Well, butter me up and toss me to the lesbians, it appears I’ve fallen in with the most bogus of crowds.
Booga ‘n me were taking a jolly little nap by the docks after a particularly neckering bout with Barry “The Berater”. Gosh, and I thought my cage name was cheesy (I came up with it when I was 18, gimme a break).
Big, dumb fucker; hit like a glacier and about as quickly. You ever punch a whale? Neither have I, but could guess at the details of that particular experience.
Anyway, after sleeping off the ache of meat shards in my knuckles, I found this funny little note tucked in Booga’s pack. Slivers of Barry’s half-orc blood chipped from my hands and fell like snowflakes as I opened it. Pretty boring stationery.
Said there’s a big job in store for me and four other miscreants. Kickass, I thought! Fightin’ and makin’ money with bookies at the cage is great ‘n all, but I’ve been waiting for a break like this for a while. Gotta get together enough coin to… well, that jerk can take care of himself, I reckon’.
The note gave the time and the place. The place was good ol’ Gily’s Harlequin Chalice. Been there plenty of times to go over jobs with Monsoon. Was nice to see cutie-pie Drina also, if only for a second. Went to the back room as always, and there we were, the freaks.
Human gal, about my height. I recognized her as a big-time mistress; considered working at her place when it opened, but I decided it just wasn’t my preferred kind of physical activity.
Halfling bloke wearing a hat that probably weighs more than him. I’d heard of a few of his works of art, though not the musical kinds. Bothered me, dunno why, just bothered me.
Elf guy, don’t know ‘im. Looks like he spends a lot of time outside. Well, sure so do I, but I mean really outside, like where there’s trees.
Gnomish chick, also don’t know her. Cute ferret, anyway. Wonder what the story is there.
Just as I’m getting bored, this gent – looks barely alive, held together by glue – wheels in some goofy-ass cart. I don’t remember if B. ever told me about beholders – if he did, I must have been pretty wee at the time – but this was the craziest fucking thing I’d ever seen: like a gigantic ol’ pouch of vitreous humour with thick, sinewy straps.
Spoke (spoke?) like one of the fatter high-rollers you’d see at the cage, the kind that take a single puff from a fresh cigar then put it out on a new silver plate held by a girl who never worked another day in her life. Sleazebag voice. Whips up some visual aid that, by this point, can’t be shocking in the least. The job? Bump off Viktor Blütfaust, the main man of Bloodtusk, Monsoon’s biggest competitor.
Now, a lot of the other urchin kids I skipped rocks with and rough ‘n tumbled with as a kid were half-orc, so I got no special animosity toward the kind, but a job is a job, and a high-paying job is an especially good job, and this was quite the high-paying job.
Creepy beholder or no, powerful target that would likely have us all torn in half given the chance or no, I was in. I’m not too proud to say I don’t ever need help, so I did my best to rally the aforementioned cohorts to be. Little guy in red is darn cautious (I’d be reminded of this many times later); the tall gal and elf kept quiet. The gnome and ferret were totally into it; I liked her already. There was a funny sharpness in her eyes, I remember thinking, that I didn’t quite get.
So the skinny was that Viktor would be at his new restaurant later that afternoon, mostly alone, deep into Bloodtusk turf. Get in, off the chunk-head, get out with some proof of conquest. We’d be contacted at that point. Sounds easy-peasy, right? Well!
I figure I got plenty of time for some quick lunch, so I head back into the bar to go out the front where Booga’s waiting. It’s a freaking zoo in there! Lorelei, the tall gal, and I push and shove (well, I push and shove anyway) our way toward the front, but there’s some nutty game going on involving booze, punching, and money, which happen to be three of my favorite things.
I can’t resist, you know, even if it means missing lunch. I weasel my way into the finals and face off with this tall glass of water to a game of Punch Drunk.
The first quaff drives into the back of my throat like a mythryl-plated dragonshard. Throws off my first shot at the guy, but I’m back on my toes by the time he swings, and I’m golden.
My next swig goes down smooth, and this dumbass is belching up fossils of his own nasty sample, so I wallop him with a haymaker. I can’t help but glance to see the crowd’s reaction, and the guy reacts faster than I thought, getting in an adorable little sucker punch. Stupid.
I almost eat the bottle of my next brew, sneaking a step in, and get it done with an elbow to his brow, dropping him like a sack of doorknobs.
I hammed it up some for the crowd; they deserved it, hooting like that. Gily gave me a little stink-eye for riling things up, but I knew she’d forgive me. I get my prize from Drina, the doll, and find Lorelei and Viktor, the elf guy. I wager there’s still time for lunch, but Lorelei wants to get a move on. Darn shame. I think Rosco and Melior were long gone by then.
