A Digby and Nurn Tale
Written by Casey Douglass
This is another story featuring unlucky adventurers Digby and Nurn. The first tale, The Sword of Infinite Possibilities, can be found here. Anyone that has already read the first one will probably notice that Nurn speaks in a normal way in this one, I decided to drop the simpleton aspect of his character. Oh, and it's quite adult in nature.
‘You’re going into goblin country then lads?’ the moon-faced shop proprietor beamed.
‘Unfortunately,’ Digby sighed. He didn’t like sighing. It often meant that the next bigger in breath carried with it a choking dose of whatever odour surrounded him, which at this time was stale sweat, polished wood and tobacco.
There was a clatter of clanking armour and the rattle of toppling swords from somewhere near the window.
‘Hey!’ the moon bellowed. ‘Watch what you’re doing over there you clumsy sod!’
Digby’s chin lifted as he looked up at the ceiling. He hadn’t intended to, but when you roll your eyes as forcefully as that, you have to expect some momentum. ‘Nurn you’re drunk! I told you to wait outside!’
A helmet rolled and teetered along the floor before resting against the side of Digby’s boot. A small hiccup sounded from behind the racks. ‘Sozzy!’
Digby looked back at the merchant. ‘I want a box.’
The moon ratcheted up to full beam. ‘A box! Yes sir! Right away!’
Nurn popped up beside Digby, his legs and body seeming to dangle from his head. ‘Abotts?’
‘Oh a boksh! Wash that for Digs?’
‘To preserve our innocence.’
‘Howz a woonen box gonna do that Digshee?’
‘An wasss it protectoring us from?’
‘Yes Nurn, remember? That’s the whole reason you got drunk in the first place!’
Nurn swayed and rubbed his forehead. He muttered and shook his head. ‘Goshlins. Goglins. Oh, Digs, shit! Goblins!’
Digby caught Nurn’s arm as Nurn tried to retrieve the flask from his pocket. ‘Don’t you dare! We’ve got an early start!’
‘But they’ll de-de-deffffial us!’
‘Hence the box Nurn!’
Nurn twisted out of Digby’s grasp and made a run for it. It wasn’t a straight dash. Digby watched as Nurn seemed to hit almost every display and cabinet along the way. The valiant effort ending as Nurn’s head thunked into the door frame, followed by the deeper, skittles-falling-down noise of his body crumpling beneath him.
‘Peace and quiet at last,’ Digby muttered.
Nurn woke moments after his head bounced off something hard, something that rang out with a clang. He also realised that he was moving.‘Arrgh bloody hell! Stop! Stop!’
Whatever it was stopped. He squinted against the glaring light of the sun as a silhouette loomed over him.
‘You’re finally awake then,’ Digby said.
Nurn rubbed his head. ‘Where are we? What’s this?’
‘Don’t freak out Nurn, we can’t afford it here.’
Nurn sat up and swivelled around, his eyes wider than a cow’s backside. ‘Goblin territory?’
Digby’s hand clamped over Nurn’s mouth.‘Yes Nurn, and I’ve been dragging your hungover arse for three hours. You know very well that we need to cross this area to get to the big city where we can offload this fucking sword and actually make some decent money. This box nearly cleaned us out.’
Nurn blew through Digby’s fingers and nodded. The hand floated away. ‘Okay Digs, okay.’ He put his hands on the side of the box and lifted himself out, swaying a little as his legs woke up. ‘Not really a box though is it? Looks more like a coffin.’
‘I know. We need to bundle into it at the first sign of trouble.’
‘And that’ll keep ‘em out?’
‘The shop-keep said he was optimistic about our chances,’ Nurn replied, doing a passable impression of the man.
Nurn kicked the side of the box. It gave a dull boom. He appraised their surroundings, seeing little but a dirt track and towering trees that butted up against it on either side. Something chittered deep in the foliage. He shivered. Saying nothing more, he moved to the strapping that stretched ahead of the heavy box and began to drag it through the dirt. The sooner they were out of goblin territory, the sooner he could relax.
As is often its way, the sun, once it reached its highest point, seemed to fall out of the sky with alarming swiftness, the shadows cast by the dense forest almost visibly sweeping the brown leaf-strewn ground ahead of the two weary men.
Digby had been walking behind Nurn ever since his companion had taken it upon himself to drag the box. He watched the nervous glances that Nurn shot into the denser, darker areas of green, scouting for goblins ready to pounce on his head. ‘I think we need to stop now and make camp, we need to prepare.’
Nurn halted, letting the straps slide from his hands. ‘If you say so.’
‘You don’t sound optimistic.’
Nurn turned, his mouth hanging open. ‘What?!’
‘I’m just being honest. We might be okay, we might not, who can say?’
Digby watched Nurn stomp to the side of the track, wrap his arms around a tree and quietly begin to weep into the rough bark. He knew that he probably shouldn’t have been so blunt, he was just tired of babying Nurn. Why should he be the only one to have to shoulder all of the responsibility while Nurn got drunk and generally got in the way. He moved towards his friend. ‘Look Nurn, I’m sor-.’
The goblin hit the ground between them with a clumsy thud, its feet whipping out from under it on the leafy surface. Digby lunged forward in an attempt to grab hold of its neck. It rolled and babbled, its small frame and oily green skin soon covered with leaves and pine needles. It shimmied to one side as Digby’s fingers grasped thin air. It paused for a moment, its tiny mouth opening under its hooked nose, hobnail teeth glinting. It reached down and began to play with its green penis, shrieking in glee.
