Anyone who has ever had a cold will know that it is not a pleasant experience. And while adults, who live very stressful lives, might be content in taking time to heal, to a child being stuck in one's bed with a stuffy nose is sheer torture.

This was the case with Azaril Lamentamagicka, Hypnosia's Royal Court Wizard. The tiny wizard had caught a cold while raiding the freezer in the Castle's kitchen for some ice cream. Enticed by the mound of frosty, sugary goodness, Azaril had constructed an ice cream fort, with predictable consequences.

Azaril sneezed, and his bedcovers changed from their previous purple colour to a bright orange. It would appear that the wizard's snotty discharge was as magically endowed as he. His bedcovers had been changing colour all day and it was making him dizzy.

Azaril groaned and fell backwards on a pile of pillows, this was no fun. It was such a nice day outside, and here he was, stuck in his bemmock (a combination of bed and hammock from his native region of Nowhere) just because some mean Royal Healer said he should not be running around whilst ill.

Stupid human adults, what did they know? As far as Azaril was concerned, frolicking in the Castle's garden seemed like a perfect way for a Nowherian to get healthy. But if he were to do that, Serafyr would probably be very miffed.

Azaril had not seen the heroic warrior for over a day now. Funny, he had never taken Serafyr for a germaphobe.

To alleviate his boredom, Azaril picked up the latest installment of The Little Slime Beast series that had been lying on his bed, when a loud bang came from below. (Logically, below was the only place the sound could have come from as Azaril's room was at the top of the highest tower of the Castle of Anonymous. There were very few ways a similar bang could have come from above, since most birds knew to steer clear of the Wizard's Keep.)

The door to Azaril's room opened and Princess Simiel, Hypnosia's young ruler, entered. Her dress, a green, multi-layered, silk number, was covered with light grey dust.

Azaril quickly tossed his copy of The Little Slime Beast Eats the Flesh of the Innocent aside and crawled to the edge of the bemmock. "Simiel, what happened to you? Are you alright?"

Oh, this? Simiel waved her hand. "Its nothing, I'm fine."

"But... how? Usually, you don't let your outfits get in that kind of shape."

Simiel glanced down at her dress and brushed some of the dust off. "Oh, well We're... uh... renovating. Yes, renovating the main entrance hall."

"I didn't know you were planning on doing that." Azaril raised an eyebrow.

"Well." Simiel shrugged. "You know the latest interior trend is to knock down a few walls, makes the hall look bigger. And you know, I have to have my halls bigger than anyone else's. Anyway, how are you doing?"

"Much better, thanks. I think I could-" Azaril quickly raised the covers to intercept the sneeze, turning the covers burgundy. "-come and help you out."

"Oh, no! You need to stay here and get well."

"But it's so boring!" Azaril directed a pair of huge, pleading eyes at Simiel. I think Im sick from boredom not any germ.

Simiel gave him a tired smile. "Look, why don't I bring you some juice. Would that help?"

Azaril's face brightened, anything was an improvement from the horrid tea the royal healer had given him. How was he supposed to get better with something that gave him an urge to vomit? He had never heard of stomach acid being included in the four humours.

"I'd love some!"

"Great. I'll just swing by the kitchen." Simiel slipped out of the door.

Sighing contently, Azaril sank within a warm nest of pillows and burgundy covers. The bemmock was the size of a large regular bed, more than enough for a little Nowherian who was unlikely to grow to be more than four feet tall.

Azaril curled up, his large, green ears being the only things visible over the covers. An anthropologist had once deduced that, due to their size and skin colour, Nowherians were a subspecies of goblins and were prone to burrowing nests, before they invented the bemmock. Azaril classified this assumption as a 'big, fat lie'. Other than a distant cousin, who had issues with foot odour, no Nowherian he knew was mean, smelly, or a baby eater.

The promise of juice floating around in the illness induced stuffiness of his head, Azaril felt his eyes close and the velvety dark of sleep settle in. Before he could succumb to dreams of juice rivers and subsequent wet sheets, a series of crashes and bangs rang out. Azaril could almost swear he heard Serafyr's voice shouting amid the muffled din, he must have been having a great time to make such excited roars.

"Wish I was down there too, screaming my head off and breaking things," Azaril said to the covers above his face.

It was not fair that he should be cooped up in his room while everyone else had a fun time. Besides, the shouts and bangs made it impossible for Azaril to get any sleep. He pouted his lips. If they were going to renovate, they could at least attempt to be more quiet.

Azaril had to find a way to drown out the racket from below, he did not need a headache right now. After digging his way out of the covers, he looked towards a huge crystal ball that sat on a decorative stand on the other side of his room.

The forty-five inch Mithravision orb was one of many extravagant gifts that Azaril had received from his uncle, Ezramil Lamentamagicka, Hypnosia's wealthiest alchemist. Uncle Ezramil had insisted that a normal mortal-made television would not be suitable for his favourite, and only, nephew. So, accompanied by the grunts and growls of the royal porters, the limited edition magical viewing device had been hauled up to Azaril's room.

"Orb on!" Azaril commanded the Mithravision.

A flash of light came from the orb as it turned on. An image of a sharply dressed elven lady came to view.

"Not the news," Azaril groaned. "As if I need more things to bore me to death."

Upon closer inspection, Azaril noticed that the elf was standing within view of the Castle.

