CageRattlers
"The hand that rattles the Cage is the hand that rules the world..."
-- Cager proverb

"COOKIE" COMSTOCK
Copyright 1999 by Jarkman, art by Karl Mikalsen

( Planar / male tiefling [vaporighu] / W[Alchemist]6 / Xaositects / CN )

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Many a bub-house or soup kitchen in the seedier parts of the Cage has gained a degree of notoriety or fame depending on the skill and temperament of their respective head chefs or "gours" -- either that, or just the low priced rot-gut bub available on tap. Allesha's Pantry and Addle-Pated's Cold Bowl are both well known to the living flotsam of the Hive Ward as places to go for a free, semi-palatable meal. In the Lower Ward, there's the bar special at the Red Pony or standard mercenary's fare at the Sword and Buckler, but nothing really noteworthy for a blood with refined taste - certainly nothing on par with the cuisine served at Imel's Happy Tongue or supplied to the high-up's tables at Fortune's Wheel. Sooner or later then, a "mandy" berk will become irritating enough that they will be told to go try something from Comstock's Kitchen, if only to stop their whining - after all, you don't hear many complaints from the fiends ...

See, Comstock runs the kitchen at The Styx Oarsman Tavern, providing fare for the tanar'ri, yugoloths and other fiendish types that seethe there. As his skills lean towards catering to a more tanar'ric aesthetic, food served at the tavern has a less than agreeable effect on those of a less than fiendish persuasion. In recent times, several fatal poisonings have occurred, mainly amongst foolish Sensates or naïve Clueless. Even the odd gannet of a tiefling is occasionally stricken with a severe case of Xaos-belly after dining out at the Oarsman.

Nobody's really sure where Comstock learnt his culinary expertise (though some would argue that anyone who cooks so well for tanar'ri can't claim to have any skills whatsoever). Rumours abound as to his origin and former employment, with Rule-of-Three claiming Comstock once prepared grub for an Abyssal Lord of rot and decay till the tanar'ri high-up couldn't stand the sod's halitosis polluting his pestilential palace any longer. Other bubbers reckon Comstock's really a fallen proxy of the hedonistic Olympian power, Dionysus, cursed into his current loathsome shape. The only thing generally agreed upon about "Cookie" is that the creature is indeed one mighty unpleasant cuss.

Cookie

SEE ALSO:

Cage Rattlers:--
Berchta, Jarkman Vries, Lathly Dim, Nux, Savoire, Zegonz Vlaric.
Uncaged: Faces of Sigil:--
"Wooly" Cupgrass (p.22), Rule-of-Three (p.84), Seamusxanthuszenus (p.92).
In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil:--
Ensin's Discount Elixirs (p.95)
Brix's Guide to the Cage:--
The Styx Oarsman Tavern, which is also detailed further on the Mimir.

Now, the least lanned tap-sage can tell a cutter that "Cookie" is no doxy to look at, but then few bashers have got close enough to have a look at the gour face to face. The exact descriptions vary, but cutters like Talleyrand, who claim to have caught a glimpse of Comstock (unlike those that flee in terror at the sight of him), say that old "Cookie" can't be anything but the wrong side of a vaporighu and something else. Even if the rumour about the Abyssal Lord isn't true, the stench of the gour's breath is enough to make even a clueless kender decide maybe Comstock ain't as intriguing as they first thought. Sure, the fiends at the Oarsman don't seem to mind so much -- but then again, the kitchen seems to have mighty good ventilation compared to the rest of the tavern.

It's not even worth mentioning his personal hygiene. Let's just say that Jarkman Vries, the tavern's vituperous Athar doorman, likes to taunt passing proxies and priests with a phrase involving "Cookie" and a particularly unsavoury act. Don't even ask -- you really, really don't want to know.

Still, it's not just his terrible breath or his remarkable stench that gives a basher pause. Like most notorious gours in the Hive and Lower Wards (and some disgruntled waiting staff will extend this to those of the Lady's Ward as well), "Cookie" is, well ... fiendishly difficult to get along with. So, maybe he is vaporighu-spawned and thereby descended from a race almost defined by their hatred of everything else in existence, but to be a barmy Xaositect as well just makes the tiefer well nigh unapproachable. With his chaotic personality and his unerring aim with a favoured rusted iron cleaver, Comstock has transformed several would-be clients into the special of the week before the poor sods could finish their request.

Despite the difficulty in dealing with the berk, there's a unsteady trickle of bashers that seek Comstock's services out. They don't queue in line for tidbits of food though -- well, none of the sane ones anyway. Those hopeful cutters that approach old "Cookie" are mainly looking to utilise his less known culinary skills and to catch him in one of his more lucid moments, when they can make the gour an offer he'll accept. See, although Comstock is only slightly less barmy than the old Bleaker factol, Tollysalmon, he's an undisputed master apothecary, potion brewer and alchemist.

