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.