Heroes for Hire
Episode 1 – A Guilding of Lillis
Rolf and Zantar are lying on their stomachs in a narrow passageway viewing a chamber in front of them. The chamber is very large and has a straw-covered floor. There are around twenty goblins in the room making so much noise that even Zantar's loud voice is fairly safe. There are three human children in the middle of the chamber. Three other openings enter the chamber from other directions. In the chamber are
Turna: a young woman about fifteen
Buffy: a girl of about eight
Jody: a boy of about eight
ROLF: I count a hundred fifty worth of kid. A hundred seventy five if that one girl is thirteen.
ZANTAR: Good haul.
ROLF: They don't appear to be restrained except by the fact that they are blind in the darkness.
ZANTAR: (pointing to the side) Hey, that looks like a chest.
ROLF: If we were to organize a distraction, the brats could run toward us.
ZANTAR: You know, a locked chest like you would put valuable stuff in.
ROLF: The problem is that if Lut mislead us about the cave layout, the creatures could cut off our retreat.
ZANTAR: They probably stole it from somewhere with the valuables still inside.
ROLF: Still, I don't think Lut was smart enough to lie, so I anticipate that until we exit the mine shaft, the goblins could only attack us from one direction.
ZANTAR: Stuff's probably long gone, but it's worth having a look.
ROLF: Do you think you could grab it while I grabbed the kids?
ZANTAR: That's what I was thinking.
ROLF: We need more of a plan. Those goblins are faster than you or the brats, and once they get in the open they'll be a lot harder to fight.
ZANTAR: So we need to kill them all down here.
ROLF: That is a plausible alternative, but how?
ZANTAR: Feel the hair on the back of your head waving?
ZANTAR: I do. There's a definite breeze coming from our tunnel and exiting through the right and middle tunnels on the other side.
ROLF: (his eyes narrowing) That rascally Lut. He assured us quite explicitly that there were no other outside exits from this chamber. When we return, I shall have to discuss this with him.
ZANTAR: He could have been telling the truth. A ventilation shaft wouldn't be a usable exit unless you have the right equipment. And I don't think the gob was smart enough to lie.
ROLF: That was my impression of the gob also. What about the left tunnel?
ZANTAR: Can't tell if there is any air movement through that one from here. It's not strong enough to move anything if it is.
ROLF: That straw is damn dry.
ZANTAR: The air movement would do that over time. And the goblins don't make fires so they don't worry about fire danger.
Rolf and Zantar look at each other. Fade to black. After a moment, two fires leap out of the blackness. The camera has cut to a viewpoint of one of the children facing the tunnel where the heroes are, and switched to human vision so that we only sees what is happening by the light of the fires. Rolf sprints towards the children hacking at goblins with his sword, screaming at them to run. Zantar trundles off in a different direction.
ROLF: Run towards me! Run! Get up and run you lazy brats! Do you want to get eaten?
Turna gets up and pulls the other girl up.
TURNA: Come on guys! We're being rescued! Lets go!
All the kids as starting to run just as Rolf gets there.
ROLF: Run between the fires into the tunnels! Go, your mothers are back there!
Rolf lays about for a bit with his sword as the kids run, then he follows them. Jody is tripped by a goblin who stands over him, about to stab him. Rolf is too far away to do anything. Suddenly the goblin is bowled over a by chest, carried under Zantar's arm.
ZANTAR: That's fifty silver you're about to poke, gob!
Zantar has the chest under his left arm and his axe in his right hand, and a spear sticking out of his back. He manages to scoop up Jody bodily under his left arm, steps forward where the goblin fell and stomps. We hear a crunch. Zantar trundles back between the fires, casually mowing down a couple more goblins using just wrist motions of his axe. The fires have grown and are now quite large. Rolf comes just behind him, covering his back, but when they get back to the tunnel, Zantar has acquired another spear in the back and one in front. Rolf is unmarked. Zantar drops the boy and the chest equal unconcern for each, and turns to help Rolf defend against the goblins.
ZANTAR: (pulling a spear out of his chest with his left hand while slicing a goblin with his right) That chest was damn light.
Rolf (parrying a spear point and reposting to take a goblin in the eye with the point of his sword) Disappointing, that. Did you keep the kid from getting ruined?
Zantar: Yep, still worth fifty.
By this time the fires have about joined into a huge inferno and the goblins have retreated. The heroes also retreat up the tunnel where it's cooler. Rolf sits down to examine the chest while Zantar tries unsuccessfully to reach the spears sticking out of his back.
BUFFY: (peering into the darkness) Mom!
TURNA: Here, let me.
Zantar turns his back to her so that she can get the spears.
ZANTAR: Now don't worry about hurting me, you just...
Turna yanks them both out before he can finish his sentence.
ZANTAR: Yeah. Like that.
TURNA: (takes something out of her pocket and starts to hand it to Zantar) here, this will make you feel better.
BUFFY: (screaming now) MOM!
Zantar holds his hand out and Turna places a leaf in it. Then she closes Zantar's hand around the leaf with her fingers locked with his to crush it. A glow spreads from their hands to Zantar's body and Zantar shudders.
ZANTAR: Wow! You're a healer!
TURNA: Dryly. Or at least I can cast a simple healing spell. That didn't make you a hundred percent but it should help a lot.
