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Barmy to the Spire

the Barmy Shorts Company Presents
Don't I Know You From Somewhere?

by Tom Bubul

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It was a cool day in Sigil, as most are. The metallic tasting fog clung equally well to the ground as it did to the ankles of those who walked through it, making walking in Sigil's streets feel alot like slogging along through knee deep mud, or a shallow river. Breathing the air could also be likened, by some, to breathing knee deep mud or a shallow river as well. It's not the most pleasant of places... thus the unusually large number of places to go and get drunk, one of the favourite pasttimes of the locals.

On cold, foggy days like this, it's rare to find gnomes out of their houses... they sometimes actually drown in the fog. When you're not that tall, it's not the greatest place to be out and about. Rumour has it that Sigil's fog actually enjoys the taste of gnome, but that's probably just screed passed by some barmy in the Gatehouse. One can never tell, though, as the fact remains that gnomes are found dead in the streets on foggy days, from time to time.

Of coarse, some gnomes could care less if the fog likes gnome flesh or not, they tell it to Bugger Off So I Can Go Get Drunk. One such gnome, Dribblikins Wockithopper* (referred to by all of his friends and some of his enemies even as Dribbly, or Dribbles), could care less what nibbled his limbs and froze his extremeties on days like this, as long as they didn't try and stop him from getting to The Ice Cube, a little bar where Acheronian war veterans liked to hang out. It was right up the road from his little thatched kip, and he knew the owner (in that he knew the man's name and sometimes asked him favours, for example, "How about a glass of gin?"). The other clientelle didn't mind him, because he didn't bite much anymore. He fought in a few battles on Acheron in his earlier years, after missing a portal to Bytopia to visit some aunts. He preferred fighting with kobolds than fighting with aunts, so he stayed a bit, until he realized drinking in Sigil was alot more fun (and slightly less life threatening). Standing short for a gnome, his wiry, tangled beard, largish nose, and ruddy cheeks showed his great health. And at 153, he was still able to drink with the best of them.

* "It's pronounced Dri-bull-kins Wockit-hopper, not bloody Wocky-thopper, sod it!" - the last thing heard by many a door to door sailsman on Radagast Run

Svardkiny Qviqers, a kobold shock soldier, was also in Sigil that day. Awarded with several honours for bravery and number of people he killed while in a Bladeling army's shock troups, he retired a happy kobold. Like Dribblekins, he too came to Sigil upon retirement, realizing it's much easier to get drunk and smash bottles on a few other drunken peoples' heads than it is to get blood thirsty and smash maces on an entire army's heads. With one eye, his two foot tall, leathery skin covered, muscley frame was the envy of most of the city's kobold population, though noone ever did anything about it because it's rather daft to attack ex-shock troupers. They have a tendancy to be a bit tougher than you. He hobbled up Radagast Run, which led to The Ice Cube, his favourite bar, which (as was mentioned before) caters to veterans from Acheron's wars. His good leg padded softly across the cobbles, but his bad leg, well, didn't. It was good down to the knee, but the rest was a peg, so he had to use a crutch. He used the crutch more to pound the living hell out of people who called him a cripple than he did to help himself walk, but the fact remained that he carried a crutch. He pushed through the wooden swinging front doors to The Ice Cube, and took his seat at the bar.

Dribblekins Wockithopper waded down the street through the thick fog, cursing everything imaginable. If he didn't hurry, he thought, he might not make it for his one o'clock gin - and if he did, he usually got bad stomach cramps. Of coarse, the amount of gin he drank gives him stomach cramps too, but that isn't really the point. At least he's too drunk to feel the pain that way. Eventually, he tumbled out of the fog under the swinging wooden doors of The Ice Cube, getting momentarily stuck in a plank in the wooden floor. He pulled himself loose in time to hear cries of "Heya, Dribble!" "What ho, Dribbley!" "Want a napkin to clean your chin off with, Dribbley?" "How's your cousin Drooley?" and the other standard, worn out puns he heard almost every hour. He cursed all of them under his breath, thinking that he wouldn't let argueing about his name with the likes of humans delay his getting drunk any longer than he had been waiting. He hopped spryly over to the bar, where he climbed up a stool and onto the counter, where he stomped for attention. The ill-lit, quiet room would be eerie to the casual alcoholic, who prefers a bustling tavern where quaffing goes on, but ex-Acheron fighters prefer the quiet atmosphere, wispering their conversations between pints. Lit by candles in a chandelier and two fog and dust covered windows, the place could only be described as being dreery... and the clientelle liked it that way.

