Chapter 3: Square Bubbles and getting what you pay for.
Most of the adventurers were crowded in the corners of the building, there was roughly upwards of 15 of them. There was a conspicuous decrease in the number of adventurers as one got closer to the middle of the room. Now, it could be claimed that it is an unfair stereotype that adventurers like to sit in corners. Most denizens would however agree that the person claiming that is being silly, and has likely never seen an adventurer.
However, whatever about the seating habits of the common adventurer, there was currently another good reason for not sitting in the middle. Lounging insolently, booted feet up on table was a coppery explodahead.
Explodaheads are as one might assume well known for blowing up their bullet eyeless, lipless shaped head. Fortunately for explodaheads, they can quickly regrow their heads, they also happen to be fairly destruction proof, handy when you can make your head explode at will or when it gets hit.
Explodaheads are one of the smaller races of Elcon, being about the size of a small child. They have but two triangular fingers on each hand, along with a triangular thumb. On their feet they have two triangular toes.
They all tend to be a bit excitable and fond of exploding things, to this end they usually carry a personalised gun for firing their head from. Curiously this one was not carrying a gun but what looked like a stick with a hoop on the end.
Pehaps he had become an adventurer due to being exiled from his magazine (their kind’s clan). Explodahead exiles were not terribly common and when they happened it was usually for being too serious or not liking explosions enough or some other mentality that deeply worried the average explodahead.
He wore the blackened remains of a pelt on his body, bound with a reddish-brown belt in suspiciously good condition. Clothes and explodaheads often didn’t play nice.
The porterbear set Lofan down on the bar counter before the Shewpog barkeep along with Lofan’s sack of valuables.
“Well kid, you ever find yourself in Goldie’s Greats, ask for Wrute Pushpaw, later”
With that Wrute swiftly exited the tavern before Lofan could thank him.
The navy shewpog with his spikey blonde hair peered at Lofan through his jade goggles.
“Welcome to the Belly Up Hider stranger, everyone calls me Old Battler from my adventuring days, though they often drop the old” Battler smiled.
“So, what can I get you, a drink? Some food? You wanna hire an adventurer? Hire yourself out as an adventurer?”
“i’d like to hire some adventurers, how many can i get for half of the better stuff in this sack?” Lofan shook his loot.
Lofan felt dozens of eyes focus on him as sharp ears heard his words. Soft murmurs began to float about, evidently there wasn’t much work going around currently.
Battler without hesitation poured the contents of the sack over the bar counter. He pulled out a little eyepiece from his white apron and attached it to his goggles. Battler took his time examining each valuable. There was silence as everyone awaited his verdict.
Finally a heavy sigh exited his mouth.
“Only half eh?” He ran a paw over his hair spikes. They bent back and Lofan was surprised when they twanged back into position once Battler’s paw had left.
“Ok, how about this, you seen that Explodahead there right? You can have him and one other medium to small sized adventurer, or you can hire one big one.”
Most of the eyes on Lofan left, it seemed a lot of the adventures had lost interest.
Lofan thought about it, having an explodahead could either be really good or really bad, but what made up his mind for him was that he didn’t really want to hire only one adventurer.
“i’ll hire the explodahead and one other then, how does this work? do i give him the valuables or…?”
Lofan looked inquiringly at Battler.
“No need to worry, I’ll hold payment here until you come back from whatever adventure you are on, or you if you send them back. As for making sure they don’t just leave you and claim their pay, I’ll have a geass placed on it. If the issue seems to be taking too long to resolve, another adventurer will be sent out to relieve them, though at that point you’ll be given the option of buying their services again” Battler explained.
“how long before that happens?” Lofan asked, thinking this system seemed a bit shaky.
“Oh either after a year or when we start really missing them” Battler laughed. “Though most people can’t stick being with an adventurer that long”
“this seems a bit stranger than i was expecting, i thought you’d ask what i want them for and for how long”
“First time hiring adventurers eh?” Battler chuckled. “Well, adventurers will do pretty much whatever you ask, no questions asked from housecleaning to taking on evil overlords! Mind you most people only get adventurers for housecleaning when things have gotten really bad. Come to think of it one of the times I nearly died was a housecleaning job. There is a reason this tavern is so clean, traumas friend. Traumas.”
“Yes, anyway basically adventurers will do the stuff you want, but that you don’t want to do yourself! Infact for a very reasonable fee, you could stay here and wait for the adventurers to complete your desire in comfort.”
“i’ll be going with them” Lofan objected.
Battler regained his posture.
