Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hey, I just wanted to share the prologue I wrote for our group's first session of our new Gremlin campaign, leading into The Hand That Feeds as a starting point for our campaign. I've tried lots of different things before, this time I thought a short story might work out well, though some bits were easier than others considering the details my players gave me first:

Quote

              Zoroida’s wizened left hand hovered over the deck of cards she had laid on the filthy table cloth before her. Usually she did not hesitate when reading the strands of fate like this, but these outcomes were not what she wanted, not what she had expected; for a woman as old as she, and as capable of following and manipulating the strands of wyrd that guided all through their lives, it was very unusual for her to be both frightened and surprised by the results of a divining. She finally steeled her nerves and wrapped three dirt encrusted nails around the battered and worn card, lifting it into the air as one of her many toads hopped along the far side of the circular table.

              She placed it down in the final position, flipping it over, her eyes not daring to look at the image on the face of the card. For a few moments she watched one of her many puppets making its way gingerly across the floor towards the strange fort that they had built, then she tore her gaze away, glancing down at the final card. This one was not a surprise, the one-handed, she had been fairly certain as the other cards came out that this would be the final card in the reading, at least some of the plans she had laid in motion years ago were going the way she had intended. She sat backwards on the waldgeist-wood chair, feeling the creaking joints move under her own creaking bones: the outcast; the creation; the hungry; the swine; the hag; the predator and finally the one-handed.

              Giving herself another moment, Zoroida considered whether she had misinterpreted the cards, could it be anything other than those four? The strands were clear, they were going to present her with a problem and she had just one way to deal with them. It pained her, each had had a reading from her not so long ago, and each had shown promise to her. Sadly, the mysteries of fate seemed to be twisting what she knew and forcing her down one pathway- she would have to trick the leader of their village, lure him into the swamplands and ensure that he met his fate- the one-handed would soon know the truth of that foretelling.

              Her long-nailed hands flickered over the cards once more, fingering the edges pensively as she thought back to her first meetings with each and considering the last meeting with them that would soon come. It wasn’t often that she became maudlin, and yet this was one of those moments, she had had high hopes for each and yet those readings would need to come to a swift ending.

 

*****

 

              Lemming stumbled forwards, past the willow branches, throwing them away in a fearful, fretful motion. He took a moment, breathed deeply and realised that these were not the grasping fingers of his family, nor the biting teeth of a gator. He was still soaking wet from his last escape from the Pickett territory gators that he had only just escaped in his final bid for freedom, finally he was away from them, it seemed that he had escaped those bastards at last!

              He drew another breath, something had caught his attention a moment ago, and it wasn’t the sulphurous stench from one of the pigs in his home village, in fact, it seemed to be another sulphurous stench- one that he knew well and loved, boom powder! He pushed forwards, through more willow branches, through fronds of reeds and out into the clearing from where he smelled his passion. The sounds of voices, shouting and the squeals of pigs soon reached his ears and he struggled through the last few feet of stagnant, weed-filled water to reach the grove in the swampland that formed what appeared to be one of the many swamp markets that dotted the borders between the lands of the different families.

Had he come that far already? Lemming looked for any signs of the families that ran this particular gathering place- he knew exactly what sort of tells and signs to look for and his eyes eagerly searched them out, his months spent reading the treatises on politics and civil governance- The Guild, Mommy, Daddy and Me- had given him a keen understanding of the ways in which civilised folk such as the gremlins comported themselves. There were certainly plenty of boomsticks around, that told him little, but the many smaller bullet chuckers did clue him into this being a family closer to the human lands, judging by the state of the weaponry, perhaps the LaCroix with their unnatural love for that one family of gunslingers who roamed the wilds slaying the Neverborn. The others had far too many metal bits on them to simply be wearing high-falutin' jewellery, in fact, they seemed to be partially constructed from the stuff! That told him these must be the accursed LeBlancs, bearers of the strange and ancient machines of The Red Cage.

That seemed to settle it, he at least knew where he was now, all he had to do was settle in and get himself some food and ‘shine so that he could finally relax from all the tormets his family had put him under. He gave himself a quick sniff, his last wash had been exceptionally recent, perhaps as little as three moons ago, but the stink of the gators lingered around him, he would need something to rid himself of it. He saw a small-un staggering around, carrying a huge bottle of ‘shine and called the boy over. “You there, boy!” he called, gesturing with a shiny piece of metal he had managed to steal away when he fled.

