Please take time to enjoy one of the wonderful short stories from this anthology . . . M. R. Williamson
Quest for the Dragon's Scale by M. R. Williamson was an expanded adventure from the novel, 'Krypendorf -- The Fourth Lesson'.
Quest for the Dragon’s Scale
by M. R. Williamson
Gadritch Brownthum brushed his long, brown hair from his face as he nervously watched the limp directional flag on the bow of his gondola. Appearing to be sixty or so, the heavyset dwarf looked down at Broderick from the helm’s seat and said, “A little more air if you please. We don’t want to settle too quickly.”
Sweat glistened in Broderick Cliffspring’s red beard as the dwarf pumped a four-foot, makeshift bellows attached to a wood-burning stove. His blue eyes glistened as he watched another dwarf who was now leaning over the side.
“Fifty feet and holdin’,” said Boegus Gladling. As the black-bearded dwarf rose up from the side of the willow-wicker gondola, he grumbled, “Dwarves should be in the mines, not up here with the pigeons.”
The trim-looking, middle-aged dwarf then picked up a grappling pole and looked back at Gadritch in the helm’s seat.
“Off the bellows and find us a clearing,” said Gadritch. “We’ve lost the wind altogether. Get the grapplin’ poles and try to keep us out of the trees as we go down. If we wreck this craft we’ll have a long walk back to Leachenwood.”
“Over there,” said Broderick loudly, pointing directly ahead of them. “If we can just pull ourselves around this next big oak, we’ll have a clear spot on the other side.”
Boegus winced as the as the hull of the boat-shaped, willow woven gondola scratched its way through the top of the old oak.
“Just a little more,” encouraged Gadritch as he leaned from the helm’s seat to peer over the side.
“Now!” shouted Broderick, shoving one of the tree’s huge limbs away from the stern.
As the limb bounced off the bottom of the gondola, Gadritch nervously tugged on a black rope hanging from the inside of the fig-shaped, blue balloon. Hot air escaped from the top vent as it opened, allowing the craft to settle slowly between the surrounding trees.
“Over the side with a tether rope, Boegus,” ordered Gadritch. “Tie us down to somethin’ solid.”
Immediately dropping his grappling pole, the black-headed dwarf immediately threw the stern tether rope over the side and slid quickly to the ground. Gadritch watched nervously as the fig-shaped balloon slid softly through the smaller limbs, lowering the gondola closer to the ground.
“Over the side, you old, red-bearded spider,” shouted Boegus as he watched Broderick inch his way down the bow tether line.
Gadritch shut off the burner, jumped from the helm’s seat, and then leaned over the side. “How close are we to where the ‘Watcher’ is supposed to be,” he asked as softly as he could.
Boegus immediately froze, looking at the captain of the dwarves.
Broderick only smiled as he finished tying off the gondola.
“The whole of Lake Oxbow and the woods between it and Cutoff,” he finally answered as he watched Gadritch climb down the ship’s rope ladder.
Just as soon as the old dwarf’s foot touched the ground, Gadritch looked to Broderick and said, “We’ll keep the stove warm all night. If we don’t, the balloon will collapse, and with so little room in these trees we’ll have a fit getting it back up.” He squinted and asked, “And just what do we have to do once we find this wizard’s dragon?”
“I’d like to know that, myself,” asked Boegus. Then, as he stepped a bit closer to Broderick, he added, “All's we know now is we have a contest between two captains—you and Feathersmore of the Dragon’s Oak elves.”
“We’ll cook a little somethin' before dark sets in,” said Broderick through a half-smile. “I’ll lay it all out for you two in the morning before breakfast. I don’t think the elves have beat us here. We still have a little time on them and if the wind is in our favor tomorrow, we’ll beat ‘em across the Oxbow also.”
“Very well,” grumbled Gadritch. “But if I’m not pleased with it, Boegus and me will drop you off and ride the next wind north.”
“Agreed then,” said Broderick as he began picking up pieces of wood for the cook fire.
* * *
The first light of the next day crept in as quiet as a mouse’s sneeze. Boegus, the only one of the three close to being awake, struggled as he wrestled a pinecone from under his blanket. Now, with his stubby fingers imbedded in his beard, he searched for the illusive field mouse that had been pestering him most of the night. Failing once again to find the little critter, he slid his right arm from under the woolen blanket, grabbed another piece of firewood, and tossed it in the coals.
