Author's note: Just a bit of silliness. I make no excuses for this and have no regrets.

Disclaimer: Ryld, Pharaun, and all the other little bits and pieces from World of the Spider Queen do not belong to me, and I make no profit from this story. It's purely for my own amusement.


"What," Ryld demanded, "in all the Hells is that?"

He stared at his wizard friend who lifted the object in his hands a little higher. It was long, with a curved body that folded back on itself. At one end was a small rounded piece and at the other was a large bell. At the top there seemed to be three buttons that looked as though they slid into three corresponding valves. Pharaun, his hair hanging in a loose but intricate braid over his left shoulder this day, was idly pressing the buttons down. He seemed to be enjoying the slight 'click, click, click' his rapid movements made, or perhaps he was merely basking in the irritation on Ryld's face.

Ryld figured it was likely the latter.

The wizard, fresh from a mission to the surface, gave Ryld an infuriating grin that the fighter knew well. That grin held the promise of something absolutely unbearably irritating to come. "This," Pharaun proclaimed, "is a 'trumpet.' It is a musical instrument I discovered during my last mission. It comes from the Lands that See the Sun."

A musical instrument. Somehow, this didn't bode well for the fighter. Just why Pharaun thought he needed something so useless such as that, Ryld couldn't fathom. He resisted the urge to slap the palm of his hand to his forehead in frustration. In all the years they had known each other, Ryld had not seen his friend demonstrate one bit of musical talent aside from a few times in which the mage had become completely hammered and had insisted upon serenading Ryld until one of them finally, blissfully passed out and could no longer hear Pharaun's favorite bawdy tunes.. The fighter hoped this wasn't going to turn into a repeat of one of those times. He sincerely doubted that Pharaun even know how to play that damn... whatever it was.

Ryld shook his head. It was probably pointless to point out to the wizard that he likely had no idea how to properly work the thing, but he might as well try. Who knew, maybe one day Pharaun would surprise him and demonstrate some sense in something besides magic—or at least some sort of less stubborn attitude.

Or maybe not. There was only one way to find out. The Master of Melee-Magthere shook his head and sighed. "I bet you don't even know how to play that."

Judging from the look on Pharaun's face, Ryld could see he had hit the orc on the head with that comment. Pharaun lowered the instrument and gave Ryld a slight pout, as though he was trying not to be offended or surprised that his friend would say such a thing, and Ryld was sure it was likely that Pharaun knew full well he would say it. Likely, the bastard was counting on it. To most, it would have seemed so odd an expression on such an elegantly-dressed drow, but then Ryld was rather used to Pharaun's particular oddities, so he wasn't so bothered by it and merely raised an eyebrow in challenge to the pout. Then, as though he were heavily offended, Pharaun scoffed at Ryld, tossed his plaited hair back over his shoulder, and brushed another strand of hair behind his ear. The look on his face promised pain—or at least a slightly more irritating fate for the fighter than his wizard friend had originally intended.

Ryld refused to let himself regret his words. He could handle whatever Pharaun threw at him.

Pharaun straightened his already straight robes. "Just because you do not seem capable of appreciating all the intricacies such a complex instrument—" Ryld's derisive snort (it didn't look that complex to him) made Pharaun pause and narrow his eyes in what Ryld was sure was something that had a bit of playfulness behind it. "—Well. Of course I can play it!" He gave Ryld a cold, cold smile that somehow managed to be cocky and proud.

Pharaun added, "Why would I bring it back if I had no idea how it works?"

Because you're a wizard, you're you, Ryld thought, and that's just the way your natural curiosity works.

Ryld refused to apologize. He was right about this, whether Pharaun was going to admit that even to himself or not. Well, two could play this game of stubbornness. Ryld set his face into a firm, no-nonsense look and as he crossed his arms over his chest, he braved the wizard's ego and answered his questions anyway. "You would do it on a whim, purely for curiosity's sake, and you know it just as well as I." After all, it wouldn't be the first exotic thing Pharaun had purchased out of curiosity, on a mere whim. Pharaun had a damn-near insatiable curiosity concerning how various things worked, and Ryld supposed it couldn't be helped. Given the mage's track record though, it was no surprise to Ryld that his companion had returned with something so odd and seemed intent on inflicting it on the fighter. It wasn't all that unusual.

"I suppose..."

"You have no idea why you even bought it, do you? You just wanted to see what it would do, and you have other purpose for it."

"Well, not as such, no." Pharaun glanced away from Ryld, back down to the instrument. He knew the wizard wasn't really being repentant or reconsidering his actions. He would give Ryld what he thought the fighting instructor wanted to see and hear and probably had some sort of scheme in mind he was going to soon employ. Ryld wouldn't have to be prepared. "It is rather interesting."

"It's just a noisemaker." Ryld shook his head, hardly believing he had come over to the pyramid just to see that. Turning his back to Pharaun, he moved to leave his friend's quarters. He had welcomed Pharaun back, and now he was to go somewhere else.

Somewhere where sanity reigned supreme.

One calloused black hand reached for the doorknob just as Pharaun lifted the instrument to his lips and gave a hard blow. The result was a loud blare of noise that made Ryld jump and cover his ears. He cursed his own excellent hearing as he turned and leveled a cold and dangerous look at the smirking wizard. That was not what he had been expecting the wizard to do. Pharaun lowered the trumpet a little, and he nearly lost his smile in the face of Ryld's glare, but the knowledge that he had gotten under the fighter's skin made him smirk. For a long moment, they simply locked gazes, neither speaking.

Pharaun was the first to break the silence. "I told you I could play it," he gloated. A triumphant, almost innocent look graced his beautiful face.

Ryld's eyes narrowed more. Sanity could be had later, he decided, right after he took his sweet time beating some of it into the mage.