“He gave the snare gun to me! That means I’m the favourite!”
Muggs squared his shoulders and walked with as much swagger as his Pygmy frame could hold. Krump stuck out his tongue and shouldered Muggs into a tree. The two Pygs scrambled at each other for a flurry of seconds, each pushing and trying to force the other into a headlock to deliver The Dreaded Noogie.
Krump was certain he was about to win when Grim’s angry whistle cut through the muttered curses and name calling. The two Pygs immediately stood to attention, whistling innocently. Krump nonchalantly placed Muggs’ bowler hat back on his friend’s head. It was only a bit dented.
“How does he do that?” Muggs hissed out of the side of his mouth at Krump. “It’s like he has eyes in the back of his head when we’re around?”
Grim turned, resting Headhunter across his shoulders. He glowered and slowly crooked a single finger, once, in the direction of his students.
“I think that’s the hand signal for we’re dead” whispered Krump.
“No, it’s the signal for I’m going to punch Krump right in his punchable face and keep Muggs as my best and only pupil” Muggs grinned for a moment before he remembered Angus was watching, and quickly snapped his Krump, This Is Serious Business Face back on.
Muggs’ Serious Business Face almost made Grim Angus smile for a moment at its absurdity.
“Both of you go home.”
The two Pyg’s opened their mouths simultaneously to complain, before being stopped short by the Trollkin’s level stare.
“And on your way back, take a different route to the one we came by.” Grim handed them three coins. “Hide these along the way. If I can’t find them on the way back, I’ll buy your drinks for the night”
Krump and Muggs stood perfectly still as Grim continued on his way, exchanging excited looks.
“We’ll show him this time, Muggs!”
“Damn right, Krump. We’ll be like shadows! Like a Nyss’s fart!”
The pair arched their necks as Grim vanished into the undergrowth.
“Is he gone?”
“Last time he waited for an hour to watch us leave.”
“You’re right. We should stay here for two.”
“Do you have a deck of cards?”
“You threw it in the river yesterday.”
“You were cheating!”
“Was not! I was practicing! For dexterity!”
“How about dice then?”
“Sure, game is Liars Dice.”
“Oooh, good practice!”
The pygs settled down to play. As they went from round to round, they subtly shifted their seating so they could study the surroundings over their partner’s shoulder in a full circle. They were determined not to be caught out by their mentor this time. And for all their bluster and nonsense, the lessons were starting to stick.
Elsewhere in the woods, a head turned towards the sound of bone dice clattering against a wooden cup.
To be continued…