((Gently edited for grammar and punctuation and the like, these are the logs from the Barrelhead Bazaar of 5/6/2017. In-character or out, I feel there’s little analysis I could provide that would be as gripping as the raw story. All credit to Ned (Aborted Stickfigure,) Irk (ShannonWilsonBell,) The Mutant Witch of the Wastes (Ccindy Pfeffer,) GutterBlood Spoonhammer, Wolfhard German Chaffe (Wolfhard,) Bloody Freaking Mary (ThatIdentity,) Jason Freddy Meyers (ThisIdentity,) and – of course – Doktor Aeg.))
Aposiopesis Fullstop tugs a forelock of hair. “Oi there, Ned! How it is?”
Ned parks his tired rear on the wood plank and grumbles.
Ned looks up. “Oi oi, it be goin’… Me back be fuk’d still… but it git’n better….”
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, “Oof. Glad it’s shapin’ up. Sounds like a whole lot o’ No Fun.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, “There were a guy back home what could help yer parts feel better. Not, like, a dok, neither. He just sorta… knew how t’ punch ye in the right places, but gentle like?” She shrugs.
Irk shuffles up to the camp, looking beleaguered and forlorn, and smelling of booze.
Ned gestured dismissively with one hand as he scoffed. “Naw I’s be aight I jus’ needs ta give it a break, can’t be lugg’n jonk ’round an all… How’s Aeg doin’? I ain’t git to see’m yesterday…”
Aposiopesis Fullstop looks Irk up and down. “Oi, yer up an’ about! I’d worried when I din’t see ye at The N. How ye feelin’, Irk?”
Irk forces his green lips to curl into a half-smile. “I live,” he says flatly. He sits in the chair with a heavy flumph.
“Well, I’m glad o’ that,” Apo says. “You get back home a’ight after, then?” She peers closer, inspecting the Mutant.
Ned juts his thumb out in Irk’s direction. “See he’s aight… he ain’t ded….”
Irk nods, his eye drifting up to the cliff and the cave. “I… found my home. Thank you for… your help.”
“Well, o’course,” Apo says, concern still in her voice. “You, uh… had chance to talk to the Witch yet?”
Ned pulls a rolled up crusty cigarette from a pouch before leaning in with a grunt to light it off the flame from the firepit.
Irk shakes his head in the negative. “I wait for her wisdom about… this. I hoped she was here…”
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, “Not yet – luckily fer Ned.” She smirks a little.
Irk speaks as if forced to ask: “Have you been to see it? Does it recover?”
Ned looks up before puffing on the cigarette. “Luck ran out on me like a two scrit wh- nev’r mind….”
Aposiopesis Fullstop snorts at Ned.
Aposiopesis Fullstop turns to Irk, her eyes narrowed momentarily. She closes them for a little longer than a blink would warrant. “He’s still sleepin’,” she replies, with some emphasis on the first word. “But I heard sommin’ new outta him t’other night…”
Irk looks interested. “Did it say who attacked?”
Ned flicks an ash. “Ya talk’n ’bout Aeg? He say sum’tin new? I ain’t got ‘ta check in wit’m….”
Aposiopesis Fullstop shakes her head sadly. “Neh, still not that. It musta been about the times after most o’ that awfulness had gone down. ‘Cuz he said, when he woke again, he saw that ol’ familiar smoke ploom in th’ distance an’ his allparts hurt. He tried t’ stand, only t’ fall down agin.”
Wolfhard Gelman Chaffe says, “Oi!”
Irk nods to Wolf. “Hello cub.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop nods to the kid. “Oi there.”
Wolfhard Gelman Chaffe asks, “How’s youse?”
Irk shakes his head but says nothing.
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, “Got a belly so emty I’m fit t’ eat me own arms, but elsewise I’m a’ight.”
Ned pulls a fat grub out and tosses it on the grate. “I cooks ya sum’tin…I needs ‘ta eat me self”
Aposiopesis Fullstop asks, “How’s ye? Ain’t seen ye in a time; ’bout thought ye run off.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop nods appreciatively at Ned and watches as the grub sizzles, its skin browning and crackling. “Mm, right kind o’ ye!”
Wolfhard Gelman Chaffe says, “Aye, been while. Been runnin’round ‘ere ‘n’dere…”
Ned nods and keeps turning it to keep it from burning to char
Aposiopesis Fullstop nods to Wolfhard. “Learn anythin’ innerestin’ out there?”
Wolfhard Gelman Chaffe says, “Nufin’ much…”
Wolfhard Gelman Chaffe asks, “Yas hear anyfin’bout wat happent to doc Aeg?”
Irk’s eye drifts back to the cliff and the cave…
Wolfhard Gelman Chaffe says, “Oi!”
Ned pulls a cloth out and picks the grub up and places it on it before chucking the wrapped grub up to Apo. “Dar….now ye ain’t got ta eat ya arm…”
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, “We’re piecin’ it t’gether. Still a lotta things we ain’t know…”
Wolfhard Gelman Chaffe noddles.
