The Improbable Adventures of Scar and Potbelly: Ice Terraces of Crystal Crag

Ice Terraces of Crystal Crag

 

The Improbable Adventures of

Scar and Potbelly

 

 

Brian S. Pratt

Copyright 2014

 

 

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The Fantasy Worlds of

Brian S. Pratt

 

 

The Morcyth Saga

 

The Unsuspecting Mage

Fires of Prophecy

Warrior Priest of Dmon-Li

Trail of the Gods

The Star of Morcyth

Shades of the Past

The Mists of Sorrow*

*(Conclusion of The Morcyth Saga)

 

Travail of The Dark Mage

Sequel to The Morcyth Saga

 

1-Light in the Barren Lands

2- Tides of Faith

 

The Improbable Adventures of

Scar and Potbelly

 

1-Ice Terraces of Crystal Crag

 

The Broken Key

 

#1- Shepherd’s Quest

#2-Hunter of the Horde

#3-Quest’s End

 

Qyaendri Adventures

 

Ring of the Or’tux

 

Dungeon Crawler Adventures

 

Underground

Portals

 

The Adventurer’s Guild

 

#1-Jaikus and Reneeke Join the Guild

2-Caravan to Kittikin*

*Coming March 2014

 

 

This is for-

 

My Brother Steve.

Though we may not have spent much time together these past years he’s been a steadfast aid and supporter in the development of each book, and my career as a writer. Thank you Steve for always being there.

 

 

Check out the first three chapters of

 

Shepherd’s Quest,

 

Book One of

 

The Broken Key Trilogy

 

After Scar and Potbelly’s adventure.

 

 

Table of Contents

 

-1-

-2-

-3-

-4-

-5-

-6-

-7-

-8-

-9-

-10-

-11-

-12-

-13-

-14-

-15-

-16-

-17-

-18-

 

How to Properly Drink your Tea

 

Shepherd’s Quest Preview
Chapter One

Shepherd’s Quest Preview
Chapter Two

Shepherd’s Quest Preview
Chapter Three

 

 

 

-1-

 

 

 

Smoke hung heavy in the common room of
The Gnashing Teeth
. A seedier dive on the waterfront, the
Teeth
held the reputation of being the hairy, unwashed armpit of Castin, a large port on the Sorba Sea. Those who pass through her doors were the worst of the worst and as likely as not, blood would flow as easily as the ale.

Already this evening, two men had tested fate and lost; one had been thrown out with a knife wound in his side that most considered fatal. He had deserved it or so the bystanders would say if any dared ask; none would.  The other had his head cracked open by a bottle. He currently laid comatose beneath a table where three others finished the game he was caught cheating at. And all this before the sun had even reached the horizon.

 

A man stalked the streets of Castin with purpose; a dagger deftly tucked in the sleeve of his jacket. A simple twist and forward jerk of his arm would find its hilt in his hand, ready for whatever mayhem may be required.

Those in the street who happened to meet his gaze quickly lowered theirs and backed out of his way. The hardness in his eyes and the purposeful stride warned all but the foolish it would be best to leave this man alone.

He hunted. There was blood needing to be shed and come hell or high water it would flow before the last rays of the setting sun faded from the world. A wrong must be righted, a slight must be avenged; a life must end.

 

“Are you sure he said to meet him here?”

Having disembarked the galley upon which they had booked passage, Scar and Potbelly walked along the pier until coming to the dockside road. A hundred feet to the left and down a short alley found them before
The Gnashing Teeth
. Three people languished around the door; whether they were alive or dead was impossible to tell.

“Yes,” Scar replied. “We sail in the morning and either we meet him here, now, or our journey will be for naught.”

Moving to the door, Potbelly took the lead and pulled the handle. As the door swung open, a hand reached out from one of the nearer comatose bodies to grip his ankle. The suddenness of it made him jump but the hand failed to relinquish its hold. It nearly caused him to lose his balance.

“What the…,” he cried, startled.

“Coins, good sir,” a raspy voice begged. “Could ya’ spare a coin fer an old beggar?”

Potbelly yanked back his leg but the hand refused to yield.

One of Scar’s two long swords leapt from its sheath, its blade came to rest upon the beggar’s exposed wrist.

“Let go,” he said, “or lose your hand.”

The hand quickly released its grip and vanished back into the soiled rags the beggar wore.

“Coins…”

“Out of our way,” Scar said. Sheathing his blade, he strode with Potbelly into
The Gnashing Teeth
.

A few faces turned their way upon entering, but for the most part, they were ignored.

Smoke filled the common room. The way it melded with the rank smell of unwashed bodies and a hundred other unpleasantnesses gave the
Teeth
a fetid atmosphere. Off to one side near the wall sat a table with but one occupant; passed out and still clutching his mug of ale.