It exploded. Not in that way, but by way of a heavy log being smashed into its body. One minute there was a masturbating goblin, the next, a different kind of wood occupying the space where its body used to be, a green smear leaking out around the edges.
‘I fucking hate goblins!’ Nurn screamed. ‘Dirty little fuckers!’
Digby was still looking down at the log. ‘I didn't know you had that in you!’
‘Yeah, well...’ Nurn muttered, his usually cherubic expression showing hints of red and dark anger.
A great chittering began in the trees, like a flock of birds all practising their ventriloquy acts at once.
‘The box! Get into it now!’ Digby yelled.
They both ran to the metal shape, heaved the lid and consecutively entered. The lid slammed shut above them. Digby, who happened to be laying on his back, reached around Nurn and fastened the locks. Nurn, who was laying face down on top of Digby, did his best to shift around so that Digby could finish his task.
‘Okay. Okay. They're all secure,’ Digby said near Nurn’s ear.
‘We wait it out.’
Nurn blew threw his clenched teeth. ‘Fucking goblins!’
The goblin assault on the metal box went on for hours. Just as it sounded like it might be abating, the clangs and bangs started up again, almost deafening the two travellers.
‘Digs, is this thing airtight?’
‘No, there are some tiny holes in different places along its edges.’
‘Oh. That’s good then.’
‘We’d be dead by now if it wasn’t.’
A thud inches from Nurn’s head made him flinch.
‘How long do you reckon we’ll be in here?’
‘Well, some more travellers might come and chase them off. It might rain, they don’t like water. Anything could happen really.’
A shrieking cackle sounded off to the right somewhere.
‘If anything could happen, what’s the worst that could happen?’ Nurn asked.
‘Why do you want to know?’
‘Balance I guess.’
‘Well...anything that results in the box being opened would go badly for us. Or, they might muster enough brain power to push us off a cliff or something, maybe into water... or...’
‘I think I’m balanced now.’
‘Or they might get help. Sorry, I know you said you’d had enough but shit, I hadn’t thought of that.’
‘Yes. Maybe a troll or something. They’d have to lure it here, keeping well out of its way, and they would have to resign themselves to not having complete bodies to violate after it had cracked the box and torn us apart.’
‘Shh Digs! It’s all gone quiet!’
‘Digs, what’s that sound?’
‘That bellowing roar? Like someone gargling a mouthful of boulders?’
‘That’s the one.’
‘A troll is coming.’
‘That’s why you floated it as an option?’
‘Mmm hmm. I heard it in the distance awhile ago.’
They both listened as heavy footsteps vibrated through the ground, making the walls of the box hum and creak. Then they stopped, all falling still once more.
‘What’s it doing?’
‘Nothing good for us.’
With a tremendous bang the box shot sideways, its two occupants grasping each other tightly as it jolted and flipped along the ground. Neither screamed, shouted or cried, it was enough of an effort to not throw up. The direction changed with a twisting sense of vertigo as the box bounced off something, before it came to rest with both passengers lying on their sides. A roar sounded again, supported by tinny goblin voices cheering from on high.
‘Oh blow this!’ Digby shouted. ‘I’m not going through another round of that!’ He began to squirm.
‘What are you doing?’ Nurn cried.
‘I’ve an idea.’
Digby groped behind himself and, with a small ‘Aha!’ slammed his hand against the box. A flap in the wall behind him swung slightly on hits hinge. ‘Stay here!’ With that, he rolled backwards and disappeared from Nurn’s sight.
Nurn heard the troll roar, then, Digby’s yell. The footsteps thundered in an uneven rhythm this time, a new sound now emerging. It sounded like mewling. Nurn screamed as the flap half-lifted, Digby’s voice hissed: ‘Out! We’re running, right now!’
Nurn rolled out and ran. He ran like he’d never run before, his friend and companion panting and dashing next to him. He risked a glance back and saw the massive troll swarming with green bodies. He made a mental note and then put all his effort into keeping up with Digby, who was beginning to stretch his lead. The sun dropped further, the twilight of dusk urging them on, and they obliged.
After some time, Digby slowed his pace, checking around and behind and noting that they were not being pursued.
‘Alright Nurn, we can probably just walk quickly now.’
Nurn blew out a lungful of air, partly to relax, partly in anticipation of sucking in more sweet oxygen. His heart hammered like a drunken blacksmith at the anvil.
‘What the hell happened back there Digs?’
‘A calculated risk.’
‘What did you do?’
‘I remembered that trolls wear trousers.’
‘I rolled out of the box and managed to wend my way around the dumb beast. When I got behind him, I yanked his trousers down.’
‘I’m still not getting it.’
‘I was betting that the randy goblins would soon overcome their fear if they were turned on enough, if they were given a big enough target. Between the big arse and hanging low fruit between his legs, they frenzied and launched at him. That’s when I snuck around, got you out, and you know the rest.’
‘Wow! Just wow!’
‘I know. Crazy stuff.’
‘I wonder who’ll win?’
‘Well, he was popping them like zits, but I saw a fair few latching onto his, err, delicate parts. I’m not going back to find out!’
‘I don’t blame you! But what are we going to do now?’
‘We keep moving and hope we don’t meet any more. There’s nothing else for it, we have no other options.’
‘Do you think we’ll make it to the city?’
Digby stole a look at Nurn. ‘I’m sure we’ll be fine.’ He saw Nurn smile.
‘That’s good Digs, that’s really good.’
They shuffled on as the night approached, the moon beginning to rise in the distance, its pale cratered face looking down on a forest in which the shift was changing, the daytime creatures winding down, the night-time denizens licking their razor teeth. Oh, and a troll with a very sore backside.