Taking advantage of a creative moment here, more Rory Story Cube fun.
O’Hare shivered naked in the chill of the moonlit winter night, but not for long. His body soon stretched and twisted with familiar agony as his arms and hands turned to legs and paws and a pelt of heavy wolf fur rippled over his bare skin. Contorted into a new shape, he dropped on all fours and sniffed the air with his improved sense of smell, ears twitching expectantly. Yes, he thought. She’s close. O’Hare howled a greeting.
Another howl answered his call. A roar followed, one O’Hare was less impressed to hear. He wasn’t worried; the dorkasaurus seemed to be new to the were game and still finding his literal feet. Another call and response from him to her and soon he caught Maisre’s scent on the wind and joined her on a scrubby hill overlooking the poorly lit village. The dork hadn’t made it as far as the village yet, by the look of things: nothing obviously broken and nobody in the streets screaming.
Maisre licked his cheek and tilted her head downhill. Ready? her throaty growl implied. O’Hare sneezed in assent and down they trotted, staying low through the bushes, quiet and unseen on their way into town. Gordie and Stu were to join them north of the church, the four of them to meet their contact by the graveyard’s only mausoleum.
The contact was late. So were Gordie and Stu. Maisre hunkered down by a tombstone shaped like an angel playing baseball. She didn’t look worried. O’Hare, on the other paw, was filled with a nervous energy. Whatever quest they were supposed to be prepping for — well, he didn’t have all the clues. Stu was the knowledge carrier and Gordie their guide. And only they knew what the contact was supposed to bring to the game.
A light suddenly came on outside the church, illuminating them. Gordie and Stu stepped out of the church, man shaped and heavily dressed in furs and sturdy boots against the winter cold. “Change of plans, you two,” Gordie said without preamble. “Contact is in the yew trees waiting for us.”
The four ran through the graveyard and hopped the short wall separating the consecrated ground from the unconsecrated. O’Hare was dismayed to see who the contact turned out to be. It was the so-called dorkasaurus.
“I am Ebbron,” it stated quietly, although “quiet” still seemed loud enough to wake the nearby dead. Hackles raised, O’Hare looked around nervously, but the yew trees were tall and dense enough to conceal the noise and size of the Cerasinops.
Stu scratched his shaggy beard and consulted his time piece. “We don’t have all night, Cherry Face. Make this quick.”
“You have what I asked for?”
Stu threw a bag he was holding at the sauropod. Ebbron tore the bag open with its beak and inspected the contents in the low light, shuffling bits around with its toes, while waving its tiny arms with apparent excitement. O’Hare couldn’t make out what Stu had given him but Ebbron seemed pleased. “This will do nicely.”
“So, we’re in agreement?” Gordie nearly snarled. “You give for what we give.”
“Yes, yes,” Ebbron said, somewhat distracted. Was that a glint of gold? O’Hare wished he could get a better look. He also wondered why he and Maisre were commanded to attend this meet and greet in the first place. Their teeth could hardly make a dent in the skin of the dino if they’d been expected to be defenders of the men.
“A shimmer in the air, a glean,
a sparkle and a sheen,
and a ring upon
the toe of Ebbron
Past the graveyard,
past the church,
down the stairs
by the canal’s lock,
you’ll find the key
to fit the box.”
It seemed to O’Hare to be the makings of a spell. Sure enough, something bright glistened on the foot of the Cerasinops. Stu and Gordie wasted no time in making a run back to the wall they’d crossed before. With haste, and without looking back, the pair of werewolves followed them through the church yard and down to the water’s edge. Stu and Gordie hurried down the stairs to the lock controls. The men searched the space frantically, seeking the key, O’Hare surmised. Once again, he felt he had less than half the story to work with, but couldn’t change back to a man now to ask for details. He and Maisre traded glances. They put their superior noses to work, trying to sniff out anything that might be metallic in nature.
Maisre soon yipped and pawed at a piece of the brickwork, working some mortar loose with her claws. Stu finished the job with a penknife he’d pulled from his boot and had the brick loose, revealing a small recess. Inside that was something wrapped in a piece of leather. Stu pocketed it without a glance.
“You’re free to go.” He gestured at the pair of werewolves, dismissing them. Maisre turned to head back the way they came but O’Hare stood and whined for a moment; he thought they deserved an explanation. Dead stares from both men seemed to answer his question. There are no explanations. No payment either, apparently. Except their own continued lives. Annoyed but resigned, O’Hare followed Maisre’s lead back to the church and hill where they met that night, parting ways as usual. Game over, man.
O’Hare tapped his nose with his tongue to indicate he was done with the game session. The progress screen lit up in front of his eyes to record progress and awards (little, none) and booted his digital body out of the wolf world into the real one. He sighed and looked over at his wife and her terminal. “Points for finding the key, I see.”
Maisre O’Hare grinned. “You know it’s not a contest, Dennis.” She leaned over in her chair to kiss his stubbled cheek. “I’ve been playing longer than you, but you’re coming along. I’m sure Stu or Gordie will tell us what was in the mystery box at some point. Their part of the quest won’t finish tonight. We can ask them at the pub on Sunday. And Ebbron’s magic ring might make him human for a while but I think he’ll have to pay a high price for the privilege in the end. I suspect we can arrange to be around to see his downfall.”
“I kind of wish you hadn’t hooked me on this game, dear.”
“You don’t mean it, honey.”
“No, I don’t.”