What's all this barmy stuff?
Want to find out what has been forgotten in the Styx?
Not enough barminess for you?
by Tom Bubul
O N E
At two hours before Antipeek, a young, blue skinned girl hopped over the prison walls and into Courier's Square, where she proceeded to walk several blocks in the darkness. In the light cast by the passing light boys and occasional flashes from the Foundry's angrily smoking spires, her short, brown prickly hair can be seen waving slightly above her light blue forehead, broken on both sides of her head by slightly pointed ears. Her young, thin features and big eyes seem accented by the shadows. Leather gauntlets covering her arms up to the elbow give way to her blue skinned, arms. Small, girlish shoulders are kept warm in the cold Sigilian night by a thick woolen cape, while, contrary to the above, she wears not but a light fitting, tank top and skirt for clothing. Heavy combat boots, complete with spurs and goblin-face kneecaps extend to her middle thighs, and the distance between them and the bottom of her skirt is covered by thick, striped stockings. A leather purse hangs at her side, bouncing against the upper portion of her boots. The portrait of Sigilian fashion and beauty, no knight of the post would dare attack her for more than one reason, but especially one in specific.
At almost the exact same time, another more fiendish female made an exit. In the Gymnasium, in a fit of motion, a particular woman got up and jolted out. Pounding on two hooves across the city in a flurry of flying, brown tresses, whipping lizard tail, flying cape, and ultra-focused senses, she made her way in the same general direction as the girl who escaped the Prison. Apart from a pair of spiked shoulder pads, she wore a leather top and large, puffy shorts - through the bottom of which extended her madly pounding hooves. In one hand she carried a staff, and in the other she held a purse. Her face, though not as young as her human compatriot across the city, was also young and feminine - though a sense of extreme, focused purpose radiated from her half-closed black eyes. Eight long, silver-wrapped bits of hair whipped about in sync with her tail, which was studded with silver bits on the end. A holey, brown, dirty cape trailed behind her, the edges frayed badly from such trips across the city. With determination and extreme focus she ran through the sparse crowds of Sigil's flourishing Antipeek areas, nothing so much as crossing her mind other than her current motive.
The upstairs of a bar. Wooden plank floor lets in the trailing music and barmy noise from below. Pleasantly warm, thanks to fire burning below, and well lit thanks to a good view of the Foundry from the room's solitary window, the place resembles the stereotypical Anarchist cell's meeting grounds. Slightly low ceilings would make an uncomfortable place for tall people, but the room's width would allow for several people to sit comfortably. A circular wooden table with five chairs around it sat in the room's center, waiting for it's occupants... one of which was below, even now.
In the bar, whose name will remain anonymous so that it's five patrons won't be pestered in their future meetings, a woman wearing a curve-hugging, colourful dress and high heeled boots slammed down another glass of gin. A golden band around her forehead with a single pearl dangling in it's center held her short hair away from the mess her sport was causing. A silk cape, tied around her neck with two strings, blew out behind her without the aid of wind, to add to her flamboyant presence. Her shouts of "I've forgotten what it feels like to be this drunk" echoed around the bar, though none of the place's men cared to put any moves on this apparently rich, and strikingly beautiful, drunken woman... they all somehow just knew it wasn't safe, something in their primal instincts said that it'd earn them a slap. Nevertheless, she quirked a seductive eyebrow at the bartender, motioned for him to come closer, stroked his chin, whispered something in his ear, and he got her another glass of gin before turning a deep shade of red. She stroked back her short black hair, lifted the glass gently with her silk-gloved hand up to her lips, and quaffed it like any self respecting dwarf would - getting the liquor all over the bar and nearby patrons. She shrugged, dropped a few stingers on the counter, and staggered into a back room... where she climbed a ladder up to the attic.
Cackling laughter filled the skies of the Lower Ward. Rats scurried away, the local mothers shielded their children's eyes and ears, store doors were closed down. From the shadows marched yet another young woman, this one human, purposefully through town. The word through should be stressed, as she didn't turn aside for the locals, or even the buildings. Kicking, burning, and chopping her path through the streets, she made a distinct path in approximately the same direction as her two blue-skinned comrades... a few city blocks from the Foundry.
