“Boy, are you lucky we found you when we did.”
The filth-caked man opened his eyes and squinted suspiciously up at the silhouette standing between him and the sun. It was an enormous silhouette, craggy and misshapen – some sort of statue, a voice in his head assured him calmly. No threat.
“I’m over here.”
Another figure, this one squatting by his side, leaned over and grinned. The man – he couldn’t remember his own name, only his gender, but that struck him as the most important thing anyway – shuffled sideways on his shoulder blades until he was almost lying on the statue’s misshapen feet, and narrowed his eyes as he glared at the stranger.
“Gargh,” he managed to rasp.
“Don’t try to talk,” the smiling stranger said, “you chewed through a lot of drywall to get out of there. Didn’t he?”
“He zhure did.”
Blinking dazedly, he turned and peered back up at the statue. It looked back down at him with an unreadable expression on its nasty, deformed excuse for a face. Although he still had no idea who he was, the man suddenly knew who he wasn’t, and that was somebody who wanted to be anywhere near that face.
“Where am I?” he asked, although it didn’t really matter. All that mattered was where he wanted to be, which was essentially a subsection of who he wanted to be.
“Just outside Arid-uh, Shadar Logoth,” another winning, highly-suspicious smile. “You were lucky to get out. A right sorry sight you were, too, crawling through the dirt. Of course, I’ve had more than my share of adventures in Aridhol. I’ll give you a highlights package.”
“Do any of them involve me?” for some reason, this seemed very important.
“Only the most recent one,” the cheerful stranger admitted, “and I have to say you don’t have much of a role.”
“You weren’t there. You wouldn’t understand.”
“I was there,” the stranger disagreed with a puzzled frown.
Something in the air made him feel extremely vulnerable, and a very convincing inner voice told him that the safest thing for him to do would be to use his magic powers to blow everybody up, leaving himself relatively unscathed. Since, until that moment, he’d had no idea he was actually capable of magic power-type feats, he stumbled over the whole idea. After a few seconds of grimacing, he was left feeling dizzy and nauseated, the fellow leaning over him going momentarily double in his vision but stubbornly refusing to blow up. He gave up the whole venture as a bad idea.
“What’s your name?” the blurry fellow asked, finally having the decency to return to singularity.
“Pud-” the syllable popped out before he could stop it, and suddenly Puddin remembered who he was. “Puddin Taim. Ask me again-”
“No need, I got it the first time,” the stranger interrupted breezily. “I’m good with names. I mean, if I wasn’t, I’d probably never remember this big fellow’s moniker. Am I right?”
“I don’t know,” Puddin replied, glancing nervously up at the … thing … looming over him. “What’s his name?”
“Billy Joe-Bob al’Peterson Meatballs Smith.”