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The Crafters

I lay on the floor, curled in a fetal position, clutching my new pauldrons and waiting for my lacerations on my back to heal. The squeals and screams of the drudge begin to die down and fade away. The sounds of rain on the straw roof of the leather crafter's cottage sooth me into slumber.

I'm standing in the middle of Arwic's largest pub guzzling stout, pint after pint. People whisper and point. I hear snickers intertwined with the whisper. I set down my empty pint glass and look down. Damn I'm naked. What am I doing in a pub naked? I turn to the door leading out into the warm summer air and run as fast as my bad knee will carry me. I'm not moving however, running in place with my ass and genitalia exposed for all to gawk at. I look to the sky and shake my clenched fist. Damn you MS and your infernal lag!

I wrench myself from sleep and sit up, drenched with sweat. The rain has stopped outside and the early morning air chills my skin. I creep to the front door and peer outside. No sign of the drudge. Slowly I open the cottage door and step out into the morning. Ahead in dawn's early fog, I see two figures approaching. Uncontrollably I empty by bladder and dart back into the cottage, letting out a girlish squeal.

The figures enter the cottage and I slump with relief to see that they are human. "Morning kind sirs" I say with my bravest voice, still sounding like a 10-year old boy trying to impress his father.

"Good Mor...ugh you smell like piss!"

" yeah" My eyes shift back and forth as if looking for an easy way out. "you see...umm... I was jumped outside this cottage by umm... by 3 Moggy-was, big guys yeah... umm and they ummm... they took me down after ... after 3 hours of fighting and ... ummm ... and they puked on me then urinated on me... yeah all over me. Oh it was a hard fight... I ummm I would have beaten them all if it wasn't for the ... ummm... if it wasn't for the Loogeens that joined in ... with their puking and pissing." I smile to myself for yet another brilliantly planned out lie.

"Yeah I bet, you stinky basta... hey! Who you looking at, me or the floor?" I see his eyes looking at my good eye and then switching to my lazy eye. "It doesn't matter. Step aside so we may exchange our leathers."

I step back a bit and allow the two men to use the services of the crafter when yet another brilliant idea forces it's way into my head. "How's about you two chaps helping me out of here. I need to get back to Holtburg"

One of the 2 men, dressed in a fine white robe, glances over to his companion and smiles. "Sure, I'll open you a portal there. Quick and easy trip to ... Holtburg."

The robed man steps outside the cottage and begins a ritual I have never seen before. He lights two slender candles and then mixes a powder, weird herb and a small vial of liquid into the shell of a hollowed beetle. With two words that escape me, the man waves his oaken staff and a swirling portal appears before me. Amazed by this great work, I leap into the portal without saying a word to the powerful mage.

The uneasy pull of the portal draws yesterday's meal of rabbit and nectar from by belly and soaks me with it as I land at the exit. I look around but don't notice anything familiar. Ahead of me is the glow of a lifestone, so I limp to it and bind my soul to its power. Moments later, someone appears at the stone.

"Sir, please direct me in the direction of Holtburg"

"Holtburg? Haha, man you're many miles from it. This here is the Direlands... and gawd, you smell bad!"

"D-d-dires?" I mutter as my bowels involuntarily release its contents. I fall to my knees, face buried in my crusted hands. I know now my end is near.

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