Viktor and I get some awesome shawarma on the way into Bloodtusk territory and take it slow and sneaky. We get out front of the restaurant just in time, but the two little ones aren’t to be seen! Things are a little hazy around here (that rotgut stuff did not mix well with my spicy lunch), but I think I just got fed up waiting and barged right in. Maybe I killed the dude out front. I hope not but hey, some things can’t be helped.
Next thing I know it feels like the fucking planet tripped over itself and retched on the lot of us. I kid you not, Viktor Blütfaust was there for a second and then wasn’t, literally exploded. Shit got on my clothes, in my hair, I think I got some in my mouth. I’d barely pulled my socks up when two thugs hustle in. Beats me what their names were, if it matters. I think they were wearing nametags (restaurant, righ’?), so Lorelei probably knows: she sees freaking everything, the beaut’. I take a nasty blow to the chest from a big fuck-off hammer, but Melior and I make quick work of the two knucklenuts (strong and cute!), leaving just us crew of idiots, a huge sticky mess, and incoming baddies on either side. Oh, did I neglect to mention the swarms of peeved half-orcs just moments from our unfortunate location? Yeah, that.
We decide to cheese it, because to hell with that noise. Rosco and Melior, the adorable little twerps, apparently found some nifty secret passage in the kitchen. You gotta yank on this hook, but the two didn’t have the beefiness to work it. Allow me, I suggest, and I put my lunch to work. Melior grabs on (tough little honey!) and just gets the thing engaged. Some door opens up revealing a ladder upstairs. Home free, I thought! Well, Rosco has to stay behind to be a tough (i.e. sneaky) guy. The two ladies and I shimmy up a floor, though. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get some answers about what the hell happened? Hey, whatever happened to that elf guy?
Treasures! Melior finds some bonkers-crazy moonshine and guzzles it right freaking there, immediately getting fucked in half. Save that shit for later! There’s also a bunch of alchemist’s fire, which probably has approximately the same chemical properties. I wanted to take some home, but alas (you’ll see). Poor little Slinky the ferret got all wet finding us (and Rosco!) a window to escape through to the next building. Just for good measure, I guess, we used all of the alchemist’s fire to blow up the freaking restaurant. Honestly, we just wanted a little smoke and fire, not a full-blown inferno. Sad waste, but at least it looked cool.
Back outside, right then and there the Spell ‘n Say lists all our names! We had to get out fast and unseen. In a wild stroke of luck, none other than darling Drina shows up with group-rate tickets out of there! Now, while I’d have loved to ride in Drina’s carriage (!?), I just had to get back to Booga, so we went our separate ways again, agreeing to meet back at Gily’s. This is were things get embarrassing. That jerk Rosco needs a way back too, but all he can do is turn himself into a stack of bricks or a pile of tuna or whatever. Worse, the SnS described me as a dude, so I, and I shit you not, shoved a couple of waterskins under my shirt to make the ugliest rack you’d ever seen. So there I am, riding Booga back out of half-orc territory, my chest looking like a pillow case full of rocks, and a blasted little bard hiding as a bag of whatever-the-hell behind me. Just the worst.
Finally we make it to Gily’s and explain who we are. Yeah, big fucking laugh, har har. Lorelei is upstairs, and I can finally get rid of my mess (and remove the stuff in my shirt, hehe). Melior gets back and has some weird story about Drina, some dragonborn guy Jeph (I might not be spelling that correctly), and the Raven Queen. Just grand, you can’t make this shit up. We’re all pretty harried from things when Drina comes up stairs totally sloshed. We didn’t even notice the noise from downstairs, but the boys and girls from Monsoon were throwing us a big damn party! A party!! Everybody went totally ape-shit at Drina over the beholder, the dweebs, but the poor thing told her story. I trusted Drina and Gily, for sure, but I couldn’t quite tell with the rest of us weirdos. Whatever. We fucking partied our asses off. Rosco finally loosened up, sang some actually pretty kick-ass songs, eventually was swinging from a chandelier that I swear wasn’t there before. I carried Melior around for a while, which was awesome, and she danced around on the bar some (I should have joined her, it’s been a long time since I danced). I just made a lot of noise, did my eat-the-shotglass bar trick a couple of times, eventually passed out back with Booga. Hell of a day, hell of a day…
I don’t know,
but you are gone,
if I can really cure
any gap in wind, a slot
in a tornado. Somewhere,
fragments of you make
storms here, in my
sad, sad, head.
I will find
— Sam, dated XXXX