The following is a translation from Old Dwarfish into the common tongue, from the Original Source Material provided to the Weekly Tattler, and this reporter.
The following report, be it truth or fiction, was found to be a scroll on a kind of vellum not seen since the time the old Lands were young; a scroll that washed ashore inside a rather large wine bottle, magically corked.
Your Reporter of Tales Tall & Small: El-Ray P. Dodds Presents:
The Last Dwarf In the Old Lands,
A Memoir by Rusilka Muntansdottir,
Last of The Old Dwarves.
Remnants of The Six & The Copper Dragon
How The Six Became Seven, Then Eight.
I had nary a moment to sit and pen some more of my tale of helping to bring the Offer of Peace from the Dragons to the Frost Giants’ fabled domed city, where it is purportedly always colder inside the Ice City, than outside, even when there is a winter storm. Magic, or perhaps some engineering of the dome itself, keeps the city at a comfortable for Frost Giants and their kin, only. Frostbite dangerous for any other being, come ill prepared for sub zero weather.
Our party is currently taking a rest, in a small cabin a few hundred leagues from the Dome City. The scuttlebutt is in fact that this cabin, until recently belonged to that Body swapped Necromancer we heard about from the mercenaries who had kidnapped our new Copper Dragon friend, Krakos, who I can see through the small window next to the door of the shack where I sit,writing: Krakos is grooming himself. Dragons spend as much time grooming their scales as cats do cleaning their fur. It’s kind of hypnotic to watch. Krakos almost e like he’s in a trance while cleaning. Perhaps it’s a meditative act for dragons, a way to tune into themselves. I keep forgetting to ask him about it.
How Krakos came to join our merry little band of black sheep and exiled so and so ’s is what I sat to down to chronicle, How we got from the back of a wagon with a well spoken young adult dragon who could easily escaped his captors at any time. We sat in the back with him, as he cleaned himself with his long coppery tongue, that made my dwarf blood tingle just to see, his tongue looked as though it was made of intricately layered tiny sheets of copper, starting wide at the back of this mouth, the two lobes of the tongue twisting around like independently minded slugs that eventually separate a few inches from the antennae like metallic tips.
The dragon’s hide was shimmering in the bit of moonlight that came through the trees, on a clear night. Krakos finished his rather public bath time and harumphed, cleared his throat, a little acid dribbled down his chin. He pulled a kerchief seemingly from thin air and daubed at it. the cloth was not eaten away. Magic, or some acid proof material? I made a note to myself to ask about that. Could be a handy bit of cloth to have. Krakos spoke as if giving a political speech,
“ My fellow free citizens of the world, it would be a great boon to me if you could delay any plans you might have to escape these buffoonish ‘mercenaries,’ until such time as we arrive at the manse and laboratory of that Necromancer, they mentioned, Handrell. I have a debt to settle with him, and I have procrastinated long enough and needs it settled hopefully on the morrow, when we should arrive at The port. he lives near the docks, and I can help arrange your passage if you need it, to the Land of The Frost Giants.”
He snorted one of those cliched puffs of smoke out the nostrils, that you see Dragons do when they are done declaiming and taking a moment before making off with your cattle, or destroying your town. This Dragon seemed to have a more bookish mien, than the few I’d seen up close, previously; as he again reached seemingly onto an invisible shelf or something, a pair of reading glasses, and a giant magical tome, written in Draconic, the title suggested it was a romance novel of some sort, something about a dragon’s bride and a Bodice being burnt, my Draconic was rusty. He set to reading, and ignored us the rest of the night, as each of us took our turns on watch, and others slept. Krakos slept most of the night, and the morning as we wended our way in the wagon, through muddy bumpy narrow short streets, almost an ‘ess’ pattern it seemed, down the slippery hills of the port called ‘The Old City.’
The Mercenaries pulled the wagon to a merciful to our rumps halt, and the young apprentice Necromancer, Cecil, who we had rescued from the madness of the white desert, he was there too, I had almost forgotten why we were on this wagon, escorting a boy who seemed too nice to be a Necromancer back to his mentor, who apparently had become a halfling, against his will somehow. Karma, is what I was thinking, as That nice young raiser of the dead laid a solid thwack upside the head of the bigger of the two Orc Mercenaries.
