Category Archives: Uncategorized

Playing Minecraft in my Dreams

My brother and I have been playing the same minecraft saved game since 2012. We started with a little shed on a hill and a large stash of homebrew in the fridge. Both unemployed, both drunk and very bipolar.

 

Our little town grew to a city, then to a kingdom. Now we have over 30 small villages, several large towns and big cities, multiple kingdoms with huge statues, massive lord of the rings sized fortresses, underground markets, secret passages, puzzle dungeons, pirate ships, and my brother is currently working on his own personal Mines of Moria.

 

We have sunk more than stupid hours into this little universe. My brother dug out a massive dwarven hall at the bedrock by hand, taking hundreds of hours to finish the thing. I’ve spent no idea hours wandering along its many roads, killing zombies, paying merchants and sitting around the fire at Snowmane Memorial Campsite (RIP) or drinking in the tree-top tavern The Lofty Standards on the Champ Memorial Balcony (RIP).

 

We have a national currency, business ventures, and we are digging a road between two portals in hell. I wish I knew how to make the computer box make pictures so I could show you.

 

I have a recurring dream about being in minecraft.

 

It started off in a vast and intricate desert structure. I was solving a puzzle by floating beneath sandstone beams and pushing heavy cubes onto buttons. The puzzle unearthed a long, cavernous road beneath the sand, half in shadow and engraved with ornate pictograms. I followed it for what seemed like miles, hiding from giants in the deep shadows until the dream disintegrated.

 

In a following dream I was in a deep cave structure. I kept diving deeper and deeper down, block by block, in a jagged and vertical shaft. Each time I reached flat ground I would find a new, darker passage leading further down and I would continue to dive. I reached craggy bedrock at the bottom of the now claustrophobic shaft, and saw a hole glowing with red light. I stood on the edge and looked down, seeing a wide burning chamber with a circular bloodstain smeared out into runes. Pink and hairless devils wandered around with blank eyes frozen in glares of pure disgust. Terror woke me but it was hours until I felt like I left the dream.

 

Weeks later I had moved on to a far off Nordic land over the ocean, filled with sweeping hills, dark hollow mountains and frozen forests. I had built a small settlement there and was showing my brother around. Log cabins behind tall and thick palisade stood empty in the snow, and the place felt new and wild and dangerous. I told my brother of all my plans for this new kingdom, though I knew it would be a long time before I came back because it was so far away. The dream left an ache in me that gives me shivers, longing for a place unreal and untamed, far from any place I’ve been or will go.

 

The most recent dream I had I visited my small settlement with my brother after many years, but giants had come and broken everything down. All that was left was blocky rubble and floating item sprites. The giants stomped around, throwing the wooden blocks my cabins were built out of and crushing them beneath their boots. My brother looked worried but I just laughed. I led him into the ruined tavern and we sat against the broken wall drinking beer out of 2D mugs.

 

I drank and leaned back and said to him:

 

“I know this ain’t the right place to admit that I’ve been struggling.

 

You know I get real sad at the drop of a hat and pretty regularly.

 

And it feels like there’s always been this deep sadness in me, and maybe there’s just no reason for it.

 

I’ve thought about it hard, and I don’t know what I’d do if the sadness wasn’t there, if there was nothing to build in me and nothing to fight against.

 

It would feel like it was over and I don’t want that yet.

 

I’m not moping or drowning in my sadness.

 

I’m building.

 

Building shit makes me happy.

 

Even if it gets torn down or torn up.

 

Every block I put down fills that gaping hole in me just a little.

 

And even if I’m just building minecraft in my dreams, that’s at least doing something.

 

Struggling is still doing something.

 

The end of it ain’t that far away, and I know I’ll be happy again.

 

And that’s good enough

 

For now.”

Give Hope You Bastard

Hey there it me you’re number 1 (45 actual) guy for some premium lord of the rings shit right up in your sad hole. Oh baby I been blue and oh baby I been blue before now and then some. And damn but looks like I made myself a career about talkin myself outta this shit, and I’m guessin youse all been feelin it too (as well, been a while and I can’t remember if I use the double o one).

 

Lordy you know it’s sad poetry time.