“Arms ain’t so bad,” Gutterblood says in a low gravely voice.
Wolfhard Gelman Chaffe asks, “Ta eats?”
Aposiopesis Fullstop grins widely at Ned. “Thank ye much! Looks delicious!” She rolls down the cloth a little bit and takes a big bite out of its head.
Aposiopesis Fullstop looks up at the low voice. “Gutter! Oi there. How ’tis?”
Wolfhard Gelman Chaffe looks atta grub with a hungry eye…
Irk turns and nods to Gutterblood.
Ned waves his hand at Gutter tiredly.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer offers a subtle nod to Apo. “Itsa time a big winds so I aint gettin much rest. Damn sand keeps blowin in my bed.”
“The winds make sand devils in the dunes,” Irk offers to nobody in particular.
Aposiopesis Fullstop frowns. “That ain’t no fun. E’en when I lived in th’ swamps, it managed t’ blow in, this time o’ span. I were this closeta buildin’ a li’l box ’round me rock…”
Wolfhard Gelman Chaffe says, “Well, ah best be on.”
Wolfhard Gelman Chaffe says, “Seeyas!”
Aposiopesis Fullstop nods vigorously to Irk. “I heard that! Sommer were sayin’ so! I trekked out t’other night an’ saw one, out by th’ jaws o’ that giant fuckoff skelton.”
Irk says, “Stay alive, cub.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop nods to Wolfhard. “You keep well out there, a’ight?”
“Is weird times…” she adds.
Wolfhard Gelman Chaffe says, “Willdo.”
GutterBlood Spoonhammer says, “Is true, I seent the devil myself. Been stung by him too.”
Irk nods. “They cause much hurt, and throw creatures to the sky.”
Ned quietly smokes his cigarette and draws a sigh. “Devil stole me arm… I swears it….”
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, “Them dirtwhirls is kinda pretty, though – from afar, an’ways.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, “Way they swirl an’ wander… is almost relaxin’, if ye ain’t close enough t’ hear th’ roar or get a rock hucked at yer head.” She smirks.
Ned looks around all of them and blows smoke out the corner of his mouth. “Anyone got dem fungus….da kinds dat make ya’s see purdy thangs?”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes creeps through the sands, following the voices the wind carries.
Irk lifts his head; seeing the Witch, he looks relieved. “Sister.” is all he says.
Aposiopesis Fullstop shakes her head. “They’s in short supply, of late…”
GutterBlood Spoonhammer says, “Aye, sometimes I swear the sands got a predatree mind of thur own. Sometimes ye find yerself jus starin at the glitter in the sands and next moment ye been dryin out fer a day.”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes steps closer and nods. “Me brother.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop nods to the Witch.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer gives a sly side-glance to the witch. “I swore I smelt somethin aint right.”Ned grumbles and looks over at the mutie before giving a casual up and down look, and then returns his attention to the firepit, lost in thought.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes stares down on Ned with a mean twinkle in her eyes. “Yous not be sit there. These be me sit,” she says, and points him away as if scolding a little boy.
Aposiopesis Fullstop looks back and forth between the faces of the Mutants and the Ghouls. She stretches, flexing her neck and shoulders a little, as if limbering up.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer lets out an amused grunt. “Ya best mind that nasty ol thing.”
Ned plucks the crappy cigarette from his lip and looks at the mutie with a curve in his brow. “Dat so… I reckon ya own da sand under it too yeah? Dat yours too?”
Aposiopesis Fullstop nods quickly at Ned. “Lissen to th’ Ghoul…”
Aposiopesis Fullstop winces. “Aw, fer cripes….”
GutterBlood Spoonhammer shrugs at Apo as if to say ‘What can ya do?’
Irk sighs at the inevitable violence.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes says, “There be no own of sand. Sand move by wind; how should any own sand?” she explains slowly, then sharp. “Now move, rot!”
Aposiopesis Fullstop returns the look to Gutter, and raises with an exasperated roll of her eyes.
Ned drops the cigarette and lets it get grinded into the sand under his heel. “Ya can has da seat… I dun mind giv’n me seat to dem who are too weak ta stand on dey own two feets….” He rises up and even brushes it off for the mutant as though he was treating royalty in a servile way.
Aposiopesis Fullstop: “Ned. NED.” She hisses over the crackling of the flames. “Do ye wanna keep ANY yer limbs?”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes follows the ghoul’s movement with her eyes before sitting on “her” bench without any further word.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer chuckles at Neds statement. “Aye, let the elderly have a seat.” He flashes a toothy grin at the witch.
Aposiopesis Fullstop rubs her head.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes says, “Whom be elderly? Like eldest yous talk?”
Ned looks back at Apo with a small shrug as if he did nothing wrong.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer: “Why, you be the oldest hag I known, witch.”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes laughs, a little raspy. “If yous say thing, yous think it become true true, yes?”
Aposiopesis Fullstop leans over toward Irk and whispers, “Ain’t it usually take a li’l more time ‘fore the fightin’ starts?”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes turns her head at the sudden movement nearby.
