04/22/2024 Snippet, FLIM-FLAM MAN.


It unsurprisingly hurt like a son of a bitch. Any pleasure that the bravo might have had from his opponent’s shout of pain was probably cut short when Gregor’s staff cruelly slammed up and into the man’s groin, though. Another vicious jerk (this time, sideways), and suddenly the bravo was on the ground, howling in his turn while clutching himself.

Gregor absolutely meant to cave the bastard’s skull in, at that point. He absolutely did — but his would-be coup de grace instead ended up solidly in the pit of the bravo’s stomach. His opponent stopped howling and started wheezing, instead; Gregor decided he didn’t care, and whirled to see if anybody else was up for a fight.

None of them were, except maybe the former victim; he was getting to his feet, and glaring at the three groaning figures on the ground. “My thanks, stranger,” he told Gregor, the strain in his voice obvious. Or maybe it was age; the guy had more white than brown in his beard. “But we need to go. No!” he said with well-controlled panic as Gregor started to stoop over one bravo. “No time to cut purses, or throats. More of their friends will be coming.”

04/20/2024 Snippet, FLIM-FLAM MAN.

Gregor may have made a bit of a mistake.

Not bad, he decided as he left the squalid little shop behind him. That little performance probably got me the from-around-here rate. Or at least the not-worth-robbing rate. A lot of places in the Twenty Realms saw solitary travelers as easy meat, and the worst ones meant that literally. Camiron didn’t feel that bad, but there was no sense in looking for trouble —

A shout from an alleyway ahead of him, followed shortly by a scream, reminded Gregor that trouble didn’t actually need to be searched for. Sometimes, it was going to show up, right in front of you.

Gregor was very good at calculating odds, and he worked them through as he ran to the alleyway. There probably wouldn’t be more than two attackers, this wasn’t a town so rich that the bravos wore chainmail, and he had a staff. If he was wrong about the first two considerations, he could always run. If he wasn’t, they probably had stuff in their pockets. Nobody minded when you robbed a cutthroat. It was funny!

A part of him still seemed a little taken back about actually involving himself in a fight, but Gregor ignored that. Sometimes you had to play the odds a little. Bet bigger, win bigger.

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.”

04/10/2024 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.

03/29/2024 Snippet, DOCTOR RYPMAW’S METHOD.


“He’s, ah, you know. Mister W[*],” Edgar stammered, in a way that I found oddly gratifying. “I’m sure you know that name, Georgie! I sent for him when you had your, ah, trouble.”

“Trouble? I haven’t had any trouble.” Georgie guffawed, and I blinked. That didn’t sound like his regular laugh at all. My hackles didn’t like it, either, and I wasn’t even sure that I possessed any. “Everyone else had the troubles this evening.”

“Including our friend here,” I interjected, controlling my own sudden, primitive instinct to run a boar-spear through him, or anything else with enough reach. “You did run away, and it was a chore to clean up your messes afterward. You should be grateful, Georgie. Edgar has done you several favors tonight.” Well, Edgar had actually only paid for them, but that was close enough for this conversation. I still wasn’t sure if it would end in a fight or not, but confidence and sternness had seen me through sticky situations before.

For one horrible moment, Georgie looked at me blankly — no, not blankly. He looked at me like nothing about me had any meaning for him, including quite possibly my life. Just then I didn’t want a boar-spear; I wanted a revolver, and at least twenty feet of range. Then his face cleared, and he smiled like a human for the first time. “Oh, Harry! I’m so very sorry not to recognize you from the start. It’s been an evening.” His brow furrowed. “Oh, dear. If you’re here, then there’s been a problem. I hope I haven’t been too much of a problem tonight.”

03/28/2024 Snippet, DOCTOR RYPMAW’S METHOD.


In the end, I ended up attending one of Rypmaw’s public lectures on my own. It slightly pained me to have to pay my own money for a whim this trivial, but I was determined to put my best face on it. Clearly this was a lesson for me to arrange my circumstances better in the future.

The hall was not crowded in a physical sense, but what it lacked in bodies it more than made up for in money. Most of the old families had several representatives on display, including more than a few that I knew personally — or professionally, in my way. Those latter I merely exchanged nods with, although I don’t know what I would have done if any of them had been people who still owed me recompense.

By that I really don’t know what I would have done. There was an air in the room that I did not care for. It felt like there had been a flaming row going on, just before I arrived, and now everyone was carefully holding their tongues, lest they say something regrettable. No-one acted hostile to me, but I could feel myself step back a pace in my own head, the better to observe for trouble. What kind of trouble? Damned if I knew —

“Harry!” boomed someone behind me, and I jumped, just a touch. That earned me a laugh as I turned to see… Georgie, of all people. He shook his head, grinning. “You jumped like a rabbit hearing a wolf!”

03/27/2024 Snippet, DOCTOR RYPMAW’S METHOD.

Got to really buckle down for this one.

I was very worried that I might have to beat Victor senseless, or worse, with my cane. I didn’t want to, and wouldn’t have liked to; but when you’re following a man who murdered a man with his nails and teeth, then dined on rabbits and squirrels for dessert, the decision is not always yours to make. If Victor was rational by now, I was sure we could get him somewhere for a nice rest cure; if he wasn’t, well, it wasn’t like he was a major heir. I could get away with some rough handling. What I hadn’t expected was to discover Victor simply… placid. Although from the way his mouth and lower face was black in the moonlight, I suppose ‘sated’ would be a better term.

He was lolling on a park bench as we approached, head up and looking calmly at the moon. He did not turn to look at us; instead he sniffed, deeply. “Oh, hullo, Eddie,” he rumbled. “I’m so sorry; I left you behind! And, hah, the girl too. I never did get to grips with her.” His head snapped forward, and I could see his white grin in the gloom. “Maybe I’ll go back tomorrow night. Who’s your friend?”

“He’s, ah, you know. Mister W[*],” Edgar stammered, in a way that I found oddly gratifying. “I’m sure you know that name, Vic! I sent for him when you had your, ah, trouble.”

“Trouble? I haven’t had any trouble.” Victor guffawed, and I blinked. That didn’t sound like a dandy’s laugh at all. My hackles didn’t like it, either, and I wasn’t even sure that I possessed any. “Everyone else had the troubles this evening.”