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Author Topic: The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack  (Read 5146 times)

Offline Lady Ty

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The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack
« on: October 03, 2015, 06:40:12 AM »
Lonely and sad

Spoiler for Hiden:
Jmack slumped at his office desk and pondered on his miserable prospects for the evening. His family had tickets for a Barry Manilow concert tonight in New York and he’d thought that would be the perfect Birthday Treat.  Then his crabby boss insisted he should work all weekend on a special project, so he couldn’t join them.  Jmack wondered if he had been unwise to call all those emergency five-hour breakfast meetings to launch the new Goat Cheese Bakery Brownies this week.  Some guys were so unreasonable.

He didn’t really want to go home to an empty house because, dammit, it was his birthday. He shouldn’t have to spend a birthday on his own, but nobody was free to join him for dinner tonight. He’d been on the phone all week hoping someone would remember that today, Saturday 3rd October was his actual birthday, but he was too embarrassed to keep mentioning it himself.

Not like some of those on the F-F forum who kept hinting weeks away. No, not Jmack, he’d dropped a little hint in an unrelated thread in mid September, but maybe that was too early. Then, nearer the birthday date, he waited and waited but no one had said a word.

He’d certainly dropped a massive hint in The King’s Paws last night out of desperation but still no one took any notice at all. Just burbled on about cider and selfies.  If they didn’t remember, well, he’d know who his real friends were. So far his phone calls to find someone to celebrate with him hadn’t been a success. All those he’d counted on had really let him down.

ScarletBea said she had to finish knitting some picnic food and was doing a post-post-post-modern painting class so she hadn’t got time this week.


m3mnoch was painting the walls with multi-coloured fractals and couldn’t stop or he’d lose his place in the pattern

Lady Ty chattered on and on about judging competitors in the Best Ultrasour Rhubarb Pie contest and didn’t even ask him to take part in the tasting.

Raptori and Saurus were building a Giant Dipper in the sitting room for their pets and found they had lost the door to get out.

Elfy was cataloguing the library and Lejays was busy making vegemite sandwiches to leave inside the door.   She hadn’t seen him for three weeks, but the sandwiches disappeared, so she wasn’t worried.

Saraband was starting a sequel to Shattered Sands called Demolished Dunes because Eurog kept urging him to get on with it before they moved to Scotland. 


 

Nora had been unobtainable, her phone was always engaged. She would be negotiating film rights with Hollywood  for her outrageously successful Wayward Wendigo and Cute Cannibal romance series.

Arcane had been generating bad maps and was lost somewhere, waiting for Eliza to help him find his way back home.

Eclipse was immersed in Shakespearean cursing and only muttered something that sounded like ‘clay-brained guts and knotty pated fools.’ Hmm, bit of a worry.

Doc Chill was completely engrossed teaching Overlord’s pet dragon to pose with a six-gun to promote the Guns and Dragons writing contest that was coming up. Going quite well, but the claws were a problem on the trigger.

Henry Dale was just busy recruiting for the Army.  The ARMY?



Hedin told him the CIA had to come first – funny, he’d never thought of Hedin as a cloak and dagger conspirator, more a straighforward football lovin’ guy. You just never knew.

The same with all the other so called mates -  just  a miserable load of excuses, Jmack grumbled to himself.  Couldn’t one of them make the effort to join him for just one evening in a whole year?  All those LIKES were just rubbish, they’d never really meant them. 

Jmack dabbed at his eyes and sniffed.  Taking a deep breath he  decided he wouldn’t bother with those people any more. He had heard about a group of people training Yoda Squirrels, he would join their forum instead and let those mean old F-F go without him.



Having made up his mind, and definitely disgruntled, Jmack started his lonely trip home.  He got in the lift to leave the empty office block and descended to the ground floor. Just before he headed out towards the street he heard some strange sounds coming from the door leading to the Boardroom.

Surely, the Chairman wasn’t still asleep in there after the Board meeting this morning? He’d better check the old boy was alright, so he opened the door and stepped through………………….
« Last Edit: October 03, 2015, 07:06:15 AM by Lady_Ty »
“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.” 
Leigh Bardugo, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Offline xiagan

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Re: The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2015, 07:16:13 AM »
Spoiler for Hiden:
There weren't many places where one could get what he wanted.

It was highly illegal - most fun things were. But Xiagan knew just where to look.

He sighed, shaking an aching hand while putting more weight on the other. He got it, really. The place had to be difficult to reach but how on earth could the shop keepers survive? He didn't see any other shoppers left, right, up or down of him on the steep cliffs of Vertic Ally.

Somewhere around here had to be this shop... What was its name? Ah right, Old John's. There, finally. A bit to the right, nearly on Xiagan's altitude.

Sweaty and a bit shaky he entered the shop, hoping that it had been worth it.

A small man, the size somewhere between a dwarf and a hobbit, came running from a back door. He sported a fabulous beard, huge glasses and was rubbing his hands in a way that made him look eager to please the customer.

"Are you Old John?" Xiagan asked.

"No, no, do I look old to you? I'm Not-Yet-Old-Enough-To-Be-Called-Old-John. Is there something you specifically need Old John for?" Not-Yet-Old-Enough-To-Be-Called-Old-John asked back.

"Uhm... no, I don't think so. I need a present for a friend." Xiagan made a pause. "A special present..." He stopped, a little bit afraid to say it.

"We have lots of special things. Actually, we are proud to only sell special things. So special that you can't buy two of anything we have in our shop. Unique items, so to say. Do you already know what you want or should I show you around a bit?" Not-Yet-Old-Enough-To-Be-Called-Old-John said.

This  was tempting. Who knew what was laying around in a shop like this? The Not-So-Holy-To-Be-Called-Holy-But-Still-Quite-Holy-Grail? But there was a long climb back down and Xiagan hadn't that much time left. "Thank you, but I know what I want. It's an artifact called Goatificator and...

Not-Yet-Old-Enough-To-Be-Called-Old-John interrupted him. "Ooooookay. We are talking some serious shit here. I'm sorry, but I can't help you." He held a finger up to stop Xiagan from saying whatever he wanted to say. "I'm not authorized for this stuff, but So-Old-That-He-May-Soon-Be-Called-Oldest-John is. If you wait a small moment, I'll get him for you."

He run to the back room and you could hear him rumbling some stairs up or down. Xiagan waited a while, trying not to touch anything, especially not that undersized guitar labeled "Californicator".

"A good day to you, Not-Yet-Old-Enough-To-Be-Called-Old-John told me, you want the Goatificator."

Xiagan looked down. A tiny man, the size between a Hobbit and a really small Hobbit, stood next to the counter. He had no hair at all but enough wrinkles to make ten men look old.

"Yes." Xiagan said. "It's for a friend's birthday. He has this strange obsession with goats and this will make him really happy, I'm sure."

"Hmm, hmm." So-Old-That-He-May-Soon-Be-Called-Oldest-John said. "I'm not sure I should sell it at all. Made some bad experiences with those machines in the past. And it's not even for you, so I can't assess if this friend of yours is trustworthy at all.

"I'm sure he is." Xiagan said. "After all, his name is John."

So-Old-That-He-May-Soon-Be-Called-Oldest-John smiled. "Ah! He's one of us, even if he hasn't found his right name yet. Nobody is called just 'John'. There's always more to that. But maybe the Goatificator will help him with this." He run from left to right, climbed a ladder, opened a box until he finally came back with a small, pen-like thing.

"Just point it on a book and press this little button." So-Old-That-He-May-Soon-Be-Called-Oldest-John explained. "If you press it once, the main characters name will be replaced with 'Goat' throughout the whole book. Press it twice and every name will be replaced. Press it three times and every noun in the book will be replaced. Never push this button more than three times. And never ever point it on something that's not a book. I once sold the Smurficator and it was later accidentally pointed at a Clan of Wee Free Men..."

Xiagan promised to pass the instructions and the warning on and after a bit of haggling, he paid and left the shop, while So-Old-That-He-May-Soon-Be-Called-Oldest-John was running back behind the counter.

