A sneak peek at the next thrilling Lore of the Underlings episode,
which I’m writing as we speak (Episode 4 ~ Preview 4)
It turned out the plump one’s return to Nod was short-lived and woefully failed. No, that land would not let him in again lest he steal the rest of this waning night. So it led him instead to wander and moan, roaming the netherworld between. The half-awake realm of hopes and screams.
Morio tossed about and groaned, in some phantom conversation. He mumbled of sweet things now unclean with someone from a dream unseen. Nightmare talk till he woke with a start.
Still drunk of that uneasy sleep, he tried too fast to rise afeet from the angled floor of pynewood planks. But somewhat dizzy was he, unsteady and ready to stagger and fall. So he reached out for the tarry wall and a place to brace himself.
Yet it was not wallwood his fingers found but the touch and clutch of a vine thick around. He had a handful in his mitt. It felt hairy, no… furry, and wet.
A drip too slimy to grip it was, so his grasp let slip and he fell with a bump on his prized and slightly ample rump. “Ho!” he exclaimed with surprise in his eyes. “How did I not notice you before, mister rope hanging right by my head?!”
It seemed to fall from atop the wall, spilling out of a gap just under the ceiling. Almost like a natural thing that sprung there on its own.
Morio rocked to mock the swing of the giant’s string he had set in motion. “You have a dodgy way of moving,” he bemused with a touch of frustration. But the man had a plan or at least a notion of how to take another whack, a hack at the tip of the twisty twine, or epic tail, whichever it was. Checking the angle of its dangle, the round fellow readied himself to strike.
“One, two, THREEE…”
With the speed of a greazy frying-swine, fat but fast as skyfire, Morio grabbed the vine again. This time he had it by both hands.
“I’ve got you now, you knotty one!” he teased with a pleasing tone. “Don’t think that I don’t know the ropes!”
Then in pitched battle to pull himself up, he let loose on the line with a mighty yank. But the vine had another idea in mind. It gave way with an arm’s length of slack, landing Morio back on his behind.
And it did more than that.
High atop the opposite wall, the one under which the younger man stood, five long and narrow windows flew open to the night. They were set in place in the shape of a hand and such a delicate hand it was. The hand of a woman or wizened man. Four slender fingers and thin thumb that cast a pallor on Morio Yoop in the form of a ghastly grasp. A palm that pointed nowhere good. Sign of something that shed little light.
There was something else at hand as well. The sound of stone on stone, and an even fouler smell. It came from a door in the window wall twenty paces or so from John Cap’s stand, on his right-hand side.
Morio knew what that noise was. “I hear our friends afoot again. But lord knows ‘tis no easy feat to name that rank and vile stink, my noble night owl sir. Death be the odor of the day, don’t you think?”
John Cap, who had seen it all, just gave him a look. “I think you woke them up. You probably shouldn’t have pulled that thing.” Then he raised his favored wrist and spoke in low tones to the strap wrapped around it. “Vaam will not be happy.”
“Maybe so,” chimed Morio. “On the other hand, with any luck, perhaps they’ll bring us breakfast! Oh to be waited on hand and foot, now wouldn’t that be sweet?! Yes…
“And how ‘bout a sudsy bath to boot, to throw or kick in while I’m wishing on it? We might as well ‘Reach for the stars,’ as you say. And what better wish than a wash?”
John Cap let the moment pass and listened for more from the wall at his back. After a while the scraping stopped and the few muffled voices he’d heard faded out. Although, he thought he could still hear a song, as if over the hills and far away off. Only the smell remained the same.
He noticed a pout of disappointment on Morio’s always honest face.
“No bathroom here ‘O. Or room service either. But I bet you’d be sorry with what they’d deliver.”
“Room service, John Cap?”
“Never mind. Just forget it.”
… to be continued. Stay tuned!