Fool for a Day

by Devon Erthshade

A left here, straight on past two doors on the left, and the first branch to the right after that should put him facing... a wall. Michael cursed and retraced his steps to the last place he was sure of his direction. Pausing at an intersection, he glared at each of the passages as if to make them tell which led to his destination by pure intimidation. The walls and floors responded to the bullying with silence.

A silence which was broken by the sound of one canine barreling into Michael's legs, knocking them both over in a sprawling heap down one of the side passages. Groaning, Michael tried to get up but a squirming mass under his legs made gaining his footing near impossible. "If it isn't one thing it's another," he grumbled.

"Waih..." came a voice. Michael did as asked, more from surprise than willful compliance. The body that was tripping him up paused, then worked itself from under him with ease. It looked like a small wolf, or rather, he looked like a small wolf. His fur was a set of mottled waves of tan and dark brown with threads of russet mixed in, and a prominent strip of solid brown straight from between his eyes down to his nose pad.

The canine snorted and shook himself after gaining his feet, then padded two steps away, turned, and sat on his haunches. He looked at Michael expectantly, head cocked at an inquisitive angle. Finally he shook his head and started growing. A forest-green cloak swirled about him from nowhere, as did the jerkin and the rest of his clothing after that. After pausing to work his tongue around the slightly shortened muzzle and adjust his cloak, he asked, "Well, are you just going to sit there all day, or are you going to get up and introduce yourself properly?"

While Michael sat there bemused, the wolflike creature stood up and continued rapidly, "Oh, my apologies, I didn't recognize you before. Michael, isn't it? Welcome to the Keep. The name's Devon Alexander L'-- er, Erthshade. Nice to finally meet you." Devon extended a pawlike hand in assistance to Michael, which was graciously accepted. "Where were you going, might I ask?"

"I was trying to find Charles' room again, but I seem to have become lost."

"Ah! A tricky place to find, indeed. Let me help you..." Devon tapped his chin thoughtfully, "Someone has told you about the Keep's variable geometry, correct?" At Michael's nod, he continued. "Excellent! Then you realize that in theory you may stay in one place, and eventually the shape of the Keep shall arrange such that you shall be placed right where you wish to be? All you must do is stand right here... yes, that's good... and will yourself near Charles' room! Well, if you'll excuse me, I must be going, places to go, people to, see." With that, he dropped to all fours and began dashing back down the passage from which he came.

"Hey, wait! If that's true, then why are you running?" Michael cried out.

The answer was brief. "I'm trying to stay in one place!"

Michael sighed and shrugged to himself, slumping against the wall. He had few other options than to try the strange wolf's advice.

"Michael?" Cope's voice roused him. "Why are you standing there like a statue?"

Michael blinked up at the huge lizard. "I, er, this odd-looking wolf--"

"Say no more, I think I can guess what happened. Brown and tan fur, thin as a sapling, green cloak?" Perplexed, Michael nodded. Cope chuckled, "I believe you have just met our coyote court jester, Devon. You have to pay close attention to what he says, always. While I haven't known him to outright lie, he often fails to tell the complete truth."

Michael became agitated. "He does this often?"

"Very. It seems he has a goal of pranking one person per day. This just happened to be your day. I doubt anyone knows if he pulls these pranks more for his entertainment or ours." Noticing Michael's increasing facial contortions he added, "I wouldn't worry, his pranks are harmless unless he truly hates you."

"I suppose you're right, it's useless getting angry at a fool," sighed Michael. He ruefully added, "Especially when he has proven I'm the fool."

Copernicus grinned lopsidedly, a frightening sight if one was not used to it. "Don't be too embarrassed. He once managed to convince half the keep he was Redtailed."


"I'll tell you on the way to the midday meal, which should be starting about now." The herpemorph placed a hand on Michael's shoulder and started to guide him down one of the halls. "It started during the spring moult..."

As the two walked away a small door in the opposite direction opened, and a rat morph strode out carrying a precariously arranged pile of scrolls.