"Why are those John's always running?" Xiagan wondered on his way down.

Once he was in normal terrain again, he created a shortcut to the front of the board room, went through and walked in. He couldn't wait to see Jmack's face when he unwrapped his present.

"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline ScarletBea

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Re: The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2015, 07:18:47 AM »
Decisions, decisions...

Spoiler for Hiden:
It was John’s birthday soon, and ScarletBea knew she had to find a present.
A present!
The people asking had no idea of the difficulty of this task.
For her, the best present ever was a book voucher: she asked for book vouchers from everyone, and whenever she got one her heart would burst with happiness, thinking of all the new worlds and characters that would become part of her life!
She even gave gift cards to most of her family: the freedom of choice, after all.

But friends are different. You need to give friends proper presents. Things.
So, what to give John?

ScarletBea thought that she knew John quite well: job, family (including his daughter ;)), holidays, driving long distance, Rosie the dog - and of course his books and his writing. And the forum craziness.
He was a really great friend.
He was also the person that usually kept her on the straight and narrow at the most difficult times, always via his suggestions and random sentences that he probably never guessed influenced and helped her so much.

So, knowing all this, what could ScarletBea give John?

Goats were off the menu. She bet that everyone would give him one, and then he’d have to buy a farm and move out of town, and this would be the tipping point for his wife, that saintly and patient woman.
A plane ticket to the UK would be a nice thing, but you can’t give that kind of expensive presents to friends. That’s supposed to be reserved for partners, even those that end up not deserving it, hehe
She could knit him a jumper, but the one thing ScarletBea didn’t know about John was his size – anyway, it was already too late, at her usual knitting speed.
She could bake him a cake. However, they called her ‘Mistress of Cake’ without knowing that even though her cakes were good, she hated icing and she could never eat the ones she usually posted. And there was the little problem of mailing a cake overseas…
She bet that many of the others would be writing stories. After all, they had been on the receiving end of John’s fabulous birthday stories and they must be retributing in kind. They MUST!
But ScarletBea was not a writer, and she couldn’t really translate all the ideas in her brain to proper words.

[sidenote] of course she has ideas! Who reads fantasy and has no ideas? [/sidenote]

ScarletBea thought, and thought, and thought some more.

It had to be special.
It had to valuable.
It had to be something that would bring happiness.

She thought some more until she realised that there was only one present that was good enough.

On the 3rd of October, clutching the big book voucher in her hands, ScarletBea entered the Boardroom with a smile.
After all, what to give such a good friend but the thing you like most in the world?


And a cake ;)

« Last Edit: October 03, 2015, 08:48:48 AM by ScarletBea »
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Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2015, 07:21:51 AM »
Something I cooked up for a friend. ;D

Spoiler for Hiden:
The morning air was crisp and you could hear the sound of orioles tweeting in the distance. From the street you could see a young man hustling down the sidewalk, top button hastily unbuttoned and only one side of his shirt tucked in.

Chill was running late. Chill was never late.

In Baltimore bloomed autumn, and in autumn comes the month of October. October is a special time of the year, one for realizing the coming tide of winter. There was Halloween, to fend off the demons one last time for holy holidays. There were midterms reeling in the background, ready to spring on any unsuspecting student.

And then there was Jmack’s birthday, the ringing bell to signal this start of an end.

“Gosh dammit there’s so many people here.”

And indeed there were. Too many one might say, lanes packed with cars and bikers and every sort of pedestrian you could imagine. One would think that 8AM would be the opportune time to head to work, but it appeared that Baltimore still hung to that 9 to 5 American Dream. Chill coughed into the air, stench of tobacco corruption wafting this far north from DC, and headed farther down the street.

Yes, there was a good number of ladies and gents on the road, and to make matters worse, none of them were friendly. The smiles Chill gave stood out like the proverbial duck out of water. He felt like a stranger in a strange land and was extremely glad he had forgotten his ten gallon hat back at the ranch.

“Might have to sell it,” he chided under his breath. Along with those textbooks he had sold on eBay for this plane ticket up north. And for what? $3.24 in his bank account for a long walk around Maryland’s capital, no sense of direction, and to make matters worse, no present!

Woe be to him. What would he do? What could he do?

And then it hit him like a train.

There! A bookstore!

It was an obvious choice. Chill grinned to himself. How could he be so lucky? He darted across the four lanes of traffic (because at this city speed limit, who the hell cares?) and made it to the front steps of some window shop showing off all assortments of books. In through the front door he strolled, and straight into the arms of one big burly man.

This man, black hair swept behind him and gold rimmed spectacles all shined to pristine, was the owner and amateur librarian, if you could look past the tattoos snaking up his arm and up to the rolled up sweater. But no matter, because he’s a minor character and doesn’t deserve that much screen time. Yes, the man you might call Brett or something moderately tough yet sophisticated caught Chill by the shoulders and stopped his plummet into the cart of books.

“Whoa there. Careful, son. Don’t want you knocking over all the merchandise.” Chill patted himself down. Small cart, he noticed, and a lack of customers to boot. Oh well. “Anything you need in particular?” the hipster questioned.

Chill thought for a moment. “Yeah, um, you have anything on writing? Like, say Stephen King’s On Writing?” Any nonfic reader had to know the giant of writing rules, surely.

“Ah, yes!” he grinned. “I know exactly where that is.”

And to the back corner Brett or something-the-other led him, to a few bookshelves crammed with, “But I didn’t mean just Stephen King!”

Too late. Off the man went, to restock his shelves or perhaps help that new lass who had walked in. Lovely. Fucking readers not understanding what he was getting at. He sighed.

“Three dollars is all I got,” Chill reminded himself. “There’s bound to be a sale going on. I mean, these brick and mortar shops are always handing those out, right?” His experience with book sales extended to Amazon, mostly, but let him believe. It was too early in the morning to start crushing young men’s dreams.

Anyway, unperturbed, he flicked through the spines. Spied It and The Stand and – ooh, The Gunslinger! No, not now. Something for Jmack. What would he like? Writing advice, yes.

Chill turned toward the aisle of non-fiction and started toward – wait! What was this on the middle shelf? Kung? Like Kung Fu or that guy who did archetypes or stereotypes or whatever? Both sounded intriguing, but the title even more: Why You Don’t Need to Hook the Reader: On Opening with the Weather and Other Assorted Things No Critic Would Ever Tell You to Do.

Yes. This was it.

He grabbed at the paperback (sucks to suck) and found another shocker: The price. Yes, it was scary. Scarier than clowns in drains or that clowns weren’t clowns. See, there was no tag. Nothing. Maybe it was meant to be? Chill glanced over his shoulder and watched the owner bend down to find a book for the missus.

Hmm.

It wasn’t a far trek to the door and out. I mean, if it didn’t have a price on the back, was it really stealing? His law studies disagreed with that assumption, but this was Maryland. Them Yankees were crazy. If anything, maybe he’d get extradited back to Texas. Yes, that sounded promising. He needed a plane ticket somehow.

He decided to run for it.

Ten paces. Ten paces was all he needed. A hop, skip, and a jump if you will. It was all child’s play. It was too easy. He didn’t make it to the counter; slipped on something and this time he had nobody to catch him. To the ground he fell and gone the book went.

“Gosh dammit,” he said. So close.

But remember, there were other people in here. “Are you okay?” Brett and the girl scampered over to his fall. “Did you hurt yourself?”

If Jmack wasn’t old, he surely wasn’t! Yet still he groaned and rubbed his backside. “I think I’m okay.”

“Okay,” Brett muttered while he bent down to pick up the book. Chill tried to grab for it on the floor, but alas, his bum hurt too much to move. That was okay, though, because he saw what he had tripped over, and – “Oh, so you found yourself a book.”

Chill waved him off. “I was just returning it,” he said, but his voice was distant. Could this be the perfect gift?