“Very well then, just tell Hammer, that is the explodahead over there you’ve hired him and then pick out another adventurer”
Battler took the better half of the valuables from Lofan’s loot then placed the rest in the sack and put it before him. Lofan threw the sack down and then threw himself after it, it wasn’t the softest landing but the counter was a bit high up for him.
He made his way over to Hammer.
“uh, hello Mr.Hammer sir, i’m lofan, i’ll be borrowing your services for a while” he politely said.
Hammer slowly turned his grinning bullet head down to Lofan.
“Explosive, dude, you just gotta grab one more dude right dude?”
Hammer got up.
“ah yes, i do, forgive my curiosity, but what is it your stick for?”
“Stick?” Hammer repeated, puzzled. “Ah, I getya. It isn’t a stick!”
Hammer popped his head off and stuck it through the hoop on what was most certainly a stick. His head stopped halfway through and a click came from the stick.
“This is my hammer!” He shouted from on the stick, while he wildly swung it about.
“ah, right” Lofan was beginning to see why this explodahead was on his own. “well, let us get that other adventurer then”
Lofan turned and was about to march off into one of the corners. However he bumped into what appeared to be a collection of blocks in robes wearing a pointy hat with a floppy brim.
“Ah, sorry, do excuse me” A collection of blocks with a woman’s voice.
He hadn’t noticed this blocky adventurer at all at any juncture.
It was a blokkit woman. A blokkit consists of two main furry cubes, the body and the head. The head has two rectangular boxy ears that stand up, a bit rabbit like in fact they are generally quite rabbit-like. A blokkit’s limbs and paws are made up of cubes. Like many of the elconic beings that don’t vary greatly in colour they are usually shades of white. Though their square eyes range from blue to green and a few of the colours between those.
Blokkits have the strange power to take their head, arms and legs into their body and transform into a semi indestructible stony cube.
There was lot of blokkits in Cozzlanga, which really went quite a bit towards explaining why Cozzlanga looked the way it did. You see, whatever Blokkits make will, invariably end up to be cube or square shaped.
“no, sorry I wasn’t paying attention, hey are you one of the adventurers?” Lofan apologasked.
The blokkit gave a meek nod. “I just started recently” she mumbled.
“well, might as well start with you, I’m Lofan, what can you do?”
“I, I’m Dookie uh… I can make a b-b-bubble” she said.
“A b-b-bubble! Hah” Hammer scoffed meanly. “Come on Lofan, ask someone else”
Lofan however was not one to discount people out of hand.
“what can you do with your bubbles?”
Dookie began to float upwards as a cube shaped bubble formed beneath her.
“I can… uh float!” She chirped happily as if this was some massive achievement.
Hammer however had realised something.
“Wait, you said ‘A‘ bubble? You can only make one bubble at a time?”
Dookie flushed and looked quite annoyed.
“Y-yes. I, I’d like to see you make such a fine b-b-bubble!”
Hammer had started laughing.
A scowl came across Dookie’s up to then gentle features.
Suddenly Hammer found himself trapped in a bubble.
“I can trap people in them too!” she said boldly.
“This is nothing dudette! I’ll be right out of here!”
Hammer swung his namesake at the bubble’s walls. Perhaps predictably he bounced off, then he continued to bounce off the other bubble walls on the rebound.
Dookie stood proudly paws on hips now.
“OH-HOHOHOHO!” She laughed, moving a hand to hold over her mouth.
“My bubble cannot be defeated by the likes of you! Uncouth ruffian! Of all the things that exist only one type of thing can cause my invincible bubble to pop! Once you are trapped there is no escape for you unless I will it worm! Regret your words and I may relent!”
Lofan was a bit shocked by this sudden switch in personality. Clearly she was the type of mage that loves to gloat when in power.
Hammer of course was not just going to give up.
“Only one thing? HA, a likely story dudette! I bet I can just explode my way out!”
There was a rattling as denizens a bit too close dived for cover.
Then Hammer exploded his head. The bubble did not even bulge. Instead the explosion triggered an explosion of Hammer’s new regrown head, which then exploded the head after that. Hammer was stuck in an explosion loop.
“OH-HOHOHOHO! Don’t say I didn’t warn you worm! But this is but a taste of my magnificent power, the explosions you are so fond of are also within my reach, as I can contract a bubble then release it to make a grand bang! OH-HOHOHOHO!”
Lofan was kind of impressed. He turned away from the bubble of explosions back to Dookie.
“well, I think i’d be glad to have you along, so, apart from one type of thing…” Lofan had his suspicions as to what that one thing was. “… the bubble can only be popped by you?”
“Why yes, just like this!” Dookie said carelessly.
It was at that point that everything blew up.