Ettot the Barbarian's Perilous Dragon-Slaying Adventure!
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Ettot the Barbarian stopped for a moment, having just arrived at the village of Goldbanks. He admired the surroundings, since it was a beautiful day — the birds were singing, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and everything was tied nicely with a warm, summer breeze. He checked his Inventory: dwarven axe (highest level), Sword of the East, light, leather armor (full set), poison darts, 10 wheels of cheese, 23 rations of food, roast chicken (he had found it in some spooky castle and hasn't gathered enough confidence to try and eat it yet), elven talisman, poison antidote, Ring of Extra Health, 3209 gold coins, 375 crystals… alright, everything was in place. He knew there was someone in this village who would help him on his quest to slay the dreaded Red Dragon of Fire Mountain; at least that's what his map said. He jogged up to the inn and opened the door.

The inside was relatively empty, save for an innkeeper, a bulky, bald man with a magnificent moustache, lazily wiping a dirty cup with an even dirtier rag, two elven maidens cheerfully chatting at one of the tables, and one hooded figure brooding in the corner with an untouched pint of beer, instead drinking from their own flask. Ettot looked around and jogged up to the innkeeper, knocking over a chair in the process. He's never been the most graceful man, even in battle he relied on brute force instead of agility or wits. He did not bother to pick the chair up, instead straight up asking:

‘The thane of Baile Bochd sent me. I'm supposed to slay the Dragon! Is there anyone here who can aid me on my mission?’

The innkeeper glared at him for a few seconds, then glanced at the knocked-over chair.

‘Not even a simple "Hello"?… Eh, forget it. I assume you're not going to order anything?’ the innkeeper sighed. Ettot just stared at him menacingly. ‘Well, I mean, what the hell. You come into my inn, knock over a chair, you don't even say "sorry", let alone put it back where it was…’ He broke off for a second, thinking about how he will have to bend down to set it upright later. ‘You're acting all rude, scaring away my…’ He paused, seeing how Ettot's menacing glare was getting stronger by the second. Galad (because that was the innkeeper's name) started sweating lightly. Goldbanks was a reputable, calm village, in which nothing ever happened. Even bar fights were dull and indolent, and no one ever really got hurt in them. Galad had a knightly name, but only because his mother read too much of those romantic books, not because he was particularly brave. He gulped and quickly retracted: ‘Okay, alright, mate, didn't mean to annoy you or anything. We're just not used to strangers of your reputation here is all. Could you please repeat what you said earlier? I, heh, didn't quite catch that.’

‘The thane of Baile Bochd sent me. I'm supposed to slay the Dragon! Is there anyone here who can aid me on my mission?’ Ettot repeated. Galad wondered for a second why did the stranger's words sound like he said them in different colors, then answered:

‘Oh, well, in that case, why don't you go to the Blacksmith. He's got some new, fancy sword, maybe you'll like it. Wait, how the hell did I say that out loud?’

‘Thank you, kind peasant. Your good deeds will not be forgotten!’ Ettot the Barbarian shouted, turned around and ran out of the inn, leaving Galad wondering about life and such.

After Ettot's sudden entrance and subsequent leave, Galad let out a long whiz, signifying his discontent, and wiggled out from behind the counter to pick up the chair. The hooded figure in the corner suddenly spoke in a very thick, dwarven accent:

‘Don't worry about these kinds o' people, lad. They come 'n go, 'n usually they're just very stupid and go on some quests nobody needs. Disrupt th' peace 'n move weirdly. Also, they speak in fookin' colors, I have no idea how that works.’ The figure took another sip from their flask and continued: ‘I once saw one o' them run in place next to some small rock 'n claimin' he couldn't move farther. 'N then his fookin' horse teleported to the roof of th' tavern I was stayin' in at that time.’ They sighed and shifted in their chair. ‘Anyway, goddamn wizards 'n thanes keep hirin' these folks to do stuff for them, as if there weren't better options. Truly a bane o' this realm.’

Galad went back behind the counter and sat on a barstool. ‘Never met one of them before. Weird guy. It's like he only knew how to say certain sentences. Aren't you gonna drink the beer?’

‘Na, sorry lad, I'm a bit paranoid, no offence o' course. How much do I owe ye?’

‘Oh, that'll be 1 coin for the beer and, uh, 10 coins for one night, and you said you're gonna be here until Monday, so… 41 gold in total, yeah.’

‘Sure thing, lad.’

***

Ettot was climbing up the Fire Mountain. He thought to himself that the name was misleading; he was, in fact, very cold. He wondered if the mountain got its name because of the dragon.

Finally, he reached the top. He unsheathed his new Dragonslayer Blade, on which he had spent 300 crystals, and tried some moves. The Blade felt like it was made specifically for him; it barely weighed anything in his gigantic arms, bedecked with enormous muscles. He checked if everything was ready for a fight, then began looking for the Dragon's Lair.

After about 10 minutes, he indeed found a Suspiciously Big Cave Entrance. He took a deep breath and ran inside, yelling his battle cry. Just as he stepped foot in the cave, though…

BANG!


He was launched right back outside, landing on his bottom.

