The Matter of the North

We Meet a Pewter Fanboy!

Extract from Mila's Diary

I was throwing snowballs from the roof as usual when Boffin whooshed out of thin air and told me about this odd dream involving fog and floating lights. Sounds like an interesting dream! I tried to re-create it using Prestidigitation, but I think in order to get a really good idea of what we’re facing, I’ll have to take a nap myself. But first, I suggested we talk to Mel, because I’m sure she’ll leap at the chance to take a nap. Ever since becoming the mother of twins, Prince Rhys Leyton McGillicuddy Firleon and Princess Alais Milah Cleopatricia Firleon, poor Mel has had even less leisure time and even greater responsibilities. By the way, I really like those names! They are so noble – distinctive, yet classic.

Boffin and I arrived with a whoosh in the Rhuddeil University Library, where Mel was studying her books. It was dreadfully quiet and dull in the library, so we livened up the place with a fun sing-along from Baldawin the Bard’s new “Fifty Shades of Pewter: The Musical!” Before we could start the Dark Reprise, though, Mel hurriedly asked us to explain what on Earth we thought we were doing in her beautiful, tranquil haven of knowledge. So we told her about Boffin’s dream.

Mel of course was happy to join us on our quest to take a nap and save the mysterious ball of light, but we figured that it would be easiest to slip into the weird dream world if we went to sleep in an environment similar to that realm. So we did! We took a field trip to an ancient mysterious geodesic dome filled with broken mechanical dolls, and my Mage Hands helpfully pushed us on a rail-cart to the weirdest, creepiest, most odd-shaped room in the building. In order to simulate the eerie mist of the dream-realm, we set things on fire and released swamp gas, which was very effective. I also drank a bottle of fizzy, in order to facilitate an altered state of consciousness, and then we went to sleep!

We awoke in a strange, fog-and-dancing-light-filled area, just as Boffin described. I tried poking the lights, but that didn’t do anything. One dancing ball of light seemed to be trying to talk to me, but I don’t speak the language of Tinkly Chime, so I did the only logical thing – I wished Mel’s translator glasses into existence! I asked the ball of light to spell out its story, which it did – and with the help of the glasses, I could understand everything it said. Curiously, Mel and Boffin could understand it too. I didn’t know they spoke Tinkly Chime! Someday I’ll have to ask them to teach me – or maybe I could pay a visit to the Dwarf King and drink some of his faucets. Mmm, those were so tasty, although maybe before I do that, I should ask Galen to invent some spinal reinforcement mechanisms for me. I have a very dense head (Mel always says so).

Reading the dancing ball of light’s story convinced me that it was tragically yet creatively insane. It seemed to believe that it was a real-life Pewter from Fifty Shades, even though the character is a half-orc and not a dancing ball of light, and it got really angry when I started talking about Baldawin the Bard’s new musical. Must be one of those purist fanboys, angry because the musical changes some of the characterization and plot elements from the original novel (personally, I thought the musical added a solid thematic depth lacking in the novel. But don’t tell Berezi I said that). Still, the ball of light was taking this Pewter thing really seriously – not that that’s actually particularly unusual, mind. Anyone who’s ever been to a PewterCon knows that Berezi’s fiction can drive people crazy!

Anyway, we also got attacked by the dancing balls of light, but I put on a concert of Fifty Shades music, which the evil balls seemed to really like, and we managed to wake up and escape the fog-world. Unfortunately, the fanboy ball faded away into a sad wisp of nothingness after a few seconds, so naturally, we needed to go back in.

Only this time, we had a stroke of genius. Think about it – what magical object makes every adventure more fun and exciting? What exceptional tool makes every endeavor more chaotic and befuddling?

You guessed it! It’s chronoscope time!!

We set up the chronoscope in the middle of the burning, swamp-gas-filled funhouse automaton mirror geodesic dome, and I drank another bottle of fizzy. Honestly, only Ochublau and Shiansary could have made this more fun! We all fell asleep and, in our dreams, walked through the dream-chronoscope into the fog-world. Oddly, there was a little less fog this time. Boffin and Mel had brought along some stuff, and I had Mel’s glasses and a grounding wire, because the balls of light seemed to be vaguely electrical last time we were here. Side note: I know what electricity is, because I watched Galen make some amazing inventions, and also Ochublau showed me how to make lightning! Ochublau also taught me that grounding wires are important, otherwise people can get electrocuted. When I introduced the concept of grounding wires to Galen, he was very appreciative, and also his hair has looked significantly tidier since then.