"We have been informed by the Royal Publicist's Office that measures are being taken to insure that the disturbance will not spread to the rest of the city. However, officials are urging all traffic to stay away from the vicinity of the Bridge of Posh." An explosion from the Castle sent the reporter a good three feet up in the air. "I'm sorry... The situation is still unclear... We do not have specific information as to what is going on inside the Castle, but everyone in the network are certainly hoping for the best. Back to the studio."

Azaril tilted his head, while the picture changed to the inside of a news' studio, where the anchor was shooting frantic questions at a random consultant. This must have been a bigger renovation than Azaril had thought.

Meanwhile, the anchor was jabbing his forefinger at the consultant. "Do you believe that the Royal Court has the situation under control? How could they ignore the problem and only act once it comes to their own door, quite literally?"

Azaril shook his head. "Orb off!"

Of course, Simiel and Serafyr had things under control. How could a simple, though loud, renovation get out of control? And it certainly was no fault of Simiel's that the trends of interior design changed so fast.

The banging and crashing continued. Azaril grabbed a pillow and pressed it hard against his drooping ears, but that only served to turn the bangs and crashes into thumps. Dejected, Azaril let the pillow fall off his head and motioned for his nightstand to rise up from the floor, littered with an array of magical items and toys, and float to him.

A radio, a completely non-magical one, sat on the nightstand. Azaril reached over the edge of the bemmock and turned it on. Maybe some music would cheer him up.

An announcer spoke with an energy laden voice, "now, here's Lecherous Minstrels with their new single, 'An Adventurous Glance Beneath Milady's Petticoat'."

Azaril listened to the song. He could not really tell what the lyrics were about, and something in the oddly excited rhythm of the song made him glad of the fact. However, the rhythm did cover the sounds from below. Just as the chorus was being played for the fifth time over, a fanfare heralded a special news bulleting.

"We apologise for the interruption, but we have..."

Azaril rolled his eyes; first the television, now the radio. Why did they have to ruin a perfectly fine schedule of programs with news?

"...residents of Anonymous are urged to stay indoors until the battle..."

Without a second thought Azaril turned the radio off and waved his hand so that the nightstand would set itself onto the floor. The stand was almost down when Azaril's sudden sneeze sent it smashing against the door.

Simiel soon entered, pushing the remains of the nightstand away as she squeezed herself through the doorway. Her hair was ruffled and her dress was in a further state of dishevelment than before.

"Here you go, Azaril. I got you the juice."

Azaril gasped at Simiel's appearance. "Gods, Simiel, what happened?"

"Its nothing, really." Simiel moved some of her hair out of her face and handed Azaril the tray bearing his juice. "The renovation's just proving to be kind of eventful."

"Yeah, I got that impression from the news."

Simiel's eyes widened slightly. "What did they have to say?"

"I wasn't really paying attention. Anyway, shouldn't you change your clothes. It can't be practical to renovate in that dress."

"Don't have time for that. We have to get this thing done today."

Azaril moved the tray aside. "Are you sure I couldn't-"

"No! No, it's not necessary. Say, why don't I bring you some cake?"

"We have cake?"

Simiel looked at the ceiling. "I'm sure we have some somewhere. Can't have a big renovation like this without cake."

"Great!" Azaril smiled. "I never knew renovations could be so much fun."

"Yes, fun." Simiel laughed. "Lots and lots of fun. I better head downstairs now. Gods only know how many walls..."

"Simiel, are you up there?" Serafyr's voice rang from the stairs.

"What is it?"

The familiar red form of the heroic warrior appeared in the doorway. Serafyr's shoulders were sagging and his Sword of Might hung limply in his hand. At the sight of Simiel, he immediately corrected his posture to a confident pose.

"I bear good news. The guards and I have chased away the final minions of Falcrion, and the Castle is safe once more."

"Minions? Falcrion?" Azaril squeaked. "What do those have to do with the renovation?"

Serafyr arched an eyebrow. "Pray tell, my ailed friend, what renovation do you speak of?"

"Simiel said you guys were renovating the main entrance hall." Azaril pointed to the princess, who was busy gesturing for Serafyr to stay quiet.

Serafyr let out a hearty laugh. "There was no such thing. The archfiend Falcrion had set his army of nightmare-creatures upon the Castle. We have been down in the entrance hall battling those foul brutes all afternoon."

Azaril turned to face Simiel. "You lied to me?"

"Well, to be honest, the hall did get thoroughly remodelled during the fight." Simiel chuckled nervously.

The tiny wizard bit his lip to stop it from quivering. Tears spilled out of his large eyes, and he released a howl of disappointment and sadness.

"You... You... lied to me-e-ee!" Azaril screamed between sobs, thrashing on his covers.

"Well done, beloved," Serafyr muttered. "As often as I may antagonize Azaril, I've yet to make him cry."

Simiel moaned and bellowed above Azaril's wailing, "I'm going to fire the Press Secretary for advising me against telling the truth!"

"May I suggest that the 'firing' be taken literally! I would be happy oblige!"

"Yes!" Simiel moved to the bemmock and picked Azaril up in her arms. "Don't cry, Azaril. I'll give you all the cake and fizzy drinks you want, if you just stop."

Azaril sniffed and looked up at her. "Can I have cookies, too?"

"Why not? You're headed for a sugar rush anyway."

Azaril snuggled against Simiel's torn dress and smiled. Adults... how easy it was to guilt them into getting what one wanted.

Next Month: Political Lament

Stories and artwork Copyright 2009-2010 by Mette Pesonen. Copying in whole or in part is prohibited. However, you may link to this page.

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