'bout 'ome Cribbage?
By Ethan Quinn
Henry the Hermet they called him, though he wasn't really sure why. After all, he always said "I'm 'Enry the 'ermet." I mean, people just didn't understand that his name was 'Enry, NOT Henry. "'en 'ill people learn?" He asked himself as he ran his fingers through his long, tangled mess of what appears to be greasy strands of wire mesh attached to his chin. He calls it a beard.
'Enry loved his job. He sits in his damp cave all day, watches the small stream pass along the side of the chamber, goes out onto the ledge outside his stone door and checks out the flying falls. He always considers bathing in the waterfall but then he couldn't bring himself to do it because the fleas on his body have built their own cute little civilization, and he didn't want to be responsible for it's destruction. He was never much one for playing God. He would usually at that point count his remaining teeth and start to guess which one would fall out next. 'Enry always thought it would make a fun bar game to guess which yellowed piece of calcium would make it's escape, but, being a 'ermet and all, he had no one to bet with. By this point it was usually time to go foraging for food.
'Enry was never really good at the whole foraging thing. Oh, he would look around for food and all but he always got distracted. Why, just the other day 'Enry saw a good, fat squirrel which look like it could use a good pounding with a rock, when 'Enry was blessed with an interesting itch. He spent a good ten minutes meditating on the nature of the itch, as compared to other itches he had experienced in the course of his life. He then spent a few minutes rating the itchiness. He would rate itches on a scale of 1-10, 1 being in the middle, 6 being the worst, and 3 being the least annoying kind of itch. The rest didn't have any real meaning because 'Enry didn't know how to count and couldn't really figure out what to do with all those other, supposed, " 'umbers." So he rated the new itch as a 1 and gave it a scientific name, Steve. Of course by the time he was done with this extensive process the squirrel was gone, the sun had set, and would soon be rising again. 'Enry would then hightail it home and wait for his only steady source of food, mooching off adventurers. And, as luck would have it, one of those adventurers happened by that very same day as 'Enry had found Steve, the itch. He saw the adventurer walking around the woods and 'Enry could tell, using the heightened senses of a professional moocher, that the adventurer was be heading toward 'Enry's cave. They all end up at 'Enry's cave eventually. This adventurer would be a good source of precious trail rations, and perhaps, hoped 'Enry, he is good at cribbage!
* * *
Samson, the adventurer, walked tall and proud through the dark Spielburgian woods. At least he thought so, because he was following the manual's instructions to the letter. He was a new graduate of the Famous Adventurer's Correspondent's School, better known as FACS, and he was now a full-blown fighter in for the adventure of a lifetime. Boy, what and adventure it had been so far! Why just today, he had been clobbered by a troll, stabbed by not one, not two, but seven different goblins, roughed up by ruffians (who better to it?), and even managed to slay one of those goblins (Though that was more of an reflexive jerk, rather than any slaying skill). He was moving up in the world that much was certain. How could he not with a name like Samson? It just radiated strength, confidence, and fair-damsel charming pheromones. However, it just didn't seem quite the right, his real name being Theodore and all. Well, seeing how he was bleeding profusely from all those stab wounds, he decided to find an inn. That always fixes an adventurer right up!
He looked about for an inn sign. He had been walking all night away from the town, but he figured he ought to be able to find an inn anywhere.
"Hmmm...Where is an inn...? Where is an inn...? Oh, that looks like one! Dangit, it's just somebody's rotting corpse." Samson's mind then clicked, much like an overly loud second hand on a clock. If there was a rotting corpse here, there must not be an inn. After all, no one can die if they can stay at an inn. Samson flipped through his guide for an appropriate adventurer's curse. "Spoony Bard, that makes me mad!"
When he realized he was completely lost he decided to cry. But, following the advice in his copy of HERO magazine, he cried in a Manly way. What crying in a Manly way means is that you can have tears running down your face, but you have to make murderous snarl with your mouth, like you plan on tearing the thing that is making you cry into tiny bite-sized chunks. Unfortunately, Samson could not tear being lost into bite-sized chunks so he just stood there in the middle of the woods with a river of tears running into his snarling mouth, which caused Samson to gag, just ruining the whole snarling experience.
