Heroes for Hire
Episode 1 – A Guilding of Lillis
Turna and Jody are sitting at the edge of the pit that Zantar fell into. Buffy is huddled a few feet behind them. The magic light is now centered over the pit. There is a pile of rocks between Turna and Jody and they are taking turns, casually tossing rocks into the pit. Most of the tosses are followed by an unrecognizable sound. During the following, the camera doesn't shows what's in the pit until further notice.
JODY: (tosses a rock, sound follows) That elf doesn't know squat. This skull is an otter. (he has the skull in his non-throwing hand)
TURNA: (tosses a rock, sound follows) I know. It's obviously too narrow to be a badger.
Jody aims a little this time and when he tosses there is a different, and louder, sound.
TURNA: Good one! Right on the nose!
JODY: (grins) Thanks. So if it's so obvious that this is an otter, why won't the elf admit it?
TURNA: (shrugs, tosses her own, followed by the original sound) Who knows. Elves are squirrelly.
ROLF: (from the darkness) We are not! We just happen to be blessed with extremely high metabolisms and an abundance of creativity.
The heroes walk into the light. Zantar is sporting a few more cuts and is covered with soot. Rolf just has a few sooty streaks in attractive places. They stop at the edge of the pit opposite from Turna and Jody and look down into the pit. Jody tosses another stone and gets the extra sound again.
TURNA: Another nose shot! (she high-fives Jody)
ROLF: (speaking down to the pit) Did that hurt, Lut? It sure looked painful.
LUT: (from down in the pit) Elf! Elf! Make them stop throwing rocks at me!
Turna throws another rock and the sound now appears to be Lut squeaking.
ROLF: Why would I do that, Lut. It's not like you've done anything for me in the last couple of hours.
LUT: I told you about the mines. I was right, wasn't I? You killed everyone so now you let me go like you said!
ROLF: (to Zantar) Did I say that? Did I say I'd let him go?
ZANTAR: (shaking his head) That's not how I remember it.
LUT: Yes! Yes! You said...
Turna tosses a rock and Lut squeals.
JODY: Hey! That's a nose shot for you now! (they high-five again)
LUT: (in a muffled voice) You said if I tell you the truth you would let me go!
ROLF: Speak up, gob, I can hardly hear you.
LUT: (still muffled) Must protect nose. Nose very sore.
ROLF: Yes, I can see that. Well, Mr. Lut, what I actually promised you is that if you told me the truth I wouldn't kill you. Letting you go is another matter entirely.
LUT: (not muffled this time, and wailing) But I'll starve if you leave me in here!
Cut to Lut in the bottom of the pit, prostrate against one wall and looking up at Rolf, his nose is an inviting target. A rock slams the wall next to his nose and he flinches and tucks his nose again, then does a double-take and pulls his nose out to look back and gloat:
LUT: Hah, hah. Human cub missed. Lousy rock-chucker, hah!
Suddenly a rock hits him full in the face and he gives an extra-big squeal then curls up to protect his face.
JODY: Great shot, Turna! What a dumb gob.
ROLF: Of course, you might still know something that you could bargain with, Lut.
LUT: (muffled) What do I know?
A chest crashes down into the pit next to him. Lut jumps away. A rock barely misses him, and then he dashes to the chest to use it for cover.
ZANTAR: Remember that chest, Lut?
LUT: I remember. This is the chest Puke gave to Crut.
ZANTAR: (to Turna) Don't you and the kids have to go to the mine entrance?
TURNA: Nope, we're comfortable here.
ZANTAR: You're about to get a lot less comfortable.
TURNA: Come on, kids, let's get some fresh air.
They wait until the kids are out of earshot.
ROLF: (to Lut) And where might we find this Puke gentleman?
LUT: Have to let me go.
ROLF: If you give us the information we want.
LUT: No more rocks.
ROLF: Of course not, are we barbarians?
LUT: Puke's cave is up in mountains. I'll take you there. Then you let me go.
ROLF: Excellent plan, Lut.
LUT: No more rocks.
ROLF: Wouldn't think of it, Lut. Not unless you piss me off.
The heroes and the children are walking down the village street. Zantar is dragging the chest. They are noticed and a crowd starts to gather. Jody and Buffy are taken by their respective families. Rosha's mother comes charging through the crowd.
WOMAN1: Where's little Rosha? Where is she?
TURNA: I'm so sorry Mrs. Spiggot. By the time I got there, it was already too late.
WOMAN1: (screaming) No! No, they didn't eat dear little Rosha!
As Woman1 carries on in the background and Turna and the others try to comfort her.
ZANTAR: (quietly to Rolf) Yep. Raw, like I said.
ROLF: Drat. I should have asked the kids names so I'd be prepared for this.
ZANTAR: You saw what happened with the fire. There's no way they could have cooked anything in that chamber.
WOMAN1: (screaming and pointing at the two heroes) You! You killed Rosha. Just because of those awful Hero's Guild rules, you let her get eaten by goblins!
ROLF: Mrs. Spiggot, I assure you...
WOMAN1: No! If you had gone out that night, you could have saved her. You waited until the next morning!
MAN1: What kind of hero's guild lets little girls get eaten by goblins?
The crowd starts getting ugly. Zantar and Rolf start looking worried. Suddenly they are saved by an unexpected source.
TURNA: (shouting at the crowd) The Hero's Guild didn't let Rosha die! They sent me!
The crowd quiets long enough for her to speak.
TURNA: I'm not supposed to reveal that I'm a member of the guild, but I think I have to now. The guild sent me to protect Rosha the very second they knew about the goblins. I couldn't rescue her, but I could use my magic to keep the goblins from eating her. I just made them forget to be hungry. That's how I saved Buffy and Jody until the more advanced heroes showed up for the actual rescue.
