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Are You Being Served?


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"What floods of bliss! What melting transports! What agonies of delight! Oh Anomen!" shrieked Frika in the wee hours of the morning, her blonde hair billowed around heart-shaped face like a golden tornado.


 Anomen's head arched back, his hands tightened around his wife's thin waist, sweat poured down his face, when a shadow fel across his eyes.


 Frika stopped her bucking, a shocked look on her face as she stared at the intruder.  Anomen gave one last thrust before he stopped.  Anomen first noticed the silver-toed and gold-inlaid boots right by his head.  As his eyes traveled further up, he fixated on the highly polished greaves, a deeper silver than the boots but possessed of a cerulean blue enamel on the sides.  As his eyes swept the figure, Anomen took little note of the gold belt around the figure's waist, a round tube thrust into the belt diagonally.  Anomen's eyes continued their ascent to this new figure, and he noted that the massive unicorn head in cobalt blue on the burnished chest plate.  Finally, he saw a thin smile on the face of an aristocratic elf, his oak-brown hair plaited into a single braid, revealing a pair of delicately tipped ears .  One hand held open the entrance to the tent, while another hand held an open-faced helm, brilliant red plumage rising above and then behind it.


 "Are you Sir Anomen Delryn?" the smiling elf asked, his voice an even, deep tone.


 "By Helm, what the hell are you doing in here?" Anomen snarled.  He quickly rose and interposed himself between the newcomer and his wife, a small part at the back of his mind noted that what he saw as a smile was actually a frown.


 "I repeat, are you Sir Anomen Delryn?" the elf asked, taking no heed of Anomen's question or the state of disarray of the tent's occupants.    


 Grabbing his trouser, Anomen awkwardly pulled them up to his waist, that same part of his mind glad that at least the elf only seemed interested in talking, and so Anomen  replied, "Yes, yes I am.  Now, tell me, what is the meaning of this?!?"


 The elf reached for the tube in his belt, twisted the top off, and pulled out a scroll.  Clearing his throat, the elf started to read, "Sir Anomen Delryn, let it be known that you are hereby ordered to report to the August Halls of the Verdant Grove on the fifteenth of Mirtul for your arraignment.  Furthermore, you are not to be later than half past eight in the morning.  Any delay without prior approval will result in you being considered a fugitive of the law..."


 Anomen's eyes opened wide, and he waved with his right hand, gulping, "Fugitive?  Arraignment?  What is the meaning of this?"


 Anomen felt a slim, comforting hand lay on his shoulder, and he raised a hand to pat Frika's reassuring gesture.


 The elf sighed, and he looked down the parchment once more, and muttered, "Damn humans, have to explain everything to them..."


 Looking Anomen directly in the eye, the elf sighed, with exaggerated slowness, "Arraignment:  It is a noun meaning that an accused person, in this case you Sir Anomen Delryn, to appear before a court to answer charges laid against you.  Such charges are brought about by indictment, information, or complaint..."


 Anomen's temper flared, and he said, "I know what an arraignment is you single-minded twit.  What I want to know is why there is an arraignment in the first place!?!"


 The elf sighed, and declared, "I would advice you to school your tongue in basic etiquette before you appear in court.  Idiotic hairless apes.  One would think in the millennia of your development, you would learn to think before you speak."


 The elf rolled the scroll up further, and said, "You are charged with 453 counts of illegal disposal of biological waste matter..."


 Anomen blustered, "Illegal disposal?!?  But...we were in the woods...I...where am I supposed to have gone?"


 The elf glared at Anomen for this interruption, "You know sir, some...people...take the care of their natural woodlands to heart.  Let's see, you almost made me forget my place.  Here we go, 172 counts of poaching, 453 counts of hunting without a license..."


 Anomen sputtered, "But we were hungry...wait a minute, how come there are fewer charges of poaching than hunting without a..."


 The elf momentarily silenced Anomen with a frosty glare, and replied, "Not all attempts at hunting were successful, of course.  What kind of barbarians do you think we are?  We take our counts seriously..."


 The elf looked down at the list, and continued, "You know, with your constant interruptions, we'll be here all day.  Now, where was I?  Oh yes, 453 counts of hunting without a license, 150 counts of trespassing,  43 counts of arson..."


 Anomen roared, "Arson?  Now that is going to..."


 The elf interjected, "Yes, arson, I'm quite sure.  Regular as clock work in fact.  Collecting dead wood, piling it together, and setting it ablaze.  For shame, Sir Anomen.  You know how easily a fire spreads, especially in a dry season like this?"


 Anomen stood thunderstruck, mumbling, "But...but..."


 The elf shook his head sadly, and resumed reading the list, Anomen alternating between wrath and surprise.


 However, the elf arrived at the end of the list, "However, even all of these might have been overlooked except for one glaring factor.  There are 793 charges of sexual congress with a minor..."


 The elf looked at the list again, and this time a wave of disgust filled his face, "You, sir, are a disgrace to your respective deity..."


 This time Anomen roared, "What are you talking about?"


 Frika rose as well, and she yelled, "That's bullshit, and you know it!"


 The elf shook his head, and said, "No, our seers were quite explicit on that matter.  You are currently 106, yes?  You were married when you were 105, shortly after you divested yourself of the Taint of Bhaal.  Is that correct?"


 Frika looked at Anomen and then nodded, "Yes, that is correct."


 The elf nodded, and he said, "Then the law is quite clear.  Age of majority is 106..."


 Anomen's face widened in disbelief, Frika's arms wrapped tightly around his chest, and she said, "But he...we...didn't..."


 The elf shook his head, and said, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse..."


 Then the messenger took a last glance at the list, and he said, "Okay, even I have to admit that this is a new one on me.  What is this about 'Unauthorized Pastry Modification'?"


 Frika's face blushed, and Anomen babbled, "How did they find out about that?  It was just one doughnut...she wanted glaze...it..."


 The elf merely shrugged, and then wound the scroll back up and said, "Consider yourself served...have a good day sir, madam..."


 The elf then handed the scroll to Anomen.  Anomen glanced down at the scroll, and grabbed with both hands, promptly dropping his trousers to the ground.


 The elf's eyes boggled, and he said, "You just can't stop, can you?  Are you some kind of animal?  Include one count of Indecent Exposure to the charges.  Now, good day...sir..."

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Anomen angrily paced the hall outside the Prelate's office, ignoring the mud he tracked in on the immaculate carpet within the Order of the Most Radiant Heart's Chapter-House.  Periodically, a loud ring would echo throughout the halls of the Order, and at each interruption, all activity would cease, and stares would look in Anomen's direction.


  "Anomen, sit down...you're just making it worse with your pacing.  Besides, you're giving me motion sickness just by watching you..." growled Frika, lowered the thick book, Better Living Through Alchemy she was reading.


  "I can't..." Anomen irritably replied, as another loud clamor arose from him.


  "And just what is the problem?" Frika questioned testily.


  "I would like to see you remove your skivvies from your bunghole all the while wearing this getup..." Anomen snarled back, his gauntlets clanging against the back of his corselet as he futilely tried to remove the wedgie.


  "You are the one who insisted on full dress uniform..." she replied unsympathetically.  Frika then shrugged her shoulders, lowered her eyes, and resumed reading.


  "I'm already in enough trouble as it is..." Anomen snarled, "I don't need to make it any worse than it is.."


  Frika didn't even bother to raise her head as she said, "Whatever you say, dear..."


  Anomen twisted on his heels and started pacing again.


  Of course, it couldn't have anything to do with the fact that as soon as you entered Athkatla everything went downhill... he thought savagely, the events from earlier in the day rising to the front of his memory...



  As soon as he entered the city gates, the guard on duty, upon hearing his name, immediately pulled Anomen aside, and said, "I'm sorry, sir, but we must ask you to wait a moment.  There has been a steady increase on contraband, and well, we are authorized to do some random searches."


  Anomen sighed, and said, "I understand.  Very well, you may pat me down..."


  The guard then smiled, revealing a series of broken and yellow teeth, "I'm afraid your lordship doesn't quite have the right of it.  We have to do an entire cavity search..."


  Anomen's eyes widened, and he said, "A what?"


  The guard started to put on a pair of filthy, leather gloves, with splotches of dried crimson that smell vaguely of old blood, and the guard said, "A body cavity search, your lordship."


  Anomen looked around, desperately trying to find a place to run when a shadow fell over him, blocking out the sun.  He felt a hand as large as a small shield encompass both of Anomen's hand, in a vice-like grip, and slowly dragging him into the nearby guard station.  


  "Good job Mungo, let's get to it..." the yellow-toothed guard said, following Mungo and Anomen into the station.


  Mungo just grunts, and the other guard sighs, and says, "No, I'm sorry we're fresh out of salve.  We'll have to make do..."


  Anomen gave a small yelp, and pleaded with his wife, "Help me..."


  Frika shook her head, and she said, "You know the phrase...you can't outrun the long arm of the law..."


  She brightened cheerfully when she saw a merchant in the street, and said, "Besides, if you have nothing to hide, then there is nothing to worry about, is there?  I'll be right here when you get back, love..."


  An hour later...


  Anomen limped out of the guard shack, his face bright red.  He tried to walk swiftly, trying to salvage what was left of his dignity.  As he looked, he saw his wife still engaged with talking to the merchant, a large pile of goods neatly stacked at her feet.


  Turning around, wearing a gaudy necklace, Frika asked, "Done already?"


  Anomen just trudged forward, and he said, "Let's just say that I know what a puppet feels like..."



  Anomen sighed, and glanced toward his wife.  At least she was taking this well...as well as could be expected.  Frika delicately licked a finger on her ruby-red lips, turning  page of her book, and with each breath, her bosom rose and fell like an empire.


  Ouch! Anomen mentally swore as he felt a twitch in his groin, and with his undergarments pressing up against as it were, it sent a jolt of pain for the lack of...maneuverability in his armor.


  He turned around, and resumed pacing, running his hand through his neatly kept beard.  Once more, his face reddened as he remembered the...brief...commentary he received...

"Is that a beard, or are you eating a muskrat?" yelled one child.


Another shouted, "Get a shave. Your face looks like an armpit..."


And probably the most hurtful of all was when a sweet young thing sauntered up to him, laying a hand on his shoulder, walking around him, briefly causing Frika to be jealous, before she says, " I love what you've done with your hair. How did you get it to come out of one nostril like that!?"


  "By Helm, will nothing stop this!" Anomen shouted out, his hand moving to his back side.


  Frika set her book down, stood up, and walked over to Anomen, telling him, "Turn around.  Enough is enough."


  Anomen knew that tone of voice, and promptly obeyed his wife.  He stood stock-still, and she moved her slim hands between the opening of his armor dividing the lower and upper portions, hooking her fingers into a piece of fabric.  


  "Are you ready?" she asked her husband, gingerly pulling the garment tight against his groin, lifting one shapely leg and bracing her dainty foot on the small of Anomen's back.


  Eyes watering, Anomen's groin felt like someone had taken a torch to it once more, but at least this time there was no flames, merely the constriction of his underwear.  Between short breaths, Anomen said with a falsetto, "Yes, dear..."