 

 

 

Ah fuck it’s pointless

 

Give me some hope or strike me dead

 

I’m thirsting for it

 

My heart is aching

 

My stomach is twisted into a knot

 

Cut me loose

 

Burn my nerves off with a lighter

 

Knock me cold with booze and blunt objects

 

Fuck bein dry or smart I’m hurting

 

And I don’t know what to do

 

 

The thing about

 

Being lost and alone

 

Is that it’s just you

 

And it’s hard

 

To have what you can’t give

 

Make a life outta giving hope

 

Needed or not

 

Seen or heard

 

And what’s left

 

When it’s just you who is empty

 

 

And I know

 

It would be worse

 

If it all was just chemicals

 

And drugs and money and freedom

 

Was the answer

 

It would drive me nuts

 

And I’d never be happy again

 

Sated and not lost

 

Because there was never a place

 

To be found

 

 

But hey there

 

Where is that voice

 

That keeps you going

 

Warm and kind and slow

 

And ever at the last minute

 

 

Where is that voice

 

That says it’s bad

 

Lord knows its bad

 

But there is the end of it

 

Somewhere

 

Maybe not soon

 

But ahead

 

 

Where are those flashes

 

Of smiles and drinks and firelight

 

Where is that sinking sensation of peace

 

The spiteful humour of resolve

 

The coughing laughter of a drowning man

 

 

 

I need it now

 

While this poem is bad

 

And going nowhere

 

While I’m failing and stabbing myself

 

 

I remember

 

Getting addicted to a song

 

Entirely sad and hopeless

 

Because I felt, stronger than I ever had

 

 

This is my fight

 

To push back

 

Against despair so strong

 

And thick in the air

 

 

It feels right

 

To throw myself

 

At this cause

 

Though it hurts me

 

 

Because enough pain

 

And it becomes a task

 

 

And there is my hope

 

To make this end of myself

 

 

A long and bitter campaign against despair

 

To grow old a warrior

 

 

And maybe all you can do

 

With your despair

 

 

Is to throw it back

 

At the wall in front of you

 

 

Then here it is

 

 

A cry to the light at the end of the tunnel

 

 

Grasp me

 

 

Hold me

 

 

Pull me close

 

 

And far away from this sad fate

 

 

From a wretched end of failed hope

 

 

And let me grasp

 

 

Any I can

 

 

And take them with me

Cusses

Waddup you sick fucks here it’s me again with another blog post for my like 3 followers and several bots from China and Uruguay. This one’s got hella fuckwords in it so remember to share it with your grandma, I aint care what she thinks of me.

 

Hospitality is the ultimate equaliser. It is the perfect job to have if you want to practice getting yelled at by people from any walk of life. As such, it is a draw for anyone who is naturally skilled at people being angry with them for no good reason whatsoever. Immigrants.

 

With the high staff turnover of a busy inner city café with a hefty dose of workplace politics, I have come into contact with casual workers from many exotic places, and have engaged in a classic Australian pastime with each. Trading swear words in different languages.

 

So if you’re ever stuck for truly creative cursive expressions to impress your foreign colleagues, I made you a little list of my favourites for them to enjoy. Also sorry if I sounded mean in that first paragraph, it’s as hot as the sun in my studio and the delete button is for cowards.

 

I care deeply about what your grandmother thinks of me.

 

10 Medium Grade (Australian Standard) Swears to teach your Brazilian/Korean Hospitality Coworkers:

 

Wanker – Obvious, but there’s a chance they haven’t encountered it and it’ll make em a hit at parties

 

Fuckstick – Much more creative way of calling someone a dick

 

Fucknuts – Hilarious

 

Dipshit – Not sure what this one actually means but I don’t think anyone does

 

Numbnuts – Light, so good for upmarket company

 

Little Shit – Kid friendly!

 

Pissfarting Around – Very utilitarian in a hospitality setting

 

Shit for Brains – One of the top 3 worst things for a brain to be made out of

 

Dribbling Shit – Might be hard to convey the meaning of this one but sounds great with an accent

 

Fuckwit – Gold standard curse, classic f-bomb plus old school english. Shoots from your mouth like a .303 round at a 50-metre target. Anger and frustration focussed in a word with the cadence of a stockwhip crack. Could fucken say it all day

Not Killing People

Hey well I’m about to get probs a bit too honest on this here internet, so mum be prepared and maybe pretend someone else is writin this.

 

Lord knows I been through some dark times, cos I been prayin to him in gasping whispers in the dark with eyes too scared to close but too scared to look at anything too closely.