ROLF: That's quite correct! The Guild discourages us from discussing our tactics, but in this case I shall make a one-time exception. We in fact sent Turna to look after the precious little tyke the minute we could. We had only one seek-and-travel spell that gave any chance at all of saving the girl. Zantar or I could not have used it because just one of us would have been overwhelmed.
TURNA: That's right! But I could have kept the child safe until help arrived. Alas. Even with that powerful Hero's Guild magic, I was too late. So don't turn your anger on us, who risked our lives trying to save Rosha. Turn your rage on one of the goblins that helped eat her. The goblin that we brought back in that chest (points dramatically at the chest).
There is stunned silence in the crowd for several seconds. Rolf and Zantar both have eyes as big as saucers. Then from inside the chest, a voice:
LUT: I only had like a half of a foot!
The crowd gives an outraged scream, then as a single creature tears the chest open drags poor Lut away to his doom.
Zantar, Rolf, and Turna are left standing alone.
ROLF: But... But...
ZANTAR: Why the HELL did you do that, witch?
TURNA: Don't you yell at me, dwarf. I just saved your miserable skin.
ROLF: But... But...
TURNA: The crowd was in a killing frenzy. They had to have something to take revenge on, and it was either you or the gob.
ROLF: But... But...
ZANTAR: But you guys were talking them out of it...
TURNA: You don't know this village like I do. Why they hardly go a week without lynching someone. No, a popular little girl gets eaten and someone's gotta get lynched. That's sort of like the town motto.
ROLF: But... But... Lut was the only one who knew how to find Puke.
TURNA: Oh, that's a shame. But it was you or him.
ZANTAR: (looking suspiciously at Rolf) I hope you're not going to start bawling again.
ROLF: What? Are you making an oblique reference to a certain distant historical incident that we agreed not to discuss again? Should we also discuss the matter of an unfinished wager?
ZANTAR: Krikey. I'm just saying, is all.
TURNA: So, let's sign me up for the Hero's Guild.
ROLF: I beg your pardon, young lady?
ZANTAR: No broads.
ROLF: Quite. And besides that, you are too youthful.
TURNA: I may look young, but I'm nineteen!
ZANTAR: A skinny little broad like you couldn't even do the secret handshake.
ROLF: Indubitably. It's a rigorous handshake.
TURNA: I see. Well, I'm going to feel bad having to explain to the town how I'm not really a member of the Hero's Guild and I lied about everything.
ZANTAR: There's a broad's version of the handshake, Rolf and I just couldn't teach it to you.
ROLF: Yes, of course only women do the women's version of the handshake.
TURNA: I can do the man's version. Show it to me.
ROLF: We can't show it to you! It's shown only to members who have already joined and passed the membership qualifications. No outsiders are allowed to view or participate in it.
ZANTAR: That's how come we call it a secret handshake. Because it's secret.
TURNA: (Stares at the two for a moment) Either I become a full member of this Hero's Guild of yours, or you get to try another story on the villagers for why you didn't go save that cute, innocent, and most of all very popular little girl.
ROLF: Yes! Yes! Don't fret about it! Guild rules allow any two masters in good standing to promote you to journeyman.
ZANTAR: Right. Rolf and I think protecting those kids and helping us get them out counts as a journeyman piece.
ROLF: Precisely. Therefore, you are now officially promoted to journeyman.
ZANTAR: Or journeybroad.
TURNA: (considering) Journeyman. Journeyman. OK, I guess being a journeyman hero is pretty good for a witch that never finished her apprenticeship.
MAN2: (in the distance): Where's my baby? Where's little Rosha?
MAN1: The goblins ate her.
MAN2: (shouting) Where's those two Lilliputians that wouldn't go to save her until they were paid? I'll kill them myself!
MAN1: They tried...
MAN3: Yeah! Let's string them up along with the goblin! (Crowd roars approval)
MAN1: But they tried...
WOMAN1: I don't care if they tried, they screwed up and little Rosha got eaten for it!
Rolf and Zantar look at each other.
MAN2: My baby! Where are they?
MAN3: Let's get 'em.
The crowd storms back into the street where Rolf, Zantar, and Turna were standing. Turna is now alone and the crowd comes to a confused halt. Turna just looks at them and shrugs.
Rolf and Zantar are walking down a road on a hot summer day.
ROLF: I shall submit an itemized list of charges for services rendered to the village council by way of post. Surely they would not ignore a properly authorized invoice.
ZANTAR: Next time, get half in advance.
ROLF: (annoyed) Yes, yes! The issue has been discussed! Let us lay it to rest! We are in agreement. In all future negotiations we shall require half of the basic service fee to be rendered in advance of services. This is now the official policy of the Hero’s Guild. Further discussions are void. They have no merit. They are even tinged with a faint trace of censure, they imply reproach. Let us have no recriminations.
ZANTAR: At least we got a couple gold out of it.
Rolf doesn’t answer. The two keep walking for a while and then come to a crossroads. There is a sign showing what lies in each of the four directions. Rolf reads the sign then announces:
ROLF: Well, to the left we have a road leading to the quaint little village of Bum’s Hollow. I hear good things about the place, peaceful, a nice inn and some very good local brews. Straight ahead lies the road to the town of Winkelfranks, said to be a bit on the rough side but having some interesting tourist attractions such as the world’s oldest bagel. To the right is the benighted little rat trap of a hamlet called Sunk. I have visited the place. It is populated by barbarians and Philistines and I have no wish to return there.
ZANTAR: I’ve been through Bum’s Hollow. Might be some people there who remember me.
ROLF: Well, then, Winkelfranks it is.
The two start down the center road.
Episode 2, A Meating of Mines