The tall youth with an easy air uneasily browsed wares, tugging selfconsciously on his shimmering plushy coat. An ugly gnome stared at him with a stupid smile.

What? Show me more of this crystal, what is it?

The gnome grinned. ‘It is part of the hairball of the Twinkle-Kraken of Chemosh. It will cause your enemies to desire only impractical pretty clothes and furniture.’

‘Stunted man, do you know who you are talking to? Show some respect, you demented fool, to the nephew of the Comte Vesper-Cal’tinus!’

‘Nephew, you say, sir?’

‘I have blown up mountains with a glance, are you insane?’

‘What about someone of my stature? Would I implode?’

‘You’re going to find yourself very uncomfortable and sore, very soon.’ The slender blonde youth strode off.

‘As sore as you even…’ the gnome muttered. No one out ass-hats Queend Vasage, he thought, rubbing Kraken slime off on a ruby dildo, which he replaced next to a self perpetuating mirror.

Shards of light from the mighty evening sun slipped past his eyeballs as he worked, causing the Saint Desolation native to squint and curse. Electric sparkles played over High Crest’s walls, or was it his eyeballs spasming? He peered at the city gate – the one they called the Grox-Ram Gate, official entry for tertiary level suppliers of agricultural waste, and back entrance for those without shame, the desperate or especially undesirable.

A motley group of figures emerged in the fitful light.The first, with an elegant mask, reminiscent of ancient shock theatre, on his face – when it was visible behind well cared-for golden tresses, hefted a massive great scythe with pointed grace.

The others wore armour, long skirts and sashes and other paraphernalia. Queend licked his lips and scanned his wares, mind clicking and whirring. Glancing back to match wares to the marks he noticed a cat. He paused, expression gone screwy. Birds flying above caused it to hurl itself forward, front legs wrapped around its head. Yet it was made space for in the group as they made their way in. Shunned by one guy, possibly with ADD, it was nonetheless in reception of an affectionate glance from a robed androgyne. Were these strangers killers gone recently insane from their varied soul-destroying experiences? the god’s doombringers? an alchemist’s changeling love-children concealing themselves?

Queend thought it best to consider things more carefully.

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