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R.L.'s Ground Breaking Twitter Novel

"An Apprentice for Percy: How the Humble Wanderer Percy and his Incredible Menagerie of 1000 Moustaches Came Into the Employ of Her Majesty Queen Propesia the Ninth, Her Serene Highness, Empress of the 23rd Realm of Stuporia, Sovereign of the Grimdark Volgers, Lady of the Snodlands, Conqueror of the Leporids, Defender of the Twin Realms of Glux and Snemner, Duchess of Dungfall, Baroness of the Most Distinguished Order of the Fiery Marmoset, and Countess of the Noble Order of the Glorious Abacus."

Acknowledgements: I would like to take this opportunity to thank my agents, Tanya Denstein and Dawn Moss for their incredibly insightful advice regarding the Fantasy Genre, the publishing industry and the markets. Your boundless enthusiasm for my cutting-edge stories has helped the public recognize my true genius.

Copyright © 2009 by RL McSterlingthong                                All rights reserved.

ISBN 0-786-25634-6

 

Dedication:  To me for offering myself an endless well of inspiration. I AM fantasy. -RL McSterlingthong

 

Book One: A Giant Among Dwarves

 

Chapter One: The Apprentice Comes

 

Atel thes nolo dured Lorig ned gilo dured Plovidung

Ke! Foed surplecky Lindic

Yi! Noed quafdecky

              -Tardblivian Whittling Song 

 

      Percy opened the leaded-glass case gingerly as a long roll of thunder echoed up the valley of the Fe'Ulgan and shook through Dungfall Tower. He glanced up through his monocle to the tower window. The icy drops were spattering against the window pane. This night's storm was worse than many, but Percy had seen far worse over his many years. He snorted and returned to the delicate matter at hand. His eye squinted and searched along each and every row in the case as he continued seeking for what he sought. His bony finger paused and slid across the many wire perches to the one holding his favorite, the seldom-wielded Hobharf Slackery.

      "It is good to see you again, old friend." He pulled it from the case and tried it on.

      The knock on the chamber door behind him was punctuated by another enormous roll of thunder. He brushed the Hobharf Slackery gently. "My new apprentice has arrived... Enter!"

     The heavy door creaked open slowly. Percy did not turn to face the short robed figure who shuffled in, choosing instead to face the window.

      "You are," Percy called over his shoulder, "the new apprentice?"

      "Yes. I brought the soup," the voice behind him responded quietly.

      "A rather meek answer from someone who would hope to soon wield the power of THIS!" Percy bellowed. He spun on his heels to face his new appentice. A flash of lightning lit the chamber, revealing Percy's stylish and deadly moustache.

      "By the Gods of Gloster! The Hobharf Slackery!" The apprentice nearly dropped the steaming bowl of soup as he recoiled in terror.

      "Yes, by the Gods, yes!" The apprentice cringed.

      "That is the power of the Hobharf Slackery. There are few who can wield it. A dangerous weapon, but also an elegant one. Forged in battle, tempered by wisdom. Soon you too shall learn its power."

      The apprentice appeared to relax a bit at that reassuring thought and straightened up to his full 4 foot 8 inches in height.

      "Ah,” Percy continued. “The Soup of the Appentice. Made to the exact specifications?"

      "With the gizzards of 18 fleck worth of lardfleas, spring cogle cheeks and braised leeks."

      "Excellent. If I am to taste," Percy remarked with a snort, "then I should remove the strainer." He removed the moustache and set it down.

      The apprentice handed Percy the steaming bowl of soup with a short bow of the head. Percy gripped the bowl and took a sharp slurp of the soup.

        "Ah, well made. Though I only taste 498 lardflea gizzards here."

       The apprentice bowed his head deeply. "Perhaps I can improve my gizzard counting under your able tutelage."

       "Ha!" Percy rose up."Flattery will account for the missing ones today!" He dove his head back into the soup and slurped loudly.

      Noticing that Percy's head was buried in the bowl. the apprentice sought advantage and angled towards the moustache resting on the table. With a sly swipe, he grabbed the Hobart Slackery and quickly, haphazardly drew it up towards his face. In an instant of reckoning, Percy slammed the bowl of soup down to the table, turned towards the apprentice and shrieked.

      "There are many magic moustaches in this world, my foolish apprentice, and none of them are to be used lightly!"

      The apprentice froze in place as if suddenly realizing the incredible danger in which he had stepped. "I am sorry, master... I can hear it... the siren call of the mustache."

      "Impossible!" Percy opened his eyes wide. "None has been able to speak to the stache since...." Lightning lit up the sky outside the tall narrow window behind Percy. Thunder tore the silence asunder, its dark shriek piercing Percy's delicate ears."Since me." His eyes widened at the ramifications of that statement even as the Hobart Slackery drew closer to the apprentice. "It is you!" Percy's heart pounded in his chest, his his eyes focusing on the mustache as it drew ever closer to his would-be apprentice. The dwarven man, for his part, shook involuntarily, his eyes glazing over. His arms fell to his sides and he stuck his chin towards the inviting mustache.

      "No!" He lept towards him, reaching towards the mustache. He soared over his massive desk and reached the apprentice just as the Slackery connected with the dwarf's face. There was a flash of light the searing, molten power of the mustache burned into Percy and he felt himself lifted off the ground and hurled backwards. The room spun as Percy soared through the air. He reached out, trying to catch himself on the window frame, but the force of the blast was too much. "Why have you abandoned me?" He asked as he fell from the window in slow motion. The last thing he saw was the dwarf apprentice standing there in all his mustache majesty. The walls of the tower sped past and then his body smacked into the rocky ground beneath the tower, his bones cracked, his monocle shattered, there was a flash and then only darkness.

      The Apprentice could only watch as Percy, the man who had lorded over and terrorized Kraphaven for a century fell to his doom. He ran to the window, the mustache tickling his upper lip, his face tingling with its power, and peered out. Sure enough, Percy's broken and battered body lay at odd angles on the rocks below the tower's entrance. The Apprentice breathed a sigh of relief. He had done it, had brought peace and freedom to Kraphaven. He smiled broadly and the mustache twitched in approval. Turning, he took in the luxurious room, his eyes settling on the open mustache case on the broad oak desk. There were dozens of them, each with their own special power imbued by ancient and long dead sorcerers. No one knew why men with new powers had not been born in centuries. Some hypothesized that all the magical power in the world had been trapped in various head and facial hair over the millennia leaving none for anyone new. Perhaps the apprentice would learn the truth in time. For now, he would take on the awesome responsibility of the mustache menagerie. He nodded sagely in self approval.

      "Who are you?" A voice called out from behind him. Surely it was one of the late Percy's many lackeys and attendants. But which one? Was it Dorg, the surly tailor with a heart of gold? Maybe it was Ghoral, the last of the Foundering Snawads tribe from the Northern Steppes. Possibly it was even the wormy one, Khaf'Zil'Edi, who watched the apprentice with a mix of jealousy, disdain and indifference. It was no matter which one it was. They, like the mustache menagerie, were now his to command.

      The apprentice did not turn, instead stroking the Hohbart Slackery as it purred under his nose. "I," he said, "am your new master, and we have much to attend to.



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