“Merciful dragons!” exclaimed Broderick as a mound of quilts on the far side of the campfire literally became alive with motion. The bulbous-nosed dwarf quickly sat up, rubbed his eyes, and then glared at the mound of blankets that covered Boegus. “Watch them embers!” he grumbled. “They still have life in ‘em.”
“The gnomish lad’s lying,” said Boegus as he pushed the blankets from him and then slowly sat up. “The elves are probably laughing at us this very minute. Even if we do find the ‘Watcher’, who’s gon’na be fool enough to take one of his scales?”
“How’d you know that?” snapped Boegus as he struggled to his feet.
“We both heard you,” replied Gadritch as he slowly struggled from beneath his covers. “That beast’s been chasin’ you all night long.”
“He’s not as bad as he looks,” mumbled Broderick, “but I just can’t get past how he looks.” He then looked at Gadritch and added, “We’ll find out where the lad lives. The old Wizard Basil has charged the beast with the lad’s safe-keeping, so the dragon will be close there somewhere.”
“Soooo,” quipped Boegus as he looked at Broderick. “If we actually survive the getting of the dragon’s scale, what’s in it for us?”
“The sword of Kebron,” replied Broderick. “It’s been in Feathersmore’s family for years.”
“And if we lose?” asked Gadritch.
Broderick looked out into the woods and then weakly said, “The axe of Cromlin.”
“That’s your grandfather’s,” said Gadritch.
“The same,” mumbled Broderick, “but I don’t intend to lose it.”
“Then . . . this creature actually exists,” said Boegus weakly.
“He does,” answered Broderick. “The gnome, Long Bob, told me himself. He holds a seat on the Board of Elders at the gnomish village of Cutoff. Seems the lad, Yenwolk, got himself in trouble and the dragon had to step in or risk the old wizard’s wrath if he got hurt. Choosin’ the former, he was seen by at least four gnomes.”
“Are we eating in the gondola this morning?” asked Boegus.
“We might better,” answered Gadritch. “Early this mornin’ I could have sworn I heard riders pass in the night just west of us. That bein’ the case, we might have lost our lead.”
“Riders!” exclaimed Broderick. As he and the others scrambled to collect their belongings, he mumbled, “The elves should be afoot.”
“Not to worry,” assured Gadritch. “They have to go ‘round the bend of the lake. We’ll go straight across and then pick up the Whitestone Trail on the southern side. Then, it shouldn’t be that far before we get to Cutoff.”
“Done, then,” said Broderick. “I’ll fire up the furnace while Boegus loads us some more wood. We’ll get that willow-wicker ship thing of yours up in the air in no time.”
Now, with Broderick on the five-foot bellows, the logs glistened cherry-red as Gadritch Kept an eye on how much extra wood Broderick threw into the furnace.
With the craft straining on the ropes, Boegus threw the last handful of wood into the gondola’s deck, released the tethers, and ran for the rope ladder. Barely making it, the nimble dwarf scurried up and onto the deck. With hot air pouring from the vents of the stove, the craft lifted quickly from the ground.
“Grab the grappling poles and keep us off the trees,” ordered Gadritch. “We’ve got a good southerly wind and should see Oxbow in no time.” He turned to Boegus and said, “Put out the jibs. We want to keep her nose in the right direction.”
Boegus scurried to the front of the vessel, looped the safety rope around his waist, and edged out onto the nose of the gondola. Pulling at a rope attached to the bow, two triangular sails unfurled from the short, horizontal mast protruding from the nose of the ship. The bow of the gondola slowly corrected itself, pointing in the direction the craft was moving.
“There it is!” exclaimed Broderick as the gondola rose well above the trees. But then, Broderick remained strangely quiet, with his eyes transfixed on something in the distance.
Noting that the dwarf captain had obviously spotted something, Gadritch slipped from the helm’s seat, eased around the furnace, and joined him. “See somethin’?” he asked.
“Indeed,” answered Broderick as he pointed toward the Oxbow Lake. “There’s a two-masted ship moving away from the banks. It doesn’t have a single sail down, yet it’s making an impressive wake.” Broderick looked at Gadritch and added, “How could that be? Are the elves using magic?”
Gadritch then quickly turned to Boegus and said, “Get into that helm’s seat and watch our direction.”
“I can’t operate this thing,” complained Boegus as he climbed into the tall seat.
