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The Swift Boaters: Already tooling around in Turelve

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The Swift Boaters: Already tooling around in Turelve

Post  Magyc on Fri May 14, 2010 9:51 am

Taking the raft had seemed like an excellent idea. Jace had so much to do in Turelve and a lot could be accomplished the in roughly four days it would take the party to reunite.

Unfortunately, now that they had been in the city for half a day, some problems had become quite apparent. The party had split itself in such a way as to leave all the natural leaders in one group. Lady Darya, despite being the youngest, was already the de-facto leader due to her supreme confidence and moral authority. Nas and Torin both had many more years experience anyone else, as well as the mystique that naturally accompanied the members of their respective races.

Even more practically, those in the other group were the ones who took primary responsibility for the night watch! Jace had always slept soundly through the night knowing they were on duty. Now, they were by themselves in a large city and Jace was bewildered by the logistics. Would an innkeeper allow Cleander inside a room? He really doubted it was wise to split up. If not, do they find a place to sleep inside the city or outside? Where was safe? Assuming they could find a suitable place, he had learned the importance of keeping a night guard...who would keep watch?

As for the others in Turelve...

Cleander had never assumed a watch. Jace had read about how the large cats required a lot of sleep and it probably was not fair to ask him to take a watch, given his biological needs.

Shobi was brand new and seemed fairly trustworthy. After all, he had refused a large share of treasure that had been offered to him, preferring to "earn" his money. Apparently traversing untold miles of dank endless tunnels was not sufficient labor in his opinion. Jace was still quite unnerved by the eyeballing he had received from the muscle bound gnome when he had attempted to give him the share... he remembered stammering something about "taking it up with Darya" if he was angry about getting the gold...sheesh! Normally Jace would leave it up to the Darya, Nas, or Torin as to whether Shobi would take a watch...but they were not here to make that call.

Riff...Riff Riff Riff. He genuinely liked the bard and greatly admired his ease at interaction and ability to charm most of the people he met, but reliability did not seem to be his strong suit. He would be more than capable of taking a watch, if he could be find when night rolled around and not off carousing at a tavern. The large city scene certainly seemed like it would be very enticing to him.

He had about half a day to come up with a solution. He decided to ask Riff what he thought they should do...he probably had a lot more experience with cities like this. Maybe Riff could talk and innkeeper into letting Cleander in? Or maybe the could bed down in a stable? It would also be nice to have another opinion about whether they should group up withi Shobi when night fell, or leave the belligerent gnome to his own devices for a few days, as he had proclaimed when they parted ways at the dock.

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Sat May 15, 2010 4:11 am


That’s how folk would later describe the scene when conveying the story to family around the hearth, or amongst friends getting merrily drunk at the local taverns. Something about a shirtless gnome--built solid as a twelve ton crenelation--dragging a whimpering human twice his size along the thoroughfare by the scruff of the neck cried out for redundant laughter in the watering holes of Turelve. At the time of its happening, however, mirth played second fiddle to gawking in absolute astonishment or quickly evacuating the path of the diminutive figure, whose sour expression and incessant grumbling adequately portrayed his current temperament. If, for whatever reason, those signs failed to impress, the tear-streaked face of shocked horror on the man he towed along behind, a leg grotesquely angled sideways twenty degrees at the knee, certainly succeeded in doing so.

“Don’t know what you’re cryin’ about,” the muscular gnome mumbled at the man, though the hushed tone misled some eavesdroppers to believe he spoke to himself. “I gave ya fair warnin’.” He stopped abruptly and half-turned as if to speak directly at the injured package, yet refused to actually look at the fellow, but, instead, stared straight off at some invisible subject that only he could apparently see. “If ya didn’t wanna get hurt, you ought not ask for the hurtin’! And that’s all I got to say on the matter!”

He plowed along another three steps before halting again to address that same imaginary figure keeping pace at his left. “And you best pray gods my girl’s where I left her when I get back, else I’ll give you somethin’ to cry about!”

The gnome stomped on after the short outburst, pushing on toward the nearest temple from the pier. He’d not spent much time in Turelve on his first visit to the city about a month past, and so knew very little about the layout of the place. An ashen-faced companion of the lame dockhand now in his possession had cooperated enough to provide its location before scuttling off in a panic-driven condition. Apparently, the man had never witnessed a kneecap getting shattered before, and was unprepared at its happening to his friend. No doubt, the coward had gone off to report him to the foreman in charge of the dockhands, meaning he’d not have a job when he returned. In the end, such a prospect suited the gnome just fine; these lazy humans worked too slow for his taste anyhow.