"Sammy," the name which belongs to the sole bartender and owner of the little kip, "where's me gin?"

"I been busy, mista Wocky-thopper," Dribbley ignored this, "I been servin' this cutter here. I'll get yours right off, I will." Sam Quirple (pronounced like 'purple', but with a Q instead of a P), the place's owner, usually had Dribble's gin ready in a big pint glass, which took him an hour or so to drink. It was a rare thing when old Dribbley got to the top of his stool and clambered onto the bar, and didn't find his death defying pint, a glass of liquor that could kill most humans. Sam was a skinny, tallish human with a very wrinkly face and bristely whiskers all over his face. Circular, wire framed and slightly fogged glasses stood on the end of his long nose, and his receding, grey hairline betrayed his old age. His wobbely old hands have been mixing and serving drinks for forty years, say the rumours, in The Ice Cube in particular for at least twenty two. He poured the gin into the same pint glass he'd been serving Dribbley with for the past however many years it had been, as he did every day, but Dribbley wasn't paying much attention.

The old gnome squinted, pushed back his red pointy hat (which some gnomes - usually drunks - do in fact wear, it helps their balance), and turned slowly to look at the kobold standing on the stool next to his. Quite a rugged looking beastie, he looked like he'd been to, well, Baator and back. The peg leg was a bit overdramatic, thought Dribbley, but kobolds had a tendancy to get like that. The rat-like warrior had two empty glasses of gin sitting in front of him, as was evident by the thick smell radiating from the small puddle of liquor that'd dripped down the glass's side. The kobold in turn cranked his neck muscles to make his head look to the right. He staired down his rat-like nose, nodded slightly, and stared (rather impolitely, thought the gnome).

Dribbles took a sip of his alcohol, refocused his vision, and stared back. He pointed at a scar on his right cheek, without blinking. "Green Cube Seventeen, Battle o' de Explodin' Orcs."

Svardkiny Qviqers didn't blink either, but mearly pulled held out his right hand. A finger was missing. "Bladeling Strike Nineteen, on Green Cube Thirty Seven. Lietenant Alex of the Bladeling Fifth alerted his enemies that He Has Not Yet Begun To Fight."

Dribbley took the boot off of his left foot, and showed the fact that he had no toes there. "Battle o' de Five Silver Cubes, in the Goblin 9th's surprise attack."

Svardkiny smiled and nodded slightly, and showed off his missing left leg. "Green Cube Fourty Seven, care of the Bladeling 5th's Gnome Shock Troops."

Dribbles picked up his pint, and clinked it against Svardkiny's, and grinned. "Dribblikins Wockithopper, cheers. I was in that battle too, quite a whopper eh?"

The kobold grinned wide, and took a long quaff at his drink. "Svardkiny Qviqers, what side were you on?"

The gnome couldn't help turning red, "Well, the Bladeling 5th's Gnome Shock Troops, actually. Some of da lads in me bunch was real bastards, I can see dem chopping a bug - er - kobold's leg off."

The kobold nodded. "It was a mess, that battle. Good thing it's over, lots of blood lost for nothing."

"Yep."

They both fell into their drinks for an awkward silence...

"I used to collect gnome left ears, heh." "I used to bite kobolds till dey'd cry, heh."

"Yez aren't de Svardkiny Qviqers, are yez? Killed two hundred?" "You aren't the Dribblikins Wockithopper, are you? Bit off whole limbs?"

"Er, yes..." "Er, yes..."

"Er, well, you seem to have bit my leg off, my friend."

"Mmm, sorry. I might still have it, I kept a few as souvenirs. Didn't know I had a celebrity's leg, though."

"S'ok, didn't know my leg got bit off by a celebrity either." They both blushed a bit.

"Tell you what, this round is on me, ok?" said Dribbles.

"Ok, I'd say that about makes up for lost limbs. How was the Green Cube Seventeen?"

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All content copyright 1999 Jeremiah Golden or credited authors.