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     The countess did upon rising one fine day decide to go into the business of selling faries.  Hard to catch, they were, and therefore much in demand.  Not that business was slow in the selling of nubile young cat girls to those who could afford them, but the countess knew better than to put all her eggs in one proverbial basket.
     She had bought a single fairy from a slaver, and instructed it in manners with which to service one of her clients.  The problem was that her client was her friend, the Countess Yonda del Tamath, who preferred the company of women in bed, though she had a loving relationship with her husband, and the fairy was one of the few of its kind that could not stand such a mild deviance.
     Try as she did, she could not entice the fairy with the promise of a luxurious life inside Crag City.  Her friend would have nice small dresses made for the fairy and wanted her as a status symbol as much as a partner.  Still, the fairy would not stand to service her in ways such as would be asked.
     Thus the countess decided to employ “vapor therapy,” from a special device made by an alchemist friend of hers.

     But, to no avail, the pixie was still defiant.  Although some might find her methods harsh, Eileen Del Soya was no murderess, and so would not actually kill her pixie.
     “Clearly,” she thought, “It will take long to crush this one’s spirit.  Dark God’s scourge, I had to get the ONE fairy in the Beast Forests who can not stand the touch of another woman.  I’ll have to find more, if I am to make a profit quickly.  I paid dearly for this faery vapor discipline machine alone.”
     Eileen thought further on the logistics.  The slaver had sold the fairy for a high price, as she had been near impossible to catch.  Getting more would cost higher still, for the slavers were crafty at raising the capture rates for specific targets.
     She raised the lever, stopping the release of irritant gas into the chamber.  The faery stopped banging against its walls and fell gasping onto the urine soaked bottom of it.  Coughing and vomiting, the faery still had a desperate hatred of the Countess in her eyes.
     “I’ll break her yet, the little bitch.  It’s because of her that I have this mess.”  Del Soya thought.
    To herself, and now aloud, the Countess said, “I need someone crafty enough to catch faries, but cheaply!”

