The Prankster

You manage to traverse the snow only a couple of meters before an even stouter man to your right, the man just beneath the sign “SHINING KNIGHTS ARMS AND ARMOR”, calls you “Hey, yue, Brother!” the sturdy little man points and looks at Putty, unmistakably a dwarven brother. “I havn’t seen ye arround her’ before, I havn’t. Where ye from? No, no need standin’ ther’ in the cold. Come in an’ we’ll share a drink. Bring yer friend too, of cuers’ ye can.”

“Don’t stare, Putty”, says Arnald and looks away. “The poor fellow clearly has a speaking disability!”

Putty answers the man under the sign by nodding, and steps inside the establishment. Arnald follows.

The man laughs discretely with a somewhat booming voice. “Durga be me name, lad. Who do I have the pri’lege to meet?” He sweeps his short arm inwards his home to invite you both. For a Dwarf he seems unconventionally jolly. Perhaps it’s the snow. “

As soon as you enter his home you are met by a radiating heat. Maybe a couple of degrees more than is tolerable.

In his home you are met by another short sturdy man, a foot sole shorter, sitting by a simple wooden table to your right. His full protective beard is foamed with beer, or Bitter Ale as dwarves would call it. A strange square piece of wood is lying on top of the table. It has many smaller squares in it and there are some small statues randomly scattered on the board.

On the left side of the building a whole range of war tools can be found. Everything from dwarven battle axes to some odd looking spears. Some pieces of basic armour also clad the walls.

“So, what yer names lads and wher ye come from?” Durga finally asks

Putty, while staring in awe at the walls, mumbles something while pulling up the right leg of his trousers, revealing his foot of cast iron.

Arnald rolls his eyes, pats Putty on the head, and says with a smile: “What my not only short but also slightly dull friend is trying to tell you, is that his name is Putty and that he has a foot of cast iron. Yes, yes, I know, DRA-MA! However, more importantly” – he stretches out a swift hand over the table, bent like a wave – “my name is Arnald Wellit, my dear Durga.”

Arnald leans slightly to the side towards the other dwarf without releasing Durgas hand, and whispers: “LOVE the foam, it really reflects your watery eyes!”

The dwarf at the table attempts to mock back at Arnald “Luv yer gait but I bet ye hear’t all the time from other poofters.!” he bows his head down “No, sorre lad. Didn’t mean to be mean, ye know! What ye sayin tall fella. Up for a game of Goblins n’ Orcs, are ye?”

Durga on the other hand pays his attention to Putty “Oh my. How’re ye runnin ‘round with a leg like that lad? Me dad’s dad had e leg like yers, he had, only ‘twas wooden. No matter. Yer likin me axe over there do ye? It’s not mine, it’s Marrak’s” and he points with his hand over at the beerded (all puns intended!) dwarf at the table.

“Gurgly-burgly-boll, something something….” Arnald says and returns to Durga. He pats Putty on the back and whisper: “Whatsa ‘poofter’? One of those dwarven clans you’re always talking about?”

Putty corrects his trousers and says to Durga: “That’s fine craftmansship, Durga. Mighty fine.”

You can hear a short grunt, its intent indistinguishable, from Marrak’s end.

Durga takes a stool from under the table and places it under the racks of weapons, steps up on it and dismantles an odd looking axe. He returns to Putty holding the axe in his both hands “Ye wanna try it, do ye? Here ye go, have a swing with it.”

The axe looks very odd, is made up of a long wooden shaft with a long blade attached to it. The blade is not as protruding as your axe.

Putty retrieves the strange axe from Durga and weights it in his hands. A low, rumbling sound is heard from his throat.

“Now’s not the time for spitting”, says Arnald with a raised eyebrow. “If that’s what you’re preparing for…”

“Hmm, mighty fine”, mumbles Putty while inspecting every corner of the impressive weapon. The rumbling sound in his throat comes back in intervals, like a more guttural way of saying “hmmm”.

“I’m not cleaning it up if he does”, says Arnald and turns to the two dwarfs. “I’ve seen him spit, you know. Poor house, the walls didn’t have a chance!”

Putty sniffs the axe, pats it a couple of times, and then returns it to Durga with a nod.

“Mighty fine, Durga. Mighty fine.”

The axe feels at home in your hand, even more at home than the axe you already got.

“Half-axe, we call it. 2000 gould ‘n it’s yours, brother?”1

Before Putty gets a chance to answer, Arnald interrupts.

“Suuure, here” – he makes a pouring gesture with his empty hands over Putty – “take it aaaaaaaaaall! Why not…a million gold? No, wait! A million gold…and one electrum!”

Arnald leans against the table with arms crossed, and a sceptical expression on his face.

“Never mind him”, says Putty stoichal. “He doesn’t have a million gold, nor any electrum.”

“Hel-lo? Joking gesture!” says Arnald and repeats the pouring sequence.

Putty sighs, and takes one long look at the half-axe before giving his answer: “It’s a fine deal, I think, but I have to pass. Perhaps another day, Durga.”

Marrak gulps a sip from his beer and silently observes.

“It’s a great deal, mind ye” both of you can feel that Durga quickly took the role as a salesman when the chance was offered to him. However, he quickly returns to his friendly manners.

“Tell ye what. I’ll consider handin it to ye if ye do me a favour. Just a trifling matter. Are ye interested?”

“Slay a dragon? Swim to Luskan? Give birth to a child?” Arnald says inquiring. “With a price like that, I expect no less!”

“I have to agree with my friend”, says Putty. “What favour do you require for such a valuable weapon?”

“Hehehe. No! No! Not at all” he shrugs “It is just a matter of helpin me with somethin I’m not able to do meself. I expect ye both are goin to the Moonstone Mask tonight? Ther will be a gentleman in ther I need to get to. It is not so serious, just a little joke. What say ye both, intruiged?”

Putty turns to Arnald, who starts making swimming gestures. With no sane help from his friend, Putty turns to Durga and says: “Tell us more about this gentleman.”

“Me ‘n Marrok here, we go to the Mask ‘n play poker,but ther has always been a’problem a’ours. The problem is called Douglas ‘n he always wins. He is cheatin o’course but we can’t prove it. I have a weighted dice here that will up the chances of winning. It is just that me ‘n Marrok can’t play with it, cos we’ll be caught cheatin. Sooooo. If you two play against him ‘n win me ‘n Marrok here will give you this axe ‘ere for your troubles?”

“My good friend Amaunator says no-no…” mumbles Arnald with crossed arms.

“I will play”, Putty says, “but not with your dice. If I win, it’s because Dumathoin wanted me to find that hidden treasure, and not because of cheating.”

“Good boy! You tell them!”

“Then I’m ‘fraid lads, ther wont be an axe for ye if ye win. The cheatin’s part o’the fun. But be sure to get back to us if ye change yer mind. Unleeeess, o’course ye find out how Douglas is cheatin. Then I’d gladly give ye me axe ‘n me arm. No, I’ll keep the arm.”.

Marrak finish his bear and leaves the table. When he reach the end of the house he opens a door which you did not see before. Out comes a yellow and red glow and a wave of heat. He doesn’t say goodby for he seems to have become busy all of a sudden.

Arnald follows Marrak with a curious look, but doesn’t say anything.

“A farewell to you, Durga”, says Putty and nods. “Maybe we’ll meet at the Moonstone Mask later.” He then sets off to the front door.

Arnald smiles and nods at Durga, turns around with a small piruette, and catches up with Putty as he leaves the building.

“Nice to meet ye lads, indeed it was” are the last words you hear from Durga.

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