Cleric + Thief | Episodes | Journal | About

00008. Tallman

Maddox hangs out at the docks to see if they can tell which ship the Givzi are coming in on. And another Maddox stakes out the gate to see if they can tell where the trucks come in from.

It takes time.

But the shipments don’t stop coming in just because Blackguard is no longer moving the cargo. So Count Dindrati eventually has to make room for the new arrivals. And that’s when they see the replacements arrive.

Under the cover of night, three thugs show up in a covered flatbed truck and approach the container. Joining them is a hulking brute of a man. He wears black hood and mask entirely covering his face. It depicts a face twisted by with anger or anguish. He has thick chains looped and wrapped around his arms, and wears a large metal hook over his shoulder. He stands to the side and watches as the thugs unlock the container.


Back at Bridgers Farm, Maddox furrows their brow and looks at Iofi. “Tallman,” he says.

She purses her lips in thought. Blackguard looks up in alarm and Meadowgloom mumbles something inaudible under his breath.

“You said the royal family is behind this,” Maddox says to Blackguard. “You’re sure of that? Did you ever actually see the Count?”

“No, but,” Blackguard stammers, “I never met the Count. There was a go-between, a messenger. But he wore the Sahtor crest.”

“Maybe the Hand is moving in on the Count,” muses Iofi, sliding the grimorie into her satchel and grabbing her hammer.

Maddox grimaces. “It’d be foolish of them. But I also can’t imagine them working with the royals either.” They stand and hold their hands out to Iofi. She slings her sack over her shoulder and takes their hands in hers.



There are two or three dozen small-statured Givzi packed into the flatbed. They are of smaller stature than native Sahtor’larathan. Men and women alike wear a coat of fine body hair. They huddle together silently as two of the Hand thugs pull the tarp over them, covering the bed of the truck once again. The third thug sits behind the wheel of the truck. And Tallman continues to stand guard, a silent sentinel.

One of the thugs finishes tying off the tarp, and gives it a slap. He turns and is startled, staring face to face with the driver. He composes himself and, now angry, asks, “What are you doing? You’re supposed to be in the car!” The driver says nothing. “Hey, what’s wrong with you? Didn’t you hear—Hey!”

The driver’s arm shoots forward and grabs a hold of the thug’s shirt. And finally he answers, “Snap,” and the two of them vanish.

The second thug comes around the side of the truck, summoned by the shout, and finds a whole bunch of nothing. “What the..”

Two Maddoxes leap forward from the shadows while Iofi creeps up from behind with her hammer. The thug rolls out of the way and desperately swings at one of the Maddoxes, who dodges. Iofi and the other Maddox knock him out.

During the scuffle, the driver took notice and started the engine and is in the process of peeling out. Iofi reaches for the truck when she is stopped by the sound of metal chains scraping across the ground.

The cleric and the thief turn to see Tallman behind them. One end of each chain is looped around each forearm, and squeezed tightly in his fists. He has attached the large meat hook to the end of one of them.

He lunges forward and swings the chains striking one of the Maddoxes square in the chest. They blink out of existence. The second chain shoots out at Iofi. She dodges out of the way and falls back. She grabs the grimorie from her bag and starts chanting as the remaining two Maddoxes dash forward, daggers bared. Tallman shudders as Iofi’s words seem to drain him, and Maddox is emboldened. Tallman steps to the side as one Maddox lunges forward, leaving himself open to the second Maddox who sinks their dagger into the brute’s shoulder deep enough to feel bone crunch. They twist the knife and Tallman cries out in anger as Maddox falls back out of his reach.

One of Tallman’s arms now hangs uselessly at his side. He swings the meat hook again at Maddox but over extends himself. Iofi darts in and swings her hammer, connecting with the back of his head with a sickening crunch. The hulk falls to his knees, and collapses onto the ground.

Maddox, breathing heavily, bends down and plucks Tallman’s mask off his head. “You know, I’m starting to collect these.” Tallman has what would under normal circumstances be a smooth, round, baby-like face. Currently that face is screwed up and twisted in agony, a grim mockery of his own mask.

“Now, Tallman,” continues the thief as Iofi fumbles with the door of the shipping container. “Tell me who you work for.” Tallman groans weakly in reply. Maddox presses a thumb roughly into the knife wound in his shoulder and Tallman’s eyes shoot wide open in pain. “I said. Tell me. Who you work for.”