THE COURTING OF ANDRIARNA DIRTYTOES by Jericho Fel

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THE COURTING OF ANDRIARNA DIRTYTOES by Jericho Fel

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THE COURTING OF ANDRIARNA DIRTYTOES by Jericho Fel

I knew the dame was trouble the moment she stepped into my office. Her name was Andriarna Dirtytoes. She stepped through the door like an angry badger going down a gopher hole. When you’re in a situation like that, you can only think in metaphors. She had legs that came up to my knees, every inch of them bare. Her feet were bare too. She shook off the rain. It was raining outside like Talos had been on a three-day binge and was emptying his bladder. I should have sent her packing right there, but I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty hin.

“Are you Jericho Fel?” she asked.

“That’s the name on the door,” I replied.

“I need your help,” she said. “There’s been a kidnapping. Myrtle is gone!”

“Easy doll,” I comforted her, taking my feet from off of my desk. Back then I was a simple detective, running the Fel Detective Agency out of the front room of a one room hovel. “I was planning on spending the evening with Brandy, but I can help you find Myrtle.”

“Who is Brandy?” she asked, looking around the room. I indicated the bottle from which I’d been drinking before sliding it back into my desk drawer.

“Now describe this Myrtle to me,” I said, pulling out a bedraggled quill and unstoppering an ink bottle. I opened my battered, leather covered journal.

“About four feet tall,” she bit her lip, remembering details, “black with white splotches, four hooves, around twelve hundred pounds.” My jaw dropped like a boulder off a tall cliff. “Myrtle is a cow.”

“Very well,” I recovered my cool. “Where was she last seen?”

“In her pen, but the gate was still latched, and the fence unbroken.”

“Let’s take a look.”

Arriving at Myrtle’s pen, I noticed a clue; a big clue, the apotheosis of all clues. It was a set of footprints, or rather, hoofprints, and they were each ten span across.

“How big is your cow?” I asked.

She shrugged, “About the normal size.”

“Not anymore,” I told her.

It was an easy trail to follow, giant hoofprints occasionally punctuated by a giant cow paddie. We talked as we followed the trail, and I quickly found myself quite smitten with Miss Dirtytoes. The trail led us north, into the forest, where we eventually found the giant cow, beset against on all sides by a pack of hungry wolves. Myrtle the cow was like a giant steak buffet, and had drawn every wolf within a mile. Drawing my blade, we quickly hacked through the hungry animals, though part of me would have liked to see how a wolf would attempt to eat a giant cow. One bite at a time, I suppose, like the proverbial whale.

After that, Andriarna was able to talk the cow into following us home. After some investigation, I found that a crazy gnomish scientist had created an embiggering device, and tested it on Myrtle. I strong-armed them into reversing the process, with a promise that they would never show their face in those parts again. Thus, the Case of the Embiggered Cow was solved. Andriarna offered me payment for my sleuthing, and being a broke private investigator, I took it.

A few weeks went by, and I couldn’t get the dame out of my head, no matter how much booze I put away, which could be measured in the gallons, or how many blonde bombshells I bedded to help me forget, which was none. I eventually began to call on her, but never seemed to find her home. I left notes and brought bouquets of flowers, like a sap, dropping them off at her door until she likely had to use a snow shovel to get in and out of her front door. I was like a lovestruck puppy in the kitchen of a Kara-Turan chef. Then just when I gave up and started to move on, she walked back into my office.

“Mister Fel, I have another case for you.”

It seemed someone had stolen her ‘wooden horsey.’ Emboldened, I was hot on the case, eventually tracking it down to the Betto sisters, who, it seems, didn’t like the way it looked, and had smashed it into splinters, Case closed. I refused payment this time, and offered to build her a new wooden horsey. I was quite the carpenter in those days, and her diminutive face lit up with joy when I delivered the new wooden horsey. She also needed a few chairs, it seemed. Thus began a long and one-sided relationship, based upon woodworking.

