Fan fiction:A Stone of Contention/Part 3

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A Stone of Contention is a fan fiction piece by 0xDEADCAFE, originally posted in the Diabloii.net Fan Fiction Forum. The fiction series was posted on June 24th 2007.


[e]


Notes: swag: plunder; booty; valuable goods, especially those obtained by means of questionable legality – “The Eres Common Tongue Dictionary”


Part 3: Deal or Knee Deal?[edit]


“It’s true. I swea—Oof!”


Swaglord’s ploy had worked—perhaps better than he had hoped. The rogue was back alright, lured by his false promise of riches, but also back with one knee pressed roughly into his solar plexus. Swaglord grimaced from the blow and closed his eyes. He lay quietly for several seconds, panting, while the rogue waited.


At the waist edge of the knight’s rigid metal chest plate the armor consisted mainly of chain mesh reinforced with thin strips of metal. It was flexible enough to allow free movement yet offered good protection against dagger points and the cutting edges of swords. Not very effective at all, however, against the rogue’s sudden knee-drop.


“You didn’t… have to do that,” he said after regaining his breath. “Please don’t do it again.”


“That was just a little something so we understand each other,” she said. “If you’re thinking of trying something—anything—I’ll take you down like yesterday’s laundry. Understand?”


“Believe me… I do,” he replied, though he was puzzling over what yesterday’s laundry had to do with anything. “But you should understand something about me. I never forget a debt.”


The rogue lifted an eyebrow. “A debt? Hmph! Are you saying I owe you something?”


“No,” he replied, “I’m saying I owe you something.” Then, narrowing his eyes and lowering his voice, he continued, “And I always pay my debts. You get me?”


“I get you alright,” she said slyly. Though she had no idea what debt he was referring to, the threatening tone in his voice was clear enough. “You’re too much, knight. All tied up and still making threats. You should be more concerned about whether or not I believe you’re telling the truth about these riches. Why should I?”


Swaglord knew that she probably didn’t. He also knew it probably didn’t matter. He had his golden hook sunk deep into her imagination. Just the thought of riches, the mere possibility of it, would be much too much for her to ignore. All he needed to do now was give her some thin reason, any reason at all, to go along with it.


”I swear.”


“Ha!” She patted him with the flat of her dagger again. “You’d swear to anything right now. “


Swaglord took a deep breath and summoned all the solemnity he could manage. “By my sacred duty to the Templar Order of Odin’s Light, I hereby and forthwith swear to it! Most fervently!” To his surprise, the rogue seemed impressed.


“The templar order of who?” She asked. “I‘ve never heard of any such—“


”Think of it,” he interrupted, “a pile of heaven stones. Enchanted warrior jewelry, rare weapons—rogue weapons, too. And magical potions, scrolls, more gold than you can—“


“Alright, alright,” she said, putting both hands over his mouth and leaning on him. “I’m convinced.” She narrowed her eyes and continued softly, “You’ve been a busy fellow. How could you and that little pony acquire so much, hmm?” She seemed to be talking more to herself than him, so he didn’t try to answer, which at that moment would have been rather difficult anyway. “I accept,” she soon continued. “I’ll free you and your pony in exchange for this precious stash of yours. But I swear, knight, if you’re lying to me…”


“Not so fast,” he said wriggling his mouth out from under her hands. “What reason do I have to trust you? And who said anything about the whole stash? I was thinking, maybe, one or two heaven stones at most—Oof!”


She bounced on her knee again, chasing the wind from Swaglord’s lungs and calling the grimace back to his face. “Are you bargaining with me? In your position!“


“The rogue’s pledge.” he croaked, barely able to speak, “Swear!”


“How do you know about that?” she said, sitting back and crossing her arms.


“Swear by your guild’s pledge. You’ll let me and my pony go once we turn over the stones.”


“You mean your whole stash.”


Swaglord took his time, panting, gathering his breath again. It didn’t matter what he promised her, since he had no intention of paying her anything. He just needed her to believe his story, so he snorted and huffed as if he were furious that she was driving such a hard bargain. Finally, after what he hoped was enough snorting and huffing, he agreed.


“Fine! But swear it.”


“Fine,” she said, that very satisfied look that Swaglord found so annoying returning to her face. “I swear as well.”


“Fine, now untie me. I’ll take you there right away—“


“Not so fast, ” she interrupted. “You and your frisky friend over there are quite an impressive team. I’ll have to think about this.”


The rogue stood up and looked over at Swaglord’s massive sword lying next to him on the ground. She reached down to pick it up, at first with one hand, and then with two when she found she couldn’t budge it. Setting her jaw, she squatted down, worked both her small hands around the hilt, and with a soft grunt, heaved it up off the ground about a foot. Then, by walking backwards in that bent over position, she dragged it over to her horse where, with a much louder grunt, she was able to raise the hilt to a height where she could lash it to the saddle.


When she walked back over toward Swaglord, he couldn’t help noticing how much less graceful she seemed. She was breathing very heavily and, wiping the sweat from her brow on the back of her hand, she reminded him of a farm hand. He admired her determination and wondered how she would fare with his shield, which was much heavier than the sword.


The rogue didn’t even bother trying to lift it. Instead, she gave it a careless kick, as if testing to see how stubbornly it would resist her efforts. From the look of pain that ran quickly over her face, Swaglord was sure that she immediately regretted it. The shield had not moved an inch. He couldn’t say for sure what her toes felt like at that moment, but from the stream of swear words that then passed her lips, he felt he could pretty well guess.


“I guess you’re taking that,” she said finally. Plucking a dagger from her belt, she made a quick cut through the ropes around Swaglord feet and then just as quickly leapt up upon her tall mount.


“You can untie your own animal,” she said.


Swaglord worked his way free of the loosened net and then went to his pony, which was rather tightly wrapped up much as he had been. He tried pulling on the net in several different places, but it wouldn’t come loose.


“That one,” the rogue said.


“Huh?”


“There,” she pointed, “the braided one by its feet.”


He pulled on the indicated braid and in a few seconds the net lying on the ground in a heap and the pony was back up on its feet, looking much happier but also slightly embarrassed. Swaglord stroked its mane a few times and then gave it a friendly slap on the back.


“Come on, boy,” he said.


When he turned toward the rogue he noticed that she was holding another net in her hands and looking very serious.


“All finished?” She said. “Good. Now...” She spoke slowly, as if measuring her words. “I’ll say this once, just so we understand each other, okay?”


She paused and waited until Swaglord nodded to her.


“Okay. You can’t outrun my mount and if you or your pony try to approach me,” she nodded down toward the net she held, “I’ll have you wrapped up tighter than one of Baal’s bug-balls before you can so much as spit. And if that happens, you know what happens next—like before, but I’ll make you regret wasting my time. Are we clear?”


“Yes, yes. I understand perfectly,” he said, wondering what in the world a Baal bug-ball was.


“Good. Now let’s get moving,” she said, pulling on her horse’s reins and trotting the powerful charger out into the middle of the dirt road.


Swaglord ran over to his shield and slid his arm through the straps, then set out at an easy jog with his faithful pony beside him and the rogue following a few horse-lengths behind.


It felt good to be up on his feet again, even if he was temporarily without his sword. So far, so good, he thought, filling his lungs with the high country air. He’d soon show that upstart rogue how the Lord of Swag dealt with thieves. But first, he would have to do something about that mount of hers.


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