 

And now I pray in broad daylight as I walk down the street cos I walked right out the other side of the dark and I may look like a crazy person but sometimes looks ain’t deceiving in the slightest and there’s nothing wrong with being crazy if it’s most of us.

 

I wanna write to a very specific people because I don’t remember anyone writing to me when I was locked up in the dark with nothing but words to look to.

 

Lemme give some context.

 

I thought I was destined to kill people from about the age of 15 to 19, when I got diagnosed with a whole upstairs mixup.

 

As a teenager I thought about shooting up my school regularly. I was lucky enough to have the luxury of absolutely no access to firearms. And I do consider that a luxury.

 

All I seemed to feel were variations of rage or despair, not for any good reason, but I’ve come to learn there never is a good reason for these thoughts. They just happen.

 

When I finished school I moved into the city about three months after. I had to pay my rent, bills and food on a casual fast food wage. Didn’t have a washing machine or a bed or a computer. Had a foam mattress with a massive divot in the middle, a cupboard that wouldn’t close and a mobile phone that could only text and call. Obviously that sent me over the edge.

 

I would wander the streets late at night, seeing demons and being absolutely terrified. I was pretty switched on so part of me knew that I was probably mentally ill, but a lot of me was consumed by pain and fear.

 

And I wanted to kill people. Or, at least, I was fixated by the idea that it was something I would end up doing. I would scribble down stories about serial killers in the ends of high school notebooks, get blind drunk on weekends and slowly slip down the slope into hell.

 

There was this one house I would walk past, an old guy who would leave the door open as he watched tv. I would walk past his house after every shift, and each time I would picture walking in there and killing him. Fucken scary right? For everyone.

 

It’s probably the thing in my life I’m least proud of, those thoughts I had at that period of my life. And I got a lot of things to be least proud of.

 

Thing is, I never did it. Never actually hurt a fly on purpose, never been violent in my life unless you count wrestling with my many siblings. And something stopped me there, as it did many times over at many places.

 

And I could say that love and support or taking meds, eating properly or fucken exercising is the key to good mental health, but truth is I didn’t feel I could have any of those things at that point in time. And there will be times in your life when you got nothing but your own sheer will and a destination.

 

So listen, and take this from somebody who’s been down there in the dark with you, though we couldn’t see each other.

 

You don’t want to kill anyone.

 

You want a lot of things.

 

You want love.

 

You want freedom.

 

You want acceptance.

 

You don’t want to be in pain anymore.

 

You want support and you want help.

 

You want life and you want what you know being alive truly means.

 

And you’re missing that.

 

For now.

 

Life is long and roads turn corners. There are people out there for you, and they will come from unexpected places. Even now, alone in the dark, people are fighting battles for you unseen. There is a place for you that is right and good and whole, and that is not a belief of mine, that is a truth I’ve lived to see.

 

I can’t pretend to know how to fix you. You are not a machine, not a maths sum and what you got is more than a broken arm that needs time to heal. You are a lost human being, like the rest of us are lost, though your path has taken you to deeper and darker places.

 

In the end, though you need help and support and all those good things, and though this is sad to say, you need to rely on yourself. And sometimes all you need for that is to see a little light at the end of the tunnel. So here’s me waving a torch for you.

 

Not killing people is the way out.

 

The rest will come as it does, but if you hold to that all the rest is steps forward.

The Mega Sad

Oh lordy drama drama drama. Here the Mega Sad is again and you gonna have to write stuff that makes yours and everyone’s mums capital Worried about your mental health even though this about the healthiest thing you can do for it.

 

The Mega Sad is huge and it dwarfs you, but somehow you can do ok in its shadow. You still have fun, you still have friends, still got love. Still makin shit, and even though it’s sad shit, sad shit can be good too. And it doesn’t mean that your life is bad, or that you need to be consoled or helped. And it definitely don’t mean I need to see a doctor. It just means you gotta use the sad too, that it’s the cloth you gotta cut today.

 

There’s no shortage of sad people to write to, plenty of people on their last legs who don’t have to mope on their lonesome.

 

I ain’t know why I’m makin excuses just to pour my heart out on the internet.

 

Here is the thing I wrote today.

 

I ain’t that sad, mum’s don’t stress.