Irk shrugs and whispers back, “Much in the world is upside down now.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop nods to the new arrival.
Irk sniffs a few times, and, without turning, says, “Hello, Mary.”
Ned looks down at the so-called witch and the hair with a tilt in his head. “Say mutie… witch… whateveh ya name be…. Why ya got all dem doo dads in yer hair? Wut is they?”
“Speakin of upsigh down…” GutterBlood puts his foot up on the witch’s bench. “I’m surprised you made it out the Sand Sea.”
Irk looks down. “I… found my way.”
Bloody freaking Mary runs inside the the Barrehead Baazar. “Hey mentor! How you doing?” She looks around as if searching for something. “What you doing? Anything here to eat?” she asks, a big smile on her face.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer looks to Irk. “I’m glad, I mighta missed yer green ass.”
Bloody freaking Mary leans towards Jason, whispering in his ear. “Did he say witch? Ooo.”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes says, “Why that be suprise to yous? me tribe fe from far south sands; if me old as yous say, me travel sands long befor yous lost yousself first in yous mother’s tent.” She thae turns to the ghoul. “What yous know? Me could tell but yous rot brain do forget fast as me talk.”
Irk nods to Gutterblood in thanks.
Aposiopesis Fullstop smirks.
Jason Freddy Myers whispers in Mary’s ear: “I dont think a real witch.”
GutterBlood Spoonhammer turns to the witch with a sarcastically hurt look on his face. “Now that jus tears ma heart out ma chest.”
Ned shakes his head and points at the mutie witch with his thumb. “She tuff’r dan sunbaked sheeit ain’t she….”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes seems not to notice the sarcasm the least bit, but it’s hard to tell without seeing her face.
Bloody freaking Mary hits and runs from Jason.
Aposiopesis Fullstop looks up at the sound of the strike and the footsteps, then shrugs.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes turns her attention to her brother, lays her head to the side, and studies him a moment.
Ned leans in curiously to examine the feathers and odd bits sticking out from the mutant’s hair as his neck cranes. His goggles are tilted up to his brow.
Aposiopesis Fullstop looks from face to face, her own face furrowed with suspicion. “…Least ain’t nobody killin’ each other yet,” she mutters to herself.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes inhales heavily in, and with a very avid hiss she exhales again. “You want draw picture, rot? Yous stink so heavy me fear fire spirits go back to these home and no longer fuel our fire if yous come closer.” Her fingernails make a scratchy sound on the bench as she balls one hand to a fist in tension.
Aposiopesis Fullstop shuts her mouth firmly.
Ned snaps his face away and straightens up. “I’s jus’ wonderin’ why ya’s got da spoon in ya hairs cus it be meant fer stuff’n chow in ya mouth…. Ya’s an odd one.”
GutterBlood Spoonhammer removes the knife from his belt and a can of Dinki-Di from his pocket, resting it on his knee. “Dun worry, that ol pusbag is harmless.” He begins to meticulously carve the lid of the can open.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes says, “If yous let yous teeth fall on me back, me will rip yous skin to stripe and make basket from it!” She hisses angrily. “Me has spoon for eating; what yous think spoon be for? Stoopid rot head.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop glances down at her moonshine jug, a thoughtful look on her face.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer loses concentration and almost cuts his hand at the threat. “Oh boy, you done woke the storm in that one.” He points at the witch with his knife. “I aint jumpin in,” he adds under his breath.
Ned scratches the side of his scalp and tilts his head curiously. “I’s mean, I knows dat… but why does ya keep ‘tings in ya hair?” He shook his head while staring down. “Ya nastier den da tiny grubs dat were squirmin’ in me sheeit da udder day… I’s like ya, mutie.”
Irk shakes his head and covers his forehead with his hands.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes says, “Yous should walk into fire hill; that be get rid of grubs, me sure, and free yous spirit on same day.” She sighs slowly and tries once more to take a better look at her brother. Her eyes melt from anger to worry.
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, “Then ‘gain, Witch – do ye really WANT Ned’s spirit comin’ back agin?”
GutterBlood Spoonhammer chuckles lowly and goes back to opening the can of Dinki-Di.
Angry for being interrupted once more, the Witch lets out a teeth-grindy “Yes!” without taking her eyes of her brother. Then she stands up and kneels down beside him.
Irk looks up. His eye widens at the Witch’s attention.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes says, “Yous spirit, it look…” She lays her head to one side. “Something be no good.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop raises her hands, the moonshine jug sloshing a little. She smirks, and grins over at Ned.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer gingerly walks past the witch and navigates his way to the rear bench, nodding to Apo.
Ned shakes his head and retorts rather quickly. “Mutie thangs… Odd fug’n bunch I’s say…”. He continues to watch, and then looks at Gutter and then Apo as she pulls a jug out. He watches the witch get up from the seat and then parks his rear back on it.
Irk looks up to the cliff and the cave again. “It is… the impossible creature…. It has… shaken me.”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes asks, “What creature yous see?” Her brows furrow in concern.
