March 30th, 2003
Notions - By Rapscallion
"Zo, tell me about zese..." Piotr checked his notebook quickly. "...
feelinkz zat you are beink persecuted." He bit each syllable off
precisely and smiled with encouragement at his patient on the leather couch.
Rapscallion stared at the ceiling for a moment, thinking furiously.
He'd searched high and low for some cleric specialized in calming
somebody's fears, and the best he'd managed was to persuade the mirror-selling
vampire to listen to him. Still, at least the guy knew about fear - he
was always keeping an eye on the horizon for sunrise. He even seemed
to enjoy the idea of acting as a mind-doctor and went to it with a will.
The oak-paneled study felt just right. The leather couch seemed to
fit perfectly. Piotr's accent was, for a reason he couldn't work out,
ideal. The bloodstains from the previous inhabitants of this section of
the Mage's Society jarred slightly, but if Piotr wasn't making any
complaint then he wouldn't.
"I don't know. Is it me? Every time I step outside the door these
days I seem to be attacked by someone who claims to have a grudge against
"Doktor, if you pleaze."
"Er, sure. You're in charge. Anyway, it just feels like everybody is
about to get me."
Piotr tilted his head forwards and stared at Rapscallion over the top
of his dark glasses. "Includink me, you mean?" Rapscallion shook his
"Not you - not everyone if you want to be exact... A lot of people
"I zee," muttered Piotr as he scribbled another note. "Kontinue,
pleaze," he suggested.
"Well, the other day I found myself tagging along with some heroes and
they were exploring some caves they'd found..."
"I said to keep your head down you fool!"
Rapscallion winced in the darkness and rubbed his forehead. "I'm
hungry," he whined, surprised at the massive indifference his companions
showed. Sighing loudly he trailed along behind the group, stumbling over
stalagmites and loose rubble. Every so often he heard the sounds of
combat ahead but managed to trip over enough rocks to avoid getting there
in time. "Ooh, argh," he announced helpfully at these junctures.
"There's a big cavern ahead," announced the leader. Rapscallion
shrugged and tried to avoid goring up his boots on the latest creature, some
sort of zombie knight or something. "And it looks like there's a lot
of gold here as well..." Rapscallion made straight for the entrance to
the cavern, ignoring the squishy noises he found himself making.
"Cor!" was all he could say. A vast, uneven mound of golden coins
covered the floor of the cavern, glistening in the light from a shaft high
above. "Almost enough to pay off my bar bill," he noted, whistling
softly. A few of his companions shot him disbelieving looks but he
wandered ahead of them, oblivious to their stares.
Clambering up the mound, he found himself staring down at everyone. He
grinned and looked around the cavern at the view. The coins slipped
slightly under his feet and he nearly fell. Whirling his arms to regain
his balance he found himself toppling too far over. "Urgh," he
muttered as he slid into a hollow in the money. He frowned at one coin that
rested near his nose - the design was old, older than many he had seen.
"Looks like an ancient hoard, folks," he called out. "Nothing to worry
about here. Hello? What's this?"
He ignored the whispered discussion at the entrance to the cave and dug
out a smooth shape from amongst the coins. Hauling the object out he
unsteadily made his way back down the pile, scattering money with
reckless abandon. "Look what I have, lads!" he declared with a grin holding
"An egg," noted a warrior, backing away slowly. The egg was nearly a
foot in diameter.
"Wrong!" corrected Rapscallion. "It's lunch!" He looked around and
spied a charred shield resting against one wall. As everyone looked on,
he put its face down and emptied his waterskin into it, adding the egg
to bob around on the surface. "Now, Burning Hands on a low heat," he
muttered, ignoring the worried looks he was getting. Concentrating, he
sent out short flames from his fingertips to dance on the surface of
the water. Soon it was steaming and, after a short while, it was
"Just how long are you going to be?" asked the warrior nervously.
Rapscallion pursed his lips as he stared at the egg.
"About... two more days maybe? You want to get some starters ready in
the meantime or something? Maybe set the cutlery out?" He turned his
attention back to his spellcasting and wafted his smoking fingers
before repeating the incantation. He looked around.