After a few minutes of snarling, crying, and gagging he decided to try to find someplace to sleep. He looked in his FACS manual under the heading "I'm alone, wounded, lost, and crying. How can I make my OWN motel Six?" It then went into an extensive description of how to build a campfire, a makeshift shelter, and the proper assembly of a S'more (with diagrams!). Unfortunately Samson was never very good at following instructions (which was why he chose to take the Fighter program, not the complicated Magic-User one. Not to mention the Fighter program was 20 GP cheaper!) and failed entirely to start a fire, set up a lean-to or assemble one S'more. Samson then huddled his skinny, wounded form under his red cloak and slept for a good forty-five minutes when he was rudely awakened by a screaming, vomit-green goblin. Samson wished he hadn't skipped the course on ambushes.
* * *
As 'Enry sat in his cave, waiting for the adventurer to wander by, he wondered why people were so alarmed when they found out he was always naked. They always just assumed he was wearing something under his beard and hair. And then, whenever something would move the beard enough, any observer would be shocked and surprised by 'Enry's little 'Ermit. 'Enry once again decided that people are as dumb as ...something really dumb (Henry was never good at anything involving cleverness).
"'at's 'aking 'at guy so long. I'm 'ungry!" Henry then decided to stand up on his spindly, hairy legs, and open up his door a crack to check outside. He could hear the sounds of someone snoring. "It's the morning. 'hat's he doing asleep!" He then heard the familiar scream of a goblin and the frantic squeaking of a teenager getting beat up. 'Enry quickly decided to act, and he closed his cave door. He knew the boy's rations would still be there later. Goblins only eat humans, not human food. "Dangit, I 'anted to play cribbage," thought a crestfallen 'Enry.
* * *
Samson struggled with all his might. His skinny arms struck at the goblin, his frail legs kicked about, his teeth were gritted so hard Samson was sure they were cracking under the pressure. The goblin, even though he was wasn't half the size of the human, was bored. This fight was very, very easy. "Must be a FACS graduate. They're all idots." Of course, being a goblin, easy fights were apprecated. The goblin continued to give the human the patented Goblin Death Noogie (Takes three to four hours to actually do any damage, but persistent goblins have successfully killed with it. After about three years of constant noogie-giving the victim commits suicide.).
Samson knew he couldn't take much more of this kind of punishment. He reached out for his WARRIOR(tm) brand sword, but it was to far. His cheap dagger (a last minute birthday gift from ol' drunken uncle Guido) was useless. It could not pierce the thin hide of Samson's assailant. Things were looking hopeless. He cursed Uncle Guido's name, as the goblin's knuckles burned into his skull. Samson began to scream his uncle's name, "Uncle...what?!?"
The goblin leapt from Samson back and said, "Curse you for knowing the secret of the goblins! I can harm you no more!" The goblin then ran into the woods.
"All I did was say Uncle. Oh well, don't look a gift horse in the mouth is what the manual says." Samson then collected his things; looked to see how many of his wounds had reopened, and proceeded to walk further into the woods. He knew that he wasn't going to get any more sleep that morning, plus the fact he was now bleeding to death once more. The young man was still surprised how often one bleeds in the course of a heroic adventure.
Samson walked until he reached a lovely little waterfall that ran from the high mountains. The cold spray felt great on Samson's sores, blisters, and huge gashes. After a few minutes of staring at the falls Samson decided to get down to business. "How am I ever going to be Hero of Spielburg if I let myself admire waterfalls? People will think I'm some sort of girly man. It would be different if I was a Magic-User, they're supposed to be girly." Samson thought about that statement for a second or two. Why is it that if you cast magic, you automatically are weak and frail? No matter, Samson had adventuring to be done!
The teenaged warrior looked about the area. His eyes passed over a door several times, then his highly toned instincts told him something, "Hey, stupid, that door you passed over is opening. I'm sure it's something evil, and you can believe me, I'm highly toned. HEY, PAY ATTENTION!" With that Samson quickly drew his mighty blade and stood glaring at the figure that emerged from the darkened cave doorway. As the figure began to speak Samson braced himself for what would surly be an onslaught of horrifying magic.
"'ey, you know 'ow to play cribbage?"
Samson decided his instincts are full of crap.
In an effort to be pompous I
will end this story with