“Yu arrre th besssfren EVAH!” slurred a drunken Irmalii to Arsha as they sat at the bar, The Traversing Tail.
“I said I’d TRY to get you the console, I didn’t say I will,” replied Arsha.
“Yu WILL ge me th conso,” continued Irmalii, “because yu arrre th besssfren evah hoo ge me th besssGIIF’s evah!”
“Irmalii, I got you a Dr. Snood comic last year,” reminded Arsha.
“An it wasss a GOOD comic!” praised Irmalii. “An, in my lin o work, I take wha I cn get! Now! Why arrre yu nah drinkin’ owcohall? Id isss my BIRFDY tomarro and wir sssupposed t’ b’ shelebrading!”
“Would that I could,” sighed Arsha, “but there ARE a few things I need to take of on the Endeavor and I CAN’T be hung over for them.”
“Why do yu wanna be a part o Realmflee?” slurred Irmalii. “Yu wanna know wha Realmflee does? Nuthin! Just cleaning up messes tha normal law enforssmen can’t bee bothurd to clean up! Lik th time I had to sav the Midreal from a bad Dr. Snood ebisod! Did I ever tell you about th ebisod I wrote fir Dr. Snood?”
“Yes, and it was one of my favorite episodes,” replied Arsha. “You also mentioned that I don’t need to get you anything after getting the Mid-Splitters off your tail.”
“Thaay back’d off because I saved th Midreal from an Ancient Stone Giant!” argued Irmalii. “Me! Beecaus I’m AWESHOM!”
“You are ALSO incredibly drunk,” reminded Arsha.
“I AM drunk!” agreed Irmalii. “Tha’s because I am AWESHOM and YUU!” She pushed her glass into Arsha’s nose and kept pointing at Arsha for a bit. “…Are the besssfren EVAH hoo ge me th besssGIIF’s evah!”
“Okay, Birthday Girl,” declared Arsha, “I’m taking you home.”
“Yu arrre NOT…takin me hom!” argued Irmalii as she poked Arsha’s chest, then promptly giggled. “Wron boobie!” she laughed. “Yu arrre gonna drink wif me…and wir gonna watch bad Dr. Snood ebisods together. Screw Realmflee!”
“Irmalii, you’re drunk off your tail,” insisted Arsha. “I’m taking you home, back to your wives.”
“Nononononononononono!” countered Irmalii. “I…will take YU hom…because I,” more pointing, “…don need a ship to cass a tellypoor spell!” She cast the teleport spell and took both her and Arsha to the cottage she and her wives had taken up residence in for the festival. Qwendo was in the kitchen as they arrived. Arsha looked around and was amazed Irmalii could concentrate on the location for the teleport spell to work. It’s not an easy spell to cast when drunk.
“What happened to all that whiskey you took a swim in?!” yelped Arsha.
“It’s all right,” assured Qwendo as she oozed over to the wobbly Irmalii. “They know her.”
“They do?” quizzed Arsha.
“I’m havin a winner cottage built heer,” slurred Irmalii.
“I’ll put her to bed,” Qwendo declared to Arsha.
“Okay, just tell me her condition when she wakes up,” directed Arsha.
“Got it,” confirmed Qwendo. As her azure form supported Irmalii, Qwendo guided her Blender wife to bed while Arsha teleported to the cottage she and her spouses were living in for the festival. Irmalii tried to get Qwendo to sleep with her, but Qwendo refused, knowing her wife was in a drunken form of heat. After much convincing, Irmalii fell asleep while Qwendo found her other wives and merged with them so their hive mind could understand what’s going on. Soon, their combined, blue, blobby form filled a tub so they could sleep.
Arsha arrived at her cottage to find Malnar wrapped in both Lardeth and Falnii’s clouds, all of them sleeping on the couch. “Sleep well,” she whispered. She then headed to the room to find Foresna and Gorfanth in bed. She then headed into the closet and changed into a nightie, leaving it after she finished changing and putting her hairpiece on the vanity. She crawled into bed, causing both Minotaur and human to stir. “Room for one more?” she whispered.
“Always,” replied Gorfanth as he lifted the sheets. Arsha snuggled between the two.
“Good night,” she whispered.
“Good night,” Foresna bid as they drifted off.
