Heroes for Hire
Episode 1 – A Guilding of Lillis
Rolf and Zantar are walking through a gloomy forest, both looking angry. They walk in silence for a while.
ZANTAR: (pouting) It's just that it's common practice you know, half in advance.
ROLF: (erupting) Yes, so you've said! Half in advance! I heard you the first twenty times! And like you said, we could be on our way up the road with fifty silver instead of out here slogging around for probably days and getting nothing out of it! I concede the point. Yet I insist that your reasoning is unambitious. Overly narrow in scope. Parochial even. Our options are boundless if we can succeed in this quest!
ZANTAR: It's just that if we're going to make up a guild with a secret handshake and all, we should make up rules where we get half in advance.
ROLF: Yes! Yes! Excellent suggestion! I'll add it to the minutes for discussion at the next meeting! But if we can drag the brat home safely, we'll be heroes! I mean in the sense of actual heroes instead of just well, whatever. Once we have the reputations then opportunities for further lucrative heroing will open up. Do you have any idea how much money there is in the field of advanced heroing?
ZANTAR: No, how much?
ROLF: A large amount! Perhaps even an enormous amount! Why there's damsel rescuing, I should think guild rates for that are larger than child rescuing...
ZANTAR: We don't know how old this kid is, maybe she's a damsel.
ROLF: Hmm. Something to consider when we bring her back. Yes, if she's over fourteen the rescue rate goes up to 75 silver. No, if she's over twelve. No, maybe if she's over ten...
ZANTAR: Don't get greedy, you'll get us lynched. Krikey.
ROLF: Quite so. Fourteen it is. Thirteen. In any case there's also princess rescuing, which could be extremely lucrative, although we would probably have to work our way up through the daughters of lesser nobility. All quite profitable, I'm sure. Then there's towns being terrorized by trolls...
ZANTAR: I hate trolls.
ROLF: ...then killing them should be doubly rewarding. Castles being threatened by evil wizards...
ZANTAR: What if the evil wizard pays more than the castle?
ROLF: Why then it would be the castle that was evil, blockhead. There's no such thing as an evil employer as long as he uses his purse generously.
ZANTAR: So have you come across any goblin sign yet?
ROLF: Beg pardon?
ZANTAR: Goblin sign. Have we come across a goblin trail yet?
ROLF: However would I know?
ZANTAR: (in amazement) You're the tracker!
ROLF: Me? I wouldn't know a track from a puddle. Wherever did you get such a ridiculous idea?
ZANTAR: Krikey! You're an elf, dammit! Elves are supposed to be like creatures of the forest! You know, great hunters and trackers, with senses as sharp as a wild animal and real sneaky.
ROLF: Sneaky!? I'm sure you meant stealthy. Yes, we elves are known for our finely honed wilderness skills, but tracking is for meat-eaters. I am one with the forest, I would no more kill and eat an animal than I would a member of my own family.
ZANTAR: Are the animals one with the forest too?
ROLF: Of course.
ZANTAR: Well they would gladly kill and eat you. What makes you so special?
ROLF: (sniffs) I can't hope to explain the subtleties of a finely honed vegetarian instinct to a carnivore such as yourself.
ZANTAR: And you were downing sausages pretty good this morning.
ROLF: Well that's different. The poor swine had already met his fate. What could I do but grieve and appreciate his sacrifice?
They walk a moment in silence.
ZANTAR: You're not really a vegetarian are you?
ROLF: Well,... no. I'll admit that one was sort of spur-of-the-moment and didn't turn out too well. How about this one: While all the other less intelligent and less gifted little elves went to tracking school, I was in wizardry school leaning to become the great wizard I am today.
ZANTAR: Much better.
ROLF: I think so to. In fact, tracking is something of a lower class activity among elves. No elf of distinction would be caught dead trying to track ...
ZANTAR: Quit while you're ahead, Rolf. Krikey. So if you can't track, what did you think we were doing wandering around out here. You didn't think I could track did you?
ROLF: Uh, no. I just figured you would follow your dwarven instincts unerringly to the nearest cave complex where ...
