Here’s an excerpt from Tales of a Nuisance Man. I hope you enjoy it.
There’s a special place in hell, or at least there should be, for those that disturb you when you’re trying to sleep. Why is it that people expect you to get up at an ungodly hour just because they have? Since when did it become a law, that after a certain age, you have to get up before noon?
So it was with ill humor that I rousted myself from my comfortable bed to the sounds of the hammering on my front door. I stomped to it, ripped it open and growled, “What?” in my best imitation of a dragon with a thorn in its paw. I’m sure my breath backed up that imitation, after a night of drinking with my friend, Jessup.
The light flared in, sending sharp needles of pain throughout my head and I squinted against it, unable to see.
“Let’s go, Grandfather,” a voice said. “We’ve got things to do.”
I knew the voice, but hadn’t really expected to ever hear it again. I rubbed my eyes, shaded them with my hand and looked at the attractive, blonde woman, dressed in red robes, standing on my door step.
I didn’t get any further before she barged in past me.
“God, Grandfather, you smell like the ass end of a troll. Come on. Clean yourself up, the days not getting any younger.”
The day felt plenty young to me still, as evidenced by the fact that I had no idea what was going on.
“I’m…confused…” I stuttered.
“Color me surprised,” Lilly said, looking around. “Seems to me that you probably live half your life that way. Where’s the kitchen? I’ll make coffee while you scrape the fuzz off.”
I pointed and she walked in like she owned the place.
“See you in five,” she said over her shoulder.
I did scrape the fuzz off, as she had put it, both from body and mind. Between cleaning myself up and the smell of the coffee from the kitchen, I was starting to come around, despite the early hour. I looked out of the window and saw people out there walking with a purpose, like they were heading for jobs or something. I shuddered, and averted my eyes. Some things I can’t bear to look at.
Lilly had the coffee ready by the time I reached the kitchen. She had poured a big mug of it for me, and left it black, just the way I like it. Well, honestly, I like it with a healthy dose of sugar and maybe some milk, but most of the time I kind of need it to be black to do its job. Not that it’s any more powerful, but forcing down the bitterness of it helps me concentrate.
I sat down at the table with the cup cradled between my hands and regarded my visitor. I was still in awe to be frank. Lilly was a necromancer who worked for the Watch. The necromancers were the heavy hitters that they pulled out to combat real serious crimes, or when a watchman is killed. They don’t play around, and from what I’ve heard, they can do terrible things to you until you die, and then really ratchet up the unpleasantness.
I had worked with Lilly a short time back, and we had gotten along fine. We had even gone for a drink or three after it was over, while she tried to explain to me what had happened. All that being said, I had never expected to see her again. Necromancers, and other wizard types, simply didn’t pal around with a Nuisance Man like myself.
“What are you doing here, Lilly?” I asked, after I had taken a sip of the coffee. You can add that to her list of talents, by the way. The woman could make a mean cup of coffee.
“I need your help,” she said, sipping at her own cup. Not being used to having visitors, I was really hoping that she had at least rinsed it out first.
“It’s secret. You’ll see when we get there.”
I grunted at that. There were some things that you just didn’t push, and when someone like Lilly said they needed your help with a secret project, that was one of them.
A short time later we had finished our coffee and were walking down the street. Lilly didn’t say much, and strolled along casually, appearing to enjoy the morning. I had to admit, as far as mornings went, it was a nice one. Not a cloud in the sky, pleasant temperature, and strolling along with an attractive woman is not a bad way to start the day. The fact that said woman could cause my head to ignite with a few words and wave of her hand was beside the point.
After a bit, my curiosity started to get the better of me.
“Not that I’m minding the stroll here Lilly, but what exactly are we doing?”
“You’ll see,” she said.
We walked on, which can be a real experience in Capital City, even for someone born and bred here such as myself. Over the last several years, the city has gone from being exclusively human, to housing races from all over the world. You could now see dwarves, orcs, goblins, ogres, gnolls, kobolds and just about anything else walking our fair streets. Most of them were honest, hard-working, good-hearted folk trying to get by. It makes for interesting viewing, even when you don’t know where you’re going.
Lilly finally stopped. I looked around, but didn’t see anything that would even remotely be considered a problem, and certainly not one that would require a necromancer to feel the need for help.
“Well, here we are,” she said.
I was still confused.
“Here we are, where?”
In answer, Lilly pointed to a banner strung across the end of wide alleyway reading, “Crown Street Bazaar”.
It was a street market, one of the many that had been popping up across the city in various places. All sorts of things were on sale, from food stuffs to hand made furniture and clothing. People set up tables, and representatives of just about every race you could think of peddled their wares. It was all very forward thinking, and I’d rather have had my eyeballs removed with a dull hatpin than spend a day at one, but it was the type of place that could breed all sorts of mischief.
“Ok,” I said, “what’s the problem?”
“Nothing,” Lilly said, looking down the row of vendors intently.
“Umm, okay. Then why am I here?”
“In case I need you to carry something,” she said. “Come on.”
So I ended up spending a good part of the day at a street market. I have to admit, I’ve had worse times. The variety of items on display seemed never ending, and I’m pretty sure that Lilly looked at all of them. While there wasn’t much that interested me, there were a few items here and there, and if nothing else, the food was good.
Later in the afternoon, we left the market and walked back to my house.
“Thanks Grandfather,” Lilly said when we had arrived. “That was fun.”
Despite her earlier comment, she really hadn’t purchased much, so the only thing I was carrying was a small bag, which I turned over to her now.
“Yeah,” I said, “it was. Although I’m still a little confused.”
“Don’t be dense,” she said, starting to move away. “See you around.”
With that, she was walking away down the street, leaving me standing there to watch her. Watching Lilly walk away wasn’t a bad thing. She had a nice walk.