What's all this barmy stuff?
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Minauros: Sinking Waste
A small archway, so small as to be considered more a small drain, sits upon a small piece of masonry that has amazingly not sunk. All around the massive swamp slowly bubbles with a greenish tinge, and a few bugs buzz across the misty sky. From the small pipe, in a flash, appear a small gnome and a larger robed rilmani. They take a small arc from the portal, and land with a splash in the swampy waters. There face show a slight look of barminess before they sink under the waters, but amazingly, there hats, a small pointy one and a burnt turban still float on top.
A small bubbling sound phlbts up from under the pointy hat. A bubble, green and semi-transparent, forms - and begins to float upward. It's cargo, an embarrassed looking gnome who is apparently screaming muted obscenities from inside his muddy prison, is hopping about inside - trying to reach his hat, which is floating merrily atop the shimmering globe. It pops, the gnome flops, and the hat drifts along. Picking himself up and replacing his pointy hat, the gnome slogs over to the turban. "Merjie," he proclaims, "we izn't in Diz anymore."
Merj's feet appear out of the muck, sticking straight up. Though now wet and covered in slight green slime, they appear quite stylized: pointy leather boots with rusty buckles, followed up by light red and blue socks that hug the rilmani's thin feet. They bob slowly next to the turban, up and down slightly as his ankles appear and disappear. Eventually, as they much swirls about, a pair of arms escape the muck nearby the feet, waving about as Merj's dark skin flashes in the planes light. Finally, with a puncturing of the much, a beaming head appears between the arms, the folded rilmani now lying on his back, floating with all appendages straight in the air. He turns his head over slightly to peer at Smoat, then glances over to his burnt hat. As he makes a grab for it, his precarious balance is lost and he slips with a muffled shock back under the waters. He did, however, get his hat.
Smoat squelches his way over to a protruding bit of masonry, and sits down carefully. The small stone, covered in green moss and slime, so much resembles a bit of the ooze that it looks as though it simply decided to play at being a polygon for a while. Smoat slips on it, but gets his seating. With a squelch, the block resumes it's slow journey down into the plane's infinite depths - with it's gnomish passenger ignorant of it's movement. Smoat, covered to his boots in the muck, watches Merj anxiously, to see what the Rilmani will do to remove himself from the muck, or remove the muck from him. He twists thoughtfully at the tip of one of his pointy boots, quirking an eyebrow at the strangely green sky. "Reminds meadat one ell-fish guy in de Gatehouse, whatzizname, Merjie? Ol' Bloody Stringbeanzz, we called'im, played de harp, an'it sounded like someting was dyin. Remember Stringbeanzz?" Smoats knees, now covered in the muck, barely protrude from the gurgling surface of the infinite swamp.
Merj's head, turban now firmly held on by one of his thin hands, pops up from the water nearby the small bit of rock long enough to franticly nod at the gnome that sits there. His head sinks again, though appears a brief while later as he tries to make a desperate grab for the small isle and still keep his hand on his hat. His free hand makes a grab for it, slightly pinning one of the gnome shoes down, and his hand takes a firm grip all around the rock, his long fingers practically wrapping around it. The rest of him sinks below again though, leaving him effectively hanging underneath the rock. This is still an improvement though, as the rock seems to still be floating along, I'll bet now with a bit more drag, towards the shores of what looks to be an island nearby. It seems to creak and moan in the slight stinky wind though, and a faint jingle floats it's way out also.
Smoat wiggles his arms in the air crazily. His one leg, pinned by Merj's grasping fingers, leaves the left to the mercies of the slippery manipulations of his uneasy footing. He flies forward with a halted cry of "Yeeez buggaaazz*splorch*!". He opens his eyes, as the muck courses through his clothing, and looks about for interesting things under the swamp's acrid water. He spots a Rilmani. "Oh, Merjie, there yez'iz," he gurgles, swimming around - ignorant of his need for air. "I tink I saw someting shiny up dere," he continues, pointing up. His hat begins to float, and he chases after it. He comes to the surface of the filmy water, his skin coated in the greenish muck - and he glares out across the waters at the dangling of chains. At what was hinted at in only the darkest of Gatehouse tales, only when Morvun was feeling particularly dark - Jangling Hiter, the fabled city of chains.