  Frika nods, and said, "On the count of three then...THREE!"


  The sound of ripping woven cloth filled the room, drawing more stares before.  Anomen was spread eagled against the wall, his fingernails actually dug about a fourth of an inch into the stone, sweat pouring off of him buckets.


  Frika, meanwhile, stood triumphantly holding a sorry looking bit of underwear, and said, "Guaranteed not to ride up...I think we need to go back and demand a refund...and damn it, didn't I tell you to change more often?"


  At that moment, the door finally opened, and the prelate took a step out saying, "Okay, Sir Anomen, Lady Frika, please come on in..."


  The prelate then lifted his head, his eyes darted to where Anomen was spread against the wall, and to Frika holding Anomen's underwear.


  "By Torm, Anomen, can't you stop airing your dirty laundry for just one minute?" the prelate roared...

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Anomen walked into the Prelate's office, holding Frika's hand tightly in his.  He looked around, and he sighed that at least at seeing some familiar surroundings around him, instead of the tumult his life seemed to envelop lately.


  That's when he heard a loud voice screaming, "Hear ye, hear ye, gentle sirs.  Scandal falls once more upon the Order of Most Radiant Hearts.  Mysterious pixie claims to have been violated by the scion of House Delryn.  States she was minding her own business when he picked her flower and stuck his nose up her...pistil...This and other true stories brought to you by Vorkath's Depilatory Cream.  Does your skin feel like someone took a piece of sandpaper to it all week?  Does it feel like riding on Anomen Delryn's face all night?  Then use Vorkath's Depilatory Cream!"


  The Prelate angrily walked over to the window, and slammed it shut, drowning out the hawker's voice, and spared Anomen any further shame.


  Anomen sighed, and looked around the office.  At least, the office looked the same except for the large stack of paper that surrounded the edges of the Prelate's desk, forming a small wall of paper in which the Prelate could take refuge behind.


  Anomen then felt a nudge in the small of his back, and he turned to see Frika pointing at the Prelate and a shooing gesture by her to get on with his business.  She then sat on a chair in the corner, pulling out her book once more, occasionally crossing one shapely leg over another.


  As Frika's legs moved once more, Anomen distantly thought, I really have to stop buying that edible underwear for her.  She wants to break for lunch and then...One good breeze, and the whole world would...


  Anomen shook his head, cleared his throat, and smiled at the Prelate.  Feeling a bit better, Anomen said, "Prelate, I first want to thank you for seeing me this quickly...I know that you are a busy man..."


  The Prelate, meanwhile, sighed, and said, "Anomen, take a seat..."


  Anomen, confused at the Prelate's request, "Uh, sir, did I..."


  The Prelate repeated, "Anomen, I said sit down.  That is an order..."


  Anomen promptly sat down before the Prelate, and he suddenly felt like a boy of five, being sent before the principle for the first time.  


  "Sir Anomen, I didn't call you here to help you with your predicament.  In fact, I was about to summon you to the Chapter House when I was told your request to see me." the Prelate related.


  The Prelate moved to the right side of the desk, where the largest pile of papers stood in a small tower, neatly tied down with twine.  Looking closer, Anomen saw that these papers were whiter than the others, evidence that they were newly written and compiled.  The Prelate laid a hand on the stack.


  "Do you see this stack of papers?  These are all complaints filed against you, Sir Anomen..." the Prelate said.


  Anomen's eyes grew wide, his mouth formed an 'O' of surprise, pointed a finger at himself, and said, "Me sir?"


  The Prelate ran a hand through his balding hair, and replied, "Yes, you Anomen."


  The Prelate untied the bundle, and pulled a piece of paper from the stack, and said, "For example, we have a complained filed by one Ixana Bayou.  After your interview with Councilor Bylanna, you were overheard as saying 'What's the difference between a sperm and a bureaucrat? The sperm has at least one chance in a million of being human!'"


  Anomen started to rise, saying, "But my sister..."


  The Prelate glared at Anomen, and the brash knight sat back down again, and the Prelate continued, "That would be understandable.  You're sister just passed away after all, anyone would be distraught.   However, this is just one in a long string of incidents with you...do you remember when you were just a lad of 9 and I was your etiquette instructor?"


  Anomen blushed, as he remembered a time long ago, when he was being trained as a page, when the previous Prelate of the Chapter House had decided to sit on in the lessons with several visiting dignitaries, showing the training of the boys..


  "Okay, lads, let's get on with our etiquette lessons..." said his instructor, "To start with, what does one call a female duchess?"


  Anomen's hand rose like lightning, and he said, "Ooh...I know, I know..."


  The instructor looked over the rest of the class, desperately avoiding Anomen.  The Prelate, however, was curious by this behavior, and pointed at Anomen, "Okay, boy, answer the question..."


  Anomen stood proudly, while his instructor hid his head in his book, and the boy said, "A female duke is called a douche...."


  From the instructor, the words mumbled, "Helm preserve me...at least he didn't ask the boy what an octopus was..."


  The Prelate's voice brought Anomen's mind back to the present, "We had to place your the teacher on Flora and Fauna on administrative leave for a year.  Poor fellow had a break down after your answer.  Eight sided vagina indeed..."


  The Prelate placed the paper back on top of the stack, and pulled out a folder from the center of the stack.


  "It seems that you have a singular talent of getting under peoples' skin.  Have you by chance ever been to the Jansen residence?" the Prelate asked.


  Anomen, already seeing where this was going, "Um, yes sir, I have...and I think I know the incident you are talking about..."


  The Prelate said, "Indeed.  So, is it true that you said, and I quote, "Better to sterilize all these gnomes to prevent them from breeding any further..."


  Anomen waved his hands, "Yes, I did, but I can explain.  See, if you ever met Jan...and we had to talk to his uncle Gerhard..."


  The Prelat shook his head, putting the folder down, "That doesn't matter.  You are a Knight of the Most Radiant Heart.  Even that might have been avoided, but didn't you then say, 'I feel like a man sailing a glass bottom boat in a sewer.  I'm in this crap, but clearly above it'?"


  "Just how the hell did you find out about that?" Anomen yelled, his confusion being drowned at this constant attack on him.


  The Prelate smiled, and said, "You really should know better than insulting fortune-tellers you know."


  The Prelate grabbed another paper, "What is seersucker?  Someone who gives a blow job to clairvoyants..."


  Anomen flung himself limply into the chair, and he said, "It's true, it's all true..."


  The Prelate nodded, and then pulled out the largest folder of the stack, when he said, "We could overlook most of this, except for one thing.  Do you remember that attack by the Hillgnasher giants?"


  Anomen's head raised, and he smiled, "Remember?  Of course, that's where I became a squire.  Why, I killed twenty of the..."


  The Prelate nodded, and said, "Yes, we know your record quite well.  However, do you remember the last group you slew?"


  Anomen nodded, and said, "Yes, there were 4 of them.  They managed to get by our sentries and deep into our territory.  We later found out that the sentries met them and waved them on through..."


  The Prelate sighed, and said, "Well, shortly after the Bhaalspawn affair, and when you went on your honeymoon, a...giantess stepped forward.  She came to our Order, and filed a complaint against us, suing us for Wrongful Death..."


  Anomen blinked, "Wrongful Death?  What...do you mean?"


  The Prelate nodded, "Turns out the reason they were so far in our territory, the reason they even there in the first place is that they were official ambassadors from the Hillgnasher clans, that they were there to sue for peace..."


  Anomen's eyes widened, "Sue...for...peace, sir?"


  Fury shrouded the Prelate's face, and he said, "Yes, Sir Anomen, a peace mission.  You're eagerness for bloodshed continued the conflict for another six months.  You know as well as I do how many men and women lost their lives in the aftermath..."


  The Prelate looked at the folder, reading it closely, "Interesting.  Says here that the last giant didn't even offer a fight, trying to convince you to let him go..."


  Anomen sputtered, "But we were at war...he could have...he could have..."


  The Prelate finally said, "Weren't you as quoted as saying, 'People get all upset about torture, but when you get right down to it, it's really a pretty good way of finding out something a person doesn't want you to know..."


  Anomen looked up at the Prelate, a glazed look slowly crossed his face.


  "So, Sir Anomen, if you were expecting any sort of help from the Order of the Most Radiant Heart with...your...legal problems, we can't provide any.  We are already engaged on several fronts as it is to be able to give you assistance..."


  Anomen rose, and said, "Sir, what are you saying?"


  The Prelate smiled, and said, "You, Anomen, are on your own..."

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Anomen strode down the street in silence, ignoring the glances, whispers, and giggles that came his way, the only comfort was the familiar presence of his wife by his side.


  It was all he could do to continue forward when he heard two youths talking to each other, laughing greatly, when one told the other, "What's the difference between a Shadow Thief and Anomen Delryn?" and the other said, "I don't know, what is the difference between a Shadow Thief and Anomen Delryn?" and the initiator said, "A Shadow Thief snatches watches while Anomen Delryn watches..."


  Anomen hurried along before he heard the punch line, more propelled by his wife than anything else.


  Frika looked up toward him, and started to say something, but thought better of it, and kept quiet as she fell in step alongside him.


  "Where are we resting?" he finally asked, wishing beyond all measure to leave the confines of the city long behind them.


  "The Five Flagon's Inn..." Frika said, twining her hands into his.


  Anomen trudged on in silence before he finally said between clenched teeth, doing all he could to stop from exploding "I really wish I knew what the hell is going on...I mean what about the others who were with us?  Hell, what about you?  It feels like there is someone watching over me, and decided, 'You know what would be fun?  Let's pick on Anomen Delryn.  Better yet, let's make him the center of the world...with the exception that he will be man that everyone knows is worse off than they are..."


  Frika turned a bemused smile at him, and she chided, "Oh, isn't that a bit much?"


  "Do you really think so?" Anomen said, "Then just watch."


  Anomen waited a few minutes, and Frika examined her fingers in the waning light when a man emerged from the crowd, his bald head bearing a smile.


  "Are you Anomen Delryn?  Is that you?  Yes, that is you!" he said excitedly.


  "See," Frika said, "It isn't as bleak as you make it out to be..."


  "Wait..." Anomen said from the corner of his mouth.


  "What's the problem man?  You seem a bit down.  Well, I think this will cheer you up!" the man says excitedly.


  "Oh, and what do you mean by that?" Anomen asked.


  "I was paid to bring these crates to you, but since you're here, you can save a bundle on shipping and handling..." the bald man said.


  Anomen felt the bottom drop out of his stomach, and he said, "And what...shipment...would that be?" but when he turned to search for the merchant, the man was already gone into the crowd.


  Frika, curiosity rising, said, "Oh, what is he talking about?  What is in those crates?"


  Anomen sighed, and said, "Only one way to find out, isn't there?"


  He rolled up his sleeves, and took the blunt end of his mace and propped it under one of the slats.  With a massive groan, he pushed down on the shaft and boards of the crate popped open.  


  Anomen reached in, clenched his hand around something soft, and pulled out a large handful of small, pink garments.  Closer examination revealed that they were well crafted panties.