The Orc for his part, acknowledged that while it did hurt, and was going to leave a mark, all it did was piss him off. “Hey kid what the fuck! It’s not like we made you a prisoner, we gave you food!” He raised his spear to drive it through the young Illusionist Half Orc a rare thing to see, as rare as a dragon, willingly being chained in a wagon. I nodded to Alphonse, and he put his own spear at the throat of the mercenary. The second mercenary, another Orc, but a smaller and sneakier looking one, who hadn’t said a word the whole time, he sped off, maybe having taken a speedy potion of some sort. He was gone before the Witch could get off a hex to slow him down somehow. Her Blight simply withered in the air, and made us all feel strange for a moment.
“Little Fucker” cursed the larger Orc whose name was Thangor. “Look” he pushed away the spearpoint at his throat, “I ain’t getting paid enough to take on you lot and maybe a Dragoon, so If you let me go, I will just chase down my little weasel of a brother, and take my frustrations out on him, what say you?” We all nodded as if we were sage advisors of some sort and let him take off, foregoing his pay. This of course when the dragon spoke up again. He yelled out like a megaphone: “Thangor, come here a second.” The Orc turned on his heel, and walked back, as in something of a trance. The Dragon had used some charm or hex, and bent thangor, who I was kind of feeling weirdly sorry for. These Northern land play havoc with the rhythm of the world. Too cold.
The dragon put out his shackled tiny arms and Thangor unlocked them, and all the other chains holding the Dragon in the wagon. Krakos sighed with the relief of someone who has been stuck in one position for days. He spread his bat like copper streaked wings out as far as he could and took off flying up down and around, giving something of an air show, people were either stopping their daily life and watching, in wonder, or running for their homes, screaming in terror, but Krakos was getting his wings back as it were. After a few minutes, he landed next to the wagon. He spoke for all to hear.
“Gentle Folk of The Old City, I am here to parlay with only one of your folk, I nor none of my kin have any grudge against any of you in the New Lands, please do not fear my prescience, but rejoice, that There is Peace in the air, as well as on the ground. He turned to Handrell’s Dwelling.
There was a place for a shingle, the shingle was in the mud in front of the door, split, but still readable, it read in common: ‘Necromancer Services, Golems a specialty, ask about ‘Two for Grundy special’ every Monday.’
The Dragon stepped on the shingle as he gentle rapped the door with the Raven Skull door knocker. The door opened a crack, after a minute or so, of everyone watching the scene. Even Thangor, wasn’t chasing down his weasel brother; out of his trance, he glanced at me nervously, and gripped his sword hilt, but did not move.
The profile of a ravishingly raven haired half elf woman could be seen, but not heard speaking quietly, there was a pause, Krakos whispered something, that not even the most Elvish of us could hear, the door shut, and the Dragon turned back to us.
“Well, that was anticlimactic, to say the least, Handrell’s been killed, by the Halfling who had swapped bodies with him. A rogue, and Pirate of some renown, the wife says, named ‘The Terror Of The High seas’ he was a really mean spirited halfling who has slit throats all the way up the pirate chain; he liked having a new Human body, and tracked Handrell and his old body down to Handrell’s Northern Laboratory, and tortured him for hours while he flayed his old body alive. The wife says that Handrell’s ghost has been haunting her for almost a week. Please folk, give the widow, some space.”
We never did learn what business the Dragon had with Handrell, but the Necromancer’s death seemed to end his interest in the matter, and in us, as he bade us all a farewell, tossing a small pouch of coins to Cecil, and one to Thangor, whose little brother was once again, standing next to him. I checked my pockets to see if I’d been picked while listening to Krakos.
Cecil went around to the side of the house, where there was what I though might have been an outhouse, it was Cecil’s quarters, he had a pack ready for travel, he slung it over his shoulder, and ran up to me, like I was leading him to a Jamboree.
“Where do you think you are going?” I stopped him with a gentle hand up on his shoulder, making him squat to my eye level, he cut my protest off with his own; “She hates me, I won’t have a place there anymore, she’s a part of a Hag Coven, who I imagine has already set up base, and stolen most of Handrell’s stuff, in the process. His wife is far more evil than even Handrell ever knew. I’d be lucky if she turned me into a newt.”
I sensed he was telling the truth and asked him if he wanted to head north with us, like I knew he wanted me to. This is how the six has become seven. When we got to the Top of the world, we became eight, but the that’s my next scroll. As the Eighth member of our band, has finished his grooming and wants us moving North, this afternoon, so we can make the city at noon tomorrow. We are following this Dragon now, at least he thinks so. My axe and my hammer are my lead.