Merj blinks under the water, a few slimy fish attracted by the gnomes appearance and resurfacing, and looks about with his strangely shaped eyes. One of his hands still disappears up tot he surface where it holds on to the moving rock, and the other keeps his hat firmly in place, though a small three legged and bladed crab is trying to squeeze underneath. As the current swirls past him, slight specks of filth and green slime drifting past, he turns his eyes up towards the crab trying to climb up his nose ridges like stairs. This is why he misses the gigantic mossy chain that slowly looms out of the watery gloom, and smacks into him with a slowly groan. Merj's arm lets go of both rock and hat, though luckily his legs have now settled within the curve of one of gigantic links in the chain. The crab however has disappeared under his hat. Finally remembering to panic, or maybe balancing his previous calm, he waves his arms madly and slowly floats and hops his way up the chain, breaking the surface right underneath the gnome, carrying both onto solid ground, at least if you count a net of interlocking chains as solid. It sinks slightly around their feet, and glingles.
Smoat slowly rises from the mucky waters, mystified, in his favored position atop Merj's tattered turban. He looks down beneath him, to confirm the fact that he is in fact riding the same Rilmani he usually does - and satisfied with that fact, he goes back to making faces at the bubbling, glopping swamp. "Itz may-keen facez at me, itiz," he muses to himself - sticking out his tongue. As the rilmani reaches the top of the chain, and steps out into the city, Smoat falls from his post and lands with a gling on the metallic, greasy floor. "Ick," he says, "just like getting a bath." He looks around, unimpressed. "Eyezeen worse, I haz. Dis'iz nothin. Remember Ol' Helga? She was worse. Disiz just some chains."
Jangling Hiter: Merchant's Quarter
Merj stands on the oily floor, balanced even though a slightly slimy wind pours through the chains, making a constant howling and jingling sound. He still has one hand clamped to his hat, which is moving from the creature climbing around beneath it. Merj however pays to attention to this for his other hand has grabbed onto a nearby chain that descends from the sky and into the ground nearby. The fact that this is a barbed chain is probably what taking all his attention, and making the rilmani's mouth drop in and O and his eyes water. As the pain becomes to much, he screams, hopping around and gathering the attention of the nearby market people. As he hops around Smoat and the chain floor wobbles like a bad feather mattress, a mad upset clicking comes from under the turban.
Smoat bounces around the chain mesh floor like a posh Sigilian kid hopping about on his mum's waterbed. He has the look on his red face of the same Sigilian kid falling off, and hitting his head - the very facial representation of 'Argh! Buggrit!' In his bouncing across the chain floor, under and around Merj's legs, he accumulates quite a bit of grease, rust, and other such muck that collects in places made of chains. After getting significantly dirtied in this process, the helpless gnome - in a particularly large stomp by Merj - is thrown through the air, landing helplessly in what looks to be a rich merchant's pocket. He doesn't look happy by this. Neither does the merchant. "Put me down, yez soddin kidnappin ting!" he screams. The man just stares angrily at the huge, greasy spot on his nice posh clothes.
Merj whipes his hand, dripping more from slime and rust then whatever could be taken for the stuff that flows around inside a rilmani, on his dirty robe, letting the Sigilian grime and dirt already coated on it make new friends. As he lifts his hand up and peers at it, a pained expression still visible on his face, images of nurses and long needles suddenly comes to mind, and his expression actually lightens. There's allot worse things then barbed chain wires in the world, no matter what the Baatezu will tell you. After his moment of tormented pain passes in the tinkle of a chain, he peers over across the slightly misty expanse to see the small gnome fly in the merchant's pocket. Doing a slightly crabby walk across the slippery and shifting surface that could be considered a floor, he makes his way toward the merchant for no other reason then there's no point in being a complete and total barmy if someone doesn't see you being barmy. Well, at least when hallucinating gets boring.
The merchant stares down at Smoat, who is presently scowling from in his pocket, and then down at the revolting spot on his silks. He winds back to slap the gnome, who ducks into his pocket. "That'll teach you, you little sod," he says - his face beginning to contort in pain. He releases a scream, to mirror the muffled scream from his pocket. Smoat climbs out from the fabric and sits on the man's shoulder. "Oh, hello, Merjie," he says, spitting. "De sod tried to 'it me, so I bit 'im. Tastes like he looks, de bugga." He leaps across the void at Merj, attempting to land on his turban. The merchant is furious, makes a fist, and moves toward Merj, crying like a Gatehouse baby. It starts to rain oily rain, which tastes and smells like petrol.