“Returning it?” Brett didn’t understand. The girl helped Chill up nonetheless, and he dusted himself off while the owner questioned him. “Why were you returning it?”

“Should’ve been in nonfiction,” the young man tried to play it off.

Both of them stared at the cover. “But there’s a unicorn shooting lasers out of its—“

“Ah, never mind.” Chill bent down to pick up his prize; a bookmark. He didn’t say anything else witty or remarkable. No, he was out of there lickety split. Why, this was marvelous! It had so much story to it, so much potential.

What was the only casualty to the great Title War but for Jmacyk’s Y? And if this bookmark in the shape of that letter was anything to go by, it was a sign!

“Have a nice day,” the librarian waved from his shelves and his still stunned customer. Chill paid them no mind and opened the door. Fished out his phone and looked for the map icon. What did the birthday boy say his address was again?

12011 East West Avenue?

But what was this?

He looked up from his stumblings, and there he came upon a quandary. He was no longer in Baltimore. No, he was surrounded by glass rooms and stuck in a corridor. It reminded him of that time in Atku’s chambers earlier this year, and could that be the analogy to this whole kerfuffle?

Ah fuck it.

His app was beeping. This had to be the place. Chill straightened his coat, tucked in his shirt, and with one foot in front of the other, into the boardroom he strolled. He might be late, but he was going to make the best damn entrance he could think up.
“It’s a dangerous thing, pretense. A man ought to know who he is, even if he isn’t proud to be it.” - Tomorrow the Killing, Daniel Polansky

Offline Raptori

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Re: The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2015, 07:22:13 AM »
Spoiler for Hiden:
Raptori rubbed his temples and tried to think. Jmack's birthday was tomorrow, and they still hadn't got him anything. Leaving things until the last minute usually helped them get creative, but this time...

"Saurus, do you have any ideas?"

Saurus peeked out from underneath a pile of cuddly toys. "ARSEWARTS!" she shouted.

Raptori sighed. "I don't really think that's the best idea."

Saurus harrumphed and dove back into the pile of infinite snuggles.

Raptori gave up. There was nothing. He'd just have to get Saurus to bake a cake or something. With goats on it. He turned the TV on to watch the football.


Saurus huddled up in her sanctuary, shielded from the outside world by the piles of animals. They were her soldiers, and they would protect her with their lives. She held court with the wisest and brightest of her subjects.

"Mamaroo? Roope? Anyone? Any ideas?"

Mumble, a scruffy little penguin, tapped his feet and piped up. "I could teach him to dance! I'm sure he'd like that."

Mamaroo shook her head. "Nonsense, Mumble, that would not work. You cannot leave us for that long." She fiddled with her tail. "I would offer some of my chocolate, but I'm afraid... never mind that. Do I recall that he has an affinity for goats?"

Saurus sat up. "Mamaroo, that's it! Goats. That's Jmack in a nutshell. We can't just give him a goat though, he probably has thousands already." She scrunched up her face and considered carefully. "A goat cake would be good, of course, but that's not really special. It fits Jmack, but not us."

Anikki clapped her flippers and shouted joyfully, "Arf arf arf, arf arf arf arf!"

"Genius, Anikki! Does everyone like the sound of that?" The others in the council nodded their agreement, and Saurus grinned. "I'll get started on it right away. Oh! First things first." She cleared her throat. "Raptori?"

She paused for a moment, but received no answer. "Raptori?"

Nothing. She clenched her teeth and took a deep breath. "RAPTORI!!!"


Every now and then, a strange, small squeaking noise was just audible above the sounds of the match. Raptori frowned, and looked around the room. There was nothing that—ah. He leaned over towards Saurus's pile and stuck his head inside.

Saurus looked out of breath, and her scowling face was bright red. "I've been shouting for you for hours! You need to fix your ears."

Raptori rubbed his face. "I last spoke to you five minutes ago... and I really should buy you a megaphone. You wanted something?"

Saurus raised her nose and sniffed. "Go to that clockwork kitten store around the corner. Quickly now. Get a grey one."

"Saurus... We've been through this before. We don't have space for more kittens. Not even clockwork ones."

Saurus rolled her eyes. "The Queen of the World has spoken. Off with you."

Raptori sighed. By the way they were glaring at him, the children all agreed with Saurus. Even Mumble. He'd never be able to persuade them all—there was no point trying to argue. "Alright, I'll be right back."


The front door slammed. "Saurus! I'm home!"

Saurus put down her sewing carefully and exited her hideout. Raptori held a box under his arm, roughly the size of a shoe box for giants.  "Did you get the right colour? Let me see." She took the box and opened it.

The clockwork kitten was a work of art. It was impossible to tell it apart from a real cat, except that it actually sat still—for now, at least. It had bright blue eyes, and its fur was blue-grey and white, shot through with stripes of charcoal.

"It's fat." Saurus stared at the cat. "Why is it fat?"

"Err... Is that not okay? It was on offer, so I thought..."

Saurus sighed. "It's a good thing I decided to make it adjustable."

Raptori frowned. "Make what adjustable?"

"You'll see tomorrow!" Saurus dove into her hideout again.


Raptori stood in the doorway, waiting for Saurus to emerge. He had stayed up all night baking, and after thirteen hours of experimentation he had finally baked his most bestest creation. A vanilla sponge, with two wonky goats on top. He tried not to look at it too closely. It's the thought that counts!

Saurus appeared, beaming, carrying a... something... in a wicker basket filled with blankets.

"Erm. What... What is that?" Raptori stared at it. It looked like...

"It's a clockwork kitten-goat, idiot. Isn't she beautiful?" Saurus cooed at the kitten-goat and stroked its chin. "It's the perfect gift for Jmack."

"Wow. That's actually pretty cool. The sweetness and playfulness of a kitten, and the... looks of a goat?" Raptori scratched his head.

"Exactly." Saurus paused as she turned to open the door, raising an eyebrow. "Raptori. What on earth is that?"

"Uh... I didn't realise you were making something too... So I baked a cake." He looked rather sheepish, which was not an appropriate look for Jmack's party. "It even has goats on it, see!" He held the cake up for Saurus to inspect it.

"O... kay. Well, waste not want not, I suppose!"

Raptori chuckled. "Yeah, I guess..."

Presents in hand, they exited their house, emerging onto the top of a fluffy white cloud. They got on their bikes—which were clearly the most fantastical form of transport in the world—and secured the presents in their bike's baskets.

"Ready?" Saurus asked.

Raptori nodded.

They cycled onto a rainbow, rolling down in a flash of light, and suddenly found themselves in a drab boardroom.

I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline ArcaneArtsVelho

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Re: The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2015, 07:27:45 AM »
It was raining.
Spoiler for Jmack:
AAV sighed, looking at the shop window in front of him.

What to give to a man who already has everything: Wisdom and life experience, youthful energy and enthusiasm, almost impeccable sense of humour, mad writing skillz, and a loving family, who puts up with his obsession of reading and writing as well as his constant praise of the wondrous internet fantasy land called Fantasy-Faction forum.

AAV shook his head. Of course his mind was dry of ideas now when he had left things to the last minute. And to be honest, leaving things to the last moment happened more often than not, especially with his monthly writing contest submissions, but evidently also with birthday present shopping.

I don’t even know what to wear. If only the party had been a masquerade. Then I could have gone as my RPG character. Making colour-changing robes and a cane with shooting and flying capability would have been a pain—figuratively—, though. And getting all the tattoos would have been—this time literally—a pain too. Wouldn’t have been fun to get them removed afterwards, either. I guess my very plain self will have to do.

AAV shuffled onwards along the short shopping street of a little Finnish town. There was about four shops in total, and none of them had a very good selection of present-like thingies on sale. One shop did have some cards on display, though.

A birthday card? Only a card would be lame, but it's better than nothing, I guess.

AAV stepped into the shop, dripping rain water all over the floor.

The shopkeeper gave him a faint nod—that’s the Finnish way. “How can I help you?”