“Me sir?” the boy asked, straightening the dress he wore and adjusting his  two pigtails as he lugged over the bottle of ‘shine. “What can I do fer yer sir. New to these parts?” he asked in his high-pitched voice.

“’Shine, I want to buy two cups. One fer drinkin’ the other fer washin’.” Lemming replied almost immediately. The boy nodded as if this were the expected request and fumbled for two of the wooden cups he had in his handbag, “That’ll be half a bi-” the boy began, Lemming was having none of it, he knew how to haggle, and he would not be taken for a ride by this upstart boy in his flowing floral dress, pig-tails and gator (shudder) leather handbag. He immediately interrupted, “I’ll give you four bits a cup and not a bit more!” he shouted, thrusting eight small scraps of metal towards the boy. He smiled sweetly, placed two in a bag around his neck and the others he stuffed into his ample bosom.

The boy handed Lemming the two cups, one he downed immediately, feeling the warming kick at the back of his throat. The other he poured straight over his head, rubbing it into his flesh to remove the gator smell. The he set to moving into the bustling market, pushing his way past stalls and throngs of kin haggling over the smallest of purchases, and, no doubt, paying far too much without Lemming’s skill and understanding of the ways of business. He made his way past several tree-stump stalls until he reached one that seemed to be made out of the front of a bayou cottage, a small table was strewn with boomsticks of all designs and makes as well as shells and the glorious explosive powder that had drawn Lemming in the first place. He began to examine each of the firearms, keeping as neutral a face as he could when he picked up each blessed weapon, trying to hide the leering smile that burst across his face every time he touched one of the weapons- a good businesskin knew how to keep prices down through masked delight.

He felt and heard her before she actually moved into his view, a shiver ran down his spine as three toads croaked nearby and Lemming knew that he was in the presence of someone of great power and big-hattiness. A gnarled wyrdwood stick was placed before him, blocking his path further along the table to look at the beautiful weapons. A gnarled hand reach before him, long nails nearly scratching his skin as a human who appeared to be made mostly of baggy pale cloth stepped into his view. “Ahhh... the fates do bring me to an interesting meeting, already I feel their work upon you.” she said, reaching the free hand into the folds of her voluminous rags and drawing out a battered set of cards to lay upon a hastily cleared spot on the table.

“You, my friend,” she continued, pointing at Lemming, “have a greater destiny coming to you. Do you wish to know it?” she asked, smiling a crooked, three-toothed grin as she laid her free hand upon the deck of cards. “Beat me in a game of chance and I shall reveal it to you.” she added, smiling at Lemming once more. He knew that he could beat her, he had studied all of the writings on gambling and games of chance whilst he hid from his family, he couldn’t begin to lose! Lemming nodded eagerly, knowing that he could take this foolish human for a ride. She gestured at the deck, instructing him in a strange game of drawing cards and laying them out, crossing one over another and forming a line, then she instructed him to flip each over in turn, her face remaining impassive.

When Lemming was done, she shook her head, “Never have I been so resoundingly beaten young one. Well done, now, let me divine your fate.” she said a chuckle resting at the back of her throat, she must be pretty mad at Lemming by that point! She placed a chappy finger upon each card and then began to speak, almost in a rhythmic and controlled manner, “If you rise above the noise and confusion, the echoes of lightning will not thunder but the words of an elder will point to a better way. The more you change, the less you feel and the monster you see will distract you from the true threat.” the words seemed to echo in Lemming’s head for hours, meaning everything and nothing to him. He was brought out of his reverie suddenly as a large and imposing gremlin, wearing a large stovepipe hat and some form of coat pushed his way through to the table.

“You there, boy, out of my way, don’t yer know the great boss Chubbs LaCroix when ye’ see ‘im!” he shouted, shoving Lemming to one side, the woman strangely absent as he was slammed into the table. “Wait... don’ I know ye’? Ye look familiar, like... like me when I were young! My son! My son! Where have ye’ been all these years?” the big hat said enfolding Lemming in what might have been a hug. He clasped Lemming to him for a moment longer then stepped back to look at him more fully, “How ah’ve missed ye’ me boy!” he breathed, before turning his attention to the stallholder.

“Me boomer, where is it?” he demanded of the terrified looking kin stood trying to peddle their wares. They stumbled for a second, then fumbled under the table and pulled out an impressive looking piece. “Thas’ it! Well done, yer’ gonna’ keep yer’ head today! No slop haulin’ fer’ ye’!” Chubbs boomed at them, before once more turning his attention to Lemming, who must have been drooling at the sight, “Me boy, he don’ have a boomstick worthy of his status. Gimme one, that one!” he shouted, pointing at the one nearest to where Lemming was stood- an impressive piece, something that he truly could use to show his family how he truly felt.

The kin behind the table handed him the firearm gingerly, shaking as he did so. Chubbs threw some scrip at him, then clasped Lemming round the shoulders and started to lead him away. “Now, come me’ boy, le’s talk about where ye’ve been all these years and how we’re gonna’ make up fer’ this massive oversight. And, of cours’ how we’re gonna’ get our revenge on those damned Joneses, its all their fault me ‘n’ yer’ ma’ never stayed close!”

 

*****

 

Wait... wait... yuir leavin’ me behind!” Hamish called hiccupping as he did so. Mr Jameson Sir! didn’t wait, William ‘Hamish’ Hamilton was always imploring him to hold up, usually because he had run out of his last dregs of alcohol. Mr Jameson Sir! suspected that he didn’t yet have enough cash to purchase more, and his body was currently not in need of any desperate repairs. The former engineer often followed him on his deliveries, this one being no exception. Usually, Mr Jameson Sir! could wait, but this customer gave him many reasons why he had to reach the delivery point, and soon- powerful, respected, rich and with a mean ability to curse and hex, Mr Jameson Sir! did not want one of those little dolls to be made of him, who knew what it might do to his wheels!

Hamish finally managed to stagger up to Mr Jameson Sir! and grabbed hold of one of his barrels to steady himself. They would soon be at the delivery location he had been given, somewhere near the edge of the Bayou, close to the lands of the Benois and close to Edge Point station, then he could deliver the large barrels of whiskey and claim the high fee he was able to charge for such a ‘quality’ product. He batted aside Hamish as the man fumbled with one of the stoppers, clearly trying to get access to the precious, and expensive, amber liquid within. Mr Jameson Sir! hadn't spent three whole days brewing and distilling this for it to be wasted on a drunken pauper, he would sell this highest of quality beverages to none other than the Swamp Hag herself. If he could retain her custom, then he would certainly become at least as respected as the brewmaster himself!

The delivery request, on a toad that had hopped to his current distillery four days ago, had made it clear what was wanted, what he would be paid and a very specific location where three bayou pathways met, each marked by three waldgeist trees. Mr Jameson Sir!’s navigational skills meant that it was no trouble finding his way through the bayou and arriving at the location for his delivery with more than enough time to spare to begin a little more distilling- he had been wanting to try out the toad-brew gin recipe since he had first learned of its invention, when he invented it, four days ago.

The mobile distillery folded out quickly and Hamish even helped him to light the fire that he would need. The clearing seemed to grow still and quiet, though Mr Jameson Sir! paid it no need as he threw in the many ingredients that went into the finest of inebrient creations: a clump of swamp moss, three mosquitoes, the slime from the bottom of one of his feet, a lock of Hamish’s hair, extracted with force and gusto and, of course, a single, living, toad. It was at that point that he noticed there seemed to be hundreds more toads in the clearing. He scooped several more up, dumping each into the bubbling vat of bayou waters and watched with interest as the flesh seemed to melt straight from them.

Stepping back to admire his work, Mr Jameson Sir! noticed that he had squashed several more toads, and many more were leaping onto him, his barrels and even Hamish! The whole clearing was apparently crawling with the things as a wind whipped up swirling the tree limbs around them. He gave a start as he noticed the large, stilt-legged hut sat calmly in the centre of the clearing, he was fairly certain that that had not been there moments before. Nonetheless, it was the delivery location that the toad had conveyed to him. This was his chance to make his money!

Paying even less heed to the toads than he had before, MR Jameson Sir! strode forwards towards the hut, ascending the stairs four at a time and knocking on the flimsy looking door with his gentlest of knocks, usually enough to fell even small trees. The door banged loudly but held. A few moments later an aged crone staggered to the door, throwing it open and blinking in the light. “What is it you... ah, the whiskey...” she slurred, her gestures wide and broad as she indicated a spot, toad-free, in the corner of the room. Then she staggered back to her table, clumsily grabbing a cup from her desk and downing it, “and... not a shecond too late... just finished the lasht of my booze!” she slurred, glaring at Mr Jameson Sir! as he placed down the last of the barrels.

“Now, for your payment.” she said, reaching into her voluminous rags and pulling out a small bag from what appeared to be a pouch that rested on her dangling breasts. “This should be enough.” she said, flinging several scrip across the table at him along with five slightly larger and more sturdy cards. “And... as fate seems to will it, I’ll even read your fortune.” she said, her words suddenly far more lucid and crisp.

Mr Jameson Sir! crossed to her table and gathered up the scrip, sorting the cards into a single line as he did so, he didn’t like mess and disorder, it sorely hampered his culinary experiments. She gave him a toothy grin and gestured with one, long fingered hand at the cards, “Good, good, now turn each over and I shall read your fate.” she whispered, her voice strong and powerful as she did so. Mr Jameson Sir! not one to anger a potential excellent customer, did as she instructed, turning over each card and drawing a coo or ahh from her each time. “Well, well, these do tell an interesting tale.” she said craning in closer, her prior clumsiness seemingly gone.

Standing at the crossroads of truth and sorrow the choir that sings to you will be silent but his blood will run as black as night. The stakes of the game are higher than you suspect and you will find your true self within the mirror.” she spoke, her voice rhythmic like an incantation her fingers playing across each card in turn as she spoke. Then she gestured towards the door, seemingly willing Mr Jameson Sir! to leave. He turned obligingly, dashing forwards as he saw Hamish staggering to the top of the steps, a toad hanging from his mouth as he tried to suck the alcohol directly from it.

The foolish engineer fell from the steps, beginning to tumble down them and Mr Jameson Sir! had to follow with haste to ensure that his best customer did not suffer too harshly from the fall. By the time he had checked the sozzled mechanic and regained his awareness of exactly where he was, perhaps a minute had passed, but the clearing seemed to be free of toads and hut once more. A shame, as he had only had the chance to brew one batch of toad-brew gin, which by now must be nearly finished. If it were a success, then he would have to seek out more of the amphibians and add them to his menu of beverages.

He quickly packed away his distillery, keeping Hamish at arms’ length as he did so, and then set about deciding on where he would go next. Though he had just sold most of his current wares, he knew that what he had remaining would still make him a little more money and whilst the Benois would pay as well as any for it, if he were to make the short trip south to the lands of the Turners, he might even manage to find more ingredients and new recipes. That might well be of a positive benefit for him if he were to continue expanding his business.

He took the third of the pathways, the one leading south and began to stride forwards across to the lands of the LaCroix and Turners where he was certain he could develop his repetoire. Mr Jameson Sir! didn't even notice that he could no longer hear the hiccupped calls of Hamish over a far louder caterwauling sound that now filled the pathways. It took him by complete surprise as a pig-drawn cart, laden with barrels of ‘shine, careened onto the walkway, its driver alternately screaming in terror and swigging from a jar of ‘shine. Mr Jameson Sir! had barely even registered the vehicle’s presence when it capsized, turning out the gremlin driver, the precious ‘shine contents and freeing the squealing pig (who immediately set upon breaking into and drinking one of the barrels). His surprise was such that his final sight of the gremlin was as his foot descended onto the creature’s head, flattening it in a single, bone-crushing, moment.

Mr Jameson Sir! lifted his foot and inspected the remains of the gremlin and his hat, the first time that he truly recognised or acknowledged his presence on the trail. Even then, his concern was only momentary as he noticed the barrels of ‘shine that were strewn about the pathway. Never one to miss an opportunity, he immediately began to grab the barrels and strap them to his empty harnesses, shooing away Hamish as he drained half a barrel like a feral wolf, he left the pig to finish up its own barrel, it had been traumatised enough when it had drunkenly killed its master, no sense it harming it farther for the sake of a few drops of alcohol. By this point a crowd of gremlins had gathered around Mr Jameson Sir! and were making an uproarious clamour at him and the dead gremlin. The noise and din was far too much to pay any real attention to, and it wasn’t until a single, more imposing gremlin, wearing a stovepipe had and carrying a fairly impressive gun, stepped forwards and addressed him, that Mr Jameson Sir! truly took notice or  understood the problem.

“Naw’ ye’ lookee’ hear sir. Ye’ done killed our brewin’ man. What we gonna’ do fer ‘shine naw?” he demanded, gesturing to the headless body that the pig was now snuffled and devouring. “Brewing man?” Mr Jameson Sir! inquired back, somewhat uncertain of the exact term. “Yeah- the one who made us all our ‘shine, fer’ our shindigs and what-not!” the gremlin shouted, seemingly growing more irate.

Mr Jameson Sir! suddenly understood the magnitude of the circumstances, he had taken from these people the most important member of their community, the holiest of holykin, the one who provided them with hooch, liquor and booze! He had to step in, he had to offer them his services, if he didn’t he could never forgive himself. He would take on an apprentice, train them in his ways and then continue on with his business ventures, if that wasn’t a way to grow his business he didn’t know what was. “Sorry, I mean, sorry!” he began, “I’ll help you brew your ‘shine. I know all of the sacred recipes.” If he were going to say more it was drowned out in the sudden outburst of cheering, gunshots and general swarming of him by a score of gremlins, he even felt himself being lifted into the cart and pulled back to the village, it seemed his plans had changed.

 

*****

Ralph gnawed on the bone. It wasn’t enough not even close, the thighs of kin were just so small and didn’t fill him nearly enough any more, not now he was growing big and strong. Silurid were more filling but also far less tasty, he would need to find somewhere that he could fill his belly without raising too much suspicion, perhaps another nearby village. Ever since the swamp pirates had caught him eating the cabin boy he had been on his own. It wasn’t really fair, the little runt was barely even an appetiser and he had annoyed nearly everyone else on their riverboat- Ralph had been doing them a service!

It had been so unfair when the captain had run him off the boat, thigh still in hand, and told him never to return to their boat. Surely they all knew that Ralph ate almost anything? How could they not? Now he had gone almost an hour without eating and even his flatulence was beginning to lose its potency. If he didn’t find something to eat soon, then he would definitely be in dire-straights, already his own hand was looking pretty alluring, and he didn’t really need both of them...

That was when his eye caught sudden movement, something hopping along in front of him and down the pathway. He grabbed out for it, almost missing as a hunger pang struck, but he managed to hold onto the slimy creature for long enough to take a good look at it- a toad- he'd never eaten one before, perhaps they were tasty and nourishing? Even if they weren’t, Ralph couldn’t afford to be picky, he would waste away to nothing soon if he didn’t get something to eat. He placed the whole toad in his mouth, chewed three times and swallowed. It was slimy, sour and crunchy, all-in-all, better than silurid, but far below kin or swine.

No sooner had he finished eating that toad, than another jumped onto the path in front of him. This one was slightly larger and, hopped twice before Ralph grabbed it and bit it in half, taking twice as many chews to finish this, slightly less tasty, morsel. A third, even larger, toad hopped down from one of the willows, beginning to leap along the pathway with considerably more speed. Ralph chased it, grabbed it and began to slice it with his knife, this one would take him at least a few seconds to finish off- just enough time for him to catch up with the fourth toad on the path, this one the size of a newborn piglet and requiring at least ten seconds to eat. Today would be a good eatin’ day it seemed, even if they weren’t particularly palatable.

The toads kept appearing, each slightly larger, slightly bitterer and slightly faster than the last. Ralph continued to catch and eat them, almost beginning to fill the bottom third of his belly. Within a few minutes he was chasing a toad at least as large as he was through the twisting waterways. This one would put up quite a fight, he might even end up as its dinner, if he timed things incorrectly! As it stood, Ralph never had the chance to catch it. As he rounded a bend, he found himself in a small clearing ringed with waldgeists and willows and heard the splash of water as the toad dived in. Ahead of him was a stilted house, one that rose from the waters in strange and gnarled way.

On the porch, surveying the surrounds, was a woman, as wizened and bent as the trees and building, she looked down at Ralph, picking up one steaming sausage with a wizened finger. She smiled a toothy grin down at him and waved for him to join her on the high platform. “Come child, come. You look positively starved, it must be five minutes since you last ate. Come, share my meal.” she beckoned sweeping a filthy hand over a pile of sausages, chops and other food that Ralph, in his excitement, couldn’t begin to identify.