Aposiopesis Fullstop nods back to Gutter. She glances toward Irk. Seeing his wide-eyed focus on the Witch, Apo makes a subtle gesture toward her moonshine jug, then raises her free hand to her lips, her head cocked questioningly to the side.
Irk looks at the Witch. “Then… you do not know…”
Irk struggles for words.
Irk points to Aeg’s cave. “It… is not a birdman…”
GutterBlood Spoonhammer returns to carefully opening the can of Dinki-Di, with his tongue slipping back and forth between his cracked lips in concentration.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes lays her head to the other side. “Yes, it is not sure. It just wear mask; yous know me wear mask, why other mask be trouble?” she says, slightly confused.
Irk is silent, looking to Ned and Gutterblood and Apo. “It is… impossible…”
Ned nods at Apo. “Is ya ask’n if I wants booze, cus I always does. I dun’ go a day wit’out it.” He scratches at the back of his head and looks back down at the witch’s head as he mumbles, “Wonder if she kill’d a buzzard wit her head…”
Aposiopesis Fullstop slips a stone cup from her pouch and tries to pour a measure of spirits into it as casually as possible – the jug resting on her knee, the cup concealed behind her leg. She pauses, looking over at the Witch. The cup begins to overflow.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes lays her hand on her brother’s arm. The small hand of the same arm touches it gently, too, but twitches.
Irk whispers: “This King of Fire is angry…”
Aposiopesis Fullstop watches the two Mutants intently. Then yelps as the trickle of Bog Shot reaches the coals and catches fire.
The Mutant Witch’s eyes widen at the sudden burst of flame; her grip on her brother’s arm gets tighter.
Irk point to Apo’s flames as proof.
Ned watches the flames go up and his eyes go wide before he slowly leans back. “Well, I reckon’ it good booze yeh?”
“What did yous see?” the Mutant Witch whispers, calmly, almost warmly.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer twitches at the small burst of fire and stabs his knee. “GOT DOGGIT,” he shouts.
Irk can not say it. “You… must see it for yourself.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop rises suddenly, righting the jug and jerking away the cup – its volatile contents slopping onto the stone. She simultaneously attempts to stomp out the fire, boots squealing on stone.
Aposiopesis Fullstop pants. She clears her throat, looks around, and rubs the back of her neck.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes switches from concerned to angry in a heartbeat. She yells at Apo in a sharp and hissing tone, cursing in foreign words, while Irk involunarely gets a taste of her fingernails biting down on his arm.
Irk tenses at the nails, but does not pull away.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer sticks his knife in the partially open can of dogfood and pries violenty at it – until the top finally comes flying off in an arc that would send it bouncing off the smoker to the right with a metallic TANG. “Finally,” he proclaims with a sigh of relief.
Aposiopesis Fullstop steps gingerly past the booze-spattered bench and over the rocks, hands still in the air, jug and cup still dripping. “Oi, ain’t like I meant t’ set nothin’ afire…” She gives the Witch a wide berth as she walks toward Ned.
Aposiopesis Fullstop whispers: “Now le’s try this agin, now, shall we?”
Aposiopesis Fullstop slowly pours a conservative measure of hooch into the cup, slowly raises the jug again, slowly extends her hand toward Ned.
Ned looks at Gutter after he stabs himself. “Ya needs betta tools….” He looks over at the mutants talking away, and then at Apo as he reaches back. “I’s take a cup ‘ah dat thank ya very much I’s ‘preeciate it….”
Irk can feel the witch’s heart beat fast, then slower, as her hand seems to get weaker between each beat. Slowly she realizes what she’s done and stares at him wide eyed. “I… be sorry, brother,” she whispers, and carefully opens her hand.
Aposiopesis Fullstop nods to Ned, then scoots past that bench, as well, and heads toward Gutter. “Some fer ye? …If just t’ wash yer wound?” She rubs the back of her neck with a still-damp hand, then wrinkles her nose and wipes her hand on her pants.
Irk smiles at the Witch, conveying no harm done.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer places his open can of Dinki-Di on the grill. “Now aint nothin wrong with Betty,” he says, tapping his knife on the grill and pointing it towards Ned. He then extends his empty hand towards Apo to receive the cup while still staring Ned down.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes turns his arm and makes sure she did not hurt him. “Me… no mean to,” she whispers. “Yous say, you no say what false shaman be under it bird mask?”
Aposiopesis Fullstop takes another cup from her pouch and fills it with Bog Shot, her body twisted away from the open flames. She passes the cup along to Gutter.
Ned tilts his head and fishes out another cigarette from his front pouch before again putting the tip to the open flame below as he bends toward it. “Who da hell is dis Betty… Wuts Betty?”
Aposiopesis Fullstop squeezes past him and returns to her seat, her face slightly red.
Irk looks the Witch in the eyes. “I will show you. You will see.” He stands slowly, eye on the cliffs.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes nods and follows her brother.
