Chom entered the glade and looked around. Seated on a log by the fire was Pip. Pip, one of the Appalachian Mountain Dwarves, did not look well. He was getting a little transparent around the edges. Taking a seat on the log, Chom asked, "Where is everyone?"
"So far we are it," Pip answered looking over at the other dwarf. Chom, one of the Carpathian Mountain Dwarves, had the biggest nose of any dwarf he knew and that was saying a lot. Well, it was saying a lot when there had been thousands of dwarves, but that wasn't the case anymore.
Chom frowned at the answer. He said, "I was late. It can't be just the two of us left."
"The fairies, brownies, gnomes, banshees, and leprechauns are all gone," Pip said in a depressed voice. The dragons, unicorns, and centaurs had been gone for more than a thousand years. He didn't miss the dragons all that much. He'd been a little hostile towards dragons ever since he had been eaten by one. The year spent in its digestive system hadn't been fun.
"The fairies are gone?" Chom asked dismayed by the news. At the last Magic Folk Soiree there had been several dozen left. Of course, that had been a hundred years ago.
"I haven't heard anything about the pixies in ages," Pip said. He swayed and nearly fell over as a wave of weakness passed through him. His condition was getting worse.
Noticing Pip flicker in and out of view for a second, Chom said, "You don't look well."
"I'm fading," Pip said with a sad shake of his head.
Chom frowned when he realized the implications of that and said, "I don't want to be the last one."
From off in the distance Chom heard a shout, "Hello! Is there anyone here?"
Chom recognized the voice of Clea. He wondered if she was the last female dwarf. He shouted back, "We're over here!"
A few minutes later Clea entered the glade and said, "I was expecting to hear a party going on. Where is everybody?"
"This is it," Pip said feeling very depressed.
Clea sat down at the fire and said, "I was afraid of that. The pixies are gone. I saw the last one fade away two years ago."
"That's bad," Chom said. He had always been fond of the pixies.
Throwing a piece of wood into the fire, Pip said, "The magic is nearly dead."
"Science has just about killed it," Clea said. Pip flickered in and out of view. She looked at Pip and said, "You don't look so good."
"I'm fading. In another day or three I'll be gone," Pip said.
"Sorry," Clea said.
Although he was resigned to his imminent fading, Pip said, "I don't want to fade away."
"We're more or less immortal. We'll come back when the magic comes back," Chom said hoping that it was actually true. Every two thousand years or so there was a crisis with magic, but this was the worst in history. Last time it had been the spread of philosophy that was killing it.
"I think we need to help the magic recover," Pip said.
Clea said, "There's only the three of us left. Once we're gone, there won't be any magic ever again."
"You mean it is up to us to bring back the magic?" Chom asked tugging on his beard. He didn't like the sound of that. He wasn't the most responsible of Dwarves.
"That's right," Pip said. He looked down at his hand thinking it was beginning to look rather insubstantial. He added, "We better hurry before I'm a goner."
Looking over at Pip, Chom could see the need for them to get to work. He asked, "What do you suggest?"
Clea said, "We need to find another man like that last one. Oh, what was his name? You know who I mean ... He was doing a real good job until he got involved in politics and his cock got him into trouble."
"Clinton?" Pip asked.
Shaking his head, Chom answered, "Merlin."
"That's right. The man's name was Merlin. We need another Merlin to bring back the magic," Clea said.
Chom tugged on his beard and said, "There are special rules for that kind of stuff. I don't quite remember them all. In fact, I don't remember any of them."
"He's got to be an unlikely hero type," Pip said.
"He's got to be a lucky hero type," Clea said correcting him.
"There was an unlikely in there," Pip argued.
Clea shrugged her shoulders and said, "Okay, he's got to be an unlikely hero type that is lucky."
"Agreed," Pip said.
"That's fine with me," Chom said. He looked around at the other two dwarves waiting for a suggestion. He recalled something about a leprechaun being involved the last time there had been a crisis of magic. He said, "He's got to exchange precious metals for the magical gifts. The strength of the gift is proportional to the amount of metal."
Clea added, "He can only get one magical gift a year."
"That's right," Chom said nodding his head. He summarized, "He can only get one magical gift per year in exchange for precious metals with the gift proportional to the quantity of metal."
"Good enough for me," Pip said.
"I'm fine with it," Clea said.
Chom said, "That's not really a rule, but more like a procedure."
"You're right," Clea said. She was quiet for a moment and said, "He's got to own silver and be willing to trade it for a gift of magic."
"That's better," Pip said.
"Right," Chom agreed.
Pip said, "That's two rules. There's got to be three rules."
"Why three?" Clea asked tugging on her rather attractive beard.
"It is always three," Pip answered, "That's a rule. All rules come in threes."
The three of them sat around looking at each other waiting for someone to suggest the third rule. Getting tired of waiting, Chom said, "I don't remember a third rule."
Clea shrugged her shoulders and said, "So we make up one."
"Can we do that?" Pip asked.
"Why not?" Chom said looking at the other two Dwarves. He added, "We already made up the first two rules."
"Okay," Pip said shrugging his shoulders.
Chom asked, "Any suggestions."
"Celibacy?" Pip asked.
"No, Merlin was a horny bastard," Clea said remembering some of the stories about Merlin. If he wasn't trying to get laid, he was helping other folks get laid.
"I remember now. He buggered anything that moved," Chom said.
Pip asked, "Even chickens?"
Clea snorted and said, "He wasn't that bad. He left birds, fish, reptiles, and quadrupeds alone."
"He buggered frogs?" Pip asked looking over at Clea in amazement after he considered what was left. It was hard to believe that Merlin had even thought of the idea, much less did it. Not once in his long life had the thought of having his way with a frog crossed his mind.
"He left amphibians alone too," Clea said in disgust.
"Oh. That doesn't leave much," Pip said.
"It leaves him buggering a lot of people," Chom said.
Nodding her head, Clea said, "That's true."
Chom said, "So our guy has to be horny?"
"That covers just about any man walking around," Clea said rolling her eyes. "We need something a little more restrictive."
"Merlin grew that ratty beard and wore weird clothes. Everyone else was wearing pants and he was dressed up in a robe like some barbarian transvestite," Pip said.
Clea said, "So is that the third rule? He's got to be a horny guy with a bad fashion sense."
Chom shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't know."
"It is kind of a strange rule, but it is as good as any other," Pip said.
"Why not?" Chom asked tugging on his beard.
Stroking her long slender beard, Clea said, "So it is agreed."
"Sure," Chom said.
"Sure," Pip said.
"So we've figured out the rules governing the selection of the young man," Chom said.
"Why a young man?" Pip asked, "The rules don't require him to be young."
"It is not a rule, but common sense. An old man won't do. It would be a disaster if we gave some old geezer magic powers and then a week later he kicks the bucket as a result of a heart attack," Clea said.
"You're right," Pip said.
The three of them sat around the fire staring at the flames. After about thirty minutes, Clea said, "This isn't much of a party."
"You're right," Pip said.
Chom asked, "What should we do now?"
"We could try to make it a real party," Clea said.
Pip said, "With just the three of us? That's not much of a party."
Nodding his head in agreement, Chom said, "I suppose we ought to figure out where we're going to find this individual who is going to help bring magic back."