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the Spire

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Barmy to the Spire

The Barmy Shorts Company Presents
The Soap Box Hecklers
by Tom Bubul

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In Sigil, you have two types of people. The visitors, and the Cagers. It's like sharks and minnows. One of them always gets chewed on by the other. Cagers are one of the most elitist groups in the multiverse, and woe to anyone who says otherwise, or worse, tries to call themselves a Cager without backing it up. Of coarse, some groups are worse than others - Takers'll knock you on the head for calling yourself a Cager, so they can grab your money. Xaositects'll do it just because, or maybe they won't.

But the Athar'll knock you on the head if you come in talking about your power... and there's no worse bunch than the Soapbox Hecklers, who hang around outside the Shattered Temple and abuse the sods who come through the nearby portal from the Palace of Judgement. They're generally old cutters, so old that the sods they heckle don't come after them, or that they command enough power to fend attackers off if they decide to attack. Yes. On one particular rainy day, three hecklers sat beneath a curtain on little stools they'd fashioned out of, appropriate to their name, soap boxes. Their gray beards hung down, in two cases, into the muddy streets... the third was a bald gnome, only eleven inches tall. They watched the portal ripple blue, as a beautiful white horse stepped through into the rain, becoming almost instantly a sodden, oily coloured beast, bearing a proud, armoured rider. Big feathery plumes stuck in his armoured helm. A fat, red face looked out the visor at the Sigilian scenery, and quirked a largish eyebrow. He got down from his horse and looked up and down the streets. Then just up and down. He stamped a pantalooned leg hard on the cobbles, cracking them and splashing some water up on his armour.

He looked at the hecklers, who were already poking eachother and giggling mutedly. One's elbow bumped up, and he whispered, "Me elbow just quirked. It's a paladin, the elbow dunna lie."

"Here ye! Pray, where am I, kind sirs?" bellowed the man on the dripping horse.

A heckler looked at him and chuckled, "Sigil. And judging by that holy symbol you're wearing, some generic god of thunder or somesuch sent yer to the wrong place, sonny."

The man's eyes brightened. "I am a mighty paladin of the great Namresh, and proxy of her! How dare you insult me!" He tried to flash his armour impressively in the storm. The flash that ensued was far from impressive, unfortunately, as an executioner's raven had decided to tarnish his armour since he'd stepped through the portal.

"Namresh?" said the second heckler, a greybeard with only five or six teeth in his mouth, "Never heard of him. Definately a generic power with no strength," he grinned, "That's not to say that other powers have any power, of coarse."

The man waved his hand at them to silence them... then looked back at his horse, and back at the hecklers, grinning like hyenas. "Regardless of whether you old men know of the great Namresh or not, this isn't where she sent me to do her bidding. How, pray old men, do I wedge my horse back through this... portal?"

"She's yez horse!" cried the gnome, watching the paladin puff up slightly as he absorbed more rain. A cart trundled by and sloshed more water on his horse. "Yez figure it out! Harharhar! What a masta, canevengetisorse through de door!"

The man frowned. The portal was two-way, and he had the key, but the horse was the tricky bit. He didn't know how to get her through. Horses, afterall, can't just be pushed through portals all that easily. It grunted at him for even thinking of pushing her through.

"What's wrong? The great and fantastic proxy of Namresh give up so quick?"

He glared at the horse. It neighed and shook it's head.

"You're going through that..." he grunted, "portal... or my name... isn't..." he pushed, very, very hard, the horse not budging, "SANTIAGO!!!"

The hecklers pointed and laughed. "The great Namresh didn't give you the evangelism to move a horse's arse, some proxy!" "If you can't budge a beast, how do you budge men?" "Boy oh! What a sod! Can't even move his mount!"

The man stood sodden, and waved his fist. He drew his sword and yelled at the sky, "I AM SANTIAGO!!" and the horse turned around and looked into the portal. The man looked back up at the sky and grinned happily, and thanked it for being so nice to him. The old men still chortled.

He slapped his horse. "Go, Gwenny!" He commanded. It neighed.

The old men rolled about laughing. The gnome nearly got crushed. "Try giving it a carrot, oh might proxy?" "How about it rides you out of town?" "Yez! Yez! Eep!"

The man blushed red, and spurred the horse. It moved towards the portal slowly, and eventually sucked through. The men looked at eachother and giggled.

"That was fun."

"He probably thought this wasn't Sigil, the sod. That was the third one from Namresh this week, what a bloody stupid power to pick people like that."

"Let them keep coming, they're funny. Try and spread the word in my town? Nope."

"Erf! Gerrof me!"

Fini.

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All content copyright 1999 Jeremiah Golden or credited authors.