Dragon’s Hoard – Deer’s Hide 4

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“And why would we do that?” Olga asked.

“You can take as much gold as you can carry if we succeed.”

“How do we even know if any of this is true?” Brent asked. Jasper reached into a pocket and pulled out a coin. He dropped it on the table between the three.

“Look at that and tell me what you notice.”

“It’s just a gold coin,” Brent said.

Annie leaned forward to give the coin a closer inspection. “The eyes are not scratched out,” she said. She picked it up. “And it isn’t worn smooth.”

“Exactly. It’s a coin of the Empire but unlike most coins from that time, the Emperor’s eyes haven’t been scratched out as many people did around the time of the Empire’s fall as a sign of rebellion. Also, it’s in almost new condition because it hasn’t been handled in over a thousand years.”

Brent extended his hand for the coin and Annie passed it to him. After he had looked at it for a minute, Olga offered her hand and the coin was passed to her. She looked at it for a bit and set it back on the table.

“How exactly did you find this Dragon’s Hoard?” she asked.

Jasper sat down and lean forward onto the table. “I was part of an exploratory mission of historians that went into the Dragon Mountains. We weren’t looking for the Dragon’s Hoard. The cave looked like any other cave with a few skeletons and weapons from the era of the last emperor. Deeper in we found a maze of traps, all inactive. Of course, it took us weeks to verify that it was safe to wander through the maze. Eventually, we found the vault doors. They were locked but one of our group was familiar with locks from that era and was able to open it. Inside were stacks of barrels and bags filling a huge carved out cavern. Along one wall were shelves of sealed scrolls. We opened a barrel and found it full of gold coins.

“A bandit group stumbled upon our camp. I was in the maze when I heard shouting from outside. I made it to the opening section just in time to see the last bodyguard killed. Most of the other historians were cowering on the ground but a couple had been cut down in the initial rush. Then the bandits began searching the camp and wagons.

“We had moved a couple of barrels and several scrolls to the smallest wagon to send back to the Historical Society. Luckily in their first quick search, they did not open the barrels. I was going to hide in the cave until full dark, activate the maze traps, try to escape silently on the small wagon, and get help from the Society. That was the plan I came up with and immediately had to scrap when one of the bandits started walking into the cave. I retreated further back into the cave to the maze entrance. There was no way I could let them have the Hoard.”

“Of course not, gold makes misers of us all,” Brent said.

“Never mind the gold. The scrolls represent hundreds of documents from the time of the Empire. Even if they’re nothing more than tax records, they will be invaluable in advancing our understanding of the Empire. I couldn’t let them have it so I activated the maze traps. There were a series of thumps and rumblings as the ancient counterweight system engaged. This is likely what drew the bandit deeper into the cave. I turned to see him holding a mace in one hand and a lightstone in the other. I don’t remember exactly what happened next. I charged him and we struggled on the ground. Then he stopped moving. When I got up, I saw a dagger in his neck and blood on my hands.

“I ran from the cave, jumped on the small wagon, and drove it away from the camp as fast as the horses could run. A couple of bandits tried to chase me down but my lead was just enough to keep them from catching me before they gave up. I made it to Franhal and sent word to the Society about the Dragon’s Hoard and the bandit attack and the others I had been forced to leave behind. They replied with instructions to return with the barrels and scrolls I had escaped with and they would decide what to do about the bandits. No mention of the those that had survived the attack. No mention of a rescue attempt. Just, come back now.

“I could not just leave my friends to die. So, I used some of the gold to finance this operation. I’ve had spies watching the bandit camp so I know they are still there along with a few of my friends. Others I paid to find fighters that I could trust. Regular mercenaries might be tempted to betray me and take the Dragon’s Hoard for themselves. All of you can be motivated by money or other rewards but you are all trustworthy and loyal. That more than anything else is what I needed.

“And you think we won’t double cross you once we get to the gold because we’re loyal?” Brent asked.

“You might but I’ve already promised you as much gold as you can carry. You could take a wagon full of gold and barely put a dent in the Hoard. So, why would you double cross me, for more gold than you could ever use?”

“Well when you put it that way, I guess not.”

“So, are you in?”

“For a wagon full of gold? Yes,” he said with a grin.

“Great. What about the rest of you?” Jasper asked.