The pillars of flame revealed her features... dark, one might say ashy, smooth skin and facial features. Narrow, dark brown eyes with fine brows, no wrinkles on her face. Long brown hair flying madly in behind her in the wind, thin lips parted in a grin of pearly, one might say hungry looking, teeth. On one hand, she manipulated a great, steel, spiked gauntlet like any Tanar'ri would. The other, dressed in a leather glove that reached up to her elbow, she kept clenched in a fist. Around her upper left arm, she wore a steel band, and on her right shoulder, a spiked pad depicting a goblins face... the spikes being it's horns. Straps from her leather brassier were visible through a thin, silk shirt she wore, to protect from chafing by the steel breast plate she had on above it that she had specially made and remade to mold perfectly to her upper torso's curves. Over her shoulders, the leather strap that held her imposing sword's sheath was slung, and it bounced against her slightly as she ran. Two belts, one for her purse the other for her pants, sat loosely on her hips, holding up her tight, dark green silk pants. Where the women and children ran away, the men who pursued her for a kiss or more (who didn't listen to their instincts, as the men in the bar did for the drunken woman) got much more than they bargained for... usually a date with the gutter, and her smile would widen even more.
The bar at Antipeek was still alive, in that it had patrons, but they were all in such a state of mind that recognizing particular women was as easy as recognizing particular brands of liquor - any would do, and both, that night at least, were bad for you.
A cold wind blew through the bar as it's door was unhinged slightly, and then slammed abruptly. Alcohol spilled around the bar as it's various patrons tried to focus on the two blurry, bluish women sidling across the far wall towards the closet. Coming into focus as just one girl, she looked quite calm and gathered, if a bit cold. She nodded to the bar, where it's bartender gave her a sort of nervous salute, and made for the closet that the woman earlier had went to. Inside, there was a ladder. She climbed it.
Not ten minutes later, the door got slammed open, and what may have been a bariaur, a satyr, or worse charged straight through the bar's center en route to the closet. "It seems a popular place for nice looking gels to congregate," thought a drunk, as she knocked his table out of the way. Her hooves pounded hard against the wooden floor, and the echoes of the stomps hung in the air even after she left into the closet - which was no more than a few minutes after she arrived. The bartender calmly picked up knocked over tables and chair, and quietly closed the door, through which was blowing an unpleasant, cold wind.
No sooner had the door been closed a debris cleared, was a cackling laughter heard. The door was completely taken off the wall, and a young, darkly dressed woman walked through the center of the room as the previous had, but slower, and with a big sword swinging, chopping things up.
"If they didn't pay so much, I wouldn't allow this. Hell, I'd probably allow it anyway, it's not everyday a cutter gets to see the likes of one of them, let alone four." said the barman, to noone in particular, as the closet door was sawed off the wall.
Four of the five chairs were filled, and the formerly drunken women leaned forward, grinning widely. She beamed happily at her new company, seemingly back in her normal frame of mind. She put her elbows up on the table and held her chin in her hands, and started talking.
"Whose deal is it?"
The young, blue skinned girl looked up and said, "Darius', but she doesn't appear to want to come down for the fun tonite. She said that if she was late, she'd just imagine the rest of us were too, and poof."
The girl in leather rolled her eyes, "Those Signers are a bunch of posh bastards, the lot of them. We should go burn their place down right now, it'd be fun, no?"
The fiendish one with the hooves merely quirked an eyebrow, but instinct must've told her not to act.
The formerly drunken one pulled a deck of cards out of her satchel, and passed them across the table to her younger, blue-skinned compatriot. "You're deal then, Alisohn."
Alisohn Nilesia shuffled and cut the cards, pushed her hair back, and dealt. "One of yours was making some not-so-subtle passes at me the other day, Erin."
Erin Montgomery grinned from ear to ear. "And you turned him down, I take it?"
The girl in leather spoke up, "Last time an underling came onto me, I slapped him in chains and whipped him silly."
Erin looked at her disdainfully, "That's not exactly my thing, Pentar."
Pentar grinned mischievously.
The fiendish one, who as of yet hadn't spoken, burst in, "Last time a guy said heyo to me was when I crashed into him in the Gymnasium."
Alisohn looked at her, "And?"
Rhys nodded slightly, "And he yelled 'Heyo, Factol, slow down!'"
"Mmm." She laid three jacks down on the table, drew a card, and placed one on a pile.
"I saw Vergrove with whathisname, Terrance, the other day," said Pentar, "They were wandering the Lower Ward looking for a good drink, apparently."
Erin frowned. "Vergrove wear tights still?"
Pentar nodded, Erin shivered.
Alisohn chimed in, placing her ten of hearts on the growing pile, drawing a card, "I saw Hashkar the other day. He's a bit worse than Ambar and his tight pants, what with the birdhouse he wears on his head."
Pentar giggled, Rhys put another ten on the pile and drew a card, "I think he's cute." The other stared at her, and she continued, "In a I'm Short And Wear Big Hats type way."
Erin scratched lightly at her arm as Pentar dropped a nine on the pile, and drew a card. Pentar still giggling and Alisohn quaking slightly, Erin said to noone in particular, "Well, at least he's not a sweaty, opportunistic little bastard of a dwarf that likes to tax people and act tough just because he's missing an eye and was able to survive on Baator for a little while. Definitely not my sort of man."