 

 

White Knuckles

 

This is not the end

 

Though tall waves crash

 

At our thinning shores

 

Though our fields burn

 

And red sparks fall like rain in summer

 

Though people die

 

And die

 

And

 

Die

 

Though this anger

 

Has replaced all hope

 

Though everything we’ve built

 

Fails

 

And falls

 

And eyes above

 

Close

 

Us from their vision

 

Though nothing

 

Will be left

 

Here

 

We will wash up

 

On far off shores

 

With fresh hearts

 

And tear stung eyes

 

We will gasp for breath and

 

Taste clean air once more

 

And though

 

I can’t believe it

 

As I say it

 

It has to be true

 

It has to

 

Because

 

What else is there

 

To hold onto?

The Puck

Hey nerds I’m back in the badly postured writin chair fuckin up my back again after a bit of a break so hi first up. It been a long time since I used my blog for its intended purpose, which was to give you all some bad writing advice which you all so sorely need cos’ you all writing so good, so here some wisdom luv ya.

 

The process never changes. You(me) push yourself real hard to get something done, decide to take a short break to recover, then stop writing for a month or two getting all blocked up on your own juices. There’s only one way to get back on the horse and it aint pretty (the way not the horse, all animals are beautiful).

 

It’s like when you forget to take a dump over the weekend and then you can’t do it during work on Monday for anxiety reasons and suddenly you gotta push out three days of compacted digesteds at once. The next 500 words are gonna be as dreaded and necessary as that shit.

 

It will make you sad. It will make you angry. It will make you react in all the ways you want the audience to from your beautiful and heartfelt words.

 

It will be the worst thing ever written.

 

Good news is after you’ve pushed through you’ll be as close to right as rain as you ever are and you can move on to a fun story about lizard people and ogresses or whatever tickles your grandma. You should delete whatever crap you wrote and definitely never show it to anyone. Anyway here’s mine:

 

Firty

 

Please god let me write something

 

Woop here we go

 

Never thought I’d turn 30.

 

I was a kid when I first started thinking about killing myself.

 

All kinds of crazy and didn’t see much for me but the afterlife.

 

Giufghsiuafsjngafs

 

^ anxiety spasm

 

haha

 

when I was thirteen I would write stories with me as the main character

 

but I’d always die at the end.

 

^ caps lock used to be automatic but now only works like sometimes? I get that I feel it

 

I spent my teenage years in some kind of hell

 

And my twenties in outer space

 

Now I’m here

 

And here is good

 

Here I have space to be happy

 

And pain is temporary

 

^there the caps lock is working again I don’t know. Like half my day is figuring out if I dreamed my problems (exaggeration)

 

wondering now If I’ll post this one or delete it

 

maybe just keep writing it

 

I wish I had the words to explain what life has been to me

 

Not trying to be dramatic shit’s just been real weird

 

And I can only explain snippets

 

And a lot I may have made up. Not even close to sure now

If I had my time again there’s definitely stuff I would have done different

 

But it aint work that way and there’s no point thinking about it

 

I say aint a lot because I read too much achewood when I was severely depressed

 

I would stay awake until the sun rose reading the archives and only go to sleep when the sun came up because I was terrified of monsters

 

I was twenty I think

 

Medication has been a godsend

 

Still unsure about posting this

 

Could be useful as a like this is my process thing

 

Might be more useful to get my sword out (not dick joke) do some magic and write something good

 

Good example of how weird my life is

 

Like I can’t just sit and write a cool fantasy story and be happy about it

 

I gotta make a fool outta myself in the process

 

Ah shit lost my train of thought

 

I was actually gonna write a heartfelt post about suicidal ideation and try and help people

 

Here’s some advice then

 

Don’t stop writing for six weeks or you gonna have to push out the blocked up shitwad in your brain and then hate yourself for how far you’ve fallen

 

Funny I guess

 

More advice

 

Use everything

 

Every last moment is your ammunition

 

If life tears you apart heal your heart into one big fat muscle to crush your pain

 

Spite yourself into a continued existence if you have to

 

Anything is better than being dead

I wanted to say it in a nice way

 

Haha

 

Yeah defs gonna delete this one

Wayshrine

Wayshrine was not what Rotgear expected. A slight left turn and a rickety sign, pointing to what was supposed to be a quick stop and a quiet word to the guys upstairs, turned into a tightly packed town, heavy traffic and several short and sporadic arguments with Nurff.

 

Nurff had already been in two fights since arriving, or more accurately, Nurff had been the two fights, while others had briefly participated and been quickly ejected. While entertaining, and a good way of betting a quick coin, Rotgear was growing tired and thirsty, and had become hopelessly lost amongst the winding stairs, thin canals and low hanging roofs of the alpine city.