Aposiopesis Fullstop looks up at Irk as soon as her butt hits the seat. “I jus’ sat *down*…”
Irk looks to the others, “Come, if you will. We go to see it.”
GutterBlood Spoonhammer raises his cup to Apo then shoots it down before setting it on the bench beside him.
Aposiopesis Fullstop rises again. “Aye…” she says, slowly, glancing over toward the Mesa. “Think havin’ us all go is a good idea…” She looks at the back of the Witch’s head, clear concern on her face.
Ned groans as he sits up and puffs on his cigarette. “Might as well… Not like I gots thangs ta do….”
GutterBlood Spoonhammer gives a suspicious look to the mutants, then to Ned and Apo. “I reckon so.” He stands up, giving one last look to his open can of Dinki-Di on the grill, and sighs.
Aposiopesis Fullstop rises. She mutters something, and swigs a shot straight from the bottle. She wipes her lips, her shoulders held back resolutely.
All of them walk toward the High Mesa, Irk and the Witch in the lead.
Irk sighs, looking up the long stairs.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer takes up the flank eyeballing Irk and the witch carefully.
All climb the steps and weave through the old ruins toward the cave within.
Irk creeps in…
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes studies her brother, his feelings making her worry even if she doesnt know what’s going on yet.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes says, “So coward place.”
Irk stops short of the hidden bed. “It is there…”
Aposiopesis Fullstop steps closer to the partition, her grip tight on her jug.
Irk keeps his distance from Aeg.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes looks around. “Hmm. Coward cave. Is that where shaman be? All scrap…” She mumbles to herself.
Ned groans and stretches his back with his hand placed on the small of it.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer wipes the grit from his knife on his shirt and measures the edge with his fingertips.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes goes a few steps closer and takes a look at the stranger on the bed.
“You see?” Irk says, anxiety in his voice. “Not possible… ”
GutterBlood Spoonhammer takes a few steps closer with a confident gait, knife in hand. “Seems possible te me.”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes stares for a moment, than gets all stiff, her fingers balling to fists, and makes grindy noises.
Aposiopesis Fullstop stares intently at the Witch, her shoulders still squared.
Ned stands back near the moldy pile of stoo that was practically a part of the rock floor at this moment. He sighs while watching the witch observe Aeg.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes’ whole body starts to shiver, and her breath gets fast and hissy. Then, out of nothing, she starts to yell at Ned. “That be yous kind curse, yous kind did it, yous fault!” Her voice tumbles over itself.
Irk steps a bit closer. “You see now… you see…”
Aposiopesis Fullstop peers back at Ned, then back to the Witch. “I don’ reckon NOBODY did it,” she says in a slow and even tone. “I reckon it jus’… happened…”
GutterBlood Spoonhammer looks over his shoulder at Ned and grins. “Ye, yous kinda curse.”
Ned stared down the mutant with a curl in his lip. “Curse? I beg yer fug’n pardon…. CURSE?” He trudges forth and leans against the rock while tapping casually on the ash. “Oh it be any’ting but a curse… it be a blessin’, ya ol’ witch…”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes says, “That? THAT?” She screams and yells in foreign words, her fists balled so hard that she cuts herself open with the fingernails. A small flow of blood collects between the fingers and drops down off her arms, spilling it now here, now there as she gestures angrily.
Irk whispers: “And it lives in a cave!”
Ned leisurely takes the last tow on the end of his cigarette, gesturing with it as he waves the stub of smoldering stick so the witch could see. “Ya see’s dis, mutie… dis? Dis wut happen ta yer kind….”. He drops it to the ground and lets it burn out. “Curse… hell… we’ll be here long after yer gon’ wit yer kings… an tales. Only one kinda king… an dat’s a dead one.”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes stares at Apo as her movement slowly ebbs down, then at her jug, and walks right towards her. “Yous give me that!” she commands.
Irk turns to scowl at Ned.
Aposiopesis Fullstop gives Ned a stern glare over her shoulder. “Yer lot dies, too, ye ken. Cain’t lord that o’er none.” She turns back toward the Witch. “What you want it for?”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes says, “What? What me want for? Yous no ask stoopid questions. Me want help it.” She grabs for the jug with bloody hands, madness in her eyes.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer shakes his head and gives an irritated look to the creatures around him. “Dont know why y’all bein worried bout a cripple when er be a thronegiant on da loose.”
Ned stands and remains quiet after he shook his head and leaned to the rock, rather infuriated but remaining stoic. He chimes up at the mutie witch: “Ya hurt’s da dok… ya gon’ regret dat decision… I promise dis….”
Aposiopesis Fullstop wrenches it away, holding it overhead, its surface now slick with a marbled pattern of booze and blood. “Neh. Don’ reckon ye DO. An’ he AIN’T no IT,” she says, still slowly, but her volume rising with every phrase.
Irk cocks his head, ignoring the scuffle over the booze, “Thronegiant?”
