Tales of Uncle Catpaws – How I Almost Lost My arm in an Arm Wrestling Match PT 2

This is part 2, please see this post for part 1.

“Are you sure that it is in this town?”  Ephellia asked.  “Elven eateries are not very common here.”

Quicksnatch dunked everything back into the pack.  “Uncle Gullysurfer has never steered me wrong yet..  I bet if we have a look around we can find it.”

“What is it called?”  Ephellia fell in line behind the kender as he started moving through the people.

Quicksnatch bobbed and weaved between people as easily as anyone else might walk straight.  About a step and a half behind him his topknot glided along behind.  When he stopped and looked around the hair would come up and smack him in the back and spread out a moment before assuming a neat ponytail again.

“There!”  He looked back at Ephellia.  “I think that might be it!”

“It looks more like a pub.”  She looked over and spotted the open-air bar.  A small booth set in one corner with a couple of servers running back and forth between there and the tables.  The demarcation of the bar simply being a rough wooden cattle fence on opposite sides.

Quicksnatch disappeared into the crowd and as she looked she saw his topknot appear and then quickly disappear between the patrons.

She shook her head and looked up the street.  Just a little ways down she spotted Embassy Row which would take her where she was already overdue to.  She did not relish the thought though.

She looked back in the pub.  People were crowded tightly around one area and she could hear shouts and cheering.  She exhaled heavily.

As she pushed into the fray people pushed back.  She used a little force and pried open a path and generally when a person was moved they would turn towards her angrily but suddenly back off when they noticed a woman had just moved them with such force.

“Come on!”  A loud gruff voice sounded over the din.  “Any more takers?  I’ll crush ya easily!”

“Me!”  She instantly recognized that screechy voice and forced her way a little more.

“Anyone?”  The gruff voice answered.

“I’ll take it, mongrel.”  Another voice answered.

“It was my turn!”

She finally reached the center of the action and saw an over-sized human, possibly a half orc, moving to sit at the table.  Next to him the kender bounced up and down in protest, his topknot holding a small arc in the air before falling.

The huge human did not pay him any mind.  Across from the human sat a dwarf.  On the table around him were stacks of coins and jewels.

“I don’t think you are worth it.”  The dwarf sneered and crossed his arms.  “You probably don’t have more than three coppers to your name.”

“I got something to bet!  Let me go next!”  The kender bounced at the side of the table between the two men.

The half-orc smirked and reached inside his pouch.  He extracted a small gold string and laid it on the table.

The dwarf frowned and reached for the trinket.  The human stopped him.  “We bet?”

“We’ll see.”  The dwarf answered.  “Looks pretty cheap to me.”

Ephellia watched the gold chain rise gently into the air as the dwarf daintily picked it up.  Ephellia had a pretty good look from her angle and saw each chain link had a small embedded diamond.  It gave off a bright sparkle when the sun hit it just right, but otherwise they were not very obtrusive.

The dwarf pulled out a jeweler’s loop and closely examined the piece from one end to the other.  He set the loop on the table then grabbed the chain firmly with both hands.  He looked up at the human.

The human nodded once.

With a strain the dwarf pulled at both ends of the chain.  After a moment he stopped and used one hand to wipe his forhead.

“Bet?”  The human asked again.

The dwarf held up a finger then reached for his beer mug.  He looked at the level of the beer and then took a big sip out of it.  He examined the level again and took one more smaller sip.  He set the mug down then wrapped the top of the mug with the small chain.  With a quick flick of his wrist he pulled the chain and it whipped around the top of the mug before coming off in his hand.  He reached for the mug again and gripped it from the top.  The entire mug lifted up off the table for a brief moment before it suddenly snapped into two pieces and the lower portion of the mug dropped back on to the table with a thump.

She looked at the kender and he stood there motionless with his eyes locked on the small chain.  His mouth formed a silent, “Wow.”

The dwarf looked at the half orc and nodded.  “Bet.”

The dwarf set the chain between them then went through his stack of loot and pulled out a small fortune and set it with the chain.  He looked to the human.

The human nodded and put his hand out.

The dwarf took the proffered hand and shook it.

The human smiled.

The dwarf drink the rest of the ale from the bottom half of the mug then tossed the mug behind him.  It collided with the chest of one of the onlookers and crashed down into the floor.  No one paid it any attention.

The dwarf planted his elbow on the table and reached forward.

The human smirked and snatched up the hand and planted his own elbow on the table.  The bar went silent.

The two opponents stared hard at each other.  At some unspoken cue they suddenly started the competition and the crowd started shouting.

