How Jack-Jack left the swamp: Part III

A D&D Espresso Tale

By

Accipiter G. Goshawk

The story continues from where it left off in Part II

“Now now…no need to be hasty. Let’s just…talk about this, shall we?”

A bead of sweat ran down the side of Gunnek’s face as the kobold put a little more weight on its weapon. The dwarf held back a pained whimper, but remained motionless.

“Jack-Jack no want talk. Jack-Jack follow creepy-sneaky-murder people. Jack-Jack hear you want to kill kobold. Jack-Jack no want talk!”

The point pushed a little more into the back of Gunnek’s neck, causing him to topple forward and cower in the muck.

“Please! Have mercy master kobold! We truly meant you no harm! We were just…going to borrow some of you for a bit…bring you back when we were finished.”

He waited for the stupid little monster to fall for his lie, hoping that its confusion would buy him enough time to reach his dagger. To his dismay, the creature didn’t budge, but instead brought its rapier to hover inches from the dwarf’s heart.

“Creepy-sneaky-murder dwarf is also whiny-liar yes, yes? Bad liar. Jack-Jack clever. Jack-Jack smart. Jack-Jack want to try new death-sticks.”

Gunnek’s eyes followed the elegant line of the sword up, past the kobold’s grimy hand, past it’s rag-covered torso, to the two glowing eyes hidden deep within the cowl of a dark rough-spun hood.

“Those are…Kopez’s…death-sticks?” he asked tentatively, trying to buy himself some time.

Jack-Jack grinned toothily.

“Hunter-elf thought he was silent. Jack-Jack more silent. Hunter-elf avoid traps, but hunter-elf not avoid boomball. Pretty fire, yes, yes?”

Gunnek nodded encouragingly, hoping that the miserable lizard wouldn’t notice his hand slowly creeping towards the smooth stone he carried in his jacket pocket.

“And Junn? The big one?” he asked, his fingers moving another inch towards safety.

“Big-dumbdumb not see sand trap. Now gone. Slime-food,” gurgled the kobold happily. “Now it creepy-dwarf turn,” he hissed menacingly, drawing the other rapier from the sheath on its back.

“Wait! I can offer you…riches!”

The kobold advanced, grinning evilly.

“Women! Gold! Gems! Fame!”

Words cascaded from the dwarf’s mouth as the kobold advanced relentlessly, its blade shining in the light of Zeera’s silvery crescent.

“I can…offer safety for your tribe! They will never be disturbed again!”

The blades wavered as the kobold paused mid-stride, its grin fading to a look of doubt.

It was all Gunnek needed.

Crowing triumphantly, he snatched the stone from his pocket and roared the secret word that would teleport him out of this swamp and back to the Thieves’ Guildhall in Astralia. Arcane energies swirled around him and in a flash, he appeared many miles south, in the centre of a hall built of stone and old wood. A fire crackled happily in a fireplace to his left and there was –to his great satisfaction- not a puddle of water to be seen.

“Well, well. If it isn’t master Gunnek Softsoles! It has been quite some time. Come, warm yourself by the fire and regale us with tales of your daring exploits.”

The voice was at times melodious and at times broken, as if two people were sharing the same mouth. The speaker was hidden by the back of the armchair she occupied, but her tipped blue tail wove through the air like a cat’s.

Gunnek grimaced, but answered with the most carefree tone he could muster.

“You do me a great honour Guildmistress! But I really must be going…I have important business to attend t-”

The chair rocked backwards, as the crazed head of the Thieves’ Guild leapt to her feet. She twisted on the spot and glared at the dwarf with eyes of ruby flame.

“You will go nowhere –coward!-. You will stay and explain –yes, explain, and writhe!- why you haven’t paid dues in over two years. And you will also introduce me to your little friend.”

Gunnek paled.

Slowly, he turned around.

Two sword tips sprang from the shadows to meet him, followed by the confused jabbering of a very angry kobold.-

The story continues in Part IV

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