Fantasy Fiction posted June 22, 2022 Chapters: 2 3 -4- 5... 


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Rozlyn gets the old gang back together

A chapter in the book Chasing Gnomes

Chasing Gnomes Ch.4 - Hexapussy

by Fleedleflump


PREVIOUSLY in Chasing Gnomes... [in the voice of Benchmark the Blacksmith]

Seems my old friend Rozlyn's found herself so deep in shit, she'll end up with a permanent tan. Of course, she'd never admit that to me, just like she won't confess she enjoyed walking 'round with two giant turtle habitats on her chest and a codpiece dancing about like she put a tail on backwards. My apprentice is fixing her armour, but I'm pretty sure she'll miss the old shape. Rumour has it, she tried to rob our local crime bosses, the Bass Brothers. of a prized possession. That's what's known in these parts as committing suicide - like walking into a tavern and announcing 'I'm the hardest fighter alive!' I hope she doesn't get killed too quickly - she still hasn't paid her tab.

[in the voice of Olaf the Barkeep]

Right now, she's sitting at my least dirty table, trying to drink without touching her tankard. Can't say I blame her - I'd want a drink in her shoes, and nobody knows what that taste is on the rims of all the tankards. Seems she's meeting her old crew, and that doesn't bode well for me, even if they can help her out of a tight spot. I'd best be preparing - when that lot gets together, a fight's never far away. I just hope they wait until I've turned a profit for the day!

AND NOW, in Chasing Gnomes...



------


The Dragon's Tail bustled with furtive activity, the air thrumming with the smell of spicy parsnips and the kind of language that makes mercenaries pause and say 'oh come on, that's a bit much!' I blanked it all out while I went through my options. Oh, what am I saying? I ran out of options about the same time I put my locksmith in my bra and threw him down a toilet pipe. I needed to make some major cash, do some heinous jobs for even more heinous taskmasters, or turn into a one-woman wrecking machine and kill everyone I owed money to.

It says something about my state of mind that the last option seemed the most appealing.

Meeting my old crew was a calculated risk. I'd not seen any of them since we agreed to disperse and for all I knew, they were doing better without me. Still, they'd all agreed to meet - at least, that's what the local commseer told me. Pennylast was full of swindlers and fakes but I'd been using Aerial for a long time and she seemed to be the genuine article. Commseers frequented most population centres and were hired to travel with the richer merchants. With luck and a following wind, they could provide both location and communications services by linking minds with other commseers. Aerial was a ragged, filthy resident of the alley behind Pennylast's town hall. She was nuttier than schizophrenic squirrel poo, but her messages usually got through.

It took me a moment to realise Little-John had joined me. If not for a few tufts of his dark hair sticking up above the lip across the table, he'd be completely invisible.

"Congratulations," I said, shoving the second beer across to him. "First to arrive gets a free pint - and it's the only one I'm buying today."

"Have you got that armour with you?" His voice came at me from under the table, which was very unnerving. I resisted the urge to conduct a conversation with my privates. "Only, I could do with a booster cushion."

I decided not to answer that, and instead helped him stack two benches, meaning he sat with his little feet dangling at about table top height, but it was better than the disembodied voice.

"So, who are we meeting?" he asked as I sat opposite his knees.

"Well, we've got Harry - the dwarf without a beard. He was our getaway carter and a menace to kneecaps with his axe. Then there's Terence, the muscles. Does what he's told - sometimes to a fault. And finally, there's Lindon. He's an elf, and our wizard, and talks so much I already want him to shut up."

Little-John's face scrunched up in thought. "I thought dwarves were born with beards, and all elves are quiet and thoughtful."

"And all mercenaries are men, right? And everyone treats women with respect? I never said we weren't misfits. Just remember to take everything Lindon says with a bucket of salt. He'll tell you he's bedded every woman in the realm, and, especially for an elf, he's got an enormous-"

"How do you do!" said a voice from right behind me.

I saw Little-John's mouth drop open in shock at the vision of elfness over my shoulder. "Lindon, I swear, it's been so long since I saw you, I can't remember your face, but I can feel your erection through the back of this solid chair. Sit down, you daft bugger - let's have a look at you."

He laughed and the sound brought a sense of home with it - not that I'd ever tell him that. Reversing a chair, he straddled it to sit between me and my gobbit friend. If I asked why, he'd tell me there was no choice but to sit with his legs apart and a good size gap to dangle his package through. So I didn't ask. Lindon might have been a stereotype elf if he didn't chase women (and by women, I mean anything with lips and a pulse), wear a nose stud and five dangly earrings, bathe regularly and swear like a sailor with his pubes caught in a clock mechanism ... Okay, so he's not a stereotype elf at all. He's skinny, wears the brightest colours known to trade, and is sometimes useful in a pickle.

He drew breath to unleash words but Elljay cut him off. "Why are you sitting on the chair backwards?"

