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Nine Powers Stories

An Argle Came to Visit

Part One—What?

Yesterday Yrim and Funor had stood guard at the gated cave that was the main entrance to the cave complex they called home. Today it was their turn to walk through the nearby forest and look for things strange or dangerous.

The day was warm. The forest was cheerful.

"Ah! I like to stretch my legs. I prefer patrol to standing," said Yrim.

"Sh! Do you hear that?" asked Funor.

Yrim stood still and listened. "It sounds like whistling!" he said.

The two Dweorgs hid behind a large rock and waited to see who was making the noise.

Soon they saw an argle pushing a wheelbarrow full of clay pots. It was happy and whistling. It also had keen eyes. It saw the Dweorgs peeking out from behind the rock.

"Hi, friends!" called the argle. "I come to visit. I have food for a party."

"It talks!" said Yrim to Funor.

"Stop walking and put your hands on your head," said Funor to the argle.

Argles looked like giant lizards that could stand up. They used crude tools and spoke to each other with hisses and grunts. They hunted Dweorgs. Maybe they even ate Dweorgs.

They did not talk the Dweorg language, or come to visit.

"How did you learn to talk?" asked Yrim.

The argle put its hands on its head. Then it waved them in the air as it spoke, excited. "I went to the Enchanted Forest! I did a quest!"

The two Dweorgs looked at each other. "Um," said Yrim. "Good for you?" said Funor.

"I did good!" said the argle. "I really did. Now I can think and talk like Dweorgs."

Yrim asked, "Why was that the goal of your quest?"

The argle was still excited and kept waving its hands as it spoke. "That is a fun story. Argles are not smart. We have small, hurt brains. When we want something we try to take it. Right away, no plans or waiting. I think for most argles wanting is taking. But not for me. I was small and smarter. Taking from the bigger argles did not work well. I learned to wait, to be sneaky, to want for a time and then try taking."

"And?" prompted Yrim.

The argle was now so happy it hopped at is spoke. "What I wanted most was what Dweorgs have. You have tools! You have axes! You have nice homes! So I went to the Enchanted Forest to quest for what you have. Yarnspinner met me there. He told me you have nice stuff because of how you think and talk. I said yes, the quest can give me how Dweorgs think and talk. And it did!"

Yrim asked, "So now you come to take our nice things?"

"No!" said the argle. "Not to take. You are too strong. I come to visit. I must see how your thinking and talking gets you nice things. Then my thinking and talking will get me nice things too. So I bring food for a party!" The argle pointed at its clay pots.

Funor asked, "What is in the pots?"

"Worms!" said the argle with a big smile. "Big, fat, yummy worms!"

Yrim said slowly, "Dweorgs do not eat worms."

Funor added, "But our queen just planted a garden. I bet she would love your worms as a gift. They will help her dirt. Come talk to our queen!"

"Ooo!" said the argle. "Talk to a queen! That will be nice. Let us go."

Part Two—Who?

Queen Molnha sat on her throne. A Dweorg runner had told her about this new guest. What should be the proper way to receive an argle? It would happen. She was relaxed, stern, and majestic.

On both sides her guards stood ready. The visitor was a monster. They were ready.

From the other side of the big doors came the sounds of a wheelbarrow. The doors opened. The argle gasped and put its hands on its head. "Oh my! Oh my!" It took a step back. It tried to steel itself and step forward. It dropped to all fours and crept forward, one slow step at a time, with its face squished in effort.

"Relax," said Queen Molnha. "Do not strain. You are welcome. I am Queen Molnha. Do you have a name?"

The argle stopped crawling and sat. It put its hands on its head again, but not so hard this time. "You are not just a person!" it said. "You are also a place!" Then it added, "I am Skewt. I have never seen a queen before. I only know the little queen in my head. You are so much bigger!"

"You have a queen in your head?" asked Queen Molnha.

"Yes, yes. When I got to think and talk like a Dweorg I also got her. She tells me what to do. I think, 'I want to eat my worms,' but the little queen in my head tells me, 'No, no. You told yourself those were a gift for Dweorgs. They are not yours to eat any more.' She talks like that. I want to ignore good choices, but she talks about them. If I ignore her then she scolds me for days and days and maybe forever."

Queen Molnha asked, "How does the queen in your head know what choice is good?"

Skewt closed his eyes. He opened them and said, "I do not know. She came from the Enchanted Forest. She came from Yarnspinner. Maybe Yarnspinner taught her? Maybe she wants my story to end well?"

Queen Molnha smiled. That answer was as good as any.

Skewt changed when he saw her smile. "I made you happy," he crowed. "You are a happy place!" He dashed forward. The guards would have skewerd him but Queen Molnha held up her hand. Skewt crawled up to her feet and put his head on her knees. "You will help my story end well."

Queen Molnha pet his head. "No," she said. "That is not my job. But your job is to teach other argles. They have a conscience—a little queen in their heads—but do not have the words to hear her well. You are a special argle. You can help their stories end well."

Skewt was quiet and very still, like a lizard at rest on a warm rock. She said, "But that is later. For now be my guest. Watch me be a good queen. My Dweorgs bring me problems to solve and questions to answers. They argue and I fix it. They are upset and I lift them up. They are afraid and I defend them. The little queen in your head is young and has much to learn. Help me teach her. Then go back to help more argles."

Then with a more stern voice Queen Molnha added, "But not with your head on my knees. I am glad I am a happy place. But I am not your happy place. I am queen over my Dweorgs, and have much work to do."

A guard pointed to a chair. Skewt sat there. Queen Molnha thanked him again for his gift. She asked a helper to take the wheelbarrow away.

The big doors opened again. The next Dweorgs who needed to talk to Queen Molnha came in. They bowed low, and wee about to talk when Skewt cried out, "But I did eat one of the yummy worms! I did! I did! Oh no! Oh no!"

Then it was Queen Molnha's turn to put her hands on her head.