Chapter II: The Red Rooster
The drugs had begun to have an effect. The incessant chatter from the women ahead of me and the lizard’s heaving breathing produced uneasy rhythms that didn’t match, and it began affecting me more and more. Chchch-huh-chch-huh-chchchch-huh-u-huh…the pattern became random, chaotic, violent. I heard the piercing, echoing chirps of birds that rung off of the few walls that remained standing in this dead place, and my anxiety built to a dull roar as we passed by ruined home after ruined home. This had been the place where the common folk had lived before He took over and killed every living soul, and even now five years after His defeat only a few looters and distant cousins in search of a few coins or a family heirloom had touched any of what remained of the buildings.
Collapsed, broken, decayed, burned, melted, and still carrying the smell of festering disease, dung, and death, whatever His dark servants had used this place for they had left behind only violence, chaos, and ruin. In all directions rusty metal and the splintered wooden guts and innards of once proud buildings now lay in devastation intermingled with the white, skeletal remains of the commoners who had the bad fortune to live here before the city fell to His forces. Maybe one in twenty wasn’t a festering pile of debris and recently decayed cadavers, and as the paranoia and fear gripped me I couldn’t help but become increasingly afraid of their silent cries.
It was too loud, the still sound of death– too loud for just me to be hearing it. I gathered myself and focused my stare four feet ahead on the badly broken brick road as to make sure that I didn’t let my eyes drift into the faces of this place. Their bad thoughts, their horrors, their screams– they still shook this place to its core for those who could feel it. Fuck, we were all fucking helpless in here. Any instant this graveyard was going to come to life and then we’d all fucking be dead.
Were they in on it? How well did I know these people? I didn’t, and what I did know I didn’t like. I pulled out a fag and lit it, taking my time on savoring the pleasant texture of rich smoke in my mouth. They could definitely be in on it. My eyes darted up and between the two women ahead. Was that a smirk? It was a smirk, wasn’t it? Fucking bitches, this was their trap. This was …
Quiet. Suddenly the whole warren became very quiet as the city’s red humming came to an abrupt halt. There was music playing — something soft — and it was making the tremors stop, pouring in over the death like a flowery sweetness. The others stopped and listened, except for Zavric who scuttled along unnoticingly.
“What is this enchantment?” asked Shay’un, looking as if the calming effect were the bites of thousands of insects on her dark skin.
“Must be the ampitheatre up in the Dreamscape to be carrying out this far,” replied Milese in a neutral voice. “Probably Kal Meli himself to carry so much influence out into this wreckage.”
“Fuck him. I don’t want some fucking Halfling controlling my mind. He’s on the list.”
Zavric stopped up ahead and began scaling a wrecked mountain of debris. The ruins themselves were mostly layers of broken brick leading some 30 odd feet into the air, with some rotted beams and broken pieces of old furniture strewn about just to give it a nice, full look of something truly awful.
“Wait!” I shouted up at the scaly bastard. I pulled my backpack around and reached in, searching through it. Self-applying bandages – check; elf dust – check; and finally, ether – check. The bandages themselves had been designed by mages as a battle aid. Rigid and sturdy, they could be thrown like a dagger whereupon hitting something it would reshape itself to wrap around the wound to the best of its ability. I soaked some ether into the middle of each one, and finally made an elf dust bullseye in the wet spot of ether. I stuffed them into my pocket and made my way up the wreckage, motioning for the two girls to follow.
We scrambled up and found the entrance. From the center of the mound there was a fake wooden door; behind it was a small chamber, a hallway to the left that led to the guardhouse, and a staircase leading down some fifty or sixty yards into a vast cavern deep in the ground. The door itself sat framed in what remained of white woodwork, and had a small, metal-reinforced two-inch by six-inch viewer for the guards to look out and speak through. It was disguised to mimic the look of the rest of this shit pile, but despite its appearance it was sturdily reinforced and behind it, waiting, were at least a few guards- probably goblins or orcs or some other fuck stupid green race of brute idiots. The Fence’s busiest times were under the cover of night where those who prefer to stay in the dark can gather, drink, fuck whores, and engage in illegal and illicit substances unmolested by the city’s guards, but at this hour of the morning most of them would be passed out, too wasted to be effectual, or discovering the joys of the early signs of venereal disease, meaning the door would have only a minimal force behind it.
I slinked back and took a place behind everyone else as Zavric knocked on the door with a series of small, rapid taps. I reached into my pockets and grabbed a rag into each hand and as I listened silently behind the other three as the viewer opened.