The Witch’s wild whirl of arms and fingers reach for the jug. In angry madness the witch starts to scratch and pull. “You give this!” Her voice tumbles over itself as tears cloak up her eyes.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer: “Yall been so damn busy cursin’ the dok, yall ain’t heard a that damn thronegiant,” he says matter-of-factly.
Aposiopesis Fullstop tenses in anger, but keeps the jug held high, despite the scratches. “NAE. Ain’t gonna. Ye ain’t HEARD what I heard. What IRK heard.”
Irk looks down, at a loss for words.
Ned clenches the rock to his side and leans against it quietly still. “I’s been on da look’n out fer dis giant. I’s even busted me back ta sheeit over it…. When I see da sumbitch I’s gon’ rip it’s guts out an stomp it’s ‘ead in… I swears it….”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes pushes Apo hard. More out of instinct she tries to bite her, which does not work at all with the mask on her face. Her anger now focuses on Apo and she ignores the jug for the moment.
Aposiopesis Fullstop’s tension seems to reach a breaking point and she throws the jug hard at the wall, booze and clay shards spraying.
Aposiopesis Fullstop shouts: “AEG’S A MUTANT. An’ he’s HELPED us. An’ I’ll be DEAD MESELF ere I let ye harm one scale on his body!”
Irk can not help but watch the scuffle escalating. Half to himself he mutters… “Giant?”
Irk jumps at the sudden breakage and yelling.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer shakes his head at the waste of good booze. “I aint neva.”
Ned shakes his head at the tussling and wasted booze. “Damn shame… dat wus good booze….”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes stares at the shattered jug in disbelief. “Yous … yous selfish smoothskin. All you want is help, help,help… Now others need yous and yous let these suffer!” Tears wash facepaint from under the mask and leave long black and white stripes on the witch’s clothes, mixed with her blood.
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, “Who’s sufferin’! Who’ll suffer in future! Where’d we be w’out th’ Cure, eh? DEAD! ALL us dead! Ghouls? TWICE dead! E’en YOU might be dead – an’ none t’ burn yer corpse! None t’ keep ye from risin’ as he done!” she says, pointing toward the foot of the bed.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes says, “Me no never like it. But me has respekt. It be suffer; its spirit be dead slowly, never reborn. Yous want it be that?” She points at Ned angrily.
Aposiopesis Fullstop’s eye twitches. Small trickles of blood course down her cheek and arm where the jug shrapnel cut her.
Doktor Aeg whispers: “I just want to help them…”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes says, “Yous COWARD! Yous… yous….” She takes a rock from the ground, but instead of attaking Apo once more, she runs toward the bed.
Doktor Aeg puts his hand up.
Doktor Aeg whispers: “No.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop gasps as Aeg speaks, her face pale and hopeful – then red with rage as the Witch runs over.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes’ plan is obvious.
Irk is stunned by the voice of Aeg and the Witch’s attack!
Ned curls his lip with his hip resting leisurely to the rock and scratches the side of his face before chiming in. “Ay witch… Ya know when ya point wit dat fingeh… ya got more point’n right back at ya.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop tries to grab at the Witch’s cloak, shoulders, hair, anything to hold her back. “DON’ YE DO IT!”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes gets hold back by Apo just enought that her arm comes short a bit, and the fist with the rock in it just bounces of the mattress a few centimeters away from Aeg’s head. The rock flings out and hits the cave wall somewhere as she screams in madness.
Ned pulls his tireiron out from his belt and marches right over to the bed, gripping it firmly in hand before he barges forth. “I’s gon bust yer fug’n skull ta bits, hag….”
Irk mutters, “Leave it be, sister.”
Doktor Aeg rolls over and looks at the witch.
The Mutant Witch’s legs go limp and she falls down hard on her knees, sobbing. “Me sorry, brother. Me tried.”
Doktor Aeg whispers: “If you respect me, grant me the answers to some questions…”
Aposiopesis Fullstop, face contorted with anger, keeps trying to clutch at the Witch’s shoulders and arms, nearly toppling over onto the Witch as her wiry strength pulls Apo off-balance.
Irk steps closer to hear Aeg…
Aposiopesis Fullstop rises and steps back from the fallen Witch – but stays close, stays watching.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer watches the drama unfold, tapping his knife on the side of his leg patiently.
Ned slams the tireiron repeatedly on the stone wall, letting the clanging echo through the cave. “AY WITCH… YA HARMS HIM YA BEGGIN’ TA GIT IT. END YER NONSENSE RIGHT NOW AN GIT YER HED OUT YER ARSE.”
Doktor Aeg coughs.
Doktor Aeg whispers: “Shhh…”
Doktor Aeg weakly calls out, “Witch?…”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes curls together on the ground as the fight goes out of her – just cries like a little child. It’s unclear if it is for the attemped murder, the failure to do so, or something entirely different.
Doktor Aeg whispers: “I deserve your anger… for hiding my appearance….”
Irk grunts in agreement, looking at the Witch with pity.
Ned puts his tool away and shakes his head, almost disappointed or feeling shameful for being loud and losing his posture at this point.