 

Rotgear hoisted his sagging pack and stretched his aching shoulder backwards. His legs felt impacted together and his arse felt like it would fall off any second. Nurff was tireless. Her mountainous frame remained straight and her gravelly visage had the same stern expression that she had worn for hours. She stopped suddenly, and Rotgear’s plate rattled with the impact of a living brick wall.

 

“Rotty,” Nurff said, “I fink we are lost.”

 

“Yeah, I thought it’d sink in eventually.” Rotgear replied. “ Let’s drop into a tavern and get our bearings.”

 

Nurff grunted. “Which one of deez is a tavern?”

 

Rotgear looked up the street. It was lined with wooden signs inscribed with strange heraldry and phrases. The Headless Arms, The Dreary Maiden, The Lofty Standards. Rotgear scratched his helmet.

 

“All of them I think.” He said.

 

“Which one den?” Nurff looked up and down the street, swinging her head with all the gravity of a celestial body.

 

“It doesn’t matter.” Rotgear snapped, hoisting his pack. He took a breath, it wasn’t smart to get narky with an eight-foot troll berserker. “If it’s got beer and a chair I’m there.”

 

Nurff looked at him with a blank expression.

 

“Closest one.” Rotgear said.

 

“I’m not sure I like da look of dat one. Looks grimy.” Nurff said.

 

“Well you should pick then.” Rotgear replied, trying to knock the oncoming headache out of his helmet with the palm of his gauntlet.

 

Nurff scratched her mossy chin, then the back of her neck.

 

“What sort of places do you like den?” Nurff asked.

 

“One where I am sitting down and not in the street covered in road dust.” Rotgear sighed, he was pretty sure Nurff was too thick to read tone anyway. “One with a bath would be nice.”

 

Nurff peered at the signs, taking wayward steps up the steep and winding cobblestone. She returned to Rotgear.

 

“I don’t fink none of deez got a bath Rotty.” She said.

 

“Fucking hell.” Rotgear bee-lined for the nearest door.

 

The Sunken Tankard had character plastered over it like makeup on an unsupervised three-year-old. Rotgear pushed the intricately carved cedar door onto a winding, rickety staircase that lead down to a masonry pit swimming with spilled ale and missed spittoon shots. Every grizzled, one-eyed mercenary was flanked by darkly robed and heavily obscured wanderers on one side, and monks and scholars of premium, exotic religions on the other.

 

“Alright, let’s rest our legs and sink some walking booze.” Rotgear said.

 

“You find da table, I’ll get da drinks.” Nurff said. Rotgear nodded and grunted.

 

He scanned the floor for empty seats. There were two at the bar next to a one-legged sea captain obviously on the lookout for new recruits. There was half a table in a dark smoky corner next to a green cloaked stranger who was quite obviously pretending not to be interested in brave souls to help her reclaim her fallen kingdom. A small hand wrapped in vines belonging to a woodland sprite poked through the crowd and beckoned to Rotgear to take a seat beside it.

 

“We’re not gonna get out of here without six months of solid work.” Rotgear muttered to himself.

 

He searched for the biggest, hairiest warrior to take some of the heat off him and Nurff, his eyes resting on a pair of shoulders a full leg of ham taller than the rest of the bar.

 

Rotgear pushed his way into a gap next to a man built like an angry statue. The sound of glass shattering echoed in his helmet and he felt a spray of lukewarm ale between the gaps of his greaves. He kept his head down.

 

“That’s a lot of armour you’re wearin there.” The voice boomed in Rotgear’s right ear like submerged dynamite. Rotgear looked up past a hairy tattooed bicep into a hairy, tattooed face.

 

“You some kind of soldier?” The man asked.

 

“Sellsword actually. Just been successful enough to procure the right tools.” Rotgear cursed himself for saying it and glanced around. A sellsword with a full suit of plate could expect himself to be employed in a place like this within seconds.

 

“I expect you’re somewhat of the same sort.” Rotgear said, his eyes begging for a yes.

 

“Nah, not in the slightest.” The man said. He waved to the bartender. “An ale for my friend.”

 

The bartender drew ale into a large glass mug, filling it 4/5ths full of froth.

 

“New keg, might take a while to settle.” The bartender said, then sniffed.

