Friday, November 06, 2009

Across World Bubbles - Pt 7

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

After what seemed an eternity, the black bag was ripped from Tasslehoff's head. He'd been trussed up and bound most cruelly, heaved and hauled by malicious hands, then force to lie in such an imprisoned state for hours upon a cold stone floor. Tasslehoff had nearly perished of boredom. Someone went through all his pouches without his helps, all the while asking him questions in a language who couldn't understand in the least.

For his part, he heaped upon their heads the blackest curses imaginabler, drawing deeply upon his vast repertoire of taunts, but they didn't understand a word he said, while the few insults he managed to sputter in his awkward pigeon Lankhmarese lacked the true power and creativity to produce the sort of results he desired. However, his shrill voice alone was enough to set the teeth of his captors on edged, so after the first hour they gagged him.

Now, he stood in an office, blinking in the light of a bank of black candles. The gag was cut from his mouth. Before him sat a man of ponderous girth and weighty jowls, who sucked gravy from his fingers as he considered the kender before him. His name was Dravis, and he was third sub-lieutenant in charge of riff-raff at the Thieves' Guild in Lankhmar. He'd never seen a kender before, but he had heard news of one, quite recently in fact. Tasslehoff would have been insulted to know he was riff-raff.

"Tell me again, Tasslehoff Burrfoot of Solace-on-Krynn," Dravis said in pigeon Lankhmarese. "What business have you with thouse two notorious freelancers, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser?"

"What do mean you?" Tas asked. "And how do from I'm where you know?"

"I know many things. It is my business to know them. I know, for example, that you carried upon your insignificant person a letter of introduction to those aforementioned scoundrels, penned by that sorcerous villain, Ninguable of the Seven Eyes. What exactly is your connection to him? Is the Grandmaster of Forgeries considering an assault upon the Guild?"

"Am I supposed to know how?" Tas asked. "Mouser the Gray Fafhrd and were going to home me find the way help, all is that!"

"Oh, come now. I think you know all too well. I heard about your little foray of freelance robbery from my Guild brothers in Ilthmar. From what hell did you crawl, you little thief, and what are your intentions here?"

"Thief!" Tasslehoff shrieked in his mother tongue. "Why you low-born, chicken-hearted, son of a goblin and a..."

"Aieeee!" Dravis screamed as he ducked under his desk. "Guards! The hell-spawned imp tries to cast his infernal spells upon me!" Four brawny thugs dashed into the room and snatched Tasslehoff up my his knees and elbows. "Take this monster to the roof and garotte him!"

Kicking, screaming, hurling curses and insults in a voice pitched to make dogs howl in agony, Trasslehoff was hauled down torch-lit passages and up narrow, steep stairs. He was still furious about being labeled a thief, and by a thief, no less! At the end of a long hall, the guards stopped, and one of them used a tall iron rod to push up a trap door in the ceiling. Another propped a ladder in the hole and a third climbed up on the roof while the fourth maintained his hold on the kender's topknot.

"Hurry up," said a muffled voice from above, so the guard began to climb, dragging Tasslehoff by his hair up the ladder. As he neared the top, a huge hand reached down, grasped Tas by the collar, and hauled him up. He was roughly deposited on his feet. Tas gasped at the giant figure towering over him, grimly silhouetted against the newly-risen gibbous moon.

"Ffrd!" he cried through his gag.

Fafhrd grinned as he kicked the trap door, smashing the guard across the head. They heard him tumble down the ladder with a great cry. The first guard who had gone up lay sprawled on the roof, his eyes rolled up in his head. Fafhrd quickly untied the giggling kender, ripping the ropes apart as easily as Caramon had ever done.

Suddenly, the trap door flew open again, shoved below by the iron rod. Swift as a bolt of lightning, Fafhrd snatched it from the guard's hands and smashed him in the teeth with it. He tossed the rod to Tas and jumped on top of the door to hold it down.

"See that tall chimney yonder," he said to Tas.

Tas looked and saw the one he indicated. "Yes, do I?" he said.

"You run that way as quick as you can, whilst I guard your retreat. Mouser's over there, and he'll cover us both with blasts of his sorcerous artillery.

"Thank you," Tas said as he gratefully shook the big Northerner's hand.

"My pleasure, little imp," Fafhrd answered. Two leaden missiles whistled agrily over their heads, and Fafhrd returned their fire with his long bow, even as the door beneath him began to thump and crack with the blows of many hammers.

A dagger-wielding thief crept from the shadows of a rooftop water tank. Perhaps he'd come up through some other hole, or perhaps he had been guarding another section of the roof. Tas swung the iron rod at his knees and was rewarded with a terrific roar of pain. Still gripping the rod, he ran toward the chimney where the Mouser waited. At the edge of the roof, another guard leapt into his path, but with a deft thrust of his pole he sent the poor fellow plummeting to the alley below. A clay sling bullet buzzed his topknot. He planted the pole at the roof's cornice and vaulted over the narrow gap, landing at a full run, blazing a trail in his magical boots across the next roof.

Read Part 8

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