When Nale thought back on the whole sordid affair, in search of someone to blame for the incident, he first examined his own actions and decided quickly and firmly that from the start he’d only done his best to mitigate the situation and alas, been doomed to fail.

Safe in the knowledge of his own innocence, Nale eventually decided that some blame was due to every other member of the Linear Guild and even Greenhilt’s brat of a sister, but most of the blame undeniably should be on that half-pointy little twit, Pompey.

Yes, indeed it was, in fact, quite easy to pinpoint the exact beginning of the incident, and it had started with the half-elf all but skipping along through that abandoned warehouse, wearing that infuriatingly smug little smile…


“What are you so giddy about?” Nale asked the kid gruffly. Sabine had been out buying up sending spells all day, so he was bored and in a bad mood.

“Nothing,” the half-elf replied, contriving to look like an innocently sullen adolescent.

“Yeah right,” said Nale, “You were going to go harass the Greenhilt brat some more, weren’t you?”

“You could say that…” said Pompey evasively, fidgeting with something he was hiding behind his back.

“Hand it over, kid,” said Nale irritably, holding out his hand.

Gritting his teeth, Pompey began to ask “Wha—”

“Whatever you’re holding behind your back,” said Nale impatiently, looking as if he would soon launch into a rant about how the party didn’t really need a wizard and all things considered, he was looking at a pretty cheap evil counter—

“Fine…” Pompey grumbled, dropping a glass bottle into Nale’s hand.

“Insta-Lust,” Nale read the label on the bottle aloud, “Is this a love potion?”

“No,” said Pompey, pointing at the operative word on the label.

“Fair enough,” said Nale, turning the bottle over to read the back, squinting at the small print, “Side effects may include dizziness, sometimes resulting in fainting, drymouth, nausea…”

-several minutes later-

“…and in rare cases, tuberculosis?”

Pompey shrugged.

“Some degree of hilarity may ensue,” Nale read on, “If this condition persists or worsens over the course of more than forty-eight hours, contact a cleric immediately.”

“It’s not like I’m going to be taking it,” said Pompey.

“Directions: Sprinkle in subject’s eyes while she or he is asleep. When she or he awakens, the first person she or he sees—wait a minute, isn’t that kind of like the love potion from—”

“You’re going to complain about that after killing ’Harry Gardner’ last week?” Pompey asked.

“Good point,” Nale conceded, “So, you were going to use this possibly dangerous potion on the protagonist’s defenseless little sister just so you could fulfill your own depraved desires?”

“Uh… duh?” said Pompey.

“I regret hiring you less with every day you work with us,” said Nale with a smile, handing the bottle back to Pompey, “Have fun, but don’t untie her. If she escapes because of this—”

“Okay,” Pompey replied with a devilish grin. He hurried off.

“I might eventually come to like that kid,” Nale told himself, “But semi-romantic hilarity ensuing with the villainous team’s newest member and the protagonist’s attractive relative at the center of it all does not bode well for me…” It was that reason, obviously, and not an insatiable longing to take the half-elven know-it-all down a peg without endangering the Linear Guild’s mission or the fact that it had been forever since Nale had seen a good romantic comedy but he knew the potential for one when he saw it, that motivated Nale’s next actions.


“For best results, wait five minutes or more before awakening the subject,” Pompey quietly read the label to himself while sprinkling a few drops onto Julia’s eyes. “Five minutes? I guess I can wait… Gods, what does he want?” he added with a groan when he looked up to see that stupid half-orc lumber into the area.

“Nale say you must count sending spells before ‘getting on with business’,” Thog told Pompey.

“Sh!” Pompey hissed, relieved that Julia hadn’t woken up. “What, again?" he whispered, "I just counted them two days ago!”

“Nale buy more yesterday,” Thog grumbled, “Nale want ‘up-date-ed in-vent-or-y’.”

“Why doesn’t he make you do—” Pompey began to ask, before shaking his head, “Because we have more than six, now. Fine, I’ll do it.” He stalked off in a huff.

Thog followed his instructions and carefully waited until Pompey was out of sight before leaning over Julia and declaring loudly, “Nale tell Thog wake you up!”


“Honey!” Sabine called from the doorway of the warehouse, “I got five more—”

“NALE! THOG NEED ANOTHER COOTIE SHOT!” Thog wailed, running straight past her with tears streaming from his eyes.

“I hope this isn’t more ‘hilarity’,” Sabine muttered, closing the door behind her.

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