Bo-Janga Tangalula lived in a bleak shack on the outskirts of S. Hangneck Way.
It’d be a lie to say I hadn’t heard of him, as I’d in fact done business with him before. He wasn’t a character to name in company; reputations plummeted at having him as a mere acquaintance, even in the crudest of social circles. However, having no circles of my own, a little business with the fat bastard mightn’t hurt. He was under-the-table, out of the way, and disliked, which was the kind of connection I needed currently, with Triton’s bulbous nose to the ground sniffing me out like a bloodhound in recent months. I was broke. I needed a job. And Bo-Janga always accepted walk-ins.
My boots had been worn to the bone, my back ached under the rucksack, I was nothing but a coated block of dirt and charcoal haggardly bemoaning in the late sun when the snaking wedged path that led to Janga’s hut struck the bottom of my grizzled soles. I grudged up the mounding trodden track of whisping blackened gravel, teeth clenched as the wind slapped pebbles against my turned shoulder, and taking one quick glance behind I pounded upon the rotting wooden door. The entire shack shook in the sharp gusts, but within moments the heavy creaks of Janga’s slithering form slugged to the front of the hut, and the ugly door swung outward on it’s hinges, Bo-Janga Tangalula’s fat, lizard form leering gleefully in front of me, toothily grinning from eye to eye.
“Why yesss! Ifst ist isn’t my old friesnds – Grrovcrofsst… Ist’s been awhile…”
I shouldered my way in, leaving the nasty scale-hide to close the door behind me. With a chink of the lock Janga sneered, “Sso, nost much for pleassentries I see, jusst business as s’usual. Nost a hullo for your old friesnd, Janga eh -”
“Cut the crap I need a job.” I groaned, slinging my rucksack onto Janga’a rickety table of worthless knick-knacks, and turning round to face him I slapped several hanging ornaments from my face, which covered the entirety of Bo-Janga’s hovel.
Janga’s tongue slurped in and out, in and out, as he surveyed me with his sharp, reptilian eyes, his stout, clawed hands and arms curled inwards to his barrel chest and his neck arced forward. He flicked for awhile, squaring me up, before slowly releasing a suspicious hiss.
“Ssso, slim pickings thesse days, eh Grrov.”
“You should know.” I said, my eyes dug firmly into him.
He flicked some more, and slowly his long, fat tail slid over the floor in a curling circle around his scaled feet, “Yess, s’well, word does get s’round.” And with that Janga slunk on past me and swiped away a curtain of beads as he headed into his back room. I lingered, hearing his jostling of items and paper stacks until he emerge again from out the curtain with a scroll tucked under his little arm, and hissing irritated like he waved me out of his way and knocked a portion of stuff from off a corner of the table and set the scroll upon it. “Sso, how dessperate are you – is thiss visit s’regular?”
When I said nothing I could nearly feel the grin smear along his face, and with that Tangalula unrolled the scroll, surprising for his clunky, sharp hands, and laid it flat upon the surface of the table, pinning it’s corners down with small mechanical gears and other miscellaneous bits. I leaned over the lizard man’s left shoulder, and gazed down to a fantastic schematic, littered in small black lines weaved intricately into a square pattern.
“A maze.” I spoke aloud.
“A labyrinsth.” he corrected, “Quite differenst. Nost the ssame. You see, a maze is meanst s’to confuse you. Get you losst. But a labyrinsths, now, that’s designed to s’lead you somewhere. Direct you s’to your desstination.”
I placed my left hand upon the table, leaning my weight into it as I gazed over the scroll. “And, what is my destination?”
The reptilian turned his sharp, beady little splinter eyes, gleaning in delight, as if all his nightmarish dreams had come true. His tongue flicked towards me, licking across his scaly cheek, and with his long thin tongue escaping back into his spiky mouth he hissed.
“S’tha Dragon’s Head.” he whisperedly wheezed, and the hand which had been about to light the cigarette between my lips froze, the flame left hovering beneath my nose, before Bo-Janga’s sultry hiss blew it out.