BUFFY: MOM! (looking back at the heroes, her eyes tearing up) WHERE'S MY MOM?
ROLF: (still examining the chest) I don't see any traps on it.
TURNA: It's common practice to hide traps. They're more effective that way.
Rolf glares at Turna while Zantar steps forward and hefts his axe.
ZANTAR: Well, it's not like we have any use for the chest.
Zantar deftly shaves the lock of with his axe. Rolf pokes open the lid with his sword and kicks the chest over to spill out a bunch of small bleached skulls. Buffy shrieks and turns away. Jody steps closer to look.
ROLF: It's appears the chest's previous owner was connoisseur of fine fleshless heads.
ZANTAR: I'm seeing rats, squirrels, rabbits, and a house cat.
ROLF: (poking through the bones with his sword) And here's a rare badger. Quite a coup that was for our erstwhile collector.
JODY: That's not a badger, (picking up the skull in question and working the jaw) it's an otter. See the little sharp teeth and the long jaw? Ooh look, the jaw's been wired so you can move it up and down.
ROLF: I find your analysis defective. This is clearly a badger.
JODY: It's an otter. (holds the skull in front of the girl's face) Look, Buffy! It's going to eat your nose!
Buffy screams and pushes Jody away.
TURNA: Jody, stop that!
BUFFY: You guys are sick. Where's my mom, elf?
ROLF: Back home, I should think. Why ask me?
BUFFY: You said our moms were in this tunnel!
ROLF: Simply a figure of speech. You must not take things so literally all the time.
ZANTAR: It's like metaphor and hyperbole. You know, non-literal speech.
TURNA: In other words, the elf lied to us.
BUFFY: I want my mommy! (begins weeping loudly)
Rolf and Zantar look at each other for a moment then go back to poking through the skulls.
TURNA: (to Rolf) It is an otter, you know.
ROLF: (gives Turna a dirty look then turns to Zantar) Face it Zan, there's nothing of value in there.
TURNA: (to Buffy) Will you quit crying, you little baby! (to Rolf) Let me look.
ROLF: Please, young wench, Zantar and I are experienced looters. I assure you... why are you looking inside the chest? I assure you...
Turna pulls out a false bottom and then three gold coins.
ZANTAR: Where did those come from.
ROLF: I'll take those.
TURNA: The chest has a false bottom.
ZANTAR: A false bottom? What's that?
ROLF: I believe I shall take custody of the coins now.
TURNA: You know, there's a space between the real bottom of the chest and the bottom that you see from the inside. Buffy, we're going to take you back to your mom, but only if you SHUT UP!
ZANTAR: (Looking at Rolf) Clever bastards.
ROLF: Quite. Humans come up with some of the most outlandish schemes. Miss, you may hand the coins to me now. (Turna hands him two coins.) Ahhhh. You seem to have accidentally kept one in your possession.
TURNA: You two were about to walk off and leave the chest. I guess I'm owed a third. If you hadn't rescued me I'd be taking half.
Zantar is examining the inside of the chest.
ZANTAR: You know, Rolf, this compartment was designed for a lot more than three coins.
ROLF: (turns from glaring at Turna) Interesting bit of intelligence that.
TURNA: Hey, those flames are dying down, and you two are going to have to finish off the rest of the goblins and maybe search for ... stuff. I'm guessing it would be a big help if I took the two brats out where it's safe and you don't have to worry about them.
ROLF: You think you could find your way back?
ROLF: Without light?
Turna grins, snaps her fingers, and a ball of light appears in her hand. She tosses it gently into the air and it stays floating a couple of feet above her head.
TURNA: I'm a woman of many talents.
ROLF: You're a snotty ungrateful little apprentice witch, in both senses of the term. But all right, get the brats our of our hair and you can keep the coin. Wait for us at the mine entrance.
TURNA: And if you do find more gold, I get another coin for my help.
ROLF: (glares, starts to say something, stops, then) If we find at least twenty more.
TURNA: Done and done.
Turna takes the younger children, grabs the two spears she pulled out of Zantar, and departs. The camera returns to the original lighting.
ZANTAR: (after the kids are gone) That seems dangerous, sending the cubs off alone like that.
ROLF: Do the math, Zan! Those kids are worth 50 silver apiece. These (holding out the coins Turna found) are heavy gold coins worth about 120 silver apiece. Which requires a higher priority?
ZANTAR: Good point. Kids are bulkier and harder to carry too.
ROLF: Quite. Much less dense a value proposition. And if that little witch gets her throat cut along with the brats, we'll probably run across them and get the coin back, so it's only a net loss of around 30 silver. Well worth the gamble.
ZANTAR: But the kids will be a lot better at getting us our advanced heroing reputations.
ROLF: (musing) Excellent observation. Perhaps we should expedite matters down here so that we can quickly go to the defense of the precious little tykes.
The two turn to face the cavern. The camera is behind them, outlining their silhouettes dramatically against the remaining embers of the fire.
ZANTAR: Let's go do some good.
The two start walking toward the cavern. After a dramatic few steps, Rolf replies:
ROLF: What do you mean?
ZANTAR: You know, let's go steal lots of gold.
ROLF: Oh! Right, partner.