  Frika gulped, her ears burning red, "Those are my..."


  Anomen said, "Yes, these are your...knickers...the special kind..."


  Anomen then sniffed the air, and said, "Something is not right here..."


  Of course, that could be due to the fact people are now staring at you as you wave pink knickers in the air... he thought sourly.


  "What do you mean, something's not right?" Frika asked, her blush turning to anger, "Are you saying they're too small?"


  She looks dangerously at Anomen, "Are you saying that I have a fat ass?"


  Anomen hurriedly waved his hands, and he said, "No, that's not what I'm saying.  Here, take a whiff of these..." and thrust the panties under her nose.


  Frika backpedaled and she said, "Are you insane?  No, I won't take a whiff..."


  Anomen growled, "Fine, I'll do it myself..."


  Anomen placed the knickers under his nose, and his face turned red as he about gagged, "This isn't peaches and...cream...why, I believe that it is..."


  Anomen tilted his head, and slowly lowered one dangling end into his mouth, and he took a large nibble.


  Closing his eyes, Anomen tasted it for a few more minutes, before he opened his mouth and spat a pink wad onto the ground.


  "Damn it.  That is the foulest thing I've ever had..." he swore, "Who in their right mind would pick tuna!?!"


  Anomen glared at the crate, when Frika quietly said, "Uh, Anomen...you said tuna, right?"


  Anomen growled, "Yes, that's what I said.  Why?"


  Anomen suddenly felt a thousand eyes staring at him.  


  "Um...are there..." he started to ask when he let loose with an ear-piercing scream that was drowned out by a thousand sky-breaking meows...

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Anomen stumbled down the street, using his wife for support.  He limped badly, his entire body a mass of cuts and scrapes, his right eye swollen so badly that he couldn't see out of it.


  Probably going to have to get it cut open he thought... as he proceeded to remove feathers from his body.


  "Are you alright?" Frika asked gently, helping him remove the dried blood, taking care not to reopen any fresh wounds.


  "What do you think?" Anomen asked tersely, blood spilling onto her robs from his split lip, .


  Feeling Frika's slight pull from his grasp, he said more gently, "I'm sorry.  For a moment I didn't think it could get worse...and then the seagulls arrived..."


  Anomen shuddered as he remembered to being overwhelmed by a horde of cats, their slippery, sinuous forms running across his thighs, tickling his nether regions with their fur...and how his damn mind reacted to the initial touches as if Frika had initiated them.


  Must remember to ask Frika to shave her legs...and thighs...and his mind thought absently, then shuddering as the horror of what he experienced replayed itself in his mind.


  Frika broke his train of thought, "Yeah...who would have thought that seagulls and cats would fight over...er...my...unmentionables..."


  Anomen laughed, though it hurt his side as he did so, "At least they had good taste."


  Anomen got a small bit of visceral satisfaction at Frika's blush, but then realized that was a petty thought, and instead asked, "Still, it could have been worse.  At least I still have my sight, unlike my Uncle Irwin.  I don't know if I told you about him or not.  He was an Admiral in the navy.  He became blind after a seagull shat in his eye."


  Frika, puzzled, asked, "You can't become blind if a seagull shats in it."


  Anomen huffed, "You can if its your first day with a hook arm..."


  Frika winced, and Anomen had to stifle a scream as she pulled him her direction.


  "I'm sorry..." she apologized as she took her position up again.


  "That's alright.  Give me just a moment.  Let me lean against this wall..." Anomen said, pulling away from Frika.


  "Okay..." Frika said quietly.  She waited a few more minutes, and she asks, "Do you think there is any way that this is just some kind of misunderstanding?  That your innocence will be proven?"


  Anomen sighed, and said, "I truly doubt it.  Hell, they probably couldn't find their own ass with both hands and they had a dwarven surveying team to stake out the territory..."


  Anomen continued to gather his strength, and he smiled as he looked at his wife.   He thought, No matter what else has happened, she has stayed by my side...Helm be praised that she is an orphan.  I couldn't even imagine trying to explain this crap to her parents.  Hell, at least I'm spared the grief of trying to impress her parents.


  Anomen shook his head as he tried to quell that dark thought and smiled.


  Frika perked up her head, and she asked, "You seem to be in a better mood.  What are you thinking about?"


  Anomen gave a slight laugh, and said, "Well, I was just thinking of people that might be worse off than I am.  People I can do without as it were..."


  Frika asked, "People you can do without?"


  Anomen nodded, "Yeah, you know...like a dentist with blood in his hair..."


  Frika shuddered, "Oh, I get the idea.  Like a funeral director who says, 'Hope to see you folks again real soon...'"


  Anomen grinned, "Or a man in his night robe directing traffic..."


  Both Frika and Anomen started to laugh until Anomen raised a hand to the sky, and he asked, "Is it raining?"


  Frika stopped and looked toward the heavens, and said, "No, why do you ask?"


  Anomen said, "I could swear that I felt a drop or two..."


  He raised his hand to his nose, and said, "It smells like..."


  Anomen's words become lost underneath a new series of screams as a golden yellow stream of liquid encompasses his body.  However the scream doesn't last long as a large golden bowl plummets to the earth, catching him in the back of the head, dropping him like a pole-axed steer.


  From a story above him, a shrill voice cries out, "Damn it, now look what you did!  You got the chamber pot all over yourself!  Didn't your parents teach you to keep your eyes open?  And you ruined a perfectly good chamberpot!!!"

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Anomen rose, groaning, "By Helm, what hit me?"


  Frika stood upwind of her smelly husband, and quietly answered, "You were hit by a chamber pot."


  Anomen ran his hand along the back of his head, and swears, "God, I feel like shit..."


  Frika turned her head, wincing, "And you smell like it too..."


  Anomen stumbled forward, when Frika asked, "This may be a silly question, but why don't you heal yourself?"


  Anomen stopped, teetering on his feet, and he mouthed, "Heal...myself?"


  Frika nodded, "Yeah, heal.  You know the opposite of being hurt.  Last I checked, you were a cleric of Helm...unless that has changed too..."


  Anomen looked at her, and his face turned scarlet red, but he used his left hand for support against the wall, and his right hand dropped into his pants.  After about five minutes of searching, he pulled out the icon of his faith.


  Closing his eyes, Anomen started to mumble, and right before Frika's eyes, the worst of his wounds faded, until a fully healed, if still drenched Anomen stood before.


  "Feel better?" Frika asked.


  Anomen laughed, "Yeah, I guess so..."


  He looked at the dented chamber pot, and at the woman who was emptying it into the street, and shook his head, walking away, whispering to Frika, "I don't want to hear about having a pot to piss in...or being piss poor...or any such things..."


  Frika's face twisted in a smirk, but she managed to keep the edge of laughter out as she said, "Okay..."


  As they turned the final corner, Anomen stopped when he heard a voice calling his name.


  Stopping, Anomen looked around, until he saw a woman advancing towards him, her walk trying to be seductive, but doing nothing more than reminding him of the advance of a wounded warthog.  Raising his head, he couldn't help but notice that the rose tattoo on the swell of her breast was one of the long-stemmed variety due to the vagaries of gravity and age.


  "Do I know you?" Anomen asked the woman.


  Frika interjected, glancing hard, "Isn't that...is that you Rose Bouquet?"


  Rose smiled, as she said, "Oooh, is this the new bed warmer you got Ano-pooh?"


  Frika turned and if looks could kill, Anomen would have been pushing up daisies. Frika then pasted a false smile on her face, and said, "You didn't tell me that you...knew...Rose from before..."


  Rose laughed, and said, "Oh, we've known each other for a long time."  


  Rose spared Frika a glance, and said, "So, Anomen, do you want the usual?  If your friend here wants to watch, that will cost extra..."


  Frika's voice carried a deadly edge, as she said, "Yes, Anomen, do you want the usual?  Tell me, just what is the usual?"


  Rose snorted, and said, "Well, I don't know if we can find a shepherdess' costume this late in the season for him, but I still have the shackles..."


  Anomen sputtered, and he said, "Frika, believe me...I have no idea what she is talking about..."


  Rose pouted, "Oh, so after all this time, you're going to pretend what we had didn't exist?"


  Rose sighed regretfully, "And to think that I said that yours was the handsomest face I ever...came...across..."


  Rose bestowed a knowing smile on Frika, "But you know how...vigorous...Anomen is.  Why, I remember, one night he was so energetic, he made my false teeth fall out..."


  Rose's hands reached up to her lips, and she pulled a pair of wooden dentures from her mouth.  Her mouth forming a tight O, she said, "The men scweam so when they get bit, don't you think?"


  Popping her dentures back in, she added, "And tell you what Anomen, I can even give you the priest's discount..."


  Rose stroked Anomen's groin, a small bulge rising even as Anomen strained to hold it back and Rose said, "I've branched out into...holistic massage therapy...you look quite tense..."


  Frika finally said, "I believe that Anomen has other...matters...to attend to..."


  Rose shrugged, and she said, "Very well.  I bid you two good day..."  Rose blew a kiss toward Anomen and then sauntered off.


  Frika and Anomen watched her walk into the gathering crowd, when Frika said, "So, how long has this been going on?"


  Anomen grasped his hair by its roots, and he said, "How long as what been going on?  Don't tell me you think that...I...with her..."


  Frika turned and looked into his eyes, "And what am I supposed to think?"


  Anomen gulped quickly, and said, "But...me...her...you've been the only..."


  Another few uneasy minutes passed when they heard a chuckle come behind them.


  "Bravo, my sparrows, bravo...well done..." said a figure, and emerging from the direction of the inn's door.


  "Haer'Dalis..." Anomen growled, "What the hell do you mean was well done?"


  Haer'Dalis looked at both of them, "Why, your erstwhile protestations of course..."


  Frika and Anomen looked loss in Haer'Dalis' words, and the tiefling shook his head, "My friends, you have been victims of a practical joke well played..."


  Frika's head bobbed slightly, "So you mean that Anomen...and Rose...weren't..."


  Haer'Dalis shook his head, "Verily they are not.  Miss Rose was paid quite well for her part in this little farce..."


  Anomen started to growl, "And just how do you come by all this knowledge?"


  Haer'Dalis laughed, "Why, quite easily, for 'twas I who gave her the gold..."


  "You..." Anomen swore, "You...are the one behind all this..."


  Haer'Dalis looked puzzled, "Behind what?"


  Anomen growled, "Protest all you want, I shall punish you ten-fold for what I've gone through..."


  Haer'Dalis' eyes narrowed, and he said, "I know not what you dost speak of.  'Twas just a simple joke, nothing more nor less..."


  Anomen started to rush forward, "Lies, all lies!"


  Haer'Dalis' face opened wide with surprised, but this didn't stop him from running immediately into the evening crowd, Anomen close on his heels.  However, with the milling of business as well as regular foot traffic, Anomen found himself alone in the streets.


  "Damn..." he muttered, "Lost him..."


  Anomen scanned the crowd, when he heard a young child's voice, no more than a boy of 7 or 8, squeal out, "Mommy...that man touched me just like daddy does at home..."


