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THE HEROIC QUEST OF CLEANING OUT THE CLOSET – CHAPTER 2 – WHERE OUR GROUP OF BRAVE ADVENTURERS IS ENLISTED TO HELP A DAMSEL RID HER DOMICILE OF A GRAVE EVIL

This is where our reader is introduced to two other party members.

The first is Rollo. A one-armed fighter who specializes in two-handed weaponry. In the past, he so angered the gods that they struck off his arm to harry his career as an adventurer. In a one-armed, middle-finger-pointed-heavenly response, Rollo kept true to his talents and still wields zweihänders, long bows, halberds, and all sorts of two-handed weapons, poorly, with one arm.

Also, the bagged, stinking figure across the street is revealed to be Jerpy, the ugliest strongest scariest good-natured smelliest innocent half-orc barbarian ever. Ever.

In this scene “The Sprawl’s Kolaches” is recovering from the morning and afternoon crush. Usually the proprietors come up with an excuse to close early and leave, but two patrons are still loitering in the café.

—-

“What in hell is this?” A squat solid fuzzy man pointed to the chalk board while holding a tall glass of orange juice and a cheap bag laden with something. Noticeably absent was a second arm. In its place was a nub just sticking out of a massive shoulder tattooed by discolored scars and tortuous marrings of flesh. A giant two-handed battle axe was strapped to his back.

The barista pointed to the cup of citrus and told Rollo that he can’t bring outside food and drink in here. “If you’re coming in here, you have to buy something.”

Rollo bowed his head down keeping his eyes at the worker. He raised his glass of orange juice, tongued its straw into his mouth and then loudly slurped until all that remained was the high-pitched bubbling as the straw moved around the bottom of the glass collecting all the remaining drink. He set the glass down and then reached into his flimsy bag, pulled out a sandwich, and stuffed it in his mouth. It took several chews, nearly unhinging his jaw, but Rollo managed to consume it entirely. Rollo then shook the crumbs out of the bag, put the glass in it and then folded it and patted it compactly into his belt pouch.

“I have to buy something?”

“Yes”, said the barista. He pointed to the sign that said “…buy something”.

Rollo huffed and then walked back outside and swung around the street, perching himself on the outside of the fence near Wendel and Sir Raphael. Raph sighed. Rollo was simultaneously rich and cheap. It annoyed the paladin. It was as if the rogue wouldn’t spend money just to annoy others – though deep down he knew that to be untrue. Rollo was, in his soul, cheap – but the lawful knight couldn’t help but assume everyone was reacting to him. Sir Raphael, in his soul, was self-centered – a useful trait in a Paladin. Just as useful as being cheap was to a rogue.

“Where’s Jerpy?”

“You can’t smell him?”, Sir Raphael replied. Wendel reached to the next table and grabbed a half-finished Pegasus Sausage Kolache that hadn’t been bussed yet and handed it to Rollo.

“I don’t eat other people’s food!”

Wendel rolled his eyes and exasperatedly retorted, “For Jerpy!” He then pointed across the quad to the hulking, ruck-sack-wearing figure that was standing amidst a small puddle of urine and change.

Rollo took the pastry, “Oh…”, grabbed some half-used napkins from other tables just over the fence, wrapped it and trudged across the road.

Rollo walked over and witnessed several people tossing money to the stinking man’s feet – completely unaware that the person they thought was a poor beggar was one of the most rich and powerful figures in the world.

“I sure hope that’s your piss and not someone else’s.” Rollo thought a bit on that. “Well, maybe it’s better if its someone else’s. Or maybe not…” Rollo dropped the question – not wanting to know the answer. But it was too late.

“It mine, then dog, then woman and children”, Jerpy said matter-of-factly.

Rollo winced at the answer. Curiosity begged further explanation, but prudence snuffed it out.

“’Piss’ bad word. ‘Pee-pee’ nicer.”

“’Piss’ isn’t a bad word!”

“’Piss’ bad word. Not say ‘piss’ to baby. Say ‘pee-pee’. Everyone know that!”

“Fine. I changed my mind, I don’t want to know about the pee-pee.” But Rollo knew that Jerpy loved to discuss bodily functions. It was too late.

“Jerpy…” Jerpy always referred to himself in 3rd person. It’s not that he didn’t know how to use proper pronouns, but he felt that he was not attuning himself to his Orcish culture if he didn’t speak like a moron. “Jerpy need to go potty, but nice Kolache establishment refuse Jerpy admittance. Jerpy wait too long and have to pee-pee here. Smell attract dog. Dog add more pee-pee. Kids laugh at dog and Jerpy, decide to play along. All have good laugh! Woman…” Rollo had enough and held his hand up to stop the story.

As if on cue, a woman strode towards the pair. For a brief moment the air cleared and the stench of man, orc, urine and who-knows-what-else was replaced with a brisk, clean rosemary and talcum powder. But just for a bit.

The woman’s hooded red-velvet cape flurried up as she trod through the puddle and clanked through the change. It looked as if the fine fur-lined fabric would just miss getting soiled, but Rollo, in full awkwardness, darted left then right, trying to guess which way the woman would take past him. Instead of flowing gracefully onward, she instead stopped for a confused moment causing the cape to drape into the puddle. And just like that, all the urine wicked up into the fabric.

The woman finally made it past Rollo with the cape smearing a snail-like trail behind her.

“Huh!”, Rollo remarked, “That cape cleaned up the puddle perfectly. Pretty amazing.”

“Must be magic cloak!”

Rollo would have normally made some wise crack about Jerpy citing ‘magic’ for everything he didn’t understand, but he was too busy collecting the now-dry change arrayed at Jerpy’s feet.

The woman walked down the street with a determined gait. When she passed Sprawl Kolaches she stopped suddenly, gazed at the blackboard, and turned into the café leaving a slick right angled trail behind her.

I’ll stop describing the urine trail now. I know it’s gross. The woman never acknowledges that her beautiful cape absorbed about two pints of urine and left a trail up and down the street and in and out of the kolache shop. The proprietor, though, is a diligent sort and mops and cleans his establishment every night. So, don’t worry that Jerpy’s pee is spread all over the place next time I describe it. It’s not.

Rollo and Jerpy watched the woman walk past the cashier towards Wendel and Sir Raphael. The barista barked something and pointed to the sign. She huffed, hurried back to the register pointing to a honey scone, paid for it, huffed again, then retrod back to Wendel and Raph. Some quick exchange happened where Wendel threw his arms up and Raph bent over, head-in-hand. The woman tossed a small purse on the table and folded her arms and held her head back in a defensive – no defiant – pose and waited. Wendel raised his arms up higher and more alarmingly while Raph, shaking his head, slowly reached for and opened the pouch. A light glared from the pouch and Sir Raphael looked in with astonishment. Wendel reached over and lightly pulled the opening towards him, redirecting the light straight into his eyes. And just like that, both were nodding approvingly and shaking the lady’s hands vigorously. Just as quickly the woman snatched the purse back and waved her finger. Wendel again threw his arms up and Raph bowed his head into his hands. The lady strolled out of the shop and then down the street, this time leaving a lazy, snaking trail glistening behind her. (Sorry, couldn’t help it.)