Night had fallen on the Nether Regions and the party had gathered in the common room of the The Belle End tavern. No sooner had the wench brought the first round that the black robed wizard seated himself at the head of the table.
"Seat's taken." snarled Thakko the Barbarian.
"But I brought it from another table." protested the wizard.
"Put it back before someone gets hurt." said Thakko.
"I am here on business."
"Oh, in that case." said Thakko. "Elvish, I think he's looking for something a little more up yer alley."
"I have not had to resort to such things since my apprentice days." Zhoosh Uros the Ranger said as he sipped his wine.
"Stuff it, the both of you." Lumbar the Dwarf grumbled. "What's the job, spellslinger?"
The wizard cleared his throat. "Well, I have a castle that needs exploring, and I hear that you lot are the best ... currently breathing that is."
Thakko slammed his stein on the table. "That's right, spellhead. Ever since Orkin's group lost it in the Caverns of Carnivorous Cockroaches, we've been number one around here."
"Which brings me to you." the wizard continued. "Interested?"
"Depends. We haven't heard the job yet." said Lumbar.
Before he could answer, Thakko broke in. "There ain't a ruin, temple, dark wood or barber shop between here and Cleopolis that we haven't looted. Teleporting spells make me barf and we just did two weeks hard riding to get here from our last job. I ain't going no-where until my saddle sores are gone, and I work up a few more on the local working girls."
"No spells and you will not have to travel at all, barbarian." promised the wizard. "But the job is available for a very limited time, and I will require your immediate assent."
"He means, now or never, you deviant imbecile." said Uros.
Thakko scoffed. "Sure, pal. If you can show me a castle to loot right now then I'm in!"
"It pains me to say it, but I am curious enough to concur with the deviant imbecile." said Uros.
The wizard looked to the dwarf and received a shrug in reply. "Let's see what you got."
With a smile that would worry all the devils in hell, the wizard laid his hand on the table. "Excellent. Then I will need you all to gaze deeply upon my ring ...."
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