“There’s nothing like a soak in a hot tub after an adventure,” Mason continued. “However, when you are out in the field and don’t want monsters tracking you like bloodhounds, you need to clean up and eliminate any excess scent. My cantrip starts with a damp cloth in one hand and then say, ‘Scrubbing Bubbles’ while touching the cloth to what you want clean. It will clean one object or surface about a square meter. There are two advanced versions of this, one for things and one for people. You still start with a damp cloth, except you say, ‘Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean” for things or ‘Calgon Take me Away!’ for people. Respectively, the sing-song or inflection is essential for the cantrip to work. No equipment can be affected by Calgon, only one person and their clothes. Mr. Clean will affect all things within a radius until it has cleaned a ten square meter surface area. It will not clean inside closed or sealed items.”

I started laughing. I couldn’t help it; Nirvana had made brands and commercial jingles into spell incantations! I wondered how many other silly things waited for me.

Grumpy64 looked at me, “You and the other explorers are the only ones who know why you are laughing, furball.”

I started laughing even harder, “You keep saying that wrong, you are supposed to say…” After I got control of myself, I pointed at him and in my best indignant Harrison Ford impression, said, “Laugh it up, fuzzball!” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, there was a small flash of light, and an Easter Egg dropped into his lap. The room, including me, went silent as my jaw dropped to the floor. It’s one thing to be told about the eggs and another to see one appear.

The room exploded into shouts and conversation. Gilden, who had returned to the table while Mason was speaking, started pounding his gavel and calling for quiet. Eventually, the room settled down enough to continue, and Grumpy began to speak.

“This isn’t as rare as you might think. Actions trigger many Easter Eggs. I haven’t heard of this one, but I think I’ll open it in honor of our special guest and see if Nirvana would like to attend our meeting.” At this, he rapped on the egg with a knuckle cracking it. The shell fell away, revealing four slips of paper that looked like they came from a fortune cookie.

A little girl holding a Hello Kitty plushie appeared before the lecturer’s table. “Hiya Grumpy! I like the nosey little sister association. I’m going to use it for a while!”

“Nirvana, welcome to the Explorer’s Meeting. It’s been a few years since you have attended.”

“I know, but you all do a good job of getting people started; I don’t have any reason to attend unless you will start popping out Easter Eggs! But, they have to be different ones. If they are going to be the same one, it’s boring.”

“I’ll see what we can do – do you want to tell us about this one?”

“Sure! This is a situational egg. It will only appear if you inadvertently misquote a movie and get corrected; it takes into account the context of the situation. It grants four avatar change scripts, one for each actor in the scene. You can change your avatar to male or female human or male Wookie. I recommend you give a script to Jeb – he may want it in the future. You should use one and go Wookie. Shake things up a bit, you old coot!” Then she starts laughing, waves her plushie, and fades away.

The room starts buzzing again, and Grumpy gets up from the table. The room starts to quiet down as he walks over to me. “Jeb, now that I actually know your name, I’ll use it. You called the egg into being, so I will give you all the scripts. However, I recommend you allow me to sell three of them on your behalf while keeping the fourth, as Nirvana suggested. That probably wasn’t a jest like the Wookie recommendation.

“Actually, I don’t need the money right now. May I have all of them and a raincheck?”

Grumpy looked at me a little confused, “Sure, here ya go.”

As he handed the slips to me, I said, “Grumpy, a raincheck was a ticket given to come back to an event at another time, without additional cost, due to rain making the venue unsuitable.”

He smiled, “Thanks, I was going to have to research that.” Walking back to the table, he said, “Ok, let’s continue with cantrips.”

  — * ~ * —

It was much later than when the meeting was originally scheduled to be over, but the last of the attendees had been shooed out, and it was just Grumpy, Gilden, Mason, and I left in the room.

Grumpy reached into his purse and pulled out a gold coin. I waived him off before he could give it to me. “The money doesn’t mean anything to me yet. I want something I think we will find more valuable.”

Putting the coin away, “Oh, what do you have in mind?”

“I have a few ideas I want to try but don’t know enough to keep myself out of trouble. Why don’t you three accompany me on a few errands around town. As we complete my errands, you can give me solid advice, and I will answer your questions. But I’m not promising to give away things I know have big value for free. You’ll probably get a few of those because I don’t know any better.”

“I’m game, and I think we can go one better in order to help offset any ‘losses’ you suffer from ignorance. Gilden, I am authorizing you to give him a copy of the Advanced Handbook. I’ll pay the fee for it and sign the recommendation later.”

Gilden reached into a satchel and pulled out another book, about twice as thick as the Basic Handbook, made from the same paper. While doing so, he said, “I agree. Happy to go with you.”

Mason simply nodded her ascent, “I’ve some business in the morning. Can we meet here for a late breakfast before heading out?”

“Yes, that’s great. I’ve always been a night owl, and I have some reading to do!”

  — * ~ * —

I got to my room and realized that the bed was the only comfortable place to read. Not wanting to get it dirty, I looked around for a bit of cloth and found a washcloth next to the basin, along with a pitcher of water. Pouring a little water into the basin and soaking it up with the cloth, I called out, “Calgon, Take me Away!”

I was immediately reminded how exhausting the advanced cantrips were and laid down to read the basic manual. I don’t think I made it to page 3.

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