“It has been a number of years since I went on an adventure so sure I’m in and I’ll only take half a wagon of gold,” Olga said.

“Deal. And you Annie?”

“Yes, I’m in for what you offered me before and the other half of her wagon if she doesn’t mind sharing the space.”

“Of course not deary,” Olga said patting Annie’s arm.

“Now that we have that all squared away, I bought us some rooms upstairs. Tomorrow we leave for Franhal to get outfitted for the fight and the journey.”

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Dragon’s Hoard – Deer’s Hide 3

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Brent the greatest archer south of the Fire Mountains. Brent the fastest blade in two nations. Brent the beggar, sat watching the latest person to join the table. She looked like a matronly older woman but she moved like a tiger.

He had arrived at the Deer’s Hide Tavern still playing the role of the dirty beggar. With the money from Jasper’s coin purse, he could have bought new clothes, paid someone to shave and tidy his hair, and arrived on horseback. Instead, he had only bought new boots. After scuffing the boots up, wrapping them in rags, secreting the rest of the coins on his person, he set out through back roads to Berdla. He still didn’t trust Jasper and at worst he could return to begging on the street if this didn’t work out.

Jasper, the woman from the ally, another man, and an orgeslayer had arrived before him. He had hoped to sit back and listen to the others talk but the young woman, Cassie, didn’t seem to speak and neither did her friend Santiago. They conversed with their hands through motions and gestures. The Orgeslayer had been even less talkative forcing him to attempt to engage her in conversation. In the end, he had learned little more than he already knew.

The last person to join their party looked like a matronly older woman but moved like a tiger. At first sight, he had pegged her as an investor or backer of Jasper’s endeavor, whatever it might be. While her clothes were nothing special, replacing an eye with a golden socket and jade stone had to have cost plenty of coin. Watching her nearly decapitate the poor barmaid changed his mind about her. Another fighter for a group that already had himself and an orgeslayer.

Once their last member had arrived, Jasper had excused himself from the table, promising to be right back. Evening came and went with no word from him. With midnight approaching and the tavern crowd thinning, Brent began to wonder if this meeting was some sort of trap. There were several people who would pay for his head. Annie and Olga seemed more than capable of overpowering him if it came to that. Were they waiting for the tavern to empty out for the night? Time to disrupt their plans.

Brent raised a hand in front of Cassie’s face and began snapping his fingers. “Hey, sweetheart how much longer do we have to wait?” Santiago shot his hand out grabbing Brent’s hand. Brent let him.

“Don’t do that. If you need to talk to her I can translate. Understand?”

Brent jerked his hand free. “Yeah, yeah, sure. Ask her how much longer.”

Santiago signed to Cassie and she signed back. “He’ll be back soon,” he said.

“Soon, soon. He said he’d been back soon now you’re saying soon. Y’all have a funny sense of soon.” He raised his voice steadily until he was almost ranting.

Cassie signed back her motions sharp and curt. “Then go. Nothing is stopping you,” Santiago said in a restrained voice.

“Ok, I will.” He stood up shoving his chair back with his legs. Brent headed for the front door tying his cloth sack around his body. If there was a trap he hadn’t sprung it and he was leaving before it could be. Halfway to the front door, it opened and Jasper entered.

He walked to Brent, placed a guiding hand on his shoulder and said, “Leaving so soon? Some last minute business kept me but I am back now and ready to fill all of you in on why I’ve asked you here.” Jasper gently led Brent back toward the table while he talked. “So, would you take your seat and we’ll get started.” Brent shuffled around the table and sat down. Jasper retook his place at the head of the table.

“First some introductions. I am Jasper Dalton, historian and currently the leader of this team.” He gestured to Cassie and Santiago. “This is Cassie, master artificer, and Santiago, her partner and translator.” He turned to the side. “Olga, former mercenary, currently a tavern owner.”

“And head cook,” Olga interjected.

“Yes, and at the end of the table, Annie, former Orgeslayer, currently …”

“Farmhand. Just the one,” she said waving with her only hand.

“Ha, farm hand. And Brent, former bandit, currently unemployed.”

“You can just say beggar. I don’t have a reputation to protect,” he grumbled.

