Gim Gim -- Chapter Two

From: ANDOVER@delphi.com
Date: Mon 19 May 1997 - 20:55:59 EEST


Well, if Deville is back, can Gim Gim be far behind? Chapter Two begins
by bringing a background character from Chapter One into the forefront . .
Jim Chapin

It's Not Easy Being Grim: Chapter Two -- Part I -- Enostar's Bad Dream

As the great tentacles rose out of the water, the small bound, blindfolded and
gagged creature fell into them, uttering horrid gurgling noises through the
cloth over his mouth.

In the distance, the horrid screaming continued. In the back of his throat, as
far as he could taste anything through the horrible odors, Enostar tasted bile.

As the tentacles reached for HIM, Enostar tried to scream and run away, only to
find himself unable to move. The tentacles wrapped around him . . .

And he woke up, to find himself wrapped in his blanket. The morning sun streamed
in through the cracks in the wooden hovel in which he lay. The slatternly woman
beside him kicked him in disgust. "You is screaming in you sleep agin, stupid."
Enostar mumbled, turned over, and pretended to sleep again.
In fact, as so often happened these days, he could not stop thinking and most
certainly could not sleep.

He had never thought much about his world until the dreams had come upon him.
Enostar, the name he went by, was a tribute to his old master, known as the Rat,
who had fled Pavis many years earlier. After his mother's death, he could find
no way to live but to steal. His life as a petty thief had nearly bought death
to him at an early age. But Rat had saved him from being caught, made him an
aspiring member of the Hole Lords gang, and taught him his first skills, making
it possible for him to eke a living by picking pockets, informing, and acting as
a lookout for second-story jobs. When Rat had left so abruptly, he had cried
for days. He would have thought himself to be tougher than that until last
month. Now he wasn't so sure.

As an extremely junior member of the Hole Lords, he had graduated to doing the
jobs himself. Climbing was his special talent, and it was the climbing that had
bought him to the attention of the Black Fangs.

Raised in Badside, he had never taken seriously the claims of his mother that he
was descended from the founder Dorasor. His mother had taken the claims
seriously enough to hide out in Badside when the Lunars came. More important
to him was the fact that his descent (allegedly on the other side) had proved
enough for him to gain membership in the Brotherhood of Black Fang, the elite
of the criminal gangs of Pavis. When the shaman called forth the spirit of Black
Fang himself, the spirit had approved his membership in the Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood claimed to be nearly 200 years old, formed two centuries after
the troll invasion, when a human shaman met Black Fang on the spirit plane.
Black Fang was a legendary bandit, three centuries in the past, who had raided
everyone inside the Rubble irrespective of race. Black Fang's spirit seemed to
serve some creature of the Past, itself neither a mortal nor a Power, and
somehow, gave rune magic to its worshippers.

The Black Fang members, of course, continued to use him for second-story jobs,
but it was the shaman himself who had noticed his voice, and sent him on for
training with Chukel the Clever, more widely known as Chukan Chanteyman.
Ironically, unlike most thief students of Chukel, he was more interested in the
skills of music than those of the thief. From Chukan, a native Pelorian, he
also learned how to sing songs that would appeal to the Lunars, the richest
audience in Pavis.

Unfortunately, the old shaman had been replaced, suddenly, by a newer and
crueler master associated with the Lunars. At first, this had made no
difference in Enostar's life. He didn't do much stealing any more -- rather he
spent his time singing in Lunar haunts, gaining information and passing it on to
others who put it to actual use.

But his climbing skills were notorious, and he was still used when special
skills were required. It had been this ability that had bought him to a turning
point in his life -- his trip to the Devil's Playground. He had never thought
of Chaos much before -- he had known only that "Chaos was bad," and that the
Lunar Empire somehow used the mind-blasting powers of Chaos itself.

But this had been only theory, he now realized -- for he had never seen Chaos
before. He could not forget the smells and the screams, and the horrible things
he had seen. He was sick, sick in some deep way that he could not shake.

Since that night, he had staggered through his days, unable to eat, barely able
to sleep, and not interested in women at all. The woman he had been sleeping
with at the time had abandoned him in disgust, and he was with Gorda, his
present companion, only because she tolerated him, having known nothing better
in her dreary life.

Ironically, his new vision, horrible as it was, had not hurt his musical
performances. It had made them better. When he tried to relieve himself of the
bile he felt in his throat, the Lunar soldiers liked him better. He could not
tell whether he was expressing the fears that they themselves had of the Chaos
hidden beneath the facade of their rule, or whether he was expressing the Chaos
that they themselves, servants of Chaos, had within. Maybe some of both. They
called him "Enostar Bad Dream" now, and it seemed that the name was some kind of
compliment.

He had been surprised that his service to the new cult master had not bought him
higher status or greater opportunities from that strange masked figure. Or at
least, not until last night -- for yesterday he had been called in by the Master
himself -- and told of a great opportunity. Tonight, Raus house, the Pavis
mansion of a Lunar lord who lived in a fort down the River, would be unguarded.
All the servants there would be in a bash at the Sable Inn. Enostar knew of the
affair, of course, but he had not known of the opportunity it would present.

The secretive shaman of the cult had murmured that the job required only a
street lookout and an expert cat burglar. Aside from the share that normally
went to the boss of a thief ring, the Master expected the share that would go to
the inside contact on a job. But what was left would be more than enough for
Enostar -- at least a thousand Lunars!

Maybe using his old skill tonight would wipe out his new memories. Surely
nothing could be worse than his present routine -- which consisted of nights
singing horrible songs to Lunars, and days shivering on this pallet in a state
half-way between sleeping and waking. Gorda was certainly skilled enough to act
as his lookout, and maybe he would make enough money tonight that he could flee
Pavis. He could no longer bear the place. It reminded him of an old joke from
his childhood -- "what is worse than a worm in an apple?" "Half a worm in half
an apple." Whenever he looked at the ground here, all he could think of was
what lay beneath it. Maybe there was some place -- any place -- where such
things did not lie beneath the skin of the apple.

- -- to be continued --

------------------------------

End of Glorantha Digest V4 #412
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