Doktor Aeg whispers: “…I have not been alive like you… for a very long… time….”
Aposiopesis Fullstop looks down at the Witch. Sympathy softens her features for a moment – but only a moment; the sentiments are quickly turned toward Aeg instead.
Doktor Aeg struggles to sit upright, clutches his sides, and falls down again.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes does not respond to his voice at all, nor to anything else.
Aposiopesis Fullstop sucks a breath through her teeth, deep lines of worry on her forehead, but says nothing.
Doktor Aeg grabs some of the water laying around and offers it to the Witch…
Ned steps aside while shaking his head, and grips the rails of the bed frame while looking to the dok as he pays close attention.
Doktor Aeg says, “I ain’t … drank it…. Some one… left it for me….”
Doktor Aeg starts to nod off. “Time to… make….”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes does not take it, just points her eyes to the ground and hides her face.
Doktor Aeg whispers: “….Stew.”
Ned shakes his head furiously. “All de’se hyoomans… been up ‘ere… pesterin’ dis poor man ’bout nuttin… but dat fug’n stoo….” He points at the water but doesn’t even mention how he’s been up here every time he could leaving the man water. “All dey care ’bout… stoo… stoo, stoo, stoo…. He aught ter be restin’….”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes just lets it stand there, not eyeing the water.
Aposiopesis Fullstop sighs – a deep shuddering sigh. She turns toward the wall of the cave a moment. When she turns back, the streak of blood on her cheek is smeared.
Aposiopesis Fullstop kneels down – keeping one eye on the Witch – and, seeing no other attempts to accept it, just pushes the rejected flask back under the bed.
Aposiopesis Fullstop looks down at the Witch. Her jaw works as if she wants to say something, but she stays silent a while.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer pipes up from behind everyone. “Maybe she oughta know what happened to ’em.”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes breaths slower now, just sometimes shaken by a new wave of sobs. She does not look as beasty at all now.
Irk extends a hand. “Come, sister.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop speaks quietly – not necessarily to the Witch, but in general. “He wants to be a Mutant.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, “He knows what he’s become. He don’t like it, neither. He were exiled fer not passin’ his Trial, he tol’ us,” she says, with a glance back to Irk.
Irk nods. “This is the story he told. Exiled. Like Irk.”
Ned looks at the witch and shakes his head, but then looks back at Aeg and then Apo. “I ain’t gon’ try ta understand da muties… I dun care. But dis feller is sik… an dat is all folks aught to be concerned wit….”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes looks up to Irk’s hand. She reaches out with hers but pulls it back. “I… can not,” she says in a whispery tone, and pulls herself onto her knees.
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, “But he… he were took in by a buncha folk. Humans. They helped him, so… so he wanted t’ help back.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, distantly, “Then… Rustmouth…”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes says, “Me no care it past.” She sobs and some mix of tears, paint, and snot dribbles out of her mask’s cloth. “Me care future.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop continues, “…He tried. He tried t’ save them as saved him. They jus’… died. All ’round ‘im. An’ then he died too.”
Ned hooks his thumb into his belt and looks down at the witch before responding about the future with a quick remark: “Future is now.” He turns his eyes back to the sick Aeg and shakes his head some more, highly aggravated.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer says, “You wanna know de future?” He points his knife at Aeg. “There it is.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, “Future? Thass the future. Dyin’. Dyin’ too soon, ’cause folk wanted t’ let a good person twist in th’ wind for not bein’ what they wanted.”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes says, “Me .. me no care past!” She tries to sound strong again but fails miserably. “It be brother. It must… it must be return…. Why yous no understand?” Her hands are in search for something on the ground.
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, “If he is your brother, then help him. Help him remember what it is to be a Mutant. Ned… Gutter… Malice… they are eager to help him be a Ghoul. They welcome him with open arms.” She glances at Ned. “Or… y’know. Arm.”
“I cain’t do nothin’ to help him,” Apo says distantly. “I kin talk. An’ give dumb li’l gifts an’ stories. But I ain’t nothin’.” She looks down at the Witch again. “You… you’re a Mutant. You know the ways. And you’re his sister. Who else can help him but you?”
Irk chokes suddenly and coughs heavily.
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes says, “It MUST not be!” Her hands shake and twitch. She has a rock in her hand – but can not even keep it in her fist. “There only be one help. Me be risk me spirit at Fire King. Yes! Must be done.” She stands up, shaky. “Me sorry, brother. Fire King forgive me….”
Aposiopesis Fullstop frowns, her face pale. “Jus’ what do ye mean by that, now….”
GutterBlood Spoonhammer points to the entrance of the cave with his empty hand. “Out der is a buncha slavers, far as we know. An they got more supplies den anybody. En a got damn thronegiant with fists de size of oil drums.” He pauses to spit a ball of pus onto the floor. “I dun give a damn what none a yall think when ye cuddle up to yer tents and yer bunkers at night nice ‘n safe. But the dok has seen all dat, and if yer countin’ on survival it’s best te know what yer up against.”
