Read Adventurers Wanted 1) Slathbog's Gold Online

Authors: M.L. Forman

Tags: #Fantasy

Adventurers Wanted 1) Slathbog's Gold (6 page)

BOOK: Adventurers Wanted 1) Slathbog's Gold
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“And he wasn’t wrong then, not really,” said Thrang, signaling for a barman to bring him a drink.

“Perhaps not,” Bregnest agreed.

Silvan Bregnest looked like a serious man to Alex. He was tall and lean, with gray eyes that shone brightly with an inner light. Most of his long, black hair was pulled into a neat ponytail at the back of his neck, but there was a single narrow braid hanging down either side of his face. He appeared to be a rugged man, tough and hardened by time and travel, and Alex felt a little uneasy standing under his gaze.

“Where are the others?” Thrang asked, taking a large mug from the barman. “They’ll be wantin’ to meet young Alex here.”

“They went to check on the horses,” said Bregnest, turning his attention away from Alex. “They should be back anytime now.”

“We’ll need to get Alex
outfitted,” said Thrang
in a matter-of-fact way.

“Andy
can take him,” replied Bregnest. “We need to talk.” His eyes flicked to Alex and back to Thrang, who grunted into his mug.

For several minutes there was silence, except for the sound of Thrang drinking from his mug and the fire burning in the grate. Arconn sat beside Bregnest, calmly looking out the window.

Alex, not knowing what else to do, remained standing. He was just beginning to think that he should sit down as well, when a noisy group entered the room behind him.

“We’re ready to go,” a tall blond man called across the room to Bregnest. “Just need our eighth man and we’re off.”

“We have eight,” replied Bregnest, standing and nodding toward Alex. “This is Alexander Taylor,” he said. “He goes by Alex, and this is his first time out.”

“Skeld, son of Haplack,” said the blond man, grabbing Alex’s hand and shaking it vigorously. “Glad you’re with us.”

“So am I,” Alex managed to say, surprised by Skeld’s introduction.

“If you’ll allow me,” said Bregnest, pushing Skeld to one side. “Alex, I’d like you to meet your other companions on this adventure.”

Skeld stumbled slightly as Bregnest pushed him again, but he continued smiling. He looked both strong and happy, and Alex liked him instantly.

“This is Tayo Blackman,” said Bregnest, indicating a
dark-haired man who was standing behind Skeld. Tayo nodded slightly to Alex but did not offer his hand. Alex thought Tayo’s face and dark eyes looked extremely sad.

“This is Halfdan Bluevest,” Bregnest continued, pointing to a young-looking dwarf. “As you might guess from the look of him, he’s Thrang’s cousin.”

“A pleasure,” said Halfdan as he bowed to Alex.

“And last but not least,” Bregnest said. “Anders Goodseed. We all call him Andy.”

“A great pleasure,” said Andy, nudging Halfdan in the ribs as he too bowed to Alex.

“The pleasure is mine,” Alex managed as he remembered his manners and bowed slightly.

“So, we’re off today then, are we?” Skeld questioned with a smile.

“Alex needs to get outfitted first,” replied Bregnest, moving back to his chair. “Andy, go with him and get him set up, will you.”

It was more a command than a question, and Andy bowed slightly to Bregnest before turning to Alex and motioning for him to follow.

“We should be able to get everything he needs,” said Andy. “What about payment?”

“Tell them I’ll stand good for it,” said Thrang, lowering his mug and winking at Alex.

“Very well,” replied Andy, starting toward the door.

“And Andy,” Thrang called after them. “Make sure to get him a decent bag.”

“Of course,” Andy answered.

* * *

After Alex and Andy had left the room, the others gathered around Bregnest. They were undertaking a dangerous adventure and there were several things they needed to discuss. Not least among their concerns was the selection of Alex as the eighth member of their company.

“He’s very young,” said Tayo, looking at Bregnest grimly. “He’s not trained, and he’s unprepared for what lies ahead.”

“He comes highly recommended,” Thrang replied, watching Bregnest over his mug. “And he’s large for his age.”

“His hands are well-callused so he knows how to work,” Skeld commented thoughtfully. “Dragons are difficult though, and his size and willingness to work won’t help much. We can teach him some basics on the road, of course, but with two so young, it will be hard.”

“It would be hard with experienced warriors,” Halfdan added. “I don’t see how we can succeed as we are.”

“What do you say, Arconn?” Bregnest questioned, his gaze settling on the elf. “Do you have an opinion on this?”

“A feeling more than anything else,” replied Arconn, turning away from the window for the first time since he’d sat down. “A feeling that I find hard to voice.”

“Will you try?” Bregnest persisted.

“I feel we are fortunate to have him with us,” Arconn answered in a slow and thoughtful tone. “I cannot say why, but I feel that it will be good both for him and for us.”

“Elves often feel things that others cannot,” said Bregnest, almost to himself. “Yet I also feel that this is for the best, and I am glad that Alex is our eighth.”

“Something the Oracle told you?” Skeld asked, his eyebrows rising.

“What the Oracle says to a man is for him alone to know,” replied Bregnest with a half-smile. “As you know well enough, Skeld.”

Skeld laughed and signaled for the barman to bring drinks for them all.

