"Now’s been on seven year’n so since I been down through Wartle way, but there’n is good mudders’n fine fen folk what don’t pay two neverminds t’y’neither way s’long as y’mind yer own business and stick t’yer own carryings on. Men after m’own heart they were, but Wartle ain’t much’a a place t’be settlin’ on, an ain’t much’n th’way’a small business opportunity there. But, me bein’ m’self I come on a way t’set m’self up real long-term; a real venture’s what I was on ta’.
See, them swampers’ make most’a their coin up outta th’swamp gamein’ and pete-boggin’ an’ what have ya’. An’ it come t’my attention they had themselfs a flooded out trail down t’deep swamp what was outta’ commission on toward three’r four year. So what’s a dwarf to do? I tell ya’, I decided t’build me a bridge.
Th’Freemountain Freefen Bridge she was! Portion’s Toll th’sign read, and by Folgrit’s hairy nip she was a beauty of a thing! All rope ‘n vine an wood I dredged up on th’cheap. So I set m’self up on th’Wartleward end, and prepared t’rake in th’reward’s of a hard few hours bridge-buildin’. Now after a few week’s a’bridge-keepin’ I’d had me two or three southward bound customers, but no takers on the return. As y’know this cut profits ‘bout in half. But I counted m’self lucky one night when a big damn band a travelers come trapsin’ up outta’ th’south, lookin’ half drown’t half dead and half lost.
Shipwrecked they said they was, comin’ up outta Chellyaxe, an’ lost in th’swamp, an’ beset by trolls! Th’tale they told! Now, trolls ain’t t’be joked on, but me I always come prepared in them swamps with ample barrels’a stank t’throw’em off scent and lure ‘em outta’ harms way. These here Chelly-achers (HA!!) was beggin’ fer relief, an’ so I set to provide. I struck ‘em up a fine camp, an’ fed ‘em rashers round, an’ even patched and bundled a wound ‘er three, and by Droskar’s itchin’ fingers I was makin’ me a killin’!
The problem come when I was tendin’ t’some’a th’half-eaten up halflings what was with ‘em. See, most’a th’band was made uppa’ halflin’s; a fair folk usually, but these ‘uns was mostly starved and afraid’a their own fuzzy feet seemed. Now, I’m a free man born of a free folk from a free land fulla’ freedom ‘an sensible self determinism as y’know me t’be. So it never come on me the truth’a th’matter ‘til one’a them tiny halflin’s looked me in th’eye and says t’me, he says, “please set us free,” he says.
By the gods! They was slaves! Half a score’a halflin’ slaves washed up off’a black bellied barge fulla’ halflin’ slaves! An’ th’Chellyaxers with ‘em was their slavers they was. Now. Now, I don’t ken no slavers. None of that! I won’t stand by on it while another man’s freedom is took out from him: its call’t th’Freemountain for a reason, lads, that’s ‘cause we come out from under the tyranny a’wicked men to raise it up! An’these devil-blooded bastard’s had tricked me, BRIBED me into offerin’ ‘em aid. Oh no. Y’know me better’n ’at by now, lads.
Now, there was too many fer me t’take at their part. So I waited ‘til th’night was on us, an’ I cracked me open th’old barrel a’th’Old Father’s stout. I passed ‘er round, an’ them Chellyaxers got nice an’ toasty. An’ while they gargled out somethin’ what must pass fer music t’slaver types, I rolled m’store’a stank over th’bridge, and wait for th’stout-sleep t’take ‘em. Then I cracked th’casque, gave ‘em the full dose, and set off cross th’ bridge with them poor halflin’ folk in tow. Now, just as expected, ‘bout half way cross’t th’bridge th’watchers they’d posted started hootin’ alarm, but it didn’t make no matter since they was all on the south’a th’bridge. An’ it made less matter when the shakin’ and roarin’ and stompin’ a’trolls started echoin’ up through the southfens. See, a stank’a that proportion only occurs naturally when y’got yerselfs a matin’ crush goin’ on. An’ them big ‘uns from the deep swamp hate t’miss ‘em a matin’ crush.
So them drunk slaver sods was tryin’ t’rally, an’ me an’ the halflin’s kept truckin’, and we made it clear t’th’other side. But damned them devil-worshipin’ fools they was rushin’ half drunk cross m’damn bridge. That’s when I done it. Strike th’torch, smile the smile an’ let ‘er rip. They said I was daft t’bind th’planks all t’gether with pitch. Daft they said! But as she went up like a pyre th’joke was on th’nay-sayers it was!
Men was screamin’, halflin’s was cheering, bridges was burnin’, an’ from cross th’river I seen th’trolls was arrivin’ so me an’ m’new freedmen friends we beat us a hasty. An’ that, lads, is how a Freemountain deals with slavers! I do miss me that damn bridge sometimes. Least th’Wartlemen never did catch on who lit th’pete fire’a ‘97. I made m’way north just the same, HA!" -M.Fmt.