  Anomen turned around and saw a small kid pointing at him, tears on the boy's face.  The woman with the child looked angry, and she said, "What?  What did you say?"


  The boy pointed toward Anomen, and said, "That man...the one with the furry face...he touched me...like daddy does..."


  This time, two or three men heard the boy, and one asked, "This man..." and pointed toward Anomen, "touched you?"


  The boy nodded, and said, "Yes sir, he did...he touched me here...he said I shouldn't tell anyone...it was supposed to be secret...   "


  This time the crowd got a bit bigger, and the men started to grab loose implements from nearby.


  "Just what kind of monster are you, sir..." the lead spokesman said, branding a two-by-four.


  Anomen babbled, "I...I didn't...but..."


  There was a bright flare of light, that seemed to envelop Anomen, blinding the building mob, and Frika's voice rose above the tumult, shouting, "Don't just stand there, you fool...run, run like the wind!"


  From a nearby roof, a chuckle could distantly be heard, and Haer'Dalis laughed, "That's right.  Flee, my raven...flee..."


  With the ensuing chaos, no one noticed that the image of the boy and his mother wavered, then flickered entirely out of existence, an illusion that was now spent.

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Anomen closed the door of the inn behind him, leaning against it for support, taking a deep breath to calm down.


  By Helm, what did I ever do to that pointy-eared freak?  I swear by Helm that I shall bring my justice on that mewling, maggot-ridden, malignancy. Anomen thought.


  He glanced through the rest of the inn, then noticed his wife beckoning him forward.  Anomen continued to stare around the Five Flagon's Inn, swearing he could feel everyone's eyes on him.


  "So, this is your husband?  My, what a happy couple you make..." the halfling says, "And certainly, I have a room.  In fact, one opened up.  After I heard what that horrid Sir Anomen did, I cancelled their reservation.  So Mrs. Coltrane, Mr. Coltrane, you can have their rooms.  In fact, I will even knock the price off by a fourth.  You are doing me a favor by taking the spot off my hands."


  Anomen just smiled, but he saw his wife wrinkling her nose as he drew near.


  Yet another thing you will answer for Haer'Dalis... Anomen thought.


  "You appear troubled, sir..." the halfling said, "You may wish to go down below.  Due to the theater troupe taking a brief...sojourn...from acting, we hired a new comedian.  I guarantee he will put a smile on your lips."


  Anomen grunted, having a bad feeling about this, but quietly followed along as Frika started to pull him down the stairs.  They take a seat near the back, seeing that the benches were piled to the side, and small tables and chairs were strewn throughout the dimly lit basement.


  "I don't think this is such a good idea..." Anomen mumbled.


  Frika squeezed his hand, and she said, "My love, what you have been through would have broken any man, but it can't last.  I just don't believe Haer'Dalis is behind this..."


  Anomen grunted as they both took a seat near the back, and replied, "He isn't.  Oh, he is part of this somehow, but that was genuine surprise on his face when I accused him of being the one responsible for this."


  Frika nodded, and she quietly said, "Well, if I ever catch up with him, I'm going to kick his face in so far that he could kiss his ass internally..."


  Anomen smiled at seeing his wife worked up, and said, "I am just glad that you believe me..."


  Frika flushed, and she lowered her hand down below the table, playing with his thigh, when they heard a drum roll emanate from nowhere, and a voice boomed, "And now, presenting, the comic stylings of Gagon'er"


  A magical, circular light flares, and a small gnome comes out onto the stage, bearing a giant hammer.


  "Good evening ladies and gentlemen.  Hope you all had a good day...I know I did.  After all, I'm happily married...my wife isn't, but you can't have everything..."


  There is a tentative chuckle, but the gnome says, "Tough crowd, tough crowd.  How about this one...with the man you love to hate...do you know why Sir Anomen loves to masturbate?  It's sex with someone he loves..."


  Anomen barely grabbed his wife's shoulder as she rose with a growl, and he hissed, "Quiet love, don't draw attention to us, or our gooses will really be cooked."


  The gnome, his reception a bit better this time, says, "Anomen enters a barbershop for a shave. While the barber is foaming him up, he mentions the problems he has getting a close shave around the cheeks.  'I have just the thing,' says the barber taking a small wooden ball from a nearby drawer. 'Just place this between your cheek and gum.'

Anomen places the ball in his mouth and the barber proceeds with the closest shave the man has ever experienced.   After a few strokes, the client asks in garbled speech, 'And what if I swallow it?'  'No problem," says the barber. "Just bring it back tomorrow like everyone else does.'"


  This time the comedian is met with howls of laughter, but Anomen feels his own cheeks burning as a result of this.  He glances around, looking for a place to hide...or a rock to crawl under.


  The gnome, seeing that the crowd likes his Anomen humor, continues, "Here is a list of things you should never say to Mr. Delryn if you see him naked..."


  The crowd leans in expectantly, and the gnome says,

"1.   I never saw one like that before.

2.   But it still works, right?

3.   Are you cold?

4.  I guess this makes me the early bird.

5.  Can I be honest with you?

6.  Will it squeak if I squeeze it?"


  After each number the crowd roars with laughter.  The gnome looks at them, his eyes scanning the back of the room, and says, "Number seven:  Maybe it looks better in natural light..."


  The crowd sputters with this last line, while Anomen just feels empty inside.


  He feels a tentative grip on his shoulder, and Frika whispered, "Let's just go to bed, my love...maybe things will be better in the morning..."


  Anomen grunted, and said, "Assuming the damn roof doesn't collapse on me..."


  The two of them started to get up when the gnome's voice seemed to reach into Anomen's ear, "Did you hear that Sir Anomen is being charged?  No, really he is.  I can just imagine his lawyer's defense, though:  "Don't let Anomen's legal history trouble.  There's reason to believe the little boy was lying..."


  Anomen's mind just snaps, and he picked up his chair, and with a roar, started to swing it, approaching the stage when he plummeted to the ground.  There is a crunch as his nose hits hard, and blood starts to flow.  Frika gave a smile then a frown to the people in back who went to look at the disturbance, "I'm sorry...my husband...he gets clumsy when he has too much to drink..."


  The gnome on stage, though, just gave a wink in Frika's direction...

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"Bring the foolish tiefling in here..." growled the hooded figure, sitting on the large chair cross-wise, his feet elevated on the large armrests.  The scarlet hood and purple cape hid the figure's sex within its bilious folds, though the voice itself was a deep baritone.  Wisps of long grey and black hair occasionally fell outside of the bounds of the hood.  The figure ran a hand along the edge his back was resting on, noticing all the whorls in the woods.


  Really have to get a cushion for this damn thing... he thought as he bounced momentarily up and down on his makeshift throne.


  There was a sneeze that attracted his attention from below him, and giving a sigh, he turned his attention to see two figures awaiting him, in robes themselves.


  The man on the throne sighed, and said, "Very well, bring in that tiefling.  No sense putting it off."


  One of the two bruisers nodded, said, "At once sir...", and strode off.  The other man just stayed put.


  "So, how are things with the wife?" the man on the throne asked conversationally.


  The remaining figure stood stock still, and the throned figure sighed, as he thought, Gods, I'm bored...how did I even end up here in the first place?


  The man on the throne looked at the distant wall, seeing the symbol of his organization, what would at first be taken for a golden harp would soon show the wooden frame underneath, the gold just a paint that was slowly flecking off, all but two strings hanging loosely, cut and warped.


  Suddenly, the man felt a twitch in his nose, and before he could open the folds, he sneezed, and then felt the snot-filled flap come back on his face, and a loud "eww" emanated from within.


  And what is with these damn hoods and capes?  A person would be tripping all over themselves if they had to flee in a hurry... he thought, and pushed back the hood to reveal a youthful face, the ears a tad angular, but rounded at the top bespeaking of both human and elf heritage.


  There is a gasp from the last singular man at the base, and the now de-hooded man said, "Oh stop that Matteo.  I still don't understand why we bother to maintain these stupid traditions of 'hiding our identity' when we know each other quite well."


  There is a grumble that comes from the standing guardian, and the half-elf sighs, "I mean it.  I mean, its not like it is a major secret that you are boffing the seneschal.  Although, I have to admit, I wouldn't have pictured you in that nun's habit, nor him with the bullwhip.  But to each their own."


  An uncomfortable silence fills the room until the second figure returns, a proud figure walking by him, held down in iron.


  As they approach, the pointy-eared, grey-haired figure says, "Greetings my most puissant dread master.  I believe there is some kind of misunderstanding here.  Why, your valuable servants must have me confused with some one else.  Why, Lord Tempest..."  


  The half-elf wanly waved a hand, and suddenly no sound came from Haer'Dalis' mouth.  With a sigh, the elf leaned forward, and said, "You disappoint me Haer...or would you prefer Haery?  I like Haery...anyways, Haery, you disappoint me...you can call me Tempest...or Pest if you will, its just a name..."


  Rising, the man on the throne walked down the stairs, and looked Haer'Dalis dead in the eyes, "You know what the plans were.  We were only to harass Sir Anomen, not kill him."


  He shook his head, "That bit with the prostitute was inspired, I admit.  But that illusion?  That was going too far.  Why, someone could have gotten seriously hurt!"


  The tiefling started to shake his head, but Tempest continued, "Although we are able to make something of the mess you left behind.  No thanks to you, but some of it is still salvageable..."


  The guard that was left alone, and he said, "Um, boss..."


  Tempest smiled at seeing his lackey's initiative, and replied, "Yes, Matteo?"


  Matteo scratched the back of his head, and said, "Just why are we picking on Sir Anomen.  He hasn't done anything to you, has he?"


  Tempest shrugged, and said, "Well, I voted against it, but you know how management is.  Anyways, this Anomen is just a test case.  After all, he is...or should I say was...the darling of the Order of Most Radiant Hearts.  He is married to the woman who stopped the Bhaalspawn wars, and was considered an all-around nice guy..."


  Matteo nodded, placing a hand on the squirming Haer'Dalis, and there is a crunch as he wrenches the tiefling's shoulder out of its socket.


  "The idea is that if we can turn people against Sir Anomen, a paragon of perfection, then we could apply our principals anywhere..." he added.


  Matteo shrugged, and said, "But boss, his deity...I think its Helm...hasn't forsaken him, has he?"


  Tempest laughed, and said, "Of course it hasn't.  Gods are generally more perceptive than the rack and run of mortality, now aren't they?  However, even with his deity's favor, people will still look askance at him from now in the future.  If nothing else, their suspicions would poison any further good will he might gain..."


  Tempest then looked at Haer'Dalis, "And as for you.  A lesson is need...hmm...what could we do..."


  Matteo said, "Drawing and quartering is still a favorite of mine..."


  Tempest, "No, he is only guilty of trying to make himself seen more...tell you what, get those mongooses...and get a snake, and drop them down his pants.  Make sure that the cuffs are pinned tight to the skin so they don't get loose, though..."

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Anomen groggily stirred, his head feeling like it was full of cobwebs, and leaned over to caress his wife.