Merj giggles, and waves happily with his still free hand, the other clamped eternally on his hat from any possibility of it escaping, at Smoat as he flies across the expanse. As his clothes and hats begin to get stained by the sky's seemingly leak of black smelly stuff, he hops over towards where the merchant seems to be standing under a board that spans between chains, and his precious silks where undisturbed until it started raining gnomes. Beaming madly, the rilmani rushes up to the merchant before he can get over the shock of his bite, and vigorously shakes the mans hand with his own dark gray and oil encrusted fingers.
Smoat scampers quickly up Merj's leg, and onto his turban. He sits down, a placid grin on his face, but quickly leaps up with an "EeeheHehehee!", as whatever happens to still be living under his turban nips him on the arse. He whooshes through the air, again, landing with a splat right on the merchant's face. The merchant, still shaking Merj's hand crazily, pulls the gnome off his face and throws it out into the rain. "An stay out!" he yells. "Who are you supposed to be?" he says to the rilmani, "You going to buy something, or keep shaking my hand?" Smoat shouts, from in the rain, "Dis isss noothinnng!" He seems to be caught between two links, in the chain floor.
Merj stops shaking the merchant's hand. That is to say, he's still shaking his hand, just no longer the merchant's hand. As he sits and happily shakes thin air, oil and filth splatter even more into the nearby surroundings. Peering slightly up as the gnome makes an unexpected bounce off his hat, he turns them back to the merchant upon being asked about merchandise. His silvery eyes quickly scan over the items and things piled up around the ramshackle shop, which is made of chains and boards that swing in the breeze. The items, which lie on chains hanging from the chain walls, seem to be various old antiques that look like they've been dug up, or pulled up, from some the surrounding swamp's fabled lost cities. The rilmani's expression never changes as he scans over them, though in the middle of his browsing he quickly hops into the air and lands hardly on the floor, his hat and it's occupant visible for one second as they slowly join his head again. The bounce causes a ripple to travel through the chain floor towards the trapped Smoat.
Smoat squeezes out of his chain vice as the wave hits him. Again, he is sent flying. In midflight, he stops, puts his hands on his hips, and hops from raindrop to raindrop over to Merj. "Eh! Dissis worseden de springy mattresses they strapped us to dat one time!" He waves a fist at the city, "Stop it, yez big sodding mattress!" He regards the merchant. "It's yez fault dis city is so springy, what sod thoughta make a city out of a big mattress, eh?" He shakes his head, and looks about - still floating at the merchant's eye level, when a rather large raindrop hits him with the relative force of a tsunami. He lands sputtering on the ground, in an oily puddle, shouting "I was doin it again, Merjie! Didja see it? I was doin it again!"
Merj grins as he watches Smoat fly through the air and oil drops, turning around to stare back at the mattress city as it swings in the swampy storm. Nodding happily at Smoat's comments, he begins bouncing slightly on the springy ground with a look of grand remembrance in his eyes. This rocking, not to mention the effects of wind, oil, and meteorite landings of gnomes, has caused all the merchandise to hop and bounce in the air, making a wobbling sound to go with the jingling. As Merj blissfully bounces up and down, the shops third customer peaks out from underneath the burnt turban. Three eyes stalks surveying the scene, the strange bladed crab seems to be paying particular interest in a small brass and tarnished vase that is, as mentioned, bouncing up and down.
Smoat slogs slowly out of his puddle, slowly up Merj's leg, and slowly up his shoulder - careful to not make any bouncing movements, or anything that would cause his getting once again fired out into the acidic rain. He whispers confidentially in Merj's ear, "Yez hat has a ting with eyestalks in, Merjie, an' it pinches." He looks gravely over at the merchant, and says matter-of-factly - "Merj tinks dat vase ting is nice. I tink you should let him have it." He blinks a few times, and sits on Merj's shoulder, panting, slowly regenerating his completely drained (and soaking wet) physical composure. The merchant blinks thrice, quirks an eyebrow, and looks quite confused - from the gnome, to the beaming rilmani, to whatever is on the beaming rilmani's head. "Er, er." he says, "Don't explode. I hear some Rilmani explode when they're mad. Just, er, try not to do that," he says, and begins to sidle away.
All content copyright 1999 Jeremiah Golden or credited authors.