‘What is this sorcery?!’ he yelled in anger. ‘Let me fight you, you cowardly lizard!’

Just as he uttered those words, he saw some sort of strange, semi-translucent, blue veil, forming in the same spot that launched him back out. Soon after, some words appeared on it, below which was a glowing magical seal. He got up, jogged up to the veil and squinted, reading the words slowly (he wasn't very good at reading). The veil read:

Uh oh!

You currently have: 75 crystals.

Seems like you don't have enough crystals for this mission! Would you like to summon a Fiscal Imp?

ᛄ Yes, please! ᛄ



No, I'd rather find them myself.


Ettot the Barbarian pondered. He had to slay the Red Dragon, but he spent most of his crystals on the Dragonslayer Blade. He had coin, though, so maybe a "Fiscal Imp" (whatever that was) could help him overcome this sorcerous veil. He hesitantly touched the runic seal.

There was a flash of bright light, blinding him for a second and leaving funny, moving, green stains on his vision. He shook himself off abruptly, grabbed his Dragonslayer Blade tighter and erratically searched for enemies.

‘Hello! No, not there, here, you big dunce!’

Ettot turned toward the tiny voice, wandering his eyes around until he found its source. It was a very small, very bright, and very well dressed man, floating in the air around the height of Ettot's chest.

‘…Who are you? Are you the… uh, the—’

‘My name's Arnie, and here's Doug. Yes, we're the Fiscal Imps, we represent the National Bank of Edrya.’ Ettot only now noticed the second imp, floating about a meter from the first one. Both of the imps were dressed in boring, black suits, white button-down shirts and red ties, though it was a bit hard to notice because of their natural glow.

‘Will you help me overcome this Sorcerous Veil so I can continue with my quest?’

‘Why of course! You can safely purchase crystals from us in exchange for gold! Doug, would you be so kind as to roll up the price list?’, said the imp who introduced himself as Arnie.

‘Why, of course, Arnie, with pleasure!’, Doug replied enthusiastically and produced a tiny magic wand. He performed a complicated maneuver with it, which in turn caused golden, shimmering letters to appear in the air, forming into the aforementioned price list. ‘As you can see, my good sir, you can purchase 20 crystals for just 100 gold! And if that's not enough, why, we also have grrreat offers of 100 crystals for just 450 gold, 500 crystals for 2000 gold (this one is Pat's Favorite!), or, if you're feeling rich and mighty, 2000 crystals for just 10 000 gold! So, pick your poison, friend!’

‘Euh… I, uhh, I have about 3000 gold? Who is Pat?’ Ettot asked. He felt a bit overwhelmed. He's never met a Fiscal Imp before; he was good at fighting, forcing his way through and fighting (again, but with different weapons), not at money stuff. He considered just charging at the Sorcerous Veil again, but judging by the force he had been met with, it probably wouldn't work.

‘Oh, you know, Pat? She looks kind of like us, y'know, small, glowing, floating?’ Arnie queried. ‘No matter. If you have 3000 gold, that would actually be enough to buy 500 crystals for just 2000 gold, and you'd still be left with a whole thousand gold coins! You do need 800 crystals to get that kind of a high level mission though, so you could go into debt with us and pay off the debt once you get paid for the mission. That would mean you pay us 3000 gold upfront, and 350 gold after whoever sent you on this mission without enough crystals pays you your reward. By the way, who is your employer?’

‘The thane of Baile Bochd sent me. I'm supposed to slay the Red Dragon of Fire Mountain!’ Ettot felt much more confident saying familiar words like "slaying dragons", which is why he declaimed the entire, official name of the Dragon.

‘Oh. Hm. Yea, Baile Bochd explains the lack of preparation in terms of money. Well, no worries, I'm sure we can work this out. You just have to sign here, and you're all set. You have to pay your debt off in a month, or otherwise we'll add interest’, Doug remarked, conjuring up a document and a quill, already dipped in ink.

‘Um. And you'll take my gold, but give me crystals, and then I'll be able to fight the Red Dragon of Fire Mountain?’ Ettot made sure he understood correctly.

‘Eeexactly’, Arnie nodded. ‘Just sign here, ah, ah, ah, riiight here.’

Ettot the Barbarian was slightly confused, but he really needed to fight the Dragon, after all it ravaged the land, so he grabbed the quill and put a large, clumsy X where Arnie was showing him.

‘Alrighty, well, the contract is signed, here's your copy, the deal is done, there's really not much more we can do! When you have that extra 350 gold, contact us through your nearest branch of the National Bank of Edrya. Here are your 800 crystals. Toodles!’ Doug recited, stuffing Ettot's copy of the contract into his giant hand, conjuring the appropriate amount of crystals and disappearing alongside Arnie, leaving Ettot confused and feeling like he's just been cheated out of something, but he had no clue as to the genuineness of that suspicion. He collected the crystals into his Inventory, prepared his weapons, took a deep breath and charged at the Sorcerous Veil with a battle cry on his lips once again.

BANG!





Hold up!

You currently have: 875 crystals.

Would you like to spend them to gain access to this quest?

ᛄ Yes, please! ᛄ



No, I'd rather go on another mission.
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