    That very night, two goblinoids were walking along the streets of Crag City’s poorer Red Light district.  One was the well infamous Grilmac, the “Evil Goblin.”  Anolis Crabcakes the Knocker, was a new friend of his, and from a realm so far off that Knockers were called “Gnomes”.  Wide multiverse, on some worlds goblins ride wolves, but those are so backwater a “Ring of Invisibility” is a power relic.
    They were basically just cruising around having fun.  “Fun” consisted more of window-shopping, talking, and leering at the ladies because they were both broke.  They both only had a few coins and a bottle of liquor between them.
     The scene around them was a usual spectacle of squalor, violence and lust.  Ladies and Men of the evening would stand provocatively in front of the insect infested motels that they used for “Offices”.  A few bars featured strippers, and a few more had nasty acts performed to private audiences.  As was far from unusual, a dead body lay in the middle of these streets, lit by the signs offering illicit and possibly illegal pleasures.
    “Notice that stiff’s holding two grobos in his left hand?”  Grilmac said to Anolis, who was taking a drink from the bottle.  “Don’t touch it.  City Mortificicians guild says if a body doesn't have that much on it, they bury it upside down, piss on it, and don't guard it so the necromancers and necrophages get to take it.  Even the worst cutthroats don't want that to happen to them, so half this street will be on us if we grab it.”
     “Thanks for telling me of this town's interesting customs, friend.” Anolis said, giving Grilmac the bottle for a drink.  “So you said you used to live in the Beast Forests west of here?”
     “Yeah.”  Grilmac said dejectedly, “I had a neat burrow hollowed out inside a tree.  Then the damn elves banished me.  Actually, this elf chick, Meecia, tried to have me castrated."
     “You used your ‘I am a Prince’ lie on her?”  Anolis asked, raising an eyebrow in curiosity.
     “Knocked her with a stick and stole her right shoe.”
     “BWAHAHAHA!  You don't change, do you!”
     “Yeah, I guess I don't.”
     “So, what do you recommend for fun this evening?”  The Knocker asked.
     “Well, let’s find a hole beneath one of the buildings to sleep in.”
     “Can’t we just grab one?”
     “Here’s some education that may save your life, pal.  Even homelessness here is difficult.  First off, if a hole has more than 6 goblins in it already, its a band.  Unless we contribute by giving them our money, we can’t stay.  I want breakfast in the morning before looking for shit labor for more money.  We look for one that’s empty, then we check it out.”
     “Check it out?” Anolis asked.
     “Yeah, for Yugs.  Kind of fungus, left over from when the Yellow King tried to invade this world.  They crawl, bite, and grow.  If you fall asleep, they attach on to you and plant spores onto you.  Then a bunch of young burst out of your gut.  They are territorial, so there is only one at most in a small cave.”
     “Yuck!” Anolis stuck his tongue out.
     “Nah.  They taste good.  Majistar wants them wiped out, because of the hazard.  He used to offer a bounty, but someone grew them deliberately to collect it.  Speaking of hazards, if we do find a person that’s dead with those things inside, we look for another place, we don't touch it.”
     “Why’s that?”
     “Cause, if you touch them, they spray spores.  It will put a human into a coma and the young will eat them.  To us, it just reeks horribly.”
     They went to an open hole in the front of a building that faced the street.  Anolis pulled aside some boards as Grilmac stared inside, his goblin eyes seeing in all but total darkness.
     “Hey!  We’re in luck!  Come see.”
     Anolis blinked, and adjusted his own vision.  The hole was just big enough for a human to crawl through, and had space enough beneath the building for a dozen people perhaps.  In the center of the floor was one of the Yugs that Grilmac had spoke of.  It appeared to be a large, squat mushroom, almost a foot high.  It’s body was brown and camafloging itself against the stone and dirt.  The cap was open at top in a circular hole with dozens of sharp teeth, while the base had many white fleshy tentacles that glowed at the tips with a purple bioluminescense.
     “Stand aside, and get that club ready!  They are as smart as mushrooms also!”
     Anolis stood by and watched Grilmac shout and throw a pebble at it.  The thing seemed to crouch and then sprang with sudden accuracy at the enterance hole.  Grilmac had expertly dodged and the thing was met by the Knocker’s club instead of the goblin.
     A small crowd watched as the Knocker and the goblin beat the Yug to death.  A few people clapped their hands at these fellows ridding the city of at least one nasty pest.
     Grilmac held the thing in front of Anolis.  “See!  We’ve got good eatin, and a place to stay!”
     “Put that stinky thing down, Brother, and come with me!”
 Saying this was a goblin about Grilmac’s size, who was dressed in a suit of composite armor and wearing a short sword at his belt.
     “Ogilac, brother.” Grilmac said.
     “The Countess Eileen Del Soya wishes to have the exceptionally sneaky and crafty goblins over for a job interview.  This includes you this time, as she did say that to me directly.  You’ll be able to sleep and eat in the barracks for at least the night.  As for your friend-”
     “I’ll vouch for him, bro.  He’s as sneaky as me in places.  Taught him how to steal shoes, I did!”  Grilmac said, comicly putting his arm on Anoilis’s shoulder.”
     “Whatever.  The invite is yours and you know how to get to the countess’s mansion.  You may use the front door on this night, as the countess prefers quickness on this issue.  I have to go look for more extra temp work, now.  Have fun telling your friend your side of our sibiling rivalry.”
 Ogilac walked away, and down an alley, not the least afraid of any muggers that might lurk therin.  Grilmac tossed the dead Yug to a few homeless humans in the alley who were roasting rats over a trash can fire.  He also pointed to the hole and gave an “All Clear” sign to them.
     “That usually gets us a nice roasted rat on a stick in the future.”
     “So this Countess is one to trust just like that?”
     “She’s the biggest and best employer of goblins in the area!  Do what she says, and you will be rewarded.  We are fifth rate beings here, but she treats us like second class citizens!  We are in for a treat, besides the warm cot and good food!”
     “What kind of treat?  What’s so important?”
     “Ogiling women.  The countess is a slaver.  Sex slaves.  Pretty cat maids, in short skirts.”
     “WOW!” the Knocker shouted.
     “She won’t let us bed them, but we can touch a teensy bit and boy can we watch!  One might even disobey her, and we get to watch her use “Corrective Therapy!”
     Eagerly, both the goblinoids hurried their way through the trecherous streets, up a nearby huge pilliar to the countess’s mansion on the hill of it.

