A Very Neovian Election: Part Three
Thumburt sat behind his desk with his head in his hands.
It was happening again. Why did something always have to go wrong?
There was a gentle knock on the door.
“Come in, Reginald,” he sighed.
“The last of the ambassadors has left, sir,” the Lupe explained as he closed the door behind him.
“Such a shame... we’ll be the laughing stock of the diplomatic community now,” the Mayor complained.
“For what it’s worth, sir, the Lost Desert ambassador seemed very impressed,” Reg said brightly.
“Oh he would; they’ve got wizards coming out of their sleeves in the Lost Desert... things like this probably happen all the time,” Thumburt scoffed.
“There’s... something else, sir,” Reg said, looking at the floor.
“What is it? What could possibly make this day any worse?” Thumburt asked.
“A large crowd of townspeople have arrived, sir, and let themselves into the meeting hall. They are talking of... re-elections, sir...” Reg explained.
Thumburt’s heart skipped a beat.
“Lovely,” he sighed.
Slowly, he got to his feet.
“I suppose we’d better go and talk to them then,” he continued, donning his top hat once more.
“... and when the Meerca Brothers stole our silk consignment, he did nothing!” Prigpants, of Prigpants & Swolthy, Tailors, announced importantly.
A chorus of agreement followed from the other townsfolk.
“I had to lug that statue here all the way from the Deep Woods,” the tiny Korbat figure of Herman Dorfdrap complained. “I didn’t even get a cart or anything!”
“So we are in agreement then?” the Crumpetmonger asked from the stage. “All those in favour of a vote of no confidence in Mayor Thumburt, raise your hands!”
Hands were raised almost unanimously as Thumburt opened the doors to the meeting hall.
Heads turned to make out the figure of the Bruce.
“Ah, just in time, we’ve decided we don’t want you as Mayor anymore!” the Crumpetmonger said importantly.
“Oh, I see,” Thumburt said as he stalked down the aisle between the chairs. “You’ve been through the proper channels then?”
“We lodged a complaint with the administration department, or Reg as it’s otherwise known, when we arrived, and we’ve just done an official vote of no confidence,” the Crumpetmonger told him with the grin of a woman who knows her paperwork.
“What do we do next?” Alabaster Chesterdrawers asked.
“Now there will be an election,” the Crumpetmonger said smartly.
“We went through this last time,” Thumburt sighed as he took his place behind a podium. “You can’t have an election unless there are two candidates. You know full well that none of you have the time, know-how, or even desire to be Mayor of Neovia. There is no one to stand against me.”
There was muttering from the townspeople.
“Then the system is broken!” a voice piped up.
“What if we elected a group of wise councilmen and women in place of the Mayor?” the Pteri from the Printing Press suggested.
“Of course, I’d be on such a council, being as I am such a large contributor to the good of the town,” the Crumpetmonger said quickly.
At once half the room stood up to explain why they were perfectly capable of and completely entitled to sitting on such a council.
“Quiet!” Thumburt called eventually. “We went through this last time as well; you can’t have a town council because you can’t decide who will sit on it.”
The doors to the meeting hall were thrown open dramatically.
“I will stand against you then,” a raspy voice said.
With gasps echoing through the room, everyone turned to see who had entered.
“Desmond?” Thumburt asked, peering over the podium.
Thumburt vaguely remembered the blue Kougra; he helped out the Crumpetmonger in her back room. Hardly the political sort, though.
“You are sure about this? The burden of office is quite hard to bear, you know?” Thumburt asked.
“You can’t stop him!” the Crumpetmonger shouted. “You can’t trample on his rights!”
“I was merely making sure that the boy understood what it was he was volunteering for,” Thumburt shot back.
“I understand completely,” Desmond said, his voice echoing in the large room. “I put myself forward as a candidate.”
“Then it’s decided, Thumburt is out!” the Crumpetmonger shouted.
“Wait!” Thumburt cut in before the rabble could start talking. “It has to be done officially! There has to be a properly done ballot and time of campaigning!”
“Campaigning? He’s the only candidate!” the Crumpetmonger laughed.
“I, of course, will be putting myself forward for re-election,” Thumburt said smartly.
“Yes, it must be done properly,” Desmond agreed as he walked forwards towards the stage. “It must be official for it to work.”