  “Hmm...your scales are very reticulated this morning…†he murmured, his hand sliding under the covers to caress her buttocks, his hand playing at the joint of her soft, sinuous tail, feeling her appendage slowly tickle his inner thigh, waves of pleasure undulated throughout his body.


  Scales!!! the back of his mind screamed, and sat straight up, an incoherent scream escaping his lips.


  Frika groggily stirred, and she ran one of her four hooked arms along the edge of the bed, tearing open the mattress, and she said, “What’s wrong love?â€Â


  She cocked her head, and asked between her great thrashing mandibles, “Oh, poor baby.  I told you not to drink so much wine…â€Â


  Frika threw herself off the bed, the ground shaking underneath her enormous girth, and Anomen saw that she was wearing the form of the Slayer, the crimson scales glinting malevolently in the early morning light.


  “I know what will make you feel better…†Frika said, lumbering out the door.


  Okay…take a calm, deep breath…there has to be a reasonable explanation for all this… Anomen thought.


  “This will perk you right up…†Frika’s melodious voice echoed from outside.


  Anomen, reining in his rampant emotions, meekly said, “Yes, dear…’


  He started to search the room for an escape route other than the door, but all he could see was a window.  He darted toward the window, but when he swung it open, he heard a wail that sent a shiver through his entire body.  When he gazed down at the ground, he almost lost his meal, for the ground was spinning clockwise, while it looked like his room was spinning counterclockwise.


  Anomen rapidly shut the window, and started to look around the room once more when he heard the trudging of his…wife’s…feet coming up the stairs, but he sees no exit, so he moves to sit on the bed.


  Frika lumbered in, bearing a silver tray and lid covering it.  She set it on the bed, and said, “Bon a petit…I do apologize, though.  I know how you are a leg man…â€Â


  Anomen just stared at it, but the smells rising from within made his mouth water for there was a hint of a baked apple, and succulent ham, all cooked with a sauce that favored brown sugar.


  He glanced at his wife, who nodded her head, and he opened the tray…only to find Jan Jansen’s bearded face looking back at him, his mouth filled with an apple.


  “Jan stopped by for dinner last night, if you remember…†Frika said, “But you were in bed last night…â€Â


  Anomen’s mouth gaped stupidly at the head of the irascible gnome, then turned to Frika, and he tried to say something but the words were still born.  However, Anomen did squeal when he felt something big hit him in the forehead, and he noticed the apple landing down by the side of the bed.


  Frika came up to Anomen’s side, and rested a claw on his shoulder, “What?  Is there something wrong with my cooking?â€Â


  Anomen sees a wet streak come down one of her many eyes, and she gives a shudder, and he realizes that she is crying, “Nothing I do is good enough for you, is it?† Frika continues to blubber, when Anomen heard a slight coughing coming from his side.  


  “This reminds me of my Cousin Norbert…†Jan’s head said, working his jaws, and spitting out a few more bits of carrot, “Anyways, he was in the jungles of Chult with another friend, when they were captured apprehended by a tribe of very hostile cannibals who put them in a large pot of water, built a huge fire under it, and left them there. A few minutes later, Norbert started to laugh uncontrollably. His friend couldn’t believe it!â€Â


  Oh Helm, what kind of trouble am I in now? Anomen thought pleadingly.


  Jan continued to speak, “Norbert said, "What's wrong with you? We're being boiled alive! They're gonna eat us! What could possibly be funny at a time like this?  Besides, they forgot the turnips.  Savages"  His friend, still giggling madly said, "I just peed in the soup!"â€Â


  Anomen looked down at the talking head as it continued to spew forth more Janisms, and glanced up at the crying, reptilian visage of his wife, and he arched his head back, and started to scream, closing his eyes at the insanity around him...


   Ã¢â‚¬Å“Anomen, wake up!  Your having a nightmare!†said his wife in her gravelly, deep voice, her strong, callused hand almost lifting him from the edge of the bed.

  “A nightmare?†Anomen said hesitantly, opening his eyes and staring into the trusting eyes of his wife, her beard done just so, the way he liked it, especially when she would use it to tickle his crotch, bringing it attention.


  “Yes, just a nightmare…†she said, her craggy face looking into his with deep concern, her intense grey eyes looking at him.


  Thank god it isn’t a gnome… Anomen thought, running his hands through his wife’s blond curls, only to react in horror when her hair fell off, and hit the floor.


  Suddenly the reassuring voice turns hostile, and when Anomen takes a closer look, he sees that it is Korgan wearing a tight leathery outfit, dyed in pink, holding the wig before him, and she/he starts to swear, “You blasted, pig-swiving infections, lily-livered guttersnipe!  Look what you are grabbing!â€Â


  Korgan then slumps to the ground, crying, gray streaks appearing on his dress, as he said, “This is just like that werewolf affair all over again isn’t it?  Just going out for a walk you said.  Just buying the spiked collar for your pet you said.  Answer me this:  why would you need to get cheek-less chaps?  Huh?â€Â


  Anomen hears the swing of a door, and looking to his right, there is the head of Jan Jansen sitting on a shelf, and the gnome says, “Shame on you Lord Tin-pants.  You sound just like my cousin Finnie.  One day he went into a bar, and saw his friend there, a gnome who never drinks.  Finnie asked his friend, ‘What's the matter?’  The friend reples ‘Well I just caught my wife in bed with my best friend’ Finnie said ‘That's awful. Let me buy you a drink and you can tell me all about it. Where's your wife?’ ‘I threw her out!’  Ã¢â‚¬ËœWell what did you do to your best friend?’ ‘I grabbed him by the throat and shook him real hard and said ‘BAD DOG! BAD DOG!’â€Â


  Anomen shrieked, and pulled the covers over his head, whispering, “Make it go away, Helm, make it go away…â€Â


  Silence ensues, when he hears his wife’s regular voice gently tell him, “Honey, are you alright?  You pulled all the covers over you…please, love, it was just a dream…you can come out now…â€Â

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Anomen tentatively peered out from underneath the covers, and all he saw was the delectable kneecaps of his wife in front of him.


  Great…must be another nightmare… he thought mournfully, What am I now?  Probably a gnome the way my mind is thinking.


  “Come on honey, let’s get started.  Let’s get a spot of breakfast, and then leave Athkatla.†Frika’s voice said.


  Anomen continued to stare at her knees, and whimpered, “No.  As soon as I get out of bed you’re going to turn into Keldorn wearing a little girl’s outfit in a bright red hood, carrying a basket and when the basket opens Jan’s head will start talking insanely…probably saying something, ‘You know, I never thought I to be decapitated.  I always thought it would be nice to go like my grandfather… you know to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers.â€Â


  There is a long pause, when Frika reached down, grasped the covers with one hand, and said, “What in the hell are you talking about?â€Â


  Anomen stared up into her blue eyes, and whimpered, “I had a bad dream, last night.  I swear it was real…â€Â


  Frika leaned forward, and murmured, “Oh poor baby.  I heard you thrashing a little, but I didn’t think it was that bad.â€Â


  She stroked his hair, and said, “I mean, I know how hard it was for you to sleep right after we got married.  You complained about hard the bed was, and the lights being on, but you eventually grew used to sleeping with the lights on…â€Â


  Anomen grunted, “Who ever heard of an adjustable mattress.  Talk about sleeping with a hard…â€Â


  Anomen’s face blushed, and Frika gently said, “Forget about that love.  What you need is a spot of breakfast, come on down. Then, tell me about your dreams...maybe we can make some sense of it…â€Â


  Anomen nodded, and he hastily donned his clothes.  As he and Frika made their way down the stairs, they saw that the innkeeper had two employees standing before him.


  They overhead the little halfling say, “Jack, Mary, this isn’t an easy thing to say.  One of the two of you must go.  After I caught you making out behind the beans, I just can’t afford to have both of you working here.  I’ll be honest, if things weren’t really busy, and the labor market really tight, both of you would be fired.  Especially you Jack.  What ever possessed you to drop that potato down the front of your pants?â€Â


  Jack swallowed hard, and said, “It is supposed to go down the front of the pants?â€Â

  The halfling shook his head, and said, “You mean…you…down the back of your pants?  But that would mean…people thought you were carrying around…â€Â


  Mary started to giggle, and she whispered, “I guess his dictator was really a tater-tot…â€Â


  The innkeeper’s face started crack into a smile, but he shook his head, and said, “Mary, matters with you aren’t much better.  The customers and staff are complaining about the jokes.  Like I said, I can’t decided whether to lay you or Jack off.â€Â


  Mary looked at him and said, “Well, you’d better Jack off because I have a headache…â€Â


  The innkeeper’s eyes widened, and he bellowed, “Just get out of my sight, both of you, now!â€Â


  He turned and gave a wry grimace at Frika and Anomen, “Good help is so hard to find.  I trust that you slept well.  Is there anything I can do for you this morning?â€Â


  Frika leaned into her husband, and said, “Just some breakfast, then we must take our leave.â€Â


  The innkeeper nodded, and led them to a table near the kitchen door, and said, “Is there something I can do to start you off?â€Â


  Frika looked at Anomen, and replied, “Just give me some tea thinks…â€Â


  Anomen’s hands shudder, and he said, “Give me something strong…â€Â


  Frika stared at Anomen, a sour look on her face, “I hope you don’t expect that I will allow you to start drinking first thing in the morning…â€Â


  Anomen shook his head, and said, “No, I don’t.  But I do need something to calm my nerves…â€Â


  Frika nodded, and said, “Very well, just this once I will make an exception.  Now, please, tell me what happened last night.â€Â


  Anomen nodded, and relayed the dreams, and Frika pursed her lips as she said, “Hmm…that is interesting.  About Jan’s head being in both of the dreams…â€Â


  She grinned, “I guess I should be grateful it wasn’t a…naughty…dream…was it?â€Â


  Anomen shuddered, “Don’t even joke about that.â€Â


  Frika nodded, and said, “Well, it’s obvious to me.  We really have no clue what is going on here.  I mean it is all chaos.  Maybe this was your mind’s way of telling you to go find Jan.â€Â


  Anomen winced, “But why would it tell me that?  You know how I feel about the little bugger.â€Â


  Frika smiled, “Yes, yes I know that you have had your difficulties with him.  But think about it.  Who better to make sense about this chaos than Jan?  His mind works at angles opposite that of reality.â€Â


  Anomen muttered, “Tell me about it…â€Â


  A few more minutes passed, when the door swung open, and there was a human in a courier’s outfit step in, bearing a large, circular object on his shoulder.  In his hand, he had a piece of paper that was glowing pink, and when he swung it around the room, it turned into a crimson red when it stopped in Frika’s direction.  Smiling, the courier walked forward, and laid the wrapped object on the table.


