October 8th, 2003
Your Mudslinger Needs You! by Excrucior
"Is that all youíve got for me?"
Excrucior rolled his eyes. "No, Mank, I donít want you submitting something," he said. "I need articles for the Mudslinger, and I need them from the players. I donít need half-chewed scraps of vellum like the ones you gave me last time." He paused for a moment. "There were no parcels for me, were there?"
"I wasnít expecting any, no. Just asking, thatís all." He sighed.
"Are submissions that slow?"
Excrucior blinked and looked around. "Boss!" he said, standing quickly. "Ah, yes. Weíre a touch lacking in articles just now. Iíve got a few things to keep me occupied," he admitted, his eyes straying to a huge sheaf of papers in the Ďget-this-sorted-outí tray, "but the adventurers arenít sending me many stories these days."
Soleil nodded thoughtfully and walked around the desk. "Any plans?" she asked.
"I could echo a few more entreaties," Excrucior suggested.
"With your spelling?"
"Iím foreign! Iím sort of allowed!" Excrucior protested.
Soleil winced. "How about writing about it?" she asked.
"Whoíd read anything I wrote?" he asked miserably. "I need things from players Ė tales of daring and adventure, stories with soul, and maybe even a legend of rewarded faith or something."
"Iíll see what I can do," Soleil said before vanishing in a pillar of flame.
"Put yourself out in the ink, Mank," Excrucior said, sighing. "Donít drink too much this time."
The steaming imp left a trail of scorched footprints as he ran across the floor to a small reservoir of ink. "Chitter!" he screamed happily, diving in head first.
Excrucior watched the imp begin a lazy backstroke, and the godling pondered for a while. In his experience, submissions had never been so slow. What was wrong with people? Had the muses forsaken Medievia?
Something sounded in the distance. "Somethingís arrived," he said. "Mank Ė get cleaned off and bring it in."
The imp jumped out of the reservoir and quickly licked his body clean. "Chitter!" he said, scampering off and leaving a trail of inky paw marks.
Three heartbeats later, he was back. He ran around the office and gathered other imps. Some came reluctantly, others needed chittering at, and yet others needed kicks up the bum Ė but they went with him.
Excrucior watched with interest as the imps strained to drag a huge parcel in. He wandered over and examined the address label. He smiled.
"A present for me?"
"Gamina? Oh, hi," Excrucior said. "Ah, no Ė essential supplies," he explained, cutting the string with an imp who had moved too slowly. It chattered helplessly as he forced it to bite the string.
Gamina walked across to the parcel with interest. "What have you got there?" she asked. "Scented ink or something?" She glanced at the documentation. "Kostia Enterprises (tm)?"
"Essential stuff, this," Excrucior said, nodding sagely. He brought out a few packets from inside the parcel. "Left side apostrophes, right side apostrophes, accents, question marks, footnotes Ė look at the workgodship on this stuff. Iíve even got a DoohickeyÖ"
"A what?" Gamina asked.
Excrucior broke open two packets and produced a few pieces of punctuation and a strange looking device. "The Doohickey. Great machine, this," he said. "This is one of its best tricks. Put a period in here and a comma in there. Give that handle a squeeze, and look at this," he said, performing the actions shown on the instruction leaflet.
A semi-colon dangled from the bottom of the device for a moment before falling to the floor. Mank scampered over and ate it.
"Well, obviously you have to catch whatever you make," Excrucior said. "Oh, wow. Thereís an attachment for separating them again after! Hey, it can even separate and trim diphthongs! This is great!" He began to poke and prod around in the parcel, whistling and cooing as he went.
Gamina stared at him. "Didnít you get anything Ö fascinating?" she asked.
"Of course!" Excrucior sniffed. "With every three gross of commas, you get a free gift. I opted for the italicising machine. No editor could be without it, though I paid extra for the dangler-remover. Swift, painless dangler removal can never be underestimated, but italics are the future." He nodded sagely once more, for sagely nodding was in fashion.
"So, you got an italicising machine," Gamina said, eyeing the parcel and its contents dubiously.
"Two, actually," Excrucior said, pointing to another machine in the parcel. "I ordered loads of commas. Useful things, commas," Excrucior said. "You can never have too many. Want the spare italicising machine?"
"Maybe later," Gamina said, vanishing in a pillar of flame.
Excrucior shrugged and looked down at Mank. "Put yourself out," he told the imp. "Iím ready for some articles."
He looked out of the screen. "Thatís your job," he added, smiling.
Read HELP MUDSLINGER_SUBMIT Ė you know you want to.
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