Placebo Runs Away

Posted: October 12, 1993 in Writing
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Placebo was running away again. Rounding a corner, he ran into a solid wall of plate armor and bounced off. He couldn’t draw his rapier because his hands were full of seemingly useless items of obvious monetary worth, but what an Elder of the Land (a title he had been awarded due to his association with the semi-legendary Sir Robin Fowlfeather) was doing with a set of platinum fireplace tools and an armload of crystal goblets was a question to be asked at a later time. The wall of plate mail spoke.

“Placebo where have you been? The Humongous and I need you.”

“Look here K’Tinga,” Placebo interrupted quickly, “I…was minding my own business and these four thugs tried to jump me.”

“Right,” said K’Tinga disbelievingly. He was another valiant hero who adventured with Sir Robin, a half-orc who was particularly good at shooting people with a ridiculously heavy crossbow that shot four quarrels. He hefted it now and stepped around the corner.

Three men with drawn weapons were moving down the street towards the corner that K’Tinga had stepped around. They paused when they saw him, but continued towards Placebo, who had appeared behind the armored shoulder of the half-orc.

“Shoot them!” squealed Placebo, hitting K’Tinga awkwardly with the fireplace poker. K’Tinga half turned to Placebo.

“I don’t just shoot people I’ve just met.”

“Yes you do! Now shoot them!” K’Tinga and Placebo glared at each other.

“Come on, tough guy. This stuff’s worth a fortune! I can smell it,” Placebo said confidentially.

Placebo was a swarthy bald Black man with a myraid of useful skills that included pirating, lock picking, yelling obscenities, climbing, thieving, and getting into trouble. He was, however, a fast friend of K’Tinga’s, and K’Tinga was usually the best at translating Placebo’s gibberish into understandable language. K’Tinga lowered his crossbow.

“Hey, pig boy!” yelled one of the advancing men from about ten yards away where he had stopped and hefted a large mace, “Get out of the way so we can slaughter the slave.” Now it is true that orcs do resemble pigs, but K’Tinga was quite civilized in his own unique way, and he never liked being called “pig boy”.

“Slave? Slave!” said Placebo, outraged. Racism in the Land was often heard but seldom practiced. “Hey, he called you a pig boy.”

K’Tinga lifted the crossbow and fired almost casually. “Stick around.” The man stumbled backwards under the force of the quarrels and was pinned to a haywagon. He dropped his mace; his jaw went slack. Blood poured from the rent in his chainmail. Placebo gave the other two men-at-arms the finger.

K’Tinga turned the crossbow at the remaining men. The design of the crossbow was such that there were two bowstrings, each string firing a set of two quarrels. There was a bottom rack and a top rack; the top rack was empty, but two more deadly bolts gleamed in their grooves below.

The men looked at each other; they seemed to come to an understanding, but one ran forwards brandishing his broadsword while the other one took off running back the way he had came. The first one skidded to a stop and looked around helplessly. K’Tinga motioned with the crossbow and he threw down his sword, disgusted, then pointed at Placebo.

“That’s our merchandise; he just walked in and stole it!” The man looked angry as he walked over to the man pinned to the wagon. A small crowd had gathered, and they let him through.

“Placebo,” K’Tinga started to speak.

“I thought it was the Thieves’ guild again,” he said in a small voice, “Anyone could have made that mistake.”

“Where’d the guy go?” asked K’Tinga, searching the crowd. He wasn’t to be seen; the crowd started to disperse. A merchant was pulling the arm of the dead man, trying to dislodge him from the side of the cart. Wading through the crowd, a big man in brightly colored tights pushed the merchant aside gently and yanked the man away from the wagon. Dragging the man under one arm, he waved to the merchant who bowed his thanks, and walked over to K’Tinga and Placebo.

“Is this your work, K’Tinga?” said the Humongous, dumping the body in front of them. Placebo knelt down and started searching through the man’s pockets, tearing the armor open and sifting through his tunic. His smile grew wider as he held up a slim shining gold necklace and three silver earrings. Placebo’s ears were already pierced seven or eight times each, and they were loaded down with expensive jewelry.

“That’s my necklace!” shouted a woman. She ran over to Placebo and tried to wrest it from him. He shrugged her off easily and she fell to the ground sobbing. The Humongous helped her up; K’Tinga scolded Placebo.

“I had to pawn it to that man,” said the woman through a veil of tears, “He said he would take my children if I didn’t pay him.” A gaggle of small dirty children gathered around their mother’s skirts. There were three or four, all girls, the oldest about thirteen; she looked brazenly at Placebo.

“Hey, these are mine, fair and square,” said Placebo petulantly.

“Wrong,” stated K’Tinga, “They’re mine.”

Reaching over and closing his mailed fist on the jewelry, he carefully gave them back to the woman. Placebo looked hurt for a moment, and then started picking up the stolen goods. The thirteen year old scrambled over and helped him pick the goblets up, loading them into his arms as he stood there.

“Hey, thanks!” he said, in a better mood, “Humongous, give her a couple of coins for me.”

Placebo turned and started away with his cargo. The Humongous looked at K’Tinga and grinned; K’Tinga looked puzzled, and then gave the Humongous a pouch of coins. He bent down and gave each of the girls a golden coin, then gave the whole pouch to the mother.

“Please save some of it,” advised K’Tinga, “And stay out of trouble.” The family scurried away, parting with many words of thanks. The two men turned and followed after Placebo, catching up steadily as he had to stop ever now and again to pick up a fallen cup.

“Why’s you smile at me like that?” asked K’Tinga suspiciously, “And why’d you give her the whole thing?”

“Aw, they needed it,” said the Humongous, “And a small bag of gold was worth seeing that little girl take Placebo’s big fire opal ring, y’know the one on his pinky finger?” K’Tinga and the Humongous laughed together and helped Placebo distribute his load evenly.

“Hey guys,” he asked, “Why’re you laughing?”

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