boots?’ said Sethbard, ’what’s that got to do with anything?”
“Well I don’t know. What were you thinking about when you finished the table?”
“Well, I had assembled all the pieces at the shed, so mother wouldn’t find out about it and spoil the surprise. Then I had to drag all the pieces to the house, one by one, while she was away and do the final construction. I do remember, as I was hammering in the final nail, thinking that my feet were killing me from walking back and forth to the shed for so long. It took hours”
“Why, that’s it, Sethbard!’ Gormat exclaimed. “These boots are being produced because of your wishes at the time.”
“Gosh, I wish I had been thinking about gold or tools or something. That would have been more useful than these stupid boots. These boots don’t do anything.”
“Have you tried them on?” said Gormat.
“Well, I was going to try them on when they first appeared, but they were obviously way to big. Others have worn them though.”
“Have you tried them on lately?”
“No, I haven’t,” said Sethbard. The two boys looked at each other and Sethbard jumped up and grabbed the boots. He slowly put one on. It fit!
“Put the other one on! Put it on!’ Gormat shouted.
Sethbard put the other one on.
“Well… they’re comfortable, I guess,’ said Sethbard.
“That’s it?’, asked Gormat, a note of disappointment in his voice.
“Well, I don’t know. What’s supposed to happen?’ Sethbard said.
“Try walking around in them,’ Gormat suggested.
Sethbard walked around the table.
“Not so fast’ said Gormat, “you don’t have to walk so fast. Just try to break them in a little more slowly. To see if anything happens.”
“What are you talking about?’ Sethbard replied. “I’m barely moving. I couldn’t walk any slower.”
Gormat jumped up. “Sethbard, let’s go outside,’ he said. “I want to try something.”
The boys went outside and stood there in the yard for a minute. Gormat looked around.
“See that tree over there across the yard. The one with the swing on the branch? I want you to run over to that tree and back to where we are.”
“Okay,’ said Sethbard.
After a moment, Gormat said, “Well?”
“Well, what?’ said Sethbard.
“Run over to the tree and back.”
“What do you mean?’ said Sethbard. “You want me to do it again?”