“ I smell mechanic ,” one Dark Rider said . “ I smell old burger ,” his foul companion replied .
Baz stopped briefly by Nobby ' s fresh grave and his chin fell to his chest . Gandar stepped forward and placed a strong hand on little Baz ' s shoulder . “ A few final words for your chum ?” he asked with whispered , solemn , sincerity . “ No , not really ... I ' m just a bit pissed off I ' ll never get the fiver back he owed me .”
In the village of Manxisle the effects of the copious amounts of dark brown nectar the local Irish elves had been drinking the night before was wearing off . “ Turn dat noise off ,” Irish Nick moaned . “ Oi don ' t tink it ' s coming from da wireless ,” Irish John replied . “ Be dat da case is neither here nor dere ... turn it off anyway .” The noise grew louder , and the mis-firing of engines was reassuring for the little people as it meant bikers other than the Dark Riders ( whose machines produced sharp banshee wails ) were entering their shire . “ Dork Riders ,” Irish Nick suggested . “ To be sure ,” his hungover chum replied . Gandar led the lads into the town square and they parked up in what appeared to be the venue of an Alcoholics Anonymous annual general meeting gone badly wrong . “ Are you a doctor ?” asked Irish John of Gandar . “ Goodness no ... but do you need one ?”
“ No , no ... oi just wondered what one looked like .”
THE MAD IRISH RIDERS Baz and Nev rolled their eyes . They and Fred had heard about the mad Irish riders of Manxisle ... small but fearless fellows who raced on public roads faster than the very lightning itself . Fiery little lads who tanked up their machines with liquid cordite and constantly tanked themselves up with a dark and frothy beverage which caused them to sing loudly and , in the final moments before unconsciousness arrived , would cause them to weep and talk about ‘ da old toimes .’ The six travellers sought eat and drink in a nearby tavern , stepping over stirring bodies and through stale puddles of spilled beer . “ One mince pie and six forks my good man ,” Gandar requested ( having heard about the Irish tradition of encasing an entire boiled sheep in pastry and serving it up as a pie ). “ And six pints of ale .” At the very mention of ale the slumbering hordes began to stretch , fart , vomit , moan , cuss , defecate and generally prepare themselves for another day on the binge . Over a hearty boiled sheep and several pints of the strange , but satisfying dark beverage , the lads plotted their journey ... keeping their voices down for fear of spies .
After all , Sorceron had allies all over the land . Which is what unsettled the lads when a jaundice-skinned , slithering item of flesh and bones approached as they prepared to set forth again . “ Guess what I ' ve got down my trousers ,” the hairless , wide-eyed little mutant asked the astonished Gandar . “ I ' d rather not know ,” replied Gandar , urging the strange little fellow to move away . But the eyes of the little man , who introduced himself as Gollygee , widened as he reached into his tatty pants and withdrew a primitive , though recognisable , drawing of three piston rings . “ Me once have that ring ,” he snorted , pointing to the one with the inscription ‘# 3 of 3 ’ upon its inner rim . “ Me once have that little precious .” Fred was about to speak but Gandar raised his hand . “ And where is that ring now ?” Gandar asked . “ It is close to me again ... I feel its presence ,” Gollygee replied , his eyes squinting . Gollygee trotted after the lads as they walked back toward their bikes , talking away to himself about how he once worked for a man called Billybo in a distant land . He rattled on about how he could fix any motorbike , even with his eyes shut ... but how he had begun to lust after unknown fruits every time he was near
Billybo ' s old tool kit . “ I found it I found it ... I took it but it took me in return ,” he howled as the lads stepped up the pace . “ We gotta lose the fruitloop ,” Crozman said . “ If he finds out we ' ve got the ring he ' s likely to blab ... the Dark Riders could have him by whatever else he ' s got lying around inside his pants .” As they mounted their bikes to set off for the Mountains of Raptor , and the city of Vegasville beyond , Gollygee ' s eyes widened . “ You have a quest ... whatever could it be ?” he sneered . As he was about to say something else , six kick-start levers plunged earthwards and six weary but still willing old engines bellowed into life . They roared away , down a scruffy road which had been transformed into a series of chicanes by slumbering Irishmen and empty pint jars . For a split second , in his rearview mirror , Arasole thought he caught sight of a bike some distance behind them and struggling to stay up ... but he thought nothing more of it .
AN EERIE VISTA Ahead lay the eerie vista of the Raptor Mountains ... and the treacherous , and often impassable , Rimutucker Road which ran over the very highest snowdusted peaks . Beyond was Vegasville and the bar where all those years ago Billybo had stumbled across the ring . They all knew ... find that bar and they would find the final path to the lava pits where the ring was forged , and there they could carry out the destruction of the damnable thing . Upon the Rimutucker Road , and after the wheels of their steeds had turned just a dozen times , Gandar called a halt and made a declaration . “ It ' s too cold ... the old arthritis is eating my bones ... we will have to take the low , dark road .” The lads all looked at each , other nodded respectfully , and turned back toward the great black doors which bore the sign ‘ Howling-Dervishes Parts and Accessories Centre .’ “ I once worked here ,” the
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