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A Meeting with a Sorcerer Kingby Geoff Gander
Drugyr was ushered into the audience chamber by a robed troglodyte, and told to wait at the foot of an impressive black marble dais. He looked around the room, noting the rich ornamentation and furnishings, as well as the black-robed slaves standing against one wall, half hidden by a pillar. He recognised some of his countrymen’s handiwork. Clearly, Tuurash was immensely wealthy. Just then, his host entered the chamber from a curtained alcove at the top of the dais. The squat lizard man was almost lost in the voluminous robes that he wore, but even the folds of that cloth of gold could not conceal the creature’s obesity. Drugyr was reminded of an apple perched on a pair of sticks. The lizard man held out a flabby palm and waved the dwarf to approach him.
“Drugyr! Welcome to my home! I trust your journey to our fine city did not inconvenience you,” he asked in a watery voice. He grinned at his guest – an unattractive sight.
“Not at all, my lord sorcerer king! The journey was slow but I had opportunity to see the sights before my arrival. Isshum is truly an unforgettable sight,” replied the dwarf. He could have done without the experience of hearing a game at the arena as he passed it by.
“Well it should be, my dwarven friend, well it should be. Please sit; the cushions are very fine. And please, have some sweets! They come from one of the realms across the southern sea – some place I’ve never heard of – but their like I have never tasted. I have developed a craving for them.” Tuurash scooped out a handful of gooey blobs from a silver bucket, while Drugyr took one. It was soft, and tasted strongly of honey mixed with some pungent spice. Not altogether unpleasant, but his teeth began to ache with the sweetness.
“Now,” Tuurash continued, “I know your Elder has sent you on an important errand, but I have a proposal for him. One so important to me that I have taken personal interest in it. Tell your master that I have seen you personally. I shall give you my token before you depart as proof. He shall then know how important our business is to me. But before that,” he paused, with another horrible grin, “some entertainment! I always enjoy a diversion after a long trip, myself.” He pointed at a slave in the corner, “You! Come here!”
The slave, a stooped greying man with a heavily scarred face, shuffled to the foot of the dais, and bowed low. “How may I be of service, oh anointed one,” he asked with a thick accent.
“It has been long since I heard the Song of the Homecoming. I would like to hear the sixth through fourteenth verses. Proceed.”
The slave bowed low again and began to recite a poem in what Drugyr recognised to be the High Tongue. He sat in amazement as the man, who looked to be an unlettered Antalian, went through the recitation without pause, while Tuurash lay back on his cushion, closed his eyes, and stuffed his maw with more sweets. Once the slave had finished, he sat up once more, and clapped his blubbery hands. “Excellent! You have done very well. You may go back to your corner. Uthak,” he called to a troglodyte servant, “give the slave a sweet; he has pleased me today.”
He turned once more to his companion, “See, my friend? These human beasts are not quite as stupid as we thought. This one managed to learn all 57 verses of the Song! A far more impressive display than many of my students can muster. That one has been very good – I may even give it a name!”
“But on to business. As you know, we are facing numerous pressures from Taymor in the south. There are many opinions within the Circle as to what must be done, but I believe Mogreth must act differently this time if we are to have a lasting victory on the ground. Theliir has been attacked twice this season! It is well that the garrison commander has been given the white rod for his unforgivable lapse in judgement. But we will not be able to break this stalemate without the aid of our friends in the Shimmering Lands. If your clan were to contribute a couple of battalions, perhaps even some of your giant warriors, our plan to strike west of Theliir into the eastern Taymoran heartland would bear fruit. Many slaves would be yielded, and we would surely acquire many secrets from the treacherous lords of Taymor. Your own people, of course, would stand to benefit materially, and magically.” Tuurash leaned towards the dwarf, his hot breath a mixture of spiced honey and meat. “What do you think your Elder would say?”
Drugyr looked at the sorcerer king intently. He had been watching his host carefully to see whether he was secretly casting any spells, but he could not tell. “I think, my lord sorcerer king, that my Elder would consider your written proposal with all due diligence.”
Turrash stuffed more sweets into his mouth and chewed noisily. He snapped his fingers and another slave appeared from behind a curtain, bearing a platinum cup. She knelt on the ground and proffered it to him, her ashen face staring at the ground. Turrash snatched the cup, emptied its contents in one gulp, and then tossed it back at her. “It’s gone sour! Get me another!” After she scurried away he turned to his troglodyte servant once more, “Uthak, after she returns with a fresh cup, have her shovel offal for two weeks. If this error happens again, I will need a new cupbearer.”
Tuurash turned back to Drugyr, “My apologies for the interruption, my friend. It is only reasonable that those who work hardest should enjoy the most comforts, and spoiled wine irritates me. Now then, I thank you for your reply. Please accompany Uthak to the hallway, where you will be escorted to my clerk, who will provide the documents your master requires. It was pleasurable meeting with you. Perhaps the next time we meet, I shall take you to a game at the arena. Yes, I think that would be most enjoyable! Farewell!”