Our agent caught up with Sype on the fields of Fornost, where he was fashioning a throne of bear skulls.
“Oh, hullo,” he said in a suspiciously cheerful voice. “Do you like it?”
The agent kept a twenty-step distance from the skull throne and the hundred or so ghost bears roaming behind it. “It’s… fitting for the place.”
Sype grinned. “Isn’t it? I mean, I thought there was nothing to like about the North Downs, but here we are — a lovely patch of forsaken land without hapless hobbits, dull dwarves and exasperating elves. Instead, the only annoying person around here is that crazy lady over there with the knife and the growly rants.”
A raspy voice floated with the mist. “Blood blood blood, how I love blood!”
Sype waved with something that looked like fondness in her direction. “Me too!” He turned to the agent. “So what’s up?”
“There’s a dire threat that’s come up that’s threatening this whole zone,” the agent said urgently. “And only you can help?”
The Lore-master groaned. “What threat?”
“I’m, um… not sure,” the agent admitted. “I just skimmed the quest text.”
The agent thrust a scroll into his hands. “Quest text. Enjoy. Anyway, you’re going to have to rally the elves, men and dwarves to fight it. They’re all suspicious of each other, even though they’re practically neighbors, so get to it!”
“Or,” Sype jerked his head toward the throne. “Or we could ignore it and rule over Death Kingdom together. What do you say? I could use a lackey!”
“Sorry sir,” the agent said, waving a comically giant magnifying glass over a piece of paper. “I’m out of here.”
* * * * *
The dwarf miner grimaced as he shouted, then wriggled a finger into his ear until he dislodged a chunk of wax. “I’m sorry, I meant, WHAT?”
Sype kept his eye on the local tavern, wishing to every one of his fairy godmothers that he could be in there, drinking himself into oblivion. “There’s a… great evil encroaching on this land. We need you to come help fight it,” he said in his least convincing tone ever.
“Why don’t you get those Dudley Do-Right rangers to do it?” the dwarf said.
“I tried, but they’re all talk and no action.” Sype sighed. “That seems to be a running theme around here.”
“Those blasted elves?”
“They’re coming. They made me trek all the way to hell, kill a guy I think was either the devil or an angry orc chief, and then bring his head back in order for their pledge to come.”
The dwarf furrowed his brow. “The head?”
Sype shrugged. “I know, right? I think they made it into a planter. Anyway, they’re coming once they finish polishing their harps and adorning their perfectly-coifed hair with lavender scents.”
“Huh.” The dwarf crossed his arms. “What about the Men in Trestlebridge? They down with this shindig?”
A nasty flashback floated across Sype’s vision — screams, the smell of burning pitch, endless waves of green-skinned foes sprinting down the bridge, a small band of cowards that pushed him to the front with yells of, “Kill it! Kill it!”
Sype shuddered. “Yeah, they’re coming. Fat lot of good it’ll do us, anyway.”
The dwarf sucked on his moustache for a moment. “Very well. We’ll come.”
The Lore-master’s eyes widened in shock. “You will? Just like that? No pointless errand or you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch–”
“…Once you rescue our fool cousin who got himself thrown into a cart. He’s about 1000 yards thataway. Best get moving now!”
“I have a counter-offer,” Sype said. “How about you get off your chunky backsides before I call upon the forces of nature to rain destruction and hellfire upon this town, and — more importantly — overflow your sewage system so that your streets run with offal.”
The old man held out his hand and caught a raindrop.
“Look at that,” he said. “Chances of poo, 100%.”
* * * * *
“And that, schoolchildren, is how three very noble races came together under a banner of truce to wage a brief but memorable war against a single mad wizard and drove him from the land.”
“Miss Quartz, will this be on the test?”