Irk grunts in grudging agreement.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer points to the dok with his knife. “You dont gotta like em, but he done more for our safety than any sorry sack in this whole dirty little scar in the sand.”
Ned scoffs under his breath and shakes his head but remains silent at the remarks. He was starting to loathe the company of the mutant witch and growing impatient as he gestures with his thumb, hand leaving the frame and pointing back at Gutter. “He’s got ‘er point…. Ya’ll have fun wit yer fire king…. I’s gon’ keep look’n fer dis other one sit’n on his throne… an spread e’s entrails ‘cross da sands….”
Aposiopesis Fullstop nods as Gutter speaks. “He’s t’only one knows what t’ watch for. Who done this. Who’s gon’ do it agin, if we ain’t careful. Whoe’er got Aeg.. they’re gon’ come fer us too. For Aeg, for the Traders, for all them as trade w’ Traders, or trade w’ THEM… ”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes stares at Apo coldly, eyes still bloodshot. “Yous think killing brothers be not punished?” She raises her arm, her fist with a new stone in it, much smaller than the first one but still a stone. Just like she’s in a trance, she turns towards Aeg again and attempts to beat him once more.
Ned tries to barge his way through Apo to attempt and lunge his only hand up to grip the mutant’s wrist as he snarls, “Git… yer hed… out… yer arse….”
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, “An’ I ain’t unnerstand the connomy stuff very good to unnerstand the WHY, but these people out there got weapons an’ they’re gunnin’ fer us!” she declares, trying again to grapple the Witch and pull her away. “They’ll get ye, too! ALL us!”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes finds that Ned has no trouble at all holding her back, she gave up before she’d started.
Ned lets go of the witch’s wrist and leans away while grunting, his back still a mess. “Ya’ll muties need ‘ta git yerselves ta’gether an stop yer nonsense; dis affects ya’lls too… git yerself ta’gether….”
Irk whispers: “You do not understand…”
Aposiopesis Fullstop says, “Whate’er done this… is bigger’n Aeg. Could lift him in one damned fist, an’ still look ‘im in the eyes. Could throw Aeg ‘cross a cavern. It mus’ be a Mutant, too. An’ it tries t’ sit on some throne inna cave like a king,” she says, sneering. “So, you let this Mutant die,” she says, pointing at Aeg, “You let THAT one live. An’ it comes t’ try an king o’er us all.”
Irk says, “It spoke of this giant?”
Aposiopesis Fullstop nods slowly. “He said many things. He would have said them to you, had you reached out your hand to him.”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes says, “You… no understand…. It be bigger than yous, me, today, tomorrow.” Her eyes feel empty, her voice cold and tired. Stumbling, she gets out behind her, but lets the rock drop by her side. “Me tried warn, me tried do. Me cursed meself. Yous be fault….” She stumbles out towards the end of the cave.
Aposiopesis Fullstop slips a bit on the stone as the Witch pushes past. She sighs.
Aposiopesis Fullstop: “Me too,” she says to herself. “Me too…”
GutterBlood Spoonhammer watches the witch stumble past. “Yer right, it IS bigger en us.”
Irk ignores Apo’s barb and turns to leave with the Witch.
Irk whispers: “You understand now…”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes nods almost unnoticeably.
Ned looks over and sighs, feeling some empathy almost for the witch but still shaking his head. “I’s need ta get me back unfuk’d… den I go look’n fer dis giant a’gin….”
Aposiopesis Fullstop watches Aeg quietly for a while. She shifts her jaw again, as if about to say something – but she stays silent. All that happens is that a few flecks of dried blood crackle and fall from her cheek.
Irk becomes agitated and runs out.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer looks at Ned. “Ye up for some grub?”
The Mutant Witch of the Wastes stumbles out into daylight with her brother.
Ned shakes his head. “Yeah, an I needs me a smoke. Dam mutie things… always git’n outta hand wit dey stuff.”
GutterBlood Spoonhammer says, “Imma head back and check on that can.” He looks back at the Dok and expels a raspy sigh.
GutterBlood Spoonhammer heads towards the exit of the cave.
Ned shakes his head. “Bet a buzzard ate it already… bet ya one scrit on dat….”
GutterBlood Spoonhammer says, “Ye aint gittin ma scrit and ma grub.” The voices echo from the tunnel leading out.
Aposiopesis Fullstop seems to take no notice of the conversations around her. She just watches Aeg’s chest rise and fall, his scales glinting in the torchlight.
Aposiopesis Fullstop listens as the last echo of footsteps dies away. When everything is quiet but the sound of the flames, she sniffs loudly. The back of a grimy hand rubs her cheek, coming away marbled with blood and tears.
Aposiopesis Fullstop places the hand on Aeg’s shoulder for a moment.
Doktor Aeg tosses and turns fitfully, as if having a nightmare.
Aposiopesis Fullstop swallows hard, squares her shoulders again, and walks past the partition. “Rest well, Aeg. I’ll be back t’night.”
Aposiopesis Fullstop clomps out of the cavern.