The sounds of Lurc were drawing near, the walls of the crevasse blurring as I ran — I would say something to the effect of “feet slapping against stone” if I was some nobb like a Dindle or Fregshin, but I’m not, so I won’t. A brace-headed groundnook I am, so I went silently, like one should in a situation as such.
The flabfoots charged behind, and I knew they brought death. I heard them slaying my kin like they were but chediiggers, but still I pressed through. Nothing hurts more than the soft cries of your tribe, when they were there but for your own order.
The bait had worked though. I was swift, swifter than their foolish legs could carry them, the moss skins hurtling into the rocky cavern like pins in a bore. The crevasse opened up like a plump roast of felo, and I climbed faster than I ever have, faster than any kin I reckon. The rope hung in my hands, tight in my grip, taut with purpose.
We had boarded twenty leagues down the river that night, tucking and swimming below when our sentries spotted theirs. Dangerous currents they were, and in the dark and unforgiving waters the platoon lost five to the rapids.
Low to the water, boardshields above our heads, we slunk along the marsh edge. The lanks were plentiful in number and heavily fortified, but they were unaware we were at their walls. One of their dogs began to howl, and with a shout, I knew it was time.
Out of the water, to the top of the wall, I landed face to face with a big lank, uglier than wood. With a pounce, my spear went through his throat, and as the haft cracked under his falling weight, I pulled out my axe. Spotting a torch on the wall, I leapt, and threw the torch onto a cart below. I looked up, and saw similar fires begin to flicker along the perimeter. A dozen horns blared.
“A treehugger like you, out at sea?,” they’d jest. That was until they witnessed with their own eyes me and my sure fours glide across that rigging like you play ring around the trunk on a fat oak. But the captain, he would persist. “Sea rat,” he’d say when me tail got soaked, and “fish out of water” when I was swabbing the deck with the crew.
I thought I should put that to rest, like anyone facing down protracted humiliation. I took me chance on the next storm, when he’d put me up in the nest for the night, only to come out the next morn crooning about looking out for a stray mongrel.
I jumped from the main mast, and with me legs, sixty feet below, kicked his head straight to the deck. I sprang up, ready to fight. They stood there, frozen for a moment. And then Galahajaren smiled. From then on, the crew, and the Botica, were mine.
They had gone too far. Here, sat in the chair I sit in now, I heard a ruckus from the forest floor. Grumbling, I set about to do what any decent digger ought to do: mind me own labors. But they kept up the clamor, and ghastly was it so.
I have a workshop, you see, through a hidden panel in the back of that cupboard there — don’t put that in your book, mind you — and with the help of a particularly volatile crystal that grows below the river, I’ve been keen enough to construct a few bombs.
No one digs in me glade but me. So I planted the charges, and set them off. I had no idea who it was above, and I didn’t plan on caring. But when you start a war, you ought to finish it, and so I did. That’s why I still live here, and not the Palathul Palace. I didn’t lead us to victory for a crown, nor to rule. I taught a trespasser a lesson. And then I taught a few more.