The man eventually quieted completely, the agony of the pulverized knee causing him to pass out. The diminutive one, realizing the futility of cursing out the worker any longer, instead spouted obscenities about the “nearest temple” being halfway to the Shaar. As if on cue, two men dressed in russet robes, each adorned with a stylized, painted wooden symbol of a rising sun hanging about their necks, materialized on the road where the townsfolk dispersed.

“Are you in need of assistance?” one of them inquired--the eldest of the two by the look of it, though both appeared quite young. Neither seemed overly appreciative of the spectacle in front of them.

The gnome glared long and hard at each in turn. “In fact, I ain’t,” he declared at last, his own timbre displaying openly the agitation he felt toward their displeasure. “As it happens, however, this here loud mouth braggart is. You two from the temple just on up the way?”

“In fact, we are not,” the younger of the two replied with measured haughtiness, and was immediately silenced by the other with a glance.

The gnome recognized the insult in the youth’s word choice, regardless.

The elder proclaimed, “We have come this way on an errand, but thought we might be of service when we noted the injured man you drag unceremoniously behind you.”

“Well, how lucky for me, then, that our paths crossed.” The gnome pulled his cargo up beside him, and deposited the man on the hard ground before the priests. “Seems he needs healin’ of the kind I ain’t able, nor willin’, to provide.”

The younger priest bent down to examine the man’s leg, grimacing at the gruesome sight. “What happened to him?” he demanded.

“I should think that apparent at first glance,” the gnome riposted.

“I believe my companion means: how did it happen?”

“Uh-huh,” the small one countered with the unmistakable implication that he gave the younger priest no such credit. “To that turn, I’ll enlighten you: justifiable retribution to provocation brought about by dim-wittedness.” He quickly turned a mock look of sympathy to the second priest and said, “Or, should others need simplification of reason, ‘cuz the dolt asked to get beat through openly displayed ignorance. That easier for you to understand?”

The older priest rested a calming hand upon the shoulder of his increasingly agitated companion. “I would graciously warn you, friend, that you are dangerously close to such provocation against we two, who came forward with no other agenda than to lend aid. I will require that you become more amiable in your discourse with us.”

“Shoby’s my name. I offer it,” the gnome explained, “because this inbred lout’s got me in a mood, an’ I ain’t of a mind to take you up on that stipulation. I reckon my time working the docks is done, but I’ve got me a room at the Crab Pot just down the dockway a bit. You familiar?” When the priest nodded, Shoby continued, “You take this braggart on to get fixed up, and bring me back the bill at the common room of that tavern tonight, where I’ll be waitin’ for your arrival. Now, let it be known that I ain’t got funding to pay what will no doubt be a generously inflated price here and now, but I will soon enough.”

Leaning down, Shoby tore a small piece of cloth from his pants, down by the ankle, and handed it over to the priest. “That there will ensure you can find me, if, in fact, you think me untrustworthy enough to keep my word about where I’ll be, or whether I’ll pay back what’s owed. If that ain’t enough, while it would certainly tempt me to break your nose for the insult, one of the companions I’ve come to travel with for a time is a paladin of yours, and goes by the name Lady Darya. She’ll be making her way to town in a few days, decidin’ as she did to take the overland route rather than the barge like I did. You can’t miss her, bein’ that she rides a gigantic lizard of rosy hue. Mention this to her, and I’ve an inkling she’ll see to it I pay my dues in accordance with my soon-to-be growin’ wealth.

“Now, if you would excuse me, or, barring that, just let me the hells be, I’ll be heading back to the collect my things and await your callin’ at the Crab Pot. All these people gawking is wearin’ on my nerves something fierce.”

Shoby about-faced on a heel and started away, waving an irritated hand at all the onlookers. Both Lathanderian priests hesitated for a brief moment, watching, before they collected the broken man at their feet. Though they realized that the gnome should not have been allowed to wander off so easily, somehow, neither even entertained the thought that he would renege on his given word.

This is my word, and, as such, is beyond contestation.

The Sub-Creator

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Thu May 20, 2010 10:11 pm

The gnome glared at the hideous, boiled beast plopped upon the table. It returned his stare with one of impassivity, though to him those dark eyes seemed filled with mockery. Two of its legs had been pulled out from the body cavity, their remnants scattered in numerous pieces about the table. He squinted at the creature, clearly taking its measure. All around him, patrons conversed, guffawed, even squealed at one another, but none let on that he provided the true source of their mirth. The raucous crowd—sailors and dockhands, all—frequented the Crab Pot with their earnings on a nightly basis, and not one had witnessed such grand entertainment in months . . . at least, none that they hadn’t needed to pay for!