“Wha’ cha’ wan’?” asked a pair of large, yellow eyes from behind the door.
“Gold! Earn gold! Let me in. Lots of gold!”
“’n who’re these two?” the eyes said, looking past Zavric to Shay’un and Milese.
“Gold! Gold! Lots of gold! You let us in! They’re with me…you let me in.”
The viewer clanged shut and I heard the sound I’d been waiting for — three clicks, one for each lock. I sprung forward and gave a thunderous jump kick at the door, knocking the fucker who had been standing behind it back into his cocksucker pals. The guards to my immediate left and right got a palm full of ether and dust as the bandages wrapped themselves around their stunned and wide-eyed faces. I looked up towards the top of the downwardly spiraling staircase and found only one more guard in my immediate way, although more were getting up off their fat asses in the guardhouse down the hallway. With no time to spare I charged the last of the initial guards – a single goblin soldier wielding a claymore that was almost as big as he was. He brought his sword up high to swing down upon me, but I was quick to grab his wrists and dispatch him with a series of brutal groin kicks. Did goblins even have balls? I hadn’t been sure up until that point in my life, and apparently the answer is ‘yes.’
I jumped over his collapsing, squealing body and sprinted down the stairs, catching just one more last look back to the other three who sat outside the door in stunned silence. The guards would have to spend at least a few seconds figuring out who they were, and if I was lucky the questioning could lead to a conversation at worst and bloodshed at best.
I had made it down maybe 30 feet of the spiraling, metal staircase when the guards reached the top and started descending after me. The lack of commotion up above meant the three assholes I’d come with hadn’t resisted, or even ran their mouths, more than necessary. Some fucking people …
“Ge’ som’un down those stairs fer ‘e gets int’ th’ bottom. Breach! BREACH!!” I heard as the guard’s voice echoed down below. Luckily the kind of scum and villainy that inhabited this place were still groggy and more eager about sleep than rushing into a violent situation. The damp smell gave off a certain uncomfortable quiet at this hour, and by the time I’d reached the bottom only a single goblin had managed to get up in time to meet me. Spear raised and pointed at me, he thrust the tip at my head and I only just managed to grab the blade with my bare left hand in time, narrowly denying the razor-sharp tip a chance to get up close and intimate with my face. The pain was searing as the double-sided blade sent asunder the flesh below my thumb and halfway up my fingers. Without the drugs I might have screamed out and collapsed, but as was I only gripped harder as I balled up my right fist and sent him stammering back in a spray of blood as the crack of his nose breaking echoed off the cavern’s walls. I was in the Fence and not in chains, but the victory would be pyrrhic if I let the fuckers on the staircase catch me.
The single walkway inside The Fence was laid out like a ring around the central bazaar in the middle on one side and various building fronts along the outside cavern walls on the other – mostly bars, thieves’ dens, whorehouses, temples to dark gods, and houses of ill repute whose structures ran deeply back behind the store front into the bedrock of the cave. I ran at full speed away from the spiraling staircase and the fuck clowns who were coming down it and raced towards the closest whorehouse, The Red Rooster.
Fresh white paint coated the wooden exterior of the two-story building which sat like shifted blocks sitting atop one another. The upper floor ended in a balcony that was held up by a semi-circle of white pillars that framed the ground floor’s open double-doors which led into the Red Rooster’s parlor. I was paid up there and knew the girls to be a real handful when provoked. After all, there’s nothing anyone in this life wants less than having to deal with an army of angry prostitutes.
It was run by a woman named Allie; she was my second favorite kind of anal slut. Originally from the frozen tundra several hundred miles North of here, she’d spent most of her life running various brothels in The Isles catering to pirates, thugs, convict mages, assorted villains, and various assortments of different types of bastards. While profitable enough to make ends meet, the inherent attitude towards Northerners had put a ceiling on her finances, which is why several years ago she migrated to Vincinni along with her best good time girls. With minimal competition here, a thriving market due to the influx of lonely immigrants, and the keeping on staff of both males and females of some of the more bizarre and commonly hated races as to indulge the sexual cravings of even the most exotic travelers, she had already put herself in the running for top whorehouse in the city.
As I fled through the double doors and into the suddenly stunning bright light of the many lamps and beautiful bodies laying about the parlor room, holding my julienned left hand against my abdomen, I saw her standing behind the royal purple sofa, book in hand and giving me that raised eyebrow I’d seen a hundred times before.
