The orc, or half-orc anyway, came back after the second celebration of the saving of Sandpoint. I guess he only likes to have his story written after momentous occasions.
Master Linwyste nearly fainted when he came through the door, not a bit less dirty, smelly or mannerless than the first time. Guess it’s right what they say about money not changing people. . .
Regardless, the Master couldn’t hold a pen for his life. He wasted six pages with splatters and crooked, smeared letters. It made me cringe, it did, and hide my knuckles. Ordinarily the Master is hard on waste of that sort. He had to give up and go lie down in the loft above the shop. I think I saw him take a bottle of some stout wine up with him too.
This Pile person seems sound enough though. No worse than any of the sailors or dock workers I’ve met some nights. Oh, I’m sure he’s killed a sight more people, and he’d do for me just the same, but I think I don’t quite rate that in his view. Killing me doesn’t interest him, but it doesn’t disturb him the way it would normal folk. For him it’d just be another body.
He doesn’t seem comfortable around all the papers and quills though and from his satisfaction with the Master’s last work for him I’m positive he can’t read. It gives me an odd kind of safety knowing that. For all his power and prowess, these few squiggles on a page confound him.
With the Master indisposed it fell to me to write this, so here I am.
Pile didn’t tell the tale very straightforward, more he sort of jumped from one bit to the next and then fell back to an earlier part. What I could make of the tale is extraordinary. Mad chases through bramble mazes and caverns and forts. Flying dogs. A rescued war horse! And Nualia. Poor, poor girl. I remember how beautiful she was. Every young man in town fell for her at one time or another. He didn’t mention too many specifics, but she had . . . changed . . . herself. Such a pity. Hopefully she sleeps now in the bosom of some kind afterlife.
Pile spent much more time talking of the fighting. How he slew countless goblins and goblin dogs and other dogs that could fly and howl like the deepest terrors of a moonless night. He admitted he ran from them once. It pained him to do it, but it seemed like he wanted to tell it right. Not leave anything out.
He laughed over a fight with a wizard who had tricked them using his own “leader’s” tactics. Something about a grease spot on stairs? Then fighting her to a stand still in a room clouded with mist. He sneered that she gave up almost immediately and that when he talked of killing her lover she snapped. She was going to kill him the said, and he smiled at that, almost like it was a fond memory or an emotion he hadn’t felt in a long time. I wanted to ask him about that, but the time wasn’t right. Especially when he was making such a lewd description of her naked in a jail cell.
He ended the tale of Thistletop with a room full of sarcophagi and the shadows that it held. Imagine, shadows that move on their own. Shadows that seek the living and suck the life out of you with a touch! I shivered as I listened. His companion the gnome said that if they would have died there then they would have turned into shadows too!
The world is a much more wondrous place than I had imagined, and that’s all within easy travel from here. Magnamar must be even wider and stranger still, and what about farther? He asked me that, if I wanted to see such things. I really thought about it and for a moment, just a moment I thought I would say yes. But those shadow things, and goblin teeth and demons? No, I said I would much rather stay here. He looked around the shop then and I think, though I can’t be sure, I think he nodded.
Then he paid me and he left with a promise to return for the completed pages.