The half orc seemed to start out with the advantage and he brought down the dwarf’s arm nearly halfway.  But suddenly, to  the amazement in the crowd, the dwarf pulled them back into a full upright position.

The human struggled and lay more force into his play.  The progress from the dwarf stopped at just past the upright point.

Beads of sweat gathered and ran down the human’s face.

She looked at the dwarf.  His face flushed with red.

The human gained some ground and pulled their arms to just past his side of the arc.  Then progress stopped again.  The dwarf opened his mouth in a sneer and grit his teeth.

The human made a single grunt noise, narrowed his eyes a little and let out another, this time longer, grunt.

The direction of the match shifted again.  The dwarf made steady progress over the middle and halfway to his goal.

The human let out a caterwaul and leaned forward with effort.  The position of the arms shifted back.

The dwarf narrowed his eyes and a low deep growl could be heard.  He leaned in a little and their hands quaked at the joining.

Suddenly the leather armor strap on the right shoulder of the dwarf popped loose from the strain.  The contest quickly ended as the dwarf slammed the arm of his opponent down.  The cheer from the crowd deafened Ephellia momentarily.

The half orc jumped up and snarled at the dwarf.

The dwarf took it in stride and gathered his winnings.  “Do you want to try me, you miscreant?”

The half-orc stood over him for a long moment before growling again and turning away.

“Who is next!”  The dwarf called out.  “Anyone!”

“I am next!”  The kender plopped down at the table across from the dwarf.  “I was supposed to go before him, but—”

“Get up kender.”  The dwarf kept his voice low and even.  “This is not some game at the faire where there is some trick to win.  This is serious.”

“I am serious!”  Quicksnatch stated.  “I was arm wrestling champion for two weeks running back in Hylo.”

“I’m not a kender.”  The dwarf grumbled.  “And you have nothing in which to bet with.”

The kender’s hand slammed down on the table and as he opened it and pulled away a golden broach with matched rubies lay beneath.

The dwarf smirked and swiped the amulet off the table.  He pulled out his loop and only looked at it briefly before dropping it on the table.  “Worthless!”

“I beg your pardon!  It was his beast piece!”  The kender snapped.  “You take the bet and watch me beat you!”

The kender slammed his elbow down on the table and held up his hand in challenge.

The dwarf crossed his eyes and turned his head away.  “You are not worth it.  I could barely get a couple of platinum for that piece of junk!”

“Junk!”  The kender huffed.  “That has been in my family for countless generations!”

“It has probably been in your family all of about 10 minutes.”  The dwarf grumbled.  “There is some poor chap out in the street, or maybe a vendor, but someone is out there right now just noticing that it is gone and you are trying to stick me with it.”

“What are you trying to imply?”  The kender stood up in his chair and leaned across the table to yell.

“I am implying nothing.”  The dwarf said.

“Then let’s fight!”  Quicksnatch dropped back into his chair with a thump and his elbow smacked into the center of the table again with hand in challenge position.

“I said…”  The dwarf narrowed his eyes.

“You said what?”

Faster than it could seem possible the dwarf reached out and grabbed the kender by the arm and pulled the him bodily over the table and into the pile of loot.

“What is this!”  The dwarf demanded looking at the arm of the kender.

“What is what?”  Quicksnatch sounded calm and conversational.

“This bracelet you are wearing!”  The dwarf fumed.  “It is mine!”

“I have had that for a couple of years.  My dad gave it to me on the day of his passing.”  The kender offered.

“That is funny, because just a moment ago it was on my table.”  The dwarf thrust the arm down on the table and the kender moved to sit up.  Here and there coins fell off of his body where they had stuck to him as he lay in the loot.  “Take it off!”

“Okay!”  Quicksnatch fumbled with the latch.

Ephellia suddenly appeared at the kender’s side.  “What are you doing?”

“I don’t know it just happened.  I wasn’t wearing it, and then I was.”  The kender offered.

“Well go back to not wearing it before I cut your arm off to get it!”  The dwarf draw a large axe out of his back sheath.

The kender struggled with it more.  “I cannot get it loose!”

“I bet if it was on my wrist you could get it off in two seconds with your eyes closed.”  The dwarf taunted.  “You are just wasting time.  I am going to cut it off!”

“I am trying to help him and it is just not coming loose.”  Ephellia offered.  “I think it is stuck!”

“I think it is cursed!”  The kender offered.

A loud laughing came from out of the crowd in front of them.  People parted and looked back until the large half-orc was revealed.

.”I am making sure you pay for what you have done!”  The half-orc smiled sardonically and with a quick wave of his arms and a slight popping noise, he was gone.

“Fork jam!”  The dwarf cursed.  “Stupid magic somehow always finds me and messes thing up!”

