Read Adventurers Wanted 1) Slathbog's Gold Online

Authors: M.L. Forman

Tags: #Fantasy

Adventurers Wanted 1) Slathbog's Gold (4 page)

BOOK: Adventurers Wanted 1) Slathbog's Gold
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For several minutes Alex sat quietly and thought about what Arconn and Thrang had said. It all made sense—
if
there was such a thing as magic. If not, then he would be very late getting back to work and in for a real scolding.

“Just bring the tea in, then, shall I?” Mr. Clutter questioned, pushing the door open and stepping into the room. “Nice bit of green tea and some cakes.”

“That will be fine,” replied Arconn, without looking away from Alex.

Alex watched Mr. Clutter as he carried a large, silver tray into the room. It was easier to watch Mr. Clutter than to think about magic and gateways and adventures because then he didn’t have to decide if he believed in any of it.

“Come on, then,” said Mr. Clutter, looking at one of the tables next to the wall.

To Alex’s amazement, the silver lamp on the table jumped onto the second table and the first table walked awkwardly into the empty space between Alex, Thrang, and Arconn.

Rubbing his eyes in disbelief, Alex felt completely numb. The table started to spin as he watched it, and right before his eyes it changed. What had been a small, rectangular table was now a large, round table. Mr. Clutter sat the tea tray on the tabletop without a care.

“How’s it going, then?” Mr. Clutter asked.

“Just fine,” replied Arconn. “We’ve been explaining things to Alex.”

“Explaining?” asked Mr. Clutter, a slight note of concern in his voice.

“He don’t know nothin’ ’bout magic or adventures, you great pelican,” said Thrang in a disgruntled tone.

“Doesn’t know about adventures or magic?” Mr. Clutter repeated, glancing quickly at Alex. “But the sign . . . the gateway. I assure you, gentlemen, only a true adventurer could have passed through the gateway.”

“That may be true, Clutter,” replied Thrang. “But the fact is, this boy knows nothin’ ’bout being chosen or adventures or anything.”

“Doesn’t know about being chosen?” Mr. Clutter looked confused. “Well, then, how did he get into the shop?”

“We will call that a lucky chance,” said Arconn. “Thank you, Mr. Clutter. We’ll serve ourselves.”

Mr. Clutter left the room, scratching his head and mumbling to himself. It sounded to Alex like he didn’t believe what Thrang had said, and was sure that everybody knew about adventures and magic.

“Tea?” questioned Arconn, filling a large cup and holding it out for Alex to take.

“What?” said Alex, still dumbfounded by the moving table.

“Have some tea,” said Thrang, holding out his own cup for Arconn to fill. “A bit of tea and a cake or two and you’ll feel much better.”

“No, thank you,” Alex said, distracted. All the talk about magic and time being different and gateways and signs that other people couldn’t see had his head spinning. He didn’t know what to make of any of it, though he had to admit that it was exciting.

“Have a cake then,” said Thrang, pushing a large plate
full of cakes toward him. “Always better to think on a full stomach.”

Alex smiled weakly and took a cake from the plate. He didn’t feel hungry, but it gave him something normal to think about. Thrang and Arconn didn’t say anything at all as they drank their tea and ate several cakes.

Alex stared at his uneaten cake for a long time. He wished he’d never entered the bookshop to ask about the sign, and he wondered how he was going to get back to the Happy Dragon.

Thinking about everything he’d heard and seen so far, Alex had to admit that there
must
be magic, because he’d seen the table move on its own and change its shape. Plus he was sitting with a dwarf and an elf, which was something he’d never expected to do. He still had no idea what his new companions meant by his being chosen, but he decided not to worry about it right then because his head was starting to hurt.

 

 

chapter two
 
Mr. Clutter’s Back Door
 

 

 

“So,” said Thrang, setting his teacup down and wiping his mouth with his shirtsleeve. “What do you think, Alex?”

“I’m not sure,” said Alex.

“Excellent,” said Arconn. “Shall we discuss the contract?”

“Contract?”

“Adventurer’s bargain, if you prefer, or agreement if that suits you,” replied Thrang. “After all, we can’t go on an adventure together without a bargain.”

“Oh, I see,” said Alex with a nod, though he didn’t see, not really. He hadn’t really expected his wish for a different life to come true, but somehow it had. Now he had to decide if he was willing to accept the new life he was being offered.

But what if this isn’t real?
Alex wondered. Maybe it was all some big joke, or some kind of game that he didn’t know about. What if it was one of those TV shows that played jokes on people and filmed them looking foolish? There was a chance, however, that it
was
real, that everything he’d been told was true, and that he could go on a grand adventure. If there was even a tiny chance for a real adventure, Alex wanted to be part of it.

“All right,” he said decisively. “Let’s talk about the contract.”

“Let’s see,” said Thrang, taking a large piece of paper out of his shirt pocket. “First, we should discuss compensation for time spent.”

“Compensation?” Alex questioned.

“How much you get paid for the adventure,” replied Thrang, unfolding the paper, holding it close to his face and squinting his eyes. “After all, it’s no good going on an adventure unless there’s some hope of getting paid for it.”

“I suppose not.”

