"Where is Master? He has been gone long. What is he doing? Probably something nasty - he's so wonderful. Wonderful like the funny story the priest man told last night about the Paladin who killed all those people without knowing and then died. That was great. Great like the puppet show I have watched five times now. The little puppets hit each other and hurt each other. It is very funny. Master told me to wait and watch the funny puppet show until he got back. Where is Master? He has been gone long..."
In this way Dragana's mind ambled on. His intelligence had been magically enhanced, somewhat to be sure, but this had only given him enough common sense to obey Thalazzar's orders when they were first given. The wizard had told him to stay put and watch the puppet show until he had emerged from the Gwuz bath house. "Do not stray!" he had warned with a darkened face. Intelligence magically enhanced or not, Dragana knew well enough to comply lest he anger his beloved master. The problem now, however, was that the puppet show had packed in for the night and still the master had not emerged to fetch him.
When Dragana had finally worked up the courage to inquire at the steam bath entrance, the bell of the first watch had long since rung, and the lamplighters strode the streets. Much to his frustration, Dragana found that the bath had long been closed. He did not know what to do so he wandered into a side alley thick with the smell of refuse. This helped him to relax and to think.
"Where could the master be? Has he forgotten Dragana? Left him here? Trapped in a strange and frightening (and wonderful) city filled with all sorts of fun and nasty puppet shows. What should he do? Dragana was sure he could not find his way back to the Inn of the Big Breasted Ogress by himself. Maybe Dragana would go back to the Inn and claim all of master's treasure and take the big breasted Ogress for his mate (even though she had only a single freakish pair of breasts rather than three normal pairs). Yes... that is what he would do. But how would he find the Inn? Maybe master could tell him! Where could master be...?"
The intelligence enhancement had clearly worn off.
Dragana did not know how long he stood in the dank alley trying to think what he should do. Perhaps master was playing a cruel trick on him or, (horrors) perhaps Dragana had done something wrong to anger master and he had abandoned him. The kobold whelp was just beginning to work himself up into a worried lather along this line of thought ("Dragana promises to be nastier to Gnomes if only Master please comes back and fetches him.") when he heard low and hurried voices coming from inside the Bath House – someone was coming out!
"Draw no attention to yourself," had been another of the master's admonitions. Dragana wanted to make sure he did nothing to make the master angry, so when he heard the voices, then, he did his best to hide. It was easier to skulk in the shadows now that the transmutation had worn off as well.
A concealed door opened in the side of the Bath House and three large figures emerged hefting a massive sack over their shoulders. They were two humans and a particularly large Half-Elf, by the smell of them, and, by the smell of them, the large sack contained none other than the master!
They were too concerned with their heavy bag to give the alley a careful search and Dragana remained hidden. They threw the master-sack on the buckboard under which Dragana had been hiding. It made a loud thud when it hit the floor and Dragana almost cried out with delight when he heard it followed by a moan.
"Oh joy, oh bliss, master is alive, even though he smells like he needs a good roll in the mud! Poor master what have these creatures done to you!?"
While one of the men went to fetch some horses Dragana worked his way into the bottom workings of the buckboard. One of the two remaining men wanted to talk, while the other did not respond to any of his attempts to strike up a conversation. Dragana listened.
"Heard there's a party tonight at Golgadin's. Helluva' time to have a party, what with the war and everything..."
"My invitation musta' got lost? Did youse get one...?"
"I wouldn't go anyway. Them Golgadins gives me the creeps"
"So they want us to drop this asshole off there, just dump him in the cellar, with the caterers all running around...?"
No response. A longer pause.
"So whaddya' think this asshole did to cross Ivindof?"
Dragana heard the second man shift uneasily in his seat on the buckboard. He finally spoke in a short clipped whisper, "Probably talked too much."
The Half-Elf's horses arrived to break the uncomfortable silence. As the talker hitched up the horses, Dragana heard him mumble to them under his breath, "May not know what he did, but I got a pretty good idea of where he's going." He shivered and snorted a half laugh. He climbed up on the buckboard and soon they were all underway, rattling down Cauldron's cobbled streets.
"Don't worry master," Dragana nearly blurted out, "Dragana will save you!" and then, after hitting a particularly jarring pothole, "I wonder if there will be kobold dancing bitches at the party!"
* * *
The woman eaten by the Ogre with the swirling tattoos was memorable, and not only for the manner in which she met her end. The three women Ivindof had supplied, however, made Thalazzar forget even the slurping of Fagorgitto's ragged teeth. Their beauty was surpassed only by their skills in stimulating pleasure. It was as though Thalazzar had entered a dream.
Thalazzar felt at first as though the room were expanding - too much wine, his mind barely registered amidst thrusts and parries - and contracting - far too much wine. It was only when he felt his face begin to meld with that of the half-elven maiden with whom he was locked in an embrace that he realized something far more potent than wine was at work. He wanted to protest, but he no longer had a face, or a mouth, though he had another head.
A shadow had crossed Ivindof's face. He cast a slight look over Thalazzar's shoulder and subtly nodded with his chin. How c