A Guilding of Lillis -- scene 3
Heroes for HireScene 1Scene 2Scene 3
Episode 1 – A Guilding of Lillis
Rolf wakes up, looks around, and gets a terrified look on his face. He wakes Zantar.
ROLF: (whispering) Zantar! Are we still in that inn?
ZANTAR: Yeah. You scared the mob away and I carried you up the ladder. They won't bother us any more after you killed three men with magic. (rolls over to go back to sleep)
Rolf creeps over to the window, still whispering to Zantar.
ROLF: We're in deep crap, Zan, I didn't use my usual death spells, I just put those guys to sleep. They probably woke about ten minutes later. (Zantar opens one eye) And I can hear people down in the common room talking low so we can't hear 'em.
Rolf is silently opening the window and easing one foot out. Without a word, Zantar rolls to his feet with his axe in his hand and scuttles over to the window. Rolf is half out the window when Zantar gets there and looks out.
ZANTAR: Krikey! There's a crowd out there too.
Rolf looks out and sees the crowd for the first time. Everyone is silently watching him try to crawl out the window. He pauses, then bangs his outside foot loudly against the side of the building.
ROLF: (loudly) There, I've got the mud off. No need to mess up our host's clean premises by tracking in mud like a barnyard animal, is there Zantar?
Rolf pulls his leg back in and closes the window. He and Zantar stare at each other for a moment. Down in the common room we hear low sinister-sounding voices.
FEMALE: Sounds like our boys are finally awake!
MALE1: So it seems.
FEMALE: No need to fear rudeness now, let's get 'em! (cackling laughter)
MALE2: Yes. James, go ... invite ... them to join us for a ... discussion.
The female cackles again and the ladder begins shaking as something very large and heavy starts climbing it. Thump. Thump. Thump. A gnarled hand reaches up over the edge. The woman cackles again, then
FEMALE: Now stop that, Ricky, it tickles.
The head of a very fat, balding, sixty-ish, and rather harmless-looking man comes up over the edge to blink owlishly at the heroes. It's the village mayor.
RICKY: I like it when you laugh, Grams. You sound like a witch.
FEMALE: (more cackling laughter, then in a grandmotherly voice) Oh, Ricky, you're a bad boy, you are.
MAYOR: (formerly Male1) Good morning, gentlemen. I hope you slept well in our fair village.
Zantar and Rolf look at each other.
ROLF: Quite well, thank you sir. I must say it's a pleasure to finally meet someone of courtesy in this town.
MAYOR: Oh, dear. I'm quite sorry about the unfortunate events of last night. Allow me to apologize for the entire town. It was a simple misunderstanding really.
ROLF: I hope the misunderstandings have come to an end.
MAYOR: Oh, I can guarantee it! I'm the mayor you know. I declared a final and ultimate end to misunderstandings last night.
ROLF: Quite decent of you, sir.
MAYOR: And the three men whose lives you so generously spared last night wanted me to convey their gratitude. It was quite charitable of you not to kill them or turn them into toads, after the disrespectful way they treated you.
ROLF: (waving it off) Not at all sir, we wizards have codes of conduct you know. No slaughtering peasants when there are less violent means at hand and all that.
MAYOR: Quite. In any case I do wish you two would come down and let me treat you to breakfast. The village council would like to discuss various matters as well, if you two don't object.
ZANTAR: (starting for the ladder) Free food! Sure. Discuss all you want.
The two come down the ladder and are ushered to a table with the mayor, and old woman and a middle-aged man. The woman has a six-year old on her lap and there are about thirty villagers looking on.
MAYOR: (motioning to the woman) This is Ruby Wintage, a member of the council.
RUBY: (formerly Female) Please to meat you, I'm sure. (cackling laugh) Oh now Ricky, quit tickling your grandma and go play. She sets the kid down and he takes off.
ROLF: Charmed, madam.
MAYOR: (motioning to the man) And this is George Wintage, Ruby's eldest, and also a member of the council.
GEORGE: (formerly Male1) It's a great ... pleasure ... to meet you.
ROLF: The pleasure is all mine, sir.
MAYOR: And I'm Donald MacRonald, mayor of this fine town.
ROLF: A great honor, sir. May I present my associate, Zantar, and I am Rolf.
The people at the table murmur greetings and the innkeeper approaches.
INNKEEPER: What can I get you two for breakfast.
ZANTAR: Eggs, cheese, sausage, bacon, and a nice horse steak.
INNKEEPER: You don't mean a steak made from a horse?
ROLF: A culinary peculiarity of dwarves. I'm sure my friend would be satisfied with a beef steak.
ZANTAR: (looking sour) I guess so, if that's all you have.
INNKEEPER: Very good, sir. How would you like the steak cooked?
ZANTAR: On a fire.
INNKEEPER: Yes sir. What kind of bread would you like?
ZANTAR: Bread? What would I want with that?
