I'm trying something a little different this week by attempting to incorporate dialect into my writing. It's not something I've tried before, so please let me know what you think, and now, without further delay, on with the story...
As the last of the refugees trudged down the stairs into the space beneath the basement of Goddess Rising, Master Botchett nudged his wife.
'I think we're going to need more pease pudding, pet.'
'Alright, bonny lad, I've only got one pair of hands,' she glanced over her shoulder at the arriving Pixies, 'Oh, look at the state of them, and those poor bairns.' She returned to stirring the cooking pot vigorously.
Catching sight of Swazzle and Pogmorton, Botchett called to them through a gap in the curtains that separated his living quarters from the rest of the basement.
'Howay in lads, and take the weight off your feet.'
Swazzle and Pogmorton collapsed wearily into chairs beside the range where Mistress Botchett stirred her pot. A long scrubbed oak table occupied much of the space, groaning under the weight of platters of sausages, dishes of pease pudding and piles of flat breads. Swazzle's stomach growled noisily.
'Hungry?' Botchett regarded the two Pixies, 'Of course you are. Here,' he added, loading two plates with food, 'get that down you then you can give me all the news, like.'
As Swazzle and Pogmorton began to devour their meals, Botchett took out a bottle from the dresser and poured them each a large measure of dandelion whisky. He pushed the horn cups over to them.
'This'll put hairs on your chest!'
Pogmorton spluttered as the yellow, fiery liquid hit his stomach, his eyes rolling right round in their sockets.
'By the gods!' he coughed, 'that's powerful stuff.'
'Aye, it is that, bonny lad,' chuckled Botchett, 'Made by my own fair hand an' all.'
Swazzle looked suspiciously at his glass before taking a tentative sip.
'Gawd!' he mumbled, 'My lips have gone numb. What do you put in this stuff?'
Botchett merely tapped the side of his nose and winked.
'So, Cap'n Pogmorton, what news from the front?'
Pausing for a moment to marshal his thoughts, Pogmorton related how the Wyrm had all but destroyed the Pixie kingdom and how it seemed hell-bent on going after the fairy castle next.
'Aye, well, it would do,' remarked Botchett.
Swazzle and Pogmorton looked puzzled.
'It would do, seeing as it was them fairies what imprisoned it in the first place, like,' Botchett pulled out a small clay pipe, lit it with a taper from the range and sucked greedily till it was well alight. Clouds of noxious smoke billowed upwards, making Swazzle's and Pogmorton's eyes water. Mistress Botchett appeared immune to the effects of her husband's pipe.
'That was hundreds of years ago, mind,' Botchett gestured with his pipe, 'I was only a bairn at the time, but I remember Grandpa telling me all about it. Seems the fairies did a deal with the Night Packers, summat that stopped the Wyrms seeing in the dark, and managed to bind the whole lot of 'em.'
'Grandpa was there,' he continued, 'got himself talked into helping catch 'em. Regretted it bitterly like, when he saw what happened,' Botchett took a long draw of his pipe, 'He was never the same afterwards. Here,' he pulled a battered journal from a dresser shelf, 'it's all in here, if you can read the writing. My eyes aren't what they were, bonny lad, but you're welcome to have a look if you want.'
Swazzle took the journal. The leather binding was scuffed and ancient, but the crest on the front cover remained just about legible, “L. Botchett and Sons, Purveyors of Worm Handling Services, est. 994 AD. A Chronicle,” he read.
'Gnome Worm Handlers?!' Swazzle exclaimed.
'Why aye man,' replied Botchett, puffing his chest out, 'I come from a long line of gnome worm handlers, bonny lad. In fact, what I don't know about wrangling worms, isn't worth knowing, not,' he paused thoughtfully, 'not that there's much call for it nowadays, like.'
Swazzle and Pogmorton exchanged glances.
'Are you thinking,' began Swazzle.
'Certainly am,' said Pogmorton trying to contain his excitement. 'I don't suppose,' he continued.
'That I'd give you a hand to sort out your current worm trouble, like?' chuckled Botchett, 'Bonny lad, I thought you'd never ask. Mother,' he called to his wife, 'Where's me worm catching gear?'
'Under the stairs, love,' she called back, dumping a large pile of pease pudding into a serving dish. 'Eee pet, you will be careful, won't you? You're not as young as you used to be.'
'Aah, hadaway, man woman, I'll be careful. It'll take more an' a Worm to do me in. You stop here and mind the bairns, pet.'
He turned to Swazzle and Pogmorton, 'Gizz a minute to get me kit sorted out lads and I'll meet you upstairs,' and with that, Botchett dived into the shadows under the stairs and began rummaging about.
* * *
When Botchett appeared at the top of the stairs, Swazzle and Pogmorton were just bidding farewell to Jamieson, the house spirit. Botchett staggered up the last couple of steps, straining under the weight of a huge leather backpack that rose a good foot above his head, and from which swung all manner of nefarious looking objects. Scurrying at his heels, on a lead fashioned from a piece of string, was what looked to Pogmorton very much like a large shrew, its long snout constantly wiggling as it scented the air. Botchett caught Pogmorton's gaze.
'Delilah,' he gestured towards the shrew, 'Best Worm hound in three counties.'
'Evenin' Master Jamieson,' Botchett tugged at his cap.
'Master Botchett,' nodded Jamieson, 'Jist keep yon shrew away frae me, ye ken wha' happened the last time?'
'Aye, aye I do,' said Botchett, tucking a white scarf down the inside of his tweed jacket, 'Sorry about that, bonny lad,' he mumbled before turning his attention to the waiting Pixies.
'Ready then?' Botchett asked and, when Swazzle and Pogmorton nodded he added, 'Well, howay lads, let's gan an' see about this Worm of yours,' and with that, he pulled open the front door and stepped out into the night.'