A Bargain is Struck

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Ningh visited the quiet hill dwarf village of Dowtan later that day. Upon his arrival, he asked every dwarf he could find about the wanted dwarf, Taen, whose image was expertly drawn out on the royal message. But not a single hill dwarf in town would say a word about the dangerous fighter. The town constable, with his mouth full of broken teeth, merely shrugged his shoulders and said, "Ain't seen nor heard o' such a fucker in this village, Master Wizard. I do apologize to ye."

Ningh knew they were all lying. Their nervous glances, sweating palms, and uncontrollable shivers at seeing the face of the master fighter on paper told the wizard all he needed to know. Taen had been here and caused some kind of ruckus, to be sure. Old Ningh worked his way through the small common area filled with sheep, and stumbled upon the town pub. Thinking that a pint or two of ale might help clear his head for the search, the wizard entered and sat down. Fresh bloodstains on the floorboards of the tavern immediately caught Ningh's attention. Examining them closer, and with a touch of magic, he determined they were almost two days old. With urgency and fury in both his voice and glaring eyes, Ningh spun to the buxom bartender, pointed to the bloodstains, and hissed, "Ye tell me how this happened, barmaid, and ye tell me now. If ye do, I'll not blow this fuckin' town off the face o' Asa-thor with me spells. I can do it, too. Don't ye doubt."

Her gaze slowly moving from the furious magic user's eyes to his short staff, Merryander the bartender began to shake in her beer-stained boots. "Master Wizard, sir, I... that is, we o' Dowtan are peaceful, ye see? The, um, the constable ordered us ta no' speak o' what happened here. It's no' exactly a kind tale, ye know."

"Lass, I could no' give three orc shites how kind a tale it is. Ye tell me what I need ta know or there'll be dwarven blood covering every hovel in this fuckin' village o' fools," Ningh replied with a frigid stare and a white-knuckled grip on his magic staff.

"Oh, fuck the constable," Merryander whimpered through a dry mouth, "The dwarf ye've been asking about in town was here no' two days past. And, weel, I thought ta capture him and get the reward money, ye see? I informed our local militia, who were just a bunch o' hired mercenaries, ta be true, and they came ta grab the bastard."

Ningh nodded and said, "And they were killed, right here in yer bloody pub?"

"Aye, tis the truth o' it, sir," the bartender answered, sweat pouring from her forehead into her eyes. Using the cloth reserved for the cleaning of beer mugs, Merryander wiped away at the fear falling from her face.

"Where did they go, lass? Ye tell me, and I'll be long gone afore ye even stop sweatin', don't ye doubt."

"Oh ancestors and the Gods that keep ye, protect me," she mumbled and fell to her knees, pleading with the wizard. "I do no' know, Master Wizard. They left the town at a mad dash, headed eastward, I do believe. But I can no' be certain. The mess they left behind was dreadful and I was busy tryin' ta save lives and clean up so as no' to scare away business."

"Ye should have never gotten those mercenaries involved if ye wanted ta save lives, ye damned fool. This bastard, Taen, is a killer like no other. Yer boys had no chance. Yerself signed their deaths when ye sent them in here," Ningh scolded, and then turned on his heels and stormed out of the pub in as much of a hurry as the old dwarf could be.

With Taen and Fern having almost two days lead on him in leaving this dreadful little collection of fools and liars, Ningh would be merely guessing if he strode off in any direction to search for them. What he needed was to scry the fuck out of this region as fast as possible. He called forth a portal to his cabin and stepped through quickly. Skipping dinner, the wizard began immediately sending his green orb of scrying out into the area surrounding Dowtan, blindly searching for any signs of Fern the cleaning lady and Taen the Terror, bastard son of the Queen. After hours and hours of searching, Ningh slammed his fist onto the table and dismissed his spell of magical sight. "Fuckin' fruitless," he complained to his feet. "No' a bloody sign o' them." Feeling frustrated and tired beyond imagining, the old magician crawled into his bed for a much-needed rest and recharge. "I'll begin again... in the mornin'," his said through a yawn. Moments later, Ningh was fast asleep, his dreams filled with Ceean and her blood, same as always, but also now with Taen and his bloodline. 

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