Scar motioned toward it and they headed over. When they arrived, Scar nudged the table’s occupant with his boot, tipping him to the side and on to the floor. He took the man’s seat and waved for the serving woman.

Cold eyes that held not the least bit of humanity stared out from beneath curly locks matted to her sweaty forehead when she arrived.

“What do you want,” she grumbled.

“Well…” began Scar.

“Ale?” she asked, interrupting him.

Scar got that look saying he was a bit annoyed and trouble would not be far off.

“Two, please,” Potbelly replied quickly.

She grunted and returned to the bar.

“This could be the worst dive we’ve ever been in.”

Turning to his best friend and comrade, Scar nodded. “It’s worse than Jake’s over in Tillman.”

Potbelly laughed, then glanced to the floor where the table’s previous occupant still lay. “At least Jake removes those who can no longer drink.”

Scar motioned toward a body pushed all the way against the wall not ten feet from where they sat. “Or breathe.”

The waitress returned and plunked down two mugs, not caring that she spilled a goodly portion upon the table. Potbelly handed her a couple coppers. She took the coins, eyed each in turn, first Scar then Potbelly, as if they were about to rob the place. Then turned about without a word and headed for another table.

“Wonder how many bodies she accounts for in a year?”

Scar watched her leave, then turned back to Potbelly. “If it’s less than a dozen I’d be surprised.” He picked up his mug for a drink but paused upon spying bits of crusted-on material coating most of the rim. Using part of his sleeve, he wiped off a section before taking a drink.

“I’m still not sure we aren’t on some wild goose chase,” Potbelly stated.

“Look,” Scar replied, “for the hundredth time, Old Jim said that this was on the up and up.”

“Old Jim is crazy,” Potbelly argued. “Not exactly
there
if you know what I mean. There’s a reason he’s the town kook.”

Scar pulled out an old, ragged piece of cloth and held it up so as not to be noticed by the others in the tavern. “He was right about where to find this.”

Potbelly rolled his eyes. “Under a rock in the old cemetery? I bet you a gold the old kook drew the thing himself, put it there, and is now laughing at our gullibility.”

Slipping it back in his shirt, Scar just shook his head. “When Tork arrives, we’ll know the truth about it.”

“If there even is a Tork.”

“I tell you I met him this morning,” Scar said. “He’ll be here.”

Potbelly wasn’t fully convinced.

“Yesterday when we arrived, we sent a message to the local baker saying ‘Three loaves for Tork,’ and that they were to be delivered to the
Golden Sunrise
. Just like Old Jim said to. And when you were off with that barmaid, Tork showed up and set up this meeting.”

“It all sounds hinky to me.”

One day, Old Jim sold Scar part of a map to a buried treasure and told him there were two other sections, each held by compatriots of his. One was Tork here in Castin and the other lived as a hermit in a hut just a two-day sail away and short ride up the mountain. Comrades of long ago before hair turned white and shoulders drooped with age.

Shouting broke out at a table two removed from theirs; three men leapt to their feet as the table was thrust aside and metal flashed. An enraged man of middling years sliced with his knife at a younger, dark haired man.

Dancing back, the younger man sought in vain to avoid the attack; a line of red opened up along his abdomen.

“That could be bad,” commented Scar.

Potbelly sipped his ale and watched with some interest as the younger man drew his short sword and lunged forward. The older man easily dodged aside and swiped backhanded with his knife slicing a three inch long furrow just above the young man’s elbow.

“A silver on the knifer.”

Potbelly shook his head. “That’s a fool’s bet. He’ll kill that younger man.” Having fought in
The Pits
for several years now, he could easily tell that the older man outclassed his opponent by a goodly margin.

As the two combatants closed again, the third man at the table reached out, grabbed each by the hair on the back of the head, knocked their heads together and said, “Enough!”

The older man turned on him flushed with anger. His knife held at the ready.

“A silver says he strikes.”

“Done,” Potbelly replied then waited to see how it would unfold.

“Put it down before you get killed,” the third man said. Clearly the senior of the three, he bore an air of command and surety.

Whispered betting from throughout the common room could be heard in the brief silence that followed.

When the short sword dipped down, both curses and laughter joined the exchange of coins as losers paid winners. Scar tossed Potbelly a silver.

“Thought for sure he was going to do it.”

Taking the coin, Potbelly eyed it, “And glad I am you did.”

Scar flashed him a sour look before laughing. “Next time.”

The three men righted their table and the knifer bound the wound on his arm with a dirty rag. When they sat back down and it looked as if no further altercation was in the offing, the common room resumed its customary buzz in wait for the next time. For sure as metal parted flesh, in
The Gnashing Teeth
, trouble was always a sure bet.

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