“I’m just browsing,” AAV said, unsure why they were speaking English, and moved to the card rack near the window. He flipped through the cards for a moment with a very puzzled expression on his face. “Are these all greeting cards from different countries?”

“Yep. A mix-up with the supplier. They are on discount.”

“Are there any birthday cards?” AAV asked, but the shopkeeper shook his head. Then AAV shook his. “Well, is there a ‘Greetings from Finland!’ card?”

“Yes. Here,” the man said and pointed out a card with a jolly, white bearded man in red clothes, riding a sleigh pulled by reindeer.

That won’t work; silly Americans think that Santa comes from the North Pole.

None of the other cards made any sense either. None except one.

Greetings from Croatia?

“I’ll take this,” AAV said, smiling, and went to the counter. Then he took a pen and wrote on the card:

“Greetings from Croatia!
Where I’m NOT from.
Happy Birthday, Jmack! May there be many more years to come, with many more posts and fails... I mean, happy accidents!
Your forum friend, ArcaneArtsVelho”


AAV was quite satisfied with the card, so he turned to the shopkeeper, ready to check out.

“That’s 30 euros.”

“What! 30 euros for a greeting card at a discount? That’s like 22.12 pounds or 33.58 dollars!”

“What can I say? Depression is a bitch.”

“You mean inflation?”

“That too. Look, you already wrote on the card, so pay up.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Anything else?”

AAV couldn’t think of anything really special to buy, so he went with something that he knew Jmack would like. “Give me a couple of those dragon eggs, that working replica of the One Ring, and... a can of spam.” Yes, because you can totally get all of those from basically any shop in as magical and fantastical a place as Finland. “Oh, and I need two teleportation scrolls.”

After a bit of haggling, AAV paid the shopkeeper and stepped outside. The rain clouds were parting, and the sun was shining through, sharing its last warm rays with AAV and the autumn coloured foliage. Winter was coming, but AAV didn’t mind. He had a very special birthday party to attend, and he was ready now.

It’s going to be a good day. Well... I better teleport now so I get to the party in time. There’s only 12 hours left before it starts.

(What? Who said that teleportation needed to be anywhere near instantaneous?)

AAV read the spell from the scroll. Then, carrying the card, dragon eggs, fake One Ring, and can of spam, he sloowwlyy teleported into the Boardroom.

Everything I wrote above is pure conjecture. I don't know what I'm talking about.

I'm a perfectionist but not very good at anything. That's why I rarely finish things.

Offline Nora

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Re: The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2015, 07:32:09 AM »
She was always damn late.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Dreams solidified and faded, a surrealist crust peeling from the senses. A sound rang into a call shapped like my name.

Nora.

Awareness blurred into slow focus, coming with the heaviness of repossessing a gravity-bound body.

"Nora. Wake up."
I moaned a protest, turned in the coils of sheets and cracked a wary eye.
There was no mistaking that voice. It belonged to a thin blade of a face, sharp and famished.

"Hades"
"You're late."
"Hades. What are you doing in my bed? I don't remember inviting you here..."
Hades brushed his hands through his salt and pepper hair and blew a long gust of despair.
"Don't you have a birthday party to attend?"

Memories crash landed in my brain.
The mad dash to finish the latest story, the week of struggle to keep up on all fronts and mostly failing, the night of dancing, the days of social interactions...

"Shit. Did you find what I asked you for?"
Hades glared at me and stood up on his knees. The tall man made an aggravated noise as he hit his chest with the palm of his hands.
"Am I not living proof that I've found it? Did you not create me as a deadly efficient contractor? You send a ruthless killer after an inanimate object and..."
"Wow, I certainly didn't remember creating you this verbose."
"Nora, everyone is ready. Lady Ty has been making your pocket buzz more than the man you crush on, how..."
"Hades, just shut the fuck up. Make me a coffee if you have to hang around."
Dark eyes bore a hole in my head. We stared at each other from each side of the double bed.
"You're going to play it lame aren't you?" Hades asked.
"What?! This is fuckin' offensive mate. I send my best character to roam the fields of Imagination to retrieve the perfect present none of the others have thought of and you call it lame?"
"Like this dude needs a Shard of Focus," Hades barked, "have you read any of his stories? He'd probably be less offended if you just sent a note."
I sent a dark glare at the man, my child really.
"You know, Hades, that you were written to be a bad guy?"
"You mean the only sort of interesting characters you can think of?"

I ignored the pique and made my way to kitchen, making a beeline for the coffee pot.

Hades sat in front of me across from the coffee table. His long fingers played with the present I was to bring to Jmack's party, a shard of translucent material that looked suspiciously like air mixed with imagination, tempered in bullshit.

"Nora. You know, this is a mistake."
I met the man's eyes, balked. He was becoming translucent himself.
"It's the coffee, isn't it?"
Hades nodded. He tossed the Shard of Focus on the table and waved at me.
Not a farewell, but one of those dismissive gestures one does to brats who are... well, dismissed. With this last insubordination his form vanished.
I stared into my black steaming cup and gathered my own focus.

Shit. I was late to Jmack's party weren't I? In ragged shorts and trashed tank top, eyes caked with delusions of sleep, I grabbed the present and opened my laptop, the WiFi logged, a handle appearing on the door I needed to open. I'd look better on the other side. Ready to party - again and again, for the people that made it good. I pushed the door and stepped in.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2015, 02:47:27 PM by Nora »
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline Henry Dale

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Re: The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2015, 08:07:08 AM »
And sometimes it's just crazy shit happening...

Spoiler for Hiden:
Henry the Jack and the big heist

Henry the Jack was asleep on a tropical beach far far away. The waves soothed his dreams along with the sounds of neko girls playing beach volley in the distance. It had been exactly one month since the big adventure that had supplied him with the Dragon Diamond and now he enjoyed the profits. He'd bought a little island somewhere in the Objectionists Ocean, built a big house and invited all the girls. Now there was nothing that could interrupt his endless vacation. Nothing at all...unless Conan in a tutu would drop down from the sky. For a moment he laughed at his own joke, turned over and continued his nap.

A voice interrupted his nap. 'Ho there!'

Was he dreaming?

'Ho down below! Mragahaha!' The voice repeated.
Henry opened his eyes and let out a terrified shriek. 'Cor Blimey!'

Conan's hairy bum was floating right above his face and approaching. And was that a pink tutu?
Henry rolled away from his comfortable spot and chose ingesting a mouthful of sand over ingesting a barbarian's private parts. He got up, coughed out some sand and looked at the enormous hairy...ballerina?

'Conan!' Henry sputtered in disbelief. 'What in Belgarium's behind are you up to!?'
The barbarian grinned at him and stroked his axe.
'Miss Scarlet sent me. She thought you'd forget about ol' Jaymack's birthing day. So I'm here to remind you. Party in a week.'
'Yer, I forgot, but what on Fantasia is with the pink tutu?'
'It's the latest fashion at Elfy's library. Really you have been on your own for too long.'
'I'm... not alone... the neko girls are good company.'
'You need an adventure buddy 'o mine.'
Henry made a face which said he didn't agree at all but he found himself dragged to his feet by the barbarian in an instant.

'Alright, alright.' Henry spoke as he liberated himself from Conan's shovel-sized hands and brushed the sand from his white hair. 'Where is this party? The black castle?'
'Hold yer horses there son! You don't expect turning up at the party without a present for the ol' chap? You need something unique, something fine, something exquisite. Because we're gentlemen.'

Henry thought back at the nightmarish visions the little king had sent him in a pandora's box for his own birthing day, but Conan interrupted  his thoughts of revenge.
'We need a gift that comes from the heart. Something uniquely Belgarian to the core.'
'Woah there, what did you get him?'
'Why, something utterly manly of course! But I ain't telling you what.'
Henry looked at the pink tutu wearing barbarian and considered his revenge complete as such.
'Alright, alright. It has been a while since I've visited my great beloved homeland.' Henry spoke as he donned his mystic monocle.
'Belgarium, here we come!'


