Chapter 19: Bid for the Kindling.
Building 14 of Cragglewarm Pillar was owned by a rather unassuming old Blokkit, one who didn’t ask any questions. It was a one of the larger buildings carved into the stone of Cragglewarm. Once it was a play house. It only had four rooms. There was the main theatre, a grand square stage, riddled with extremely cunning secret trapdoors. Surrounding this were benches carved right into the stone, and the benches went over the walls and onto the ceiling. There was quite a bit of magic in the construction, as one could walk up the walls and ceiling as if it was the ground. There was still sometimes plays and some denizens swore by the ceiling seats.
Old magic lamps were hidden all around, along with cannons for shooting out a variety of effects. All the mechanisms connected to a kind of basement beneath the stage where actors would wait, and stagehands would perform their magic. The other two rooms were a rather nice kitchen/dining room and a bedroom with an impressive amount of beds stuffed into it.
Supposedly the whole thing was made long ago by the Mad Inventor Wolf King, Franks I, then carved and assembled by the then unlegendary stonecarver, general architect and carrot; Valo Spottleleaf and his band of mainly turnip builders. Many didn’t believe that Valo had a hand in it however as it did not have his distinctive carved designs all over everything. Others claimed that was only natural as it was an early work.
Franks I was long dead, but Valo was supposedly still alive. Though nobody had seen him, and rumour had it that he was now wizened and insane, taken to building random mazes.
Gildenstan Goldie the fat shewpog stared appreciatively at the great crowds gathered before him, there was all sorts, though mostly those of a dishonest business profession. Goldie would have forcibly bought building 14 long ago, but the owner was an old friend of his, from when Goldie was poor and not fat, so he hadn’t. Goldie was fine with paying a fair price for things, but he had a nasty habit of buying even when the owner didn’t want to sell, and sending thugs to make sure the transaction was completed.
Goldie’s jewelry jingled on his lumpy body as he shifted about. He grinned, showing golden incisors as the last of his guests filed in. He pushed back the golden hair of his head. His hair tended to stick out at the front, like a round log. It simply wobbled back into place as his handpaw passed through.
He tapped the odd magical soundbox before him, unsure of how it worked. The crowd winced as a thump assaulted their ears, or however they heard. Goldie signalled the crew beneath the stage. Lights dimmed then piercing though, shone on him, his jewels glittered, as did the gem encrusted sack of a suit he was wearing did.
“Ah, sorry about that. WELCOME FRIENDS”
There was dead silence, somebody coughed.
“Welcome fellow businesspeoples!”
“Getcher sausages inna bun, anyone want a sausage inna bun? Only the finest oinkflesh has gone into these, I can guarantee these are one hundred percent curse free!” a voice cried out in the still air.
Goldie thought about it for a few moments.
There was some half-hearted clapping.
Goldie scowled at the crowd. He was sure he heard a few snickers.
“Before we begin the auction proper, we will have a little show or two!” Goldie announced, stubby arms spread as wide as they could be, which wasn’t by much.
There was thunderous applause and cheering.
Suddenly there was about at least eleven figures behind Goldie. They appeared to be various denizens fully clad in armour of a number of colours, and made of paper. The cheering an applause trickled off. The trapdoors were really cunning, nearly nobody had seen the exact moment the knights appeared.
“We shall begin, with the Tragedy of the Knight Protectors of the Elements…” Goldie began.
There was a few grumbles, the Tragedy of the Knight Protectors of the Elements was quite long, though it was a good saga.
“…in slow graceful interpretive dance!” he finished.
People began throwing stuff onto the stage. Mainly half-eaten sausages inna buns, though someone was clearly selling pretzels and surprisingly volatile cans of something or another. One of the knights was downed in a small explosion of fizz. A few denizens also threw fellow auctioneers at the stage. This was particularly troublesome as the benches went all around the room.
“Ok, ok you uncultured monsters! We’ll just have a few of the latest musical hits from Wolfhiem, as played by Cozzlanga’s very own Most Wanted!”
The stage was quickly cleared of carnage and dazed denizens, and the Most Wanted came up from the trapdoors to ply their bardic trade. Two blokkits, one shewpog, A fox, a mandrake plant and two onions made up the band. All of them of wore black and white striped puffy pants and shirts. They each wore a white boot and a black boot and a white glove and a black glove. Each had a grey metal mask, each with a different expression on their mask. The shewpog’s mask was particularly angry looking.
The first song they played was called “Build it Up Again! Again!”. It wasn’t a bad song quite catchy, and actually a bit subdued in someways. Most Wanted weren’t terribly great musicians, and the mandrake was a bit painful to listen to. Still, the crowd was content. They were not the only ones.
Various groups had been drilling into the rock around building 14, planning to break into the auction and steal the artefact that was to be the main attraction of the auction. It had been quite hyped.
These groups had sent agents both into the auction and outside, there were members of the Monolithia and the Swipewings. There were minions of the firelord. There were even thugs from the larger bat mafias. Even the Sugarlumps, the main Blokkit gang were interested. The Fabulous Bandits were also interested, another pan-elcon group like the Monolithia. Others also sent some thugs, though the smarter small groups were steering well clear.
Of course apart from all these forces of robbery and general dishonesty, there were random adventurers and treasure seekers… These groups had been quietly scuffling and fighting over the prime break in spots. They stopped when the music began wafting out and there was an agreement to continue after the music was done. It was pretty good music after all, real catchy.
It did not take long for the music to stop, about three more songs. Then Gildenstan Goldie was back on the stage.
“Well, that was pretty great, real catchy, a lot of those songs. Now, we’ll be beginning the auction, but before we get to the main attraction, I have a number of other items that you can bid for, first up we have a red spear of disaster, the name of which is forgotten to time! I’m assured the disaster comes to your enemy and not yourself.”
The assorted would be auction crashers were getting restless. There was murmurs of “why doesn’t he just get on with it”, “Stop shoving”, “Hey those sausages inna bun look good, I could go for one of those right now”, “Oooh that one looks interesting”, “Anyone want a nut?”, “Ugh, what did I step in”, “That’d be me”, “Say, you doing anything after this?”, “Those songs were pretty good”, “Why can’t we just break in now” and so on and so forth.
Eventually however, the main attraction came.
“Now, the moment you have all been waiting for!” Goldie called out. A pedestal rose from the centre of the stage. A black cloth covered a box like object.
“The much rumoured artefact!”
It was at that moment that the walls and ceiling crumbled in and utter chaos broke loose.