This is the rebirth of trying to do Splatter Elf flash fiction on my new-fangled PhilipOverby.com. Keep an eye out every weekend for short tales from some well-known characters, slightly-unknown characters, and “who the hell are these assholes?” If you’ve read One Goblin Army, you might recognize Cruds and Scumzy. However, Scumzy…uh, had an accident? This Scumzy is the sixth from a long line of Scumzys, a teenager who thinks he’s cooler than he is. Cruds is a shithead dwarf. That’s about all there is to say about him. Enjoy!
Cruds tossed his shitty pants into the bushes. No one was around, but he didn’t care if they were or not. He had to get his ass out of Phlegm. The money was good working with the Crumbling Chains, but not good enough to get turned into maggot sauce. He stroked his magnificent blond beard, streaking it with blood. Where in the Dwarven Hottest Hell did that come from? He patted himself down, but no sign of blood anywhere. Must have been from Scumzy, the poor bastard. Whatever sort of devil spawn Maggotglove turned out to be, Cruds didn’t want to know. He just wanted to crawl back to his favorite cart-tavern in the Rolling City and get back to drinking.
“Uncle Cruds?” a cracking voice came from behind a nearby rock.
“Eh?” Cruds couldn’t believe his eyes. Scumzy’s own son, Scumzy the Sixth, squatted down next to a big rock, wearing his father’s old purple crow helm. He looked rightly stupid in it, same as his father did, but most things humans wore looked dumb to him.
“My father told me wait out here if everything went to shit,” Scumzy said. “I’m guessing he’s dead if you’re here.”
“I hate to say it, boy, but–”
“Good,” Scumzy said, sneering. “I hate being called Sixth or Six Boy or Little Scum. Let him go to Great Necropolis screaming.”
“Now that’s no way to speak of your father, boy,” Cruds said, stepping towards him. When he stood at his full height, the boy towered over Cruds. At only sixteen, he always saw him as the shriveled little runt that threw rocks at goblins. Yet here he was with stubble on his chin and two heads taller than the dwarf. “Now say a prayer for your dearly departed daddy to whatever gods you mumble to.”
“Gods? Ha! What have they done for me?”
Cruds narrowed his eyes. “You best be careful talking that bloody mess so close to me. I ain’t in the business of getting struck by lightning or a swarm of bees.”
“Shit,” Scumzy said, kicking a rock as hard as he could. It went sailing off into the wastes to disappear in the swirling dust. “I wish the gods would try something. At least then I’d know who to punch in the face.”
“Quit it with the stupid shit, boy,” Cruds said, putting his had to knife. “I’ll cut that peach fuzz off your damn chin. Now I’m off to the Rolling City. I ain’t got time to chat about foolishness with you.”
Scumzy looked down at the ground. “I could have killed that beast in town. I was right there. Had a spear aimed right at it.”
“You weren’t going to kill shit.” Cruds waddled off past Scumzy. “I ain’t trying to stay out here when it gets dark. I know a caravan usually camps nearby here and they’re always harping on about needing security. If we can catch ’em, we can get the bloody hell out of here for good. But you keep dallying and slagging off your pa, we won’t have the time.”
Scumzy mumbled to himself and scooped up his spear. “We should go back and fight.”
“You’re dumber than you look then, lad. Ain’t no body surviving the night in Phlegm, I can tell you that. You come with me or you die. Them’s your options.” Cruds stomped off, swatting away bloated flies as he went. If the boy wanted to be lunch for the crows, then he could have at it. His Pa would be mighty unsettled that his son talked so much shit about him. Despite Scumzy the Fifth being a right idiot, he did care for his son. Cruds knew that much.
Scumzy came running up behind Cruds. “We cant’ go that way.”
“So you’re coming then?” Cruds smirked. “I knew you weren’t that daft.”
“No, look. We really can’t go that way.”
Cruds shielded his eyes from the blasted sun. “Eh, what is that?”
Looming in the distance was a lop-sided mountain that buzzards and crows from miles around circled and picked at. From far away it just looked like a regular hill, but the longer Cruds stared at it, the more he could see an arm jutting out or tufts of hair.
“It’s a pile of bodies,” Scumzy whispered. “A big one.”
“Yeah, just figured it out, lad. It’s blocking our damned path though.”
Scumzy huffed. “We can’t find another way?”
“Not unless you want to go off the main road. Ain’t your Pa never told you about going off the main road from Phlegm?”
“He maybe mentioned it.”
“You’ll get your bones picked clean in seconds by any number of beasts and crawlies. Least on the main road we can see shit sneaking up on us.”
“But there’s a huge pile of bodies there,” Scumzy said. “Huge.”
“I ain’t blind, son. We have to go that way, bodies or no. They’re dead, ain’t they?”
“I’m assuming so,” Scumzy said.
“Then what we got to worry about. Just keep your spear at the ready. I’ve got knives coming out the wazoo so we’ll be fine and dandy.”
Cruds didn’t believe a word of his blabbering, but carried on toward the hill of death. He’d seen worse in his days in the Gloamish army. That was before he deserted his cadre when a pack of witches blasted the unholy shit out of them. Guts hung in the trees, flesh was seared off of skulls, beards sizzling in the hot summer sun. Lucky those giant metallic Mandrake bastards came along and reduced the witches to quivering sludge. Since Curds was supposed to be on watch, he got the brunt of abuse from the Mandrake captain. He fled later that night because he knew the firing squad would come in the morning once everyone sobered up.
A hill of dead bodies ain’t shit.
He burped a few times. “Think I’m gonna puke.”
“Really?” Scumzy covered his mouth. “If you puke, I’m going to puke, too.”
“Come on now, both of us can’t be puking out here.”
“I feel queasy already,” Scumzy said, pulling the ghastly helmet off his head. His black hair was plastered to his pimply face, nose running. “We should really reconsider this. Can’t we go somewhere else?”
Cruds leaned over, clutching his stomach. He spat a few times. “Got some suggestions?”
“Then shut your trap and keep moving. We puke, we puke.”
“Wait,” Scumzy said. “What the red hell is that now?”
“Riders,” Cruds said, eyes watering. “Two. Three. Can’t make them out.”
“Most likely.” Cruds scratched at his beard. “Runners like us. Nothing like keeping the company of cowards.”
“I’m not running. I’m doing what I was told. Being a good son.”
“Right, lad. You’re a bloody brilliant son.” Cruds waved his arms at the riders. “Hey now! Over here!”
The riders slowed to a trot. Now that they’d slowed down Cruds could distinctively make out two horses. Then the horses stopped completely.
“They stopped,” Scumzy said.
“No shit?” Cruds squinted.
“Why did they stop?”
“Stop asking me dumb questions, boy, just be on the alert. Mayhaps they’re not friendly folks after all.”
An arrow whizzed through the air and pinged off the top of Cruds’s helmet.
Cruds and Scumzy exchanged strained looks.
“You gonna stare at me or fucking run, lad?”
The two ran and the horses followed. This day was just getting shittier and shittier.
Tune in next Splatterday for some more fabulous Splatter Elf flash. Will it be the continuation of Cruds and Scumzy’s adventures or a new tale? If you’re interested in reading more of the Splatter Elf universe, click the pic below!