OT: A Short Interlude With Ice Cream

on August 26, 2012 in Other Tales

Though it was designed to look like an old fashioned trader’s wagon, the ice cream stand in the middle of the pent had actually been carried there and assembled. Its home when not being used was an equipment shack just off the skirmish field. Normally it was set up in the environs of the field, but the Tri-Dragon Hospitalers… the student group that operated it… had sought and been granted permission to set it upon campus during the warmer days at the start of the year when it wasn’t being otherwise used.

Pala had been given a strict list of situations where consciously manipulating the weather patterns was and wasn’t allowed, and she had scrupulously obeyed that even though her subconscious control was often less than ironclad. The truth was that since she was equally at home in all weather, there had never been that much temptation to meddle.

At least, not before.

“And you will be here for as long as the weather is fair?” she asked the boy operating the stand as she knelt by the window waiting for her order.

“As long as the sunny weather continues,” he said. “Imperial Weather Service says we’re in for a long summer, but they also say it’s going to be rainy… so it could be a couple of weeks before we fold up shop, could be a couple of months… it’s a bit of a gamble on whether we’ll be able to make back the money we laid out for extra supplies, honestly. Here you go.”

“That would be too bad,” Pala said, accepting a sundae large enough to not look tiny in her hand, though the plastic spoon that accompanied it was another story. She looked down at Nae, standing placidly beside her. “Would you like anything? It will be my… treat?”

“Um… could I get a waffle cone, please?” the kobold asked. “One of the big ones.”

“Sure, what do you want in it?” the boy asked, leaning out to catch a voice even smaller than its owner..

“Nothing, just the cone,” she said. “I like things that crunch when I eat them.”

“Um, okay,” he said. “I… uh… still have to charge you for at least one scoop, because we do our inventory by the cone, it’s just easier than tracking how much ice cream…”

“I don’t mind to pay for a cone,” Pala said. “It’s for the healers, right? And you need to make your money back on the supplies.”

“Yeah,” he said. “Hang on.”

He took the mostly empty sleeve out of a box of cones and tipped its crumbly contents into a waffle cone.

“There,” he said. “A little more crunch for you, my… lady?”

“You got it,” Nae confirmed.

Pala paid for their treats, then Nae held her sundae while the giantess slowly unfolded herself and got to her feet… learning not to use furniture or things like the ice cream stand to pull herself up had taken her some time, but it was a lesson that stayed with her. Nae handed her sundae back, and then they headed towards a bench, where Pala sat on the curled top of the back and Nae hopped up onto the edge of a concrete planter next to it.

“You do not want even a little bit of ice cream?” Pala asked Nae.

“Nah, cold stuff just makes my teeth hurt all the way through, and cream really wouldn’t be good for me,” Nae said. “So you can understand that ice cream really doesn’t hold a lot of allure for me.”

“It upsets your stomach?”

“In the short term, that’s all it does, yes,” Nae said. “Long term… well, some of the lowland goblins went to a dairy-heavy diet after the early occupation, because the Imperium thought that feeding the brood on milk would help pacify them. They all grew up with this weird bone disease, like something in the milk was diluting them? The pictures were kind of grisly… it’s the sort of thing that needs prolonged exposure and is probably more of a risk with growing children anyway, but I can’t even look at a cube of cheese without thinking about them.”

“That is horrible,” Pala said.

“Yes,” Nae said.

“I cannot imagine life without cheese,” Pala said. “The kobolds I know buy goat cheese from us. Is it different for them, do you think?”

“Possibly, but we do buy cheese, too,” Nae said. “We just use it for… agricultural purposes. You get different molds on a cheese than on anything we had access to, pre-contact. Some of them are really good… I just can’t think about where they came from while i’m eating them.”

“My aunts make a sausage like that,” Pala said. “With cheese, I mean. You are very good at fighting.”

“Callahan says that I’m ‘scrappy’,” Nae said. “Which I think means I’m harder to kill than I’m big, which…” She shrugged. “Doesn’t necessarily mean much.”

