Heroes for Hire
Episode 2 – A Meating of Mines
Rolf and Zantar, having escaped impending censure at the hands of an enraged mob of villagers, repair to the town of Winklefranks there to seek the fortunes which were so unfairly denied them in their previous adventure.
Setting: Winklefranks is a medieval mining town with wooden buildings and sidewalks, hitching posts with horses tied to them, horse troughs, dirt roads, and other features reminiscent of an American Western frontier mining town.
Zantar: a bearded, box-shaped, belligerent dwarf (about 5' tall) with a serious case of greed. He is wearing leather and chain with a steel helmet and there is a large battle axe slung over his left shoulder.
Rolf: a young-looking, thin, belligerent elf (about 5'6") with a serious case of greed and delusions of grandeur. He is wearing no armor but his clothing is a bit outlandish, including a hat with a floppy peak and boots with turned-up toes. He wears an empty sword sheath at his side.
A gang of hired thugs (Tough1 to Tough6) dressed in medieval peasant garb with a few Western anachronisms thrown in.
Zantar and Rolf walk into the town, dusty, tired, and arguing. A gang of a half-dozen toughs eyes them as they walk down the street.
ROLF: … and it’s hardly unusual for an active gallant such as myself to occasionally need replacement equipment.
ZANTAR: I’ve had this axe for fifty years and never lost it.
ROLF: Axes are far weightier and less easily misplaced than swords.
ZANTAR: ‘Course stuff wears out. Changed the handle twenty times and the head twice, but I’ve been using the same axe for fifty years.
TOUGH1: (loudly) Hey, guys, I think I smell Lillis! (laughter)
TOUGH2: (looking around) I don’t see no flowers… (Tough1 cuffs Tough2 on the back of the head). Oww.
ROLF: Yes, yes! Loyalty to one’s weapons is a fine, but one can hardly compare the practices of a staid and predictable dwarf wielding a cumbrous war axe with those of a highly dexterous gentleman sporting a fine duelist’s weapon. If pricked, do I not prick back?
TOUGH1: (loudly) Of course no damn Lilliputians would dare show their faces in this town. They’d get ‘em cut off. (laughter).
ROLF: And if I prick back, do I not use my sword to do so? And does each use not contribute to the possibility that said weapon will become tragically mislaid?
TOUGH1: Hey lillis!
ZANTAR: Krikey, Rolf! You had that sword less than a week. And you still don’t know what happened to the one before that.
Zantar and Rolf draw even with the toughs, who peal off to follow them. Zantar and Rolf seem not to notice.
TOUGH1: Don’t go away, Lillis, we want to welcome you to Winklefranks. (laughter)
TOUGH2: I thought we were going to beat them up. (Tough1 slaps Tough2 on the back of the head). Oww.
ROLF: (waving his hands, apparently oblivious to the toughs) These subtle temporal relationships pose intractable conundrums. Is it indeed better to misplace a weapon after years of use and familiarity than to do so immediately, before developing a dependence? Who can…
TOUGH1: (very loudly) Stop there Lillis! We’re going to have a talk!
ROLF: Who can say? It is surely a questions for the musing of sages rather than of…
Rolf is shoved violently from behind.
TOUGH1: (loudly) I said HOLD it you little inhuman pukes!
ROLF: …rather than of lowly adventurers such as ourselves.
ZANTAR: It’s all we got from the town’s payment.
Tough3 slaps Zantar on the back of the head.
TOUGH3: Shut up, dwarf! We’re talking to you!
ZANTAR: (ignoring the assault) It’s not like we got half in advance or anything.
TOUGH3 (slapping Zantar on the back of the head again) I said shut up!
ROLF: (pointing to a sign) Yonder establishment appears to be a dry-goods store.
The two turn towards the store.
TOUGH1: Hey, they must be deaf!
TOUGH3: And blind!
TOUGH2: And ugly! (Tough1 slaps him on the back of the head) Oww.
ZANTAR: If we’d gotten half in advance, it wouldn’t matter so much…
The two heroes enter the store and the toughs stop outside, call a few final insults, then turn away laughing.
ZANTAR: (examining a rack of axe handles) … but since we didn’t get anything in advance…
ROLF: (examining a barrel of walking sticks) Must you resort to ancient historical events in every discussion we have? Can we not let the past lie in the past? It’s quite tiresome, you know. (he pulls out a walking stick and twirls it).
ZANTAR: I’m just saying is all. (Zantar pulls out an axe handle and takes a practice swing with it, one handed).
SHOPKEEPER: I’m very sorry, gentlemen, for the rough welcome you received.
ZANTAR: Why are you sorry? (eying the man suspiciously) Did you put them up to it?
SHOPKEEPER: No! Goodness no! You see, those are employees of the Barkleys, one of the two families that control this town…
ROLF: This is birch, isn’t it?
Zantar takes another axe handle and makes a few swings with one in each hand.
SHOPKEEPER: Why yes, I believe it is. You see the other family is the Cannons, and they have each hired…
ZANTAR: How much for these axe handles?
SHOPKEEPER: Uh… If you want both I’ll sell you the two axe handles and one walking stick for a pewter. You see, each family has hired a gang of toughs to help them control the town…
ROLF: Excuse any appearance of flagging interest, shopkeeper, but I find the politics of your local township to be mind-numbingly dull. I’m afraid we haven’t time to bargain, so we shall have to accept your offer.
Rolf flips a coin to the shopkeeper and the two amble out the door, Rolf now using the walking stick and Zantar carrying an axe handle in each hand.
ROLF: Let us argue no more. We shall each simply stipulate that my misplacement of the sword was exceptionally unfortunate, and that since the fault was arguably mine in majority, I shall pay the majority of the replacement cost. Let us say sixty percent.
The toughs are outside across the street and the two are heading directly toward them.
TOUGH1: Hey, here come the lillis? Come back for some more fun, lillis?
ZANTAR: Let’s say you pay one hundred percent of the replacement cost and give me half the cost of the original sword since it’s the only payment we got…
Tough1 steps belligerently in front of Zantar who starts nonchalantly swinging the axe handles, bringing the toughs down one after the other. Rolf joins in, and within a few seconds, all of the toughs are laying on the ground. At the end, Rolf is swinging at Tough3 who is already face-down on the ground and Zantar blocks him with one of the axe handles.
ZANTAR: Not that one, I want him awake.
Zantar pulls Tough3’s head up by his hair with one hand and slaps him on the back of the head with his other hand.
ZANTAR: (yelling) You like that? (slaps him again) Feels good don’t it? (slap) You want some more? (slap) How’s that? (slap) You liking this?
With one thunderous final slap Zantar knocks Tough3’s face into the dust and gets up, brushing his hands. Rolf and Zantar begin walking down the street again. Rolf is still walking with is new slightly bloodied walking stick, but Zantar leaves the two axe handles laying in the dust.
ROLF: I find your suggestion to be without merit. The sword was merely a piece of disposable adventuring equipment and not to be accounted as payment of any sort. Let us not dwell further on the absurd thought of remuneration in that respect. No, let us rather discuss the proportions that each of us will contribute to the further success of our heroing partnership. I have already offered…
ZANTAR: (pointing) Tavern.
The two heroes turn their steps toward the tavern.