When morning broke, the rays of the sun crept over the bed. Arsha slowly opened her eyes as she stroked Foresna’s cheek. A pleasing hum escaped Foresna as he opened his eyes. Arsha then turned and stroked Gorfanth’s ear. Another pleasing hum and both boys were awake. “Good morning, Hooves and Farm Boy,” she whispered.
“Good morning, Foxy,” returned Gorfanth softly. A knock then came from outside. Arsha sat up.
“Yes?” she called.
“Good morning, you three,” called Lardeth’s voice. “Breakfast will be ready soon.”
“On our way!” replied Arsha. The three got out of bed and got their clothes on, Gorfanth with his tunic and family pauldron, Foresna with his tunic and pants, and Arsha with her dress and hairpiece. When they finished, Lardeth had already set the table as Malnar and Falnii were plating up the food. “By the Ones, that smells good!” sighed Arsha as she took a whiff.
“Scrambled eggs with a bit of a kick,” replied Malnar, “and bacon and toast. Nothing fancy.”
“Still delicious when a master such as yourself prepares it,” praised Gorfanth.
“Flatterer,” teased Malnar. They sat down and tucked in for breakfast.
“This is delicious!” praised Arsha. As they ate, a question popped into Falnii’s head.
“So, what activities will be available?” she asked in her usual quiet tone.
“I think Nazay mentioned something about a camel race,” mused Arsha. “A lot of people bet on those races.”
“Sounds like a Centaur Race,” muttered Lardeth, not the biggest fan of races.
“This one’s interesting,” replied Arsha. “Apparently people bet on Drenii most often. She’s a crowd favorite.”
“…I beg your pardon?” quizzed Lardeth, voicing the question on everyone’s minds.
“People make the same bets as her?” inquired Gorfanth.
“No, people bet on her to win,” corrected Arsha.
“…You’re pulling my tail!” argued Gorfanth.
“Arsha, are you saying,” yelped Foresna, “that an elderly Naga races camels and people bet on her to win?!”
“That’s what Nazay and Merrim said,” confirmed Arsha.
“She’s gotta be in her 45,000’s by now!” protested Malnar.
“45,933, according to Drenii herself,” answered Arsha.
“Still old age!” yelped Lardeth.
“She’s always been an adrenaline junkie,” continued Arsha.
“…Are we sure this isn’t some gag?!” rumbled Gorfanth. Just then, Arsha’s communicator beeped. The caller had left a message saying they wanted to meet Arsha at the Traversing Tail after she finished breakfast.
“Who was it?” asked Falnii.
“Irmalii,” replied Arsha. “Today’s her birthday and I don’t why she’s back there again.
Irmalii was sitting at the bar, staring at the drink in front of her with her head in her hand. The bartender washed a glass as he saw the scene. “I’d ask if you wanted me to leave the bottle,” he remarked, “but I don’t think you touched your drink yet.”
“I like to stare at it,” replied Irmalii. “Makes me think about things before taking alcohol.” She then looked at the bartender. “Anyone ever tell you that you look like a Naga version of the 17th Dr. Snood?”
“Loads of times,” answered the bartender. “Anyone ever tell you that you look like Elmpam?”
“…Elmpam’s fur is white,” reminded Irmalii.
“Of course, it is,” replied the bartender with a tone of disbelief. He wandered to another section behind the bar while Arsha found her and sat next to her.
“All right, Irmalii, I have some time,” she began. “Would you care to explain why you pulled me away from the always certain paperwork that a royal must complete for Realmfleet before I join my family for the camel race?”
“You know, your generation wasn’t the only one with royals serving in Realmfleet,” remarked Irmalii.
“No, but we ARE the latest in keeping laziness OUT of Realmfleet,” countered Arsha.
“Yeah, by cleaning up messes that normal law enforcement can’t be bothered with,” snarked Irmalii, “nothing lazy there.”
“Captain Ralmamp , I KNOW you didn’t pull me back up here,” sighed Arsha, “just to criticize Realmfleet. Now, what’s up?”
“…It’s my birthday today, you know,” recalled Irmalii.
“…Yes, it is,” answered Arsha, unsure about where the conversation was going. “We were here last night to celebrate that fact. Did you get a hangover that made you forget? Wait, no, you’re just mad that I couldn’t get you the console.”
