A different Humakt story - PC's this time.

From: Erik Sieurin (BV9521@utb.hb.se)
Date: Wed 01 May 1996 - 18:34:13 EEST


                  KEEP YOUR HEAD ABOVE THE WATER
Richard's leg ached. This wasn't that strange, considering how it was
healing from the crushing blow he gained from a pissed-off
Zorakzorani, as usually without any magic, and with the not-so-very
painless chirurgery of the temple physicker. That didn't stop Richard
from swearing about it and being in a very foul mood.

They were up to it to their necks. He wasn't that worried about the
bunch of people he knew wanted to kill him after the latest debacle
during the sandstorm at the Obscene Hyena. He was far more worried
about the people who probably wanted to kill him just as badly that
he DID'NT know about. Say whatever you wanted about them undead-
screwing Zorakzorani darkmen monsters, but at least they weren't
subtle about it. Richard absolutely HATED to have to plan and scheme,
it was below his dignity, but since he left home for Pavis, fleeing
the destruction of Boldhome, he had to do so at every turn. People
who afterwards wondered how it came that Richard trusted the advice
of Harold, an obvious fool, should remember Richard's tendency to
grab at any plan proposed if it was already finished so that he
wouldn't have to think about it.

- -Well, Richard grumbled to the dwarf opposite him, when can you have
the damned thing ready?
The dwarf peered through his strange goggles.
- -Damned? Is there a curse on this piece of protective equipment? If
I'll have to involve the Silver Department in this, I'll have to
increase the price.
Richard sighed deeply.
- -It's just a figure of speech, Goggles. A human habit. The only magic
in that byrnie is your dwarven armoring skill, I'll give my word on
it.
- -Oh. I THINK I understand. Quaint custom, but pretty inefficient. In
that case, we'll have it fixed next Freezeday. Cannot get the proper
materials until then, I'm afraid.
- -Nevermind. I'll get by and pick it up. Where did my companion go?
- -Oh. Mr Harold seems to have slipped by into some other chamber. He is
probably over at the Coppers, as usual.
Richard grunted as a farewell and stomped away to the place where
various useless gadgets were sold at exorbitant prices. It was
Harold's favorite. Fortuneately, Harold was already finished.
He dragged the burly man away, out in the sunlight where things
smelled alive.

- -Just look at it walking! Harold said excitedly and pointed to the
copper bug-like thingamajig that scuttled across the street.
- -I see, Richard said. I assume it does nothing USEFUL?
Harold looked up, offended.
- -I have already figured out several things it could do. Like carry a
man, for instance.
- -Damned SMALL man, I'd say.
- -Not now, but when I've figgered out how it works and built a
humongously BIGGER one! Then I'll ride this monster into battle!
Richard looked to find a way out of this embarrasing scene, and to
his relief there was one, in the form of one of the urchins from the
refugee camp over in Badside. The dirty little bugger was waving a
piece of paper and gesturing to him. He - or was it a she? -
clambered his way through the crowd (who had gathered to look at a
grown man in full armor play with a wind-up toy), screaming:
- -I've gotta letter for Mr Crippler! I've gotta letter for Mr
Crippler.
- -YEAH, Harold shouted, GIVE THE KID SOME ROOM!
That did work - most people suddenly realized who these people were
and stepped back a bit.
Richard took the letter and tossed the kid a clack - one of his last,
as always. He hated this letter thing as well. Why couldn't people
SPEAK to each other as they did at home? He was a lousy reader, and
had to read out loud. As he didn't wish any company, he retreated
into a corner while the crowd partly dissolved. Only the Sartar-
descended street kids remained, curious as always.

- -What does it say? Harold wondered.
- -"I ha-ve find-ed a stranch-er who says he has seen the man you arr
lock-ing for. We arr att Gim-piss awai-ting you. With Honn-or, Inn-
golf full stop P S, bring munn-y".
- -WHAT money? Harold wailed. Do we have to enter the Rubble again?
- -And WHAT man? Richard grumbled. I've given word to the boys at the
temple and them kids out in Badside that we are looking for half a
dozen guys. Could be any of them. Anyway, lets move. And put that
damned toy away.

Gimpy's was empty, except for a guy who seemed to be a member of the
watch - whatever he was doing here - their young admirer Ingolf, a
short but burly man wearing outlandish armor, and two surly men in
sack-cloth-like clothing. All were staring at their drinks, except
the armored fellow, who was talking aloud to nobody in particular in
very broken Pavic. Ingolf looked up as they entered, and so did Mr
Armor.
- -Thank the Sword you're here, Ingolf sighed.
- -Ah, de great Crippled, he ho wants to ke-now, Mr Armor roared. Do
you haff klirr-klirr for my bill?
- -Klirr-klirr? said Harold
- -I was getting nervous, Ingold continued.
- -For denn I can tell you were dat gebirrah warlock is, Mr Armor
continued, enthusiatically waving his arms.
- -And you want what? the publican asked Richard.
- -What's klirr-klirr? Harold wondered suspiciously.
- -EVERYBODY _SHUT_ _UP_!!!! Richard roared.
Silence reigned. Mr Armor burped.
- -Thanks. The cheapest you've got. Ingolf, explain slowly and use
short words. Sir, they call med The Crippler and nothing
else. You'd better continue to keep your face clammed or there won't
be any klirr-klirr in sight.
- -Klirr-klirr? asked Harold.
- -Money, you mulehead!

