Humming softly to herself, the Lady of Eire began her work to clean the raiments of her family. Separating the rough wool and furs of her husband from the delicate silks and satins of her own wardrobe, she loaded them into the mechanism of cleaning. Adding soap, she turned the automaton on. As it filled, she busied herself with other activities, continuing to hum an old shanty she had heard as a young child.
Suddenly, an explosion of suds and warm water erupted from the drain and soaked her. Tendrils, slimy and barbed, whipped out, wrapping around the automaton’s hoses. Slowly, pulling tighter, they began drawing them into the drain.
Crying out, the Lady of Eire pulled MoraDirk, her dagger of supreme sharpness and beauty, from her sheath. Charging at the tendrils with her cry of battle, she sliced at the thickest of them. With a squeal, it split, loosening its grip on a hose. Recoiling, it snapped back, then rebounded to wrap itself around the wrist of the fair lady. Its speed surprised the Lady of Eire, and it pulled her off of her feet. In the fall, she lost her weapon. Kicking and screaming, she was drawn closer and closer to the drain from which the soapy water and slimy tentacles emerged.
With a bellow, DaddyBear the Minivandian rushed into the room. Swinging Gnarlthing, his legendary blade of slashing, he cut at the bundle of tentacles at their source: the drain. With a squeal of steel against stone, the blade clove the tentacles in twain. A roar echoed from the drain as the stumps withdrew back to whence they had come. The parts that were left behind let go of the Lady of Eire and the contents of the room, flopped around in the sudsy water on the floor, then lay still.
Rushing to side of his mate, my lord DaddyBear helped to her feet. Her gown of silk was soaked and filthy, and angry welts were forming on her wrist. Holding her to his breast, the Minivandian kissed them, hoping to bring some relief. With a smile, she laid her delicate hand on his cheek, saying “‘Tis but a scratch, my love. Thanks be to you for your assistance. I am afraid that this thing took me by surprise, and it would have been quite a fight to get loose and retrieve my blade.”
Kneeling upon the floor, she picked up MoraDirk. She began to wipe it off on her gown, but smiled sheepishly as she realized that it was as big a mess as the steel of her knife.
“Go, my love, and tend to yourself. I shall deal with the monster and clean up this mess.” said DaddyBear, a look of concern for his wife on his noble visage.
“Thank you, my lord. Yes, I shall get out of these sodden things and clean up. Will you require my return to assist you?”, she answered.
“Nay,” answered the Minivandian, “I shall attend to this myself.”
Leaving her husband to his battle preparations, the Lady of Eire returned to her chambers. Warm water and dry woolen robes went a long way to restoring her, and a quick wipe of an oiled rag on MoraDirk returned it to its perfect gleam. With a nod of satisfaction, the Lady of Eire thrust it into its scabbard on her belt.
Back in the cellar, DaddyBear prepared for battle. Putting on his best gauntlets and helm, he considered what weapons and tools to use in flushing the monster from the drain and dispatching it. GnarlThing, after being embedded in the stone of the dungeon wall, was out of commission until it could be sharpened. The gaze of the Minivandian roamed his armory.
“A short axe would be best for this work, but what will I use to flush it from that hole?” he pondered, taking down OakCleaver and strapping it to his belt.
Then his eyes came upon the shelf upon which he kept his magical serpents. An idea formed in his mind.
“Hmm, let’s see. The Serpent of the Bore is for my arms of fire. No, and not the Serpent of the Bones, either. I shudder to think of what would happen if that monstrosity got loose in the plumbing. Ah yes, the Serpent of the Pipes. That will be perfect. He shall bring the monster out into the open, then I shall hew it into pieces small enough to pass through a sieve.”
Bringing down the cask which held the Serpent of the Pipes, the Minivandian opened it, and muttered the spell to bring its occupant out of his hibernation.
“Yesssss, my lord. What ssshall I do for you thissssss day?” asked the serpent.
“A foul beast has invaded the drain in our cellar, and has attacked my mate, the Lady of Eire. I would have you assist me in bringing it into the light, where it may be dispatched for the good of all.” replied DaddyBear.
“Of coursssse, my lord. I relissssh the thought of a good fight in the confinesss of a drain pipe. It’sssss what I’m for, now issssn’t it?” said the serpent, a hint of a smile crossing its face.
“Are you ready, my servant?” asked DaddyBear, carrying its box over to the drain.
“Yessss, my lord. I shall go down into the pipe as far asss I can, grab hold of the coward, and then together, we shall pull him out.”, replied the Serpent of the Pipes, his tongue flickering out in anticipation of the coming fight.