     There seemed to be some mild importance to this meeting, because Orgar, the countess’s chief Orc guard waved for them to enter through the front door.  Ordinarily, they would enter the goblin caves, and emerge in the mansion’s sub-basement, where the goblin employee’s dormitory was convinently located.  Once inside, the Orc told them to go to an anteroom in the upper floor.  Grilmac led his friend to the location, meeting the goblin Uldac on the way.
     This was one of the more beautiful rooms in Del Soya’s mansion.  It had fine carpets, mostly covered now with cheap throw carpets to account for the large Goblin presence in the room.  Also, pushed to the side walls were expensive pieces of furniture, statues, and exotic plants from islands in the Plain of Mists and Crags.  A few ragged pillows were scattered on the floor, which some goblins sat on.
     No goblin complained about this obvious statement on their behavior, for the entertainment was infinite distraction.  Several Cat maids were serving the goblins cookies and milk in a unique fashion.  Ordinarily, the Countess had them wear a respectable maid’s outfit with a slightly high dress hem.  This time, their practical white stockings were replaced with more expensive and less practical fishnet style and their feet wore high-heeled black things instead of flat saddle shoes.  The modifications in uniform had made their ordinary graceful steps awkward as they tried to make way to and fro across the room with the goblins ogling them and looking up their skirts.
Guest art by Gilda Laura Rimessi, used here w/ permission.
Overseeing, yet also serving was Koko, the countess’s favorite.  She had brown skin matched by jet-black fur, and wore a red outfit with red fishnets.  Although it was well known she preferred women in bed, she did not mind the goblin’s mild feelings on her sleek legs and rear.
The other cat girls were in anxious misery, as they tried to keep from violently assaulting the crowd of lecherous green goblins who grabbed and felt them, attempting to reach their panties to pull them down.  As long as they did not break anything of value, the maids could hit lecher goblins, but this was easier said than done, holding trays of cookies and ceramic milk pitchers.
Anolis was in pure excitement, watching this spectacle, from a comfy seat on a pillow.
     “Who’s the Knocker?”  Koko asked Grilmac.
     “Anolis Crabcakes.  He’s a buddy.  We go back a bit.  Anolis, meet Koko.  She bosses the cat girls around when the Countess is too busy.”
     “Charmed,” Koko said, nodding.  The catgirl in red then went back to supervising the cat girls and preventing the goblins from ganging up on one of them.
     Fortunately, she did not have to try to do this long.  From the hallway, the Countess Eileen Del Soya entered the room.  Today, she was wearing her elegant purple dress, with the blue/yellow shoulderpads.  She was accompanied by her number 1 Orc guard, “Ogrex”.  Ogrex was carrying a small, but heavy table that had a blue/green glass jar fixed into it.  Inside it, a yellow blur spun around, sometimes hitting the walls.