I sighed, blanking out his inevitable reply, and turned to survey the common room. I didn't see any more companions, but instead caught sight of Olaf delivering a tray of parsnips and ale. The parsnips were all shaped bizarrely and sprinkled with spices. Olaf prided himself on growing the most ridiculous vegetables this side of the Unknown Ocean. If root veg had personalities, the tray he carried sported a motley collection of lunatics fit for any mad mercenary crew.

I turned back to the table as he arrived to dish out food and drink, and almost jumped out of my skin. The chair to my left had grown a head of curly ginger hair and a wrinkled forehead.

"I swear, Harry, you should not be able to sneak up on people when you wear boots made of solid iron."

The forehead grew wrinklier. "Och is tha' reet, lass? Ye know we dwarves can move freely. We has a natural aff ... affni ... connection with the land."

"And mountains have boobs," chimed in Lindon, "and gold is the lifeblood of the bedrock."

The wrinkled forehead developed a decidedly red hue. "Ye daft bugger! I barely draw breath and tha two o' ye are already taking tha piss. Are we here fer a plan or a piss taking contest?" He stood up on his chair so he could glare at us and everything went still (I swear - the tavern went silent and everything). He must have seen the looks on our faces. "What?"

"Our Harry grew up," I said.

Little-John looked between me and Lindon, his adorable face the picture definition of baffled.

"Well, shit on me," said Lindon.

Harry sported one of the biggest, hairiest, bushiest examples of man-beard I'd ever seen. "How did that happen?" I asked, pointing.

"Och," he said, burying fingers in his face fluff. "I stayed with Harry een Harry fer a wheel, and their wee lad Harry. Harry, their local witch, werked her wonders."

Some explanation may be required here.

There are many languages spoken across the lands - Elven, Dwarfish, Giant, Madman (that one comes with a slur and a tendency to hang out around the town well) - but most folk commit to speaking the 'Common' tongue. It's an awkward, inconsistent mish-mash of a language but at least we can almost communicate with it. Of course, any coming together of languages results in some anomalies. Dwarves, for example, have more than a hundred words for 'gold' and half again for 'beard.' It will give you an insight into their naming conventions when I tell you that, as a result - in common parlance - all Dwarves are called Harry.

"Congratulations!" I said. "Now, sit down before we get drowned in short ladies wanting to swing from it."

He chuckled and did as I asked, taking a generous slug from his ale. "What brings us here, lass? Other than beer and fine company, of course." He gestured at EllJay. "And who's this wee streak o' piss?"

Little-John sipped his beer and waved. "I make locks open for Miss Rozzy."

"You mean I'm not here just for my smile?" That was Lindon - you'll get used to him.

Apparently feeling as though he needed to prove something, Little-John chose that moment to pipe up with, "We're here about the ring-piece."

There was a brief silence while all the immediate retorts Lindon thought of throbbed unspoken in the air. He looked fit to burst with all the hilarious comebacks he'd thought of. Harry, now once again a forehead, grew wrinkly before sighing and standing up to re-join the conversation.

"He's talking about Hexapussy," I said, hands held up to try and head off the comments of my companions. "I almost had her for a client but she was snatched from my grasp. Since Terence hasn't seen fit to turn up, I might as well explain."

Lindon was turning the colour of an angry tomato. "Hexapussy? What, a woman with six ... And you ... Bloody hell!"

I felt the flush filling my face and gave him a good kick under the table. "No, Lindon, I haven't changed my profession or indulged in anything you're currently visualising. She's a piece of jewellery, as I'm sure you know from the legends. Hexapussy - the Dragon's Ring-Piece. A ruby surrounded by six emeralds, set in a studded gold band, said to have something to do with unlocking the Dragon Dance. She's worth more than this wretched town in its wretched entirety. I was commissioned to steal her and EllJay was helping."

"From who?" asked Harry, his face furrowed and serious.

"Well, that's the bit you won't like. She was being stored here by the Bass family for a few days until she could be taken north. I kind of annoyed one of the Bass boys - to be honest, I'm still not sure if it was Billy or Bariston - but we didn't get her. There's no way they'll keep her here now - the Bass's will have taken her north early and I need to get after him." I'd been gesturing but noticed my hand was shaking, so I grabbed a parsnip around the shaft and slid an end between my lips. In the corner of my vision, Lindon almost fainted. I extracted the vegetable with a loud sucking noise. "That's when I decided to call the old band back together. I need more than a gobbit and a sharp tongue for this job."

Harry's face was now so creased, he looked like a fleshy mountain range. "Sorry, lass, but I got te ask. For who?"

I closed my eyes briefly. "I have a few modest gambling debts or I'd never have taken this on ... It's for BJJJ - also known as The Bee Triple Jay. And Lindon, no - it's not a guy with three dotdotdots and I didn't dotdotdot him, okay?"

"What kind ee name is BJJJ?" said Harry, beard bristling.

