The Magic Company – Part 6
“Welcome weary travellers, to Glisterland; the land where all that glisters IS gold”, said the beautiful, blonde woman in the sparkly golden dress, smiling sweetly as Rancliffe and his friends approached.
“Hmm?”, said Rancliffe, turning his map around in his hands and looking at it from all angles, “There’s no Glisterland on the map and I don’t remember dreaming about a Glisterland”.
“Welcome weary travellers, to Glisterland; the land where all that glisters IS gold”, repeated the woman in the golden dress, smiling as sweetly as before.
“Hey! It looks so cool!”, said the teenager, Gavrin rushing to the entrance and pressing his face against the golden bars of Glisterland’s tall gates, peering inside the high walled citadel at a secret pleasure dome where all a teenage Halfling’s wildest fantasies and desires seemed to be a reality.
“Let me see!”, said Trev, the dwarf, pushing the young Halfling to one side and gazing through the bars at a dwarf paradise where everything was the same height as him including the beautiful, young dwarf maidens in glittery dresses.
“Well, I’m always suspicious of any paradise with walls and bars around it, gold or otherwise”, grumbled Rancliffe, as he eyed the others, disdainfully, “If it’s so wonderful then why isn’t it free and open to everyone”.
But no one was listening to the old man and, now, even Hallah was transfixed by what she saw through the bars of the city gates; all the things that a young Elfmaiden could ever dream of.
And then, suddenly, the pretty blonde woman, who had up until then, been repeating her “Welcome
weary travellers” spiel over and over like some weird, non-spiritual mantra, said “I’m sorry but no one is permitted to enter Glisterland without a ticket and tickets are only available from our ticket booth at a nominal cost of 5 gazillion pieces of gold for adults and 2.5 gazillion pieces of gold for children and old age pensioners”.
“Well, that settles it”, said Rancliffe, happily, “None of us can even afford a ticket, not even at children’s rates so we may as well ignore this place and move on. We can always go around it”.
But none of the others wanted to leave. Infact, the teenager Gavrin looked as if he would be happy just to stand there and look through the bars forever and he had that strange sort of mesmerized look in his eyes that he only ever got from watching too many TV commercials.
And then, like a conjuror plucking a deck of cards from out of the air, the woman in the sparkling dress suddenly produced four glittering, golden tickets, saying “Don’t despair, for today and today
only, Glisterland has four free tickets to give away as part of our ‘Sweet Seduction’ promotion”.
Rancliffe had never seen a fish approach a baited hook as eagerly as his drooling friends now approached the golden tickets.
Only he, turning away from the glare of their glimmer, refused to take one, saying, “This has nothing to do with our quest. It’s just some sort of gold plated mousetrap, that’s all, you’ll see”.
But his friends refused to take heed of his warning and, as the gates of Glisterland opened before them it was as if someone had fired a starting pistol, the way they all rushed forward and jostled with each other to get through the entrance.
“Are you quite sure, sir, that you wouldn’t like one of our free gold-plated, V.I.P tickets to fabulous Glisterland, the land where dreams come true”, said the woman in the glittering dress, trying her hardest to entice him.
“No thankyou”, said Rancliffe, turning around and going, grumpily upon his way, “I don’t find your
entrance so entrancing for I know the dark realities within”.
If only they had listened to their friend, Rancliffe, for the moment that the golden gates of Glisterland had clanged shut behind them , they saw that what was inside was not a dreamland
for teenage Halflings or dwarves or elfmaidens or anyone, but a place of nightmare.
As they looked round about them they saw only a vast cage which, oddly, was filled with dusk like darkness even though all outside was bright as summer morning and, crawling and wriggling, stalking and skulking in the darkness were not the dream things or beautiful maidens they had
seen from outside but the denizens of evil dreams; blood sucking, bone crunching, slimy and hissing
hideous horrors; unearthly wailing and screeching ghouls and walking skeletons who, although they had no stomachs to fill, nevertheless had a ravenous look in their eyes as they lumbered towards
Gavrin, Hallah and Trev.
“Help us!”, shouted Hallah, looking out of the cage and seeing Rancliffe limping away into the distance without them but, because no sound could escape that cage filled with darkness, Rancliffe
could not hear her or the others as they screamed to him for help.
What Rancliffe could hear, however, was the voice of his own conscience nagging at him to turn back and rescue them .
“I shouldn’t really help them”, he argued with himself, “It’s their own fault. They wouldn’t listen
to me and there was nothing I could do to dissuade them , was there? But, then again, they are not wizards like me and do not have my knowledge of the dark powers of seduction and Gavrin is still very much a child and, most important of all, they are my friends and good people too. How can I honestly abandon them. That would be the selfish thing to do. The kind of thing that someone like Davorian would do”.
Then, suddenly, Rancliffe turned around and hobbled as fast as he could manage with one granite leg back towards the entrance of the outwardly golden city of Glisterland.
“Have you changed your mind, sir?”, asked the blonde woman in the sparkly dress, still holding out the fourth golden ticket.
“Yes, yes, that’s right”, said Rancliffe, feigning excitement and eagerness as he clawed the ticket out of her hand.
But the old man was only excited and eager to save his friends and, the moment that the gates of Glisterland opened up infront of him, rather than entering, he pushed himself hard against one of the gates and, struggling to hold it open, yelled to his friends inside, “Run! Quickly!”.
The gate, pushing against him to close, was powerful indeed, but so was the love in old Rancliffe’s heart and, though his body was weak and feeble, he would not stop pushing until the last of his companions were free, even when the blonde woman in the glittering dress revealed her true form,
becoming a pallid, bald, blood sucking vampire and leaping upon his back to bite him.
And fortunately for him, the moment that the last of his friends had broken free, they dragged the horrid blood sucking creature, writhing and screeching off of the old man’s back and Gavrin put the vampire to death with the blade of his broadsword.
From then on, all agreed, Rancliffe was their leader and they would listen to him.