The little boy led the dwarf westwards
towards the village. Every now and then, the boy would cock his
head and peer around, as if to check if he was being followed. However,
the dwarf was indifferent and he slumped down upon his mule. The
most peculiar thing about him was his vest, which had many flashing
trinkets and reflecting metals interwoven into the fabric. The dry
wind whispered its presence and the only sound that happened was
the plodding of hooves and the patter of the boy’s feet. The dwarf
raised his head and grinned at the boy.
“I’ve traveled for forty-seven nights.
I haven’t gotten much sleep either” He groaned, popped his back,
and urged the mule onward. Waiting a few minutes he asked, “How
much longer until the inn?”
Inn is beyond that ridge,” declared the boy
and pointed. They continued walking for some time in silence. Brightening,
the boy awoke the dwarf from his nap and said, “Well, Here we are!”
down from the ridge upon a sickly looking tavern in the middle of
a tiny village. One would think that this was the end of the world.
Dirt crumbled down the ridge as they moved down to the inn.
richest merchant of the village, glanced at the odd figure that now
had managed to out drink all four of the local drunkards in the inn’s
tavern. So far the fat dwarf had managed to do nothing but show off
his seemingly immense drinking and flirting skills, which were impressive.
Grimacing, he continued to glare down at his cup of dietary brew.
out a loud roar of triumph and slammed his fist down upon the table.
He managed to slur, “Anyone fancy a game
of cards?” Grasping into his meticulous woven vest he took out a blue
deck and proceeded to shuffle. The four drunks quickly somehow managed
to accompany him and the other tavern guests along with the barmaids
approached to view the game. They shuffled and passed cards and slowly
a large pile of coins accumulated upon the table. Khazam had won again and again, and with each game his moneybag
grew larger. It was then that old Iroj lost
his temper as he noticed the drunks losing even to the worst of Khazam’s hands.
“Peter, Herring, Dwandle,
and you other twerps are useless!” he cried, pacing around the table.
Then seating himself at an empty chair, he leaned across the table
and whispered and speaking the word “mage” with great sarcasm, “Let’s
“Alright then,” chuckled the dwarf
with an evil grin, “lets start off with what
you have to offer?”
“This,” he said nonchalantly, throwing
four large sacks of coins upon the table.
looked at the coins from one of the sacks and raised a brow. “Now
how did you get these coins from the north?” Waving his hand to dismiss
his own question, he shoved his pile forward and nodded. “Very well,
but this isn’t a fair amount.” Reaching into one of his pouches and
took out a ring. It was made out of iron, and had nothing embellished
upon it. Palming the item back and forth he began said, “If you would
let me tell you about my coming.” Iroj nodded and so Khazam began
to tell him of the tale.
“It was the age of chaos for the lands
in the Far
little boy scratched his head and interrupted, “But didn’t you come
from the west?”
up,” he snarled and continued with a nod of his head, “I believe it
was Eptcer the thirty-second, forty years before the wars of Angruin. The Lady Tyrie, our noble
queen, had recently married the foreign King Darthinout
pausing slightly he sipped from his mug of beer until he continued,
“That night their vow’s were taken and I was selected among my colleagues
by the new couple as the safe-keeper of the royal treasuries.”
took a draught from his beer mug and wiped the foam from his beard.
“Yet upon the next night the evil king sent his personal guards out,
they swept across the castle and murdered all the staff.” Khazam
blinked furiously, as if to dispel tears and sighed loudly. “I believe
that I alone escaped.”
raising his hand with an immense flourish he held the ring aloft.
He continued, “This ring I found in one of the treasure troves. I
haven’t found out what it does, but I’m sure that its
worth far more than what you have there.”
Iroj spat on the ground. “You expect us to believe that? And even
so I wouldn’t bet my amount against that.” He growled, glaring down
at the piece of normal looking iron.
but perhaps a little more will agree with you.” He smirked sheepishly
and pulled four cherry-sized gems from under his vest and slapped
it down on the table.
his acceptance, with a slight glint in his eyes, and proceeded to
shuffle his cards. Then dealing he glanced at his cards. His hand
consisted of the King, the Queen, the Knight, and the Jester, which
he then laid down upon the table. The dwarf’s face suddenly broke
into a huge frown; his hand consisted of the Thief, the Soldier, the
Peasant, and the Jester. That hand couldn’t match the Iroj’s
“Curses!” he screamed. “My luck always runs out
after my fourth win.” His face darkened and he grumbling something
about being the fourth child as the onlookers peered at him closely.
Iroj’s smiled and grinned, “Well, well. Your thief
might be your luck.”
Khazam then turned to Iroj
and said, “Deal me the fourth.”
Iroj shuffled the cards and slipped the fourth card towards Khazam who looked at it intently. Then grinning he slapped
the card on the table and hissed, “The Tax Collector!” Raising his
head he cackled with glee and grabbed all the coins leaving the ring
Iroj sat there stunned, and then picking up the ring he stood up
and glared at the dwarf. “You accursed fake! I should have never played
against someone with the dark one’s luck and one who can’t even use
real coins!” He paced around the room a bit as Khazam
shrugged and thumbed at his nose. Snarling he stormed towards the
fireplace. Then pausing and stared once again at the plain iron ring.
“Good riddance”, he grumbled and threw the ring into the fire.
cringed Khazam and he leaped from his chair
and knocked the table over trying to stop Iroj.
ring melted, the fire snuffed out, and an eerie ravine began to open
like a wound beneath the tavern floor.
minutes later, the mule decided to take another gamble at a few odd
looking weeds. Taking a mouthful, he walked over to the side a bit
and stared down into the huge hole where the tavern had been sitting.
Swallowing, he walked off and proceeded to wait. His master in shining
trinkets would be back; it just took a couple of weeks and when he
would come back he wouldn’t be covered in so many tinsel metals anymore.