Heartlands: Virtual Insanity

Lars fogs up his silver, rock-shaped flask. He polishes the chromatic surface and sighs. “First the godsdamned bottle I left in Scotland, then the laddie with nay a constitution. Oy, I reckon kids ta’day’re as complicated as human will ever be, I s’pose. En’t it so, Teppin?” Lars asks, shoving the flask into his tunic breast pocket as Teppin slides him a pitcher. He shakes his head and mutters to himself, then takes a sip. Beer suds cling to Lars’ thick mustache. He belches and groans. “My, oh my, laddie, that’s some kick, en’t it? What is this?” he asks, staring at his drink, searching for an answer to a question he won’t pose. He hunches over the counterand clasps his hands together.

Teppin wipes a glass behind the bar and sets it upside down on a floating rack. His large, scaly hands twirl in the around summoning a bowl of olives. “It’s a human beer. I think they call it Raspy Butane? Rasp Newton? Razz Pood In?” Teppin responds, contemplating. He avoids looking directly at Lars. As a dragon, Teppin has the ability to see auras and attune to the frequency of others’ emotions. Tonight, like most other nights, Lars’ problems will have to be his own, provided he’s got the coin for it.

“Aye, Teppin, I think yer meanin’ Rasputin. Damn good beer! Mmm,” Lars shouts, kicking his short gnome legs and chuckling. Lars removes his helm and sets it on the counter. He sighs and chugs his drink. “Another, Teppin. Please.” Lars inches himself up against the gold trim lining the bar and tugs at his beard, pensive. Teppin slides Lars another drink, avoiding conversation. After several minutes in silence, Lars groans. “D’ye know what happened ta me, Teppin?” he asks, as Teppin pretends not to hear him. “Darn, kids. Human kids are what happened, ye know. Ye listenin’, lad?”

Teppin looks at Lars, unfazed. The two men stare each other down.

“Fine. I ken yer not in the mood for me antics. I’m sorry. Just need’a vent. Clearly, this isn’t the place,” Lars declares, intoxicated and frustrated. He scratches his large, hairy forearm and chugs his second pitcher. “Another, barkeep,” he demands, snatching coins from his pocket and tossing them on the bar. Lars swallows his drink and stumbles out, sighing. He crosses brick roads lined with opulent stone buildings stretching up to the majestic Mantlean sky. Belching into a fantastic forest with trees made of gold, iron, silt and limestone, he makes his way to the Dwarven village and crawls into his cottage, curling in his bed while fairy-spit-infused whiskey warms his chest. “En’t this some shite,” he mutters, reaching for a stone remote. He presses a button and an inconspicuous crystal embedded into his ceiling projects a high-definition new broadcast. Lars flips through channels and eventually stops on a rerun of an old human series. “Yer work continues to inspire to this day, Mr. Serling,” he mumbles, intoxicated and pensive. “That boy that went’n drank the fairy spit is in fer it now. I shoulda’ told ’em that man can nae see the fay folk fer a reason beyond thar’ devilish pranks. He’s got a hard life ahead… All because I can’nae keep tabs on my bloody affairs.” Lars squirms and sits up in his bed, sipping his whiskey until he falls asleep.

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