The gears of frustration grinded in the little gnome’s head as he studied the accursed thing, working to find some form of strategy by which to attack it. His face burned a deep crimson from the agitation, and he adamantly stroked his soul patch with thumb and forefinger to try and release some of the pent up energy. In the forty years he’d spent amidst the gnomish community of Temparsedge, Shoby had helped with the design and construction of irrigation machinery for the maintenance of sugarcane in a hostile environment, a refinery to convert that crop into processed sugar, and complex war engines for the purposes of defense. None of that matched the absurd complexities involved with salvaging meat from his current meal.

Chairs in human taverns failed to boost those of smaller persuasion high enough to eat from a table without significantly more effort, so Shoby had grown accustom to sitting on his knees long enough to dispense with the necessary practice of feeding his face, often resting back on his heels when luxuriating through the chewing process. He found the relaxed position during the course of this meal especially disconcerting, as it enabled the creature supposedly acting the part of his dinner to watch him as he contemplated its demise. That it languished there, stoically appraising him from a posture of victory thus far, infuriated the gnome almost to the point of bodily shaking. His lip twitched constantly, shifting his visage from contemplative to vengeful with every heartbeat.

He blew out a long sigh, permitting his shoulders to roll forward once to help relieve some of the stress. “All right, you devil,” he breathed out softly as his deep, husky voice allowed. The gnome rose up and leaned forward, reaching out to grasp another crab leg, stopping, repositioning his hands, rubbing them together just to waste time, then repeated the whole process over two and three more times. Finally, a strong left hand settled overtop the hard shell of a body, while his right hand latched onto leg and started wrenching. It pulled out of socket with relatively little trouble, but, then, so had the other two before it.

Shoby tapped the leg against the wooden table, just in case this one decided to break easily. Sure enough, it refused. Issuing forth a low grumbling, he worked on trying to break off the socket at the base of the leg, so that it might become possible to squeeze a finger inside and tear away at the chitinous skin. Several minutes escaped over the course of the endeavor, and, at its completion, still nothing had cracked except the wall confining his patience. The frustration he had battled back just moments ago now resurfacing, he gripped the leg in both hands and bent the appendage at its middle. A series of satisfying snaps resonated in his ears, and he felt the tough exoskeleton give way. Grinning from ear-to-ear with a pride that equaled the single-handed felling of a goblin tribe, Shoby could hardly wait to dive into the juicy meat that so many had given high praise.

Satisfaction soon shriveled beneath sobering scrutiny, however, as the gnome peered with hostility at a sliver of crab meat protruding from one half of the leg broken in twain. He brought that strand to his mouth and bit down, but it slithered between a gap in his teeth and slid out as he pulled it away. A second attempt proved more successful at extracting the meat, but no more gratifying due to its miniscule portion. “Oh, ta hells with this!” the gnome cried, throwing the two halves of the leg none-too-gently across the table. He hopped to his feet in a single bounce, drawing the warhammer from its home at the same time.

In his food-deprived rage, Shoby missed the entire tavern laughing at his expense, and, likewise, the two Lathanderian priests that had just entered and now approached.

“It seems we’ve made a habit of coming upon you in need of assistance,” the elder of the priests proclaimed loudly enough to warrant the gnome’s attention. That last second intervention saved the crab from a second death.

Shoby turned to acknowledge the newcomers, rocking the chair he stood upon enough to almost tip it over. His dexterous ability caused him to look the fool only briefly—for that incident, anyhow. “If that’s how you wanna claim it,” the gnome shot back, disgust etched all over his face. He hefted his hammer a second time. “But I’m sure enough I can take it my own self!”

“In combat, I have no doubt,” the priest agreed, placing a calming hand on Shoby’s shoulder before the weapon started downward, “but, as dinner, I seem to have many. I believe, sir gnome, that you may find this a more useful tool for the job at hand,” he said, displaying a small mallet of simple metalwork construction.

The gnome was just about to threaten the well-being of not only the intervening priest, but also that of his brothers, clergymen, and very god, when he noted the tiny utensil offered him. He gave it a squinty-eyed once over, his face flushing a brighter red. “Where’d you find that?” he inquired, almost sheepishly.

The priest wished to smile, but, knowing the gnome as he did for even such a short time, thought better of it. “On the bar counter. They keep a number of them readily available for those ordering the crab,” he explained.

