The Long Con

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The sound of steel striking stone echoed throughout Sharindlar’s temple as the halfling swung the pick again and again. Sweat poured over his bare chest as his muscle strained with each hit. Pausing to take a breath, he shook the wet hair from his eyes and stretched his aching back. He pulled the dirt and rubble from the stone shelf, and took a moment to appreciate the work. Masonry had never been an vested interest of his, yet even he felt the passageway was beginning to look more and more like a real crypt.

The light of the driftglobe caused shadows to dance their way down the passage, and from the darkness two yellow eyes peered silently at the man. He raised the pick overhead and froze at the sight of the black shadowy form shifting closer to him.

“Go away.” The man ordered in a familiar voice. He shooed the figure away with a wave of his hand, and then slammed the pick into the stone face.

“Don’t be like that!” A small ethereal voice drifted in from the darkness, “It’s not me you’re upset with…” The painted face of the cat-like creature smiled in the light of the globe, and the man let the pick in his arms rest at his side.

“I’m not mad at anyone…” He muttered silently.

“Now now,” The cat creature wiggled a disapproving finger at the man, “don’t lie to me! Anyone would be frustrated after all they’ve put you through…” The cat face loomed over the man’s shoulder, whispering into his ear. “They call you a liar, a thief, and a coward… make you sacrifice everything for their own desires… They ignore you with their indecisiveness, and act out in their impulsiveness— letting evil escape as they laugh and laugh and laugh!”

“Everyone makes mistakes!” The man pleaded, his eyes staring at the ground unable to look at the cat creature.

“Is that so? Well… They seem to make them rather often, don’t you think?” The cat grinned, “How many times does your throat need to be slit before you wise up?”

The man brought his hand up to his throat and felt along the scars. This new one felt deep, and ran neatly from ear to ear. Tears mixed with the sweat running across his face, as memories of the pain returned to his mind.

“But… but they’re my friends…” He whimpered, barely able to force the air from his chest.

“So was he…” The cat whispered directly into the mans ear. Without warning, paw-like hands wrapped themselves across the man’s mouth as the cat silenced him, listening to the tunnel’s entrance.

Beyond the partially formed closure, voices could be heard approaching the passage. Severius and Daylon were busy discussing the methods of preserving the dead over the next few days. In the light of the driftglobe, Allegro stood alone. He twisted the pick over in his hand, admiring the glistening steel blade reflecting in the light.

“Savra needs to be our priority— otherwise this trip will have been a waste!”

“Stay yon tongue, sir. The fair maiden doth sleep beneath the blanket of Gorm’s grace. For tis’ but a new moon before thine eyes shall again be lain upon hers!” Severius finished by clasping his friend on the shoulder in support.

Allegro stared outward silently, listening to the men talk. A sly smile began to form across his face as he let the blade slice through the air.

Yes— Savra is the priority… but once that’s been dealt with… Something will have to be done about the rest…Even if I have to do it myself…

The Long Con

Tales from Elrond taddow Gunsmith