How Jack-jack left the swamp: Part I

A tale from the world of the Cursed Eight

By

Accipiter G. Goshawk

Hello everyone!

Here, I am (finally) back from the festivities and a colossal move!

Now that I’m settled in and that Santa’s on his way again, I can start bringing you more stories from the world of the Cursed Eight and beyond.

This small tale features a…colourful character by the name of Jack-Jack.

Enjoy and hear from you all very soon 😉

Accipiter G. Goshawk

Not far from Reedshollow, deep in the Unn swamp, three figures trudged as stealthily as they could through a series of muddy pools. Of the two moons, only Ayar was in the sky, tingeing the water a dull red with her ruby glow.

One of the figures stumbled and tried to break his fall by catching hold of a branch. It snapped loudly and he plummeted into the dark with a loud splash. He emerged a second later, spluttering angrily.

“Cut it out, Junn! Do you want the whole swamp to hear you?” hissed the smallest of the three as he nimbly moved to the pool. He gave the large man a savage kick in the mouth and then pulled him on to solid ground. As soon as he found his footing, Junn backed away from the scowling dwarf as quickly as he could.

“S-sorry boss,” he whispered placatingly.

“Oh, shut up. You disgust me. Come on, the village isn’t far now.”

They resumed their difficult trek through the swamp, their progress hampered by more boggy waterways and copious bramble bushes.

Suddenly, the third figure let out a quick screech. The others immediately froze.

“Where is it this time?” growled the dwarf testily.

“Ahead,” answered the third figure in a wheezy whisper. It picked its way forward cautiously, finally kneeling next to an unremarkable clump of reeds. A few minutes later, it returned carrying something.

“Well?” snapped the dwarf.

“A clever device,” answered the elf, as he twirled a length of wire in one hand while cradling two small crossbows in the other. “Anyone so unfortunate as to walk past would have been greeted by poisoned darts. These creatures are…inventive.”

“I don’t care about their abilities, Kopez. The wizard is paying us good money to harvest them, not to admire their trap-making. Remember: we sneak in, kill three of them, carry their bodies away and then butcher them at the edges of the swamp.”

The elf’s elegant eyebrow arched steeply, but his tone remained courteous.

“As you say, Gunnek.”

 A few feet away, Junn sneezed loudly, earning a reproachful look from Kopez and a low snarl from the dwarf.

“Lets get on with it,” Gunnek growled.

Half an hour later, they were crouched at the top of a hillock, looking down into a small village of mud-huts and ramshackle wooden sheds. A few fires burned in pits around the village. The occasional guard shuffled past, casting odd shadows onto the odd mound in the centre of the encampment.

“It stinks,” murmured Junn mournfully.

“Kobolds,” answered Gunneck. He spat and clutched the hilt of his dagger eagerly.

The three stared down into the bowl, carefully discussing where and how they would acquire their bloody bounty.

Unbeknownst to them, a small figure had been stealthily following them for over two hours and was now crouching behind a large rock, on the left side of the hill.

The setting moon briefly illuminated a pair of reptilian eyes underneath a deep hood. The two globes alighted on to the pair of rapiers strapped to Kopez’s back and grew very wide.

“Jack-Jack want,” it chattered softly to itself.-

3 thoughts on “How Jack-jack left the swamp: Part I

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