The Duel IV

Tales of the Dungeon Mistress

By

Accipiter G. Goshawk

This story continues form where it left off in The Duel III

“Well met, brother,” she said, letting her voice fill the chamber and echo out into the tunnels beyond. “It is a rare pleasure to meet another of our order so far east. I am truly glad.”

She smiled, but her eyes remained as cold as ice. The blond man before her began to stutter a half-hearted answer, but then seemed to regain a little bit of confidence. The annoying smirk returned and as he bowed low, he winked.

“It is I who am glad! That two of our number should be in such a rustic place is without a doubt a portentous event! We must celebrate! And of course,” he said turning towards the mayor, “we must –regrettably- change the terms of our contract. I’m sure you understand, two Dungeon Masters are far more expensive than one. But imagine the stories and the name you will make for yourselves!”

The mayor was about to protest, but was brutally interrupted by the Mistress’s booted foot connecting with the blond man’s lower back. He crashed to the ground howling in pain, his left hand immediately moving to his boot. But before he could draw the knife, she had him pinned to the ground with her heel.

“You crazy bitch! I’ll have your dice for this! You will never be a Dungeon Master again!” he howled crazily, his eyes swivelling in all directions, seeking help.

The mayor and the rest of the townsmen had initially started forward, but were now hesitating, held back by the Mistress’s raised arm.

“You will do no such thing. You are a pathetic excuse for a human being. How dare you use the Game to swindle people out of their hard-earned money! How dare you ask to be paid for something that has been freely given since the world ended and began anew! I believe you to be nothing but a common thief. If that is the case, then I shall leave you to the justice these good people might impart. If however, you are a member of the order, then I shall deal with you myself.”

He snarled angrily, and tried to wrench his arm from under her boot, but she stood firm.

“I am a member, you simple fool,” he spat, “and I’ll prove it: I challenge you to a duel. We both run a Game, this very evening. The one that is judged most entertaining and memorable is declared the winner. You win, you do whatever you want with me and get to go about your sorry little life. I win, and I take my payment and your bandoleer as punishment for your impudence.”

She sneered.

“If you were a member of the order, I would gladly accept. However-”

She fell silent. The man had ripped open his shirt to reveal his Mark: an icosagon branded on his right breast. He was a true Dungeon Master.

“Traitor.”

Her word fell flat and she quickly lifted her foot. He jumped up, dusted himself off and then grinned at her menacingly.

“That remains to be seen, dearie. If I win, that won’t be the story I’ll be telling. Ready to lose your dice?” he hissed, stretching out his hand.

She just stared at him for a moment, as if lost in thought. Then, she thrust out her hand and shook.

“Let’s have ourselves a Game.”

The story continues in Part V

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