“How hard could it be with only three ropes?” shouted Gadritch. “Pull the green one on the right and it’ll open the left vent a bit. That’ll push us gently to the right. Pull the red one and we’ll go left. But whatever you do, don’t touch the black one. It opens the top vent and we’ll sink like a rock.”
“Right one attached to the left and we go right, but left one hooked to the right one and we go left and...” Boegus rolled his eyes and pulled his hands away from the rope’s wooden handles altogether.
Gadritch then looked back at what Broderick was still puzzling over. “Well, that is a riddle,” he quipped. “Certainly some kind of ship. No sail, but it’s still moving fast enough to give us trouble.”
“You’re the machinist here,” said Broderick. “You’ve made things of black iron, oak wood, and the elfin, white metal. Now tell me just what kind of vessel moves without wind or paddle.”
“An elfin one,” answered Gadritch as he pointed out the flag atop the first mast.
“A white unicorn on a field of dark blue,” said Broderick weakly. “It’s Feathersmore all right. He’s cheating again.”
“He’s spelled the whole darned ship,” shouted Boegus as he all but stood in the helm’s seat.
“Calm down, Boegus, and pull on that red rope just a little bit. You’re letting us drift too far to the right.”
Little by little, a smile worked its way beneath Gadritch’s big, bulbous nose as they closed the distance between them and the ship. “I see it,” he replied just above a whisper. “They have a chimney, and they’re burnin’ oak wood and boilin’ water. Steam’s pushin’ that thing.”
“Steam?” quizzed Broderick.
“Certainly. See those wheels turnin’ on each side of the ship? There’s at least a dozen paddles spinnin’ on an axle and it’s bein’ turned by steam some kind of way.”
“I don’t get it,” complained Broderick. “I still think it’s spelled.”
“No, no, no,” corrected Gadritch. “It’s like you breathin', in and out. The steam off the boilin’ water is your breath in. When the machine breathes that steam out, it pushes on a plunger and lever system that turns the axle and spins them paddles.”
“Well it’s spinnin’ pretty good,” said Boegus. “Plus, they’ve just dropped a sail to boot and we’ve all but stopped gainin’ on them.”
“Spotted us,” said Gadritch as he spun around, trotted around the furnace, and then ordered, “Get down, Boegus. This simply won’t do.”
Now, with the elfin vessel taking a more easterly course on the crescent-shaped lake, Gadritch steered straight south.
“I believe we got ‘em,” said Gadritch. “We’ll cut across the woods in the middle of the lake’s curve. I believe we’ll beat ‘em to the southern banks. Then, they’ll be afoot in the forests between the lake and Cutoff. Now, one of you get to the bow of this thing and help me spot the Whitestone Road when we make the southern banks.”
Boegus eased passed the helm’s seat, slowed, and then looked up at Gadritch. “But are not those woods south of the Oxbow Lake where the dragon stays?”
Gadritch quickly looked at Broderick, who was slowly shaking his head.
“Maybe,” admitted the dwarf captain, “but then again, maybe not. I ‘spect the old wizard will have him a bit closer to the boy. He, his mother, and some friends saw him at a place called Sugar Creek Springs. That’s a bit south of the Cutoff and quite near his own home I suppose. The old Wizard’s son, Benjamin, told me that Yenwolk actually talked to the creature in those woods just behind his home.”
“Talked!” exclaimed Gadritch. “How is it that he’ll talk to gnomes and not to dwarves anyways?”
Boegus looked disgustedly at Broderick and then added, “Do you blame him? It once was that every time any kind of dragon flew over Leachenwood’s entrance one of Broderick’s hard-heads would turn loose one of those big swing-bows at him. It took the old Wizard Basil, himself, to threaten to seal the entrance of the caverns to get ‘um to quit.”
“Ohhh,” grumbled Broderick. “That’s in the past. The wizards and me got an agreement. Now, Benjamin and I are just like . . .” The dwarf captain tried to cross his stubby fingers on his right hand. In failing to do so, he said, “We’re real close anyways.”
“Hope so,” mumbled Boegus. “Dragons are dragons, and they have long memories.” Boegus then looked to the port side of the vessel and exclaimed, “We got ‘em! We got ‘em! We’re over the Oxbow again and the elves are just breakin’ ‘round the point.”
“Just what I expected,” said Gadritch as he stood from his helm’s seat. “Now get to the bow. We’ll be over the Cutoff woods before you know it, and be looking for that wizard’s beast too. Bright yellow and green should stand out down there.”