"Billy-John Jingle-Jangles," whispered Little-John, taking a large slug from his beer. "He trades in untradeable goods and kills his enemies with perversion."

"Can I just clarify something?" said Lindon. "Does he kill those of his enemies who have perversions, kill them using a sword or somesuch he's named 'Perversion' or kill them by utilising the perversions themselves?"

Little-John looked straight into Lindon's face while he drank some more from his tankard, his expression the picture of seriousness despite swaying slightly. "Yes," he said.

"Soooo," grumbled Harry, fiddling idly with a three-pronged parsnip. "We need to get ourselves a wagon, chase down another wagon, and take the Dragon's Ringpiece from a guy who's either a psycho or a charming champion swordsman - possibly two of them."

I nodded. "That's about the long and short of it - shut up, Lindon."

"Well, I didne grow the beard fer nothing. By the dirt below, I'm in."

Little-John nodded at me from his vantage point, and I turned to the over-sexed elf. "Are you in, Lindon? I'll even let you make knob jokes without kicking you."

"I can't argue with that, fair Roz. I have only one request - can we start now?" He indicated a huge guy behind him on the next table. "I'll do anything to get away from Haddock-breath, here."

I sighed as the flesh mountain erupted from his chair. "Who you calling Haddock-breath?" he roared.

I tried to glare my companion into silence but it was too late. "Well you, obviously," he said, getting up and turning. "I didn't know Olaf's mother was even on the menu."

"Oy!" said a distant voice from the bar area.

The giant guy turned his gaze to me. "You better tell your friend flat-nose here to apologise, or I'm gonna tear him a new arsehole."

"Oh, please don't," I said, standing up with an elongated parsnip brandished in each hand. "He talks enough as it is."

"Besides," said Lindon, an offended expression crawling across his face, "I don't have a fl-"

A fist the size of my head slammed into the elf's face, sending him sprawling across our table like a comatose starfish. A furious cheer erupted across the common room and the air filled with profanity, tankards, and the dull thunks of fists striking faces. I saw Olaf grab his more expensive bottles from the shelves behind the bar and hunker down out of sight, unstopping one as he went. It was for the greater good, he'd claim later (I've heard the tale many times). The giant guy was moving towards me so I did what any sensible girl would - I waved two spicy parsnip nutters in his face. When he blinked and leaned his head back, I rammed one up each nostril and head-butted him.

"Exit strategy!" I roared, old instincts kicking into play.

Harry curled a fist in Lindon's hair and dragged the unconscious elf from the table. Seeing Little-John's confused, decidedly drunk expression, I leaned across the table, grabbed him by the shirt front, and hurled him on the floor. "No time for questions - crawl for the exit!" I threw myself down and started moving.

With our newly-bearded dwarf leading the way, we found a route between legs and cascades of beer and blood. I followed Lindon's feet and Little-John, swaying somewhat but getting the idea, followed me, the occasional small yelp coming from his frame.

"Are you okay, Elljay?" I shouted over my shoulder at one point.

"Yesh," piped up his voice. "Ish jush your outfit'sh a lil, li'le short and ... yesh, nevmind."

Our merry bunch of outlaws figured out many years ago that tavern brawls - fun as they were - represented far too large a risk when your income relies on your ability to move and - occasionally - fight. With a dwarf in the team and one of us usually unconscious (it's a fair bet we've had a hand in starting any given situation), there was only one sensible exit route - go low. Adding a gobbit to the team only made it more sensible. Terence - our bulky barbarian warrior - never joined in, but when you're born with the constitution of a rock pillar, brawls aren't so dangerous.

I couldn't help noticing Harry seemed to be picking his route so as to cause as many knocks and incidental stains on his elven passenger as possible. I dodged a blood-stained glove as it squelched to the floor and smiled as my gobbit companion yelped again behind me - either due to debris or another accidental flash of my rear. The light of the exit loomed ahead.

Damn, it felt good to be back!





I hope you enjoyed the read.

UK English - Fantasy Comedy

CHARACTERS

Rozlyn - Mercenary, human, currently down on her luck, taking any job to pay the bills. She's telling us the story, so don't be alarmed if she occasionally talks to you!

Little-John (LJ) - Gobbit (the tragic lovechild of a gnome and a hobbit) - skinny and cute, particularly small. He's a master lockpick and only looks like a child.

Lindon - Elf, wizard (allegedly) - oversexed and generally very pleased with himself.

Harry - Dwarf, recently bearded, and Rozlyn's oldest friend.

Benchmark - the only blacksmith in Pennylast. Has a habit of allowing his teenage apprentice to make armour and may or may not be a swindler.

Olaf - Proprietor of The Dragon's Tale tavern - owner of the dirtiest apron found outside a pig's whorehouse, and purveyor of weird parsnips.

Bariston / Billy Bass - Charming young crime boss brothers, hard to tell apart - one famously charming, the other famously psychotic ... or is that both of them...?
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