Saturday, April 4, 2015

Dead Man's Arse


Out on the plain, there's a barren patch of nothing called Dead Man's Arse, and the whole place stinks to high heaven.  No, really - there's a scent in the air, a mix of sulfur and death and rotting vegetables and goodness-knows-what-else.  As might be expected of a village located in the supernaturally smelliest spot in all of the Wampus Country, Dead Man's Arse is sparsely populated.  It lies off the beaten path, not on the way to anything; thus those who visit are invariably interested in the geysers.

Around the village lie a number of geysers which periodically belch forth a combination of fetid, muddy water and some sort of subterranean gas.  This explains the stench in the air and the absence of arable land.  While most of the geysers explode at seemingly random moments, one in particular fires off like clockwork and is known as "Reliable Roger".  Reliable Roger predictably explodes every day at 11am, 6pm, and 10pm, and the locals have attempted to set up the town as a tourist destination based on the marvel of Reliable Roger.  Other businesses and entertainment concerns, themed around ooze and stank, have cropped up as well.

What to See
There's no point in putting up with the stink of Dead Man's Arse and not catching one of the Reliable Roger shows, which include a historical lecture, some rousing music and dance, and conclude with the expulsion of hundreds of gallons of nasty ooze and gas into the sky, right on time.  Fussy travelers will wish to stand a ways back at the end of the show, lest they find themselves in the 'splash zone', which is mildly unpleasant for those unaccustomed, as the ooze acts as a minor paralytic, numbing the skin where it spatters.

Where to Stay
The predominant wind patterns on the plain guarantee that the Trenchfoot Inn, on the west end of Dead Man's Arse, receives less "wandering stink" in the air than the other hostel in town.  For this privilege, the Trenchfoot charges double what a standard inn might in a town this size.

Where to Pray
There is a small Scorpion shrine just inside the entrance to the Belch Factory (a saloon specializing in carbonated sodas).  Note, however, that the real point of interest for godwatchers in Dead Man's Arse is the geyser Reliable Roger, which has been personified by the locals for years, some of them even idly swearing by it.  How long until Reliable Roger achieves godhood?  Or perhaps there are already some family of horrid-smelling spirits living beneath the geysers?

What to Eat
A repast at the small eatery called Pot-of-Peppers is recommended; the proprietor hails from Khelibesh, or someplace near it, and his penchant for over-spicing dishes will guarantee that you might actually taste your supper instead of just tasting the stink in the air.  Behind his restaurant he maintains a fairly impressive garden of incredibly hot and rare peppers, which seem to thrive in the strange soil here.

What to Buy
Mrs. Bustlebloom makes an amazing poultice combining clay, cucumber juice, and the ooze from the geysers which preserves and mollifies the numbing quality of the geyser-mud.  When applied to the skin, the mix causes a mild tingling sensation and overwhelms the nerves of the skin - with the beneficial side effect of helping to block any incoming paralytic effect for about two hours.  Mrs. Bustlebloom's goop goes for thirteen dollars a pot, with each little pot containing enough slop to cover arms, hands, face and neck (give or take) once.

Who to Meet
Herschel is a wall-eyed preteen who works part-time with the ferrier in Dead Man's Arse, but you won't want to talk to him about horseshoes.  The lad claims to have - several times - leaped into one of the geysers and not only survived, but had incredible adventures in a place he calls Slippery-Town, only to be returned home unexpectedly on an exploding geyser's font.  Herschel will happily prattle on for hours about his amazing excursions to Slippery-Town, where he possesses great physical prowess by virtue of being mostly solid and is hailed as an outlander champion thanks to That Time He Slew That Goopy Monster Thing, and how he earned the love of Lady Slurpnoodle of Gushingrush Hall.  Nobody in town believes Herschel's stories, unfortunately, and only a suicide case (or desperate adventurer) would leap into one of the muddy stink-geysers just to see if it leads to a magical land populated by liquid people.

Thing to Avoid
The Hungry Fields east of Dead Man's Arse are thick with patches of quicksand, no doubt a manifestation of whatever subterranean nonsense has placed the geysers.  As if the quicksand weren't bad enough, the Hungry Fields are also home to some particularly nasty yellow-crested fire-breathing buzzards who love nothing so much as to toast and eat a man's head just before it sinks beneath the quicksand's surface.


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