Sunday, December 05, 2004

A Meating of the Mines, scene 4

This is a continuation of the screenplay Heroes for Hire Episode 2 -- A Meating of the Mines.

The heroes are riding horses through a forest. Zantar’s saddle has the seat built up so that his feet are actually on the horse’s back.

ROLF: … OK, so you hypothesize that the mine that the dwarves are working has silver…

ZANTAR: The bigs wouldn’t know about it because they can’t smell the difference, but lots of lead mines have silver. And that would explain why the dwarves are there. If we play our cards right, we can get a chunk of it.

ROLF: Fine, but then why are we out here guarding a wagon train for the other party? You know, the party that doesn’t appear to have silver in their lead mine?

ZANTER: (obviously trying to think up an answer as he talks) Because … that way … we can … like … make deals with the dwarves at the other mine … (In sudden triumph) AND THEY WON’T KNOW WHO WE ARE!

ROLF: And that matters because …

ZANTAR: Because it’s more sneaky-like?

An arrow takes Zantar’s horse in the neck. The horse rears up and Zantar whips his axe off of his back and buries the head in a nearby tree in an instant. As the horse falls under him, he is holding the axe handle and it keeps him from falling. He then puts his feet against the tree and tugs his axe out to drop to the ground. Meanwhile there are war cries and Rolf shouts:

ROLF: Ambush! To the trees!

Rolf leaps from his saddle onto a nearby branch and disappears into the tree. A half-dozen men with bandanas over their faces charge out with spears and swords. One hurls a spear at Zantar, who catches it one handed, flips it around and hurls it back. It strikes the leader in the chest, hurling him back like he was hit by a truck. Suddenly, Rolf swings down from a branch (he is holding the branch with one hand and one foot and has a sword in the free hand) he sweeps and slices in two the head of one of the attackers, then he is back in the trees, all in one motion.

The attackers all stop and look into the trees, but Zantar is suddenly there, swinging. As the attackers jump away from him, another gets his head sliced by Rolf. In a moment they are all down.

Shift to a view of the battle over the shoulder of an elf, Ronold. He is standing behind a tree and aiming a bow at Zantar as the last attacker falls. He’s shaking a little and having a hard time aiming. Suddenly Rolf’s voice comes from behind him:

ROLF: I say...

Ronold shrieks and releases the arrow which thunks a tree near Zantar.

ROLF: I hate to be rude …

Ronold drops the crossbow, and turns around. Rolf is just standing there, leaning against a tree with one hand. His sword is in the other.

ZANTAR: (from a distance) Now cut that out!

ROLF: … but I must take exception to the direction in which you were aiming that weapon.

Rolf is interrupted by the sound of running horses and a shout. Four men in armor on horseback ride up to Zantar who is still standing in the midst of the carnage, glaring at Ronold.

GUARD1: Hey, you lillies all right? Who are those guys on the ground?

ZANTER: Yeah, we’re OK. I sure hope the ambushers weren’t smart enough to have two groups, cuz if they were, then the other group is running off the cows right now.

GUARD1: Damn! I didn’t think of that! Back to the wagons! Now!
The guards charge back in the direction they came from.

ZANTAR: (to himself) Probably stealing the draft horses too. Idjits.

Zantar walks toward where Rolf is holding Ronold.

ROLF: Oh dear. The dwarf is possessed of a rather hostile and intractable disposition. He certainly intends to subject you to extreme indignities, not to mention maimings, in an effort to gather information.

RONOLD: Indignities? Maimings? Completely unnecessary I assure you! Whatever information you wish, you need merely ask! I am eager to comply! Anxious even!

ROLF: Anxious?

RONOLD: Quite! In fact, “anxious” may be too paltry a description of my enthusiasm for the project! Ask me a question! (looking sidelong at Zantar who has just arrived) In all my life there has been nothing I craved more than I now crave to answer all your questions. The suspense is quite unbearable.

ZANTAR: Who are you?

RONOLD: (doffing his cap) I thank you most passionately for allowing me to answer a question. My name is Ronold. I am a bard, a traveling man-of-action, and sometime briggand, as you are no doubt aware, but I would not seek to hide it anyway, so eager am I to satisfy your thirst for knowledge. I am currently employed as an agent of the family Cannon. So pleased to make your aquaintence.

ROLF: And what was your intent in attacking us?

RONOLD: A perceptive question indeed! Yes! May I say what a pleasure it is to be interogated by an elf of such fine discernment! Well, as you may be aware, you two fine upstanding gentlemen were riding scout for a wagon train of comestibles, including two fine corn-fed steers.

ZANTAR: Got spies at the stock-yard, huh?

RONOLD: I am stunned, stunned at your penetrating intellect, sir! Yes indeed. I am truly honored by the high quality of interview I am facing. The covert agent at the stock yard is one Benjamin Bowley. A cowpuncher, as they say. Although to my knowledge he is not actually employed to punch cows, nor to assault them in any other way. We paid him half a pewter for the information as to your cargo and itinerary. No doubt you will wish to avenge yourself horribly on him. He has two small children that might make excellent …

ROLF: Yes. Yes. Back to my question please! What did you want with a wagon train of commestibles?

RONOLD: As to that, of course. Thank you for making your wishes so clear. It makes my job as the questionee so much more enjoyable! It seems that the dwarves have been threatening to leave the employ of the Cannons if they are not fed larger quantities of meat. Myself and my late companions were commissioned to meat the mines, as it were. We were allocated certain funds for this purpose, but it occurred to us that if we were to find meat at a lower price, say free, for example, then the untapped funds would naturally accrue to those of us agents who were so frugal.

Ronold stops talking expectantly and Zantar and Rolf just look at him. After a moment, he sighs and reaches into his pouch.

RONOLD: Here it is, forty silver, minus a few small expenses such as the commission paid to Mr. Bowley. (he looks very dejected now for the first time) This is going to make it difficult to meet my obligations to my employer. No doubt I shall lose my position.

Rolf takes the money.

ZANTAR: Not necessarily. Was the meat just for the dwarves?

RONOLD: Primarily.

ZANTAR: Did you know that dwarves like horse meat better than cow meat?

RONOLD: I was unaware of this disturbing bit of information.

ZANTAR: Did you know that they like it a lot better? Maybe enough better to give a tip to the guy who gets it for them?

RONOLD: I was unaware of this also. And the information is becoming a bit less disturbing.

ZANTAR: Did you know there is a dead horse right over there?

Zantar points to his late horse and the two elves look over speculatively.

UPDATE: continued.

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