Morden sat back in the old chair. Across from him was an old dwarf, the only remaining customer in the inn. He'd already downed five pints of ale, and had one eye on the door to the back room, hoping the barmaid made a reappearance, and the other on Morden. Morden himself was intoxicated, but not nearly to the level of the dwarf, even accounting for the dwarf's sturdier build.
"So are ya gonna tell me, or no?" the dwarf growled. He had apparently lost hope in the barmaid. "A bargain's a bargain, you said so yourself." Morden nodded solmenly. The dwarf had something Morden needed, and the price was a story - Morden's story. Typically, Morden didn't like to reveal that much about himself, but it seemed he had no choice. He sighed, resigning himself to the role of storyteller.
"As you can tell, I am not a human, but my parents were. I am what's refered to as a Tiefling. Somewhere in my past is a demon. I don't know where, or who my actual parents were. You see, when they discovered what they had given birth to, they abandoned me to a local church. I spent my younger years serving the church of Mystra, although I had no love for religion. I did like to learn, however, and picked up a trick or two from the wizards that worshipped in the church. Eventually one even took me on as an apprentice.”
Morden paused to gauge the dwarf's continued interest, took a sip from his own glass of wine, and continued. This wizard, it turned out, was well connected with the local thief's guild. He worked very well as a fence, you see, and occasionally would disable magical traps and the like, or prepare scrolls or potions for special cases. But his primary job in the guild was a fence. This is what he trained me to do as well. I did reasonably well with the value of things, but where I truly excelled was in charming the customer. You see, dispite my appearance I'm quite approachable. And of course, thieves rarely care about appearance anyway.” At this, Modren chuckled. He was quiet for some time, until the dwarf coughed quietly, breaking his reverie. “Oh yes,” he continued, “They took a liking to me easily enough. And when people like you, they're more likely to let you pay them a little less, or to offer you a little more. With me as a front man, our little fencing operation did quite well. Quite well indeed.
“Of course, at that point, my mentor realized that if I was this good naturally, a little magic couldn't hurt. He began training me in magic, and I took to it with ease. Learning was always my natural state, and learning magic was no different. I picked up a handful of spells and tricks, and consequently did even better at my job. The guild profited, my master profited, even I profited a bit. Of course, that got the attention of the city, and they did some investigating.
“My natural enemy, of course, is regret. People would often accept a price – a fair price, mind you – but come to regret it later. Oftentimes, one has little recourse, especially when you feel cheated by the thieves guild. One time, a boy came into the shop, barely a teenager, and wanted to sell some jewelry. I took him as a common street rat, of course. I never got out much, you see, and when I wasn't working the shop, I was studying magic. So the who's who of the city had escaped me. It turned out that this boy was not a street rat at all, but the son of an Earl. The Earl, I found out later, wasn't a kind man, which explained how the boy had found himself in our shop. He was on the run, you see, planning on making his own way in the world. Of course, I didn't care about any of that. He offered me some jewelry, which I admit was valuable. I offered him a price, which was reasonable, if on the low side. He accepted and left. I never saw him again. Later the boy was picked up by some guards, and when asked about the jewelry he had stolen from his father, he insisted we had it. Of course, we didn't, it had already been moved by the guild out of the city.
“well, they came looking for the Earl's property. Completely destroyed the shop. They found nothing, but that didn't stop them from threatening to arrest us both. Of course, my charm won the day, at least for my part. I convinced the guards that I was innocent, and had never even seen the boy. I was there only as a scribe. They let me go, and arrested my mentor instead. But they also confiscated all our belongings. I only had the clothes on my back and the gold in my pocket.”
Morden paused for a long time, then. The dwarf looked like he was finally feeling the effects of the ale. He smiled a small, involuntary smile. The dwarf looked at him, bleary-eyed. “So what 'appened to yer boss? Didja just leave him there?” Morden nodded and began again.
“Yes. I did. I assume the guild managed to get him out, or perhaps not. Maybe he's still there. It was regrettable, but little could be done about it. It was about that time that I decided the city might not be the best place for me. I replenshed what stock I could, found a caravan leaving town, and left. And now I'm here. So that's my story, I hope it was interesting. And now, you have something for me, I believe?”
The dwarf chuckled. “'f course.” He pulled out a scroll case from his bag, and pushed it across the table. Morden took it, opened it briefly to ensure the contents were as desired, and then placed it in his own bag.
“Excellent,” Morden said. “Now, if you don't mind, I'll be heading on my way. I'm sure you'll be covering the tab?” The dwarf nodded. Good, Morden thought to himself, that means the spell still held a bit longer yet. The dwarf would never have agreed otherwise. He stood from the table, Pulled the hood over his head, and stepped out into the night. He had work to do.