Wednesday, February 25, 2015

It's In The Fine Print

The bell above the door rang as the motley looking assortment of dirt caked travelers stepped into the establishment. Filbert looked up and began his usual greeting "Welcome to Reepimov's Arcane". He was interrupted by Durneduhl holding his hairy dwarven fist right in front of Filbert's nose.

"It isn't working right."

Filbert paused only a second before finishing his greeting "Paraphernalia Emporium Magica. How can I assist you?"

"Birdun! The receipt!" the gruff dwarf snapped back over his shoulder.

Behind him and considerably higher, a harried gnome clambered about upon their pack-ogre's enormous frame. The pack-ogre leaned down slightly to facilitate the gnome passing down the tattered hand written receipt.

The ogre was covered with everything one could imagine to aid in hauling nearly anything, sacks, bags, pouches, pockets, saddlebags, backpacks, belts, sashes, bandoleers, coffers, crates, barrels, and even assorted sized chests. He made no sounds other than the noises caused by even his slightest movement.

The receipt Birdun handed down to Durneduhl, bore only one distinguishing mark, the faintly luminescent logo of the shop. "The ring, it isn't working as promised. Fix it." His eyes fixed on Filbert's narrow, almost rattish face.

The thin, hunched over man alternated his gaze between the ring, the receipt, and the obviously angry customer. "It says here it is a ring of Immunity to Diseases, what seems to be the issue?"

An uncomfortable moment passed when it almost appeared the dwarf was going to leap on and over the counter, his thick fingers tightening into a fist. "Scarlet Scale." The dwarf, dropped his pants before anyone could object.

It was there for everyone in the shop to see, the angry, scale-like red rash where the Neo-Otyugh had grappled the dwarf's thigh. "Well . . ." remarked Filbert, "That is indeed a disease." You were wearing the ring when you came into contact with the source?"

"Both times. Worked the first time. Worked for every disease on or under the mountains until last week." Durneduhl pulled the ring off and placed it on the counter. "Fix it."

The air whistled faintly as Filbert drew in a deep breath through his narrow nostrils. "Hmmmm . . . I need to know more about this matter. You said both times, did you mean the beast grabbed you twice?"

"Different beasts. About 6 months apart." piped Birdun from his hulking perch.

Filbert pursed his lips, paused, and asked another question. "Both were Neo-Otyugh?"

"First was an Otyugh, second a Neo."

At this, Filbert jotted a note on his parchment. "Certainly a more virulent strain of Scarlet Scale was involved."

Birdun chimed in again, clearly to speak on behalf of his now red-faced, and getting angrier, friend. "The ring, as promised and paid for, is clearly designated on the receipt as providing Immunity to Disease. Potency was never mentioned as a consideration." The gnome seemed pleased with his logic and continued. "Besides, it worked against this disease and all others until last week as far as can be determined."

An eyebrow arched above the shopkeeper's twitchy left eye. "Do you have a copy of the warranty to hand?"

A low growl escaped Durneduhl's throat. "What does the warranty have to do with it?"

Birdun scrambled down one side of the pack-ogre, finally reaching deep within a narrow pocket and withdrawing a leather scroll tube. He opened it and dumped the still crisp warranty on the counter top.

"Like the day it was issued." whispered Filbert. He deftly unrolled the pristine document, donned a gold-rimmed monocle and proceeded to scan the prodigious amount of tiny text. After a minute or two of hemming and hawing he looked up, half-smiling. "Have you done something out of the ordinary recently? Something that you might call, life-altering?"

Durneduhl rattled off highlghts from their most recent adventures. "You mean like punting a devil in his coin purse? Or dousing a demon with blessed stain remover? What about marching through a sandstorm fighting locust and giant ticks?"

Filbert, shook his head. "I'm certain those were life-altering for your opponents, and enriching experiences for yourselves. What I mean is did something happen to you that changed how the world seems to work?"

The question seemed to be writhing beneath the dwarf's heavy brow as he pondered.

It was Birdun that quietly seemed to make a connection. "We did get flushed down a giant's loo, winding up in an unfamiliar place right before those adventures. Everything has been somewhat different from about that time."

Durneduhl looked upward at his smaller friend and companion atop the ogre. "The ring still worked until the Neo-Otyugh. I don't see what this has to do with the problem."

The turning of pages brought their attention back to the shopkeeper as he peered at even smaller writing near the bottom rear of the last page. Picking up a magnifying lens, he held it out allowing the dwarf to read where it was focused.

"This agreement becomes null and void should the possessor of the Ring of Immunity to Disease adventure under cosmic rules with a different meaning of Immunity, or experiences the whims and desires of a Grand Magistrate such as the Deity Maximus."

Before Filbert could pronounce the beginning syllable of "Well, there's your problem" the pack-ogre had thrown the reedy shop keep through the front window and into the muddy street beyond.

No comments: