04/17/2024 Snippet, FLIM-FLAM MAN.

Guards! Guards!

The guard squinted at his amulet. “That’s a pretty little thing,” he mentioned, not even remotely casually. “God-touched?”

“Not that I know of, watchman,” Gregor replied immediately, trying not to wince at how this conversation was likely to end. “It is but a keepsake of my travels through these fair lands of ours. If it has powers or virtues, they are unknown to me. I say this for all to hear.”

Sometimes hinting that a valuable item might be cursed if stolen kept people from stealing. From the way the first guard laughed, this wasn’t one of those times. “Well, Traveler,” he snickered, “it’ll have one virtue; letting you in. Wall tax, you understand.”

“I do,” Gregor agreed, unfastening the clasp. Easy come, easy go, he thought, letting a little mournfulness show at the sight of a week’s rations and lodging being placed in the guard’s grubby hand. “Is there a token I might show to prove that I have paid my tax?”

“Sure,” the guard snickered again. “You won’t have my foot up your arse as you walk down the street. Now get! You’re holding up the line.”

04/15/2024 Snippet, FLIM-FLAM MAN.

Back to it!

Gregor looked at the amulet again. It was golden – no, it was gold. He could barely make out on its central disc the outlines of a budding tree, just like from the altar, which made sense. What he wasn’t feeling was any kind of power. God-items had a greasy feel to them, no matter the god. Besides, if you got close enough to one, you could feel its regard. The priests all said that the gods were always watching through their special items, and Gregor had been an onlooker to enough bad experiences to half-believe it.

There was nothing like that here. The gold was warm to the touch, but there was no queasiness, or half-tangible reek of curdled regard. He breathed in. No smell at all, in fact. Certainly there wasn’t anything godly to block out the simple fragrance of sun and wind, filtered through the leaves of a living forest. Maybe it’s not god-touched, he thought. Or it once was, and when the god died, nothing was left behind. That thought was oddly sad, but Gregor shrugged it off. Dead gods weren’t his problem. Making a living was. 

He looked over at the pile of books he had pulled from the temple. On quick glance they looked like scriptures and hymns, which is why he had grabbed them. Gods never minded if you walked off with those. Gregor thought that they’d be worth reselling, since they were in the Old Speech and thus snooty, but now he had another idea. One that might prove more than a little profitable.

04/10/2024 Snippet, FLIM-FLAM MAN.

It wasn’t even his fault!

Things had been going well, up to then. The shrine didn’t have any weapons besides the staves, but it did have a spool of fishing line. More Great Realm stuff, dwarf-made and good for snares, too. Once he’d gotten far enough away from the hole in the ground, the animals had started coming back, only they weren’t used to humans. He’d been able to snag a couple of squirrels for his breakfast, which was very good news. 

Staves, spare clothes (that could be sold), fishing line, bits of traveling gear — if you didn’t mind not having any food, or any local animals within half a day’s walk, that hole in the ground had been a great place to find. If only he hadn’t somehow taken an amulet along for the ride! That was a god-item, and everybody knew the gods were unreasonable about having their personal things taken. Often terminally so. 

Only, nothing was happening.

04/04/2024 Snippet, FLIM-FLAM MAN.

Is it a trap?

Room-with-door two was also a crypt, only this one was… not quite filled up, yet. There was a pile of scraps and dust on the floor in the rough shape of a body, and — dammit, dammit, dammit — the unmistakable glint of gold mixed in with the junk. Oh, and a half-opened sarcophagus. Just in case it wasn’t entirely obvious something seriously weird had happened here.

Gregor assessed his options. Still no smell of evil or moral decay, which was good — but there was definitely a lingering aura of eldritch, which might be bad. There was no reasonable or unreasonable way that pile of detritus could form into a shambler, which was really good. Then again, specters didn’t need to be corporeal to hurt you. And specters just loved to haunt foci like (he peered down) amulets. They’d also get upset if you ignored them, so he’d have to do something. Assuming that one of them was haunting this place, obviously.

What decided him in the end was the way the detritus was positioned; if you squinted only a little, you could see an outstretched hand reaching towards the open sarcophagus. “Were you trying to get in there?” he asked the hopefully-empty crypt, just in case it wasn’t actually empty. “Well. I’m going to assume you were, all right? So, I’ll get you back in there, don’t worry. I’m being respectful! I’ll get as much of you as I can!”

04/03/2024 Snippet, FLIM-FLAM MAN.


Some people might think that the smart thing would be to leave, but Gregor knew that was nonsense. The most dangerous thing in the world was a closed door, if you didn’t know what was on the other side. When it was bad, you always found out at the worst possible time. And if it wasn’t bad, why not open it? Besides, the door wasn’t even locked! Well, not really. Ten seconds with a lockpick had it yawning open, and not into a stygian darkness. There were the unmistakable faint glow of lightstones on the other side.

Gregor almost whistled. Elf-iron and lightstones weren’t cheap these days. There was probably all sorts of portable loot lying around, including the lightstones themselves if they were small enough.

The lights were dim, but shone brightly enough to reveal a large square room, with two doorless rooms to his left, and two with doors on his right, plus an altar set into a recess opposite him. Gregor froze when he saw the altar, watching it like a bird watches a snake, and for the same reason. After a minute, he relaxed. No miasma, no ghostskulls, not even a purple-black glow, he thought. It’s probably safe.

04/02/2024 Snippet, FLIM-FLAM MAN.

Man, Gregor is gonna hate me before I’m done.

Gregor glumly considered his options. On the one hand: he could stay above-ground. It was dark, windy, uncanny, and there wasn’t anything resembling shelter, but he could sleep up here, sort of. It wouldn’t be a damned hole in the ground.

The problem was, it was a nice hole in the ground. It was circular, and lined with bricks; in fact, it was the first human-built thing he’d seen in a while, honestly. There was even a ladder made out of elf-iron (the part of Gregor that never passed up a chance to make easy money noted idly that there was always a market for the stuff). Judging from the rock he’d thrown in, there was a stone or brick floor below, and it wasn’t far down at all.

It’s an old cellar, he decided. There must have been a house here, once, and this is all that’s left. The air coming from it was clean, with no smell of musk or slime, and there was definitely no miasma of evil. Still, it was a dark hole in the ground, and those weren’t always the best places to be —

Above, the bumpy sky he’d been trying to ignore for the last half hour finally decided to stop rumbling and get on with tonight’s thunderstorming. That decided it for him. There wasn’t a reek of stagnant water, so whatever was down there had drains, at least. He’d have a better chance of getting drier than he would out here. And who knew? There might even be supplies. Even a rusty knife would be a better one than the one he didn’t have now.

08/30/21 Snippet, FLIM-FLAM MAN.


There was a road in these woods. And not just a dirt track, either. Actual stones could be seen, peeking through the grass. Gregor had found the road via the time honored tradition of stumbling across it, and the sudden change of footing made him lose his balance. Fortunately, the tree that stopped his undignified, headlong rush hit him in the shoulder, and not the nose. It still hurt enough that, comparatively speaking, falling on his rear was barely painful.

But after Gregor picked himself up — I’m too young to be this creaky, he thought, as he used the tree to get vertical — he felt a bit more philosophical about it. Even an abandoned road was a road, after all. It would go from one place to another one, and as long as he avoided the end closer to mobs and millponds, it should all work out. Besides, it was well past noon. The odds of him finding shelter at least before nightfall would be much better.