DaddyBear helped the serpent reach the drain, then held onto its tail as it wriggled down into the pipe. The magical gift of the serpent became apparent as its body stretched and stretched, reaching many feet down into the pipe while its tail stayed motionless in the Minivandians hand. After a few minutes of wriggling deep into the drain, the serpent sensed the tendrils of the monster in the pipe just in front of him. Rearing back, it struck, sinking its fangs deep into the tentacles.
“Pull, my lord! I have it!” hissed the serpent.
DaddyBear pulled back on the serpent’s tail. At first, he was able to make headway, but the job quickly became a tug of war. The Serpent of the Pipes assisted by retracting its body as much as it could, but the monster fought back just as hard. Just as the Minivandian was about to give a mighty heave, the serpent gave out a cry of pain, let go of the monster, and wriggled back out of the drain.
“My lord, forgive me, but thisss isss beyond me. I fear that I have damaged myssself. This fiend is too much for me to pull out, even with your assssissstance!”, it hissed, a look of shame and disappointment on its face.
“Good serpent, no need to apologize. I felt and heard how mightily you struggled with the foul beast. We shall try something else. In the meantime, is there anything I can do for you to ease your suffering?” said the Minivandian, hoping to soothe his servant’s pain.
“Thank you, my lord, but all I require isss sssleep. May I return to my box, there to sssslumber a while?” replied the serpent.
“Of course. I wish you good sleep, and dreams of field mice and sunny rocks.” said DaddyBear.
DaddyBear gently lifted the serpent and placed him in his chest. As he lowered the lid, the serpent’s eyes closed, and its tongue flickered out one last time before it dropped off to sleep.
As the Minivandian returned to the chamber of raiment cleaning to begin pondering what to do next, the Lady of Eire came down the stairs.
“Is it done, my lord?” she asked, surveying the room.
“Nay, my love, ’tis not done. The wretch in the drain has bested the serpent I sent down there to fetch him, and now I must come up with a new plan. I will need something much stronger to destroy this monster.” answered DaddyBear, a scowl of aggravation on his noble brow.
As he ruminated, the Lady of Eire picked up one of the tentacles that were still laying on the floor from the earlier attack. Turning it over in her hand, she noticed that once it dried out, it did not resemble anything from any animal she had ever seen. In fact, now that she looked at it, she realized that it was more wood than meat. An idea crossed her mind, and taking her leave, she went up the stairs and out into the courtyard behind their home. As she went through the door, she heard her husband leaving by the cellar door.
Crossing the courtyard, she placed her hands upon the trunk of the mighty maple tree that stood there. Many summers had this tree shaded her family, and its lush canopy of green leaves was only eclipsed by the beauty of its red and gold finery in the fall. Muttering a spell of communication, she waited for the tree to answer. Slowly, a wizened face appeared in the bark, but its eyes were closed in sleep.
“Hear me, oh tree. Come out of your winter nap and speak with me.” ordered the Lady of Eire.
With a yawn, the tree opened its eyes. Sleepily, it peered at the Lady of Eire and said “Who disturbs my slumber?”
“It is I, the mistress of this house,” said the Lady of Eire, “and I would speak with you, good tree.”
“Oh, my lady, of course.” said the tree, “What do you require of me?”
“A foul beast with tentacles of wood has attacked me in my cellar, and it came from the drain which runs close to you. Do you know anything of it?” she asked.
“Why, no.” said the tree, “I have been asleep for weeks, and I was just having a wonderful dream about dipping my toes in a warm stream.”
“Hmmm,” said the Lady of Eire. Her suspicions that the tree might have something to do with the issue of the drain were being confirmed.
As the Lady of Eire was chatting with the tree, DaddyBear the Minivandian came up. Wrapped over his shoulder and chest was a small dragon. Its head and body were streamlined, and were not more than a few inches across. Its wings were rudimentary, and its legs were short, but powerful and tipped with wicked looking claws. Its tail was twisted as if into a hook, and its head was covered with barbs and sharp horns. Its scales were a bright blue, and as it rode on the Minivandian’s armored vest, it left a coat of fine blue powder behind.
Seeing the Minivandian’s approach, the tree sucked in its breath. “Why hast thou brought such a fiend here, my lord? Many a young tree has been killed by the ministrations of such as he.”
The dragon narrowed its eyes and greeted the tree. “Hail, pipe clogger!”
The tree returned the greeting, “Well met, root biter!”
The Lady of Eire and the Minivandian exchanged knowing looks.
“Good maple, have your roots been looking for somewhere warm and accommodating to spend the winter?” asked DaddyBear.
“What? No! Well, maybe. The drain, you say? Woody tentacles, you say? Well, it could be that in my sleep, they found their way somewhere that I would normally not allow them.” sputtered the tree.
“Did you not say that you were dreaming of bathing your toes in warm water? It could be that your tropical stream was the drain from my washing machine.” said the Lady of Eire.
