How I Met Your Mother

A letter from Höbin Luckyfeller to his daughter Alhannah

I’m not saying you want to hang up your swords.  
I remember the first time you saved my life. I couldn’t have been more proud…or grateful for that matter. Being eaten by a wild boar isn’t my idea of fun. But that smile you had.
That adorable smile…well, the one under all the blood and goo. You looked like you’d found Äläbrähmä. Standing over the beast, you proved two things that day to me:
A) That you had an extraordinary ability, inherited from your mother, for conflict, and;
B) wild boar really does taste better fresh, roasted in an open pit with palm leaves.
When Dax gave you your first set of carving knives, I didn’t believe a gnome could be an effective opponent against our enemies in the world. Guns and technological weapons, yes—but without the use of technology? Impossible. You proved me wrong, Alhannah.
You are so much like your mother.
She was strong-willed, determined and I’d never seen such focus or dedication in another. I don't know if your mother ever told you, Alhannah, about how we met? Come to think of it, you would have been too little, so maybe this is the perfect opportunity. It was an adventure, to say the least, trying to get your mother’s attention—but there’s an underlying point to the history of your parents. No matter what your goals and dreams are, you never know if or when the “right” person may drop into your life and change all the rules.
Contrary to my career choices, I always wanted to be a cartographer. There’s a feeling of bliss I experience when exploring and keeping track of where I’ve been. As it turns out, these talents for detail coupled with my obsession for maps made me the perfect candidate for the government N.E.R.D.S. group (National Environmental Recon Deployment Service). I was young,…but I had considerable talent, encouraged by Morphiophelius and your papa Luckyfeller. But every time I tried to apply for the job, something bad would happen to me.
The closer I came to turning my papers in, the worse the accidents got. Tripped over a bedpan and broke my collarbone. Electrocuted myself, while changing the bathroom bulb. Tripped over my own feet while trying to mail the papers—and almost got sucked up into a street cleaning machine! But the final hint was when I totaled your pap’s delivery vehicle. The wreck was so bad, it put my hands and head through the dashboard.
That accident broke my ribs, my collarbone, and cracked three vertebrae in my lower spine. To add insult to injury, both my hands were snapped back to my forearms at the wrists. Your uncle Sherman was with me, poor guy, and had the muscles ripped from his spine. Suffice it to say, I was in no shape to take care of myself. I lost my part-time job as a lab indexer, lost my hovel and had to move back in with your grandparents to be cared for. Not the most respectable position to be in, for a gnome in his twenties.
I couldn't take care of myself. I couldn't feed myself, I couldn't bathe myself, which was most embarrassing––but I can look back now and see clearly…it was all meant to be.
I know we don't talk about religion, Alhannah, my mind is too analytical. I love my research job far too much to be swayed by the rantings of temple addicts, but I want to say something. I do believe in TGII. The Great It Is makes sense, the universe being a complete, perfect machine without extra parts or passions that constantly spins and creates new cogs for its ultimate design. At least I believe in it when it came to meeting your mother.
Your grandparents, the Luckyfellers, have always been Temple goers. Not that papa, or my mom for that matter, ever got caught up with the fanatics––but Papa always said the Universe has a purpose for everything. Every pain, every reward, every challenge, and confusion—each interaction between sentient beings—was all part of the great cogs of life. It wasn't Temple talk. It was him showing me, day by day, how it worked in the fields that convinced me. Every plant, every single herb, and seed had a purpose. A specific purpose.
Papa showed me how each plant was unique in its own right, able to accomplish amazing feats, like healing a burn or rash––and then, when combining in specific quantities, even greater things occur. A potion which could save lives or even help increase the chances of pregnancy in a sterile couple desperate for children of their own.
So it made sense to me, when I saw your mother for the first time—that Tgii had to be real.
The funny thing is, your mother didn't remember these first events until after we were married. She was so focused on her qualifications for service, on her career, that I wasn’t noticed. That's why you have such an amazing drive––you have the strongest parts of both your parents within you. Your mother’s intellect, prowess, skill…and my stubbornness.
So there I was, hands bandaged and my left arm strapped against my chest. It was the Day of Dedication, and your papa was home in bed, with a fever. He’d been working extra hours in the field and taken on extra accounts to pay for their new home. It was a new district, new neighbors and a new Ward of the Temple. Your grammy asked me, “Höbin…would you like to join me? I’m going to the new Ward and I could use the company.”
