"The darkest time is before dawn...right...before things get up, they should go down...and down they go, indeedy!...with a whoosh and splat!...but who said things will go up?...especially, considering all the experience of rotten world and descending civilization, huh? Who said that, I ask you?"
Charlie kicked empty beer can, it racketed away, lonely sound on quiet street. Somehow, it did not feel satisfying, kicking empty beer can.
"It provides no challenge, YOU SEE!!" Charlie snarled and kicked it again, disgusted by feeble resistance of lightweight son of a beer. He was all for a challenge.
"Stand and fight like a MAN"!
Another kick. Beer can disappeared in bushes. Charlie took a deep breath and made a decision. His girlfriend has ditched him, ending two months of quarrels and, most importantly, complete and absolute absence of sex. His boss had no appreciation of mighty kingdoms, which Charlie had founded in his office computer. OK, so the project lagged a bit, big deal! Enemy kingdoms in their desperate attempts of survival formed an unholy alliance and it was no small task to...eh, to hell with it! Charlie will stand up from ashes of unemployment and loneliness, he will rise to the eternal glory and his rise will start right now with a punishment of unworthy!
"Come here..." Charlie whispered softly, following beer can, imagining fireball at his fingers.
It was late night in spring. Sunlight was winning over a winter darkness again in their constant struggle for domination, but, as Charlie noted, it was the darkest before the victory of light, the last black fortress still standing before arrival of Sun.
Frankly, he didn't have a lot of chances to rise to his imagined glory or even to the plain self respect, but going into the city park in this time of year and in this very moment was the last of his half baked ideas in this plane of existence.
Because it really was the darkest moment of this special night in spring. The moment when cold darkness was retreating from its last stronghold and taking with it everything it could carry.
And it just so happened that part of that stronghold was under the hill in city park.
No more Charlie
Alright, so the Last Upwinter Drink is not a merriest of occasions, so who gives a rat's behind, huh? A drink is a drink, a fiddle's a fiddle and that moron who managed to hop right into the exact moment when we were Descending really cheered us up. Oberon says that is a very low probability that anyone will happen to step on hill in the exact moment when gnomes decide that upstairs is getting too bright for their liking and make a Descend. When we move our quarters from the snowy hills of Surface to the Lower Realms, it can happen that we take with us a few more souls than we intended.
But no harm was done, really. This is a pity. But there is just so much that human can take and this specimen was not especially strong in his head to start with. When Descend was over, between us we had one hundred sixty eight gnomes, sleepy squirrel and a human with empty beer can in hands.
Guy had funny ideas. At first he screamed a little bit then started to laugh, then babbled something about mighty underground empires. He was quite a chatterbox, really, but we had more important things on our hands, like a First Down Drink.
Gnomes are hard folk - we dig hard, we joke hard and we drink hard. Having two gnome Drinks in a row - that has to be taken seriously. But that sorry loser which we picked up in Descend - he wanted to be taken seriously, too. We generally do not care about humans - guys can't take a joke. But this particular Charles was fussing around and making noises, so we decided to amuse him a bit. Right when he was offering to Laeris to become his army general, promising him vast riches (I told you, that guy was nuts), I got my fiddle and played him a little tune.
Now, humans are not as hard folk as gnomes. Take fiddles, for instance. On gnome fiddle there are seventeen strings and some strings make straight sound and some make backwards sound and some sound across. You don't know how sound can be across? That's because you're human! You can't handle cross sounds! That twerp could not handle it, too. At first he acquired an insight - meaning, his eyes rolled so that he was staring inside his skull. To make some space in there I played merry motive which was passed to me by grandfather Albruch. Some brains came out of guys ears, I think, his insight improved immediately.
Some gnomes also decided to tune their fiddles and join the fun. Soon our quarters were filled with merry sounds, laughter, clapping, light...oh, that turned out to be great Descend!
As for the human twerp, he was most amusing. We fiddled him to dance, jump, twist like whirlwind, he made moves no human ever made and rightly so - his bones broke a great deal. Gnomes like to dance hard, you know.
But old sour Oberon had enough of this kind of fun. We were late for the First Down Drink and Oberon was all about the traditions. He took out his own fiddle, and trust me, even gnomes don't like to think about ways of a strings on Oberon's fiddle. Thinking alone can make your brains to take a walk outside a bone box. A single note - and all fun was over.
Charlie's insides evaporated, bones crumbled to fine dust. Only his skin was preserved by old grumpy gnome. That skin sometimes rose to glory about which its inhabitant used to dream in front of computer. Every time when in darkest moment of spring we are preparing our Descend, Oberon plays his fiddle and skin of young man begins his dance on the hill in clouds of bone dust. This way he makes sure that no humans will approach the hill.
Oberon hates when Drink is being delayed because of some idiot.