  Frika looked up at the courier questioningly, but the man simply saluted her, and said, “Speedy delivery from Ribald Barterman’s Magical Emporium, ma’am.  Hope you enjoy it…â€Â


  Frika cooed when she looked at the label addressed to her, “Ooh, I wonder what it is.â€Â


  She rapidly tore off the wrapping, but then blushed mightily when she had a large, 4 foot long, 5 inch thick phallus laying on her lap.  There was a tag tied to the base of it, that said, “Barterman Marital Aids†and in neat calligraphic letters, was the words “Love Anomen…â€Â


  Brandishing it like a club, she swung the tip toward Anomen’s face, and growled, “What is the meaning of this…my LOVE…â€Â


  Anomen got a panicked look in his eyes, as he stammered, “It wasn’t supposed to be delivered until your birthday…and it was supposed to change size…I swear, I didn’t have them scheduled to come this early…â€Â


  From the back, they see the halfling innkeeper, not even topping three feet in size, whistle appreciatively, “Why that is the Thunder Lord 3000.  I got two of them.  I guarantee that when you use it…well, let’s just say it stretches the imagination…â€Â


  Frika muttered as she said, “As well as the anatomy…â€Â


  She placed the item on the table with a heavy thud, when Anomen felt a strong grip on his shoulder.  Turning around, he came face-to-crotch with a hairy bulge, concealed by a tight loin cloth.  As his eyes advanced upward, he made out the well defined, barrel large chest of a man, all oiled up.  Anomen’s eyes latched onto the tiny pink bowtie around the man’s neck, and when he made it to the face, he saw the blue spiral tattooed on his face.


  “Minsc…what are you doing here?†Anomen asked, never having seen his former comrade like this.


  Minsc bellowed out, “You ordered something strong…and I am as strong as 100 ferocious lions.  Me and Boo are strong enough for 10 men!â€Â


  “Boo…†Anomen mumbled, his mind trying to come to grips with what he was seeing, “And just where is Boo?â€Â


  There was a loud squeak that came from the codpiece of Minsc’s outfit, when Frika came to Anomen’s rescue, “Don’t even question it…let’s…get out of here slowly…we can make sense of it later…let’s pay up…and leave…â€Â

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Anomen looked in disbelief at the structure before him, and said, "By Helm...just what is wrong with this picture?"


  Frika looked around, and asked, "What's wrong?"


  "That!" Anomen said, pointed to a large sign outside of the Jansen residence.  It shows a large arrow pointed down to the basement of the Jansen residence, and it had a large, neon pink turnip on the outside, with golden lettering Dr. Jan Jansen next to it, with several strings of letters following it:  MD, PhD, DDS, DRPh, MIA, DOA.


  "And that..." Anomen said, pointing at a rather large line of people waiting outside the door.


  Frika shrugged, and said, "I don't know, its kinda nice to see Jan doing well for himself.  I know the two of you never got along, but you could at least be polite...I wonder, what does DRPh mean, though?"


  Anomen cocked his head, "I have no idea what half those letters mean, love.  But you want me to be polite?  I'll try, my love, but you know what happened at my bachelor party...that was the last time I saw him, really..."


  Frika cocked her head, "No, I don't.  Remember, I was having my own girls' night out. Just what did happen?"  


  Anomen sighed, and said, "First of all, Jan was put in charge of the entertainment."


  Frika motioned for Anomen to continue.


  "Well, let's just say that hiring a medusa for a stripper isn't a good idea..." he said.


  "Oh no, you mean..." Frika asked.


  Anomen nodded, "Yes, never get a lap dance from a woman whose every hair is a snake..."


  Frika pointed to her groin, "You mean...you?  I mean...every..."


  Anomen blushed, and said, "I did say every hair didn't I?  Then Edwin and Korgan started to drink too much..."


  "How much?" asked Frika, her face growing into a rictus of horror.


  "Enough that Edwin thought he was Sune's gift to women.  He started to blow kisses toward the dancer.  At first she ignored him, but he continued to get more rambunctious.  Things came...to a head...when he got up and started to dance with her, hiking up his robes with each kick.  Finally, the dancer had enough and she removed her veil, and the next thing we know, Edwin had more than just a hard on..."


  Frika giggled, "He was stoned, was he?"


  Anomen nodded gloomily, "The worst of it was that Edwin was still...dancing...when he was stoned.  Anyways, he fell...forward...right on his rigid member."


  "I think I see where this is going..." Frika said.


  Anomen continued, "Indeed.  Snapped clear in too.  On the bright side, we managed to glue it back on...let's just say that at that time we were glad Jan had a web spell.  Once reattached, we managed to find a wizard that could change him back.  I did mention we were inebriated, right?  Well, turns out we put Edwin's phallus on upside down..."


  Frika tried to hide her laugh, "You mean?"


  Anomen nodded, "Yes, Edwin has no need to wash his face after he goes to the privy..."


  Frika burbled "You mentioned Korgan, though...drinking...why do I have a feeling that Korgan caused some trouble..."


  Anomen sighed, "Well, as I said, we went in search of wizard.  Somehow, we managed to get a hold of a wagon, and loaded Edwin up in the back.  Problem was...Korgan was driving.  As we galloped through the middle of town, the local guard spotted us.  Somehow, he managed to get us stopped and pulled over.   The guard came up and asked, 'What's the hurry?" 'I'm late for work,' replied Korgan.  Remember, all of us, and I mean all of us, were loaded up in back, and started to break out in laughter.  'Oh, yeah? What do you do?' asked the guard.  You could tell he was trying to get Korgan for something worse than reckless driving.  'I'm a rectum stretcher,' replied Korgan. 'What? A rectum stretcher? What in the hell does a rectum stretcher do?'  the guard asked.  Korgan, grinning,  replied, 'Well, I start with one finger, then I work my way up to two fingers, then three, then four, then my whole hand. Then I work until I can get both hands in and then I slowly stretch it until it's about 6 feet wide.' The guard asked sarcastically, "What the hell do you do with a 6-foot arsehole?' Korgan said, "You give him a badge and call him a guard..."


  Frika's face turned from amusement to quiet fury, and she said, "That's why you were late to our wedding weren't you?  That story...rescuing those orphans from a fire...was just a lie?"


  Anomen smiled, and raised his hand, "No, that part, about the orphans was right.  I swear by Helm that it is true..."


  Anomen quickly walked toward the Jansen residence, thinking that it was probably just as well not to mention to Frika that the fire started after Valygar and Minsc had a contest on who could eat the most beans...or the competition between Haer'Dalis and Jan Jansen on which one could make the brightest flame with their Burning Hands spell...

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Anomen moved his way through the line, ignoring the outraged cries that filled the air, until he was stopped by one burly fellow that made Minsc look small.


  "Just what do you think you're doing cutting through this here line?" the bruiser grunted.


  Anomen looked him up and down, wondering what problem this individual possibly could have when he noticed that the man was actually hunched over, and he was pushing a wheelbarrow.  Looking into the wheelbarrow, Anomen saw a gaily decorated tablecloth over two, large round objects.  Following them to the source, he sees that there is a tarp covering where they would enter the man's jeans.


  Anomen, glancing at the wheelbarrow, said, "Um, I'm sorry sir.  I just needed to see the doctor really badly."


  The man growled, "And what makes you think I don't need to see him just as bad?"


  Anomen gulped and said, "I see what you mean...what with the wheelbarrow and all...that has to hurt like the dickens..."


  The man snarled, "What are you talking about?  I'm here to see if Dr. Jansen can reduce my nose..."


  Anomen looked up at the bruiser's face, seeing a perfectly good nose on it, and said, "I see what you mean sir."


  Anomen left, and moved to the back of his line where his wife patiently waited.  To pass the time, Anomen commented, "When did Jan become a doctor?"


  His wife, reading her book once more, Better Living Through Alchemy, "Oh, it came out in the Jansen family newsletter..."


  Anomen's eyes widened, "The Jansens...have a newsletter?"


  Frika said, "Yep, comes out the first of every spring."


  "Then why don't I see it?" Anomen asked.


  "You do.  I place it right on the counter in the privy..." Frika said.


  Anomen blushed, and said, "Oh, that's not toilet paper, then, is it?"


  Frika looked up from her reading, gave a glance at Anomen, and smiled, "I guess that you choose your toilet paper through the process of elimination..."


  Anomen groaned, and went back to staring at his shoes, occasionally moving forward when the line did, when he caught a snippet of conversation from the people ahead of him.  Raising his head, he saw that there were three women, obviously in the late stages of pregnancy, chatting away.


  Putting his head in closer, he heard them talking about their babies. "I'm going to have a boy," said the first. "How do you know?" asked the third. "Because I was on top." answered the first.  The second then said, "Well, then, I'm going to have a girl." "How do you know?" "Because I was on the bottom." The third suddenly gasped and began to cry. "What's wrong?" "I'm gonna have puppies!"


  Anomen leaned back, his face turning red, when Frika rose up again, and asked, "Your face is mighty red.  Are you getting too much sun?"


  Anomen started to answer, when the door opened, and they finally entered the house.  As they came in, he noticed that the interior walls of the tree were painted an off-white.  There was a large desk there, and Ma Jansen was standing there with a variety of folders, and her eyes light up when Frika and Anomen enter.


  "Well, its been a long time since you came!  What brings you here?" she asks.


  Frika smiled, and leaned down to hug the wiry gnome, and said, "My husband needed to see Jan."


  Ma Jensen walked over, and she rose her hand up to Anomen's groin, and she let out a hmm.


  "What in the 9 Hells are you doing?" Anomen barked.


  Ma Jensen looked at Frika, and said, "Well, I don't feel nothing wrong there.  If anything, he is well endowed...why, I would he could hold donuts on it all day...certainly could lift a ten pound weight...endurance and strength both..."


  Anomen blushed, but Frika just laughed, "We're not here to see Jan for that...Anomen just needs to talk to him..."


  Ma Jensen nods, and said, "Sure, Anomen, go on down...come on dearie...let's chat.  The patients are done for the day, and Lissa is supposed to come tomorrow.  How is it going?  The last we saw of you was at your girl's night out party...remember when you told Councilor Bylanna, 'Who lit the fuse on your tampon?'"


  Frika laughed, and said, "Yes...that was a fun night...by the way, why is that pie in an iron cage?"


  Ma Jense shook her head, and whispered, "Jan has a self-control problem...you see, we didn't even know about it until one day we came back from shopping, and there he was, standing by the table, his pants around his ankles, surprise on his face..."


  Anomen shook his head, and walked down into the depths of Dr. Jansen's office...

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Anomen walked down the stairs, his heart beating a mile a minute.  However, when he comes to the bottom, he sees that the bottom of the tree house is partitioned off with lines and blankets, creating little cubby-holes, while there were still a few chairs with situated outside.


  Anomen took a seat down by the lone individual in the waiting room, and he saw the guy would occasionally give him a manic look, hissing, "What are you looking at?  Huh, measuring me for a coffin?  Is that it..."


  Anomen scooted a bit further away and said, "No, no, I'm just here to see the doctor, that's all..."


  The man's uni-brow narrowed, and he said, "You better be..."


  The man started to hum a nonsensical song, when a small shadow walked outside one blanket, holding a large thick pile of papers.  As he looked closely, Anomen saw it was Jan Jansen in a white robe, immaculately clean, although the gnome still had a small bit of egg and turnip in his beard.  There was a small circular band on his head, with a mirror attached to it, and what looked like dried blood on the mirror.