“He won’t even see us comin” added Broderick. “Dragons don’t have enemies so they hardly ever feel the need to look up.”
Gadritch slowly closed the damper on the stove allowing his craft to settle closer to the tops of the trees. “Lay off the bellows, Broderick,” he whispered. “All that huffin’ and puffin’ is sure to attract his attention.”
“We’re not that far from the Cutoff Road,” whispered Broderick as he joined Boegus on the bow. “I can see smoke from the village just off the starboard bow. Sugar creek should be dead ahead.”
The huge, blue dirigible drifted over the Cutoff road as quiet as an owl’s wings. What few gnomes they noticed never bothered to look up. Gadritch chuckled from the helm’s seat, completely amused at the accomplishment. Then, as the breeze took them back into the woods south of the road, it soon became quite obvious that some dwarves hardly look up either.
“What the devil is that?” exclaimed Gadritch as the gondola shook violently. The old dwarf struggled to keep from being thrown from the helm’s seat.
The lurch was so violent it sent Broderick and Boegus tumbling to the deck. Then, as the vessel lurched again, a noise came more sickening than any stomachache—the sound of ripping canvass.
“It’s like we hit somethin’,” said Boegus, but we’re a good fifty feet above the tallest tree.
“On the bellows, Boegus!” shouted Gadritch. Then, as he opened the dampers as wide as possible, he looked up into the fig-shaped balloon. “We got a huge, six-foot hole right at the top vent! Throw some wood in this thing, Broderick. If we don’t get the heat up in a hurry, we’re gon’na drop like ship’s anchor.”
“But . . . but, he’s not here,” said Boegus weakly as he rushed to look down from the port side of the vessel. “We need to put down right now and look for him. Broderick!” he shouted down into the forest.
“Ha!” exclaimed Gadritch loudly. “That’s exactly what we’re doing. Now pump that bellows or we’ll crack ‘er up entirely.”
* * *
As Boegus frantically pumped the billows of their ‘sinking’ ship, Broderick found himself out of the gondola and clinging to one of the top limbs of a huge white oak.
“A fine mess I’m in,” he grumbled as he dangled beneath the huge limb.
Having a bit of trouble maintaining his hold on the tree, he looked toward the body of the old oak. It was larger than the waist of three men.
“Just wonderful,” he mumbled, “I’ll never get a grip around that. Now, just how do I work this out without breakin’ bones?”
“Not with a crossbow,” spoke someone from the ground directly below him.
From the sound of the deep, guttural tone, the dwarf captain knew it was something other than gnomish. With his eyes all but shut, Broderick tried to maintain his grip on the limb. Finally, realizing his hopeless situation, he worked up the nerve to look down.
“Valerie take me now,” he said weakly as he looked at the creature lying in the leaves below him. His forehands were three times that of any man’s hands, and his length, tail and all, had to be thirty-five feet at the least.
Noticing the dragon’s bright, yellow eyes, the dwarf looked away, closed his eyes, and then pushed his forehead against the limb he was hugging.
“Praying to the old oak will not help you there, Master Dwarf,” spoke the voice again. “There are no big limbs between you and I. Just turn loose of the oak. I will catch you.”
Hearing no anger in the beast’s voice, the dwarf looked down once again. Then, trying to ignore the huge, black claws of the creature, Broderick tried to speak, but his mouth was so dry he could hardly make a good start.
“You have me at a disadvantage, Sir,” he finally got out. “If I am to die here, I would at least like to know your name.”
“I know your name,” responded the dragon. “I heard it shouted from that thing you were last in. The Wizard Benjamin has spoken of you in a favorable way. Sooo . . .” The dragon slowly pushed himself up on his haunches, looked up, and then continued, “The only thing that needs be done now is to change your opinion of me.”
“You will not harm me?” asked the dwarf.
The dragon sighed heavily as he looked away from the dwarf and into the dark of the woods. Then, he finally said, “You will fall into my hands eventually, Master Dwarf. It will mean much more to me if you do it on faith than have it happen after your strength fails. After all, if I had wanted you dead, I would have caught you on the way to the tree you are now gripping.”
Broderick slowly shook his head. “I see your point, Sir. Are you ready?”
“More than you, obviously,” responded the dragon impatiently.
The dwarf then closed his eyes, took as deep a breath as possible, and then released his grip on the limb. The wind whistled by his ears. Leaves, acorns, and small limbs stung his neck and back as he fell. But when he hit, it was as if he fell into his own goose-down mattress.