Looking down from my face she calmly said, “I suppose I should be thankful that you’re using a different appendage to make a mess all over my new carpet this time; variety being the spice of life and all that. Come over here and let me get a good look at it, and by ‘it’ I definitely mean your bloody hand and not your genitals.”
“You can have a good look at both in just one second. Right now we have about twenty seconds before guards come pouring in through your front door looking for more than beer and pussy. Where’s a god damn place to hide in here?”
Failing to suppress it, a slight smile appeared on her apple-red lips and she motioned me towards where the grandfather clock stood against the wall, leaving only a half inch at best for me to fit in.
“How the fuck do you expe–” I started, interrupted when a hard shove on my lower back sent me face forward into what I thought was solid cherry wood. It was a false dimension, magickally leading me into extra planar space invisible from the Red Rooster’s parlor. It smelled like what the purple sofa must have smelled like after an orc gangbang had left it soaking in gallons of slimy green semen and vaginal juices. I was quickly reconsidering how much better this was than capture.
“Where iss he?” hissed and creaked out a voice from beyond my private magickal splooge lodge. It sounded goblinoid, and the way it strained suggested that it belonged to the one I had decked at the bottom of the stairs. I reached into my bag for a jar of explosive jelly, wondering if I could use it to light the inside of my nose on fire just a little bit in case the bastard out there jawed away for any significant amount of time.
“I don’t know who you’re talking about, Sugar Pie. It’s just me and the ladies. I do have a few of your kind up stairs if you’re looking for a good time.”
“Ssshut up, whore! I ssaw him come……AAAAIIIIIIEEEYAH!!!!! FUCK YOU, BITCH!” He spat out in a rage shortly before the sounds of things breaking and screaming took full control of the room just outside my filthy, magickal jizz hut.
The noise seemed to be carrying itself into The Fence, so I peered outside of my extra dimensional cum rag for a look and breath of air that didn’t make regret every inappropriate thought I’d had since I was ten. I looked on out the parlor where Allie was yelling at the other guards about exactly who does and does not call her a whore without getting a crossbow bolt in the leg for it. The bickering continued briefly, the grey, steely swords of the guards standing in contrast to the bright, glittering silver of the daggers and switchblades the girls had pulled out.
As the crescendo was building towards bloodshed and missing body parts (my money was, as always, on the hookers) a pale-faced, towering human the size of a stone golem in midnight-black armor emerged from the Armory at the edge of the Bazaar. He glided up expressionlessly and simply gestured to Allie with a single straight pointer finger. The guards looked upset, almost burning, but thought better of the situation and slinked back to their posts like dogs who’d just had their noses pressed in their own piss.
In his same, cold manner he nodded once to Allie and started on his way back. She turned back towards me with a pale, blank look of dread on her face and came back in with the girls in tow. She motioned over to me and quickly we made our way up the stairs to her private quarters.
“I fucking hate that guy, Raelin, and now I owe him something. I felt him gazing right through me. He knows you’re here, and given his mood since that armory of his got robbed I’m surprised he didn’t slice a path through me and my girls and then come in here to tear you apart. I don’t know. You’re lucky he’s under the impression that me owing him something is more valuable than the pleasure he’d take in hurting us… all of us, the sadistic fucking bastard,” she said, sighing and letting her shoulders slouch just a bit as she exhaled breath. “Now let me see your hand.”
She sounded upset, and my attempt to offer a rebuttal was rudely interrupted when she unceremoniously dug her thumb down into the wound, not hard enough to rip but hard enough to let me know she meant business. She always did have a touch of the rough side in her.
She also had a point. I’d been down here enough to know that the Blacksmith could be bad, bad news. He sold top quality magickal weapons and armor for the kinds of prices normally paid for large, elegant buildings and ransoms for the royal and noble brats whose caretakers weren’t careful enough. Beyond that no one had ever heard much about him, and anyone who dealt with him even casually didn’t care to. He’d been especially unpleasant since his Armory was broken into and raided for what were rumored to be several rare and expensive artifacts and potions. No thieves’ guild would be so foolish as to invite that much bloodshed, so whoever the culprit was would either have to be a master burglar, a lucky kleptomaniac, or really rock-fucking stupid.
As I was searching back through old memories of what I knew of the Fence in general and him in particular I was relieved to feel the flesh of my left hand reattach, feeling a little bit like a menthol cigarette tastes.