Henry took a deep breath as he set foot on Belgarian soil once again. He imagined he could hear the carillons ringing over the screams of the gulls that terrorized the harbour. There was a spring in his step. Home again!
 
***

Conan followed rather unsure what to think of the whole scene. He'd met Henry in a bar fight and travelled with him from time to time. There were oddities about the man he'd never understand though. Was every Belgarian as strange as this?

They exchanged the cobblestones of the harbour for the pavement of the city streets and Conan only had one word for this city. Overwhelming. The city was a ramshackle mess, as if every citizen had decided upon his own city plan and decided to stick to it. Wooden walls and thatched roofs fought smooth marble blocks. Glass structures invaded rustic homes. And there were towers everywhere. Semaphores competed with watch towers and large chimneys for space but were all pressed aside by the sheer amount of belfries. They didn't agree on the hour so the sky was a constant of ringing and chiming.

Henry was saying something but Conan couldn't hear what it was, the carillons just blotted out every sound.
'Whaaaat!?' Conan roared.
Henry yelled back. 'I said, the food is delicious but export would be too tight!'
He gestured at the stalls around them.
The smell of chocolate, waffles, fries, speculoos, witlof and all those things combined somehow overwhelmed the barbarian's nose. He shook his head. This was too much. How did these Belgarians hold out? But Henry trotted on, towards the city centre and into the sea of chaos.
 
***

The Great Carillon of Belgarium chimed eleven. Time for elevensies for the people of Belgarium so most people flocked to the terraces around the square. Henry kept milling about though. Something typically Belgarian, something typically Belgarian...

He was stopped in his tracks by a dark cloaked figure bumping into him. A glimpse of blonde locks, soft lips that turned down in a snarl and there tripped a girl. She landed on the pavement before either of the gentlemen managed to respond. A series of curses came their way.

'Oy! Watch where you're going, mate! You bunch of... I-' She yelled, but she was cut short by Henry, who extended a hand to her.
'My sincerest of apologies, beautiful lady. The fault is entirely mine. My friend and I were simply desperate in finding a gift for a friend and we believed the shade of the belfry would clear our minds, unaware in our brutishness that you had taken place here.'
The girl blinked at this stream of words that streamed from Henry's mouth. 'Eh, what's that?'

She cautiously took the hand, muttering a gruff thanks. Henry pulled her to her feet, then pulled up her sleeve with his other hand. She tried to pull back but it was too late.
'Say, Conan. Thieves guild tattoo here. What should we do? Kill her?'
'What?' Said Conan rather shocked. 'This little girl?'
'I'll take out your eye if you try, fancypants.' Said the girl as she drew her shiv.
Henry responded by drawing his indestructible masterchef knife.

'A member from a thieves guild, my arch-enemies? No way I'll let this chance pass. Have at me!'
The girl lashed out with her shiv but was parried by Henry. The brittle knife shattered in her hand and Henry simply pushed her back so she landed back down on the pavement once more.
Conan ran up to her and offered help to the girl, but she refused and got to her feet by herself.

Henry turned back to the belfry.
'Initiate.' He muttered. 'Are you really the best the guild has to send after me?'
His eardrums shivered as the girl yelled at him. Some people looked their ways before continuing elevensies. 'I've bloody no idea what you're on about! Who the hell are you guys?'

Henry remained pensive though and Conan came up to him.
'What if she wasn't sent by the thieves guild? What if she really was just chilling here in the shade?' The barbarian grunted.
'Nah, that's just bull...' Henry retorted. 'I mean, it is right? I'm one of the most wanted thieves for crying out loud. If you're right though...'
He glanced at the girl behind them, walked towards her and stole her second knife before she could react and walked back to Conan.
'We could use her help. She might know where to get a really unique gift. She's not stupid...even though she's blonde.'
'Alright, if you're sure.'
'Worth the try.' Henry said with a big smile as he grabbed the lethal knife that was coming his way from the girl's hands. 'Hello you. Would you like to grab a drink with me?'
The girl looked royally pissed. 'If you think I'm going out with you, then you can kiss my-' She exclaimed.
'Conan, escort the lady, please. Oh, and miss, we'll have the date some other time.' Henry winked.
'You cheeky bastard!' The girl yelled as Conan lifted her from the ground onto his shoulder.

***

'Name's V. Thieves guild initiate.' The girl grumbled before she looked away and concentrated on her waffle.
'Nice to meet you V. I'm Henry and this here is my brother-in-arms Conan.'
V looked pensive as she bit a large chunk from her chocolate bar. 'Why on Belgarium's behind is he wearing a pink tutu? Ah well, nevermind. What do you guys want? Is harassing pretty girls your hobby?'
Henry opened his mouth, most likely to confirm that this was indeed the case when Conan said,
'We're looking for a gift for his highness Jaymack. The black king of Fantasia.'
'I've killed a goat, you know.' Henry added in a way that said she should be impressed about such a meticulous feat.
The girl gave him a look. 'Ok. Nice for you,... I guess?' She said. 'Where do I come in?'
'We want to give king Jaymack something typically Belgarian. And what's more Belgarian than a carillon?'
V shrugged as she sipped her hot cocoa. 'Just steal the great carillon of Belgarium then? Some dimensional warping and it's fixed. You're paying this by the way?'
Henry smiled. 'Of course. My friend Conan takes care of everything. Let's get on the road.'

***

They'd fled the terrace rather unceremoniously and were now resting in the shade of the grand carillon, catching their breaths.
'Right V. How should we set up the dimensional warping?' Henry said between his breaths.
V pulled her lollypop from her mouth. 'There's a rift inside the tower that helps time tick on.'
Conan looked at her. 'You mean, it runs the clock right?' He said.
V shook her head. Her blonde hair brushed against Henry's cheek and he felt like he was in one of the books they'd found in Elfy's library. 'I mean the rift runs bloody time itself. We could make it wobbly and turn up right in time for the birthday, in the right place.'
Henry felt like there was an awful lot that could go wrong with his plan. A little voice in his head told him so. The other little voices in his head told the little voice to shut up and watch those blonde locks some more.

***

Getting explosive charges and picking the lock in had been easy, but now Henry had insisted Conan climb the ladder down first. The barbarian did not understand but V had a similar wish of not having to look up at the pink clad warrior's hairy butt so that was the way it was.

Cogs were spinning all around them and there didn't seem to be any coherence in the workings of the great mechanism of the carillon. As they reached the bottom of the basement there was a huge rift in the middle. As far as Henry could tell, the rift spread across the entirety of Belgarium.

V came up to him. 'We have to get the charges as close to the edge as possible. Try not to get pulled in, you might grow some extra heads and you're ugly enough as is.'
Henry flashed her a sarcastic smile and bound a rope around his waste. Carefully he walked up to the rift. Purple laser beams and disco lights reminiscent of a Barry Manilow concert erupted from the opening in space-time. He placed one of the two charges on the edge, eyes half closed to the terrible light. He yanked the rope and was pulled back by Conan.

***

Conan watched his buddy. Sweat dripped down from the man's forehead. What hellish sights had he seen in the rift? V seemed eager to go on though and he knew what it was. She'd been bitten by the curious disease called adventure. No doubt another one that joined their troupe now. They were getting plentiful.

'Other side now.' V told Henry. Apparently she seemed to command him like her personal lap dog. Henry gave her a grumpy look. Told her he'd switch places with her if she didn't behave.

***

Henry walked up to the other edge of the rift. The rope still sat tight around his waist and it was like a walk in the park. Except for the Barry Manilow music. God, he hated that stuff. But this was a sacrifice for his friend Jaymack. When the charge was in place it started counting down immediately. Henry pulled the rope, then started a run towards V and Conan.
'Oh shit, too early! It's gonna blo-'

Pop

Thar she blows!

The rift went wobbly and the great carillon of Belgarium stuttered in place. Henry, V and Conan floated up along with a whole lot of melons that came from the rift and they popped back into place beyond a mysterious door.