“You can open your eyes now,” spoke the dragon as he gazed amused at the being now cupped in his hands.
The dwarf slowly peeped up through his fingers at the one holding him. Following the yellow scales up the underside of the beast’s chin, his eyes just could not get past the creature’s teeth. They were meshed together like the veins of a feather. The dragon then lowered his forehands and sat the dwarf in the leaves in front of him.
“Thank you, Sir,” said Broderick as he struggled to his feet. “I owe you. If it weren’t for you, this might have been the end of me.”
“You are a friend of Benjamin. You can repay me by making a friend of the boy Yenwolk. I heard you speak of him as I followed above your craft.”
“Tell me,” said the dwarf. “Do your scales ever itch?”
The dragon pushed himself up a bit straighter, looked down at the dwarf, and then said, “What sort of a question is that? Do your fingernails ever itch?”
“Well, no, not really,” answered Broderick. He then asked just above a whisper, “Then, it would probably hurt to pull one for someone wouldn’t it?”
“It wouldn’t feel good,” replied the dragon as he squinted his eyes at the dwarf. “Just what are you up to? A group of elves are also a bit south of here and in equally as big a hurry.”
“We . . . Uh . . .are looking for the one who watches the boy, Yenwolk.”
“You seek the Wizard Benjamin’s dragon,” replied the creature. “You seek Pandahar.”
“Yes. The one who watches the young gnome.”
“And just what part does this scale play?” asked the dragon suspiciously.
The dwarf marveled at the intelligence of the creature sitting before him, looked into the woods, and then sighed heavily. “Proof we saw him,” he finally got out.
The huge creature slowly shook his head, raised himself from the ground, and then backed up a bit. “I will not play your game,” he added as he stretched his wings out and shook them. “Seek the boy who is watched. He has what your proof, but it should cost you. He got it from me.”
Then, in a flurry of leaves and pine needles, the great-winged, forest dragon leapt into the air. The canopy hardly moved as the huge creature slipped between the trees to disappear above their limbs.
Broderick sat down hard on the leaves and rubbed his face briskly. “Merciful dragons,” he said through a heavy sigh. “I thought I was a goner,” he added weakly as he looked back up to where he last saw what the gnomes called ‘The Pan’.
The snickering in the scrub just south of him then made him realize he still wasn’t alone.
“Boegus, you black-bearded hobbit. Is the vessel in one piece?” he grumbled.
“Yes, but it’s jus’ like you—down, in shock, and too weak to stand,” replied the dwarf as he stepped from the bushes.
“Very funny,” grumbled Broderick as he struggled to his feet. “What did we hit?”
“Not sure, but whatever it was will keep Gadritch sewing for a while. He said he’d repair the thing while we go to the village and find that boy.”
“Good,” replied Broderick. Then, as he looked toward the east, he added, “We’re a little south of the Cutoff Road and probably real close to his house.” He then stepped a bit closer to Boegus and said through a little grin, “The ‘Watcher’ saved my bacon. He also told me that young Yen has one of his scales. If Feathersmore knows this also, the race is truly on. We need to get to the road and talk to the first gnome we come across. That’s the only way I know to find where the lad lives.”
* * *
It wasn’t long until it became obvious that Broderick was right. As they drew near the rear of a little cabin, he waved at a young girl working in her garden.
“Good day to you,” he called.
She paused, wiped the sweat from her brow, and leaned on her hoe. Brushing her long, brown hair from her forehead, she held the smile and replied, “I thought the dwarf village was to the north.”
Boegus grinned. “Ahhh yes, Leachenwood,” he quipped. “It is, but we took a shortcut. Could you tell us where the Stonesmith cabin is? We’re looking for the lad, Yenwolk.”
“Right there,” she answered, pointing to a cabin and barn not more than a hundred yards east of them. “I’m Belinda Pragen. The Stonesmiths are our best friends. They’ve had lots of visitors this year. I’ve seen elves also. There’s even a group of them there now. I noticed them ride across the road from the lake just minutes before you came up.”
“Elves!” exclaimed Boegus.
“Ride?” asked Broderick. “How in this mother’s son did they come by horses?”
Boegus shrugged his shoulders. “They’re the only somebody’s who can summon mounts up from the forest with but a whistle.”
“Thank you for your time,” said Broderick as he quickly nodded to Belinda, turned to Boegus, and then said, “We must go. It may be that they don’t know what the young gnome holds.”