“Well, yes, I suppose it could have been. Honestly, when I slumber, they can get wherever they stretch.” answered the maple.
“Can you withdraw them?” asked the Minivandian.
“I’m afraid not. Once I grow to somewhere, I cannot easily withdraw.” said the tree.
“And that is where I come in,” said the small dragon, “For I am the Drake of the Drain. My lord, I shall snip back these errant roots and leave behind magic to ensure that they do not recur for many months. That will give you time to find where this wooden vandal has invaded your pipes and stop it up.
“Now see, here, my good drake, there is no need to call names. I was just stretching out my toes, as it were.” huffed the tree.
The dragon puffed out a small cloud of blue smoke. “Just stretching your toes, eh? How many times have I heard that? My lord, let us get to it. There’s no use in reasoning with this creature.”
DaddyBear carried the drake down into the cellar, but the Lady of Eire stayed behind to comfort the tree, who had begun to weep big tears of sap down its bark.
“This shall hurt so awfully! Is there no other way, my lady? They are but small roots, and I promise that I shall not let them grow larger or to multiply!”, it sobbed.
“I’m sorry, good maple, but this is the only way. We must be able to wash our clothing, and once you slumber again, who knows what your roots will do in that pipe? I shall stay with you until it is over, and then you may return to your hibernation.” said the Lady of Eire in a firm, yet soothing manner.
In the cellar, the Drake of the Drain uncoiled himself from the Minivandian. Hooking his tail over one of the pillars of the house, he affixed his glare on DaddyBear. “Now, as I fight with these roots, mind that my tail does not come unhooked. I shall use it as an anchor to twist and bend. If I should come unhooked, hold fast to me and return my tail to its place.”
DaddyBear nodded his understanding, and stood ready to assist. With a wink, the drake pushed its head and body down into the drain. In moments, the sound of mighty combat could be heard, both coming from drain in the cellar and coming from under the ground in the courtyard.
“Oh, my lady, but he is killing me!” cried the tree. The Lady of Eire laid a kind hand upon his bark, and said soothing words to the tree as gouts of steam and fire rose from the yard. The sound of battle rose and fell, then rose again. Might roars and the sound of wood being rent echoed through the house. Then, as suddenly as it began, it ended. An eery calm fell over the courtyard, broken only by the sobs of the maple.
In the cellar, the voice of the drake came up from the drain. “Pull, my lord! I have bested the beast, but I am afraid that I cannot get myself out by my own power.”
Grabbing the tail of the drake, DaddyBear hauled back. The body of the dragon slowly came forth from the drain, and then, with a pop, his middle came out, followed quickly by his head. Where his scales had glimmered a bright azure before, now they were fouled, and all of the blue powder was gone. Several of the horns on its head were gone, and deep scratches had been dug into its muzzle. Its middle, however, had grown quite plump, and a small burp issued from its mouth as it took a deep breath of the clean air of the house.
“A fine meal!” laughed the drake, “It shall keep me well fed and plump until the soft shoots of spring tempt me to awaken.”
Taking the drake in his arms, the Minivandian returned to the courtyard to find his wife comforting the tree.
“‘Tis done, my love. The drake has removed the roots that invaded our home and attacked you. Hopefully this teaches you a lesson, good tree. You and your appendages are to stay outside of my keep. I will do what I can to help you in doing this, but further invasions will cause me to consider more…. drastic measures. I would hate for you to become a part of our household in the shape of a table or a bookshelf.” said DaddyBear the Minivandian, drawing himself up to his full height and glowering at the woody visage of the maple.
“I will stay out, my lord. The sting of this brute’s claws and teeth are enough to keep even the toughest hickory at bay!” whined the maple.
“My lord, I shall be returning to my nest now,” said the drake, “but if you have further need of me, you know by what means you may summon me. Good sleep to all of you, and may your pipes ever be free and open.”
“Goodbye, my friend, and may your dreams be full of pleasure and rest.” answered DaddyBear.
“I too shall return to my slumber,” said the maple, “for I wish to sleep through the pain this has caused my roots.”
“Good sleep,” said the Lady of Eire, “and may you awaken to a warm and sunny spring.”
The Minivandian and his wife, the Lady of Eire, returned to their home. After cleaning the cellar and sharpening Gnarlthing, the Minivandian tested the drain. After many gallons of water had flowed freely down the hole, which now glowed with the blue of the warding magic of the drake, he was satisfied that this particular monster had been defeated, at least for the moment.
Many times did the Minivandian and his family fight battles of home repair. Much treasure did they spend in the buying of materials and the rental of magical tools of mighty strength and heavy weight, and much sweat and blood did they both expend in the upkeep and improvement of their dwelling. But those are stories for another time. Now, let me tell you tales of high adventure….