Too Many Elves
Nicholas S. Stember
"There are too many Elves."
The three other players slowly turned their heads towards Doug, the exasperation in each of them no longer hiding behind the mask of friendship.
"What is it now?" Sally asked as she pushed her bag of College books onto the floor, after pulling out her Fantasy Playerís Manual.
"Youíre all playing Elves again," Doug said with more than a slight degree of disgust. "Iím sick of Elves. They annoy the heck out of me."
"Itís an Elven adventure," Todd tried to explain in an even tone despite his feelings. "I designed it that way."
Karen pulled out her Playerís Manual and let it hit the table hard, the loud clap echoing her thoughts. "Weíre here to have some role playing fun, not argue." She glanced sharply at Doug, her gaze centering on his blank character sheet. "You havenít even made up your character yet."
"Iím not sure what race I want to play," he protested through a grumble.
"Weíre playing Elves," Rick stated as he leafed absently through the Creatureís Compendium Book. "Itís an Elven adventure."
"That doesnít mean I have to play one," he continued.
"Thatís up to the Game Master," Karen admitted as she gazed over at Todd and raised an eyebrow. "Whatís the verdict?"
Todd let out a sigh as he looked down at the maps that he had laid out for the eveningís role playing session. "If he really doesnít like playing Elves, he doesnít have to."
"Thank you," Doug said with a humph of victory that was clearly aimed at Rick.
"So whatís your character going to be?" Karen asked, anxious to get through these preliminaries so they could start playing.
Doug glanced through the Fantasy Players Manual and studied the races, his gaze centering for a moment on the picture of the tall, statuesque Elves. "I donít know. Maybe a Dwarf or a human...anything but some stupid Elf."
"You should watch what you say," Sally said with a smirk as she pulled out her multicolored gaming dice and put them on the table. "The Elves could get offended."
"Or at least the writers of this game," Karen laughed.
"You take this stuff too seriously, Sally," Doug said with a half condescending expression on his face.
Sally let out a frolicsome shrug and rolled her eyes.
"Todd," Karen said as she glanced at her friend. "Donít forget that we canít go past midnight. Iíve got to get to work tomorrow..." she glanced at Sally, as her voice turned playfully sarcastic. "...unlike some people."
"Some people are still in College," Sally shot back.
"And always will be," laughed Rick.
Doug tuned his friends out as he glanced back at the Fantasy Playerís Manual, still unsure what race to play. Then he reached out his hand, deciding on leaving the decision to the fates.
It was when his hand touched the empty table, that he looked back up.
"Did one of you guys take my favorite die," he asked with a hint of worry. "You know, the clear blue one with the sparkles in it."
There were a few shakes of heads, then they looked around the piles of books and gaming paraphernalia on the table, but with no results.
"Probably on the floor somewhere," Todd suggested as he rolled a die to Doug. "Here, you can use mine."
Doug groaned silently as he leaned under the table to search for his die, but realized that it would most likely turn up before the eveningís end. However, when he looked back up to find his monogrammed pen missing too, his eyes narrowed in anger.
"Whoís the joker?" he demanded.
"What are you babbling about now?" Rick asked without looking up from his book.
"My pen that my father gave me is missing now also!"
Realizing that the game wasnít going to go anywhere until the pen was found, the others started to look under and around the gaming table, but after a few minutes easily gave up.
"Are you sure you had it here?" Karen asked, her voice displaying the only concern in the group. "I know how important the pen is to you."
"Itís not like it just walked off," Rick laughed. "Weíll find it later, itís got to show up."
Taking in a deep breath, Doug nodded and re-opened the Playerís Manual to start to make his character, and wondered if they should order some dinner...it actually took him a moment of staring at his blank wrist to realize that his watch was missing.
Then the movement in the corner of his peripheral vision caught his attention. His head snapped over towards the open door that led to the hallway, only to see a miniature man running out the door with his watch. At first he thought it was a mouse, since it wasnít much bigger than one. But there was no mistaking his watch that the little man carried over his shoulder like a duffel bag.
It was a few good minutes after what Doug was sure was simply a hallucination that had disappeared down the hallway that he finally found his voice again. It hadnít been an easy decision, because his friends werenít exactly the believing type. But one fact remained rock solid in his mind...and that was that the little thief had been an Elf. Despite the radical difference between the tiny man and the images portrayed in the Fantasy Game, there was no question in his mind over that, though he wasnít sure why.
"I think that an Elf just stole my watch," Dougís voice barely whispered.
Although the sentence had been almost inaudible, it caught all of his friendsí attention.
"Excuse me?" came from Todd.
"A tiny Elf," Doug said louder. "I just saw him running off down the hallway with my watch." To display this fact, he held up his now empty wrist.
For a moment they all stared at him silently, then began to laugh.
"Serves you right for what you said," Sally joked happily.
"Iím not kidding," Doug said louder, his voice shaking slightly.
"Now whose taking this stuff too seriously?" she asked with a sneer.
"Cool it Sal," Todd warned, then looked over at Doug. "And you stop goofing off and make a character so we can get started."
Doug glared at his fiends for a moment, then stood up.
"What now?" Rick asked with a touch of anger.
He considered the truth, but settled for a comfortable lie. "Iím going to get a drink."
"Hurry up," Karen said, "it's almost seven already."