INNKEEPER: Uh. Yes. Would you like any juice?
ZANTAR: Of course. Can't have all that fatty food without some light ale to wash it down with.
ROLF: I shall have sausage and eggs, sunny-side-up, crispy at the edges, yet with a fluid yolk. The sausage also must be lightly singed. For bread I shall have pancakes, made with a slightly thinner batter than is common, and only touched by the griddle so that the insides are still moist, and rolled around a light cherry filling, such as you would use in a cherry pie. A generous helping of butter on the side along with a light cherry syrup, not too thick, you may lighten it with wine if necessary. For drink I shall have apple juice mixed with exactly fifteen percent grape juice.
INNKEEPER: (looking about to panic) Yes, sir. I'll see what I can do.
ROLF: Incidentally, barkeep, I'd like to know what you were serving us last night. My head feels like it's been pounded half off.
ZANTAR: Probably just didn't drink enough water.
The innkeeper disappears into the kitchen.
ROLF: (feeling the back of his head carefully) I do believe I feel several bumps that weren't there after the brawl.
ZANTAR: Well, you never know what humans make their beers out of. I suppose they aren't even going to have horse sausage.
MAYOR: Ahem. So, ... I'd like to explain the misunderstanding, if I may. You see we don't see a lot of actual, real, for-goodness heroes around here. Some of my fellow villagers simply failed to see, what is a apparent to me at first glance, the nobility of your bearing, the way you move, silently and deadly, the steely glint in your eyes.
ROLF: Quite so. And my friend Zantar here is a hero too, he just doesn't look the part as I do.
ZANTAR: (bellowing toward the kitchen doors) KRIKEY! WHERE'S THE SAUSAGE? DON'T YOU HAVE SOME PRE-COOKED SAUSAGE FOR STARVING BREAKFASTERS?
INKEEPER: (from a distance) Be right there, sir!
MAYOR: Ah, yes. Anyway, we discussed it, and we finally realized why you didn't set out to rescue poor little Rosha from the goblins. It was because you had been so I'll-treated by our village.
ROLF: You have it exactly, sir. It was hard, of course, that innocent young child in the grasp of the fiendish goblins, and every heroic bone in our bodies pushing us to go to her rescue. I was about to set off, but Zantar here held me back, reminding me of our obligations. He had to hold me by main force at first, I was so eager to go heroing, but he did make me realize that principles must come before maudlin sentimentality. He's the steady one in the team, you see. Me, I'm a romantic, always ready to be off at a moment's...
The Innkeeper sets down a large plate of sausages and Zantar dives in.
MAYOR: Yes, yes. I quite thought it was something like that. Still, however, now that the town has apologized, I hope your principles might see you clear to doing the heroing thing now.
ZANTAR: (snorts loudly through a mouthful of sausage)
ROLF: Ah, yes. What my nasally expressive friend means by that utterance, of course, is that while we'd be only too eager to rescue the child, there are forms to follow. It's tedious, of course, but, propriety and all that.
Rosha's mother rushes up to the table, a man is clearly trying to hold her back.
ROSHA'S MOTHER: Please, sirs. Won't you rescue my baby?
ROLF: Don't your worry your pretty little head about it, my dear. Why you know the reason goblins want to steal children is to turn them into goblins.
Rosha's mother gasps in fear.
ROLF: But of course that takes days before the process becomes irreversible. Your little girl will be fine.
ZANTAR: (looking up from his breakfast) What? All the goblins I've ever fought just eat their captives raw.
The woman shrieks and Zantar tries to recover.
ZANTAR: Oh, I mean, sometimes they do cook them first...
The woman faints and is carried to the back of the crowd.
MAYOR: This can't be allowed to happen! You must set out immediately!
ROLF: Please restrain your enthusiasm sir! There are many proprieties to observe. One of the minor ones, for example, I hate to mention it, but I admit I am a bit fastidious, is the matter of remuneration. You haven't even hinted at the type of reward that is being offered.
MAYOR: Reward? You mean you want to discuss that in advance? I thought heroes just did their thing and then the town celebrated with a big barbeque or something of the sort. All drinks and food free to the heroes, of course.
ZANTAR: Sounds good to me!
ROLF: (sniffs) What my impetuous friend means, of course, is that while we certainly don't mind a good barbeque with free drinks, there are fees to be paid, expenses to be met, financial obligations to fulfill. One doesn't simply step out on a heroic adventure these days without careful planning and outfitting. Why there are weapons to acquire and maintain, provisions to provide, transportation, both to and from the work site, camping amenities, entertainment on the road, you don't expect us to work like serfs, do you?
MAYOR: Of course not, I...
ROLF: And that's just the per-adventure costs. There are also infrastructure costs such as a home staging area, training grounds, casualty insurance, loss of eye and limb pensions, life annuities, retirement plans. We heroes can't be expected to have careers that last as long as those in less demanding occupations, you know.