We talked to the fanboy ball of light again, using a chalkboard and some chalk, and the fanboy ball wrote out a very elaborate, darker-and-edgier sort of fanfiction he wrote about Pewter. He even worked Berezi, Boffin, Mel, and me into the plotline, which I thought was very imaginative, in a meta sort of way. He also claimed that he wrote Fifty Shades, and Berezi plagiarized it from him, which I – hmm – I bet that means he wrote the original The Half-Orc Temptress! Oh, wow – what an honor to meet him! I should ask him to sign my first edition copy!

Anyway, after that there was a lot of running around and waking up and multiple confusing layers of sleep-chronoscope-wakefulness-multiverse-realities, which was quite entertaining. I plugged the fanboy ball into an automaton back in Reality, but this didn’t help the fanboy, and the automaton was boring and racist, so I unplugged it again. While Boffin was off having adventures in Wonderland or somewhere, Mel and I tried to help the fanboy ball escape while fighting off attacks from the evil tinkly balls of light.

It turns out that if I re-enter the chronoscope from Reality, Mel and the tinkly balls are kind of dim and ghostly. I decided to wear this attractive and chic handmade metal hat, which I fashioned after Boffin’s extremely stylish pointy one, in order to protect me against the tinkly balls, and it worked! None of them took over my mind! I remain completely sane!

I also took another automaton into the Chronoscope to try to help the fanboy escape his interdimensional plane, but, unfortunately, he wasn’t able to leave. I did learn, however, that (a) evil tinkly balls of light can possess automatons in the Chronoscope Dream World, and (b) whoever built the geodesic dome was super racist against gnomes and I don’t like them. Both useful pieces of information.

Oh, and something exciting happened!! My lessons with Galen are finally paying off – I was able to construct an unpredictable zappy weapon out of old scraps! I used it to zap evil balls of light, which worked very well and was quite satisfying, especially since the evil balls of light were trying to kill and possess Mel and me. Anyway, they weren’t nice. We tried to help out the little fanboy ball, but no matter what we tried, it seems that he’s trapped in his interdimensional prison for now.

I think we tried to go back to the Dream Chronoscope World a third time, but I don’t remember the details. I think I drank a lot of fizzy and punched myself in the face, but ultimately failed to lose consciousness. I guess that means I need to work on my Mage Hand uppercut.

Clearly, our plan wasn’t working, so we visited a new person, called the Hag of the Geese! He likes geese, and also booby traps. I like geese, too, and I got distracted and caught in a booby trap, but fortunately I eventually escaped, thanks to the power of the mighty Cactuselephonkey. We talked with the Hag of the Geese for a while, and he also played along with the fanboy ball’s narrative about being a real-life version of Pewter. I thought this was a bit odd at first, but then the obvious explanation presented itself to me: I’m witnessing the act of full-time, creative, immersive storytelling in action! These individuals must be some very dedicated fans indeed, if they have devoted their lives to playing out this amazing live-action improvisational fanfiction roleplay! And to have the courage to break away from Pewter’s traditional characterization of the dark, tortured lover, and reimagine him as a true, self-sacrificing hero of justice! Indeed, it is quite awe-inspiring. What a grand commitment to art and literature! What devotion to the transformative power of fiction and the imagination!

Hey, do you think Mel and the others would be interested in doing something similar? I mean, everyone loves the Inspector Thunderbolt: Time-Traveling Matchmaker series, but I’ve always wondered what those books would be like with a Cactuselephonkey as the heroine. Or do you think Ochublau would help me reenact His Captive Cultist? Hmm…

Uh, back to the story – where was I – right! Mel and Boffin and the Hag of the Geese talked about alternate reality stuff and whatever for a while, and we eventually decided to travel to this interplanar dimensional chicken farm, except the chickens breathed fire! They also turned into dragons and fire demons, but of course we defeated them. I helped by holding a chicken with Mage Hand and also turning invisible. Mel played music at the chickens. Boffin stabbed a lot of chickens.

Unfortunately, we won’t get to eat any of the chickens, because they exploded. Which is too bad, because I’m hungry.

The End!


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