“All I’m saying is that I want my money back.”
“Al, we’ve acquired enough treasure today that you could buy ten more wands, if you wanted. I think I saw a wand in the shaman’s sack, even. We’re not going all the way back to Harramantown. Not now.”
“It’s the principle, Pen! When I pay money, I expect goods that measure up to that value!”
Pendleton crossed his arms, looked off to his right and chewed the inside of his mouth. He saw Haspar looting the battlefield for the third time. It was his customary final pass to make sure they didn’t leave even a crumb of salable goods that could be exchanged for coin in the next town. It wasn’t greed; Haspar was one of the most generous dwarves Pen had ever known. No, the hardened exterior of that one hid a juicy center of compassion. He only wanted to maximize the reward he could shepherd to those in greater need. Better a friendly starving soul get the goods than whatever foul beasts and villains—
“PENDLETON ARBORGRANE! LOOK. AT. ME.”
With a sigh, he did. When she got worked up, it was hard to talk to Alumnet. It made it worse that she was often—if not usually—right.
Alumnet’s posture relaxed. She had his attention; now it was time to make her case.
“We’re supposed to be making the world a better place. It’s in our charter! A royal decree says we’re obligated to right wrongs and correct injustice wherever we may find it within the Lord’s Realm. Don’t you think a merchant selling inferior merchandise to agents of the Crown falls into that category?”
Haspar chimed in from across the field, kicking over a pile of corpses.
“I think it does!”
Pendleton started to look around for Samma. Ever the pragmatist, she was usually on his side. Harramantown was backtracking, and would add days, if not weeks to their route. They needed to stay focused on their quest. Suddenly she was there, right next to him. Like a cat.
“Sorry, Pen, but I think Al’s right,” she said, in her sing-song lilt. “Who knows how many others that swindler has bilked out of their hard-earned scales?”
Pendleton knew when he was outmatched. They looked to him as the leader, but in truth they were a collective. He was just the one to put a face on the company.
“Fine, Pen. We’ll go back to Harramantown and adminster the King’s justice. But we’ll try talking before blades.”
Pendleton, Alumnet, and Samma looked over at Haspar. His face was covered in blood (again), and he was looking down at something resembling a goblin at his feet. Without looking up, he raised his hammer in their general direction in a gesture of acknowledgement, splashing ichor on the grass.
He paused a moment. Then with a shrug:
“OK. I got everything. Let’s go.”
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