“I wonder if I am scrappy, too?” Pala asked. “I would not like to have to try to kill you. Will your tongue really grow back?”

“Already is,” Nae said. “It will be good as new before I’m in a position to miss the tip. What would happen if you bit through your tongue? Would it just be short forever?”

“It could be healed,” Pala said. “But I think I would be waiting a long time for it to grow back on its own.”

“I think I’d live a very different life if I had to worry about things like that,” Nae said. “It’s sort of funny… well, maybe ‘darkly humorous’ would be a better way of putting it. But the stereotype of kobolds and goblins is that we’re easy to kill but more of us always pop up. Which, we can breed quickly. But mostly it was human invaders not knowing the difference between hitting one of us until we stopped moving for a while and actually killing us. Of course, in Callahan’s class, it counts the same either way… you win when your opponent can’t fight back, that’s the end of the fight. But if you’re pushing your way through a warren and leaving a bunch of injured warriors behind you who just need a few minutes to be ambulatory and in fighting order again… well, that’s more the beginning of the end.”

“Where I am from, they say kobolds cannot be killed, that you can make new kobolds by cutting one in half,” Pala said.

“That’s not true, either,” Nae said. “I mean, it might be true where you’re from, but it sounds like just the opposite extreme interpretation. We’re just… less dependent on any one thing to stay alive. I mean, the way I understand it is that a lot of peoples would die if they didn’t have a heart or a lung or a liver, or even a kidney. We can sort of limp along with the rest picking up the slack, if one of our organs is damaged… for a while, we’re even tougher because it kind of signals everything else to work harder, though eventually it’ll catch up to us and then there’s a long period of convalescence while things get… re-ordered.”

“So, if you lost a lung you could… breathe with your stomach?” Pala said.

“Sort of,” Nae said. “If I had to. I fell down a vertical shaft once, just after I got my permanent legs… I ruptured something and for a long time after that I was too weak to stand, so I crawled around on all fours for a lot of my early childhood.”

“That is why they called you Mouse?”

“No, actually, they called me Dwarf Baby,” Nae said. “Because we don’t really go through a crawling phase, we just go straight to walking… but it did probably stunt my growth. We grow our whole lives, but slower all the time, and never nearly as fast as when we’re young.”

“I was never allowed to see the kobold babies,” Pala said.

“That’s probably a good thing,” Nae said. “Your ice cream is melting.”

“Oh!” Pala said.

She concentrated and the air around the bowl in her hands became very cold… very local weather changes were okay, it was just when she started messing with other people’s weather that she risked creating an incident.

“Where did you learn to fight?” she asked Nae.

“Nowhere, really,” she said. “I took a knife class when I was a student before, but it was mostly just like safe handling techniques and trying not to hurt anyone… kind of the opposite of this one. I wasn’t sure it had done me much good, though, so I took a placement test when I re-enrolled, and it said I should either take Battle Raging, Advanced Striking, or Fighting to Disable… I didn’t like the sound of the other two so much, so…”

“You are very good,”

“Well, I’ve had a lot of practice with not being in people’s way,” Nae said. “That’s half of fighting, and for the other half, I just sort of reverse the process. I just have a sort of seventh sense for where people’s feet are going to be… useful for not being stepped on or kicked, but also good for figuring out where to put sharp things when you want someone to fall over.”

“I would like one of those,” Pala said. “It would be very useful when I go home… for the not being kicked. I wouldn’t like for people to be falling over all the time.”

“I don’t, either,” Nae said. “But it’s how you win a fight when you’re a kurel-and-a-half high.”

“We should fight in the arena sometime,” Pala said, thoughtfully.

“Against each other, you mean?”

“With each other?”

“Against who?” Nae asked. “You’re top of the top tier. I think you outmatch most pairs by yourself.”

“We’ll fight everybody, then,” Pala said.

“At once?”

“In waves, maybe,” she said. “Endurance match. It would be an… unranked fight, an exhibition. We would beat everybody, and they would tell stories about it forever.”

Nae laughed.

“That’s a fun idea, but I don’t really want any stories about me,” she said.

“You could wear a mask?” Pala said.

