The Gnome and Wizard’s Pact (Part 3)
Borgot heaved his heavy wheelbarrow up towards the highest peak of the Fondergrund’s lowest point. It was where the necromancers would dance naked, and conjure up the reanimated corpses of fallen foes and friends alike. They drank the fanciest mead made of Kilbur Honey and ash berry wine. It was delicious to unfamiliar palettes. He was not so keen to the ignorance of these aristocratic gnomes. As he pulled further away, he noticed the purplish plumes of faerie light silhouetted over the
Bowers, as the Terras were making their way into the deep=heart of the city. He shrugged off their visit, as one of many that have been recurring over the last few months. Even though time traveled differently underground, Borgot kept a rather strong understanding of the lapse of time, and the creatures that stepped foot into his city. Hours flew by, and he made his way down the cliffs, and up the furthest reaches of the highest point of the lowest regions. The necromancers wouldn’t always be so kind and generous with his offerings, and the hardly stated the need of the company of the living, thus he narrowed his eyes, and stuck to the business of bartering with them. He wanted lots, and knew his yield was worth something, but the necromancers lived to barter, especially with such elements as Spiritshale, and it’s characteristics as a unique spectrea alloy. They could use it for any number of hexes, spells, or even some ungodly reanimation ritual. For Borgot, it wasn’t even a thought in his mind to whether or not they even used it! So long as they bought it for the price he seeked.
The first necromancer saw the gnome before Borgot was even registering the path of spectres in front of him. The necromancers themselves, though very much alive, looked like messengers of Death, and flowed with an unearthly glide throughout the caverns. A quickening speed not any true mortal could comprehend, as the shadows of ghosts dipped in and out of their stride.
“It is him! He’s come! Oh glorious chunks of the ghastly rock he conveys!” They all shoosed one-another like plotting toddlers to attempt a raid of grandmother's morsel drawer. Had they been anything other than necromancers, Borgot would’ve been raised suspicious, but any character that deals with raising the dead for their own bidding, is apt to always be a suspicious one to watch with the greatest of attention.
“Hoy! I have here a ton of Spectregloss! I’d be assured a rousing bit of capital for it, yes?” Borgot ventured closer, and dumped the glistening, translucent shale at the feet of the necromancers, they all danced about in glorious anticipation, fighting over the pieces like children, as they carried it all back to their respective workbenches. Zombies, werewolves, and all other puppetry of the undead were about, like unkempt toys rotting in a children’s playpen. Arms and hands latched into trunks, and the smells of vitrification have stunk up all of Borgot’s senses he had to let out a guttural hack.
“Hee! He doesn’t agree with the ambiance! Poor gnome! Poor gnomes overall! They make such terrible dolls, and even more horrendous slaves. For their minds are incapable of staying in-tact! The process, it burns them out like a vegetable invalid!”
“Whatever you curse and cry matters not, death conjurer! Pay me and I shall be on my way! I have a schedule to keep! I don’t have all of eternity to be a louse on Fondergrund! Here are my terms, and I’ll bid you good morrow!” Smug, and coughing up the stench of the dead, Borgot Nifflehammer handed over a bill, and the wraith-like necromancers, as pale and decayed as death itself, all fought over it, shaking heads, and murmuring to themselves. When they bickered and snickered, they all stood up straight, and threw him a copious abundance of snivilerbond.
“Gracious parting to you all, until another fortnight we meet again. I have a meeting to attend.” Borgot shuffled off, lighting towing the empty wheelbarrow along, then realizing it was more a hindrance than a help, left it with the necromancers. “A parting gift, I have enough here to pay debt and supply myself with a more stable working barrow. Use it for…whatever miscreant deed you must, but now I’m off.”
“Yes...an audience with the wizard you must keep! Be vigilant in your doomed journey to the tower then! Be still the tower will likely impale your psyche, and fry your facilities. The wizard is not kind to those who trespass….be it on property, or lacking funds. Your debt is well-known, dark gnome! It is well overdue...this pitiful attempt to make even the balance...will not bode well the anger of the wizard. Oh! Of all the living beasts to despise, we all can agree, you we’ve despised the least!”
Borgot turns to the closer necromancer, now measuring him up, as though tailoring him for a death suit. He shuttered and stepped back a foot, surprised of the closeness of the floating mage.
“You speak of me like I am dead! The wizard will take his payment! And be gone from my life! I have a debt! I pay my debt! We always pay our debts!”
“But you pay too late gnome! You. Pay. Too. Late.” The last words from the corpse-stunk mouth of the necromancer felt more a dirge than a warning, an eerie, pipe-driven sound from frail vocal cords streamed by each word like a slimy sonnet.
