THEN A PENGUIN WALKED IN #25

THE WELL-DRESSED LIE - PART ONE




THE SWORD OF POWER.

Dominick had been entrusted with its care, and now it was gone. Less than three hours in his possession and he’d misplaced it.

Or had he?

“Well?” Herbert said. “Grab the sword. It’s not good to keep them waiting.”

Dominick could only reply with an “um”, the most popular word in his vocabulary. He looked around the room in a desperate attempt to find the sword, or for an escape, he wasn’t sure which.

Herbert gave him the kind of look that combined both impatience and confusion.

“Mr. Hanrahan, we really must go.”

“Yeah, I know,” he spun round two more times before facing the large-nosed man. “Hey, what were you saying earlier about the Triumvirate and a war?”

“Is that really important right now?”

“Well, yeah,” said Dominick. “I should probably know as much about them as I can before I meet them, right?”

Herbert sighed, and for a moment Dominick thought the man would press the issue of leaving, but instead he spoke.

“Okay,” said Herbert. “Originally, the Triumvirate was made up of three representatives. One human, one elf, and one dwarf. Then, about a hundred years ago, the trolls and the fae decided that they wanted a say in how the land was ruled.”

Dominick was only half listening. The sword was his priority. It struck him that he could recall placing the sword in the corner when he’d gotten undressed for the bath. But it was no longer there.

“And so,” Herbert continued. “The two races sent forth their delegates to the Conclave to request representation among the Triumvirate. I’m ashamed to say that we, the humans, refused.”

“Oh?”

“You have to understand, at the time, and again this was a hundred years ago, our people felt that trolls and fairies were lesser beings, that we were, in essence, better than them. We were a close-minded people at the time. Some of us still are, unfortunately.”

“Yeah, we got a lot of that in my world too.”

“Really? Well, after being denied, the trolls and fae felt they had no other recourse than to go to war.”

“That’s crazy,” Dominick said. He was running out of time.

“Oh yeah. Trolls can get quite huffy when they feel they’re being insulted, and the fae? Well, a pixie can be downright scary.”

“Good to know.” He needed a plan. He couldn’t admit to Herbert that he'd lost the sword.

“Yeah,” said Herbert. “So, that’s all you should need to know. Grab the sword and we’ll be on our way.”

This was it. Do or die time. What was he going to do?

“You do have the sword, right?” Herbert began looking around the room, suspicion rising in his eyes.

“Um,” Dominick said. “No.” There he'd admitted it.

“No?” Herbert looked shocked. “Where is it?”

“Vivian has it.” The lie had come easy to him and he suddenly felt cold, as if a bucket of shame had been dumped over his head.

“Vivian? The pixie?”

“Yeah, uh, she came in with the woman who brought the food.” He was committed now. “She said she wanted to take it somewhere to be cleaned.”

“Cleaned?” Herbert scratched at his nose. “Wait, a woman? I sent a man in with your food.”

“A man?” It was the woman! She'd stolen the sword! He could tell Herbert, it wasn’t too late. Just admit to everything. Maybe they could even catch her. She hadn't been gone all that long. There was still a chance. He could make the right choice. Instead:

“Yeah, the man,” Dominick said. “That’s what I meant. Vivian came in with the man that brought me my food.” He tried to smile the kind of smile that can put a person at their ease and in turn cause them to trust whatever you tell them. He was afraid, however, that his smile advertised his lie louder than the guitar stacks at a Kiss concert.

“But you’ll need the sword when you are presented to the Triumvirate.”

“Well, yeah. She knows that.” Dominick laughed. In his head it sounded like the staccato cackling of a madman. “She’s going to meet me there and present it to me in front of the Triumvirate. She thought it would have more meaning that way.”

Herbert said nothing. He only stood looking at Dominick, who had begun to sweat.

To be continued . . .



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