It might have been a trap, if it had have been, Ralph would have avoided it, he had never moved as quickly as he did at that moment, scrambling up the steps and into the seat conveniently placed opposite the elderly human woman. She passed him the plate and he set about devouring all of it. “You poor child, you must be starved. Let me feed you and tell you the twisting vagaries of your fate.” she said, pulling a deck of cards from underneath one of her pendulous dugs. She placed it on the table, but Ralph, in his haste, didn’t notice and instead shovelled it up with the rest of the meats.

After several glorious minutes, Ralph belched, farted and sat back in his chair, surveying the plate and the one remaining toadstool that sat on it. “Mmmmmmmmmmhhhhhhhhm! Thanks for that. Thought I was gonna’ die lady... say, you don’t happen to have desert do y-” Ralph stopped as he felt a strange queasy sensation that he had never felt before. The old woman chuckled as Ralph felt his stomach lurch upwards and then he gagged, his mouth reflexively opening. Five cards shot from his mouth as he vomited, though nothing else came out. He was most worried, food never came back out! The cards settled onto the table, one laying across another and the others in a neat row, all face down. Ralph eyed them suspicioulsy, “Now, as I was saying, your fate...” the woman said, gesturing at the cards and signalling for Ralph to turn each over in turn with one crack-skinned finger.

Ralph obliged, still feeling a little uneasy about this whole vomiting lark, his mind was not eased any more when she began to speak again, her words coming as if in an incantation or from another place, “Should you choose to deny the beast inside, she drags you through coal and ash but you know all this has happened before. The hollow man breathes life back into you and you will lose yourself amidst the whispers.”. She gave him a few minutes to process what she had said, which, for Ralph, meant a few moments with a toothpick and then nothing more, then she stood and indicated he should follow her to the edge of the porch.

The old woman pointed to a small clearing in the distance, “Do you see there?” she asked, Ralph nodded slowly, “That is the village of Chubbs LaCroix, he may or may not be your true father. They, like most villages farm many pigs, and your stench may well blend in a little better. You can spend a short while there, recover from your ordeal, even fatten yourself up a little, and then, if you are truly desirous, seek out the pirates of the ships of the air who moor somewhere nearby. They may well be the ones who can always find you food and sustenance. That is, my boy, if you can refrain from eating each of them first!” she finished, glaring at Ralph as he stuffed another toad down his throat.

The village did sound like a good idea- plenty of pork and kin to eat and the chance to fly! He nodded towards the woman, muttered some thanks and then stumbled down the stairs, grabbing another few toads for the mile-or-so journey he would have to make to this village of Chubbs. If he were lucky he wouldn’t die of starvation on the trip, though with only a few toads to sustain him he wasn’t certain. When he turned to look back, the clearing and hut seemed not to be there, only more trees and the sound of croaking- something that couldn’t be coming from his pockets, as they were already empty.

 

*****

 

LePorc lumbered down the waterways and headed towards the village that he had been asked to visit, this Chubbs LaCroix was in need of a negotiator for the trade deal with the LeBlancs, he knew that the animosity between the two would make this challenging for LePorc to manage to organise any sort of deal. Jean and Pierre followed behind, the two seemed to have some sort of apprehension, most likely due to the fighting between all of the villages in recent memory. No problem, LePorc would sort those problems with his negotiating skills.

“Squeeeeeee?” LePorc asked, Jean turned to Pierre, a quizzical look on the gremlin’s face, “Errr, Monsieur LePorc says… that we are nearly at the village of Chubbs LaCroix, so take heart.” Jean hesitantly said. LePorc sighed, morons, when asking them whether they needed a rest, it was ridiculous that they couldn’t even understand their own language, he was fluent in it and spoke it without an accent. How could they be so dense? “Squeeee! Squeeee! Wheeeee!” he added, gesturing with one trotter ahead. The two gremlins gave each other a confused look, then pressed on down the path they had been following.

“Squeeeee! Squeeeee!” LePorc shouted, gesturing again as the two gremlins bumbled forwards into the thicker portion of the bayou and vanished into an area that he could smell was already quite dangerous. Rolling his eyes and sighing he followed after them, this journey would be longer and more dangerous than it should have been travelling to a neighbouring village. He ambled forwards pushing through the willow branches and into the darkened area of the bayou. They had vanished, somewhere and he had no idea where they might be, even their scents were absent. He pressed forwards searching for them, perhaps they were lost deeper, somewhere he couldn’t smell.

