The Quest of Orzul

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Orzul was a Wizard, and lived in a small brown shack in a very remote spot of a thick and ancient forest. His only companion was his Familiar, Benvert, who was short, and humanoid, and we will not describe him further. (Wizards create their Familiars at a very early point in their Wizardry.)

Orzul and Benvert lived, very comfortable and content, in a traditional state of Wizardly clutter and informal meals. Orzul had worked very hard to attain an advanced state of Wizardry and now happily puttered around. And Benvert ... was a Familiar.

One day, Orzul and Benvert had just finished a tasty meal of toasted cheese with sauerkraut, washed down with ale. Their plates and their mugs were empty. Orzul sat back, belched lightly but with satisfaction, and said, "You know, if we had a woman around here, I wouldn't have to get up for more ale."

Benvert looked at Orzul and said, "It would also help if you had mastered that levitation spell. Or the teleport one. Or even the bottomless mug. Or..."

Orzul gave him the look that meant, "Remember how you became a Familiar?"

Benvert said, with a look of light dawning, "If we had a woman around here, I wouldn't have to wash the dishes!"

Orzul (who, at the sight of light dawning on Benvert's face, had cast his eyes meditatively toward the ceiling) said, "Of course, there is much more to a woman than housekeeping. They can garden. I have heard that they can be taught to brew ale. And a woman would also gain from being with us. She could listen to my speculations on the Art. I would even encourage her to share her opinions on when I had phrased my wisdom especially well."

And Benvert mused, "I'd enjoy having someone new to chase around the woods, now that most of the animals have moved. It's healthy for women to get lots of exercise, I hear."

So they were resolved. The next morning, they packed a large basket of bread and cheese, hung a small barrel of cider on Benvert's back, and set off to the habited lands where women dwelled.

On the first evening they came to a small inn by the road and stayed for the night.

The barmaid was a bit overweight and her large breasts strained the laces of her food-spotted dress. Lanky brown hair struggled out of the knot she'd tied it back with and straggled around her face, which was pale from indoors work and damp from the heat of the kitchen. She gave Orzul extra bits of meat in his stew, snuck him an additional helping of both stew and ale, and rubbed his neck right where it always got tight. She fed Benvert choice pieces of the kitchen discards, and rubbed him in his favorite spot behind the ears.

That night, on their mattress of fresh new straw, under down comforters the barmaid had smuggled from the attic, Orzul called her "a fine and comfortable woman". "Yes," said Benvert, scratching himself luxuriously and rolling slightly to the side to pass an especially rich fart. "I'm sure there are neater ones available, though."

The next night they were invited to shelter at a castle. The lady of the manor was elegant and graceful, in flowing and beautifully colored gowns - she did seem to be wearing a different one every time she came back into the room. She sat in splendid dignity at the head of the table as the servants served a very well-designed dinner, and she analyzed the faults of the local society thoroughly, with brilliantly biting wit.

Orzul and Benvert walked on down the road very early the next morning.

After several weeks of sharing company with intelligent women who had unfortunately harsh voices, beautifully-voiced women who had unfortunately empty heads, hardworking women with annoyingly braying laughter, comforting women who read too much and never did housework, and far more, Orzul and Benvert talked it over around a private campfire.

"We have not found the ideal woman, Benvert," Orzul said.

Benvert mournfully shook his head. Grease from the roast bird he was mouthing spattered in the fire.

"But we have a much better idea of what the ideal woman would be."

Benvert thought of a lovely, dignified figure with a soft voice who would feed him delicious scraps and know exactly where to scratch, and nodded eagerly. Grease flew from his chin. A yowl and rapid rustling came from the undergrowth, as something that had thought itself unnoticed was singed.

"And there is this to say about an ideal," Orzul mused, "it hardly ever changes on you without notice. And it doesn't talk back half as much as any live woman does."

Orzul and Benvert looked at each other thoughtfully.

And they went back to their hut in the far distant woods, to live alone with their ideals, happily ever after.