You would have laughed if you saw how far her jaw dropped when I said yes.
I hadn’t been to Temple in a few years. Work was all I thought about, so I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. When we got to the building, the meeting had already started. The Priest had offered his first Dedication, so the doors closest to the podium had been locked. I didn't think that was a particular problem until we opened the back door and I saw how many people were. It was an area conference! At least a thousand gnomes, maybe more, were all packed in their seats, perfectly quiet, watching Grammy and I walking through the door. I thought I was going to die.
Grammy, as you know, always smiles and does what she needs to do, without regard for what others might think. She wasn’t bothered in the least, but I shuffled uncomfortably behind her. Unfortunately, the only seats available in the entire chapel were on the bench sitting directly in front of the podium! The silence lingered in the air as all eyes stayed glued to the two newcomers.
That was the most uncomfortable walk of my life.
In the middle of the congregation, turned away from me, was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my life. It felt like I’d been shocked with a yonker-wand. The hair on my neck stood on end, my spine tingle, and my stomach was doing backflips. It was impossible to miss your mother. I was never partial to the color red until I saw her hair. It's the perfect color that depicts the fire burning within you both. Her pale cheeks and emerald green eyes looked about as she switched places with her father.
She never noticed me.
We went through the meeting and I spent the rest of the day meeting people, shaking hands and trying to find out who knew the young lady with the fire-red hair. It was the district social secretary I latched onto—you know the type, who always seems to know the dirt and the secrets of everyone else. Sister Lindsay couldn't wait to tell me all about Sylvia Gearspinner. One of eight young ladies who was still unattached and unspoken for in the Ward––lucky for me.
It was at that moment, ‘Hannah, that I was determined to marry your mother.
Never had much hope for myself. I know you hate it when I talk like this, but my personal belief was that I would spend my life alone. Your father, even back then, wasn’t much of a catch—so I was resolved to live a life without someone I could love. The lonely and heart-rending gloom and solitude of a single life.
But when I saw your mother, in an instant, it all changed.
So there I was, wounded, living with my parents, without a job––and in love. What a powerfully painful combination. What a catch!! I was a parents greatest fear…with all the motivation of my heart and all the opposition of the world.
There were also some bad habits I needed to get rid of. Things that are, shall we say, detrimental to a loving relationship and most especially marriage. As you know, I suffered an extreme addiction to Bloodsticks. This was, painfully, at the height of that habit and addiction. It took everything that I had, calling in every favor I had earned, to turn my life around.
All my own friends thought I was crazy.
Maybe I was, but I was crazy for the most wonderful girl that ever lived. Still am.
I don't regret a single moment that I spent with your mother, both good and bad. I'm grateful for the twenty-two years I had with my sweetheart. Alhannah, I always wanted to set the proper example for you and for your brother. To show you how much I loved you and your mother.
After getting back to the hovel and talking with Papa, I spent the next two weeks walking back and forth between our homes. I would get up, extra early in the morning, to help your grandfather––and then run off to your mother's house, to see if she was home. Every break, every mealtime and after work. I drove your grandpa and uncle Rod crazy! At one point, I didn't think your uncle would open the door for me anymore.
Your mother was so busy, she was never home.
You may not know this, Alhannah, but your mother was instrumental in ensuring women's rights when it came to government positions. She was at the top of her class, scored third in combat prowess and tactical analytics. She certainly wasn’t going to notice an unemployed, somewhat–homeless, wounded nobody. On the 15th day, with no luck in cornering her, or having an opportunity to speak with her, she was accepted into the N.E.R.D.S. team.
For nearly 2 years I lost track of your mother. It nearly killed me. She had quickly risen in rank, and when I finally crossed paths with her again, she was second in command of the primary recon team. I remember the day, too. She was more beautiful and amazing than ever. My knees almost buckled I saw her. Okay, maybe I'm a sucker for sexy women in uniform.
The good news was, I hadn’t been idle either. During the time of your mother's absence, I'd continued to pursue my talents and skills. Your papa and Chuck had allowed me to accompany them all over the globe, working as papa’s scribe. My obsession with finding, documenting and researching the use of herbs, minerals, and animal parts only fueled a deeper desire for knowledge. The key trigger that changed my life and led me back to your mother, were the Prime Gates.
I had a fascination with these haunting, irresistible monstrosities that looked like festering sores with black hair poking out from the soil. My mind wouldn’t stop thinking about these structures that pulled and twisted the very fabric of space. Nothing would satisfy me until I could learn their history and understand how they worked.