- -So if I understand it correctly, this .... Yssak? ..... knows where
a man fitting the descripton of the guy who sucked than Moon-demon at
us lives?
- -Fitting as a glove.
- -And he will tell us if we pay his debts, so he can regain his horse
and weapons from the guy who confiscated them? Nothing else?
- -The guy has heard you fight the Lunars. He is from somewhere west
which has been invaded just like Sartar, and hates the Lunars. You
gutting one of their priests will, if I got his weird accent right,
give him.... eh... a hard-on.
- -Right. Harold, what's your amount of silver currently?
- -Not so high, I think. But we still have those gold bars, ya' know -
maybe the guy at the Silk and Plume will take them?
Richard sighed.
- -There goes shields and saexes for many men, but OK.

The proprietor mumbled something about damned Sartar refugees who
want part of the public bread without paying taxes when they have
their pockets filled with gold, but accepted the payment. Richard
understood why Yssak had wanted his horse - it was a large charger
worth half a thane's land, and with barding too. Yssak was now
happily riding along on it, singing some unintelligble song from his
homeland. The two badly-dressed men turned out to be his
manservants/slaves - Richard never got it correctly - and were now
carrying a large baggage that had also been released by paying the
hefty bill.
- -I say we storm the damn thing, was Harold's enthusiastic plan. We
surprise him - that's how to deal with sorcerorrs - we just RUSH in
and kill everyone that resists - though it would be good to keep that
black-and-white dressed guy slightly alive, so we can question him.
- -But it's a boat, Richard said dubiously. I've never heard about
anyone storming a boat.
- -Look, Harold continued, yo don't know anything about boat warring,
OK? How do you otherwise attack a boat - ambush it?
- -Boats turn over if you rock them, Richard muttered, whose complete
experience of things floating on water was fishing on the miller's
dam from a coracle.
- -But its a BIG boat, right? Yssak said there was even a HOUSE on it -
well, a small house at least. I say we storm it - with a BATTERING
RAM! We smash down his damn boat-house - whoever heard of such a
thing its probably CHAOTIC - right on top of his head, whack!

Harold had stopped in the middle of his rant. He was studying a large
log that served as a bench for one of the houses they just passed.
Richard looked as if he didn't think it was very good idea.
- -I don't think.... he began but was rudely interrupted by Harold.
- -Just LOOK at that thing - best battering ram I ever saw! And just
when we NEEDED one! I know - its that rivergod, whatshisname! The
newts - they like us, you know - we have done them favors, and now
Fela Zol or whatever his name wanted to thank us with this big, nice
battering ram.
He began to stroke the large log, which when you thought of it was
very batteryrammish. Ingolf looked confused and Richard was still not
sure.
- -Come on, cousin, Harold enthused. We charge up with the cool
strength of Valind, all of us, and then we can crush dwarven forts
with this. Are you afraid, or what?
That did it, as always. Richard had run away, once, and that was from
the Bat, which didn't count. His young cousin had much less of a
valour record.
- -Nosense, he snarled. I'll follow up this madcap scheme of yours.
He turned to Yssak, who has stopped his horse and was staring at them.
- -Hey, can you get your servants or whatever to help us carry this
thing.
Yssak laughed.
- -Sure. You crush boat with it? Just around corner is steep slope,
beyond that lies de boat of de gebirrah warlock.
- -Good. Then they just have to carry it a couple of hundred yards.

They were standing at the top of the hill. Below them was the
slope, though the mud huts and bigger wooden buildings of the River
People blocked the view of the boat down below. The three warriors
stopped and chanted their prayers - Harold was longest at it as
usual, while Richard just let loose the cool strength of Valind and
almost without thinking whetted his sword with his blood to make it
thirst for more. Then the three of them grabbed the log and felt the
slow build-up of expectation and excitment of coming battle in their
chests and arms.
- -You ready? Richard asked.
- -When you are! Harold answered.
- -For Glory unto Death! Ingolf followed, cheeks glowing red.
- -Whopee! Yssak added, watching from his horse. Hate, hate, mutilate,
crush, crush kill!
- -Hue, Harold said, seems that chant's universal.
- -Let's go! Richard snapped, and off they went, down the slope, round
the corner, picking up velocity and striking up dust.
Like a Rhinorider on hazia they rumbled down the hill, and now they
began to see their target - a man was standing on the foredeck of a
raft made from reeds...

- -REED BOAT! YOU HAVE MADE ME STORM A FREAKING REED BOAT! Richard
shouted.
- -STOPSTOPSTOOOOPP! Ingolf wailed.
- -NONONO WE'LL BE CRUUUUUSHED! Harold answered.
So down they rumbled, appearantly succeeding in their purpose - the
small figure on the foredeck DEFINITELY seemed surprised.......

TO BE CONTINUED.....

Erik Sieurin

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