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Boober and the Association try to steal from a goddess.

The Mithril Scale

by D.F. Coe

*The Mithril Scale*

*By D. F. Coe** *

"Thelon, I'm gathering The Association," Boober said.

Thelon looked up from his stone crafting and nodded.

"We meet here, at the temple of Each-of-You, in three cycles." Boober said. "We need to acquire funds."

"Pay me properly and I'll stay as long as you like," said Thelon, a smile spreading across his face.

"Stick around long enough and you'll be serving Each-of-You regardless of pay, my reticent and reluctant Dwarf." Boober bowed, smiled, and walked back into the priestly chambers; the only fully built and functioning quarters in the Temple.

The `priestly chambers' consisted of four chambers, built of cut stone, containing a larger central chamber, filled with a massive stone table and benches, used for planning, strategy, and councils..

The northern chamber contained a stone bunk covered with a down filled mattress and quilt, a writing desk, a small sink, and a stone wardrobe cut from the wall, with wooden doors on runners.

The smaller chamber to the east allowed for bathing with hot and cold running water. Something the Elven wizard, Scalphunter had created for him, working with Thelon's crafting and mining skills.

He spent several hours a day in the western chamber or `the source' meditating and contacting his god, the gnome Each-of-You, for wisdom; receiving the most current Association project during his meditations yesterday.

He wandered through the suite and entered The Source. Striding to the stone altar in the center of the room, he knelt and opened a small door near the bottom, withdrawing a small, jade broach, encircled by 10 small rubies. He pressed the soft center of the broach until it flashed three times and then returned it to the cubby, then he lit three green candles atop the altar and sat down to meditate, awaiting The Association members' arrival.

The Scalphunter arrived first, the following day. He found Boober still meditating in the source. "Hail and well met you vile little Halfling," he said.

Boober stood and smiled at the dark-skinned Elf, his eyes mildly hooded. "You, my talented associate, are well met and welcome - but never trusted."

Scalphunter flipped his brown, green, grey, and black cloak back from his shoulders and laughed. "I am the most talented associate you possess. What are we acquiring this time?"

Boober, leaving The Source, grabbed Scalphunter's wrist, looked around conspiratorially, laughed softly and said, "It's a secret."

Scalphunter cracked him on the top of his head with his elbow and said, "If I wasn't planning on torturing you someday, to acquire the secrets of Eoc's blood, I'd've killed you long ago."

"Yes, welcome and join me in a drink," Boober said. "So how goes your hunt for the Halfling elders?"

"It doesn't. My powers were stolen from me by an elder until I left the boundaries of your realm; all Halflings are wyvern sign and should be mulched into a garden of poisonous lettuce."

"Ah, you pathetically underestimated them." Boober laughed loudly. "And one of your immense power; my goddess, that's funny. You crack me up." He wiped tears from his eyes. "Be assured, our newest acquisition will provide this temple with great and vast wealth, enough to provide you with many resources for seeking out the secret of Eoc's blood." Boober grabbed several bottles of Halfling whiskey from a shelf in the council room, filling glasses for them both as they sat opposite one another.

"Tell me, Boober, why you are not upset about me trying to gain the secrets of Eoc's blood from your kin?" Scalphunter asked, sipping whiskey from the glass Boober'd given him.

"Scalphunter, even I, a crafter and smith of Eoc's blood, was not allowed to know the location of the blood mines. I can smith and craft with the magic of Eoc's blood but I cannot mine it; if the Halfling race can keep that secret from its craftsfolk, I believe you are no threat to them. I have no need to dissuade you."

"Interesting; what if I took the secrets of crafting from you?"

"You could try," Boober Ap Grumbly said smiling. "I also believe that each being, no matter how dark their heart, is allowed to quest for knowledge. It is not my place to interrupt the knowledge quest. I know your heart is black and if I did not keep you in resources you'd be very happy slitting my throat. On the other hand, the path of Each-of-You, allows for all beings and all intentions of the heart."

"Boober, you are a strange little being," Scalphunter said. "Each-of-You was a crazy gnome who should never garner worship from any person, not even you. How did end up serving him? He is dead you know."

"You're correct. He'll not be a true god until the temple is built and followers flock to his service; I'm the prophet crying in the wilderness. I've been charged in the establishment of Each-of-You's divinity. If you really want to know how that came about, then ask Thelon; I've already explained it to him."

Draining his whiskey, Scalphunter said, "I think that's what I'll do."

"An instrument you surely are my dark associate," Boober whispered, watching him walk outside.

# # #

Several hours later, while meditating in The Source, a chill like spiders on your skin, ran up Boober's spine. Without turning, he said, "Greetings Hal. How's life at The Nest?"

"Hail," The presence behind him hissed. "Solomon sends greetings from our dark lord, Louis." The voice sounded like sand pouring through gravel onto dry parchment.

Boober stood and turned. "Why must you always keep you hood up?" Boober asked.

"When you summon me during the dark hours, I'll not need this hood to protect me from the sun," the hooded and black-robed figure hissed.

"I'm sorry I have no blood to offer you. Are you still fasting, my immortal associate?" Boober asked.

"I could take your blood, offered or not, but fortunately for you I continue my fast in contemplation of my dark lord's nature."

