- For other articles with related titles, see The Murkies.
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"The Murkies," a tale about a group of children who called themselves "The Murkies" because their leader threatened to beat them up if they didn't.
Ever since they could remember, they had all been friends. Murkie, Fletcher, Cogs and Grubs had all grown up playing together in the narrow streets of Beggar's Court. One day, as Grubs was scrounging for metal among the market stalls, he overheard a couple of the Militia guardsmen grumbling about their impeding transfer once Beggar's Court had been reduced to rubble. The area, they said, was needed to build a research facility.
Grubs gathered his friends and told them the bad news. "If they flatten this place, we won't have anywhere to live!" cried Fletcher. "We're not gonna let it happen," said Murkie, the group's leader. "I'll think of something," he added as they headed to their respective homes for supper. The prospects didn't look good and Murkie was troubled. If only they could find a way to pay off the research facility's owners, the way they paid off other nuisances.
The next day, the boys gathered at Grubs' house, which overlooked the market. They liked playing here because they could see which merchant was having a good day, then they could later slip down and tease that merchant into giving them a treat. They sat forlornly, gazing out the narrow, curtainless window. Soon, Cogs perked up, pointing toward the fishmonger. "She's put something big in her trash pile! Let's go see!"
The boys raced downstairs and teased the fishmonger into letting them take the bulky parchment sheet from her garbage. "Go on," she said, "I used to wrap the entrails in it, but if I'm moving soon I'm going to get me a new parchment." Murkie led the way to the boys' secret headquarters beneath the docks. He unfolded the smelly parchment because he had seen what attracted Cogs' attention. It was a map.
"It's just a map of old Freeport," said Fletcher. Then he peered closer and asked, "Isn't that the symbol of the Seafury Buccaneers?" The four boys conked their skulls together as they quickly bent forward to see. Murkie grabbed the map and said, rubbing his head, "It is. Looks like they buried treasure in the Serpent Sewer. Do you know what that means?" Cogs piped up, "It means the Buccaneers are gnomes!"
Arming themselves with stout ropes, candles and (in the case of Grubs) a very large sack of provisions, the boys set out to find the buried treasure. Cogs brought with him his latest gadget, a fire-breathing stick. "See? You pump the handle and the flame comes out the other end!" He demonstrated, but had unfortunately put the fire-breathing part on backwards and thus scorched off his eyebrows. The other boys thought he looked peculiar without any eyebrows, but decided not to mention it.
The boys were familiar with the passage through Thieves' Way, having used it many times themselves in the past to dodge irate merchants. They made it to the Serpent Sewer without incident. Fletcher held aloft a burning brand to light their passage, while Murkie held the map. They paused now and then to review their progress. Legend had it that the Serpent Sewer was filled with giant serpents and they did not want to get lost.
The Serpent Sewer was not the comfortable surroundings of Thieves' Way. One of the many times Grubs stopped to eat, he leaned against a hidden lever on the wall which caused several large pieces of gnollish machinery to spring to life in their path. Cogs was enchanted, but Fletcher and Murkie, who were pierced by dozens of little metal shards, were not so pleased -- at first. "Hey, look!" exclaimed Murkie, turning to push Grubs into the water, "There's a secret passage under the machine! Good work, Grubs!"
Sending Cogs in first (because he was the smallest), the boys followed the passage until they found themselves standing before a perfect replica of a Seafury ship. Their jaws dropped. They were even more surprised when a couple of actual Seafury buccaneers leaped out to accost them! Grubs screamed in fright and turned to run back up the passage, tripping on a wire that crossed the path. A shower of boulders fell from the ceiling of the passage, blocking out everyone's view in a cloud of dust.
"Will you look at that?" commanded Murkie, although it was impossible for any of the boys to look elsewhere. The boulders had cracked the buccaneers and their ship in half, spilling out piles of gold and platinum (from the ship, not the buccaneers). "We're rich! We've saved Beggar's Court!" crowed Cogs. "Are you kidding?" scoffed Murkie, "To heck with the Court -- now we're rich enough to move into the city!" And they did.