ZANTAR: Krikey. It's not like I can smell caves from miles away. What the hell are we going to do now? Seeing as how WE DIDN'T GET ONE SINGLE PEWTER IN ADVANCE!
ROLF: Actually, we did acquire some minor provisions and I was lent this new sword, It baffles me yet what happened to my old one. In any case, this one is probably worth a good five silver.
ZANTAR: KRIKEY! WE GOT SOME BREAD AND CHEESE AND A FEW SAUSAGES. NOT EVEN HORSE SAUSAGES. AND A DINKY LITTLE SWORD THAT I WOULDN'T PICK MY NOSE WITH!
ROLF: (looking around with concern) Keep it down, Zan!
ZANTAR: AND I DON'T MEAN I WOULDN'T PICK MY NOSE WITH IT BECAUSE IT'S SHARP, I MEAN I WOULDN'T PICK MY NOSE WITH IT BECAUSE IT'S WIMPY.
ROLF: We don't want to attract any attention...
ZANTAR: I MEAN MY FINGER WOULD MAKE A BETTER NOSE PICKER THAN THAT SWORD. IF THAT SWORD WAS A NOSE PICKER, I MEAN.
ROLF: There's goblins in the area, Zan...
ZANTAR: NO, I DON'T MEAN IF THE SWORD WAS A NOSE PICKER EXACTLY...
ROLF: I get it, Zan. Non-literal speech. Metaphor. Hyperbole. OK? Now will you quiet down?
ZANTAR: Meta for hyper what?
ROLF: Metaphor and Hyperbole, Hyperbole means exaggerating to make a point, like when you said the sword was so wimpy you couldn't even pick your nose with it.
ROLF: (hushing Zantar) OK, OK. And Metaphor is like when you say something is like something else, like comparing a woman to a summer's day. Now let's get out of here in case all that commotion attracted anyone.
ZANTAR: Why would anyone compare a woman to a summer's day?
ROLF: Because she's got big melons and she's really hot.
A short spear shoots out of the bushes to strike Zantar in the chest. He goes down like a log.
ROLF: Ambush! To the trees!
Rolf dashes for the safety of the trees, but he is blocked by two goblins with spears. His sword appears in his hand as if by magic and he skewers the first one, but barely blocks an attack by the other. Two other goblins run out into the clearing. One without a spear heads for Zantar, one with a spear rushes past Zantar to take Rolf from behind. As that one goes by Zantar he is suddenly brought up short and hurled to the ground as if a rope had been tied to his ankle. Almost, it's Zantar's hand. Zantar sits up and the goblin that was running towards him stops in fear just three or four feet away. Zantar pulls the spear from his chest and asks the goblin
ZANTAR: LOOKING FOR THIS?
Zantar hurls the spear so hard the goblin is thrown back twenty feet and pinned to a tree, clearly dead. The one fighting Rolf turns to run and Rolf lunges, drawing blood, but the goblin gets away and Rolf gives chase.
ROLF: CURSE YOU COWARDLY MONGREL, COME BACK AND FIGHT LIKE... A... WELL A ... (breathless) a sort of cowardly creature of the night. (coming to a stop to lean on his knees panting). I've been hanging around that dwarf too much.
ZANTAR: (from a distance) Rolf!
ROLF: Over here!
After a moment Zantar shows up.
ROLF: (still leaning on his knees panting) What kept you?
ZANTAR: Post-combat maneuvers.
ROLF: Looting goblins is seldom worth the effort, not to mention the stench. They never have anything.
ZANTAR: Well, I got a couple pewter anyway. Did you get the last one?
ROLF: No, the miserable cretin escaped.
ZANTAR: How could he get away? (points to the ground) He's leaving a trail of blood.
ROLF: (straightening up in surprise) Yes. Quite. What I meant to say is that I allowed the creature to believe he got away. I cleverly spared his life granting him a parting gift of a bleeding wound. If my ruse is successful, we shall follow him directly to his domicile.
ROLF: That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
ZANTAR: We-e-e-ell. OK. (they start following the blood trail) One thing bothers me though, do summer days really have big melons? I thought melons were an autumn fruit. Especially if you give them time to grow really big.