“I knew you would not answer straight,” Skeld said with a mischievous smile on his face. “And I know how it annoys you when I ask.”

“And you will have your fun,” said Bregnest. “But enough of this. We will go with what—and who—we have, and hope for the best.”

“Excellent,” said Thrang, taking another mug from the barman. “Let’s drink on it.”

“Drink on it indeed, master dwarf,” Bregnest chuckled. “But not as much as you may like. The road ahead will be long and hard, and we start early in the morning.”

 

 

 

 

 

 
chapter three
 
Magic Bag
 

 

 

A
lex followed Andy into the streets of Telous. He was relieved that Thrang had offered to pay for what he needed because he didn’t have any money of his own. He wasn’t even sure what kind of money was used in Telous, and he hadn’t thought to ask.

“First time?” Andy asked.

“Yes, it is,” replied Alex, a little ashamed of his answer.

“You’re lucky,” Andy said, taking no notice of Alex’s tone. “Most first-timers go on really dull adventures. This one sounds very exciting and should be great fun.”

“Fun?” Alex wondered why anyone would think trying to kill a dragon would be fun.

“It’s better than my first,” said Andy. “My first adventure was incredibly dull, and we didn’t find much treasure at all.”

Alex looked closely at Andy for the first time. He was tall and blond, perhaps twenty-five years old, but his baby face made him look younger. He seemed happy to be on an adventure, or perhaps he was just happy. Alex decided that he liked Andy, and that Andy would be the one he’d ask about things he didn’t understand.

“I’m a little surprised that Arconn and Thrang picked a first-timer,” said Andy as they walked into a shop. “But I suppose they know what they’re doing.”

Alex wanted to say he thought Arconn and Thrang had made a huge mistake, but kept that to himself. It was obvious Andy had a great deal of respect for Arconn and Thrang, and Alex didn’t want to anger his new companion by saying something stupid.

As the day went on, Andy led Alex to several shops around Telous. After each of their stops, Alex was carrying more and more packages, many of which he didn’t even recognize. Andy helped Alex carry his new things, and tried to answer some of Alex’s questions as they went.

Alex, struggling to carry all the packages Andy had purchased for him, wondered how he would be able to carry everything with him on the adventure. There were shirts and pants and blankets, two new pairs of boots, cooking pots, a tent, and several other camping items. He was also worried that Thrang would be upset about the amount of money they’d spent. Andy kept shopping however, unconcerned about the number of items they were buying or the prices.

“We’ve spent an awful lot of money,” Alex said as he struggled to keep ahold of his packages. “I don’t want to take advantage of Thrang’s goodwill.”

“We’re almost done,” said Andy, shifting some of the packages he was carrying from one arm to the other. “Thrang offered to stand good for you, so don’t worry.”

“But I’m sure he didn’t know we’d be spending so much,” Alex protested. “And I can honestly say I don’t know how much we’ve spent.”

“You don’t know how much we’ve spent?” Andy asked in a puzzled tone.

“I don’t know anything about the money here,” Alex admitted.

“What do you use at home, then?”

“We have metal coins, but we also use paper money.”

“Paper money?” said Andy, the smile on his face showing he thought Alex was joking.

“It’s true,” Alex insisted. “We don’t use gold or silver coins at all.”

“It’s easy—one gold coin is worth thirteen silver coins. Didn’t the adventurer who took you to the Oracle explain about money and treasure?” Andy asked.

“I didn’t go to an oracle.”

Andy stopped dead in his tracks. “Then how were you chosen as an adventurer?”

Alex explained about seeing the sign in the shop window and what had happened at Mr. Clutter’s shop. He was happy to go over all the details again for Andy because it helped him get things straight in his own mind as well.

“No wonder Thrang and Arconn asked you to join us,” said Andy, sounding impressed. “I’ve only heard of two other people seeing the sign and that was years ago.”

“That’s strange,” said Alex. “The sign was in plain view, anybody could have seen it.”

“I doubt that,” said Andy with a laugh. “The sign may have been in plain view for you, but I doubt that anyone else—even another adventurer—would have seen it.”

“Why?” Alex questioned.

“I’m not sure I can say,” answered Andy. “It might have something to do with magic, or maybe it was your fate to see the sign when you did. Whatever the reason, I’m sure it was good fortune that you saw it.”

Alex thought about Andy’s answer, but he wasn’t sure what to think. He shook his head and pushed Andy’s explanation to the back of his mind for now, more worried at the moment about Thrang and the money they’d spent. He told Andy his feelings but he just smiled at Alex’s concern.

“I guess you don’t know much about dwarfs,” said Andy as they started walking again.

“No, I don’t,” Alex admitted.

“I know a little, and I’ll tell you this,” said Andy, catching a package as it slipped out from under Alex’s arm. “Dwarfs are careful with their money. They’re not cheap or miserly or anything like that, but they’re careful just the same.”

“And we’re spending Thrang’s money quickly,” said Alex.

“What you need to understand is this,” Andy continued, taking no notice of Alex’s comment. “If a dwarf offers to stand good for you, he expects you to spend freely.”

BOOK: Adventurers Wanted 1) Slathbog's Gold
2.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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