“Right, Cassie and Santiago have already signed on and know all that I’m about to tell you.” Jasper took a deep breath. “Have any of you heard of the Dragon’s Hoard?” He paused to look around the table.

“You mean like in stories when dragons make nests of gold and gems?” Annie asked.

“Dear, you do know those are just stories, right? Dragons never hoarded gold,” Olga asked Jasper.

“Yes. I know those are just stories. I’m talking about THE Dragon’s Hoard. Before the fall of the last empire, the last emperor had several vaults for the Empire’s wealth created. Most were beyond the mountains that separated the capital lands from our own but one was in the Dragon Mountain range. After the trade passes were collapsed, it was lost. Over the centuries it became a legend, then a folk story, and then it mostly faded from common knowledge.” He paused locking eyes with Olga, Annie, and Brent in turn. “I know where it is and there is more gold than all six of together could spend in our lifetimes. Right now, it is under the control of a group of bandits but they can’t get inside. I need your to help me retake the Dragon’s Hoard.”

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Dragon’s Hoard – Deer’s Hide 2

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In the evening, a woman with a false jade eye and golden eye socket entered the Deer’s Hide tavern. She walked through the evening crowd straight to the bar to talk to the barkeep.

“I’m looking for a man I’m supposed to be meeting here,” she said.

“Lot’s of men in here,” he said while pouring a beer for another customer, “What’s his name?”

Seven Days Ago

“Hello, you must be Olga.” The man standing at the bar said with a wide grin.

“What makes you think that?” Olga said.

“I’ve heard stories about your beautiful eyes.” He winked his right eye.

She snorted and said “Really? And stories would those be?”

“We can talk about that later after you come work for me.”

She cackled at the boy trying to act like a someone. He leaned closer and motioned her to do the same.

“I’m going to be blunt because I think you will respect that. I know you’re not just an old bar matron. You were once a mercenary who was, actually still is, really good at killing.” He lowered his voice further, “I know you slaughtered a bandit group a few months ago.”

Olga’s smile slowly turned into a grimace and the twinkle of mirth faded from her good eye. “Was it John whose been telling stories out of turn? I know it wasn’t Lisa because the dear girl didn’t see anything.”

The man stood back up straight, “I can’t reveal my source.”

“So, it was John. Gonna have a talk with him next time I see him. Why do you think I care if anyone knows that I was a mercenary?”

“Maybe you don’t care but I know some people who still have grudges against you. You’ve made a nice life for yourself here and it would be a shame if they came and ruined it.”

“What do you want?”

“I’m putting together a team for a special venture and I’d like you to be apart of that team. We’re meeting at the Deer’s Hide tavern in Berdla in seven days,” he said.

“What if I just killed you right now?”

“My threat isn’t contingent on me leaving here alive. It goes off whether or not I’m alive. The only way to stop it is to come to the meeting. After that, you can walk away but I need you to hear me out.”

“Can I kill you after the meeting?” she asked a new smile creeping onto her face.

“If you still feel that way, yes.”

“Seven days isn’t a lot of time. I’ll have to arrange for extra workers, I’m going to miss my regular shopping day so I’m going to have to make arrangements for that, plus the beer needs to be checked before the end of the week.”

The man set a bag on the bar. “I may be blackmailing you into this meeting but I am still paying for your time.”

Olga opened the bag and smiled She reached in and pulled out a small handful of gold and silver coins. “Well, you should have said that in the first place. I guess I’ll be seeing you in seven days.” She dropped the coins back in the bag. “What’s your name?”


“His name is Jasper Dalton.”

“Oh, him. He’s in the back with the rest of your group. Straight back, past the stairs.”

Olga walked in the direction the barkeep had pointed and found a group of people seated around two tables pushed together. At one end was a tall large woman missing one arm. On her left was a man who looked like he was in desperate need of clean clothes and a barber. His beard was flecked with bits of meat from the turkey leg he was eating. Next to him was a young woman with short hair wearing a leather vest. Scars and burns dotted her arms. Across from her was a big muscular man, though still smaller than the woman at the end of the table, in a leather jacket. And at the head of the table Jasper Dalton. A little cleaner looking but wearing the same clothes from a week ago. He stood up when he saw Olga.

“The last member of our team has arrived. Please take a seat.” He gestured to the empty chair next to the muscular man. She sat down. “Would you like anything to eat or drink before we get down to business?”

