They arrived when Bariso gave a sharp tug to each of their wrists, and they fell out of the sky and onto the ground. Maggie looked up in time to see a hole above them rapidly shrink and then pop out of existence. She got up (helping Elizabeth; Bariso was already standing) and dusted herself off.
The first thing she noticed was that the sun was very faint and that it had a blueish tinge to it. The sky was an unappealing shade of gray, as though someone had just watered down cement. She couldn't see anything off on the horizon except a few sad-looking, scrubby trees and a lot of tumble-weeds, though she thought she heard. Overall, it looked very grim.
Elizabeth was frowning, but Bariso was grinning happily.
"Welcome," he said pompously, "to my home, the Desert-where-the-gnomes-live. We have a bit of a walk, so let's get going, shall we?"
Maggie nodded vaguely, but Elizabeth just scowled. This did not seem like her type of place at all, and remember, the magic was making her rather ruder than she had been before.
Bariso led them off, surprisingly fast for being so short. He also spoke very quickly, and Elizabeth misheard him and had to ask him to repeat a few times. Maggie, on the other hand, was looking intently at the tumbleweeds they passed. Nobody knows what she was thinking. Anyway, here is Bariso's speech without any of the interruptions.
"Well, I'll have to give you a little history, technology, and geography so you understand. The world you are on is called Blotch. Since the beginning of time, or anyway for a while, an awful lot of people have lived here.You have my people, the gnomes, also the faerie, and the druids, and the mer, and the trolls, and the gryphons, and the dragons. Oh, and the elementia but they don't really count, of course, since there are only four of them and they sort of wander everywhere anyway. Well, for a very long time we were always disputing who owned what and then we finally came to the treaty of the year 582 and divided Blotch in countries. We, the gnomes, chose the desert and created a democracy, as did most of the other creatures except the druids and the dragons who both have constitutional monarchies. And we each chose a habitat to live in, ours, of course, was the desert, as I already told you, and a very nice desert it is too, with a pale sun and not very many trees. Anyway. The druids and trolls live in the forest, the mer in the water, and the gryphons and dragons by the cliffs, and finally the faerie in the city. That's everyone, I think. No, I've forgotten the elementia again. Well, they are sorcerers, and each controls an element- you know, water, air, earth, and fire. Anyway they were the ones who came up with the title elementia. I know, rather stupid, isn't it? Well, onto the Portals."
Elizabeth jumped a bit. Bariso's speech was so boring she had almost forgot that she was listening to a history of basically fairyland on another planet and it was a gnome speaking, in the first place!
Bariso glared at her, he did not like people jumping. It made him queasy. So he took a deep breath and continued.