Picking Dreams from Reality
The dim corridor extends ahead of me another 30 feet before it makes a sharp left turn. The torch in my hand sputters and protests each movement I make, spitting out more smoke than light. I've been stumbling randomly through this dungeon for what seems like hours now, seeking out the so-called lockpicking love that has been introduced to Dereth. I learned of this underground structure by an old friend, Tal's Bowman. He referred to the dungeon as the Warm Moist Cave, a name like that and I had to check it out.
I reach the left-hand turn and peer around the corner, extending my torch-wielding arm out before me. Just beyond the direct glow of the smoky torch is a formidable oaken door, below the doorknob sits a large iron keyhole. Finally, I discover the elusive lockpick love, a love my skills desperately need. With all the talk of Crystal Golems making my talents useless, my only hope was to discover this love first before anyone else. Perhaps I'll be the lockpicking luminary for all of those that need a mentor. I make a mental note to kick this Golem's ass as soon as I'm done here.
Propping the torch against the wall next to the door, I begin to examine the keyhole. One must properly investigate every curve, notch, and indenture of a lock opening to determine which pick is necessary to negotiate the lock. I lean in close and sniff the keyhole; my trained nostrils are filled with an oily, musty aroma. With my chubby forefinger I feel the outer edges of the opening, noting every bump and turn. I pull a ring of various keys and picks from my pouch and thumb through the possibilities. I am positive I have the right tool for this job but should make sure with another test. I would hate to break my picks because I didn't assess the hole completely. I drop to my knees and bury my tongue deep into the lock's opening, moving my salivating oral organ around the keyhole edges. After memorizing the contours of the inner walls of the opening I withdraw my tongue and begin sorting through the key ring. Without hesitation or doubt I pick one key from the group and bury it into the keyhole. With a quick turn the door is unlocked and swung open.
A strong breeze pushes through the opened door, extinguishing my torch, but the room beyond seems comfortably lit. The wind carries the scents of methane and sweet hay causing a stir in my groin that I haven't felt since the day I witnessed two brown rabbits mating just beyond the Holtburg Meeting Hall. I remember consuming those rabbits soon after their ritual. Few things in this world are tastier than cream-filled bunny. I shake the thoughts of fornicating rabbits from my head and step into the room, eager to claim my prize.
In the very center of the large room is a cow pen filled with two dozen or so cows, each one grazing contently on the sweet hay provided for them. A couple of them look up at me as I approach their corral but drop their heads back down to continue with their meals. Just to the right of the pen sits a large beer keg, already tapped with a tall mug positioned next to it on the ground. I scoop up the mug and draw me a glassful of dark, hoppy ale from the keg without taking my eyes off of my bovinal prize. With a drink of the cool beer I praise myself for my diligent study of various lockpicking tools in Holtburg, which in turn gained me the skills of accessing this underground paradise.
On the post next to the entrance gate to the cow pen is a small ring of picks hanging from a shiny nail. The ring and each of the twenty-one picks is made of pure pyreal and much too tiny for any locks I have seen. What lock could possibly be opened with such an intricate and delicate pick? No matter, if anything they will sell for enough coin to pay for next week's food and drink. I grab the pyreal pick ring from the nail, swing the corral gate open and step inside. The ale offered here is delicious but nothing is more intoxicating than drinking warm milk directly from the udder of a cow. I pucker my lips and make infantile sucking noises while I scan the herd.
As I am walking through the pen of pleasure I hear a high-pitched squealing and deep grunting coming from the back of the corral. Curiosity pulls me away from my lactose lunch and towards the squeals emanating from behind a couple of grazing heifers. I push the dairy cows aside to reveal a potbelly pig sniffing through some loose hay, grunting with each step. The little pig looks to be wearing underwear of pyreal with a tiny padlock dangling from a hinged hasp. I examine the pig more closely, to which I find that it's hindquarters is encased in a chastity belt of pyreal. The door's lock was nothing compared to the lockpick love squealing and grunting before me. The beer and cows were mere distractions to the treasure I have discovered. I fish the delicate ring of picks from my pocket.
"Swallow! Swallow, wake up!" The voice of my midget vassal, Jiggles McMankleman, wrenches me from my sleep just as I was inserting a pick into the pyreal lock on the pig's chastity belt.
"This better be good, you little pygmy dwarf!" I pull myself to a sitting position, rubbing my sleep-crusted eyes. "I was just about to get me a little ummm pork when you decided it was some great idea to wake me."
"It must've been an interesting dream Sir. You were squealing in your sleep and kept saying something about wanting to take the Cahulawassee River down to Aintry or something. I really didn't get it " The midget's voice drifts off into thought.
"Yeah well, it's nothing for you to get. I'll grant you deliverance from all the crap you do if you just forget about what I say in my dreams." I stand up, stretch while yawning and scratch my bare ass. "Damn it, where's my pants?"
"Hanging out on the fence of the cow pen. I found them laying here in the barn next to you and decided to give them a wash in the river. You know, I gained some good experience when the family of drudge died down river from where I was rinsing your trousers."
"WASH?!?!" I storm out of the barn towards the pen to retrieve my slacks. As soon as I emerge from my barn I am greeted by a large crowd, cheering. "What the hell is this? Haven't any of you seen a fat man naked before?" The crown begins to quiet down and move in closer. I quickly snatch my pants from the railing and pull them on.
"This is why I woke you." Jiggles runs out of the barn behind me as fast as his stumpy legs could carry him. "Everyone is here for you."
"All these freaks traveled to Holtburg to see me butt naked?" Could you blame them really? My chiseled body and horselike endowments would make any mortal travel great lengths to witness.
The two lads I met yesterday at the pub step out of the crowd and approach me. "Though your obese nudity was something I'll never forget, we are all here for another matter." Cletus says, trying his hardest to sound remotely important. "Each person here No, each vagabond here has heard of your adventurous exploits and would like to be trained in your ways. We would like to join you as player killers to fight the ones who harass the citizens of Holtburg." An affirmative shout rises up from the vagabonds.
I look over at the crowd, behind me to Jiggles, then down to the ground.
My head begins to spin and my cellulitic legs buckle, dropping my ass
into the dirty ground. My bladder loses its control of containing urine,
emptying itself into my freshly washed pants. What has just happened?
I have the skills and power to overcome any player killer that chooses
to end his or her life under my knife; the feeling of being responsible
for the lives of the sad lot in front of me however is too much to bear.