Everybody Has A Price

By Ricky Temple

In the antechamber of Dunsenhelm Castle Dungeon Master Tregaurd's two assistants Pickle the wood elf & the young dungeon maid/trainee sorceress Daisy were busy attending to their duties about the castle.

Pickle was busy making sure 'The Great Archive of The Quests' was and remained in correct order and in pristine condition. Daisy meanwhile was monitoring the communication pool for any incoming communications or any security warnings. "Ooh I do hate being on communication monitoring duty" she sighed. "It's so tedious at least with your job you have the past quests to amuse yourself with. How come I never get given a job like that?"

Pickle smiled "Some things come with tenure and experience Miss Daisy" he said "Once you have…I believe the human expression is...'earned your stripes' you will find the master will start giving you grater and wider duties to perform."

"And how long will tha…" Daisy began to ask before he question was cut short by a sound that was a mixture of a ethereal buzzing and water fizzing which was emanating from the Pool. Daisy turned and looked at it "Incoming communication" she announced. "Is it one of ours?" Pickle asked Daisy shuck her head "No it's not on today's frequency but nor is it one of Lord Fear's or his minions completely different and unidentified signal source and frequency. I'm having trouble even tuning into it."

Pickle's brow furrowed slightly in concern "I think I better get Master Treguard" he said "Try and see if you can tune in the frequency Miss Daisy I'll be as quick as I can." This said Pickle hurried off to find Treguard, Daisy meanwhile concentrated on tuning the pool into the wave length the person trying to contact them was using.

Slowly but sure the pool tuned into the new frequency and the image of a man began to come into focus in the shimmering water; he looked to be in his mid-thirties, had jet black hair which was well groomed as well as an equal well groomed and just as black goatee beard.

The man's eyes were a light hazel brown in colour and they had a gleam to them, however it wasn't a nice one, it was a cold, selfish one it was the gleam of greed and lust, he was smiling but again like his eyes it was an unpleasant smile it was too board to be genuine, it held no real warmth and there was something oily, duplicitous and sleazy about it. He was richly dressed in very expensive looking robes. Daisy had never seen this man before but already she didn't like the look of him.

Just then the man spoke "Ahhh I wish to speak to Dungeon Master Treguard if you please my good lady." The voice was so thick with faux friendliness that Daisy was sure she could have cut it with a knife, it dripped with sleazy and amoral undertones. Some say you can tell a lot about a person's voice and in this man's case Daisy could quite clearly hear 'money' in the way he talked she had a feeling that money was this man's sole love.

As she was thinking this and scrutinizing the man, Pickle retuned bringing, as promised,the Dungeon Master himself with him. Treguard took one look into the water of the Pool and sighed unhappily.

"Dragons Breath" he said "What does he want?" "You know this person Master Treguard?" Daisy asked, Treguard nodded "Unfortunately yes I do. His names Baron Montague Goldcoin. He's a totally amoral wealth hunter even though he's already recognised as one of 'The Richest Men in the realm' if not THE richest yet he's always on the lookout for ways to increase his personal fortune by any means be they fair or foul and he believes whole heartedly that Everyone Has a Price for him."

Baron Goldcoin grinned "Really Sir Tregaurd is that anyway for a chivalrous knight to act? Telling malicious tales and making wild accusations..hardly the behaviour of a gentleman much less one who claims to follow the code of chivalry." Tregaurd cast the image of the Baron a cold look "All verifiable facts Baron Goldcoin as you know very well. State your business and then please clear the pool we have other matters of far greater importance then you to deal with."

"I wish to make you a proposition Sir Tregaurd" the Baron said grandly. "I wish to engage one of your charming young Dungeoneers to perform a service for me. "Oh yes" said Tregaurd flatly "And pray tell what this service may be?"

"I wish for them to retrieve something for me from the bullion room of Marblehead. So you see Sir Tregaurd it is beneficially for you to as they will be still striking at Lord Fear may he rot and of course I would be willing to reward them handsomely as you said earlier everyone has a price and I'm sure I could easily pay your Dungeoneer his or hers out of petty cash."

Tregaurd snorted but retained his calm demeanour "Tell me Baron Goldcoin just what is it you wish for your errr...champion to redeem?" he asked politely. The Baron smiled "The Hand of Midas, a great quest I'm sure you'll agree Dungeon Master."