As they walked briskly through the garden between the two homes, Boegus pointed toward the cabin. “There they are,” he said just above a whisper. “I can see a couple of their horses tied on the far side of the house.”
“Magic,” grumbled Broderick. “Feathersmore cheated. Somehow, I know they all cheated.”
“Did you say they couldn’t use magic?” asked Boegus, watching his friend’s expression closely.
“Not sure,” grumbled Broderick as they stepped from the garden. Then, as the two entered the yard, Broderick slowed abruptly, holding Boegus back also.
“What you spotted?” whispered Boegus, noting the uncomfortable look on the captain’s face.
“It’s him,” replied Broderick weakly.
“Who’s him?” asked Boegus, noting there were several on the front porch.
Finally, Boegus’ eyes grew wide as he spotted the old, white-bearded fellow in a chair on the far side of the porch.
“Basil,” he said weakly. “What’ll we do?”
“Just keep coming,” spoke the old fellow loudly as he stood from the chair.
A bit stooped, and well under six feet tall, the old dwarf looked almost frail compared to the others as he slowly worked his way through them. The breeze gently blew his thinning white hair from his face as he stepped from the porch. Dressed in a beige robe trimmed in crimson, he leaned upon a staff that looked older than he was, but he still looked every bit a wizard.
“Find what you’ve been looking for?” he asked.
His pale, blue eyes sparkled with clarity uncommon for his age as he searched the dwarves’ expressions for a clue most others would miss.
Noting Feathersmore and the other elves were grinning, Broderick replied, “Yes . . . and no Sir.”
Knowing that Old Basil wasn’t the most patient of the Alvis family, Boegus grimaced, and then rubbed his face briskly.
Little by little, a smile formed on the face of the old wizard as Yenwolk eased to his side.
“What to do?” asked the Wizard Basil as he looked down at the young gnome.
“They want the same thing,” said Yenwolk. “It’s like some kind of game to them.”
“Game...” The old one mused the situation as he watched to two dwarves squirm. He looked at Feathersmore and said, “Join us.” Then, turning back to Yenwolk, he said, “Let me have what they seek.”
The wizard took the scale and held it in his open hand in front of them. “This was presented to the lad by the 'Watcher' to prove to others of his existence,” he explained. “Pandahar, or the Pan as my son calls him, is under a charge to protect the lad until he becomes of age.” His face then clouded up as he pointed a crooked finger at Feathersmore and Broderick and said, “You two would distract him from that with your pointless, little pursuit.”
Then, as the two watched, the scale in his hind split in twain.
“You may take you each a piece,” he instructed. “You now have two choices. I will set my dragon, Doppelganger, between the Cutoff and the Oxbow Lake. If either of you get past him and are still able to hold the object, you will win his prize.”
“That could be a great deal,” whispered Boegus as Feathersmore slowly shook his head.
“We know your red dragon,” said Broderick. “He doesn’t play well with others. What is the other choice?”
“Give what you would have won to the Stonesmith family,” he answered without hesitation.
“Auugh!” groaned Broderick as he turned and looked toward Belinda’s garden.
“Unfair, Broderick?” asked Basil. “Perhaps you would like to play with my dragon on your way back to the lake,” added the old fellow as he held the halves a bit closer to the dwarf.
With the thought of what Doppelganger had done in the past when Basil was young, Broderick slowly turned, faced the old wizard, and then asked, “Would a price of silver do as well?”
“Well,” quipped the wizard as he looked down at Yenwolk. “What do you think?”
“Not sure, Sir,” responded Yen. “I wouldn’t want to spoil a friendship with the elves or the dwarves.”
“Well put, my puzzling, young friend,” responded Basil. Then, as he looked back up at the two, he added, “My ‘game’ is not of the lad’s doing and I don’t expect any hard feelings toward him. How does three, one-ounce ingots sound?”
“Auugh!” complained Broderick again as he watched Feathersmore and the other elves quickly search their pockets. Then, looking at the scale pieces still held out in the old wizard’s hand, he slowly took out his pouch, fished out the required amount, and then handed it to the young gnome.
“Take it,” encouraged Basil, noting that Yen was hesitating. “A wizard never refuses a rightful gratuity. These two would have sport with a creature that clearly had his forehands full already. But, all in all, they have learned a most valuable lesson--never vex a wizard, especially one from the Whitestone Castle.”