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Old 01-15-2004, 07:17 PM   #127
The Saucepan Man
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: A green and pleasant land
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The Saucepan Man has been trapped in the Barrow!
The Eye

When Soregum came to, he was alarmed to find himself sprawled uncomfortably across a barrel. He was even more alarmed to find that the barrel to which he clung was bobbing about in the middle of a lake.

“Well this is a fine mess that you have got yourself into, Master Soregum, and no mistake,” he exclaimed ruefully.

Water he could tolerate if he had to, and he was rather fond of barrels, particularly those which held wine or ale, but the predicament in which he now found himself was not one with which he was at all comfortable. In fact, it was rather bothersome.

“Them as are meant to float are made of wood”, he muttered to himself, recalling the words of his old Duffer. Although they actually made little sense now that he thought about them. Then again, his Duffer never had been the sharpest blade in the burrow.

Looking up, he could see a dark forested bank stretching out on either side. Reaching it, however, was out of the question. He had never progressed beyond his bronze proficiency medallion in swimming so that, while he was admirably skilled at fashioning floats from pyjamas, swimming any distance in circumstances that required that his head stay above the water was sadly well beyond his capability. He tried paddling the barrel, first with his arms and then with his legs. But, since neither set of limbs even reached the water, let alone broke its surface, he achieved little more than a frenzied flapping of black robes and a near drowning.

So, as was his habit in times of crisis, Soregum instinctively reached for his pipeweed pouch. This was no easy operation and he almost rolled off his make-shift vessel on a number of occasions before the pouch was in his grasp. He cursed as he peered inside at its water-soaked contents. And it was not long before he had established that he had nothing edible on him either. His situation was dire.

A muffled rumble came from the region of his stomach. At first, Soregum paid no attention to it, assuming that it was only his body’s habitual response to the lack of food. Then he heard a second muffled rumble, only this time it sounded more like a ruffled mumble. With a start, which almost occasioned an impromptu and unwelcome bath, Soregum realised that the barrel was talking to him.

“Gemmfft mibbl ogglt obble thirrblss brrbbel,” mumbled the barrel.

“I’m sorry?” said Soregum, rapidly reassessing the import of his old Duffer’s words.

“Hbblp mibbl,” replied the barrel.

“Are you Entish?” asked Soregum in sudden wonder, recalling snatches of overheard conversations in the Dark Tower Block.

“Nggo, imbl Dwabblish,” declared the barrel.

“Oh, I see,” said Soregum, not really seeing at all, but hoping to silence the keg until his feet were on dry land and he could think more clearly.

At that moment, he heard a familiar whinny from somewhere over his right shoulder. Carefully craning his neck round, he saw his jet black yet unfeasibly cute little pony perched pertly on a green baize table top, her pretty fiery red eyes gleaming in the gloaming. Picturesque steam issued forth from Twinkle’s delightfully flaring nostrils as she daintily rocked back and forth on the erstwhile gaming table, carefully and determinedly guiding it towards him. He may not have been her ideal choice, but she nevertheless knew her obligations as the steed of a dark rider, however diminutive he might be.

Before long, he was sitting next to her on top of the Ham Steep pœkhãř table and together they manoeuvred it to shore, pushing the still grumbling barrel before them. Once on dry land, and with much effort, Soregum managed to hall the cask up onto the bank, whereupon the lid sprung off and a damp Dwarven head appeared, followed by an equally damp Dwarven body.

“About bloomin’ time too,” mumbled the ruffled Dwarf, as he climbed out of the barrel and attempted to wring the water out from his knotted red beard.

Soregum blinked in recognition.

“Why, its Dwain Hammerhand, isn’t it?” he exclaimed, immediately placing the Dwarf who had appeared on stage at the behest of Jéorri the Springer in the Wagon Park bar back in Soreham. “What on Muddled-Mirth were you doing in there?”

“Hiding wasn’t I?” muttered the sturdy Dwarf, shaking and smacking the side of his head in an effort to free the water from his ears. “I had … er … made the acquaintance of a rather friendly Elven lady back in Ham Steep, see. Only her husband turns up, doesn’t he? So, I hides myself in this here barrel and the next thing I know all Slangbad breaks loose and I’m being thrown this way and that with water gushing in on me. A most unedifying experience.”

Soregum and Twinkle exclaimed meaningful glances, both feeling that the compact Casanova's experience had been little more than he had deserved. A silence hung in the air, fidgeting and fussing in discomfort.

“A-n-y-w-a-y,” said the doughty Don Juan. “Must be off. Places to go. Women … um … people to see.” Then, winking at them lecherously, he added, “Better take this barrel with me. As a precaution, you understand. He he.”

And with that he was bouncing off down the path that skirted the forest, rolling the precautionary keg before him.

Watching him go, Soregum noticed a broken wooden pier a short distance along the lake. Leading Twinkle towards it, he immediately recognised the unmistakable signs of the passing of the Gallowship. In addition to the destruction caused to the pontoon and the inevitable sweet wrappers and po-ta-to crisp packets, he espied a curious pile of perfumed jars, tubes and bottles. Quite clearly, shieldmaidens had been in action here not a day since. There had been a struggle, but seemingly they had prevailed. Twinkle eyed the discarded remnants of the assault jealously, yearning for a make-over herself (although quite unnecessarily so, given that her delightful demeanour was seemingly impervious to anything which fate might throw at it).

A gentle knocking drew Soregum’s attention back to the splintered quay. There, he saw a wooden box bobbing about in the water amongst the flotsam and jetsam. His heart lifted as he read the words inscribed upon it.

“Lungrotten Leaf!” he exclaimed in joy.

So, having dried and replenished his pipeweed pouch, Soregum was soon in high spirits once more, and he and Twinkle were back on the trail of the Tally-ho-ship.
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