He emerged from the thicker area into a clearing that he swore could not have been there before. A strange scent filled his nostrils, something that he hadn’t smelled since the explosion that had scorched Paula, perhaps this was the source of that explosion, or even someone who could school him in how to use the power that he had. He moved forwards, looking at the light as it streamed down onto a large, stilted house. A woman emerged from a thicket, “Greeting friend, can I help you? Wait, yes, of course. You have power, you wish to learn how to control it don’t you? And perhaps learn of your fate.”

LePorc took a moment and considered the wizened old hag, she looked tough, not tasty, so he wouldn’t try and eat her, but then, she might try and eat him. Of course he knew he could overpower her, but still, what was she going to do? What was there to lose really? “Squeeee?” he asked, knowing that she likely would understand nothing of him. “Yes, yes my friend I do know who you are. LePorc of the Robichauds, and you have come seeking knowledge and your fate haven’t you?”

“Squee.” LePorc confirmed, trotting towards the woman who took a seat before the stilts and drew out a deck of cards, “Your own magic will help you divine your fate, and I can teach you how to control it. Of course, before I will do that, you must broker your deal.” The old hag said, casting her hand at LePorc and the deck of cards. The pig wandered forwards and touched the deck with his trotter, immediately he felt the surge of power and they laid themselves out in a line, one crossing the bottom card. The old woman smiled and fingered each card, speaking in a rhythmic way as if she were singing or reciting from memory, “If you spear the loudest pig, you will carry your woes across the threshold but your whisper will be lost in the roar of gunfire. His scars tell a tale of dark obsession but the end comes with the rising of the sun.

LePorc was confused, but it was clear that the power was flowing more and more easily, this woman would give him the knowledge that he needed to control it. That said, he felt suddenly sleepy, as if the day had been much longer. His eyes fluttered and then opened, the building was gone, the clearing now a pathway and Jean and Pierre were stumbling from a side pathway still nattering in their idiotic manner. LePorc gestured forwards, scenting the village of Chubbs LaCroix ahead of them. They took their last few steps, entering the village to little fanfare. Children ran around them squealing and shouting at each other. LePorc called out for an envoy from the village, Jean and Pierre jumped three feet into the air and stumbled to the ground as they landed.

A grand looking gremlin emerged from one of the huts, his stovepipe hat and impressive looking gun, “Naw who here’s makin’ that god-awful porkin’ sound?” he shouted, glaring at a nearby child and moving to hit them before he realised that Jean, Pierre and LePorc were standing at the entrance to the village. The two gremlins were stumbling around like dancing fools, but anyone could see the bearing and regalness of the pig who stood between them. “Ahhhhhh, Mr ambassy-der, I didn’ see yer there, mah apologies. Let me take yer to yer accommydaaayshuns, did anywun ever tell yer, ye’ got the look of me in yer eyes?” Chubbs asked, grovelling as he led LePorc towards a small shack.

LePorc rolled his eyes, was this gremlin insane or just stupid? Or was he really his father? LePorc’s mother had never mentioned a father, and the LaCroix did visit the Robichaud villages occasionally. Of course, this could simply be a ruse to influence the negotiations in their favour. Did he think LePorc was a new-born piglet? No, this would be a fair and impartial negotiation, and the outcome would be good for both sides and the Robichaud! “Squeee!” he called, Jean and Pierre stumbling forwards, “Monsier LePorc says ‘frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.’ I believe that he wishes to start the negotiations immediately.” Pierre translated, incorrectly once again. Would that boy ever learn? LePorc sighed, these negotiations would last a long time…

 

*****

Zoraida reached out and grabbed two small dolls, the pale white gator, the second the stove-pipe hatted gremlin. She focused her will on them, imbuing them with power then she worked her will around them to bring the two into contact. She opened the mouth of the gator doll, knowing that soon a sympathetic action would occur, then she placed the hand into the mouth, clamping it down and slicing with a small blade, cutting the hand from the doll’s body.

Far away, Zoraida knew that Chubbs LaCroix was losing his hand to the great white gator, a small price to pay if it would mean that the threat to Zoraida would be ended. Chubbs would return, ordering the four threats to retrieve his precious gun and deal with the gator. One way or another they would die, either to her own machinations or to the predation of the gator. Whichever it was, she was happy, this would ensure her continued power.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×