202 Chapter 199 Mithril Talks
"Ah, Joseph! So good to see you again!" chimed in the dwarven king, as he walked towards them, halfway through the keep. "Removing the system in this realm has been immense fun for us! Watching the humans struggle has been incredibly humorous. We've even had several groups of humans approach us for aid, in light of the recent changes. Trade is flourishing better than ever!"
"So glad I could be of assistance, your majesty," Joseph said, coming to a halt next to him.
Stella pulled out several chairs and a table, from her purse, and three mugs of ale, that the other dwarves in the street were staring at in envy. The king wasted no time in hopping into his chair, and lifting his mug cheerfully.
Joseph sat, and sipped at his, being careful not to get too much foam on his face. Stella didn't waste any effort in that, taking a deep gulp, and wiping her mouth with satisfaction.
"Delicious!" sighed the king, setting his mug down after finishing half in one go, and wiping his mouth with his sleeve.
"I've come to see you, about an issue I would like to discuss," said Joseph, carefully choosing his words.
"Well, speak up, no need to beat around the bush. Need us to beat up on someone, or something? Build something for ye?"
"Actually, I have recently relocated a city full of gnomes just south of your mountains. I would like to request you keep an eye on them, and keep them safe from any monsters in the area. They've been sheltered for several hundred years from all dangers, and don't have a clue how to protect themselves."
The dwarven king sloshed the ale around in his mug, as he thought about the request.
"We've got our hands full with the changes that are still going on, with the loss of the system, but I think we can handle your request. Nothing much lives to the south of our mountains, at least, not since ye took all them beast people away. What will you be paying us? I'm not thinking ale will cover this. We have babes that need bellies filled, and wives to please. My dwarves won't be able to do that with babysittin' your gnomes."
Joseph nodded, turning to Stella, who pulled out a bar of mithril. The king's eyes lit up, and the muttering around them, from the dwarves talking among themselves, stopped.
"I have several more of these, that could be traded, and I can provide you with plenty of food."
The king glanced at him, before reaching out and taking the bar. Hefting it, he bit into it, then pulled out a dagger and tried to scratch it.
"This is the real stuff. How'd you come across this?"
Joseph took another drink of his ale, then set it down and sat back. "Does it matter? I can get more from my realm. What kind of food did you want?"
"Just for babysitten' a city full of gnomes?" The king looked at him incredulously. "What are they to ye?"
"I have a vested interest in their well-being. If you can keep them safe for me, so I don't have to, I can bring you forty bars of that, and five wagons of food?"
"Bars similar to this one?" asked the dwarf king, hefting it in his hand.
Turning to one of his guards, the king handed him the bar to check it out. The guard went through the same tests that the king had, moving back for the other dwarves around him to also see it.
"I can't rightly turn down an offer like that. I'll send me dwarves to babysit your gnomes. How long are ye needin' it?"
"I'm not sure," said Joseph rubbing his chin in thought. "How about I check on you every year or so, and make sure nothing has happened? When I don't need you to protect them anymore, I intend to move them back to my own realm. I can bring another five bars each year as well as five wagons of food as payment?"
The king nodded thoughtfully, watching the bar as it made its way around the circled dwarves. Joseph's offer was very enticing, because he didn't want to have to worry about the gnomes again, until he was done with NURKONG. Surely, he could be done with the shavist before a year was up.
"I agree. Let me show you where to put the food, as I have a feeling you already have it on you?"
Joseph laughed, "Something like that."
With a nod, the dwarf finished the ale, and jumped up, leading them with a wave towards the marketplace. Joseph was relieved to see that none of the dwarves were attempting to hide or pretend in front of them, this time.
"This area here, should be able to hold the food," said the king, stepping aside for Joseph to look around. The area was merely a room carved into the rock, with only one door. It was cooler, acting like a refrigerator, being farther from the heating ducts they had running through the underground city. In fact, he could see ice formations along the upper corners. Perhaps they had a bit of magic of their own in effect.
The area filled with all sorts of unprepared vegetables, fruits, and chunks of meat. He had tried to match some of the foods he knew were in this realm, so that they didn't stand out quite as much as the exotic foods he enjoyed feeding his mother.
Stella then proceeded to pull out forty bars from her purse, to go with the one he had already received. The king watched with stars in his eyes as the pile grew, until she was done, and stepped back next to Joseph.
"I believe our business is complete?" asked Joseph.
"Aye! I believe so! I'll have my dwarves heading out within the hour!"
With a nod, Joseph took Stella's hand and teleported them back to the gnome city. He was wanting to grab the mech and study some of the gnomish runes before he returned to his realm. He didn't want to experience difficulty with any runic magic because it was in a language he didn't recognize, as in the elven forest.
Perusing through the library was interesting, as the books were much smaller than he was used to, but he was able to pull it off. Though he was pretty sure the smug feeling he was getting from Stella, through the mind link, may have been her admiring his butt while he investigated some of the books from the lower shelves.
With a grin, he wiggled his butt, and turned just in time to see her ears turn pink at being caught. She was going to burn the next batch of cookies, he just knew it, but it was totally worth it!