"He looks a lot like Errol Flynn standing like that," I whispered to Eolist.
"Yes, Errol Flynn having a pee!"
Roth continued, although frankly I didn't hear a word of it. I'm quite sure I was going purple trying not to laugh through his grand, and I'm sure rousing (if we'd been listening) speech.
"He's going to get the hat and the whip out soon," Eolist commentated.
"Oh oh, Indiana Roth and the Rhubarb of Doom?"
"Wasn't that a Quantum of Spinach?"
Eolist was the first to notice it and once we had, I'm don't understand how we could possibly have missed it. "It's getting awfully smoky in here," she said, "I can barely see Roth."
"I can still hear him though."
"Well, nothing in this world is entirely perfect now, is it?"
"It's not your smoking ghost?"
"No, no, I don't think so. He's been trying to give up. I keep finding nicotine patches all over the house."
"Do you think the Surgeon General's warnings on the packet have finally worried him into giving up?"
"So he can enjoy a longer and more fulfilling life? I think the boat may have sailed on that already, given he has already reached the point in his existence where he should be doing pottery with Demi Moore."
I started coughing, "Where is this coming from?" My eyes watered.
The smoke swirled and a figure appeared.
"It's Jack the Ripper!"
"It's Dick Dastardly, surely?"
The figure before us wore a fine suit and stood with the jacket open. His waistcoat had a Xbox controller wedged into a pocket. Below a scary handlebar moustache was a pipe belting out the skyline of Victorian Sheffield.
He took his pipe from his mouth and spoke, "Don't call me Shirley!"
Continuing he said, "I have come to set you a quest. See that ring over there on the fireplace?"
"The one that has been there doing no one any harm for years?" I asked.
"That one, yes." He paused for dramatic effect. "Put it in the fire."
Eolist picked up the ring and put it into the blazing fireplace we hadn't mentioned before.
"Now pick it out carefully with this poker." He waited until we had the still glowing ring nestling on the end of the poker, "Can you see the elvish writing?"
Eolist and I both struggled to find our glasses and put them on. We looked at the ring. "No," we said in unison.
"It WAS there. I assume if I ask you to go on a quest and dump this in a mountain full of fire, you'll actually be able to see the bloody mountain without glasses?"
Roth appeared, "Did someone say 'Quest'?"
Eolist and I nodded, "He did."
"Fantastic, OK, I'll take the ring, Max, pick up the dwarf. Good to see you Gumley..."
"Oi, who are you calling a dwarf!"