Offline Saraband

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Re: The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2015, 10:01:01 AM »
A man is as good as his friends  ;)

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Great Conspiracy. That was how a good-intentioned but mischievous plan by Lady Ty, also known as Roxie, Southern-Hemisphere Mother of Dragons, Queen of the King's Paws, First of Her Name, Khaleesi of the Discworld, Headmistress of the Fantasy Faction Academy of Witchcraft, Wizardry and Fantasy Enthusiasm, came to be known as.

The plan was quite simple. Using her superior mastery over the arcane arts, which she studied with the help of her loyal cats, she would present the Master of Likes, Jmack, with a collection of magical scrolls written by each student of her Fantasy Academy. While most of her students needed little help from her to come up with their contributions, there was one who reached out to her, and in her generosity, Lady Ty presented a solution.

So it was that Saraband, Head Student of Procrastination, was temporarily teleported to no other place than Middle-Earth itself, in the company of the Fellowship of the Goat.

"So, we've all got our gift ready, but Saraband needs a little help," ScarletBea, Devourer of Books, said. "All we need is to help him go into the stores of Mr. Prickly-Foot, in Hobbiton, and get out of there with a whole barrel of pipe-weed."

"Alright mate," said Elfy, Master of Speedy Reading. "I know the place well, I'll get you in 'n out before I finish this book I'm reading, and that's saying something!"

So the Fellowship went on, moving in the legendary footsteps of some of their heroes, seeking none other than the most legendary pipe-weed for the Master of Likes. They sang many songs, and cooked wholesome and enticing foods which appeased both the carnivorous Rostum and the vegan Saurus. Their company was rich with joy, and they were all driven by the desire to bring happiness to this common friend, treasured greatly by the Fellowship.

When they finally came upon the stores of Mr. Prickly-Foot, they realized that no one had come up with a plan.
"Listen," said Doctor Chill, The Great Organizer of Writing Groups and RPGS. "This can be quite simple: Raptori only needs to assume his cat form, and we wait while he goes inside and scouts the place. When he makes a sign, we go in and take a barrel."

"Meow", said Raptori, immediately shapeshifting into his most adorable form.

And so the plan went forward, and the Fellowship waited anxiously as Raptori disappeared from sight and into the stores. But it didn't go as smoothly as planned. Mr. Prickly-Foot appeared in the distance, and he seemed to be heading straight into the stores. Everyone was getting nervous, until Eclipse came up with an idea.

"I will rush towards the Hobbit and delay him with some talk," he said. "Saraband, run in and get the barrel. As soon as you got it, just send Lady Ty a mental signal and she will port us back.

Such was as it happened, and the Fellowship's quest was fulfilled. Saraband finally had a mighty gift in his possession, one truly suitable for the Master of Likes, and so he went in through the door and joined the party.
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Offline Hedin

Re: The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2015, 12:12:36 PM »
Spoiler for Hiden:
Jmack’s birthday party was fast approaching and Hedin was running out of time to pick up a gift.  He thought about picking up a goat but figured that old joke may have been a bit played out (ok, not really but goats are expensive) and besides, Mrs. Jmack might get a bit jealous by the goat and the last thing Hedin wanted to do was to cause drama between them.  So with a goat out of the picture Hedin got down to the task of deciding on a gift.

The trick to picking out a gift for someone is to obviously figure out what they like and so Hedin sat down and wrote down a list of what he knew about Jmack.  First was the goat thing but that had already been dismissed that idea.  There was always the book option but Hedin was not exactly sure what books Jmack already owned.  He also knew that Jmack liked to drink hard ciders but Hedin didn’t know what his favorite type was, and besides he didn’t like ciders and would have had a hard time picking out a good one.

Then Hedin remembered that Jmack was old.  He wasn’t sure how old but he had remembered hearing that he liked Spam and only old people like Spam.  Depends is always a good gag give to give to old people but if Jmack was old enough to actually need them it may not be much of a gag gift.  Hedin thought about all of the old people he knew and realized they all had one thing in common, they all tended to need reading glasses.  And what better gift could you give a reader and writer than something that would help them read.

So Hedin headed down to the nearest eyeglass store.  As he was looking at the frames he realized that he had no idea what style of frames Jmack might like or even what power would work.  He was about to give up and figure out Plan B when a salesperson came over.

“Can I help you sir?” asked the salesperson.

“Well I came down to buy some reading glasses for a friend,” Hedin started, “But the problem is I don’t really know what style of frame he might like nor what strength he might need.”

“I can see how that could be a problem, however you have come to the right place as I believe we have the perfect solution to your problem.”

The salesperson lead Hedin to a rack at the back of the store and handed Hedin a pair of silver wire frames along with an information pamphlet. 

“Read this pamphlet with these and tell me what you think.”

Hedin put on the glasses and when he looked at the pamphlet is was like he was only holding it an inch or two away from his face.

“I have never seen anything like this”, Hedin exclaimed, “how do they work as they don’t appear to be that thick but work better than any magnifying glass I have ever seen?”

“The inside of the glasses are actually a mini LCD screen,” began the salesperson, “There is a tiny camera reader in front of the glasses that scans the page and then renders an image of the pages on to the LCD screens.  These are the absolute best reading glasses you can have, only way to get anything better is wait until they make contact lenses that do the same thing.”

“Well these sound like exactly what I am looking for but they seem rather expensive.”

“They’re actually not that expensive at all, they just cost one goat horn.”

Seriously what is it with the goat thing around here Hedin wondered as he reached into his backpack and pulled out a goat horn.

“Will this one do,” he asked, “It came from a 10 year old Göingeget who had an affinity for sweets”

“That’ll do perfectly” replied the salesperson with a gleam in his eye.

With his purchase in hand Hedin left the store and headed to the nearest arcade.  Once inside he headed to a classic version of Rampage.  Hedin put his quarter in and instantly found himself by the door of a tall skyscraper.  Waving to George, who returned the wave, Hedin opened the front door and stepped inside.

Offline Lady Ty

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Re: The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2015, 01:31:24 PM »
A Friend for a Friend from a Friend

Spoiler for Hiden:
Lady Ty had been wondering what to get Jmack for his birthday. He had so many good friends who would find him exotic and delightful gifts. Perhaps instead of a “Something” she could find him a “Doing”?  But what would he like to “Do”?  She could not think of anything unusual to suit him, he had a wide variety of interests and hobbies already, being such a well-rounded person.

Aha, the ubiquitous light bulb clicked into life and ‘well rounded’ tweaked an excellent memory. She knew just the person who could help her out, assuredly one of the best of gentlemen, most excellent in every way. She would set out straightaway to seek his aid and advice.

The Tyburn River had been around London since at least 785 AD so its personal Goddess could slip back easily in time to the London of 1828.  Lady Ty was soon knocking on the front door of a pleasant house in one of the genteel squares.  She hoped she would be lucky enough to find the Master of the House at home just now, because he often went touring around the countryside to visit his many acquaintances.

The door was answered promptly by a smart manservant who greeted her with a cheeky grin and a deep bow.

“Good afternoon Sam, how good to see you again, I was hoping for a chat with your master, is he at home?” Lady Ty asked with a smile, because this valet was one of her favourite people and took great care of her dear friend.

“Oh my, Lady Ty, blessed but we’ve missed you. How are you, ma’am? Wery glad to see you, indeed, and hope our acquaintance may continue to be a long ‘un, as the gen’l’m’n said to the fi’ pun’ note. The Master is al’ys at home to you and vill be wery d’lighted to see you agin. Come, let me show you up to his study where he’s a-groanin’ and a-grizzlin’  fit to bust over some papers he’s a-tryin’ to write. He’ll welcome the break, as the ‘usband said when ‘is trouble an’ strife went to stay vith ‘er ma. Please follow me.”

Sam announced Lady Ty and the Master of the House greeted her with enthusiasm, rushing towards her in great excitement, scattering inkpots, manuscript, quill pens and all kinds of writing   paraphernalia on the way.  They exchanged news happily and eventually Lady Ty broached the problem of finding an exciting pastime as a present for her friend Jmack’s enjoyment.