That's how it happened.
Chuck saw that obsession and allowed me, for a time, to accompany him and Dax, on several adventures. My job, as a traveling scribe, was to record the events while practicing and developing my skills in cartography. When Chuck learned my heart was spoken for, he doubled my salary. As a reward for my exemplary labor, a very special map was created for me. Actually, it would be more proper to say that a very special piece of parchment was made for me. My job has always been to make it into a map.
This Symblim, or “crazy map” became my greatest personal creation. It contains everyplace I have ever been, every Prime Gate in existence and thanks to Chuck, it is virtually indestructible. One of the unique features of the Symblim is its ability to show the location of resources––the key reason I was able to see your mother again.
Clockworks city requires a constant influx of resources. With over a billion citizens living in the city and the governments' gluttonous use of our finite supplies, the N.E.R.D.S. team is required to fill the storehouses. The danger is that the flash Gates used are unstable. Portals only stay open for a limited amount of time, during which the team has to scout, mark, and record the location of potential resources. The first recon was where your mother came in. If successful, a secondary team was sent back with machinery to extract the goods. By employing me and utilizing the Symblim, the N.E.R.D.S. were able to eliminate the first half of their process. That saved, time, resources and lives. It also made me a very wealthy gnome for a time.
Back then, without all the metal in cybernetic parts that make me ache an groan, I wasn’t completely ugly. My bones and muscles were strong, I had all my hair, not to mention my dazzling smile. Ok, I was a hottie. At least, that's what your mother said.
Using the Symblim, I was able to find new resources for the gnome population, under the direction of Capt. Edmond Pickett. Pickett didn't know I was madly in love with his second-in-command and I didn't tell him. Your mother didn't know either. When we were formally introduced, I am happy to say that Sylvia was impressed with my intelligence. Unfortunately, she wasn't impressed with much else.
Four months we worked side-by-side, but all of my flower picking, poetry–dripping efforts were in vain. Your mother was a warrior. I was an annoyance. She had the respect of all the soldiers and could best any of the men in combat, so I learned quickly that it was going to take some physical feat to get her attention.
During one of our missions, we had located resources on Chäk-Näh. The Vallen homeland is wild, unpredictable and dangerous. Your mother was one of the first soldiers into the portal. The limitation of the Symblim is that it displays resources, but it doesn't show humanoid life. There is no way we could have known that we had opened a portal near the outskirts of an occupied village.
It all happened so fast. Your mother didn't have time to pull the weapons from sheath or holster. The beast grabbed her by the throat and threw her against a giant boulder. I remember hearing the air leave her lungs and how her head fell forward, bouncing off the solid surface. My heart nearly stopped. I don’t know how the rest really happened. It was like an out of body experience. I was airborne. Without thinking, I had run up the surface of a dead log, wedged between two boulders and jumped at the giant from behind.
Before that cannibalistic––thing could lay a finger on your mother, I was on his shoulders, angrily scratching out both its eyes. It bellowed and reached for me, but I grabbed its oversized canines and pulled for all I was worth. You know, I've always wondered what that had to look like. One of the most feared beings on our planet, whipping about and wailing, because a bare-handed gnome attacked him.
“Yeah George, yer da man! Got yer can kicked by a gnome…”
Anyway, your mother was still unconscious when the other soldiers came through the gate and shot the beast…but not before he bit down and took off the last two fingers of my left hand.
Your mother awoke to me screaming in pain.
That afternoon, for the very first time, your mother noticed me. Every soldier there relayed the unbelievable story of the map-maker who attacked a Vallen, bare-handed, to save her. I had saved her life without thinking of the consequences. That impressed her. It also sealed my namesake with the soldiers: Luckyfeller, the giant-brawler. It's like a curtain had been pulled back over her eyes and she started remembering little details. Recalling the things I had tried to do for her over the previous few months.
And all at once, I mattered to her.
No one went for it. The relationship I mean. The soldiers liked me, even had a measure of respect for me now, but your mother was famous in warrior circles. Compared to her, I was still a nobody. She had a shining future ahead of her. No one seemed to want her to hitch her wagon to a flower–picking, map–making, a researcher from the lower districts. But she didn't care. What mattered most to your mother, was that she married the right one.
Blessed be TGII, because it just happens to be Höbin Luckyfeller.


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