 

Rotgear clicked his parched tongue and glanced around for a stool for his aching arse. Three were taken up by identically dressed magicians in obscuring blue robes. Though Rotgear was sure it was a single illusionist holding seats for friends, he felt a seat wasn’t worth losing a tooth in the inevitable bar-wide fistfight that would ensue if he started an argument. Instead he gazed like a labrador at a ham sandwich as the bartender drew another inch of beer into his mug of head.

 

“I’m actually a farmer by trade,” The large man interrupted Rotgear’s stupor, “Or at least I used to be.”

 

Rotgear grunted as a fat elf pushed his way next to him at the bar. The strap on Rotgear’s left greave started digging into his thigh.

 

“You see, one dark day last autumn, an evil beast invaded my land and scorched my earth. Slew my best farmhands and kidnapped my only son. And now I can’t find a warrior brave enough to help me no matter how hard I search or what payment I offer.”

 

The man looked at Rotgear with pleading eyes and a quivering lip. Rotgear’s jaw dropped below his gorget.

 

“You’re joking right?” Rotgear said.

 

The large man moved his mouth up and down and leaned back.

 

“You’re six-foot eight. Wide.” Rotgear shook his head, and was butted forward by the fat elf behind him. He steadied himself. “Find a warrior, pick him up, and swing him at whatever beasty is stomping your poor wheat you daft, fuckin… monolith.”

 

The large man’s lip trembled. Rotgear glanced at his beer, it was still half head.

 

“Fuck it.” He said, and slipped back into the crowd behind him. He pushed his way through thirty faces and hundreds of distinguishing features until Nurff loomed in front of him, a spire of rock in a sea of flesh and brightly coloured silk.

 

“Nurff, good.” Rotgear said. “No seats anywhere. Please tell me you got drinks.”

 

“Even better.” Nurff said, the stones on her brow and mouth arranging into a makeshift smile. “Dis guy says he’ll shout us drinks fer da whole night if we help him open his magic puzzle box dat he bought off a demon.”

 

“Ah shit, we’re outta here.” Rotgear said. He grabbed Nurff’s forearm with both his gauntlets and dragged her towards the door.

 

It was snowing outside. Rotgear’s plate misted over, reflecting the dull glow of the street lanterns like somebody else’s Christmas through a frosted glass window. Rotgear let go of Nurff’s fifty kilo forearm and aimed straight at the next bar up, The Far-Flung Gauntlet.

 

He opened the door onto a meaty fist already headed in his direction. It impacted with his helmet and another curse joined the cacophony of sailor’s tongue that filled the gaps between brawlers on the floor and hanging from the rafters of the tavern. Three more hits glanced from Rotgear’s gardbrace as he let Nurff in through the scratched and gashed oaken door and closed it behind her.

 

“Rotty.” Nurff said, a glass tankard exploding on her stone brow.

 

Rotgear ignored her and pushed forward through the brawl. A leg sweep glanced off his schynbald. Someone’s face slammed onto his breastplate. He instinctively broke someone’s forearm with his vambrace.

 

“Rotty!” Nurff called after him. She heaved a drunkard back into the crowd with her right arm as she strangled another with her left.

 

Rotgear pulled a stool out from under the bar. Someone grabbed it and shattered it over Rotgear’s back. He winced and stood, gesturing to the bartender for ale. Nurff joined his side.

 

“Rotty.” She said.

 

The bartender slammed a pewter tankard onto the bar, froth covering it like a cloak. Rotgear reached for it as a dwarf slid down the bar on his stomach, clearing it of drinks and peanuts. He turned, slid back through the mob, and out the front door.

 

Rotgear stomped out the door and hooked right for the next tavern over. Nurff emerged behind him, brushing angry dwarves off her shoulders.

 

“Third time’s always a charm.” Rotgear muttered, his voice growing more and more high-pitched. “Rule of threes. I ever tell you about how three is the number of divinity?”

 

He stepped through the door of The Leisure Chest, the red lantern above it bouncing off his helmet with a sharp ping. He glanced around then quickly turned his eyes down, using his gauntlet as a makeshift blinker.

 

“Ah shit.” He said.

 

Nurff squeezed her way through the door behind him.

 

“Err, Rotty? Something very strange is going on ere.”

 

“Yeah, yeah I know Nurff.” Rotgear waved her forward. “Just keep yer head down and don’t say yes to nothing that aint a big cold beer and a chair.”

 

He glanced up again.

 

“Actually forgo the chair.” He said.

