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Ensuring the Fells Fall

Running an establishment like the Bucket of Blood afforded certain benefits, not the least being access to rumors and suggestions of persons willing to perform actions considered distasteful for the average citizen, even those of the criminal bent.  It was in just such a manner that Mr Underby had heard whisperings of a creature who styled itself as The Straw Man: one willing to perform certain actions and yet allow, or force, others to claim responsibility.

Knowing a person of such a reputation exists is -of course- one thing, being able to actually contact such a person is another matter entirely.  

Underby spent all of Christmas Day in perpetual pub crawl, listening in on the conversations of the most unsavory types; from one pub to another he moved, sometimes joining the songs and stories of others, sometimes simply sitting a corner nursing his pint and smoking his long-stemmed pipe.

It was at Ahab’s someone finally mentioned The Straw Man, in hushed tones.  Underby leaned forward.  “Who’s this who calls himself such, hm?” he asked.  

“Nobody knows.” said the drunk.  “But he do things, he do.  Things wot others get blamed for.”

“Yes yes, I know that much.” Underby snapped.  “Where does one find him?”

The drunk shrugged.  “Search me, I never got cause to call on him.” he said, and sipped.  “Hope to Cog I never do.”

Underby sneered at him.  “Don’t say cog like that, as if it means anything other than a piece in a machine, you sound a perfect fool.”

“I know where ta finds him, like.” said a gruff voice.  “But it’ll costcher.”

Underby turned.  “I’d expect nothing less, my good man.” he smiled.


One hour later Underby was pulling his muffler up over his nose for warmth as he approached the rickety and abandoned old building.  Looking toward the window he was instructed to, he suddenly saw a dim light begin to flicker within.  A shadowy shape took form, looming in the window.  Its head seemed to be haloed with strands of straw.

“Wotcha wont?” came a strangely garbled squeeky voice, it sent a chill up Underby’s back.  He pulled the muffler up higher.

“I need a job done.” he said, using his most regal commanding tone.

“Course,” said the queer voice.  “‘Or ye wouldna be here. Wot’s it?”

Underby licked his lips beneath the muffler.  “The Fells.”

“Wot of em?”

“The train tracks.  I need them made useless.”

Silence from the window.

“Blown up, if possible.” Underby continued when no answer came.  “Blame anarchists.”

A sound came from the window, it was difficult to ascertain whether it was a sound of musing, or a moan of pleasure.

“It shall be done.”

Underby smiled.  Tenk would lose this wager, sure enough.  “Payment?” Underby asked, a brief thought of the taheen running through his mond.  He hoped word of his refusal hadn’t made its rounds through the underbelly of the city.

“We shall be in touch.” came the reply, sounding less wild and strange now, though still garbled.

“Thank you.” Underby said.

“Off wif ye!” came a cracked voice from within, and Underby made haste as he walked off into the night.


Back in his office at City Hall, Underby stood in front of a full length mirror, wearing the mayoral medallion.  He preened, turning this way and that.  “Mayor Underby.” he purred.

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  1. Mr Tenk Mr Tenk December 29, 2012

    popcorn, anyone?

    *sprinkles some kernels in his roasting basket*

    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer December 30, 2012

      *melts fresh butter*  Who’s got salt?  This looks like it will be quite the show.  

      • Emerson Lighthouse Emerson Lighthouse December 30, 2012

        *wipes bits of lime off the shaker and passes it to Ceejay.”

  2. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon December 29, 2012

    Oh dear… *sneaks up and nibbles some of Mr Tenk’s popcorn*

  3. Tepic Harlequin Tepic Harlequin December 29, 2012

    Bloomin heck, yer would have thought Mr Underby would know better than ter leave payment undecided!

  4. Cadmus Lupindo Cadmus Lupindo December 30, 2012

    “Blame anarchists.” Perhaps the Ceejaytopians are to blame? *Chuckles

  5. Kristos Sonnerstein Kristos Sonnerstein December 30, 2012

    ::snatches a bit of popcorn and munches:: Underby’s plots are always interesting. Though I can’t imagine destroyed tracks would really keep Tenk from coming back… would they..?

  6. Mr Underby Mr Underby January 4, 2013

    Underby awoke on the sofa in his office, his eyes immediately peering over to the calendar on the wall… it was the 4th.  Tenk always arrived back by the 5th.  Still now news of anything happening to the tracks north of the city.

    He stood, walking to the window in his night shirt, and looked over the north of the city, the first rays of sun peeking over Clockhaven.

    Why had he dealt with some psychotic who wouldn’t even use his proper name?  Why had he not paid up front?  Why -in fact- had he not insisted on payment being made clear?  He was slipping, all because the little beast had dangled that medallion before his green eyes.  The long bony hand slipped into the pocket of his dressing gown and picked the chain up gently, carressing it, feelings its inate power.

    There was still one more day.  It was like Christmas all over again.

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