“I don’t think a mask would cut it.”

“Oh, well,” Pala said. “It was a thought.”

“It was a nice thought,” Nae said.

“It is a nice day.”

“You don’t need me to take on everyone, anyway,” Nae said. “You’d either beat them all by yourself, or come close enough that it would be pretty legendary anyway.”

“Yes, but the story won’t be as good if it is just me,” Pala said. “It would just be… vanity. Not triumph. A good story needs real… adversity… or real friendship. Fighting together, side-by-side, protecting each other… that would be a victory worth talking about, even if we lost.”

Beside her, Nae smiled.

“Thank you,” she said.

“You are very welcome,” Pala said. “What for?”

“Buying me a cone,” Nae said. “The next one is on me.”

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40 Responses to “OT: A Short Interlude With Ice Cream”

  1. Alyxe says:

    Awww, Pala is as adorable as ever and I am kind of liking the kobold exposition. Nice OT!

    Current score: 2
    • Luke Licens says:

      “just after I got my permanent legsโ€ฆ”

      Does that mean a kobold’s ‘baby legs’ fall off, like we lose our baby teeth? @_@

      Current score: 1
      • pedestrian says:

        If I remember correctly, Kobold infants are limbless. Mainly all teeth and savage appetites.

        The survivors of the baby-eat-baby creches eventually grow limbs to enable “The Few, The Proud, The Voracious to crawl out of the birth pits.

        Current score: 0
  2. Burnsidhe says:

    Very nice.

    Current score: 0
  3. Anne says:

    Poor Pala, she is just aching to do heroic (can I say that about a girl?) things…

    Current score: 0
    • Davo says:

      Hero or Heroine, it’s still heroic. Heroineic just doesn’t work…

      Current score: 0
    • Ryzndmon says:

      I’m thinking that what Pala meant was that she felt that kind of epic, heroic friendship forming towards Nae.

      Current score: 1
  4. Billy Bob says:

    Awwww…. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Current score: 0
  5. Zukira Phaera says:

    Someone is gonna ask me to share my meds I think… LOL

    I just had this image of Pala, Nae and Two posed in post transform ‘magic girl’ anime fight prep stances as a trio.

    Current score: 0
    • Apollo says:

      …Which one gets the Sailor Moon hair?

      Current score: 0
      • Anvildude says:

        Nae. Full length.

        Current score: 0
        • Zukira Phaera says:

          I was thinking Sailor Mack er I mean Moon didn’t make it into the picture.

          Loosely – because frankly I don’t follow that manga

          Nae – Sailor Uranus
          Two – Mercury
          Pala – Jupiter (though for a laugh I might go with Chibiusa since wiki says Pluto calls that one Small Lady)

          Steph – Sailor Saturn
          Amy – Venus? (if ‘small lady’ went for Pala, then Amy would be Jupiter)
          Jillian – Pluto
          Charon – Neptune
          Hazel? – Mars?

          I dunno enough about that manga though to really make a good translation but those make me giggle. There are other Magic Girl type animes after all.

          Current score: 0
  6. Readaholic says:

    Awwwww…. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Nicely done, too, with the kid on the ice cream wagon handling his interaction with Nae and Pala so well.

    Current score: 0
  7. Lyssa says:

    This is exactly the thing I wanted to be reading. Thank you for writing it.

    Current score: 2
  8. Oniwasabi says:

    Sounds like kobolds should be durable enough that if they ever do fight together they could pull a fastball special and not have it end horribly!

    Current score: 1
    • Apollo says:

      Rule One of the Fastball Special: You do not talk about the Fastball Special.

      Current score: 0
  9. Amelia says:

    A lovely story (though the thought of kobold thalidomide is horrible: some things even magical medicine can’t change).

    Current score: 0
    • adsipowe says:

      goblinoid musculature is different(and seem to work at a cross purpose).kabold bones are steel(why kobolds want ore i think, goblins’ are stone and chew rock if i remember right) and they have to be to deal with the tensions involved. bones of calcium aren’t a pretty thing to see.

      Current score: 2
  10. pedestrian says:

    A.E., great interlude. Very informative of Pala and Nae.