   “Thank you for coming, my servants.” The countess said in a smooth voice.
She softly pointed her hand towards the jar.  “I have decided to expand my ventures into selling faries as personal servant girls.  Granted, they are too small for anything “interesting”, shall we say, but as messangers and “Playthings”, I have found interest in the circles I deal with.
    “However, having only one will not do, so I would like you to find me more.  They are difficult to catch, but you will be rewarded if you are successful.”
The Countess snapped her fingers and Koko gestured to the catmaids.  Koko then brought a tall box that was teeming with butterfly nets, and the maids brought some green/blue jars with special lids.  The countess brought the attention back to the display on the table.
    “As you doubtless know, fae are vulnerable to cold iron.  If this were ordinary glass, this little lady would smash through the jar instantly.  Although she is small, she has a field of ether around her that gives her flight and about the strength a human woman of normal size would have.
    The countess picked up a thin, blunt iron probe, uncorked a small opening in the glass, and pushed it in.  With the limited room in the glass, the countess was immediately able to tap the glowing yellow object.  Her goal was not to torment the farie, but to touch her.  When this happened, the yellow field around the farie disappeared and she dropped to the ground, her wings crackling with static and flashing in and out of visibility.
    “A great strength, countered by a great weakness.”  The countess said.
    She pointed to the box of nets and opened a smaller box with plain metal circles.
     “These butterfly nets have had bits of cold iron carefully woven into them.  The jars were deliberately forged impure with iron shavings.  Also, these rings are cold iron.  All you need to do is to touch them with these to make them near-powerless.  I’m amazed that cold iron does not affect goblins, because you are fae, too.”
     Yuglac and a few others spread their arms in a gesture of ignorance.
     “It’s ‘cause we’re earth spirits.  Sure we are fae, but we came up from the earth.  No need to tell humans that, tho.”  Shaman Yugvac said in a super-low voice that the countess could not hear and in a dialect that would just sound like obscene gibberish to the cat maids.
 With a gesture, the catmaids started handing out nets, assigning jars, and fitting rings on the goblin’s fingers.
     “How’s it feel?” Grilmac asked Anolis.
     “Ah, it itches a bit, but I’ll live.”  His Knocker friend replied.

     “NOW-”  The countess interrupted the din, by slightly raising her voice.  Some catmaids had set up a map of the areas surrounding Crag City.
     “As you well know, in this month, the faries hold dances in the forests, including some near town.  I am no expert on Farie lore, but I’m sure that some of these-”
     The countess tapped her stick on the highlighted areas of the map.
     “-Are on ‘legal capture zones’.  Mikimi, can you tell us what legal capture zones are?”
     The countess had referred to a beautiful blonde catgirl with dark cheeta spots that extended even into her long hair.  Mikimi was her most rebellious girl, and was almost constantly being punished.  This was a new humiliation, for Eileen had referred to how she had been captured herself.  She forced back a rebelious shout, and spake.
     “I-It’s where Crag City law allows slavers to capture people and such.”
     “Well done, girl.”  The countess said as she gently put her hands on Mikimi’s shoulders.  “Indeed, stupid reformers have pushed stupider laws to hurt the trade in the outskirts of the city.  The thing is that the law demands specific note for each and every acre of land, and they have only gotten 80% of it.  There are still a few odd places here and there where it is legal.”
     The countess continued to hold onto Mikimi’s shoulders.  “Now, can you tell us why we have to do it this way?”
     “Because Faries have a treaty with the elves in Treeglen, but beast persons like me don't.  But if they are outside treeglen, and in a zone, they are fair game.”
     “See, there’s hope for Mikimi yet.” The Countess said, gently pushing the catmaid away and turning her attention to the goblins.  Mikimi walked into a corner to pout.  Koko went over to comfort her, putting her own arms around her, but was pushed away.  The full attention of the goblins was on the Countess now, though.
     “I want you in bands of three.  Each will have one jar, three nets, and three rings.  For each and every farie that you capture, you will be given two gold pieces and can stay and eat in the goblin quarters for six months.  Those already in my employ will get the extra pay for those months.”
     “I cannot stress how important it is not to kill or injure them.  I am sure that I can hide behind the law on a capture, but a killing might enrage the elves to break treaty.  I do have some compassion, too.”
     “Thank you, good servants.  I now need to go attend to other matters.”  The countess left the room, all the catmaids following.