After serious consideration, her amiable and very well-rounded friend came to his conclusions and made a well-judged pronouncement.
 
“My dear friends and I always followed the aims of our Club, to indulge in the best possible Perambulations, Perils, Travels, Adventures and Sporting Transactions and have witnessed many incredible occurrences. Sadly, of late, my closest friends have been distracted with marital delights and I am most sorely in need of suitable company for more adventures.  Do you think Mr Jmack Esquire would consider an invitation to join me as an Honorary Member of our Renowned and  Illustrious Club? “

“Exactly what I had hoped for, a chance for him to go Adventuring with you and doubtless experience many Travels, Perils and Perambulations, not to mention Sporting Transactions.” replied Lady Ty, looking at the kind, smiling man with great affection. “I believe that would make him most joyful and appreciative. You have my sincere gratitude and I wonder if you would care to accompany me to Mr Jmack’s Birthday Party and offer him your invitation in person?”

The Master needed no urging to join a party, especially with the enticing possibility of imbibing Port Wine and Madeira, as well as partaking in a sumptuous repast. He inscribed an elegant official invitation for Jmack to join his club and the two friends  were driven off in Lady Ty’s Dragon Coach which found its way easily to the right destination. 

 Beaming with anticipation the Master, far better known as The Honourable Mr Samuel Pickwick Esquire, entered the building with Lady Ty and together they walked in through the Boardroom door………………..


“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.” 
Leigh Bardugo, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Offline JMack

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Re: The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2015, 02:38:55 PM »
All I wanted for my birthday as time to write. And go to the movies to tsee the Martian. And tomorrow to the theater to see a play version of Pride and Prejudice (but unfortunately not with dragons) and then to a new (to us) restaurant. And write some more.

Well, and to spend tme online with Forum friends.

But noooooooooooooooooooooo. I have stories to read!  ;D ;D ;D ;D

And reading them, I am!

Be back soon, you great guys.
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Offline m3mnoch

Re: The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2015, 02:56:08 PM »
oh, but there's more!

Spoiler for Hiden:

It was a warm day of an indian summer and m3mnoch was strolling along the inner harbor.  He’d been to the Baltimore Aquarium that morning and was excited about his purchases.  He picked up a stuffed polar bear and a rubber snake for his two boys.  They were going to love them.

He paused on the sidewalk and looked down at his gifts.  Oh!  He remembered this weekend was Jmack’s birthday!  A suitable birthday gift was in order!  Hrm…  I bet there is a party too!  Those Fantasy Faction folks were certainly a ribald bunch.

What would be a good gift for Jmack?  From the forums, it certainly appeared he had a thing for goats.  Maybe some galoshes?  Ew.  No.  That’s a terrible idea.  m3mnoch slapped his forehead.

A low-building wail warbled up the street behind him, and he turned to look back up Pratt.  It sounded like there was a fire engine rushing to get somewhere.

He turned back to look in the nearby store window.  They happened to have genuine goat-fur stoles on display.  Really?  m3mnoch shook his head.

The fire engine siren was building now.  It would be flying by in a moment or two.

He glanced around for something different that might pique his gift-giving senses.  Everyone was probably going to do the goat thing.

“Is that smoke?”  m3mnoch was looking at the building across the street as he mumbled to himself.  There was definitely smoke coming from an open window on the third floor.

A man dove out the window, a small child cradled in one arm, and latched onto a rain gutter with his his other hand.  The gutter peeled away from the building with a long screech, punctuated by the popping of bracket bolts.

m3mnoch stood there, amazed, as the man and child touched down gently, nearly missing one of those sweet muscle cars.  It was a Mustang.  Or maybe a Camaro.  Late 60s?  70s?  m3mnoch was terrible with cars.

The man patted the child on the shoulder, a little girl about eight, and pointed up the street to where the fire engine was screaming up to the building now.  She hugged him and he hopped into his muscle car.

“Did you see that?!”  m3mnoch pointed at the retreating tail lights, frantically looking around for anyone else who might have seen the heroics.  There was no one else nearby and he ended up with a single, lonely whistle, “Amazing.”

He walked on to the next window, head still shaking in disbelief.  He looked in at the display and noticed it was a book store.

Jmack likes books, he thought.  I bet he doesn’t have the entire Tolkien collection.  m3mnoch walked up and put his hand on the glass.  He saw a pristine copy of The Hobbit sitting on a small table.  He sighed.  Duh, of course he does.

By now, the firetruck was dousing flames spilling out of the building across the street.  It didn’t seem out of place in that moment, but there were more sirens in the distance.  They sounded like police sirens.

He walked up to the curb just in time for a white van to roar by, swirling up dirt and debris.

There were men with masks hanging out of the van windows.  They fired automatic weapons back toward the direction they’d just come from.  m3mnoch was paralyzed. He stood there eyes blown wide and mouth agape, unmoving.  Had he sense, he would have fled immediately in case a stray bullet caught him in the crossfire.  He just stared on.

That same muscle car, he was sure it was a Camaro, flew up behind the van, dodging their bullet trails.  They were shooting at the man who had rescued the little girl.  He was hanging out the window, firing a hand cannon back at the fleeing van.  Boom!  Boom!  Boom!

As quickly as they had come, the chase scene skidded around the next block and was gone.

The firemen across the street had run out of the building to see what was going on.  It was lucky the fire appeared to be under control, because the man at the front of the hose was distractedly washing the little grocery store next door while he stared after the gunfire.

m3mnoch chuckled.  He looked down at a spent casing in the gutter and thought to himself, Man, what a badass.

An explosion echoed up Pratt Street from where the cars had raced off.  m3mnoch hoped the badass was still in one piece.

He went back to shopping.  Jmack needed a gift, not a super hero.

In the same window, down below The Hobbit was a clean wooden case containing a Windsor Prose Writing set complete with a bottle of midnight ink.  The pen was beautiful.  He writes.  He’s old like me.  I bet he likes pens.  It was perfect.

m3mnoch opened the door to the little book store and heard a worried meow coming from behind him.  He stopped and looked up into one of the small trees planted along the sidewalk.

There was a kitten hanging precariously by one paw some 25 feet above the pavement.  It was about to fall.

He let go of the door and turned with the full intention of diving to catch the cat.

The door started to close.

Screeching tires and a throaty engine roar echoed.

Moving quickly, m3mnoch took a long step toward the tree, the door still swinging.

The muscle car laid rubber in a loping, e-brake arc to slide sideways, like it was parallel parking under the tree.

The kitten fell.  It flung out little paws and claws, scrabbling, trying to cling to leaves or twigs.

The door flipped open as the car rocked sideways with the momentum from the wheels hitting the curb.  A figure rolled out, springing the last few feet, and landed on his back beneath the branches.

m3mnoch took his second step.

The door closed.

The super hero caught the kitten.

The man stood, setting the kitten on the ground with a “Head on home, now.”  He turned to m3mnoch and said, “Hey there.”

All m3mnoch could say was “Wow.”

The man’s uncomfortable look and twitching mouth couldn’t hide the awkwardness at the obvious fawning.  He put his hands in his pockets and said “What are you up to?”

m3mnoch blinked.  After a slight pause, he pointed a thumb back to the window, “Buying a pen.”

“That’s great.  I love Windsor pens.”  The man pointed to the exact pen m3mnoch was going to pick up and said, “That set is remarkable, don’t you think?”

m3mnoch nodded.

After a moment, the man gestured back to his car, “Nice talking with you, but I’ve gotta go.”

m3mnoch nodded again.

“See you around?”

Again, the nod.

The man smiled, climbed into his beast of a car and peeled out.

Wow.  If a real-life super hero liked the pen, surely Jmack would think it swell.  Right?


***


Breathing deeply, sweating slightly, twitching to finally meet all of his Fantasy Faction friends, m3mnoch walked up to the double-doors of the board room with the gift in-hand.  After a moment, he reached out and pushed them open.