    And, uhmm, does Praxis Province have a long, hot summer to look forward to?

    Current score: 0
    • Oni says:

      Just so long as Pala doesn’t go all “Wheel of Time” on the season.

      Current score: 0
  11. ripvw says:

    Is a pent a five-sided tent?

    Current score: 0
    • Lunaroki says:

      A pent is a five-sided quad, in that it is the space that all the main buildings on campus are arranged around. In our world that space is usually four-sided, making it quadrilateral, thus a quad. In the MUniverse evidently at least this one campus, if not most, has a five-sided space between the buildings rather than a four-sided one, making it a pentagon, or pent. I know it’s confusing at first. It took me a long time to figure it out myself, but once I got it I was kind of like “Oh duh!”

      Current score: 0
    • Riotllama says:

      It is a pentagram-shaped open area. What college students in the US would refer to as a “quad” if it were rectangular.

      Current score: 0
      • Mad Nige says:

        Make that a pentagon shaped area. A pentagram is the star-shaped symbol obtained by extending each side of a pentagon until it intersects with another. Buildings around a pentagram would have to have really weird shaped, sharply pointed rooms at the inner corners, whereas around a pentagon allows much more reasonable and useable shapes, even rectangular.

        Further, I would not expect to find a pent more than occasionally, such as once per campus or less, as otherwise urban planning becomes rather intractable as Penrose tiling is inherently irregular and the frequent diamond-shaped bits between the pentagons have narrow points which reduce their utility.

        Nice OT

        Current score: 0
  12. blink says:

    Love this so much! Easily two of the most likeable, interesting characters.

    Also how sad is it that I’ve been playing so much wow these days I nearly wrote characters as “toons” for short XD

    How cute would it be if MU had a slang word like the old term “shorty” and someone inadvertently used it for Pala or Nae.

    Current score: 0
    • Ducky says:

      Callahan calls Pala “Tiny.”

      Current score: 0
      • Rin says:

        But that’s Callahan. Kind of a special case any which way you slice it.

        Current score: 0
    • Oni says:

      Um, “the old term ‘shorty'”? That’s still used. Seems like it would be used in the MU-niverse, too.

      Current score: 0
  13. genericIntent says:

    Good stuff!

    Current score: 0
  14. Lunaroki says:

    Typo Report

    had sought and been granted permission to set it upon campus

    While “upon” could be considered technically correct in this sentence it feels to me like it should be split up as “up on” instead.

    leaning out to catch a voice even smaller than its owner..

    Double period at the end of the sentence should either be single or triple, depending on what you’re shooting for here.

    while iโ€™m eating them.โ€

    Should be “I’m”, not “i’m”.

    Current score: 0
  15. Jane says:

    “I just have a sort of seventh sense…” Seventh, not sixth. I wonder what her normal six senses are?

    Current score: 1
    • Brenda says:

      Ooh, good catch!

      Current score: 0
    • Christy says:

      Probably magic sense.

      Current score: 0
      • pedestrian says:

        I would bet Our Mack has a Mamilla Detector {one of her not-so-subtle-arts?}. Drop her into a sorority house in pitch darkness and she’d probably come up with a couple of handfuls of baby feeders….all night long!

        Current score: 1
    • TheTurnipKing says:

      Probably an ore sense. They’re deep miners, after all.

      Current score: 1
    • Oni says:

      She’s basically reptilian; I’d say that the 6th is some form of Darkvision/Thermal Vision.

      Current score: 1
  16. Hollowgolem says:


    Though I’m curious, since this references the summer, is this pre- or post- the current year? Do we get to see Nae’s summer-school experiences from before the Sophomore year?

    Also, subtle dropping of the weather-changing subject. Good to see that you respect your readers enough to be subtle with things like that. Thank you.

    Current score: 1
  17. Zerk says:

    <3 the "some kind of bone disease", I wonder if she'll make the connection between that and what Mackenzie told her about mammal bones.

    Current score: 1
  18. tijay says:

    So Kobold’s are Krogan?

    Current score: 1