“Smugglin’? Yer a bit young fer that Jace. Maybe leave it a bit, eh?”
“Naw, it’ll be fun!”
“Fun? Wot ‘d yer mean fun?”
“You know – like in your stories.”
“… right. Jace, I told yer sum stories when yer wos younger, yer gotta understand – I cut a lot ‘o stuff out. Sum stuff isn’t really suitable for bedtime stories fer kids. If yer likes stories, I’ll tell yer about the necromancer under the university. Yer a bit old fer stories, but maybe not fer this one.”
There wos an unusual number of bodies in the river than month. Some of the bodies floating, a few of ’em sunk ter the bottom. It wos the start of the stone war, although we didn’t know that at the time. It was just a few weeks before all them new and surprisingly lifelike stachoos began appearing on the street an no-one knew where they was coming from. Or at least – no one was sayin’. They dredged the river after the war – cleared up a few mysteries abaht were people ‘ad been disappearing to.
I ‘ad done a bit of dockwork meself just previous – met my dad fer the first time eva, ‘e wos a ship captain. I’ve told yer abaht ‘im, but this story isn’t abaht that.
At the time, ‘arf of us wos in the lock-up due to a certain misunderstanding wiv the orforities, Kruz ‘ad dissapeared and no-one knew where, and we gets a call from “the copper cauldron” wiv a job.
We ‘eads down ter smalltown. We stuck out a bit, yer know. Gnomes an ‘arflings all over. There wos a bit of bovver outside the place we wos going to – sum golblins wos trying ter disrupt a stall outside. I remember because I met a certain attractive and accomodating young lady ‘o wos doing security. I’ll tell yer, Jace – sum of us wiv a bit of orc is a bit ashamed of it and wants ter do ‘umans or elfs, but if yer want sum advice, yer wants a woman wot isn’t going ter break when yer do ‘er. ‘Er name wos Mishka, an she gave as good as she got. ‘Appy times.
But he got lucky anyway. 2nd base, but half-orc 2nd base.
She runs off the Goblins – didn’t need nah ‘elp from me – and after a bit of a chat wiv ‘er I ‘eads inside. Everyone else is already ‘eading off danh one ov the passeges, and I catches up. Funny – it looked like a real plain passege ter me, but our dwarf ‘ad is eyes bugging out ov ‘is head, makin remarks abaht the stonework in dwarvish. I suppose it wos quality – but I couldn’t tell the difference.
Anyways, we gets ter a door and inside meets the “stout dwarf”. ‘E ad abaht four archers ‘idden n the room, bows drawn – important geezer, although we didn’t know just how important at the time. ‘E wos expecting ter see Rob, but Mandor told ‘im she wos Rob’s daughter, and ‘e seemed ter swallow it. They negotiated the job. I stuck me oar in at the end, an’ I shouldn’t ‘ave. I fink I offended ‘im.
Anyway. Someone stole some stuff – actually no, someone ad temporarily relocated some stuff, but the copper cauldron – no, ‘ang on. It wasn’t cauldron, it wos accordion. No: it wos Concordion. That’s right: I fort it wos accordion – I fort it wos some pub we wos going to. I should tel yer Jace, if ever yer meets someone wiv gold chains and shit wot ‘ave got one copper link, be on yer best behavior. This dwarf had a single copper earring, and that wos ‘is little sign.
So – someone ‘ad temporarily some inter the posession of some stuff, an the accordion wos very concerned that they might accidentally damage or permanently mislay the stuff, an could we please go get it so they could ‘ave it fer safekeeping. The person in question wos in the catecombs under the University.
Now Jace, I fink I ‘ave mentioned before that I fucking ‘ate catecombs, cos they is usually full of dead fings and I fucking ‘ate dead fings wot move abaht. But, that wos the job. Ter cut a long story short, we avoided a riot in the old city and got her the catacombs under the university, and we found the bloke wiv the items.
Well, ‘e ad a cage full of goals or zombies, or summit, but instead of normal undead they was pink like freshly ‘ealed flesh. An’ there wos anuvver cage wot ‘ad some ‘umans innit, an they was all emaciated an starving an cuvvered in filf, an the started calling to us few ‘elp, an there was this big ‘arf zombie ‘arf worforged fing, and it ‘ad for of a human face stitch into it, an it looks at us an says – real weak-like – “‘elp me!”. ‘An the geezer orders it to attack us, an it does.
So I goes for the geezer, first ‘cos I figure I can take ‘im down and maybe this big fing will stop, and also because I fink it’s best for the blokes wearing armour to take the ‘its from the big fing. And a couple of us flank the geezer and I start stabbin’ ‘im, and he has this shape on ‘is ‘ead, like a lump under the skin of ‘is forehead, and I cuts it open ‘an there is sumthing metal underit.
And the ‘humans in the cage are calling few ‘elp, ‘an the zombies are calling “brains!” and the big thing is fighting and breathing fire, or summit, and the geezer is ‘urt real bad and ‘e starts clawing at the metal onnis ‘ead an’ pulling it off, an it’s like a circlet or a crown under ‘is scalp and bits of skin are coming offofim and I figure that this crown controls the big fing so I gets ‘I’m on the ground and braces myself and just rips it all the way off an ‘es screaming like fuck an the crown starts talking to me, telling me to put in on. But I stuffs it inter a bag. But the big fing is still going so I elps wiv that, an eventually it drops to one knee an asked to be killed, all quiet-like, so one of us does.
Then we stab the dead fings in the cage and lets out the umans, ‘oo ‘ad to be pretty much carried out of there. And the geezer turns out to be arf war forged and arf flesh imself. Fucked if I know wot ‘e wos up to.
We swung by Biggles before we took the gear back ter small town. I showed Biggles the crown and it wos sorta a warforged fing, but ‘e didn’t want naffing ter do wiv it. Told me her get it out of ‘is shop – real upset like. Maybe it tried talking to ‘I’m like it talked ter me. I fink maybe it turns yer kind of warforged if yer wear it, because I gave it ter our warforged bloke and it didn’t ‘urt ‘I’m as I could see.
The stout dwarf only wants these dragonshards, which must ave been pretty special because we got a fair bit of uvver loot wot ‘e wont interested in.
And that wos it. The nightmares wot settled down after a couple of weeks. It was real ‘horrifying, Jace. You go do yer work, an maybe yer are old enough few the dodgy stuff and the adventurin’. But yer gotta realise: I ‘ardly ever told you kids the ‘arf of it.