     The goblins quickly formed bands.  In this case, Grilmac and Anolis ended up forced by peer pressure to have Yuglac join them.  Yuglac was still pretty non-experienced, so Grilmac did not like this, though he always treated his nephew nicely so that he could take advantage of him later.
     “I’m amazed.”  Uldat, who had allied with Grot and Troth, said to Grilmac, “Looks like Mikimi’s finally breaking.”
     “She’s walkin’ a bit funny, been horseplaying again?”  Grilmac replied.
     “Yup.  All o’ yesterday.”  Uldat nodded.
     “Yah missed a treat then, Anolis,” Grilmac said, “Used to be you could always count on her to be being punished.”

     As they knew the fairy festivals began on the next night’s eve, they ate and turned in for the night.  The beds in the goblin’s quarters were quite low quality, but luxurious for those used to sleeping on dirt.  Then, as afternoon approached, they set out in tunnels through the goblin caves until they reached topside.  By the time evening had begun to fall, they were well within their area for the fairy hunt.

     In a part of the woods that was misty, even when the weather said it should not be, a lone adventurer walked.  As she emerged from a deep pilliar of mists, her features became visible.  She was elvish with dark blue hair and wore clothing of a similar color.  Her clothing was revealing in parts to show her pale skinned beauty, but there was still enough to be tasteful and her cape could cover her in case of a sudden chill.  She paused, and looked around.
     “Woods, but two moons in the sky.  Great, I took a wrong turn and ended up beyond the forests I know again.”  She thought.  Some might find interdimensional travel maddening, or at least confusing.  Others might not be able to tell immediately when they had crossed over.
This woman, called Melissa, on the other hand was able to do such things.  This was both from personal experience and from being of the Forest Shamans, known in her realm as the “Druids”.  Her affinity to nature told her immediately where she was not, at least.
    Also, by some strange quirk in physics, her ears had grown much larger, enhancing her hearing.
    She thought to herself again deciding a course of action.
    “I was lost to begin with, so going back won’t help.  At least this is not a rocky field with giant insects.  Let’s see, if there is a dimensional tear so constantly open, this world must have lots of ‘Intruders’ like myself.  If I go to a town or city, I can find someone who might be able to help.”
Using her abilities, she peered from the eyes of a raptor flying overhead, and could see a great river in a huge canyon.  Uphill, miles away, was something that looked like a city at the base of the mountains.  With nothing better to do, Melissa started towards it.

    The faries were grouped together, swirling around a circle of mushrooms.  As both moons were crescent, it was time for a special ritual, wherin they shared their glamour with each other by swirling around chasing each other.  This kept them bonded to the other fey, and also to the “real” world just enough to avoid delirium.
    So locked in this ritual, they did not notice beings watching them.  They had little to fear ordinarily, for a human watching this scene would be hypnotised and drawn into the circle.  Although they rarely had anything humans would consider malice, dancing with them on this night was dangerous, as the accelerated rings of glamour warped time and space in uncontrollable, unpredictable ways.  A person might dance in the ring to find a century had gone by or might crumble to dust aging centuries in a second.  Most had been thrown in bizzare directions across time and space, never to be seen again.  Indeed, a human would be advised to run from this dance.
    Except that those watching it were not human, but two goblins and a knocker.
In rehearsed fashion, the bigger goblin made hand signals to the knocker and the smaller goblin.  They spread out, keeping behind trees and bushes, until they were evenly apart.
    Grilmac then waved his net high in the air, and his friend Anolis and his nephew Yuglac rushed out to join him in the capture.  Running suprisingly fast for three foot high creatures, they quickly reached the edge of the circle and started scooping with their nets.
    Anolis immediately caught one, the red glow of energy instantly dissapating into the form of a petite woman just under a foot high in his large but strong net.  Grilmac’s managed to dodge the net, veered backwards and hit him in the stomach, then shot for the bushes.  Used to regular beatings, Grilmac was not even stunned, and lept into the bushes after the fairy.

