My husband and I have played an online game called Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted (formerly Horizons) for a number of years. One year, they decided to hold a Halloween story writing contest and I entered. The following tale was chosen for first prize and has been used for their fall festival ever since. Keep two things in mind as you read: Dwarfs like two things – to dig in the dirt (not known of their cleanliness, either) and to drink ale in copious amounts. Welcome to the land of Istaria. Happy Halloween from all of us at Cereal Authors and I hope you enjoy Reebdoog’s Tale!
“I’ve a tale to tell will set your blood cold just to hear it!” The inebriated dwarf tipped back in his chair, puffing a foul smelling cigar. “Tain’t your run o’ the mill tale neither, but one as will chill ye to the bone!” He leaned in blowing acrid smoke in my direction. “It’s true! I seen it with me own two eyes, I have!
“Just a mite of a lad I were then, an’ no taller than yer knee. Da had been teaching me the finer points of brewing.” He nodded solemnly. “Ma, she’d been after me to learn me letters, but I’d a far better head for brewing than I had for reading. How some ever… Da sent me to town to chat up the human folk there, for twas rumored as there were a secret recipe for brewing rye to make a fine, smooth whiskey.
“Well! I got there and spoke first to that feller who buys and sells. He told me many things, but bid me caution. ‘Mind now,’ says he, ‘ you don’t go poking into the basement under the house with the glowing runes. There be a secret door there under the stairs. Takes ye places as ye don’t want to be going.’
“Well, I laughed my bony arse off at the man, scoffing and making rude noises as I went. I wandered the town a wee bit, stopping to have a sip or two of Da’s best brew, and fell in with bad companions. They told me as they knew where the secret brew were kept. As they’d took a liking to me, they’d show it.”
He gestured to the barmaid to refill his mug. Satisfied, he tipped back again, taking a long pull on his pint. He wiped the foam from his bristling, red mustache and continued.
“Well, I were in sad and sorry shape by then. The peddler done told me not to go to the house with the glowing runes, but where do you suppose we ended up? Aye, ye guessed it! They dragged me inside, past the kitchen, to the stairs. There in the corner, they opened a secret door.
“Slowly, slowly I walked in and the door swung shut behind me with an echoing thump. Took a moment for my eyes to fix on what I were seeing. Twas at that moment I saw the worst sight of my life! I shudder now remembering! It were lined floor to rafters with kegs. They was stark empty and scrubbed clean! Why must have been dozens of them! And there in the midst of it all, a crew of humans whistling, singing and hosing them out! They took soap to ’em! Perfectly innocent kegs, they were, and these folk scraping around in them like they was mucking out stables!
“The pain! The perfidy! Crying out in pain, I yelled at them. ‘Why are you torturing me so? Have ye no mercy?’
“I ran hell bent to the nearest tavern with the ghosts of a thousand empty kegs haunting my steps! I flung myself on a stool and ordered a pint. You know what they give me? A clean mug and watered down ale! Just goes to show, you can’t trust humans!”
© Dellani Oakes 2016