"What , pray tell, did you see? ", inquired Clovis with a yawn. Ymir's tale had lasted most of the evening and the artificer was clearly tired and hoping for a conclusion. " A singing dragon? Maybe singing trolls? ", suggested the merchant.

Ymir's did not like the tone of her friend. She calmly got off her seat , walked to the man and punched him in the gut. "Pay attention! This is important ! " , she yelled at her now reeling companion.

"Where was I...oh yeah. It was midday and there were two armies at the mountain base. One army consisted of those lake people, the other was a fearsome army of drow longbow men . Lead by the drow king no less ! ", recalled the dwarf in awe.

Clovis was about to mention the small detail that drow do not operate in sunlight, also they were a matriarchal society. The dark elves would never have a drow king unless he was a consort or some other subservient position. The artificer thought about interrupting and correcting the dwarf, but the pain in his stomach cautioned him against it.

"Seems the humans had thrown in with the dark elves and were demanding our stuff or something. It was enough to get a girl's blood boiling! I was about to give them a few choice words, when good ole cousin stepped up to the plate and told them to screw off. We dwarves don't give hand outs. The drow can go suck rocks for imprisoning us, and the humans could go jump off a bridge for ...for err..being poor. The head human guy claimed some nonsense that they had killed the dragon, but we weren't falling for that. Old smokey prolly got bored or were scared of us dwarves so left for new pastures. Even if they did somehow killed the dragon, we were the first to engage it. So they actually kill stole it from us. We did all the work, the camping , the pulling, the taunting... he did what...shot some arrows at it and got in a lucky shot. ", spat the dwarf angrily.

Although Clovis valued gold as much as the next adventurer turned merchant, even he could see his friend was clearly suffering from gold fever at that point. Her judgement was clearly clouded by her race's love of all things gold and valuable. He would have called her on it, but once again the threat of a punch in the gut by the short but strong dwarf maid convinced him to wisely hold his tongue.

"So there we were , a hand full of dwarves squared off against an army of craven drow, and beggars from Escargot ville . Even odds by my book. We were prepared to battle to the end, but suddenly Cousin's err cousin showed up . Some guy by the name of Zane Iron shoe, or Steel foot or something. He had several thousand dwarves with him , and I was like ...oh yeah ...bring it on baby. Dwarves rule ...Naugrim forever! ", exclaimed Ymir.

Clovis held his tongue once again. Normally if a band of dwarves showed up after a major monster was slain, her immediate response would be , "Get lost ! Get your own loot! " The artificer guessed her response was clearly tailored for each situation.

"At that point, I thought the humies and dark elfies would pack it up and go. We had the environmental advantage and the superior troops, it would be suicide to go against us. Everything would have been over all non violent like . To my surprise the leader of the humies produces the Barkingstone. The giant ruby , the symbol of rulership to the mountain dwarves. Turns out chubby had swiped it and was using it to broker a peace or something. At this point cousin flips out. I mean , who wouldn't right? I thought he was gonna gut Billybobo right there, but the old wizard guy suddenly shows up and stops everything. ", recalled Ymir while shaking her head.

"Poof...he's gone for days , perhaps weeks, then he appears just like that and casts a time stop?", asked Clovis with a little more respect for the wizard for hire.

"Well...not quite time stop. He kind of just spread his arms and gestured really dramatically with thunder and lightning shooting out of his staff. ", replied Ymir. To demonstrate she got on her chair again and attempted to mimic the wizard's pose and speech . "Halt! Dread has come upon you all! Alas ! The goblins are upon you! Bolg of the north is coming! ", declared the dwarf in a powerful emotive voice.

Clovis was taken back by his friend's speech and had not expected the silly dwarf maid could be so imposing.

Ymir smiled and hopped off her chair, "Pretty cool huh? I was practicing. Anyways , seems old Steelshoe or whatever cousin's cousin was called had killed Bolg's father a while ago . He was some high goblin king I guess . Combined with us gutting the current goblin king earlier, and the lure of dragon loot , well...let's say every goblin for a thousand miles was out for blood. It wasn't just goblins either, but wolves, worgs, bats, and all sorts of bad guys. I guessed at least a hundred thousand of the little bastards were charging us at that point."

"Then they started singing?", inquired Clovis.

"Yeesh...what's with you and singing? No...we put aside our differences and got down to some serious gobby killing. I'm not exactly sure what happened but it was pure craziness. I mean we had a dwarf mountain city at our disposal...so what do we do...fight outside! We were clearly outnumbered , and we should have fought a defensive battle...but cousin attempts to charge Bolgy or whatever his name was unsupported. Even the drow charged the goblins , when they should have sat back and filled them with arrows. The dwarves , especially the ones I adventured with , fought like cornered badgers but we couldn't break the goblin ranks. ", recalled Ymir bitterly.

"So I take it you lost? You somehow escaped and made your way back to Grom. That's the source of your anger correct? ", guessed Clovis.

"Eh? Lose? Of course not! Pffft...Wizard guy summoned his eagle buddies, so there goes your limited magic item charge theory, and that big bear man which we only met for a few hours showed up and laid waste to every gobby he could find. It wasn't the prettiest battle, but scratch one on the win column for the good guys, and errr the drow. ", shrugged the dwarf.

"Of course. Tactics are such a burden, gets in the way of heroics and bloodshed. ", agreed the artificer sarcastically.

"I know right? Anyways , we won, they lost, but we took our beats as well. Cousin got himself mortally wounded , and the two hot twins got killed as well. I mean how come fatty the dwarf didn't die ? Life's so not fair. Chubby makes his peace with cousin and gives him the Barkingstone before he dies. I know ...so teary eye and boohoo. The drow and the men of Escargot makes peace with the dwarves . Steelshoe takes control of the mountain and divides the loot his way. Even gave some to the drow and men. I would have protested and challenged him to the right of succession, but he divided the loot rather equitably so I was happy. There was much spontaneous singing that day. ", explained Ymir wistfully.

"All the dwarves decide to stay in their newly acquired mountain stronghold. In the end, they were pretty swell guys. They might have been loafs to begin with , but they came through when it counted. I even got a letter from Gloinky recently, seems he had a kid called Gimply or something. Chubby , the wizard and I said our fond farewells and head backed home. Those two were traveling pretty light, but I had a small train of ponies overloaded with loot with me. We journeyed together till we reach the half elf guy's place, and I got a ride home from there. Not sure what the hired gun wizard did, but Chubby said he was gonna write a book , with poetry and songs in it. ", waxed the dwarf nostalgically with a longing sigh.

"Wait...Dragon vanquished. Goblin army destroyed. Ymir lives and gets a of of gold . Sounds like a really great adventure. Why were you complaining so bitterly earlier? From your tale, it appears you did everything you accomplished and then some. ", noted Clovis.

Ymir's wistful gaze turned to a scowl. "Oh yeah. That reminds me. So I return back home with all this loot, and who meets me at the border? Yup, you guessed it ...tax collectors. They were hitting me with an Import tariff, recovered horde tax, foreign domestic beast of burden fees, gold levy, silver levy, gem luxury tax, expatriate taxes, and since Cousin died, an inheritance tax as well. I practically cried as all my hard earned loot vanished. ", growled the dwarf angrily.

"Which brings me to why I'm here. So you're a pretty successful merchant right? I wonder if you can set me up with some ace tax lawyers or some half decent accountants . ", smiled the dwarf in her most sincere smile.

Clovis laughed, "As long as no one breaks out in song and dance, sure. ".