  "Sir Anomen!  How are you?" Jan Jansen asked, "What brings you here?"


  Anomen looked at the man next to him who was jabbing forked fingers in his general direction, and said, "Umm...I just came to see you Jan...if you have time..."


  Jan sighed, and said, "Well, I'm finishing up the last round of patients, but come on back..."


  The man suddenly jumped to his feet, and shouted, "Hey, I was next!"


  Jan cocked his head, and asked, "And what is the nature of your complaint?"


  The man held his arms together, and said, "Doc, help me! I have a terrible problem. I'm shrinking! I'm getting smaller every day."


  Jan said, "Calm down. You will be alright, just be a little patient!"


  The guy nodded, and went to making the evil eye at Anomen as Jan said, "Follow me...we can talk in between..."


  Anomen nodded, and followed the gnome behind the first partition.  As they came around the corner, Anomen saw there was a man sitting on a stool and with a carrot in one ear, a turnip in the other ear, and a banana jammed up his nose.


  His eyes light up and he asks, "Hey, Doc, what's wrong with me?"  


  Dr. Jansen replied, "You're not eating right."


  The guy puzzled, said, "What did you say?"


  Jan motioned to the man's ears, and shrugging, Anomen pulled the produce from the guys' ears, and with the pop, the man jumped up, hugging both Jan and Anomen, "You cured me!  You cured my hearing!  Thank you, thank you..."


  He then sat back down, and asked, "What was the problem doctor?"


  Jan seriously said, "You weren't eating write...here, follow these instructions to the letter, then come see me in 2-3 weeks..."


  The man grabbed the slip of paper, and said, "Thank you, thank you..."


  Anomen started to say something to the guy, but as he opened his mouth, he then shut it.


  After all...why am I here? he thought.


  "I must admit that was rather...professional...how you handled that man..." Anomen said.


  Jan grinned, "Thank you Sir Anomen.  Shame about the turnip though.  We could have used it for pie...anyways, one down, several more to go..."


  They turned around the corner of another bedsheet, and saw a man, naked to the waist, black and blue bruises adorning his body.  Even Anomen had to admit to himself that with all that happened to him recently, this guy had a an impressive collection of bruises.


  Jan tutted, stroking his beard, and asked, "What happened?"


  The guy stuttered, "I heard a knock on my door...this was three days ago...so I got up and as I opened the door, there was a six-foot cockroach! It grabbed me by the collar, threw me across the room, and then left. The next night, there was a knock again. I opened the door and there was the same six-foot cockroach! It punched me in the stomach, kneed me in the face, and then left. The third night, my door had a knock and once again, there stood the same six-foot cockroach! This time, it beat the snot out of me.  I was left lying in a heap on the living room floor.  Doctor, what can I do?"


  "Not much," replied Dr. Jansen. "There's just a nasty bug going around!"


  Anomen looked at Jan, and said, "Jan, that doesn't help him one bit..."


  Dr. Jansen stared coldly into Anomen's eyes, and said, "Who is the doctor here?  Come, we must hurry up if we're to get done on time."


  Jan started to move, and Anomen moved to follow, then stopped, and he walked over to the guy, slipping him ten gold pieces, whispering, "Here...buy yourself a shoe...a really big one...that might work..." and hurried to catch up with Jan.


  As he entered the next partition, he saw and old couple sitting on stools.  Jan was reading from a sheaf of papers, and said, "Ah, the Johansens...here for your yearly physical...this will be quick...I need a urine sample, a stool sample, and a sperm sample."


  The man looked at Jan, turned to his wife, and asked, "What did he say?"


  The wife put her mouth next to his ear, and yelled really loud, "He says to give him your underpants!"


  Anomen felt his face flushed, and he whispered, "I'm going to the next one Jan, I will let you help this old couple without interruption."


  Jan, preoccupied, said, "Yes, yes, and don't forget the turnip calonic..."


  Anomen made his way to the fourth partition where he saw a man reading a magazine...or at least he thought it was a magazine, until he saw it was a book of blank pages.  


  The man looked up and grunted, "Are you the doctor?"


  Anomen pointed a finger at himself, and said, "Um...no..."


  The man peered, and then enlightenment filled his eyes, "Ah, yes, you must be the new intern.  Fantastic doctor Jan is, though very busy..."


  Anomen nodded, "So I have seen..."


  A few more minutes pass by when Jan comes waddling into the room.  He glanced at the guy, and smiled, "So, Kyle, what brings you here?"


  Kyle frowned, "Its not me, Doc, its my wife."


  Jan grimaced, "Oh, what's wrong?"





  Kyle sighed, and said, "Every time I get...affectionate...my wife claims a headache.  I can see it happening every once in a while...but every straight day for six months?  Is there something you can do?"


  Jan smiled, and reached into his pocket, pulling out a bunch of pills, and said, "Next time you get...affectionate...give her a glass of water and two of these.  When she asks, 'What's this for?' you reply, 'For your headache...'"


  The man looked at the pills, and grinned, "Oh, I get it...if she says she doesn't have a headache...then she has no excuse...if she does have a real headache...then these will work...thanks doc!  You saved me from going nuts with frustration!"


  Jan laughed, "Go on Kyle, get out of here..."


  Jan then started to move, and Anomen hurried, saying, "How many more?"


  Jan grinned, "Just three more patients...hurry to get there..."


  And around the partition they went, but as they left, Anomen was surprised to see that they didn't come to the waiting room, but to another room.


  "Didn't...we just leave one room" he asked, hitching a finger to the back, "Shouldn't we be back in the waiting room?"


  Jan said, "No...there is more space inside than outside...even you should know basic thaumatology, my good man..."


  Soon both  come upon a young man, his hands clenching the bed, his knuckles white, hello Sebastian...what is wrong?"


  Kathleen blushed, but Sebastian stood, and it was evident from the bulge in his groin that he whispered, "She ruined me...that she did..."


  Anomen sighed, while Jan said, "Calmly...tell me from the beginning..."


  Sebastian said, " Okay, when I was younger mother said that kissing a girl would kill me. All through  school, I avoided girls, but when I told my  friends that I'd never been kissed, they decided it was time to prove Mother wrong. They fixed me up with a real party girl. When she eventually got me alone, she snuggled up to me and said, 'I know you've never been kissed, but I'm here to tell you that you won't die, it won't hurt, and, in fact, you'll probably like it. What do you say?' I hesitated a moment but she looked so nice, smelled so nice and felt so nice leaning against me that my curiosity quickly got the better of me. I nodded, shyly. She smiled and gave me a long, slow, lingering, probing hot kissâ€â€one of her best! I began to cry. 'I'm gonna die! I'm gonna die!!'  She said 'What? What do you mean, you're going to die?'"


  The boy sighed, and replied,  "I kissed her and look...already rigor mortis is setting in to one part of me!"


  Anomen smirked, and he followed his previous course of action by rushing into the next room before he stuck his foot in his mouth.  As he made the circle, he saw that the man with the wheel barrow was waiting there, except it was uncovered, and his privates were green and purple with oozing blood coming from the tip of his member.


  Anomen glanced at this, and felt the gorge rise in his gullet, and he covered his mouth, looking for someplace to vomit...but the only place was the wheelbarrow, and he rushed over, bending over it, letting loose with his mouth.  As he rose up, wiping his mouth on his sleeve, he saw Jan arching an eyebrow in Anomen's direction, but simply said, "Don't ask...don't tell..."


  Jan came up and tapped the tip of it, and the man let loose with a blood curdling shriek and the guy said, "My first doc said there was nothing he could do.  It was some kind of Thavian VD.  He said that there was no cure for it...that he would have to amputate it.  I then heard about you...is there anyway not to amputate it?"


  Jan smiled big, and he said, "Of course...stupid doctors...that's why they envy my methods...there is no need to operate!"


  The guy smiled largely, and said  "Oh, thank Sharess! You don't have to amputate my penis?"


  Jan laughed, "No, no. It fall off by itself!"


  The man looked stunned at this pronouncement, then Jan added, "But for wasting my time on this office visit...that will be 2 gold pieces..."


  Jan then turned the corner one last time, when the bruiser started to rise, his face turning crimson red, and bellowed, "You're all dead, you hear?!?  All of you...you little runt and your bearded sidekick!"


  Anomen looked at the man, and wisely rushed after Jan.  As he turned the corner, he found himself in an immaculately white room.  So white, it reflected the sole candle in the room into his eyes from a million directions.


  "Isn't there two more patients?" Anomen asked, shielding his face with his arm.


  "Yes..." Jan said, "And the second to last one..."


  Anomen mumbled, "Me?"


  Jan sighed, and said, "Divination isn't a precise science Annie...but it helps to know who my clients ahead of time are, eh?  Come sit..."


  Anomen saw that there was a solitary stool in the room, and he moved over to it.


  "Interesting name..." Anomen offered conversationally.


  "What is interesting?" Jan asked, patting his chest.


  "The name of your establishment..." Anomen said.


  "Oh, that.  Well, I really had no choice.  See, I first had my name on it, followed by Psychiatry and Proctology.  The damn business council had a fit, so I then changed it to Hysterias and Posteriors, followed by Schizoids and Hemorrhoids...hmm...then there was Catatonics and High Colonics...Manic-depressives and Anal-retentives...Minds and Behinds...Lost Souls and Butt Holes...Analysis and Anal Cysts...Queers and Rears...Nuts and Butts...Freaks and Cheeks...Loons and Moons…Odds and Ends...but all were shot down...now say ARGH!"

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Anomen backed up, and he shouted, "Get that thing away from me!"


  Jan looked slightly hurt, as he held up his hand, middle finger extended sky-high, "But it's been sterilized..."


  Jan sighed, and added, "I mean, its not like you are paying for this visit..."


  Jan's eyes opened, and he glittered, "Or are you paying for this visit?"


  Anomen shook his head, waving his hands in front of his face, "No...yes...oh Torm take it all, I don't know what I'm doing right now...his eyes landed on a picture that was sitting on a corner.  As he gazed at it, Anomen said, "Who's that in the picture?"


  Jan's face lit up, and said, "Oh, that is just a class picture..."


  He twisted it around, and Anomen saw that there was a large picture, and Jan pointed out, "This was taken on the day of our graduation.  See the lady in front, the one looking very regal..."


  Anomen's eyes became fixated on one-eyed cyclops, her nose ring hanging down to the ground, her clothes definitely leaving nothing to the imagination...or maybe it wasn't clothing but natural hair...then his face stopped as his jaw dropped at a vision of loveliness before him.  She had long blue-black hair, hazel green eyes, very fair skin, medium height, lithe build, a rack that you could serve drinks on and a butt he could bounce quarters on.


  "Yep, that's Dr. MorningGlory.  Graduated at the head of our class..." Jan said, "I would have never made it through Better Living Through Recreational Bio-chemistry without her.  Makes a rather wicked brownie as well.  Would have been fantastic if she would include turnips.  Heh...you know the old saying...its better to be the lead dog...well, in this case, I can honestly say that being second place was much better...â€Â


  He pauses thoughtfully, and continues, "There is Knobby...never really did figure out why he was called that.  Weird fellow, only wore trenchcoats to class..."