Pentar guffawed, Alisohn Nilesia stared across the table, Rhys exchanged glances with both, and gave Erin a kick. "Please, both of you."
Pentar idly put a jewel case on the table, and opened it up. "Lookit, ladies, at these fine daggers. They're meant for bar brawls, leaping across the table and stabbing people, that sort of thing. Very nice, aren't they?"
Alisohn and Erin both gave Pentar a funny grin, almost as to imply that her leather was too tight and constricting her thought processes, and went back to their cards. Erin drew one, and dropped a nine on the pile.
Pentar looked slightly disappointed, drew a card, and dropped the jack of clubs onto the pile. Rhys said "Githyanki," took Erin's three jacks and the one Pentar had dropped, and slid them in front of her.
Nilesia dropped a four onto the pile, drew her card, and it was Rhys's turn. She scooped up the whole pile, and with four nines, tens, jacks, and two fours. A large score.
Erin looked down, and whispered to Pentar playfully, "Never play cards with fiends."
Alisohn quirked an eyebrow, "No, never make a deal with fiends is the proper saying, I think." Rhys just looked at her hand placidly.
"A nice outfit you've got on, Pentar. Where'd you buy it?"
"Why, Erin, you have a passion for leather these days?"
"I've never worn leather, I thought it might be worth giving a try, you know?"
"A place in the Hive, the Leather Tiefling it's called - I got the shoulder pads in the gift shop. The rest is gifts from people, except this bit under my armour, a parai gave it to me once for finding it ten people to assimilate. What about your dress?"
"Why Pentar," Erin began sarcastically, "Are you going to start wearing floral outfits that aren't leather? And, helping the natural order of the Parai too, I'm impressed."
"No, I don't even like your dress, I was trying to be polite. As for the parai, once they assimilate a ton of people, we figure if we just kill their leader, the rest will come tumbling down. It'd save alot of time," she shrugged, and Alisohn snickered.
"What about you, Rhys? Who caters to your special needs in tail buckles and pants for satyr-legged tiefers?"
"I make my clothes," she said, as the turn came back to her. The others nodded appreciatively, and decided not to press the point. Erin turned her questioning gaze on Alisohn, who blushed slightly.
"Um. I, er, got this cloak made at a seamstress's, um, forget the name, and er, mumblemumblemumble."
"What's that Nilesia? You're mumbling."
"I said, the rest is from Rowan."
Pentar laughed some more, spilling her gin on the table. "A first name basis with him? That's rich! How much did you have to pay him for the gift? Is it interest-free, no money down? Or did he make you pay up front for his generosity?"
Alisohn frowned and made a go at her untouched Scotch, her ears red hot from the blush that was scampering around her face. Rhys patted her on the shoulder without looking up from her cards.
"It's not like we, er, you know..." began Alisohn, in her defense.
Pentar started up, "Please, let's not get into that. First name basis with him is bad enough, even suggesting you're on that kind of basis is frightening."
Alisohn almost exploded.
"Ever been to Evergold, Pentar?" Erin joked.
"On Arboria? Fountain of Eternal Youth, that?"
"I sent a half a legion of my best to destroy not last week," she giggled.
Erin rolled her eyes.
Alisohn spoke up, "Any of you been to the Blue Cube? It's nice there, electric mayhem. The resident dragon is a decent chap, once you get to know him."
Pentar shook her head, and Erin said, "I've been to it in the Sensorium, but outside that, no."
Alisohn said, "Well, you really must visit. It's quite nice."
Pentar said, "I'm partial to the standing stones on the Outlands. You can sit on one and get a free ride right around the place, if you can trick the stone into thinking you aren't there, and watch the plane crumble before you."
Rhys stood up and scooped up the cards, "Githyanki again, Pentar. I win. I'm going to see these standing stones." she took a small sip of her drink, and ran out.
Pentar stood up quickly, staring at the cards, and shouted, "Hey! Get back here! You bloody cheated! I'm going to burn down your bloody Gymnasium along with Darius and all her posh imaginators!" She chased after Rhys down the stares.
Erin sat staring at Alisohn, and they shared a moment of quiet understanding. Then Alisohn said "Harlot."
Erin said, "Darkwood."
"I bet you'll go with any man who says his experience is unique!"
"Maybe, but at least I'm not selling myself to ugly dwarves!"
They dove at eachother, and started pulling hair and kicking. After an hour or so, they both composed themselves, and said, "See you next month?"
Erin nodded. Alisohn nodded. They both straightened out their outfits and hair, and left.
All content copyright 1999 Jeremiah Golden or credited authors.