Lie his rear end off and hope nobody notices.

The thricedamned little pixie was giving him a suspicious look. Kal painted a remorseful look on his face, while shoving his free hand into his pocket and crossing his fingers.

"Oh, I'm dreadfully sorry. I realise now how silly I've been," he gushed, hoping it wasn't overkill. "Of course I'll take all these weapons with me."

Scrambling to his feet, he began to gather up the various swords, spears and sabres that had emerged from the Goblin's packs. The fairy/pixie/bloody nuisance nodded approvingly.

"I knew you'd come around eventually. Hopefully I won't be seeing you again. Goodbye!"

It winked out in a small puff of sparkly dust, which made Kal sneeze expolosively and drop a mace on his foot. Swearing to himself, he mounded the metal weapons into a small pile and went back to his miserable fire, which got considerably less miserable when he fed it some spear shafts and a couple of lowgrade wooden shields. He even managed to snatch a bit of sleep.

The next morning he threw the rest of the pile into a bog. The thick black liquid mud swallowed them gloopily and they disappeared swiftly from sight.

"I hope you rust," Kal told them, although he knew that they would probably become the focus of some sort of quest eventually. There was nothing like sitting at the bottom of a bog to make a second-rate sabre become suddenly desirable. They would probably also acquire magic. Anything left lying around long enough in the Questworld acquired magic. The whole place was lousy with it. You couldn't leave anything out in the garden overnight without it being sentient in the morning.

It had happened to Kal's teddy bear once. He hadn't been able to look at a stuffed toy since.

As he squelched through the sucking mud, harvesting leeches as he went, he turned over the idea of gaining companions. It wasn't immediately awful, because it would at least give him someone to talk to other than himself, but he suspected that they would be either uptight and honourable or dishonourable in that special way that meant they were quite honourable really but also stole things. One of them would probably be a knight, or a knight-in-training, or a squire who needed to prove himself in order to become a knight. Another possibility was the rogue-with-a-heart who had grown up in some slum or the other but had remained mysteriously free of greed and corruption, and probably also spoke with a strangely cultured accent.

If he was really unlucky he might even get a Bard.

The morning passed unprofitably. Three Slime Trolls, two Swamp Rats, a gaggle of Stone Goblins and a Water Elemental later, Kal was feeling even more cheesed off than usual. In superficial obedience to the Adventuring Code, he'd picked up everything his victims had dropped; in deference to the fact that it hadn't said anything specific about keeping them he had then thrown them into bogs, snapped them in half, buried them or otherwise disposed of them in a variety of creative ways. This had kept him occupied for a while, but the monotony of the swamp was beginning to grate.

"If I don't find something soon, I'm packing it all in and becoming an academic," he grumbled. As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he saw something up ahead; something that he was almost certain hadn't been there before. The Questworld didn't seem to want him to become an academic.

For a moment Kal wondered if he should leave anyway; but he was tired, and hungry, and there was a leech on his neck, and he wanted to get this accursed quest over and done with as soon as humanly possible.

With a heavy, resigned sigh, he began to slosh his way towards whatever it was lay ahead.

The End

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