  Anomen tried to redirect the conversation, and said, "Just why did you become a doctor?  I mean, I thought you were content working at that turnip factory after the Bhaalspawn wars came to a close."


  Jan laughed, and said, "Well, there was a slight problem with the job.  You see, whenever I went to work, I just had to stick my finger in the turnip slicer.  Ma suggested I go talk to a professional, but I would have none of that.  A few weeks later, I came home.  I looked like hell, and Ma asked me what was wrong, and I said, 'Do you remember when I told you about my tremendous urge to put my finger in the turnip slicer?'  Ã¢â‚¬ËœOh, Jan!’ she cried in horror. ‘You didn't?!’ ‘Yes, I did.’ ‘My god, Jan, what happened?’ ‘They fired me.’ ‘No, Bill, I mean what happened with the turnip slicer?’ ‘Oh, they fired her, too!’† 


  Anomen put his head in his hands, and whimpered, “So, from illusionist/thief to turnip slicer to doctor in one fell swoop?  And why a doctor?â€Â


  Jan shrugged, as he added, “Scholarship actually...â€Â


  Anomen sighed, and started to massage his brow, and began to say something further, when Jan rose up, and said, “Come on, you can help assist me with my last patient...â€Â


  Anomen just stopped worrying about where he would end up next, but when they entered the next room, they found a large, burly ogre sitting a chair, idly picking his two jutting fangs with a human finger bone.


  “Hiya doc...†the ogre said, then belched, and Anomen plugged his nose at the foul stench.


  “Greetings, Kangor...you here for the works...†Jan asked.


  Kangor smiled, pulling out a small black piece from his mouth, “Yep, doc, I’m ready to go all the way...â€Â


  Jan nodded, then asked, “By the way, that is an interesting breath spray your using.  What is it?â€Â


  Kangor laughed, and said, “Its no breath spray, doc, but lunch.  Would you believe, I was down by the docks, and some guy just left this crate of tuna crepes!  And who would have thought that there would be seagull and cat appetizers!â€Â


  Anomen thought he was going to be sick, when, Jan said, “Well, let’s get started, shall we.  The first thing I need to do is take some measurements.â€Â


  The ogre nodded, and said, “Sure doc, whatcha want?â€Â


  Jan said, “Give me your hand.† The ogre’s massive ham-fist comes forward, and Jan examines it.


  “Hmm...†he said, “This isn’t good.â€Â


  Kangor’s eyes widened, “Why doc, what’s wrong?â€Â


  Jan whistled, and said, “Its obvious you have no girlfriend or wife...in fact, I would be willing to bet that you are extremely lonely.â€Â


  Kangor nodded, and said, “That’s right doc, that’s why I am here...you can tell that just by reading my lifelines?â€Â


  Jan shook his head, “No, by examining the calluses on your hand.â€Â


  Kangor’s face started to turn purple when Jan turned to Anomen and said, “Anesthetic...â€Â


  Anomen glanced around, and all he saw was a cabinet with a variety of blunt instruments, and asked, “Anesthetic?â€Â


  “The whiskey bottle...†Jan said, as he pushed a lever on the chair, and the ogre lay flat, his eyes staring straight up into the sky.


  Anomen looked at the bottles again, and pulled one off the cabinet that was half full, and handed it to Jan.


  Anomen barely had time to close his eyes, and grit his teeth as he heard a loud crash resound through the room.  A few seconds pass, when he opens one eye, and sees the ogre lying unconsciously, Jan starting to strap him down with a set of rather thick belts, and manacles on his feet.


  “Umm...Jan, there’s something that’s been bothering me since I’ve been here...†Anomen said, “Just what does DRPh stand for?â€Â


  Jan grinned, turning his head, and said, “Oh that’s elementary my dear Anomen, its a Doctorate of Retro-Phrenology...â€Â


  Anomen’s eyes boggled, “Retro-phrenology?â€Â


  Jan sighed, “Yes, phrenology is the study of the shapes, and protuberances of the skull, and how they reveal mental and character traits...â€Â


  Jan moved to remove the ogre’s loincloth, and he tutted, as he came across the matted hair, and the dried tendrils of fluid, saying, “I must tell him that Dr. Kildare was looking for...donors...Kangor is literally letting a fortune slip through his hands...â€Â


  Jan glanced at Anomen, and said, “Hammer...â€Â


  Anomen looked around, and saw a massive six-pound sledgehammer hanging on the wall, and he went over to get it.


  “Okay, so that’s what phrenology is...but where does the retro part come in?†he asked, “And you better not mention anything about large fins and wide ties...â€Â


  Jan looked at the hammer, and easily hefted in one hand, holding it above the ogre’s head, and said, “Well, the principal is quite sound...just as the bumps and shape of the skull defines the character traits we want...by altering those shapes...we can get the traits we desire...â€Â

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Anomen winced, as he saw Jan continue to operate on the troll, but there was something familiar about the way Jan went about his business.  Suddenly, he realized why, and Anomen asked, "Jan, did you ever meet someone by the name Giles Reilly?"


  Jan stopped, wiping a dab of mucous from his cheek, and said, "Oh, yes I have.  He was my instructor in several classes.  Why, I was the top of my class in Explaining Diseases to Patianet without Telling Them Anything...and I dominated Selling Unnecessary Surgery...he also taught a few electives like Uses of Scientific Notation in Hospital Bills and Inventing Incomprehensible Jargon..."


  Jan's eyes closed, as he wrenches something from the ogre's mouth, and Anomen found himself turning his head, trying to stuff a towel into Kangor's mouth, "If it wasn't for my tutoring, Dr. MorningGlory would never have passed..."


  Anomen looked at Jan then, and he said, "I thought you said she was at the top of your class..."


  Jan smiled, and said, "Well, of course.  The dilemma was she had this ethical problem."


  Anomen's eyebrows rose, and he knew he shouldn't but he asked, "Ethical problem?"


  Jan nodded, as he looked at Kangor's face, and said, "Can opener...anyways, the ethical problem was that she had ethics.  Heh...but a little judicious blackmail on my part...well, she graduated top of her class..."


  Anomen's face blanched, and he asked, "What did you do Jan?"


  Jan laughed, "Oh, nothing really much.  Just mailed letters to the various spouses of the professors with perfume as needed...you know, little love notes with closings like 'Love Kate'.  If they didn't want to play ball after that, I stepped it up a notch...such as leaving lipstick stained panties in their coats..."


  Anomen shook his head, "And just why did you do this?"


  Jan looked at Anomen, and said, "I liked MorningGlory.  She gave me this turnip she grew herself...why, it was so big...and it tasted so...just thinking about it makes my mouth water..."


  Jan shrugged, "So, you knew ol' One Ball Reilly?"


  Anomen nodded, and said, "Yeah, I guess you could say that...he used to work for the Order...back when I was a squire he was one of us.  See, in the first morning of training, the Order issued him a comb. That afternoon, they shaved off all his hair. On his second day in training, the Order issued him a toothbrush. That afternoon, the Order's dentist pulled several of his teeth. On his third morning in training, he was issued a jock strap. The Order still is looking for him..."


  Jan merely stared at Anomen and shook his head, and said, "Get the catheter..."


  Anomen asked, "Catheter?"


  Jan sighed, and said, "I guess I have to do everything myself...follow me."


  The gnome walked over to the counter, and that's when Anomen saw that there was a cat chained to the counter top, with a roaring fire and a small covered skillet.  The cat let's loose with a rowr, and Jan strokes it.


  "That's okay, Fluffy..." the gnome crooned.


  Anomen said, "Say...that's the cat the children were throwing flashers at last time I was here..."


  Jan nodded, and said, "Now, without her, my practice would suffer..."


  Anomen, "Oh, and what are you doing...what was it you called it...cat-heater?"


  Jan said, "Just watch..."


  Jan put the cat in the skillet, covering it tightly, blocking out the frantic meows that suddenly escaped from within, and place on the fire.  As the skillet started to turn red, the meowing grew louder, until it was almost a high pitched scream, and Jan then carried it over to Mangor.  Anomen saw Jan lift the ogre's...appendage...out of the way and opened the lid of the skillet, allowing a fiery orange blur escape and burrow its way into Kangor's...backside.


  "Hellcat..." Jan said appreciatively, when a shout arose from Kangor, and the ogre shot up from his seat, the painful bellow ululating from his lungs, and when he landed on the ground, the ogre started to drag his bottom across the floor.


  "Darn, and I just had that waxed..." Jan said regretfully, "So, tell me Anomen, just what is the nature of your problem?"


  Anomen's eyes, fixated on the ogre, belatedly relayed everything that had happened to him, from his dreams to every incident large and small that befell him.


  As the ogre started to slow, Jan said, "Hmm...its a classic persecution complex.  It has all the tell-tale signs of a mass conspiracy out to get you.  Some would diagnose you as a paranoid schizophrenic, but if everyone is out to get you...it is not a mental illness..."


  Anomen smiled, and said, "Finally...someone who believes me!  Is there anything you can do to help me?"


  Jan paused, and said, "Well, maybe...the first thing we have to do is get you off these charges you are facing.  Of course, it doesn't help that you are in the third trimester of your life..."


  Anomen's eyes widened, and he asked, "Trimester...uh...Jan, unless you are talking about some radical surgery..."  


  And it wouldn't surprise me...I know that I won't be sleeping well at night for weeks to come as it is... Anomen thought.


  Jan cocked his head, and he said, "In human males, their lives can summed up simply in three stages: Tri-weekly, try weekly, and try weakly!  From the look on Frika's face, as well as your own...inability..."


  Jan walked forward, and prodded Anomen's crotch with a well-manicured finger, the nail having bright pink polish on it...


  What is it with gnomes and feeling me up??? Anomen thought righteously, as he pulled back, only to see a piteous, mournful frown on Jan's face that quickly disappeared.


  Anomen tried to change the direction of the conversation, and asked, "You know a way to help me?  You do!?!  By Helm, thank you, Jan, thank you...if there is anything I can do for you, just let me know..."


  Jan smiled, and said, "Oh, I will, Sir Anomen, I will...now, let's finish with this patient..."  


  Anomen, watching as the ogre then reached behind him and pulled out the snarling cat, Kangor tentatively sniffed it, and put it in his mouth, murmuring, "Hmm...chocolaty..."


  Jan asked, "So, Kangor, how do you feel!"


  Kangor smiled, and he said, "I feel great...in fact...I feel more than great...I feel more than happy!"


  Jan sighed, and whispered to Anomen, "I was afraid of that...when someone is more than happy, they usually need chemical intervention...oh well...back to the old drawing board...run along little Opium Annie...I will meet you later..."


  Anomen shrieked, "But you don't know where I'll be!"


  Jan grinned, "All I have to do is follow the line of comedians and detractors in your wake...no, go...you know the type that say:  'What's the difference between Anomen and the same man after he ate a big bowl of beans?  One is a smart feller and the other is a..."


  Anomen screamed, rushing from the room, poking his fingers in his ears, singing "La-la-la..."

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