“It’s a special balm; supposedly it’s made from tiger blood. Cost me a pretty penny from the gypsy I got it from — a cost which, of course, I know you’ll only be too happy to cover,” she said smiling and looking at me with her bright, sky-blue eyes. “Now the real question, of course, is as to whether it’s business or pleasure that leads you down here.”
I drew my newly mended hand back and reached into my trouser pocket for a fag. Lighting it I looked over and said, “Originally the plan had been to settle a score with some junkie orcs, but while I’m here waiting I suppose we could find some way to kill the time.”
I fetched out some gold coins and laid them on the ivory-topped nightstand by her bed. The sex itself had undertones of her biography. For those from the frozen North sex was as much about avoiding frostbite on the nether bits in the few moments spent out from under the layers of furs they were accustomed to. Out about on and near The Isles the temperature is normally much warmer which meant more sunburns and body sweat, and accordingly there was as little full body to full body, lying side by side or on top of one another contact as possible. And so she told me her life story with her body, including hints at chapters of which I’d never read before.
I interjected with my own editorial and finished with an epilogue any bard could be proud of and collapsed deep into sleep, and when I awoke to the sounds of creaking beds and the moans and grunts of people engaged in the world’s oldest profession I was glad to find the money on the nightstand gone but none missing from my pack.
Although no coins were missing, the same could not be said about my clothes. I grabbed a fag out of my pack, lit it, and began to visually search the room. The frilly tons of girly clothes and undergarments strewn about the room in here meant it could be a seriously time consuming endeavor to find my pants.
The room itself was nice and big, wrapped in a new coat of beige-paint with just a trace of pink and had only two exits – one door leading back into the cat house and another on the opposite wall leading on to the balcony where various chairs and couches sat looking over The Fence. The large Eastern-King bed sat on the right side of the room nestled under a hodgepodge of mixed sets of sheets; the blues, greens, purples, oranges in all assortments of stripes, plaids, and polka dots came together nicely considering their chaotic origin, producing an atmosphere of comfortable fun. Around the room leading up to the closet was a mix of pillows, sheets, clothes, and undergarments in every conceivable style and color. A pair of silky red panties here, a golden bra for a three-breasted creature there, a fake werewolf wig lying next to them to finish the look; this place truly was Allie’s.
There I was, naked and needing a good look around. The guards might have pissed their pants and ran off in fright once, but that didn’t mean the green peckerheads wouldn’t hold a grudge. With the unlimited feminine resources at my disposal an idea came to mind. I donned a bright, blonde wig, some fake tits, and the right bra to match them, wrapped myself in a red women’s kimono,and finally put on stiletto heels-partially to fulfill my disguise and partially out of curiosity (fuck you for judging me). The look completed, I grabbed my pack and made my way out onto the balcony and pulled up a seat next to the rail, garnering myself a good look down over the rest of the gaping cavern and getting surprisingly comfortable
I pulled out my goggles of true seeing and zoomed in at various spots across The Fence. Far across the way was the tavern where I was sure those fucking dope-fiend, thieving orcs were. The thieves’ dens were active as usual and I caught more than a few comers and goers working under invisibility cloaks. I thought back to what Allie had said about the Blacksmith and glanced down to his building as a young, red-haired human-elf breed was frantically knocking on the Armory’s side door.
The door opened and there emerged the big, dark fucker with an envelope in his hands. I didn’t have time to make out what was written on the outside, if anything, but I quietly followed his movements from my perch as he hastily made his way towards the southern edge of the cavern into what was seemingly just a wall that that upon closer inspection gave off a single, barely visible line of shimmer from the cavern floor up to about the seven foot mark. An extra-dimensional doorway and one that hopefully didn’t reek of savage orc ejaculate.
I considered the situation and made a mental note about the doorway and went back to watching the rat hole where those fuckers were doing my drugs. Before a terribly huge amount of time elapsed one of those green skinned fuck nuggets appeared with something tucked beneath his arms. His name was Erik, only a half-orc by birth, and I remembered him clearly — mouthy, stupid, full of false courage, and in serious need of a morning star to his fucking throat. He walked down the road to his right, heading south until finally he made his way into the same secret passage that the breed had gone into earlier. On second thought, maybe I did wish for that portal to reek of monster crotch slime.
Raelin Saretti is a resident of Vincinni and is currently employed as an official Bard and Crier. He has no relatives to bother him, thank the gods, and can usually be found amusing himself in The Dreamscape or at one of the local taverns down in The Emporium. He responds well to cash.