"PAH!" Tregaurd snapped contemptuously "The Quest of the Greedy and Licentious, NO Dungeoneer ever quests for that cursed object for it is not a symbol of any noble or chivalrous merit and meaning but rather a symbol and monument to mans greed and lust for wealth. Something a true champion of The Greater Game of Luck & Glory scorns for those who play it and win earn a greater reward Baron Goldcoin then any material one you could ever hope to lay at their feet and one which your wealth obsess mind could never hope to comprehend. Now as it happens my dear Baron the Path between here and the home plane of The Dungeoneers is currently closed so there are no Dungeoneer's present at this time but even if there were the answer to your proposition would still be the same. We reject your offer fully and whole heartedly. Now, you have made your proposition and we have furnished you with a response. So I bid you good day Baron Montague Goldcoin!"

Before the Baron could protest or make and kind of response Tregaurd terminated the conversation. Daisy shuck her head in disgust "What a rotten example of a human being he is" she said. "Indeed Miss Daisy" Pickle agreed "Though he is not in the same league as Lord Fear he still dose your race no credit what so ever." Tregaurd looked at his two assistants "Actually Pickle in his own way Baron Goldcoin is as much a threat to The Powers That Be our aims and what we stand for as Lord Fear is." "Master?" Pickle said not understanding.

"The enemies of Chivalry and of Truth & Light take many forms elf. Be they the obvious ones such as power crazed despots like Lord Fear, or be they the more subtle ones such as Baron Goldcoin who champion self enrichment and personal gain at the expense of others. A man such as Baron Goldcoin with all his wealth can so easily tempt others of the path of right & virtue with the promise of an easy and immediate reward."

Pickle nodded "But what is this Hand of Midas that he's after getting his greedy mitts on?" Daisy asked "A powerful but wretched and cursed object of great infamy." Tregaurd said "It is a gauntlet that once belonged to King Midas of whom I'm sure you have both heard of." The two assistants nodded "Yes well according to legend this gauntlet retained its owners power to turn what ever it's wearer touched into gold, even after its original owner had repented his greedy follies and renounced same said power & ever since it has drawn the greedy and the unscrupulous to search for it."

Tregaurd sighed "I wasn't aware however that the wretched object had ended up in my Dungeon. Though the fact it is in the hands of Lord Fear surprises me none it is just the type of thing one would expect for him to have in his possession."

"Well least its not something we have to worry about" Daisy said. "Hmmm I'm not so sure about that Daisy" Tregaurd said ominously "Baron Goldcoin is not one to give up easily and he has the financial power and resources that he could easily tempt someone to raid Marblehead on his behalf and that could stir up a nest of Catacombites. No Daisy I think this is something we do need to be concerned with as this situation is bound to end in turmoil. It's just a question of when, how much turmoil and how deeply will we be dragged into it."

Little did Tregaurd know that not only was he right but that the turmoil would start a lot, lot sooner then even he could have imagined. For even as he spoke Baron Goldcoin had made contact with someone else and was making them a similar proposition.

"So let Theodora see if she has this strait yeah." The young level 2 thief Theodora Snitch said "You wants for Theodora to nip into the bullion room of old skull features and liberate this here Gauntlet and in return your goner reward me for my services. Has Theodora got that correct like?"

Baron Goldcoin smiled and nodded "Yes Miss Theodora you have that perfectly." Theodora looked suspiciously at the image of The Baron in her spy glass. "And just what reward you goner give old Theodora then aye Goldcoin?" she asked "Cus I ain't some low level cut purse you knows, I'm a upper level 2 thief yeah, I earns quite a tidy little sum from my profession so what is it you got to offer Theodora then?"

Baron Goldcoin smiled "Something you've wanted desperately for years Miss Snitch" "Oh aye" Theodora said laughing "and what's that then aye? A way into clue rooms?" "Exactly that Miss Snitch" Baron Goldcoin said with an oily smile.

"Come again Goldcoin?" Theodora said in disbelief "I have one or two powerful mage friends who owe me a favour or two Miss Snitch" the Baron said "If you were to aid me in this matter I could possible see my way clear to talk to them and have them lift the banishing spell that has been placed upon you, unjustly I might add, and to make sure it is never able to be put on you again."

Theodora couldn't believe what she was hearing "You being on the strait and narrow with me here Goldcoin?" She said Baron Goldcoin smiled "I am one hundred percent on the strait and narrow with you Miss Snitch...so what do you say?" Theodora thought it over this could be her chance to get back into the clue rooms of the Dungeon without having to sign any bonded agreement with The Powers That Be such as Stiletta had done promising never to steal from said clue rooms. This was something Theodora had always thought was silly and wrong of The Powers To Be to ask of thieves like her and Stiletta and she had never understood why a thief of the greatness and legendary stature of Stiletta had humble herself by signing such an agreement. It was a thief's lot in life to steal and if The Powers That Be would leave items just laying around then it was no ones fault but there own when they got filched.

"Okay Goldcoin" she said "You got a deal."