MAYOR: Oh dear. I never realized.
ROLF: Quite so. Why, if we set out on this adventure without proper compensation from the victim's miserly village, we might be successful only to find ourselves without adequate funding to sustain our heroing enterprise. What then would happen to all the other children who would go un-rescued, just because of our lack of financial discipline?
MAYOR: Oh my.
ROLF: So you see, my gastronomically enthusiastic friend over there was right to put a stop to my impetuous hero's instincts. We must show proper restraint and carefully husband our resources. And most of all, we must demand proper payment for heroing services rendered.
MAYOR: So, you're like, heroes for hire?
ZANTAR: (BE-E-E-ELCH) Right! So how much you got anyway?
ROLF: What my gaseous friend means is "What sort of reward has been posted for the safe return of this child?"
ZANTAR: Nope. What his gaseous friend means is, "What are you going to pay us for finding and killing the goblins that took the kid?" It's probably too late to bring her back alive.
The woman screams in the background. The mayor and villagers turn to look back with concern Zantar and Rolf ignore it. Rolf reaches for a sausage.
ROLF: Yes, he does have a point.
MAYOR: (looking over his shoulder at the distraught mother) Well, I'll have to take up a collection, but I think I can guarantee, oh, say five silver?
ROLF: (chuckling) Ah, mayor, I must admire a man who can jest in such dour circumstances! Five silver! Hah! But seriously, now. We do need to get started quickly, you know.
MAYOR: (looking around at the other council members) Oh, yes. Well, maybe we could get ten silver together.
ROLF: I become disturbed by your demeanor, sir. It was amusing the first time, but surely we should not sit around jesting while this child's life hangs in the balance. Why the goblins could be preparing to eat her as we speak!
There is another scream in the background, the mayor looks around with concern again, and Rolf looks smug.
MAYOR: OK, OK! How much do you want?
ROLF: One hundred silver.
MAYOR: Oh dear. Oh dear. I must discuss this with the village council.
The mayor and council members get up and go into a huddle with three other people who had been behind the mayor. Rolf watches for a while as Zantar continues to chow down heroically. When he starts to see a lot of adamant head-shaking in the meeting Rolf takes a hand:
ROLF: (to Zantar) I hope this meeting doesn't take too long Zan, because we've got that appointment in Oak Springs.
Zantar looks up, glances over at the meeting, swallows what's in his mouth, and shrugs:
ZANTAR: Yeah. If we end up having to leave here without cleaning out all the goblins, they'll probably end up eating every kid in the village. That'd be a shame, that would.
An uproar comes from the crowd, and the village council gets mobbed by people screaming at them to do something. Rolf sits back ant looks smug, Zantar goes back to shoveling sausage. Eventually the crowd noise largely resolves to one sound, it the mayor shouting:
MAYOR: All right! All right! We already told you, we'll do whatever it takes to preserve the safety of our children.
Close up on Rolf. He looks like a used-car salesman who just had a customer say, "I need to buy a car immediately, it's an emergency." By the time the mayor returns to the table he looks like a grim hero again. The mayor sits down, looking glum. George and Ruby sit down, also looking glum, and the three other council members array behind the mayor, also glum.
MAYOR: OK, we've met and decided to authorize the 100 silver...
ROLF: Of course that's just for eliminating the current threat. We also expect fifty silver for each child we bring back alive.
There is an uproar from the council members.
MAYOR: But we've already had the meeting! The funding has already been allocated! Surely you can't expect me to go begging back to my council for more funds at this late date! It would be improper (the village council members all nod at this). Verging on embezzlement, not to say financial mismanagement. No, sir, you must undertake the mission under the terms we agreed to. And must set out immediately to do so.
ROLF: Mayor, your concern for propriety and sound fiscal policy does you credit. Great credit indeed. I congratulate you, no, I congratulate your village (he beams around at the crowd) for having a mayor with such sound financial instincts (several in the crowd nod stupidly). But this is no time for miserliness, sir! A child's life is at risk. And more to follow tonight if my broad friend here and I do not eliminate the threat.
The crowd starts buzzing angrily.
MAYOR: (looking around at the crowd desperately) But surely you can see your way clear to...
ZANTAR: Guild rates.
ROLF: Yes! That's right! As my taciturn friend has pointed out, we are constrained by the standard rates of the Hero's Guild. We could not possibly undermine the guild that is responsible for rescuing children throughout the land, now could we?
The innkeeper and a girl start putting down plates in front of Zantar and Rolf. Zantar digs in.
MAYOR: Hero's Guild?
The mayor looks at Zantar, who stops eating long enough to say
ZANTAR: (swallows) We have a secret handshake and everything.
ROLF: Certainly. Secret handshake, by-laws, a hierarchy of guild leaders, and, of course, a system of standard rates.
MAYOR: I never heard of such a thing. We are so far out of the loop out here...
Rolf nods sympathetically.