 

They moved forward. Every cry or giggle he heard made Rotgear shrink into his breastplate. A figure stepped in front of him.

 

“You lookin for a good time soldier?” A smoky voice said.

 

“Nope, definitely not. Looking for a terrible time actually. Just a real shit of a day is what I’m after.”

 

“But Rotty…” Nurff said behind him. Rotgear said a word he didn’t know he knew. “I fort we were looking for a good time.”

 

“Hear that? She’s lookin for a good time. Aim all of your good times in her direction while I keep walkin.” Rotgear said, pushing past and reaching the bar. He put his gauntlets on the counter, took a deep breath and whispered.

 

“Beer and a chair.”

 

He looked down beside him. A stool sat empty by his hip. He dragged it over, adjusted the sword on his belt, and sat his aching arse.

 

“Halfway there.” He said, then waved to the bartender.

 

The bartender ambled over with a seaman’s gait, smiling with wooden teeth the same colour as his rugged complexion.

 

“A drink for the gentleman?” He asked.

 

“Ale. Big as you got.” Rotgear said.

 

The bartender drew a foot-and-a-half tall stein from under the bar, flipped it, then started pouring. Amber liquid filled four fifths of the glass, leaving a creamy head pouring over the side like a waterfall just being roused from winter.

 

Rotgear lifted the glass and sank a mouthful. His heart sank with it. He slammed the stein back down, spraying his stubbled chin with the contents.

 

“You’re joking right?” He said.

 

“The bartender shrugged, returning to polishing filthy glasses.

 

“Non-alcoholic beer. In a fuckin’ brothel.” Rotgear wiped the froth from his upper lip with his palm.

 

“Well we can’t have drunk patrons around with the… you know.” The bartender said, wiping his glass with the enthusiasm of a primary school bully at a spelling bee. “It’s not very safe.”

 

Rotgear pulled at his face. He felt tears sting his eyes for the first time since he had seen his most recent best friend take the angry end of a cannonball.

 

“It’s fine. It’s fine.” He said to himself, barely audible among the crowd of groans and squeaking bedsprings. He stood and adjusted his sword belt. “Right. If I’m gonna have a bad time I’m gonna do it on my lonesome and in the bloody quiet.”

 

He stood up, put his hand over his eyes, and walked out the door.

 

Nurff joined him shortly after. Rotgear pitched his tent in the middle of the street, his sabatons sliding on the snow piles building between the cobblestones. Rotgear ignored Nurff, keeping his back turned as he tried to prop the tent poles beneath the canvas. He swore and slipped backwards, Nurff caught him by the collar and lifted him to his feet with a fist the size of a keg.

 

“Rotty…” She began. Rotgear interrupted her.

 

“Say what you like Nurff, I aint going into any more bloody taverns. A town with hundreds of em and I can’t even get me a beer and a chair. It’s enough to turn a man into a bloody poet.”

 

Rotgear sat down cross-legged. He pulled a waterskin from his pack and drank from it, then rummaged around for dry trail rations. Nurff hunched down next to him.

 

“We’ve been miserable walkin for three weeks straight, so I don’t think another night or week or month is gonna do us any worse.”

 

Laughter and cheers erupted from a tavern across the road, then the sound of a hundred glasses clinking.

 

“What a miserable place this is.” Rotgear said, chewing the heel of bread with difficulty.

 

Nurff stood without a word. Rotgear adjusted, trying to get his belt buckle from out of his stomach. His armour scraped on the cobblestone. Nurff crossed the street to the loud tavern, ducking her eight-foot frame under the doorway.

 

Rotgear turned, trying to look over his shoulder, but couldn’t get his chin over his gardbrace. He heard loud swearing, then a crash as a patron exited via the window and rolled down the steep footpath.

 

Rotgear stood quickly, his hand grasping the pommel of his broadsword without asking his brain first. Nurff exited moments later, one fist grasping the backs of two shoddy wooden chairs, the index finger of her other hand slipped between the handles of two glass steins overflowing with frothy beer.

 

Nurff lumbered over to him, her hobnailed boots crunching on fresh snow. She placed the chairs down carefully, then grasped Rotgear by the shoulder and neatly placed him on the seat with a beer in hand. She sat opposite him, the chair groaning under her weight.

 

“I fink you’re right Rotty.” She said. She drank from her ale, noticed a tooth wedged between her knuckles and flicked it onto the cobblestone.

 

“Bloody miserable place dis is.”