There was a crowd gathered.  m3mnoch didn’t know which person was Jmack until one of the women ran up and hugged him.  “Jmack!”

m3mnoch grinned.  Yes!  He loves Windsor pens!



Offline Rukaio_Alter

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Re: The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2015, 03:02:27 PM »
Kinda unannounced here, but I felt like joining in.

Spoiler for Hiden:
“Alter!” Rukaio shouted. “Do you have any idea what day it is?”

The familiar glanced drolly at the calendar. “Saturday.”

“No, you fool!” Rukaio said. “Today is much more than a mere Saturday! Today is a certain special someone’s birthday! Can you guess whose?”

Alter was silent for a moment. “…Lena Headley’s?”

“What?” Rukaio glanced at his computer. “Oh, holy crap, it is her birthday today as well. Huh, ain’t that weird?” He shook his head. “But that’s not who I was talking about. I was talking about Jmack!”

“Oh…” Alter nodded his head. “Who?”

“Jmack, man! Jmack!” Rukaio clenched his fist. “My fellow forumnite and my eternal writing contest rival!”

“…Who?”

“The guy who likes goats.”

“Oh, him.” Alter nodded. “So it’s his birthday, huh? Good for him. He seems like a nice guy"

“Indeed.” Rukaio’s face turned pensive. “But there’s one colossal problem we need to solve right now.”

Alter raised an eyebrow. “And that is?”

“I… haven’t actually got him a present yet.”

Alter sighed. “And why not?”

“Well, I just couldn’t think of the perfect gift to give him.” Rukaio explained. “And I need to give him the perfect gift, otherwise how else am I supposed to win?”

“Win?” Alter blinked. “Win what?”

“The birthday, of course!” Rukaio looked to the sky, his eyes blazing with fire. “I shall prove myself to be the superior birthday guest and cement my absolute domination of the festive world!”

Alter opened his mouth. Then he shut it again. “I don’t think you can ‘win’ birthdays.”

“Well, not with that attitude you can’t!”

“This going be just like that Easter Egg hunt all over again…” Alter sighed. “Alright, what do you want me to do?”

“It’s simple.” Rukaio grinned maliciously. “You are to help me come up with and retrieve the perfect birthday gift. With my superior intellect and your… existence, together we are certain to come up with the birthday gift to destroy all other birthday gifts!” He paused. “Possibly literally. I have some ideas involving plutonium. And fire.”

Alter made a mental to note to stock up on fire extinguishers. “And if we can’t come up with anything?”

“Hmph.” Rukaio smiled smugly. “Your lack of faith is disturbing, Alter. Between the two of us there is nothing we can’t do!”


One hour later...

“We can’t do this…” Rukaio groaned, slumped over the table. “None of our ideas are going to work out.”

“You don’t know that.” Alter said. “I thought that goat keyring was an excellent idea.”

“You can’t just get someone a keyring for their birthday.” Rukaio rolled his eyes.

“Well, I think it’s far more fitting than anything else.” Alter said. “Jmack loves goats and we put a lot of effort into finding just the right goat keyring to suit him. Sometimes it’s not about how big and shiny your present is, but about the meaning and feelings you put into it.”

Rukaio glowered at him for a few seconds. “Does this look like a Care Bears commercial to you?”

“Fine.” Alter sighed. “Maybe we should go over the list of ideas you’ve already had and see if any new ideas come u-“

“I’ve got it!” Rukaio leapt to his feet. “We should go over the list of ideas I’ve already had and see any new ideas come up!” Rukaio shoved a sheet of paper into Alter’s hand. “Alright, read that back to me.

“Okay.” Alter skimmed through the writing. “Idea 1) The One Ring of Power.”

“No, we can’t get him that.” Rukaio said. “Those meddling Hobbits already destroyed it at Mount Doom.”

“And it’s fictional.” Alter pointed out.

“Minor detail.”

“Idea 2) Excalibur.” Alter facepalmed. “You’re planning to get him the Legendary Sword of King Arthur?”

“Why? You think it’s too gaudy?” Rukaio scratched his head. “It doesn’t matter anyway. It’s stuck at the bottom of a lake and I don’t know how to swim.”

“Idea 3…” Alter blinked and squinted to make sure he’d read that correctly. “The Invisible Bonds of Friendship? I’m sorry, who were you accusing of sounding like a Care Bear commercial?”

“Give me a break.” Rukaio sighed. “I thought the saying referred to literal Invisible Bonds. You know, like Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth or something.” He let out a gasp. “Hey, do you think-?”

Alter cut him off mid-sentence. “Nope. The Lasso of Truth is still fictional.”

“Damn it.”

Idea 4) The Cursed Scarab of Amun-Ra.” Alter massaged his brow. “You were going to give him a cursed artefact?”

“It was only a little cursed.” Rukaio shuffled uncomfortably. “Plus it came with a free frogurt.”

"Huh." Alter thought a moment. “That is a good deal.”

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t pick it up since I was banned from ever visiting Egypt again after that whole ‘mummy’ incident.” Rukaio explained. “So that one’s off the table.”

“Idea 5.” Alter read. “Australia.”

“You think New Zealand would be better?”

“Alright, all these ideas are terrible.” Alter said, crumpling up the paper and tossing it away. “Why not just get him a Game of Thrones boxset? After all, it would be appropriate considering that whole Lena Headley thing.”

“Wait…” An idea sprung to Rukaio. “Lena Headley… That’s it! I know the perfect gift for Jmack! We’ll kidnap Lena Headley and give her to him!”

Alter blinked. “I’m fairly certain that’s illegal on multiple levels."

“Hah!” Rukaio laughed. “It’s only illegal if you fail!”

“That’s... really not how that works.“

“Tough. I’ve already made up my mind!” Rukaio said. “Now, we need to plot exactly how to pull this off. Luckily, I hear there’s a Game of Thrones cast reunion coincidentally happened nearby. Now we’re going to need 3 sheep, a pair of spectacles, a crate full of spoons and-“


One comical offscreen heist later...

“Wow.” Alter said, catching his breath on a street corner. “That went hilariously badly.”

“Gnnnuuuuh…” The living bruise that was once Rukaio groaned.

“I mean, who would’ve thought Lena Headley could kick so much ass.” Alter continued. “No wonder she got to play Cersei. She schooled the hell out of us.”

“Gruuughuu…”

“And who knew Peter Dinklage secretly took up ninjutsu? That man was a slippery as a bar of soap.”

“Gaaaghhaahh…”

“And don’t get me started on Sophie Turner. Who would’ve thought that between the sweet gentle face of Sansa Stark beat the heart of a maniac?”

“Ggggowww…”

“So, what are we going to do about Jmack’s birthday present now?” Alter asked.

“Uugh…” Rukaio managed to sit up. “I don’t know. I’m completely out of ideas.”

“We could always give him this?” Alter dangled the goat keyring in front of Rukaio’s face.

Rukaio stared at the keyring for a few seconds before sighing and taking it from Alter’s hands.

“Screw it.” He said. “Care Bears commercial it is.”

“Glad you’ve finally seen sense.” Alter helped Rukaio to his feet and the two staggered down the street towards the boardroom.

“I suppose at the very least I’ll be able to steal those Invisible Friendship Bonds…”

“Yeah, that’s... still not an actual thing.”
5 Times Winner of the Forum Writing Contest who Totally Hasn't Let it All go to his Head.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Also, <Insert GOD EMPEROR OF THE WRITING CONTEST joke here>

Offline Eclipse

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Re: The tale of finding birthday presents for Jmack
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2015, 03:41:15 PM »
I'm giving your poor eyes a rest Jmack

Happy birthday to you and I wish you all the best for the next year,keep writing and keep posting and keep reading and finally have a wonderful day with your family and friends, eat lots of cake and drink lot's of cider  ;D

Take care
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

Jonathan Stroud:Ptolmy's Gate