"Come on lads. Where have you gone? This will be really tasty when
it's ready." He peered around the cavern. Scattered coins. Bits of
charred armor. Large mound of coins in the center of the cavern. Huge
dragon perched on top of the coins. He shrugged and turned back to his
Huge... what? He looked back and stared. Silver scales glistened
along the dragon's neck as its head snaked towards him. "Not him again,"
Rapscallion whimpered. He glanced at the egg. Her, he corrected
"Er, it looked cold so I thought I'd try to incubate it..." he began.
"And of course the monks at the altar were not happy about the sooty
footprints I brought in with me," finished Rapscallion. Piotr chewed on
his quill delicately before scratching a few notes.
"Pleaze, zis iz fascinatink. Kontinue."
"You're sure that you will get this one back?"
Rapscallion looked down at the merchant haughtily. "Of course I will,"
"It's just that I'm running out of wagons and you said that the last
fifteen times, that's all," the merchant pointed out.
"Hmph!" Rapscallion said with feeling. "I've traded more years than
you've had hot dinners, I'll let you know."
"I'm a creature made of code. I don't get to eat."
"Sshhh - you'll spoil the atmosphere. Now, let me pass. The wide open
roads and magnificent sunsets await." With that, Rapscallion crack the
reins and urged his draft horses forward.
"This is the life," he thought as the wagon trundled along. "All the
raisins I can eat in the back - those will keep me regular - some fresh
air and... that reminds me." He pulled out his pipe and lit a full
bowl of tobacco. "That's the best way to enjoy the fresh air. Anyway, I
can get one of those tans the girls rave about, get some experience and
maybe kill lots of wildlife so I can brag about it back in Griselda's
tavern. Hello? What's that noise?"
He looked around at the rustling noise and just ducked in time to avoid
an arrow as it nearly took his head off.
"Uh-oh - kobolds," he muttered. "I'd better do something really brave
like hiding in the trade post until they get bored and run away or
something." He ducked another missile and pulled on the reins to turn the
wagon around. The horse whickered at the change of direction but
complied on the narrow track.
Rapscallion peered ahead as another arrow skimmed through the top of
his hat. "I don't remember a solid, stone wall there," he muttered,
peering at the gray expanse he saw before him.
Rapscallion looked up to see the face of a huge warrior troll staring
down at him. Its ear was bleeding and it held a gore-stained arrow in a
mighty paw. "Ulp, ah, not really but it was intended for me..." he
"Dat's good enough," the troll said, bending down with a huge fist
ready to wreak havoc...
"...and the monks called me fruity for months afterwards," Rapscallion
moaned. "Trolls don't eat fruit so he found... other uses for it."
"Really? I muzt haz a vurd mit dem, hein?"
Rapscallion peered up at the vampire as he scribbled notes furiously.
The bloodsucker had taken to the role far better than he had expected.
"Of course, that's not the only time. I mean, when I was in DeRah I
had to run from werewolves and things."
"Everyvun does," Piotr told him, peering over the top of his sunglasses
to give a disapproving look. "Except me, but I have ein special
"Well, what about the time I got drunk in G'Dangus and fell asleep,
only to find that someone had redesigned the village around me?"
"Now you're grazping at straws," Piotr told him firmly.
"It's true though! I thought I was still drunk! What about that time
I got arrested for reciting poetry?"
"Ve have all heard about zat vun."
"Oh, right. How about the time I..."
"Ve have all heard your tales, not zat we believe half of zem. Look,
zis land iz dangerous. People are alvays makink mit der dying, ja? You
are nozzink special in zat regard. You are juzt an ordinary perzon
makink your way around, dyink occazionally just like everyvun else."
"Well, I suppose..."
"Suppoze, schmuppoze!" Piotr closed his notebook with a snap and
stared at his client. "Everyvun dies, some people more zan uzzers. You're
just one of the special few. Now go out zere and be special."
Rapscallion sat up. He'd never thought of it that way. "Thank you
doctor," he said.
"Doktor, actually," Piotr told him, smiling and showing his fangs.
"Oh, yes. Doktor. I'll get along and do zat - I mean that."
Rapscallion felt a lot better and headed for the door.
"Gut, gut. Pick up my bill from the desk on your vay out if you
Rapscallion nodded and wandered out with a spring in his step. Within
seconds there came a scream and he galloped back in again, clutching a
piece of paper and his wallet. Both eyes bulged in terror and he fell
on his knees before the vampire.
"Look, you know that you said being victimized was to be special?"
"I've just seen your bill. I'm feeling really special right now..."
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