Shoby cleared his throat, issuing an “uh huh,” immediately after. He reached for the mallet, but hesitated in the taking of it until the Lathanderian pushed it forward into his hand. Examining the little tool with a scrunched up brow, he crouched back down into his typical eating position, pulled off another leg from the body, and gave it a few raps with the mallet. The exoskeleton crunched and split.

The gnome started to grin, all-too-quickly remembered the company he now kept, and recaptured the scowl. “Ain’t enough meat in these things ta make it worth one’s while,” he grumbled by way of appreciation. As the priests sat down on the opposite side of the table, he complained, “If there were a lawful bone in either of your bodies, you’d arrest the owners of this joint for racketeerin’. For the price they charge ta get one of these things, it seems you gotta expend more energy gettin’ into it than you get from eatin’ it! You would not ever fill up!”

At that, the elder priest did smile. “I’ll relay that complaint to the Dawnmaster, who will no doubt take it under advisement, sir gnome.” He motioned to his companion priest, who removed a scroll from its protective case. “I’m sure you have much to do, so here is the payment due the Morninglord for services rendered by his faithful.”

Shoby accepted the scroll with a dubious stare at the one talking. “You want I should open this now, or just give you my left leg and a promissory for my firstborn child to come?”

“I believe you will find the price more than fair, considering the damage done to the man’s leg.”

The gnome eyeballed the Dawnbringer in the time it took to unroll the scroll, and then a breath or two longer. When, finally, he worked up the gumption to throw a passing glance at its contents, he suddenly found himself stammering for breath! “Leg hells!” he griped, unable to tear his stare from the parchment. “You’re lookin’ ta take me from the neck up! Either this boy a leadin’ donator ta your church, or he saved this city from a giant invasion . . . on a couple of diff’rent occasions!”

“You shattered his knee in three places, sir gnome,” the priest calmly replied to the small tirade. “While I admit him to be merely a dockworker with no connections in the Church of Lathander, nor a hero of Turelve, the damage was substantial, and took some work to heal properly.” He nodded to the scroll. “My fellow has a quill and ink for you to place your signature on the line at its bottom, but I would enlighten you: the contract was written up by the clergy of Siamorphe, and its agreement is binding by magic. The Lady Darya you spoke of in the street earlier will also be informed as to the contracts stipulations--which are more than fair, as I’ve stated--when, or if, we see her.”

“You callin’ me a liar?” Shoby growled.

“Please understand that we have no wish to doubt you,” he continued through the gnome’s leading question, paying it no heed. “We simply have no reason to take you at your word without a contractual statement signed by yourself, binding you to the agreement you suggested to begin with. Will you sign?”

Shoby glowered under bushy eyebrows at the priest, more than ready to strike the man, but rightfully finding the restraint not to do so. “Present your quill and ink,” he rumbled hoarsely between clenched teeth. When the younger priest did exactly that, the gnome scrawled his name upon the solid line at the bottom of the contract. He felt the compelling magic wash over him, settling dormant into his brain. “I’ll have you know that I’m gonna pay a hundred gold more than this contract obligates, hopin’ all the while it’s you that picks it up. Just think of it as an advance toward the price of healin’ when your crooked spine snaps under the added weight.

“Now, I think I’ll be on my way,” he excused himself, pushing the scroll back across the table. “Bad ‘nough havin’ one set of critter eyes gawking at me from the table; I fear I can’t tolerate three sets much longer than I already have.”

While the younger priest wore a cocksure grin, the elder appeared quite hurt by the gnome’s harsh sentiments. “I apologize that it had to be done this way, but--”

“Save your apologies for someone who cares for your condescending manner. Undoubtedly, they’d just cost me more money in the long run.” Shoby fished two silver coins from his pouch and held them up for the two of them to see. “I was gonna pay for the food and nights lodgings with these. You mind, or should I hand them over as a down payment toward interest due at a later time?”

The priest shook his head. “Of course not. The price is set, as is the payment schedule of twenty-five gold a month until the debt is paid. No interest will ever be accrued, I assure you. The contact is binding both ways.”

“Uh huh,” the gnome muttered, then stormed off after slinging the tower shield over his shoulder and hoisting up the Lady. As he passed by the tavern keep, he tossed the silver onto the counter and proceeded to exit the establishment.

As he had expected, the dock master had released him when reports of the confrontation got back to the man. Shoby had decided he’d seen enough of this city from inside anyhow. Best thing to do now, he figured, was camp outside the city walls and put some time in training with the Lady.

“Two hundred gold,” he spat, moving along the thoroughfare to the nearest gate out of town. “Must have ta pay the sun for risin’ every morning . . .”

This is my word, and, as such, is beyond contestation.

The Sub-Creator

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