Slinker, Slayer, Kobold, Squire; Chapter 15

Several days went by before Jandle was sufficiently mended to leave the hospital under his own steam. There was a consensus among those present that this kobold must have been divinely blessed to have survived the fights with the three noxious dwarves who had been identified as the Kripplinger brothers. These three were men of ill repute in every sense and were wanted on a number of criminal charges not only in Slothjemia but also in their native Romillia. While Jandle recuperated he listened as Sergeant Thigpen filled him in on everything the constabulary had found out about these conniving fiends.

The youngest brother was Dezzuick. He had been living on the old hog farm since before the Romillian War, working here and there as hired muscle for whoever had the gold to pay him. He had even worked briefly as one of the elite grenadiers, but he ran off when the Romillian War started, and took his blunderbuss with him. He had been killed in the failed assault at Hilde’s house. Apparently, it was Dezzuick that had arranged for all of this carnage in the first place. It had been his idea to kill Hilde and then extort protection money from the other members of the family to prevent them from being attacked as well. There was no far-flung revenge plot, just three desperate men with no scruples at all looking to make some easy money.

The letter to the Velferin family had been possessed by the middle brother, a rogue named Dhurdruri that had done some on again off again dirty work for the Velferin family in Romillia. After their grisly demise in whatever happened at Castle Linkristle during the Governor-General’s reign, Dhurdruri had held on to that letter in the hopes it would someday be turned into a revenue stream. His interest was less on vengeance than it was on not having to work an honest day ever again. He had come to this part of Slothjemia solely to serve as the sneaking expert to scope out how Hilde and her household spent their time so that the dwarves could come up with a plan to get at her more easily. He was the one that the constabulary currently had in custody, and he was going to be beheaded soon for his role in this scheme and a half dozen others that he had had a hand in over the last couple of years since Slothjemia had come into possession of Romilmark.

The eldest brother was Nukdraec, and he was by far the most fearsome of the three. As evidenced by how hard Jandle had had to work to kill him on the hilly road outside of the city, Nukdraec had been one of Romillia’s most formidable warriors. He hadn’t the discipline to earn him a spot in the grenadiers, but he had served for many decades as a professional soldier. He had even been at the scene of what would have been the last battle in the Romillian War had the Romillians not sued for peace and ended the bloodshed. His motive was for the gold to be had, certainly, but he alone had felt there was a matter of honor at stake. He hated the Governor-General and everything that he stood for. Hurting this man’s family would have given Nukdraec some measure of joy well beyond what any treasure could have afforded. But this damned kobold had blundered in and ruined everything. The chaplains for the constabulary and the 10th army had interrogated the eldest brother via their spells to communicate with the dead and through those inquiries had pieced together the entire plan. Dhurdruri wasn’t going to say a word about anything except to curse his captors so asking his dead brother what they had been up to was the only viable recourse.

The chief of police had dropped by during Jandle’s recuperation to inform him that the kobold had earned the bounty that had been offered on all three of the Kripplinger brothers by various authorities inside and outside of the Empire. Dezzuick had been worth four thousand gold, Dhurdruri was worth six thousand gold, and Nukdraec had been worth a staggering thirteen thousand gold. This amounted to twenty-three thousand gold coins, and it was completely tax free. Funds from Romillia were going to cover a large share of this and as soon as the money could be shipped into Romilmark then Jandle was going to get a hefty pay day.

In addition to the monetary rewards, the chief of police also offered Jandle the great two-handed axe that Nukdraec had been carrying around. It was a hefty weapon to be sure, but it was also a tremendously valuable implement of war. Jandle accepted the gift and quietly thought about who he was in turn going to give it to next. The chief had left and a couple hours later returned with the axe carefully wrapped in a large velvet cloth. His only admonition was to be careful because the dastardly thing was “incredibly sharp.”

The constabulary had done a thorough job of trying to verify the information provided by Nukdraec after his death. This included interviews with the reluctantly helpful weaponsmith that had sharpened the warrior’s axe, the chicken farmers that lived next door to the dwarves’ hide out, and a handful of people possessing questionable morals that had petty interactions with the three brothers. It all boiled down to the dwarves not dealing much with the people around them and instead sticking pretty much to themselves. All three were thoroughly disagreeable to begin with so it only made sense that they were not a part of a larger, more sinister plot.

Jandle returned to his hotel room after staying in the hospital for a full week. Magical healing had done a great deal of the work, but Jandle was going to be sore for quite some time to come. As hard as he had been knocked about it really was a miracle that the little fellow hadn’t been outright killed. Had that axe made contact with him he undoubtedly would have been finished. Sergeant Thigpen came by to check on him every day, and finally the day came when the sergeant and the chief of police, along with two other constables, arrived at Jandle’s room with a coffer filled with platinum coins. The bounty had been paid.

Jandle spent the better part of that evening putting the coins a handful of a time into his enchanted coin purse. It amused him to no end that all of these coins that had taken two grown men to carry up here would all fit comfortably into this little bag with the wondrous magical properties. He counted as he went but eventually lost track and just contented himself with knowing all of the coins were there.

The next day when Thigpen came by, he brought with him a recent acquaintance of Jandle, the enchanter Pandergriff whom he had shared a coach with from the Coreland. The enchanter was all smiles as he shook Jandle’s hand. Sergeant Thigpen said, “This fellow says he knows you. He heard about what happened with the dwarves and came to us offering you a gift.”

Jandle looked at the wizard with obvious puzzlement and asked, “A gift? Whatever for?”

Pandergriff chuckled and said, “It is an impressive achievement to have fought and defeated three such worthy adversaries, even if not all at once. When I heard of this, I felt compelled to offer you something to acknowledge your heroism.”

Jandle was still baffled, but he simply shrugged and said, “’Tis very generous of you, kind sir. Thank you for your consideration.”

The wizard replied, “I heard that your short sword is already imbued with magick, but what of your crossbow and bolts?”

Jandle answered, “The crossbow is enchanted, sir. But my bolts are just standard fare for ammunition.” Jandle fetched the twenty bolts he had and presented them to the sorcerer.

Tucking the bolts into what must have been a large pocket within his robes, Pandergriff said, “I’ll bring these back in a few days.” With a smile he added, “Good day to you, noble squire. You have done well.”

After the wizard and the sergeant had left Jandle pondered these words. Had he really done all that well? It seemed to him that whatever forces moved and shook the world had done all of the actual work. All he had done was show up, get hurt, and then collected a sizeable reward. Not sure this merited a “job well done” pat on the back sort of thing. But he would take it. A squire never argued with his master, and since Jandle was without a patron for the time being he had to consider anyone in authority as his boss. This would have to do for now until he could figure out how best to make further amends. Jandle having come so close to death was beginning to think about how he needed to correct past evils he had engaged in. He had been given a lot of money, a beautiful axe, and soon a quiver of enchanted crossbow bolts. He now needed to find a way to parlay that into good karma to pay for what he had done in years past. Jandle was going to need a better plan than what he had been doing thus far.

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