My daily routine changed, so that I’d spend the mornings cutting down trees in the forest, then bring the wood back to a small carpenter’s station near her house and build whatever furniture she’d needed. I’d deliver the furniture, and Andriarna would invite me into her home. We would sit by the fire, drinking tea, her tiny legs dangling over the end of her overstuffed comfy chair. We exchanged stories of our pasts. It was during that time that I went to work for Giogi Silveroak at the newspaper, and began my career as a journalist. I started delivering the paper to her door, and we visited daily. It was one of the happiest times of my life, and I was absolutely smitten with her. Things seemed to be progressing well in my courtship of Miss Dirtytoes, until the day I met Clem.

I ran into him at the carpentry station near her home. He was a great strapping fellow with a bald pate and a manly handlebar moustache. Shirtless, a slab of chiseled muscle, he was building tables. I had some chairs to build for Andriarna, and we fell into a friendly chat about various types of wood and carpentry techniques. We both finished up about the same time. I told him I needed to deliver my chairs, and it seemed that he, too, needed to deliver his table, heaving it effortlessly over his broad shoulder. We decided to walk together, until our ways parted, continuing the conversation, which brought us both right to Andriarna’s doorstep.

She seemed a bit flustered to find both of us at her doorstep, but invited us both in and directed us in where to place the furniture, my chairs arranged around Clem’s heavy oaken table. Then we all sat down for tea. Clem took the other comfy chair, leaving me to sit on the floor. For all my keen sleuthing skills, when it comes to women, I have a blind spot the size of a tarrasque’s backside. It seemed that Clem had also been building her furniture for some time. As we sat and pleasantly conversed, I was as clueless as a blindfolded and gagged detective.

I kept waiting for Clem, the massive fifth wheel on our apple cart, to leave, but the conversation went on and on. He seemed a nice enough fellow, but didn’t seem to get the hint. I eventually took my leave, needing to finish my newspaper deliveries. I told them that Lyric the Bard was playing in a local tavern that evening, and invited them to join me there. I would later come to realize that I, in fact, had been the fifth wheel in the situation, and their apple cart began rocking as soon as I took my leave.

That evening was a grand affair. Numerous friends were gathered there. My mentor, Giogi, had stepped in to tend the bar. Lyric, the greatest bard I ever witnessed perform, was in his finest form. He led off with a tune about the origins of beer, and I chanted “Beer, Beer, Beer,” along at the chorus. I sat on a pile of pillows, and invited Andriarna to join me. She sat next to me, and I made the decision to confess my feelings for her. Just then, Clem sat down on some pillows on her other side.

The drink flowed and the songs were raised, but something was amiss. I realized that Andriarna and Clem were holding hands, her tiny head resting on his massive shoulder. My face flushed, burning with embarrassment and envy, and it was then I began to realize what a fool I had been. I excused myself to the bar, where, fueled by Giogi’s bartending, I drank myself into a massive stupor. We spoke of the situation, probably too loudly, and in truth, even that night, the situation brought us to our knees in gales of laughter.

Lyric launched into his final song of the evening, a tune about a knight with rusty greaves because he was such a coward he constantly pissed himself. Back at the pillows, Clem and Andriarna had commenced into some bizarre game of cat and dog, Clem chasing and wrestling with Andriarna whilst they both made animal noises. I would later learn that they often dressed as animals to play these games in the bedroom; sometimes with groups of other fur clad hedonists, and even some druids that transformed into animals. Deep in my cups, I launched into a diatribe about how my god was a bloody lion, which, being Nobanion, he is. Then I punched Clem square in the jaw. However, it turned out that he was a priest of Imlater, and rather enjoyed it.

Thus ended my sad courtship of Andriarna Dirtytoes. I swore off carpentry forever. After a few weeks of morose drinking, Clem, in truth, a fine man, convinced me to confess my, by then, obvious to everyone, feelings for Andriana, the mashochistic bastard! I did this, and she confessed that she had no feelings for me beyond friendship. We agreed to remain friends, but it was never the same. I ceased to visit, though I was friendly with both of them in public. It all become much too awkward, and, of course, the blame rested squarely on my shoulders. I did leave Andriarna a final poem, the night I left Cordor forever, a step ahead of a pack of Banite daggers, and there our sad story ends. I was, however, able to remain friends with Myrtle.
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