In Central City’s shady underworld, even the mob bosses have trouble with theft. Randolph C. Aloysius, a well-known local detective who prefers to work alone, is hired by the Big Gnome (aka Fat Bob) to recover a missing statue. And the Big Gnome insists Randy take famous assassin, Faster Frederica, an X-rated Troll who likes to play with knives, along with him.
If that is not trouble enough, Randy must lead an expedition into the swamps of Venus made up of Faster, a Hobgoblin senior citizen, with a teenage Goblin for a guide. Did I mention the evil wizard?
Swamps filled with hungry plants and other nasty things, and a dungeon, complete the foggy picture. Of course, treachery abounds; just another normal day at Randy’s office.
I headed downtown on foot, to a section of town where I usually don’t venture, to an establishment where I normally don’t dare seek edible fare, but hunger beckoned from the pit of my stomach. I planned to kill two Rocs with one stone—gain a light lunch and some heavy coin. I just hoped that one of the big birds wasn’t me.
The High Dive is not what one would describe as a fancy eatery. The furnishings, fresh two hundred years ago, were now dull red, cracked virgin leatherette chairs and wobbly tables with a checkered past. They somehow managed to stand erect on the uneven imitation vinyl floor topped with six inches of debris from meals dating back almost a century, overlooked by fancy wall-mounted plastic cut-glass fixtures so thick with grime they shone fainter than a Fairy’s night-light. Clouds of smoke and foul air hung so thick the hostess has to guide the patrons to their booth with a magic lantern.
Mae, the hostess, has been at the High Dive as long as the place has been open. She is a mixed blood-Goblin blended with sixty-five other varieties. Mae is tall for a Goblin combination, still slender after all these years, with ebony black hair that writhes down her back. She always appears at the entrance, stuffed into a scarlet skin-tight shimmering silk gown that was probably the only article that ever swept the establishment’s floor.
Good thing the dress had a slit that disappeared somewhere past her thigh. Mae had legs that reached almost to her ear lobes.