Looking for a vile toxin to lay low a fiend or a friend? Comstock can fix you one in exchange for an eladrin's broken heart. Need a cure for an unlucky sod tossed in the Styx? "Cookie" will concoct an acrid infusion for the price of a baatezu's tear or a murska's love. Fact is, although Comstock might ask for the unlikeliest payment in return, the barmy tiefling can and will deliver the desired potion, tea, poultice or ointment once the client has handed over the agreed price. Trouble is most of the items Comstock wants in return are either rare, difficult to acquire or just plain impossible. The payment demanded can range simply from a rare organ of a planar creature to the encapsulation of an abstract concept and "Cookie" only delivers when the request is filled. Generally, the more potent or unique the desired elixir, the more impossible and esoteric the demanded service is in return. Still, there's many a tale told in the alehouses of some cutter's quest to procure the needed payment. Some of the bashers that have succeeded in the past have gone on to become well respected bloods around the planes, with wild rumours placing Tarsheeva Longreach among them.

After all that's been said here, peery cutters might be suspicious that the Xaositect's just peeling his customers, but to date all of Comstock's concoctions have had the desired miraculous effects. Several canny bashers have taken the procured brews to be tested by "Wooly" Cupgrass and on each occasion the liquid has been exactly what was ordered. So, although many cutters steer well clear of the chance offered by "Cookie", dismissing those that do as fools, there are just enough desperate enough or determined enough to try their luck and trust to the barmy old gour's unblemished reputation. Just how the tiefling comes up with the goods is any berk's guess, but then most of the clients don't really want to delve too deeply into what ingredients "Cookie" actually uses ...

Comstock could not be said to have any friends as such - the ill tempered sod is generally too chaotic to sustain any lasting relationships for long. The closest creature to Comstock is a consumptive old female vorr that he tolerates to kennel at the back of his kitchen and occasionally throws scraps to. Of course, the ancient canine's back legs are so arthritic she can barely move, so maybe it's not entirely by choice that the creature sits on the back porch off Gambit Alley. The Old Bitch ( Planar / vorr [shaman] / HD3+4 / CE ), as she is sometimes referred to by Comstock, seems to have wheezed and coughed around the gour for as long as he's been in the Cage, which is about as long as the tavern's been around it seems. She's somewhat of a revered figure amongst the local wild dogs and feral Aoskian hounds that roam the streets of the Lower Ward. She and the other dogs can be heard howling into the night over the corpse of some street bubber that they have brought her, almost like a primitive ceremony. Comstock puts up with the irregular howling and most of the tavern staff and patrons don't mind the noise at all. Besides, "Cookie" can always find a good use for some fresh ingredients.

Several successful customers have reported that the yikaria, Berchta, seems to be visiting the vaporighu-spawn more often lately and rumours of a romance are making the rounds of the Lower Booths. Seems like this might be causing some friction between "Cookie" and the Oarsman's barman, the deformed fomorian known as Lathly Dim, but no one's quite sure why. Normally, Lathly and Comstock have little if anything to say to each other, but chant goes that the fomorian has become more spiteful lately, occasionally looking up from his station at the taps to glare through into the kitchen at the oblivious "Cookie". Nothing's happened yet, but Nux the ettercap was overhead saying to her friend, Savoire, that she was worried that Lathly would provoke the belligerent gour in some way. The quesar didn't seem too upset by the prospect of a fight between the tiefling and the fomorian, but then again she holds little love for the deformed giant-kin, despite his friendship with the ettercap.

The only other bashers "Cookie" seems to have any time for are his suppliers, but most only ensure delivery of ordered goods and not actual face to face meetings. Couriers with wares from Ensin's Discount Elixirs or Parts & Pieces (Seamusxanthuszenus) know to just drop off deliveries at the kitchen's back porch and most won't wait around for Comstock to tip them. Most of the time they collect the required payment from the Old Bitch, who at least smells a bit better than the vaporighu spawn himself. Every now and then some Clueless shows up with a delivery or order from some Prime blood called Shaun Taunador who's rumoured to be some sort of merchant-squid from a prime burg called Skullport. Seems like Zegonz Vlaric, the tavern's githzerai proprietor doesn't know much about this last little arrangement, but whether knowledge of this would rouse the ex-zerth from his profound melancholia is debatable -- the embittered Bleaker seems more withdrawn than ever these days.


Cage Rattlers
Consult the Mimir Again