Doug left the table and walked slowly to the door that led to the long, hard wood, hallway. Once there, he paused for a moment as he looked both ways, trying to remember which way the little man went. He glanced back at his friends to see if they were watching him, but they were listening to Todd explain the adventure that they would play that night. Taking a breath to calm himself, he stepped out into the hallway and walked down a few feet...then stopped as the sheer ludicrousness of what he was doing hit home.
"I must be an idiot," he grumbled as he turned back to his friends, when he realized too late that his shoes were tied together and fell over backwards flat on the floor.
"Perhaps," came a disembodied voice near his head, "you mean most likely."
"Are you all right?" Karen called from inside the room.
"Yeah," Doug answered as he quickly rolled onto his stomach, hoping to catch a glimpse of where the first voice came from...and found himself face to face with a man who couldnít have been more than five inches tall. He was clothed entirely in a shimmery wrap that almost looked like colored cellophane, and long hair that was as blue as a sky on a mid summerís day. His golden eyes shinned with a playful innocence that one usually only found in children, but it was apparent that this was no child...though Doug wouldnít have even tried to guess his age. The tiny intruder stood steadfast mere inches from Dougís nose, his arms folded in a scornful pose.
"Elves are stupid, huh?" came his voice, high toned yet rich and full. A slow smile crossed his tiny face as he looked up and around him. "We have some opinion about that, I think."
Doug followed his gaze up, to find that there were suddenly dozens of these tiny people around. Men, women, even some children who were tinier yet. All appeared to come out of nowhere and surround him, some landing on his back, shoulders and head. His mouth opened in shock as even more of them emerged from the shadows, until it seemed as if he were the center of a town meeting.
"This canít be real," he half whimpered, afraid the others would hear.
"Oh, but youíre quite mistaken," the blue haired Elf told him with a clarity that signaled him a leader. "Or do you doubt your senses, dull that they are?"
Doug shook his head, scattering the Elves that were resting there. The ones that fell seemed to bounce right back up, brushing the dust off their colored wraps and glaring at him in annoyance.
"I hit my head," he spoke aloud, seemingly satisfied with that rationalization.
"Is that the best you can come up with?" the lead Elf asked in mock pity. "Pathetic."
"You canít be Elves."
"Why not?" the leader questioned. "Is there any part of you that doubts what we are?"
Doug shook his head, remembering his instant conviction as to what the thief had been when he had first seen him. "But Elves are supposed to be tall and gorgeous."
The lead Elf glanced around at his people with an amused twinkle in his eye. "And humans are supposed to be clumsy and stupid," he commented with a smile. "Which of these rumors do you think is more likely to be true?"
For a moment the sheer insanity of what surrounded him threatened to make him bolt and run, but there was something calming about the Elf, yet unnerving at the same time. In the end, what the Elf had said made some sense, and he nodded slowly. "The second?"
"Good choice," came from an Elf on his shoulder.
"So hereís the situation," the lead Elf said as his tone grew suddenly serious. "Weíll stop stealing your stuff, and making you look like a fool..."
"He doesnít need our help for that," a slender Elven woman with lavender hair said with a giggle.
The Leader gave her a sharp look, then grinned when she stuck out her bottom lip. "...and you give us a break."
"A break?" Doug asked, clearly reading the sharp look in the Elfís golden eyes.
"A break," the Leader responded. "You know what I mean. Meanwhile, weíll continue to hang around you."
"I donít understand."
"You wouldnít," he laughed. "You donít realize that itís kind of fun watching you guys pretend to be human sized versions of us...better than TV."
"Not CSI," one of the Elves on Dougís back grunted as he walked up his shoulder.
"Or Sex in the City either," said the lavender haired Elf.
"Get real," the one on the shoulder snapped back. "No self respecting Elf watches that show."
"Humanís watch it," she protested while stomping a tiny foot down on Dougís arm.
"So," he laughed with sarcasm, "if a human jumped off a bridge would you too?"
"Some humans do that for sport," another said, but it was quickly lost in the full fledged argument that erupted among the throng of Elves as they debated their sources of entertainment.
"Uh, look guys," Doug tried to edge in as he slowly got up, careful to let the Elves that were on him slide gently off...which they hardly noticed while in the heat of their debate. He quickly untied his shoe laces, and retrieved his lost items from the various Elves that were holding them. "Itís a deal," he said as a look of baffled amusement consumed his face. "...I guess."
The Leader Elf took a moment from the argument to stare up at Doug, his golden eyes fixed with judgmental certainty. Then he flashed a wink at him, and gleefully returned to the argument.
With the implied consent given, he turned and walked back to the door, a chill running down his spine when the hallway suddenly grew silent. He stole a glance back to where they had been, but the hallway was empty. For a moment he lingered at the door, then re-entered the room with his friends. The self absorbed way they listened to Toddís summary of the fantasy adventure that awaited them a clear indicator that they had heard nothing.
"So," Sally asked him as he sat back down and picked up his blank character sheet. "Did you finally decide what youíre going to play so we can get started?"
"How about an Elf?" he said with a sheepish grin as he shrugged his shoulders.
They all stared at him dumbfoundedly, then gazed at each other and grinned.
Doug stole one last glance at the doorway, and almost thought he caught the slight reflection of light off of cellophane, but an instant later it was gone. He stared an extra moment, his unanswered questions fading into his growing smile. Then he let out a soft laugh, and picked up his favorite die.
Published by permission of the author.