    Yuglac had ended up trying to catch one to high, and it kept circling just above his maximum jumping height.  This bright yellow one started franticly calling to its friends in an unrecognizable dialect of high elf, as the young goblin kept trying to catch it.  The yellow one then turned to Yuglac, and blasted him with a burst of electricity.  He dropped the net and tried to remove the ring, himself now the prey as he ran in circles from the burst of light that kept zapping him.
    Grilmac was walking calmly from the bushes, covered with thorns, but holding a fairy in his net.  He went over to the special jar, where Anolis was, having already deposited his catch through the special lid.  The knocker helped his goblin friend hold the net as he pushed the fairy into the jar.
    They watched in amusement as the young goblin desperately ran from the fairy, now smoking a bit from constant lightning blasts. They would have let Yuglac’s torment go on longer, were it not for greed.  So distracted was she by assaulting the goblin who had tried to capture her, she did not notice Anolis grab Yuglac’s net and throw it at her.
It hit, not with enough force to cause injury, but the cold iron touched her and shorted out her ether field, nearly making her unconscious.  She did not hit the ground, as Grilmac had darted out with his net to catch her.  Panting with exhaustion, Yuglac looked down in shame.
    “Ah, ye done okay, lad.”  Anolis said.
    “Yeah, cousin, we’ll say you caught this one.  If it wasn’t shocking you, it would have run away.”  Grilmac said.
    Just before he shoved the fairy in the jar, he noticed this one was better dressed.  Most faries wore leaves or scraps of stolen clothing, if anything, but this one had a nice short blue dress on, and with beautiful shoes.
    “Hey, hold her pal!” Grilmac said, “I’m going to take her right shoe.  Countess said not to injure them, but she did not say not to take any clothes!”

    “Now let’s scram, before the one that got away brings help.”  Grilmac said.
    “Now, now,” Anolis said, “the other bands are nearby us, so I’m sure they are busy too.  Why don't we follow at a pace?”
    “Ok, I’m feeling really greedy tonight.  Hmm, one of the other one has shoes too, remind me to get that one before we turn them in to the countess.”
    They wandered off in the direction the knocker pointed out, Grilmac holding the jar and Yuglac holding the nets.

    Melissa had thought that she heard some kind of commotion ahead, but too far to make out.   She saw a flashing farie light up ahead from behind a tree.  The thing then shot towards her, too quickly for her to react.  It was no attack, as the light immediately jumped down her top, nudging between her breasts.
    Shocked and embarrased, she jumped back and looked down, to see a tearful fairy looking up at her.  “Help ME!  Please!”

    Melissa’s face was now red, and she pulled the fairy out of her top.  The fairy sat on her hand, crying out a story of her friends being captured by goblins.  Before, any promise to help could be made, the same band came into view from behind the trees.

“Oy, lady, that’s our fairy, we saw her first”  The goblin shouted.
     “Yah, lass, could ye give her to us?”  The knocker joined, waving a net.  They motioned for Yuglac to stay back with the capture jar and approached the lady nets raised to snatch the fae from her hands.  Melissa stood her ground, confident that she could easily overcome these diminutive opponents.
     They then stopped suddenly in recognition.
     “Melissa?” Grilmac exclaimed, remembering a beautiful druid girl he had snuk information for in a bar a long ways away.
     “Grilmac?” Melissa said in rememberance of that helpful but vile little goblin who wanted to be paid in with either her right boot or a night in bed, but had settled for a few coins and a blow to the head that was an unasked bonus.
     She thought, “Now I know where I am-” but then got really confused, “Anolis?”
     “Ah, Melissa,” the knocker said, tipping his pointed hat, “Surprised and delighted to meet ya.”
     “YOU KNOW THESE MEN YOU ARE FRIENDS WITH THEM!”  The fairy shouted, crying.
     “No- it’s-well-I”
     “I HATE YOU!” The fairy then shot away.  Grilmac and Anolis turned to dart by her, but Melissa pressed down on their heads to hold them in place.
     “No, No, NO!” she said, “I’m lost and you are going to stop whatever vile thing that you are doing and help me get back on my desired path!”
     Grilmac and Anolis looked at each other.  Grilmac nodded, and turned to Melissa.  “Oh well, we got three and we are friends from a while back.  C’mon we’ll take you to a good bar, just you buy us a drink, ok?”
     “You got three-” Melissa looked at the jar, seeing the fairy lights inside. “Why are you doing that?”
     “Cause the Countess wants them.  I’ll explain on the way.”

