“What mean ye by that, then?”
“Well, you two seem to have hit it off pretty … well.”
“She’s jus’ a girl yet.”
“Someone’s got ter see that she gets off on the right foot if she means to keep adventurin’.”
“Well, of course, all that.”
“I know what yer thinkin’. Those hips o’ hers could ne’er bear a son o’ the mountains.”
“Ah. Surely that’ll stop the gnome from being jealous.”
Borgin cocked his head and an eyebrow.
“Well, you two were coming here together, right? And I do mean —”
“I gather yer subtext, lad. But as I recollect it, I follered yer bathrobe-wearin’ arse here.”
“Leaving aside the issue of you and my ass,” Pyrex smoldered, “and even the fact that I didn’t lead us to anywhere near here—why is it always the bathrobe? I don’t even have that thing anymore. But no matter how many giant bugs and killer lizards and rampaging dragons I disintegrate, you just hang onto the goddamned bathrobe.”
“Make ye a deal: disintegrate a dragon and we’ll revisit yer bathrobe concerns. As fer Posie and our gnome …”
“… and so even after that whole blood-in-the-chapel-drapes incident, I graduated and the divinity academy still managed to place me out here at the Wurmjaw clinic,” Posie concluded.
“And the point of telling me all that?” the gnome asked out of irritation rather than any real interest.
“Um,” Posie bit her lip. “Oh, yeah. I’ve never met a gnome before, even though there were all kinds of different people at the academy—”
“Yes,” the gnome cut her off. “I remember. Welcome back to seven minutes ago.”
“And I don’t even know your name yet,” Posie went on.
The gnome said nothing.
“Is it a weird gnome name?”
“And what the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
“Well, ‘Roshnugkt the Pillager of Worlds’ would be kind of out of the ordinary for a gnome, wouldn’t it?”
“Wouldn’t it? Um, that’s not your name, is it? Oh no, I am so sorr—”
“No,” the gnome said sharply, “my name is not ‘Roshnugkt the Pillager of Worlds.’” She paused. “But you’ve clearly never heard of the great gnome champion Gurvyl Titan-Crusher.”
“Ooo!” Posie cooed enthusiastically. “That sounds neat! Will you tell me more about him? Or her?”
“Hmm. That lore is usually for gnomes only. But just between us girls? A long time ago, all the stars in the whole sky used to be one giant superstar. That is, until one day …”
“All I’m saying,” Pyrex went on, “is that you came here with her, and then all of the sudden you’re hanging out with this tall, relatively, half-elven blond. Not that that’s a bad thing. But of course she’s jealous.”
“Is she, then?”
“Seriously? You haven’t noticed how she antagonizes Posie, like, every chance she gets?”
Pyrex glanced over his shoulder. “Yeah, apparently neither has Posie.”
The dwarf’s whiskers managed to conceal his smirk. “Mayhaps our gnome’s jealous o’ you too, then.”
“When I said ‘leaving aside the issue of you and my ass,’ I was implying ‘let’s get back to it never.’”
They collectively clammed up as they came to the trog abattoir, partially to avoid attracting any other ornery decomposers whose attention they’d previously escaped, and partially because they didn’t know what other hazards inhabited the tunnel’s further reaches. They would not be long in suspense.