From: Harald Smith (617) 724-9843 (SMITHH@A1.MGH.HARVARD.EDU)
Date: Thu 18 May 1995 - 15:52:00 EEST
The following is a tale heard in the Southlands of Imther. The speaker is thought to be a former innkeeper in the village of Moonpost, though at least one other innkeeper claims that this is untrue and that the Moonpost innkeeper had stolen someone else's story.
A Dwarf's Task
by Harald Smith
You've never seen a dwarf you say? Well, you are a young one still and you may have a chance yet, though they don't come down this way often. Why I've only seen them twice myself and once was at a distance while I journeyed in the mountains.
But some twenty-eight years ago, right around when your father was born, we were over at Valusi Villa (1) for the Khelmal Festival (2). Unusual, that was, to go to the Marex' own village instead of Storbeth or Munn's Grotto (3). But the Marex invited us and we could hardly refuse.
So we were over there and the festivities had barely started when a shrill blast upon a horn brought us to attention. Corvoral's father, Durdaral, was Marex(4) then and he stood upon a dais to address us. When he finished, this little short fellow, stood upon it and spoke. Could barely understand a word he said either. But Durdaral said that this dwarf fellow sought volunteers for a glorious task to aid the restoration of the world. In return, there would be a rich reward. Though I never knew it was still in need of restoration, I was always willing to gain a good reward, so I volunteered as did several others of bold and daring natures.
I was the first to arrive at the dwarf's tent and the servant escorted me in. There upon a small stool sat this very dwarf with hair and beard as rich as sunlight and a twinkle in his eye (5). Before him lay this great book and he held a short twig in his hand.
"What is the task?" I said, for I was ready for any task.
"Sitteth thy gross rotundity 'pon yonder throne," he replied. (6)
Now this made little sense since there was hardly a throne in the tent, nor would I have presumed to sit on such if there had been. But there was another stool and since he pointed in that direction, I sat. Of course, I was not stupid either. Since that action seemed to satisfy him, I immediately asked for the reward.
"Reward?" he said.
"Yes. Clearly I have performed your task," I answered, "therefore I
should receive fair coin."
He looked puzzled for a moment, but then seemed to understand. He cranked some device at his belt and a coin fell out.(7) He gave it to me. My jaw nearly dropped then, for this way a whole gold piece, not like the kind the Lokarma merchants make of course, but I know my gold. I quickly tucked it in my pocket and looked back at him.
"Completeth thou thy truest accounting?"
I nodded agreement with this statement though it did confuse me somewhat. He continued though.
"Answereth thou the understandings for these vocabularies."
I nodded again, though I didn't truly understand what he was getting at.
I was puzzled. What did he want to know? Was this part of the task? I knew my hair was messy so I ran my hand through it. This did not seem to get a reaction from him. But then I thought this might be a word test so I gave the first answer that came to mind.
"Do you mean 'a cock'?"
"Cock?" he said. I nodded and next thing I know he is scribbling with
this stick in that book of his. When he finished, he reached for his belt, cranked the device and handed me another coin. I took it without hesitation, of course.
Again I was puzzled, but figured I might as well give some answer. As long as I got coins for answers, I was going to give them.
"You must mean 'the whore's song'. Verse, song, yes?"
He looked as if he would throw me out then and there, but then he's scribbling again in that book and tossing me a coin.
This went on for ten more words and I left there a good 12 wheels the richer. That's how I got this inn, you know.
Never did get a real man's task out of it, though. Nor did any others who met this dwarf. Don't even know what that book was all about, though my guess is he was working out strange magics. But I tell you all, should you ever meet a dwarf, you just make sure you bargain with them first and get the best deal you can for they don't know the meaning of good coin.(8)
(1) The Valusi are one of the clans of the Southlands of Imther. They are known for their conservative ways. (2) The Festival of Khelmal is a weeklong celebration of the leading god of Imther during Fireseason. It culminates in Khelmal's High Holy Day. (3) Storbeth and Munn's Grotto are two villages within the land of the Valusi.
(4) The Valusi family itself leads the entire clan. The head of the family is the Marex or lord.
(5) Dwarfs with golden hair and beard are among the two most common types of dwarfs found among men in Imther. They are referred to as Gold
Dwarfs by those with knowledge of such things.
(6) Imtherian dwarfs who come to the surface are difficult to understand
for they commonly speak an archaic version of Imtherian (a Pelorian
Theyalan tongue related to Tarshite).
(7) The dwarfs are known to carry their coins in strange metal containers, usually attached to their belts. (8) This tale is unusual, though not unique. The majority of tales record how the dwarfs end up with the best treasures.
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