     After a long march, they entered Crag City.  On the way, Grilmac had explained to Melissa that this WAS his homeworld and Anolis was just ‘visiting’ like her.  Melissa was both awed and a bit disturbed by this vast underground city.  At night, the countless lights and steam from various machines gave the city an eerie glow that radiated into the sky.  Melissa’s abilites saved them time getting down to city level with an air cusion, saving the hour of tunnel crawling or the high price of an elevator.
     The “Good Bar” was, in reality called “The Filthy Pit.”  To Goblins, it was good, because it was about the ONLY bar in the city that allowed them inside.  Melissa was no stranger to such places, however, and was not disturbed.  In generosity, and for information, she did buy them some drinks and a large “meat tray” for them all to eat.  Soon, they were just chatting away on adventures past, like old friends.
     “So Anolis, what brought you to what Grilmac calls ‘Braarwood?’” Melissa asked.
     “Ah, you know how it is, you’re just minding your own playful business, and end up breaking stuff, starting fires, accidently of course, and everyone thinks you are a menace and so you run from the law and fall into one of those intra Dime mensional whatcha ma thingies.”
     “Uhh, ok, and so you’ve travelled around these parts a bit, Grilmac?”
     “All through Braarwood.  I used to be in Treeglen, but the stupid elves made me move after a, er-”
     “Stolen Shoe?”  Melissa finished.
     “She’s got yer number, pal!” Anolis playfully hit him in the arm.
     “Yeah!  I liked my tree house there, but I’m making it here, especially after tonight.”
     “So this Countess you are going to sell them to, she’s not going to kill them for majickal experiments, is she?”  Melissa asked, pointing to the jar which had been covered to avoid undue stares in the bar.
     “The Countess Eileen Del Soya has expressed interest in acqiring these fey to go with her station.”
     “It sounds like slavery to me.”  Melissa frowned.
     “Aren’t you afraid you’ll end up as slaves?” Melissa asked slyly.
     “Nope, we are what some might call, ‘cheap labor’.  It’s mostly replaced true slavery in this town except for the Countess’s niche.”
     “Yeah, she gets these pretty beast girls from slavers.  She then makes them wear skimpy maid costumes and serve drinks and cook and stuff.  They usually hate it so when they protest, she takes them to the basement and does stuff to them so they are all sweaty and hollering for hours.  After a few months of ‘training’, they are really dazed and obedient.  She then has these men, usually really fat merchants or really ugly nobles visit her and leave with the girls while one of their servants gives her servants money.”
     “Sex Slavery?  That’s HORRID!”  Melissa shouted.  In a normal bar, this might have drawn attention, but as there was a fight going on a few tables away no one noticed.
     “It’s a living.”  Grilmac said and took a drink of beer.
     “How can you live in a mansion where you hear the cries of innocent girls at night?”
     “The Countess gives us goblins a front row seat!  In the main training room alone, there’s a set of bleachers.  She serves us pop corn and fizzed sugar water.”
     “UGH!”  Melissa was almost shaking with anger at their lecherous, lurid attitude.  She was used to the vulgarites of Goblins and Orcs, but this was a bit much.  It wasn’t just these people, this whole town seemed utterly corrupt, degenerate, and sadistic.  She managed to keep her calm, and find words not obscene to speak to her friends.
     “I’m sorry, Grilmac, but I don't think I can let you sell these creatures to some horrid fate such as this.”  Melissa stood up from the table.
     “You won’t stop us.” Grilmac said cooly, as Anolis was looking a bit nervous and Yuglac was ducking, covering his head with his hands.
     “I can beat all of you easily.  No one will even notice as they are staring at that poor barmaid hitting that guy with her pocket mace.”
     “Yeah, but how are you going to get home?”
     “We have authorization from the countess to do this, assaulting us is assaulting her and she values her reputation highly.  The Majister would see to such a matter personally, and I’m sure he could beat you, and doubtless his horde of guardimen.”
     “If this town has a leader, surely he would not tolerate such a countess?”
     “Well, he IS going to marry her in a few months.”  Grilmac finished his beer and gave a rude “Urp”.
     “I hate to be rude to a friend, Melissa,” Grilmac continued, “but if you clobber us you’ll be an outlaw in Crag City and unable to get gate location help.  There are other cities, but they are quite a ways away.  The beast peoples are prone to eat humans, even each other.  The Confederacy is a really strict place, and they’d probably make you work in a factory somewhere or put your skills in the ‘service of the people.’  Harbortown and Mistown are almost as bad as here.
     “Long and short, if you want to go home anytime soon, you just let us go about our business and be friends, ok?”
     Melissa slumped in her chair, depressed.  Grilmac ran over and tried to kiss her hand with a bow in a mock “noble” jesture.
     “Hey, let’s still be friends.  We gotta do what we gotta do.  This job has got me room and board for months, and some good cash.  In the morning, I’ll come by and tell you where the gate mages are, ok?”
     “Ok.” Melissa said.
     Grilmac paused, then said, “Course, if you are staying here, and since we’re friends, maybe I could come by later tonight and talk and, uh-”
     “NO.  I need to ‘think’, thanks, though”.  Melissa said.
     Moving his palms in an “Oh, well” gesture, Grilmac picked up the fairy jar, exited the tavern, and marched up the steep hill with Anolis and Yuglac to the Countesses mansion.