“As a first-time adventurer, you are entitled to one share in twenty of the primary treasure, once it’s recovered,” Thrang began. “In addition, you may receive bonus treasure as the leader of our company sees fit. Any small or magical items you find on your own are yours to keep. Any magical item that chooses you as its owner is, of course, yours.”

Thrang paused for a moment to take a deep breath before plowing on.

“All secondary treasure recovered is to be divided equally among the company. Extra items—that is to say, items that can’t be divided equally between the members of the company—go to the leader of the company, who may then give those extra items as bonus treasure to anyone in the company whom he feels has earned them. Also, in the event that you recover treasure alone, it will be divided equally between the members of the company. Normally, an extra share of the secondary treasure is given to the adventurer who found it.

“The leader has the last word about how treasure is divided. At times, the honor of dividing treasure may be given to a member of the company. Single victory against an enemy is always a reason for the victor to be given such an honor. In most cases, the single victor will also receive any treasure that cannot be divided equally. This follows the standard rules set out in the
Adventurer’s Handbook.

Alex sat motionless, listening to Thrang, his thoughts spinning. What did he mean, “one share in twenty of the primary treasure,” and, “magical items” that might choose him as an owner? How could an item choose him?

“He’s confused,” said Arconn, noticing Alex’s puzzled look. “The idea of treasure hunting and adventures hasn’t sunk in yet. It is completely new to him.”

“What?” questioned Thrang, lowering his paper slightly to look from Arconn to Alex. “How do you think we pay for the adventure if we don’t collect some treasure along the way or at the end?” Thrang demanded.

“I’ve never thought about it,” answered Alex. The idea of looking for treasure seemed odd, but Alex had to admit it made as much sense as anything else he’d heard so far.

“You see, Alex, each adventure has a goal,” Arconn explained. “And it usually involves some kind of treasure or payment.”

Alex nodded. “What’s the goal of this adventure?”

“Jumps right to the point, don’t he?” said Thrang, smiling happily. “Got a good head for this, I can see it now.”

“Our goal,” Arconn replied, ignoring Thrang’s comments, “is to kill a dragon and reclaim the treasure in its hoard.”

“Not just any dragon,” Thrang interrupted. “We’re goin’ after Slathbog the Red.”

“And dragons are bad?” Alex asked, sure he already knew the answer.

“Most dragons are evil, if that’s what you mean,” said Arconn. “Of course, there are a few dragons that are decent enough, but normally, yes, dragons are considered bad.”

“And we’re going to kill this Slatsbog?”

“Slathbog the Red,” Thrang corrected. “Yes.”

“And take his treasure?”

“’Course,” replied Thrang with a grunting laugh. “No good killin’ a dragon and then leavin’ the hoard lying about for anybody who wants it.”

“May I ask,” Alex said, looking from Arconn to Thrang and back again. “Whose treasure is it?”

“It’s Slathbog the Red’s treasure,” answered Thrang, looking surprised by Alex’s question.

“I don’t mean now,” Alex said quickly. “I mean, whose was it before the dragon took it? He had to take it from someone, didn’t he?”

“The treasure of Slathbog has been collected from many places,” Arconn explained. “Slathbog has been hoarding treasure for several hundred years.”

“At
least
several hundred,” Thrang added.

“Won’t the people he took the treasure from want it back?” Alex asked.

“Common law clearly states that whoever kills the dragon gets the hoard. It’s on page fifty-seven of the
Adventurer’s Handbook,
” replied Thrang in a businesslike tone. “’Course that don’t mean others won’t try to steal it from us. There’s always someone lookin’ for easy treasure, but that’s part of the adventure, isn’t it?”

Alex rubbed his eyes. The idea of killing a dragon and taking its treasure sounded dangerous to him. It didn’t matter that he’d never seen a dragon and had no idea what a real dragon might look like. More troubling was the thought that if they did manage to kill the dragon and collect its treasure, other people might try to take the treasure from them. For the moment, Alex had completely forgotten that he didn’t really believe in dragons or magic because somewhere in the back of his head, a small voice whispered,
It might all be real, you know.

“Don’t worry about losing the hoard,” said Arconn in a reassuring tone. “Killing the dragon will be the hardest part of this adventure. Getting the treasure home will be easy, once we have it.”

“Of course,” said Alex. “But I can’t help thinking that we’ll just be doing the same thing the dragon did.”

“What’s that?” Thrang questioned.

“Well, the dragon killed people and took their treasure. Now we’re going to try to kill the dragon and take the treasure from him,” Alex replied in a thoughtful tone.

“Yes, I see what you mean,” Arconn agreed with a nod. “But there is more to it than just killing Slathbog and taking the treasure.”

“Much more than that,” Thrang added quickly. “We’re on a quest and that makes all the difference.”

“A quest?”

“We’re not going after the dragon merely to get the treasure,” Arconn explained. “Our quest is to kill Slathbog the Red. He is evil, which is reason enough to try to destroy him, but there is even more to it than that. In time, Slathbog will decide that he doesn’t have enough treasure. He will start to think that he hasn’t destroyed enough cities or eaten enough people. Eventually he will leave his lair, looking for a new one—a new one where he can hoard more treasure and kill more people. That’s the way it is with evil dragons I’m afraid, and the only way to stop them is to kill them.”

BOOK: Adventurers Wanted 1) Slathbog's Gold
4.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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