Boober's flesh crawled in the presence of this ancient member of the elite. "You could try to take my blood but I believe Louis, and for that matter, Solomon would take great joy in your punishment. I have received a vision from Each-of-You; we have a project assigned to us that will bring great wealth, a part of which will go to The Nest as stipulated in our alliance. Feel free to disrupt the alliance through your feeding."

"Your chambers below are always prepared for you. We meet in council two cycles hence. You are, of course, welcome to join us after the sun sets or whatever."

"I only ask that we hold council after the sun sets in two cycles," Hal requested.

"I planned it so."

Even the robe could not hide Hal's emaciated figure, making him look much taller than his actual 6'3" height. Boober shivered again, thinking what Oo'rahnos would be like when Hal finally broke his fast.

"I go to my chambers," Hal said taking his leave.

With the two darkest members of The Association present, he expected the others here in two cylces, just as they convened. One never knew where Juxt the light hearted wandered, but he'd arrive with his musical instruments ready for assignment. Doyle traveled from his homeland in the north and would probably arrive just on time if not late; his barbarian steel was necessary. _I wonder if he continues to struggle with the sun? A barbarian member of The Elite is a frightful thought; if he's actually converted,_ Boober thought. _On the other hand, an Elite barbarian enhances our association that much more and provides for much more effective acquiring._ Boober smiled and returned to his meditations.

"Great lord, Each-of-You, grant me wisdom as we plan our acquisition of the Mithril Scale. Lead me in leading The Association, so that glory may be brought to you; that followers may be added to your service; and your divinity with Mother Syn will be established without doubt," Boober intoned kneeling before his altar. "Lord, Each-of-You, I ask that you provide me with the most efficient plan for acquiring the Scale. I ask that you provide me wisdom in assigning each member of our Association the proper tasks." Boober's chin slowly dipped to his barrel chest as he slipped deeper into his meditative state, communing with his god.

# # #

"Thelon, what are we acquiring next?" Scalphunter asked, looking down at the Dwarven warrior. Even working as a crafter and stonemason he kept his double bladed axe strapped to his back; throwing axes hung from his belt along with crafters tools and instruments.

"For once he's not shared with me. He hasn't stopped meditating since he announced the new project, yesterday. I think this is a big one, which means much risk," Thelon replied.

"As opposed to our last project which only resulted in injuries to Doyle and Juxt's temporary extermination," Scalphunter commented.

"Exactly." Thelon smiled. "Given the craziness of that little Halfling, I wouldn't doubt we steal from the gods themselves this time. He truly does follow in that little bastard, Each-of-You's footprints."

"Do you believe he serves Each-of-You? We both adventured with the crazy gnome, is it possible he's been elevated to the pantheon?"

"No," Thelon replied.

"I wonder sometimes; perhaps the gods play games and our little Halfling is a pawn in a much larger game of power?" Scalphunter mused.

"I wouldn't put it past Louis but I doubt it," Thelon said.

Scalphunter sat on a block of stone about four feet high and as wide, taking off his cloak, he laughed. "Poor Louis, a god without respect; doomed to be a laughingstock, by the audaciousness of a gnome, called Each-of-You. I think perhaps we have been involved in some great practical joke, perpetrated by Louis. Perhaps, he attempts an overthrow of the pantheon and these are his opening movements." He flipped his thick black hair out of his face and braided it, slipping pieces of glass, metal and stone into the braid from time to time until it hung in a thick rope to his waist.

"Enough of Louis; speak his name overmuch and you risk his presence. While a laughingstock, he still holds the power of a god. I currently have no desire to face him, although that may change in the future given enough incentive," Thelon said.

"True and what of women and drink; let's spend the next two days at the Night's Lance?" Scalphunter asked.

"I've not been there in an age. No one around here worth reveling with," Thelon replied putting down the crafting tool he was working with. "Let's go."

"Ah, always quick to engage; we shall drain this town dry in the next two days, of both its drink, and its women," Scalphunter said, replacing his cloak and following the dwarf, heading to the Night's Lance.

"They've changed the sign. It looks more like my own lance now." Scalphunter chuckled, pushing open the door. "Ah, the smoke, the women, perhaps even the brawling; how I've missed this place."

"I'm going to the bar," Thelon said. At five feet tall, the bar was taller than the dwarf, climbing on a wooden stool he pounded the hardwood, sticky with the days events, shouting, "Beer, good Dwarven Dark Poison; its hidden in the casks downstairs. Bring me a pint, now! Hell, bring the cask and a flagon."

Scalphunter smiled. "Like adventures past," he said, grabbing a serving maid's breasts as she walked past him. "Bring me some whiskey and then spend some time on my lap." He laughed. She reared back, slapping his face with a full mug of brew. "Have a seat and stroke yourself," she said reaching for his crotch with the other hand, the platter of mugs crashing to the floor.

The main room went silent, heads turning. Scalphunter caught the girl's hand and smiled. "It seems you've caused something of a commotion dear girl, perhaps you can make it up to your boss by bringing my drink to one of the expensive rooms in the basement?" He stared at the man tending the bar, who was in the process of coming over


Copyright © by D.F. Coe . All rights reserved unless specified otherwise above.

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