     The Elven Council usually was not held this late, for the ancient elves in charge were used to sleeping and dreaming of days past at this time.  Still, they listened intently as several faries gave horror stories of goblins attacking and capturing them with nets treated with some counter-magic substance, most likely iron.
     The younger elves gave cries for war, as it seemed that Crag City had broken its treaty not to enslave elf or fey, not even through voluntary servitude.  Before the cry could be enabled, one of the elders called for attention.
     “It seems, from this twisted book of contradictory laws, that they are not in error in this case.”  Ethonjed, the detailed said, holding a dog-eared commercially printed manuscript that highlighted the major laws of Crag City.
     “How is that possible?” shouted an elf from the audience.
     “According to the accounts given to us by the faries, the night was a double crescent moon and they took place in several exact locations, ignoring nearby festivals.  There are a few archaic ‘capture zones’ that legally skirt the treaty, by their own definition of law.”
     “Surely you can not allow this vile-”  An elf shouted.
     “I have no intention of tolerating this.  However, we are technicly checkmated, if we choose to still obey the treaty.”
     “Still, this can not be allowed.”  Hadar, the elder, said.  “I do not wish a war, but I can not allow faries to be captured and enslaved.”
     He waved his hand, and a tall elf with black hair strode forth.
     “This is Lollogan, of Treeglen.  As I am far into my autumm, I will send him in my stead.  Lollogan, please allow these fae to escort you to the scene of these crimes, and then confront the Majister with what you have found out.”
     The elves in the crowd cheered for lollogan as he gently held a fairy in his had, the rest circling around him playfully.  Lollogan’s face was pure grim determination as he set off on a journey to Crag City, with his majick sword Skardinarth ready should diplomacy fail.
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This has been a Crossover madness episode. Here's credit where it's due.

1.    Anolis Crabcakes, the Gnome (knocker) is a good friend of Grilmac's, but is (c) by John Baxter, who writes stories about the mischevous fellow.

2.    The fairy that they are assaulting for the shoe in the image is named "Cheri", and is (c) by Michelle N. Stephenson.

3.    The Druid "Melissa" is (c) by Gilda Laura Rimessi.

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