“It wouldn’t be that hard for you to get a mock-up of the console of Dr. Snood’s horseless carriage and you know it,” replied Irmalii, “but that’s not it.”
“Then what is it?!” sighed Arsha as she removed her hairpiece, hedging her bets on being irritated in the near future.
“…Arsha, why do you want to be a Realmfleet captain?” inquired Irmalii. “I mean, outside of your duty as a royal.”
“I guess,” mused Arsha, “because I’m an adventurer like anyone else, even with all that happened in this year alone.”
“Could you be a bit more specific?” quizzed Irmalii.
“The Mid-realm has a sense of discovery and offered that to the other Realms,” explained Arsha. “I believe, as a royal, it’s my personal duty to encourage adventures in someone’s life. Yes, not everyone is adventurous, but even they need some excitement. Look, what are we doing here?”
“What am I doing here?!” barked Irmalii.
“…Are you drunk again?!” snapped Arsha.
“No, no, I’m not,” assured Irmalii, “it’s just…I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life. You know, what I’ve seen, what I’ve done, and it’s…I don’t know, there’s something nagging in the back of my head. Maybe I’m just realizing how NOT normal my change in social status is. For crying out loud, going from a peasant nanny to Captain of the Fricking Royal Guard is a big leap!”
“How did you manage that?” teased Arsha. Irmalii gave her a look. “I know, I was a big influence.”
“Arsha, what am I doing with my life?” asked Irmalii.
“I’m…really not sure as I understand,” replied Arsha.
“What do I have going for me that makes me want to see my next birthday?” elaborated Irmalii.
“Well, you have a lot of people who’d be sad if you left,” answered Arsha. “My family and I included, since you did so much for us.”
“Not that I don’t appreciate you and your family recognizing my service to you,” countered Irmalii, “but one can’t JUST live for other people. That’s not living. You have to have something for YOU. That’s the question on my mind, selfish sounding though it may be. What have I got going for myself?”
“I can name a few things,” mused Arsha. “Dr. Snood, Change-a-tron, Soul Light, heck, ANY of your games. I can’t begin to count how many game nights we’ve had. You have a good life, family, friends, things that you enjoy, all that stuff. You may think your life isn’t so normal but, in all honesty, life is about dealing with hardships. I’ve had to deal with those a few times this year. In all honesty, I think life’s worth living for its own sake.”
“Sometimes, I agree,” sighed Irmalii, “other times…I don’t know. Maybe I called you out here for no reason. Maybe it’s nothing and I’m having my mid-life crisis early. I just…I’ve been thinking about my life and myself and…” she floundered a bit, “I don’t know what I want anymore. I’ve been thinking of leaving the Royal Guard because I feel like I’m being distanced from my family.”
“Well, that IS a legitimate concern,” replied Arsha, “but you ARE appreciated. Even my superiors in Realmfleet are grateful for your work.”
“Your superiors want that crystal ball Pwolmo has that can look in on everything and everyone,” grumbled Irmalii.
“Yes, but they’d rather you and your spouses have it than someone else,” assured Arsha.
“Sure,” muttered Irmalii.
“You ARE a moody doggy today,” mused Arsha as she put her hairpiece back on. “Hey, would Dr. Snood’s console cheer you up?”
“…Yeah, maybe,” mumbled Irmalii.
“I’ll see what I can do,” replied Arsha as she got up and headed to the door. “Hey, maybe you should watch Drenii’s race with your wives.”
“Hey, if one of the racers trip and it leads to rediscovering a tomb,” called Irmalii as Arsha went through the door, “I call dibs!” When Arsha was out of sight, she turned to see a different bartender with a crazed look. “…What happened to the other guy?”
“Other guy?!” wheezed the new bartender. “There WAS no other guy! You’ve been drinking all day, you’re seeing things! One minute, you’re talking and no one is there and,” his rambling went into gibberish for a bit before finishing with “‘Whhhhyyyy?’ and I’ll tell you something, at the end of the day, who cares, lady, who cares?! You haven’t paid your bill yet, and that’s all I care about, so,” more gibberish before he grabbed a bottle, “here, make yourself useful! Tell me what you think! My own whisky!” The whisky was served in an oil lamp and had a distinctive urine color to it. Irmalii was NOT feeling that brave, so she just left 50 golds on the counter and quickly left the bar. “…You’re not better than me!!” shouted the bartender.