“You see, he wants an election as well,” Thumburt smirked at the Crumpetmonger.
Thumburt grinned to himself. There was no way that anyone would vote for such a young boy as Desmond, and an election would involve a considerable amount of paperwork.
“Let’s see, we’ll need time for campaigning, debates... an election next month, perhaps?” the Mayor considered.
“No,” Desmond said forcefully as he climbed up to the stage. “We cannot wait that long.”
Even so close, his voice still seemed to be echoing all around the room.
“Yes, you can’t get out of this!” the Crumpetmonger said, waggling an accusatory finger at Thumburt.
“Next week, then?” Thumburt suggested.
“No, sooner,” Desmond told him.
“Well, we need time! You can’t just do an election overnight; you need time to organise!” Thumburt protested.
“Two days,” Desmond said distantly. “It will be in two days.”
This met with murmured approval from the gathered townsfolk. Desmond seemed to smile distantly. Reg climbed onto the stage.
“Ladies and gentleman, it has been a long and tiring night, I suggest we all get some sleep,” he shouted.
Thumburt leaned heavily against his podium.
Two days to fight and win an election?
He wasn’t sure if he could do it.
Sophie’s broomstick descended into the Deep Woods. Such was the denseness of the trees in the area that upon landing Sophie had to extract a few branches from her hair.
With her scowl deepening, she looked around for her destination.
The Haunted Woods were deep and dark by default, but in the Deep Woods, there were no paths between the trees. The forest was packed in tight, and eyes belonging to monsters that never saw the light of day watched Sophie from the darkness.
Sophie soon found what she was looking for, nestled in a thicket was a small run-down hut with a battered sign outside.
It read ‘Thaddeus Oldnose, Master Artisan’.
“Oldnose!?” Sophie called out.
There was no reply.
Sophie sighed and made her way towards the hut. Being a witch, she didn’t bother knocking and instead slammed open the door.
“Oldnose?” she asked.
It was dark inside, something was clearly wrong. Glass cracked under Sophie’s shoes as she made her way into the front room. She lit a magical fire in her hand to light the room.
Tools and books had been thrown from their shelves, and furniture had been overturned.
On the floor near the fireplace, there was a body.
It was a red Meerca, rigid and staring upwards towards the ceiling in fear.
“Oldnose?” Sophie gasped.
The Meerca’s eyes were dull, and when Sophie felt his face, she found it stone cold. He was clearly dead... though from what, Sophie didn’t know.
“Typical; it’s never simple, is it?” she muttered under her breath.
She reached under her hat and produced a simple looking twig. She broke off a couple of leaves and deposited them in the fireplace.
“Let’s find out what happened here,” she said as she set her magical fire down in the fireplace.
She chanted some vaguely mystic sounding words for the show of things, and the fire glowed green for a moment. The smoke it produced whipped around Sophie and the fallen body of Oldnose, before retreating to the doorway and taking a form.
Etched out in the smoke was Oldnose, leaning back against the front door as if he’d just closed it.
“It’s done,” the voice of the artisan came from the smoke. “The Mayor sent someone to collect the statue just now.”
Good, an unseen voice rasped.
“You can leave me in peace now; I want no further part of your games. I never made any deals with you, you have no hold over me,” Oldnose stated as the smoke figure walked into the front room.
You wish for peace? the dark voice asked. We can grant you peace, flesh.
An expression of fear descended upon the face of the smoke Meerca.
“You can’t harm me!” he cried out. “You are nothing but shadows! You can’t!”
More smoke began to swirl around the sculptor’s form, smoke with claws, and evil eyes.
We made a deal with the flesh! the darkness rasped. Now it is time for that debt to be paid!
The smoke swirling around Oldnose quickened, and Sophie saw the ghostly forms of the furniture and the tools being strewn around the room. Oldnose screamed as the shadows pounced on him, and fell to the floor, rigid.
Neovia will be ours! the smoke hissed as it dissipated.
Sophie breathed out slowly.
“Shadow magic...” she muttered. “So they’re back?”
She made her way over to the fallen Oldnose and closed his eyes.
“It’s no way for anyone to go... even a former wizard,” she whispered. “This is going to be difficult.”
She got up and adjusted her hat, and calmly walked out of the run-down hut. She gathered her broomstick from a nearby tree, and set off again into the night.
To be continued...