The Ballad of the Hamster (Part Seven)

 

The Amazing Resurrection of Fiona

Hamster II’s surprise really knew no bounds. When he returned to the Rogue encampment some hours later, having cleared the entire Stony Field of vermin and collected a great swag of booty, he lugged his backpack over to Kashya and told her, in his best talking-to-the-bereaved voice, that Fiona had passed on.

Of course, he’d never had to talk to anybody who’d been bereaved before, so his best talking-to-the-bereaved voice still wasn’t very good. “Funny thing happened to your friend Fiona” really wasn’t the best way to go about it, or under any normal circumstances it wouldn’t be. This was the source of Hamster II’s surprise.

“Nine hundred and eighty gold pieces.”

“Huh?”

“Nine hundred and eighty gold pieces.”

“For what? A coffin?” Hamster II asked suspiciously. “I’m not paying that much for a coffin, even if it does need a grounding wire.”

“To resurrect Fiona.”

“You what?” Hamster II scanned Kashya’s face for sarcasm, but it was like scanning a bowl of porridge for crocodiles. It might just be possible that there was one in there, but it would be very surprising, considering that it was a bowl of porridge. “You can resurrect her?”

“Nine hundred and eighty gold pieces.”

“Yeah, but … what, from here?” Hamster II frowned. “Because I can’t see you going out there and facing the carvers, and I certainly can’t see myself dragging her carcass back here. For one thing, it’s probably still carrying a charge. Anyway, even if you did go out there and do it personally, I don’t think you’d have much luck. I tried to raise a skeleton from her, and it didn’t work. And I’m pretty much, you know, it, when it comes to raising stuff from stuff.”

Kashya stood gnomically, arms steely and eyes crossed. Or perhaps the other way around. Or, because it was Kashya, perhaps not. Hamster II spent a quality moment reflecting on the term ‘gnomic’, and putting it in conjunction with Kashya. She didn’t have an awful lot in common with gnomes that he could discern, but there was sure to be something. A lot of things, for example, went over gnomes’ heads.

Hamster II reflected that he’d never seen a gnome, and in fact wasn’t sure what a gnome was.

“And you really think you can resurrect her? You’re not just trying to trick me into giving you a lot of money for her funeral or something?” Hamster II narrowed his eyes. “Because it was her own stupid fault, she was following me around and going tra-la-la, and all of a sudden it’s the crawling lightning and she was doing the Stony Field Jitterbug.”

“Nine hundred and eighty gold pieces,” Kashya said, “or you can hire a new mercenary.”

“Because if I thought for a minute that you could really bring her back to life, I mean … what?”

“Nine hundred and eighty gold pieces,” Kashya repeated, “or you can hire a new mercenary.”

“What new mercenary?” Hamster II demanded. “Why would I pay to have one of those women hanging around me, cramping my style and fraternising with my skeletons? I only took Fiona out because you lobbed her at me and ran away. She got herself killed. She had a bow, really quite similar to mine, and she ran right at the guy. She could have fired arrows from a distance,” Hamster II’s curiosity got the better of him. “What other mercenaries?”

Kashya handed him a catalogue.

“Blaise,” Hamster II read dubiously. “Maeko. Claudia,” he looked up. “You’re a very silly woman.”

Kashya had crossed her arms in a new way.

“All these Rogues cost more to hire than Fiona does to resurrect,” he pointed out. When this got no response, he sighed. “I’ll see what I can do,” he said, lifting what he whimsically liked to call his ‘money pouch’. It didn’t even go ‘clink’. Well, it did, but that was because his pocket was full of grit and he’d put a second gemstone, this one apparently an amethyst, into the money pouch rather than risk losing it among the pebbles. “I don’t have that sort of cash on me right now, though. Or in my private stash,” he spared an ugly look for the iron-bound chest that squatted on the far side of the campfire, where Warriv also stood, whistling innocently. One day, Hamster II had quietly decided, he would double back and sneak into the encampment when nobody was expecting him to, and he’d catch Warriv rummaging through his private stash, and then Warriv would die with his arms and legs stuck up his backside. This fond recurring daydream kept a faint smile on Hamster II’s face for a surprisingly long time. “Anyway,” he went on, shaking himself out of it, “I’m going to see Charsi about all this crap I just picked up, you know, while I was out there killing everything for you. If I can make some money on it, I’ll see about resurrecting your friend. Or you can just go and ask Akara about it, since she has millions of gold pieces lying around and she’s meant to be, like, a supporter of this camp. She could pay you and you could resurrect Fiona and I’m dreaming, aren’t I.”

Hamster II paid a quick visit to Charsi, hoping that Murph and the Barries – all of whom were growing quite strong and imposing – might intimidate her into giving him extra money. They didn’t, but at least Murph managed to look a bit embarrassed about it. Hamster II realised that if he was ever going to kill everybody in the camp, he was going to have to do it himself. A bit more target practice was on the cards, therefore, so he figured he might as well do a bit more work around the place before settling the score.

He shuffled away with a little under nine hundred gold pieces, which didn’t look like enough. He went to Akara, wondering whether convincing her to give him a loan or to pay for Fiona’s resurrection out of her own pocket would be the more futile task. She wasn’t much help, babbling as she was about a magical scroll that would help in doing something or other and bring about something else so they could help somebody.

“Scroll?” Hamster II looked into his bag, and pulled out a couple of the thus-far useless pieces of parchment he’d been picking up from various places – chests, unattended houses, dead bodies, under rocks … it was amazing, how many places people had thought of to hide the things. “How much will you give me for these, then?”

“A hundred gold pieces each.”

Hamster II jingled his way smugly back over to Kashya.

“Okay,” he said, hefting his money pouch. “Let’s see this miracle of yours. How are we going to-”

Kashya swiped the money from his hand, and nodded casually at a grinning Fiona, who was once again hovering eagerly nearby. Hamster II stared.

“How did you do that?”

“That was fun!” Fiona exclaimed. “Can I do it again?”

Hamster II closed his mouth.

“Oh yes,” he assured her.

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