Book Two: The Lone and Level Land
Race Against Rin

Berrona Umbermoraday

An account by Torntul the Schapple

Torntul looked over his squalid tavern, pausing to spit behind his bar. Yep, different faces, same kind of scum.

He looked the crowd over, noticing the street rat tucked away at a table. Didn't know the name, but he recognized the type. Little bastard was probably sizing up his place to stab him in the back durin' closing one night. He sneered and spit again.

His other clients weren't much better. Two elves, both lookin haughty in their own way. Another elf was sitting around, a ranger type. He remembered rangers. Almost as bad as those tree huggers.

His eyes kept scanning the room, eventually falling upon a female cleric looking lost in oversized chainmail. Hmmm... naw, better not try to take advantage of her. Torntul had enough women mad at him in this city as it was, and he didn't need one armed with a greatsword to add to that list.

Ah, there was Rin. Torntul actually smiled. He honestly couldn't help it, everyone liked the lad. Even a schapple like him. Hah.

A small voice echoed in his head, ' Bet you'd loot his corpse anyway if you had a chance, eh Torntul? Just like your old army days... '

Torntul went back to sneering, and spat again. To hell with it, he thought. Not my fault these dumb whoresons keep comin back for my watered down swill.

His scout-trained ears picked up a person walkin up to his door in full plate, and there HE was with his halbard, Colonel Azaf.

Torntul doubted he was here for his booze.

Colonel Azaf began stamping his halbard on the floor, and held out a giant ruby. "Listen up! A wizard has escaped the jail by magical means. First person to bring him back, dead or alive, gets this ruby!"

Colonel Azaf said a bit more, but Torntul wasn't listenin. Oh hell no, that ruby was calling his name. The small voice spoke again with it's caustic scorn, ' just like the ruby did on the dead captain's ring, eh Torntul the Schapple? Lying about goblin looters taking her ring, but you left out the part where you were the only one there... '

He shook his head, and began to move. He moved fast, and out the door. If there was one thing Torntul took pride in, it was that he was still in good shape. Being a scout in the army meant training to be fast on your feet. Not caring about the rest of the losers in his establishment, he took off. He kept the tavern's money on him, and he wouldn't lose any money if the whoresons drank the watered-down crap. Oh no, ol'Torntul kept the good stuff under lock and key. He patted the key under his shirt to be sure as he raced to the Fraid Shell inn.

On the way there, he went by his pad and grabbed Sifty with a case of quarrels. He strapped it to his back and quickly threw a cape over it.

The owner of the Fraid Shell inn, Harold, owed him some money, so ol'Torntul arrived at the inn's stable and hopped on a stallion's back. The stable boy, lying half asleep on a bail of hay, groggily tried to protest, "You can't do that! Harold will have my, err, your head..."

Torntul leaned down and yelled into the waif's face, "You tell that goblin-screwin Harold that he owes Torntul! I'll get this horsie back, you reckon on that scrub!"

He sawed on the reins, and noticed that the stallion responded well. Good luck already, nothing the Schapple would spit on. No sirree.

As he took a shortcut to the gate, he calculated. Let that screwball dwarf waste the wizard's magick, then shoot the fookin spell slinger in the back. Yeah... yeah...

He got out of the town gates, and had no problems tracking down the wizard. Piss easy trail. Torntul soon caught up to where the wizard was at, and waited for the idiot Captain Steamy to come along.

Sure enough, he rode right on up in a wagon full of the idiots that made up his pirate crew. Chuckling to himself in his hideaway, Torntul waited for the fireworks.

A fireball went off, and Torntul grinned. Yep, the old dwarf was going to get his! He was about to tail the wizard, when his keen eyes spotted yet another group riding up in a wagon. It was another bunch of losers from his tavern! This was excellent, more chattel against the wizard! His glee pailed when he noticed Rin was among them. He silently thought, Olidamara's luck for you lad. He thought about warning Rin away, but he remembered the ruby. Ol'Torntul had business, but if Rin beat him to the ruby he'd be fair... this time.

The pirate gang and newcomers fought each other, and he watched the street rat get his head pummeled in. Torntul chuckled, ' well, that's one less little shit to stab ol'Torntul in the night '

Eventually the newcomers put Steamy's gang down. Torntul decided to leave when he saw the cleric making sure the pirates wouldn't bleed to death, even that idiot Steamy. ' What a bunch of idiots. That dwarf caves in that street rat's head, and they save Steamy's life? Bah.'

He got on his horse and silently tailed after the wizard.Torntul followed the trail, until he saw the land open up on a lighthouse near some docks. Tying up the horse behind cover, he stealthily moved up and into the tower. He made his way out to the top, just as the newcomers made it down in their wagon. Torntul started to quietly load Sifty, his heavy crossbow. Yep, time to watch the wizard waste his last magics then take what is his.What followed was histarical. One of the elves decided to ride the wagon straight into the sailing boat. Torntul almost laughed out loud at that one.

He recognized the gnomes, appeared to belong to one of the underground cults. Nothing a bolt wouldn't take care of. He watched Rin step up and deal with them handily. The crazy cleric woman cleaved one of them in half.

The wizard decided he had had enough and dived in. Torntul watched the old fart go at it, and grinned. The whoresons didn't know where he was goin', but Torntul did.

Torntul set up Sifty, and took aim, following the wizard in the water. You have to come up for air soon.

The wizard finally broke the surface...

Sifty's trigger went *click*, and the bolt's shadow fell on the wizard's head...


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