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December 05, 2022

The Aser Stories 03: The Labor of Love

By Sand Pilarski

"Is she the one for me?" asks Liz. "Even if she doesn't eat bugs?"

Sitting in the tavern last Twosday night, I was enjoying a cold brew after a fine hot spring day when an obviously inebriated lizard man staggered up to the bar, breathed on me (the smell of booze breath is bad enough -- do you know what those guys eat?!) and said, "Hey, you're a shaman, ainchoo? Can I ask you a question?"

I leaned far back, reached for my staff, and gave the little herb bag on it a squeeze to freshen the air, and to get the staff between me and the lizard man. "There's this elf chick I met on the last campaign," he whispered loudly and odoriferously, "and she just won't go out with me no how. An' she's so beeootiful! Shaman, how can I get her to love me?"

The obvious answer, of course, was for him to have himself made into a nice stylish handbag.

I was powerfully tempted to encourage him in his pursuit of the elf by suggesting that he serenade her every night for a month, follow her everywhere she went, and tell everyone in the province of their romance. What a war between the elves and the lizards that would cause, and how I would love to witness it. But no, I let the temptation pass. I really didn't want the ghosts of the earth and air staring accusingly at me from the trees for the rest of my life when the elves eradicated the lizardmen. Instead, I asked him his name, so that I could address him with a modicum of respect.

"They all call me 'Liz,'" he said, gesturing with a dirty thumb at his lizardman friends around a messy table in the corner. "I call them 'Liz,' too. Makes it easier for all of us."

Why did I even ask? I pushed a barstool with my foot until it was as far away as I could shove it, and invited him to sit down, out of breath's reach. Advice to the lovelorn ... "Well, Liz, what was it that attracted you to this elf?"

"She's beeootiful!"

"And what else?"

"What else what?" His scaly greenish eyelids blinked confusedly.

"What else do you like about her?" Blink, blink, furrowed brow. "Liz, what else do you know about her?"

"She's a elf! And she's a she, if you know what I mean," he told me with a reptilian wink.

I hate it when I have to agree with an elf. "And elves like ...?" His only reply was more blinking and to order himself another mead. Yuck. "Liz, elves like reading old books in arcane languages, and cut gems, right? And line dancing to harp music, remember?

"If you want someone to love you, you have to be willing to share their interests. Could you do that to get her interested in you?" I waited while his nose wrinkled between the nose holes and his eyes, pulling his cheeks up so that his teeth showed. "All the Enya concerts?"

He gagged a little.

"What if she does start to love you, and wants you to read to her and dance in the moonlight and sing ballads about dead elves all the time?"

He drank down his mead in several large swallows, wiped his mouth messily on both of his arms, and belched resoundingly. "She ain't that beeootiful," he said, and hopped off his barstool and walked away.

I turned back to my neglected beer, and found one of the three dwarf bartenders leaning on the bar in front of me. "My turn next, Shaman," he leered. "Tell me how I can find some elf-chick -- I'll dance in the moon or whatever it takes."

"I already paid for this drink, Svarthund. Get lost."

Article © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-02-19
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