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Scree was frightened. As a boglin, constructed of bog slime and swamp muck, he was quick and cunning. Brought to life by the dark sorceries of Lord Riktus; ruler of the Lands Beneath, Scree was able to move silently through the dark and wild places of the World Above committing all manner of mischief on orders from his master.

Normally Scree would have been pleased to receive a new assignment, but lately the master had been in a foul temper. Even the grayling smiths in the keep’s armory had started ducking their heads and throwing themselves furiously into their work at the mere mention of the master’s name. If the graylings, with their squat muscular frames, enchanted armor and hammers of forge fire were ill at ease with the master’s frame of mind, then a lowly boglin like Scree had more reason to shudder when summoned to the master’s throne.

So, Scree waited, kneeling at the feet of Riktus’ throne, trying not to tremble too much. The master did not suffer cowards and whiners well. While anxious to get this audience to it’s end, Scree realized how important this mission must be in order for his master to summon him away from the important task of spying on the council of elven lords in Pelinor Deep. This new assignment was sure to be more interesting than listening to a bunch of tree loving elves sip berry wine as they planned new ways to keep the boglins and worgs from striking too deep into their precious forests. Little did they realize that he, a boglin spy sat not ten feet above their heads, his very presence slowly poisoning the tree in which he perched. While Scree knelt wondering where this new assignment would take him, Lord Riktus entered the throne room, his boots seeming to glide over the rough-hewn stone of the throne room floor. The sorcerer wore an ash gray robe, the deep sleeves hiding his long fingered hands in shadows. Riktus’ pale white hair fell down his back, the orange light of the chamber’s torches making seem aflame. His face was narrow and cunning, constructed of angles and lines. His eyes were the hard blue of elven steel and his long nose a blade dividing his face. His cold emotionless voice echoed as he addressed the quaking boglin at his feet.

“Scree, I have a task for you. You will have to be cunning and sly. Permit no one to see you. If you are seen, you must remove the witnesses. Do you understand these instructions? There will be no tolerance for error.”

Scree shivered. He knew what the master meant by “no tolerance”, if he failed, the spells binding his body together would be dispelled causing him to return to his original form. Spending the rest of his life as a pool of swamp water and pond slime had little appeal to the boglin. Steadying himself, Scree looked up at the master’s hooded form, the light in his bulging eyes, shimmering the sickly green of marsh fire.

“Where would you have me go Master?” the boglin whined dropping his eyes as the master stooped to speak directly in his pointed ear.

“You will travel to the Realms of Man.”

***


Scree crouched in the bushes at the edge of the yard munching on a cigarette butt, his marsh fire eyes glowing in the darkness of the overcast summer night. He had been watching the house by night, and following the children by day for weeks. Spending his days crawling in ditches and ducking behind trees and bushes was beginning to annoy the boglin.

Riktus had been right, these two children were the ones spoken of in the prophesies of the elves. These two children of the long exiled race of man, if the words of the elves were to be believed, would bring an end to the growing power of his dark master. It seemed ridiculous to the boglin that creatures as helpless as the boy and girl asleep in the house could bring the plans of a mighty sorcerer like Lord Riktus to a halt. Lord Riktus obviously hadn’t dismissed the prophesy as false, because here he was huddled in the bushes watching the house.

Scree was enjoying this assignment more than he could have imagined. The Realms of Man seemed to be made specifically with him in mind. The iron carriages men used to carry themselves around belched a wonderfully nauseating smoke that made Scree’s head swim. There bits of casually discarded trash and rancid food everywhere. The boglin hadn’t had to hunt for a meal since his arrival. The nights were full of noise; there were none of the deafening silences of his home world here. Sirens and the steady drone of the iron carriages barreling up and down the stone roads helped to drown out any noise he might make as he prowled around the one story brick house.
In spite of his excitement at the smells and sounds surrounding him, Scree was bored. Lord Riktus had given only told him to watch the children and await further instructions. All of the skulking around and hiding in bushes was beginning to bore him. He had begun to detest the sight of these children, especially the boy. The child loved the small creatures he found in the nearby park, and spent more time talking to his dog than he did to any of the other children he played with. He also smiled and laughed too much. Scree wanted the freedom to explore this new world, free of the restrictions of his mission.

It was at that moment Scree decided what he must do. If he could remove the threat of the children, there would be no more threat to his master’s plans for ruling not only the Lands Beneath but the World Above as well. When Riktus found himself ruler of both kingdoms, he would no longer need Scree to spy for him, and would be so grateful that he might allow Scree to return to this realm to wreak his mischief on the unsuspecting humans that no longer believed in monsters and magic. The answer was simple.



The children must be eliminated.

------
Smile if you're stupid,
laugh if you understand.


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