Mukal Cavebuckle sat up with a pounding head, the decision to fall asleep against Gilgrik’s door was a necessary delay tactic but he’d need a beer to calm his anger before continuing with his plan. Stumbling to his feet, Mukal allowed his body to sway back into the jade slab door, slamming it on his brother’s beard before staggering his way down the hall towards his only possession, his grandfather’s table.
Behind him, Gilgrik made noises of disgruntled satisfaction. He entered the kitchen and immediately started with his regular complaints, “You lazy git,” he grumbled, “yeh drank all my beer again and do no hard days work. “
Knowing this speech by rote Mukal tuned out his brother and found some stale bread and hard cheese to eat. He’d only slept three cycles but would have time for a nap later. For now, Mukal knew he had limited time to upkeep his ruse and meet with the gang.
“They’re always looking for rubble removers,” Gilgrik said as he headed into the passageways towards the boiler network.
With his brother finally gone Mukal stopped his act of being completely drunk and walked with an air of arrogance towards his brother’s room. He needed to come up with an item of enough importance to his plan that wouldn’t seem amiss if Gilgrik went to grab it. The large jade slab was perfectly balanced and opened easily with just the brushing of a fingertip. Inside the room was nearly empty, with only a bed and wardrobe to be seen. It was eerily dark in the room, even by the standards of a dwarf who had spent his entire life underground.
He walked towards the bed, casting a simple light spell as he moved. The corners were tightly folded, sheets crisp and flat. It did not look as if anything could be hidden, but he got onto his knees to look under the bed anyway. There he found a wooden box, intricately carved – it was their mothers. Mukal needn’t look inside, he knew it held only two things: a letter, written to their father by the King after he saved the capital from a ruthless horde of undead; and a red diamond engagement band that Gigrik had once proposed to Mukal’s long-time girlfriend with.
He got up carefully, ensuring not to disturb the bed before heading towards the wardrobe. Hopefully, something would be worth his time in there. If not Mukal would need to hire someone to break into Gilgrik’s office locker and that would cost them weeks. The wardrobe doors were locked, he’d have to find the key later. The beer delivery would soon be here and it would be suspicious of him to not sign for the order.
As Mukal stepped out of the room he noticed that the delivery man had already arrived and was about to knock. He hastened to the door to let the human in. “Want a bear?”
“The word is beer, Mukal. And no thanks, I’ve got a date after my shift. She wants me to drink only with her today.”
“Is it with that Janet from the bar? The one you mentioned last week?” the words of the common tongue fell out of his mouth awkwardly.
“Yes Mukal, she’s the only other human in town.”
“Uh… right. Have a good one. The date that is.”
“Have you practiced your common enough yet? I got to get going.”
“For now. Thanks, Mike,”
As Mike the Human, dropped the goods off in the regular location. Mukal added, “My brother has requested a larger order of the dark ale- do you think you could have it for tomorrow’s shipment?”
“Sure, I’ll add it to the tab. See you later Mukal.” Mike replied as he handed the paper slip over to be signed. Mukal wondered, not for the first time, why the human would waste such a rare material as paper on signatures. He scrawled his signature and handed the board back. Without another word Mike turned and left. into the tunnels as the mid-day song echoed its way past him.
The day seemed to be passing quickly, the gang would be here any moment and he hadn’t even found an item to use yet. He spun in a slow circle looking around with calculated thought wondering what item he could grab. And then his eyes landed upon Gilgrik’s precious lantern and a smile spread across Mukal’s face.
The first of the gang to arrive was Brokoid an unusually short dwarf whose agility came in rather handy. Next was Glalmetrud the strongest woman on this side of the Battlefield of Bonebeard. Finally came Diogenus with his ragged group of orphans. “You brought them again? Make sure they don’t go snooping. I will not tolerate theft in the dwelling.”
Diogenus replied while grabbing one of the bottles of ale, “My riff-raff are not so commonplace.”
“Have you found what we need?” asked Glalmetrud.
“In fact I have. My brother left this morning without his lantern.”
Glalmetrud looked skeptical, “Everyone has a lantern. Some of these corridors get too dark without. How will a lantern lead them towards the engineer?”
Mukal picked up the carved lantern, lit the candle inside, and held it up. “How many lanterns have you ever seen that shine your name to the floor?”
Brokoid went to take a swig of a beer but stood only slightly taller than the bottle. The action should have thrown the dwarf off balance. Instead, as though in an act of defiance, Brokoid finished the entire thing, before letting it go and giving a mighty burp. “Where do I need to take it?”