“So it’s cursed?”  The kender asked in a low voice.  “For reals?”

“Yes.”  The dwarf sat back at his spot with a thump and started gathering his winnings.  “It is cursed.”

“What is going to happen to me?”  The kender asked with an air of curiosity.  “Will my eyes become liquid and run out of their sockets?  Or maybe my toenails will start growing until they dig into the ground and I am rooted to the spot?  Oh!  I know!  I bet all my bone start to shrink until I am all floppy and completely boneless!”

“Is he your friend?”  The dwarf looked at Ephellia and motioned towards the kender.

She nodded.  “But we have only just met.”

“Well, I would advise unmeeting him as quickly as possible.  His kind are trouble.”

“Hey!”  The kender started to argue but found himself distracted again.  “Maybe I will get a curse that makes me eat lots and lots of food and cannot stop until I explode!  Wow!  I am feeling a little hungry, maybe that is the curse!”

“No Halfling,” the dwarf said, “the curse is on me.  I am going to have to put up with you until I can get the curse removed.”

“But what is the curse.”  The kender asked.

“I am going to have to put up with you until I can get the curse removed.”  He made a guttural sound at the kender.

“I know, but what is the curse?”

The dwarf had completed bagging all his goods and with a lash out to the side his hand connected with the underside of the kender’s chin.  The kender became airborne for a moment then dropped down on his back on a table behind them.”

“Excuse me.”  The dwarf said to the patrons at the table as he moved to pick up the prone form.  “Easier to carry them when they sleep.”

“That was not very nice.”  Ephellia protested.

“Get his stick would you?”  The dwarf draped the kender over his shoulder and started making his way out of the bar.  The long topknot trailed in the dirt behind them.

Ephellia reached down and picked up the hoopak and then followed behind.

#Sneakpeek Feldsharp vs. Ronin Bandits.

The car suddenly halted.  Feldsharp snapped awake and looked around.  Heart appeared to be stirring from a nap as well.  Trees surrounded them on all sides except for the narrow gravel road.

“What is going on?”

The driver spoke in rushed and frantic Japanese.

“What?”  Heart leaned forward.  “Say it slower.  Yakusha, what is going on?”

The driver shook his head wildly, pointed at the translator.

Heart stood up in the car and leaned over the seat to get a better look.  A fletched wooden shaft protruded from his chest.  A stream of blood stained the front of the man’s outfit.

“Get down!”  Heart shouted and leapt back into the cover of the back seat.

The driver went out of the car sideways and disappeared.

Heart peeked over the back of the seat and saw a couple of men approaching on the road ahead.  They both carried swords.  To their right another man appeared and pointed a crossbow directly at her over the side of the car.  All three wore bits and pieces of unmatched armor.

“What are – Oh.”  Feldsharp raised his hands up as he spotted the bandits.

The bandit to their right snapped into a more offensive stance and took aim on the half-giant when the hands came into view.

“Kyojin!”  The archer called out.

The two swordsmen froze in mid step.

The crossbow bandit started rattling off quick forceful streams of Japanese at the other men.  The other two moved forward very cautiously.  Heart held still.  She narrowed her eyes at the approaching men.  She could take those too easily enough but the crossbow would have to be much closer before she could take him out without sharing their translator’s fate.

“What do we do?”  Feldsharp whispered to the Daughter.

“Stay quiet, do what they say… for now.”

“Shizukesa!”  The archer barked loudly at them.

The swordsmen flanked the car with weapons at the ready.  The archer then barked something at them and they jumped back a moment.  He said a few more words and one of the men suddenly disappeared down beside the car.  The swordsman emerged a moment later dragging the driver by the scruff of his shirt.  With a violent shove the driver went tumbling into the gravel.

Both swordsmen and the archer focused their attention on Feldsharp and Heart.  The archer barked a couple of more commands and the swordsman closest to Heart reached slowly and carefully towards the car door.  With a click the latch gave and the door fell open.

“Toridasu!”  He pointed the crossbow at her and then used it to point behind the car.  “Toridasu!”

“Okay!”  She ducked her head down and with her hands up moved slowly out of the car..  “Hai!”

Just as soon as she was clear of the car the swordsman body checked her to the road and she landed face first in the gravel.  She turned and prepared to defend herself against his next attack and found him absent.  Instead the swordsman and the archer focused all their attention on Feldsharp.

#Excerpt Feldsharp – The Translator

“Nihon e yōkoso.”  A small man bordered by two large hulking men in armor greeted them at the bottom of the ramp.  He bowed slightly but kept his eyes up on the passengers disembarking.

“Eigo.”  Heart said and flashed a few coins towards the man.

