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Old 07-22-2003, 03:10 PM   #20
The Squatter of Amon Rdh
Spectre of Decay
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Earnur Etceteron, Lord of Dun Sbrin, Warden of the Sank Ports and Keeper of the Demented Stoat, awoke and greeted the beauteous roseate dawn.

'Uuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrgggghhh,' he croaked manfully. 'For Velour's sake turn off that ruddy light! Some of us are trying to die!'

Steeling himself against the pain, he opened one eye a fraction of an inch and winced. Before his mind's eye there were images of fire and brimstone, a huge dragon and a doomed city, which are all standard fare for a manly hero. What was not normal, however was the feeling of what could only be embarrassment that these visions aroused. Something very bad had happened, and his heroic senses told him that it might have had something to do with the empty bottle on which he had slept. He sat up, hoping in defiance of his senses that the top of his head was still attached, and his back cracked noisily, sending white-hot needles of pain up and down every nerve. He hadnt felt like this since hed been hit over the head with a quarterstaff in a border skirmish near Rudehour and his body was covered in inexplicable burns and abrasions. What horrors had been perpetrated on him while he slept?

As his fogged vision cleared, he became aware of various members of the Gallowship engaged in sharpening weapons, brushing horses and forging holy relics, a scene so redolent of the Quest of the Bow that for a moment he dared to hope that the apocalyptic images in his head were an undigested piece of cheese or some horrible narcotic fantasy; but his humble aspirations were dashed by the fragments of conversation that came to his ears.

'Hes still alive. You owe me a silver piece.'

'Has anyone else noticed? Theres probably enough in his system for a couple of bottles.'

'O Pimpi, my love: what rhymes with "booze" apart from "shoes"?'

'"Bruise", dear?'

'When the flames hit your eye that reach up to the sky, thats a bonfire'

'Four thousand years of work gone up in smoke! Ill kill them!'

Perhaps it had just been a nasty battle. Perhaps he couldnt remember burning down a national capital. No, even in this company that would be accounted a disaster: they must have run into some orcs, or meddled in the affairs of wizards or something. Then a shadow fell across him and a clear, musical voice drew fingernails across the blackboard of his soul.

'I thought you were giving up,' said Merisuwyniel disapprovingly, her nose wrinkling with sickening elegance.

'As of today I have,' he mumbled valiantly. 'What happened? Did you see the troll that sat on me?'

'You drank enough snake oil to drown a continent and then set fire to the city,' she snapped. 'We are in hiding from the people of Grundor, who do not know of our fellowship and therefore do not believe that it could have been an accident. We break camp in an hour, so I suggest that you pack.'

'Without delay,' promised Earnur, and went back to sleep.


Some hours later he was still trying to piece together the shards of his mind. For some reason he had abandoned his intention to stop drinking, and he suspected that some unscrupulous cad had pressed him to drink wood alcohol. He felt that he would not have to look very far to find the culprit, and indeed Chrysophylax was flying low above the company with the Khazad con-man perched on his back. Shaking his head carefully, Earnur vowed once again to remain sober, and decided that nothing could be better for that intention than to hear the delicate phrasings of Elven verse. He wheeled Pinkjin about and sought out Vogonw, who was composing an ode to the carbonised ruin of Minus Teeth.

'O Minus Teeth, that once was pretty,
Now you are a less pretty city.
By accident we burned you down,
And now you are shorter, blacker town.

What type of booze did Earnur drink
That made your white towers sink?
Was it even drink at all? I think
Not, because he fell beneath your walls.

Now far we go from our mistakes
That demand of us something, maybe rakes
Or other garden implement. Perhaps bent
Perhaps not. Woe is me for Minus Teeth

For some reason the woven staves had not worth in them to cheer him today. In fact for the first time he was noticing a new element in the poetry of his Workmudian companion, or rather the absence of something. It took him a few seconds to find the word, but it came to him with the last line of the lay: 'talent'.

'Hail Etceteron, lord of Stoats Deranged!'

Earnur grimaced in pain as the cheery greeting reverberated around his tormented cerebrum.

'Well met again, Sir Elf,' he forced himself to reply. 'What grave matters lead you to compose these weighty lines this day?' As he recovered he was remembering to put on his forgotten archaisms. "Dont leave home without them," his father had always said.

'It is a lament for the great Wight hope of Grundor,' replied the bootless bard. 'I translated it from the Quixotic while you were asleep.'

'It sounds better when I cant understand it,' muttered Pimpiowyn through a mouthful of oatcake. She spurred her mount ahead and left them to what passed for their conversation.

And so it was that the mighty Etceteron, prince of bunglers and Vogonw, pauper of bards conversed as they rode; and so Earnur learned of all that had befallen before Sethamirs Livery Stable and Travelling Barrel-Organ Repair Shoppe; and he wept bitterly, for Vogonw had yet more lays to sing him.

Last edited by The Squatter of Amon Rdh; 06-28-2004 at 09:00 AM.
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