Borgot double-timed it away from the cackling death mages, and tallied his currency. He had made the maximum payment for the debt, and plenty to haggle with back in Candermaul Bowers. First, the wizard’s tower. All wizard’s had towers to which they worked day-and-night on the ghastliest of spells. They were known for such devious dark arts, and have manufactured these great spires in the sky out of the bones of the willing, and the brick and mortar of dimensional rifts. Brgot was unimpressed at a tall building, but more impressed at the sincerity and complexity to which the wizard had soken about the worlds beyond. Multiverses that transcend the menial caverns of the under continent.
Their first visit was rather formal, and civilized. Borgot had been nervous of the meeting. He knew those who dealt with the wizard had not always come out better for the meet. He decided to charm the pants off the wizard with many great stories, and learned tales. The wizard admired brightness in any beast, and respected the brain on Borgot, who had more aptitude than even most learned gnomes.
“Intellect, my boy! Intellect! It is the markings of a good mind, and a sound mage! You seem to be touched with a bit of the gift, but charming a wizard gets not even gods anywhere! Still, I will give you, young Borgot, some praise for being the first dark gnome to supplying me with favorable company!”
Borgot was surprised by the wizard’s forthcoming. From his readings; Barlorn The Wildgent was known for his temper, irrationality, and terrorizing powers. Yet, the man in front of young Borgot was as punctual and respectable as his old teachers in younger class. No, he felt serene, almost at peace in the home of the wizard.
“I must ask for some assistance, Magus Barlorn. I have run into a complication to which I cannot solve with my mostbasic of skills. I require your help, and I have not much to offer, but I believe with the work I do I can meet any price, for any service you are capable of offering, and through my research of those proficient in magic-”
“Do not raise the matter more, Borgot Nifflehammer! I trust your capabilities...but I question with the most morbid of curiosities...why you must seek out a wizard? Could not the dwarves provide magic capable of almost any gnomish issue? Could even your dark elf cousins...the Terras? That group is full of magic as old as the rock! Why seek out this old wizard?”
“It is not magic of the rocks I seek, nor the need of any Miner gods’ blessing, instead I need powers. Powers not normally given to gnomes.”
“Power? Power, my boy! In the realm of gnomes, you are more powerful than any I’ve crossed! Your knowledge, your charm, you could talk your way into the most glorious dwelling of the Bowers! You could go to Hammerglick! Even traverse the upper world! The Fondergrund is more than our under continent! There is so much wonder beyond the pitch-black maw us eccentrics call home! Despite the dwarven teachings, the fire star, or sun as its called by top dwellers, will not make you blind. Manfondergrund creatures dwell attop and there is life beyond that travels and earns more power in a day than any gnome can accrue over a lifetime! Take that knowledge for free, lessen the burden of conspiring with an old wizard over some pittance of powers to which you couldn’t even comprehend!”
“Yet it is wiser to send a gnome out on his own, to a world unknown, and with monsters and masters far more dangerous than even sniveling trolls, or bluish-gray under-goblins? Even with my wherewithal, my learned brain, do I even know a myriad of comprehension to the world you’ve just described? Or be it even far greater a death-trap, than what I seek from you today?”
“Fine! Fine! I know what you want, it flows off you like a putrid aurora, and I sense a great greed for this power...but why? I cannot understand?” The wizard itched his long, grey beard, which looked more like nuclear lichen atop a carved thunderoak stump.
“All you must understand is that I ask for a service, offer to pay for a service, and value my secrecy above anything else. My private intentions do not hinder your feats, or lower your tower by even a femtometer. Just give me what I need to accomplish what I must...and payment will be made. Unless you think I am incapable of making such payment?” Borgot was nervous, but confident enough to gaze the wizard’s bluff.
“Pray thee does not learn what happens...if one does not make good.” The wizard stood from the table, and with a lighting spell, cast a blitzing flash of colorful rays all about Borgot. The spell lifted him up and tuned him through the air at blistering speeds, nearly icing over his fingers, as his body was catapulted back to Candermaul.
“Oh pray thou doesn’t make the mistake to betray me...two times the date, two times the second to the very point of this day’s end! That is when you shall over me the amount of coin in the heap of sorrow for which has been caused by your desire for power! Listen hard, and listen well gnome! You have my friendship, fear you never live the day you infer my wrath!”
The voice echoed hours later into Borgot’s head. But he didn’t feel different at all...he felt the same as he did when the gnome he once was had always felt...weak, and out-of-place….not even powers that coursed through his body had changed his meek self-hatred of being just a gnome, not even Candermaul felt like home anymore...it was almost as alien a feeling as that mystical lighting tingled his entire being. Even hours later, it felt like the little bolts were still creeping about his grayish skin, with a magical static. It did not matter now; the pact was made, a debt was owed...and the wizard’s good graces would befall the gnome, lest he paid in-full. He knew the wizard’s last words were not to strike fear, but a somber warning, for he had truly made a peace inside the crotchety old wizard’s heart. The internal clock began to tick. Then two weeks passed.