He bowed again and then gestured back towards the hanger.  “Eigo!”  He shouted back.

The greeter turned back towards the daughter, smiled nervously, and held out his hand.  Several choice coins fell into his palm.  He smiled again, more naturally this time and bowed deeper.

“Otsukaresama.”  Heart returned the bow, but not as deep.

“What is with the warriors?”  Feldsharp asked in a hushed voice.

“Show of force to the new arrivals.”  Heart gave the guards a backwards glance.  “Impressive show of force I might add.”

They continued walking towards the hanger.

“I don’t think I could take them if I had to.”  Feldsharp admitted.

Heart snickered.  “You could take those two easy enough.  They have done well in intimidating you.  But neither has a correct stance and one wore his sword upside down so when he draws it he will have to take extra time to pivot it in his hand.  I noticed a loose buckle on the shoulder plate of one of them and their helmets are made for looks more than blocking attacks.”

“But you just said they were impressive.”  Feldsharp said.

“I did, didn’t I?”  Heart smiled and narrowed her eyes.  “I did not quite mean it the same way you interpreted it.  It has been a long time.”

“A long time since what?”  Feldsharp asked.

Heart’s eyes stayed narrow but the smile vanished.  “How old are you again?”

“Fifteen.”  He answered.

Heart stopped.  “Fifteen?  When did that happen?”

“Somewhere back in Don Californio.”  He replied.

“Well you are too young to understand.”  She resumed their way up the path.

A small man stood at the end of the path.  He wore a black suit and a fedora hat.  As they approached he removed his dark glasses and stepped towards them with a hand outstretched.  “Greetings and welcome to Japan fair Daughter!”

Heart took his hand and he bowed his head as they shook.  Heart bowed her head slightly as well and Feldsharp hesitantly bowed his head slightly too.

“My name is Yakusha.”  He stated.  “And does your companion have a name?”

“I am Feldsharp Halftall.”

The short man looked at the boy towering above him.  His eyes then drifted down to the boy’s hands.

“Oh.”  The man said simply and took half a step back.  He paused in his conversation before finally turning his attention back to the Daughter.

“Very descriptive name considering your occupation, and might I say you speak very good English.”  She spoke first.

The man flushed red and bowed a couple of times.  “Thank you.  It is nothing really.  And that name is easier on the foreign tongue than my honor name.  Might I ask you though fair Daughter, are you lost?”

She smirked.  “No, we are definitely here on purpose.  We are on a knowledge seeking quest for my companion here.”

“Ah, apologies.  Some that find our shores are lost so I always ask.”

The man looked Feldsharp up and down again and again his gaze stopped on the oversized hands.

“Is he…”  The man paused then turned back towards the Daughter.  “Is he Senshi?”

“A well trained one at that.”

“Kuso!”  Yakusha took another step back.

“I would advise using English around him.  He does not understand Japanese.”

“I understood that one.”  Feldsharp grinned.

“What is his quest?”  The translator asked.

“You need to talk to him.”  Heart gestured to the half giant.

Yakusha swallowed hard.  He looked at the boy then back to the woman.  “You, you’re tall, but pleasing to look at.  Him, he is… he is kyojin kowai.”

“You get used to him.”  She said.  “He is only fourteen – err fifteen years old.”

Another step back.  “Kuso!”

Feldsharp chuckled.  “I looked up that word when the master was not looking.  Just never heard it used so much!”

“So ask him.”  Heart nudged the small man forward.

“Um…”  He stammered a little and looked down at his feet.  While his head was down he threw in a couple of bows.  “What is your quest, Kyojin?”

“I am seeking a monk by the name of Hitomi.”

Yakusha frowned.  “Which one?  There are probably ten monks by the name Hitomi just here in Taka Daku.”

Feldsharp exhaled heavily.  “That is all Brother Gustav said.  Just a monk named Hitomi.”

“Well, then that is going to be a long and difficult quest.”  The translator stated.

Feldsharp looked down at his feet and exhaled.  Suddenly he looked up at the small man which resulted in the man making a small leap backwards and stumbling backwards over the raised edge of the path.

“You okay?”  Feldsharp move in on the man quickly and to the translator’s horror picked him up and set him back on his feet.

When the boy stepped back the man stood there, wide eyed and shaking.

“I was just going to ask,” Feldsharp took a step back to give the man some room, “does the name Paul mean anything?  We are trying to find Hitomi because he knows where Paul is.”

The man shook his head slightly and continued to shake.

“How about Nephilim.  Does that mean anything to you?”  Feldsharp asked.

He shook his head again.

“I think you broke him.”  Heart offered.