“Wine, a turkey leg,” the dirty man saluted her with his own, “Bread and soup as well.” Jasper motioned to the barmaid and relayed her order.

“Well aren’t you the odd one out. Annie and I are almost a matched set.” He lifted his right arm and shook away his cloak to reveal a scarred stump instead of a hand.

“She is missing an eye,” the large woman, Annie, said.

“True but it’s not quite the same as an arm or hand. I’m Brent by the way and you are?”

“Olga,” Olga asked.

A hand slid into Olga’s view from her right, her blindside. She grabbed it with her left and began to drive her right elbow back but stopped as she turned and saw the barmaid. Olga dropped her elbow took the soup the barmaid had been trying to serve to her, set it on the table, slid out of her chair and began comforting the barmaid.

“Oh dear, I am so sorry. You came up on my blindside and startled me. Are you alright? I didn’t squeeze your wrist too hard did I?” she asked in a high pitched voice.

“No ma’am.” She rubbed her wrist where red finger marks were slowly fading. “I’m sorry I startled you.”

“You have nothing to be sorry for. I scary to easy for an old woman. Just come from my left so I can see you. That’s a good girl.”

Olga retook her seat aware everyone was staring at her. “What? Did I spill the soup?”

“You almost knocked that girl’s face in,” Annie said

“But I didn’t. I have a bad startle reflex on my blind side, so be mindful of it.”

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Dragon’s Hoard: The Beggar

The beggar; dirty, unshaven, hair long, unkempt and matted in places; sat against a wall on a small side street. His clothes were a tattered and torn robe loosely wrapped around a thin hunched over body. A bandage wrapped around his head covering one eye. Coins clinked in a small metal cup attached to a stick attached to a leather wrist cuff. Where a hand should extend out of the cuff there was nothing.

With a practiced bounce of his arm the coins clinked in the cup.

clink clink … clink clink … clink clink

A deft flick threw them into the air, clearing the edge. He listened to the coins hit the bottom of the cup.

clink clink Clunk clink clink

A second flick threw them higher out of the cup.

clink Clunk clink clink clink

He glanced up and down the street. No one in sight. He bounced the coins a couple more times and then flicked them straight up higher than a standing man.

clink clink clink … clink

The beggar looked around for the missing coin. On his blind side, a man stood examining the coin he had plucked from the air. The silver piece that a kind woman had dropped into his cup earlier today. He had meant to squirrel it away in his hidden coin purse but he had liked the weight it added to his cup.

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Serial Story – Dragon’s Hoard

Disabled, retired, and/or older adventurers are brought together for a special job.  The first few stories are character pieces to intro characters before they are brought together for the main story.

Dragon’s Hoard: Ogreslayer

Annie sat at her customary table in the back of the tavern. Marion had been kind enough to have a wide bench seat for her installed against the wall. It was a slow night, not too crowded, mostly regulars from the village and a couple of travelers who seemed to have taken notice of her. She avoid looking at them not wanting to encourage them but after a while they walked over to her table.

“Hello sir–” one began but she cut him off without looking up.

“I’m not a sir.” She scratched the stubble on her neck. It was time to get another potion from the healer in the next village over. Its effects were minor; a slight softening of her features, halting her beard growth, and the small breasts that were almost unnoticeable on her hugely muscled chest. They mostly did not stop people who didn’t know her from calling her sir but they made her feel better.

Read the rest here.

Dragon’s Hoard is the overarching name for this story series about older, retired, and/or disabled adventurers in a fantasy setting who are brought together for a special job. This is the first of a few character pieces before they are brought together for the main story.

Dragon’s Hoard: Olga’s Jade Eye

I never gave much thought to how old Olga lost her eye. She had a hand full of stories she would tell ranging from a bar fight to a bear fight. It would have been easy to cover it with a simple eye patch or even with her own hair. Instead she had a round unpolished jade eye held in a golden socket by golden threads. Sometimes she called it her retirement fund even though the tavern was supposedly her retirement.

Read it Here.

Dragon’s Hoard is the overarching name for this story series about older, retired, and/or disabled adventurers in a fantasy setting who are brought together for a special job. This is the first of a few character pieces before they are brought together for the main story.