“So, how did you come to be here?” Trogdar enquired as they strode from the Wagon train, flanked on both sides by Dwarves of the Royal Guard of Karaz-a-Karak.
“I live here you idiot,” came the rather abrupt reply, “The real question should be why that traitorous cur is here.”
“Me?” said Jadryn, haughtily, “I am here to experience the thrill of combat, to test myself against the denizens of the deep, to fight the very evil that man-, and dwarf-kind have brought upon this fair realm,” he said with a sidelong downwards glance, “and to expand my craft of war into new heights of elitism.”
The Barbarian and the Dwarf looked at Jadryn quizzically.
“To do this, I need money.”
“Ah, well that’s something I can get on board with, eh short-arse?” said Trogdar, a large smile breaking across his craggy features.
“And why are you here, human?” came the terse reply from the Dwarf, angered by the slight, but not yet making a mental grudge become a real one.
“Oh well,” stated Trogdar, “I’m in it for the fame, you see. Back home where I came from, I was a legend amongst my people. The mightiest warrior who ever lived. But, err…”
Trogdar paused and looked down to the floor.
“There was a slight accident involving me and the chief’s daughter. You see, I’ve got this massive..”
“Sword?” enquired Jadryn, “Yes, I can see that.”
“That’s not quite what I was going to say…”
The party stopped in front of a small archway carved into the bedrock of the Dwarven Hold of Karak Azgal. Steps led down into the darkness beyond.
“Here we are Warriors!” shouted the nearest Dwarven Guard, his grey beard trailing along the floor.
“He wants to watch he doesn’t trip over that,” said Trogdar, matter-of-factly.
“Seek ye the whereabouts of our missing great lords, for whom we searched in vain before retreating from a cavalcade of monstrous foes.”
The three warriors gave each other knowing glances.
“Find our masters, and the lost Axe of the Grunsson clan. Do so and you will be rewarded greatly, for the Great Lord… WHAT ARE YOU DOING OVER THERE!!!?”
The Guard was angry now, looking at a point some way beyond the Warriors to a cowled figure hunched over near a large outcropping of stone. His attention was fixed on a small collection of mushrooms, and he was slowly chewing one, the stalk still visible from his mouth.
The Guard strode over and accosted the figure, drawing his face close to the ground towards his own bearded features.
“ANSWER ME WRETCH, WHO ARE YOU!??”
“The figure sprang from the clutches of the irate Dwarf, drawing himself to his full height and throwing his hands to the air. In a thin, reedy voice he exclaimed, “I am the Son of Ixthod, first circle wizard of the Holy Order of the Frost Lords, bearer of the sacred healing Ice of Kaleth, confuzzler of small kittens…”
“Do you have a sword?” asked Trogdar.
Snapping out of his entrancement, the Wizard answered, “Yes.”
“Right, you’re in. Come on lads, LET’S GET ‘EM!!!”
Trogdar ran at full pelt, drawing his sword as he went. The Dwarf looked up at the Elf with disdain, then with worry at the Wizard before slowly trudging off after him. Jadryn followed, his keen eyes searching the ground for any Gold that might have rolled out of some unsuspecting Dwarf’s money pouches. No such luck.
Finally, the Wizard stumbled towards the door, stopping just once along the way to examine an interesting piece of fungus.
As the last vestiges of the Warriors disappeared from view, there was a loud thump and a muttered curse as the Guard picked himself up off the floor.