Overkill entered the room of Mikala’s office/suite with a sense of hesitancy. Xerx’ses had come with him to the Ras Magiras hotel as an escort and was now waiting outside. The room was adorned with floral arrangements and there was a sweet smell in the air.
Mikala started in somewhat of a demand, then he paused when he saw Overkill’s scowl. He remembered that he was dealing with a leader, a captain and a former pirate, who was here for losing his temper….
“Please… sit down.”
Overkill moved towards the chair out of courtesy. Strewn around him were numerous copies of the Lopanic Games Beacon, each opened to a page with an Overkill headline.
“I… I asked that you come alone”.
“That you did and with the way that this city is quick to…” Overkill took note of the paper headlines on the desk, and on the floor. His fingers turned white from gripping the chair.
“I am asking you nicely to please…” Mikala took a deep breath, realizing that his own patience was on edge. ‘’Please publicly swear allegiance to Gold Coast’’
‘’Why? So you can add a notch to your belt for insults to injuries against Rod Rambler?’’
‘’I swear Overkill this has nothing to do with Malkin. It’s not personal, I promise, its business; reputation; an image thing.’’
Overkill stared at the old elf attempting to read his face. The two said nothing for a moment while Overkill contemplated before he spoke.
“What does CrIsis get?”
“To be in the games; I have spent a lot of money.”
Overkill said nothing but fumbled to get out of his seat.
“What? What do you want Overkill?”
“I want to stop the bull. CrIsis doesn’t care for money or reputation. We are here for a job and we have suffered a lot to get as far as we have had. Every nut in this town has run my name through the mud and you want me to make a declaration. Gold Coast has turned a mountain out of a mole hill. Have you ever seen a mole hill? People look at me with confused looks. Am I a murderer? Am I really chosen? It seems that everyone with a quill has jumped the knife and stabbed me without even investigating. Could I honestly represent Gold Coast now… now that a living man is presumed dead; now that an innocent man has been defaced in the papers? I cant say anything good enough about Gold Coast and have that change for CrIsis in this town or any town within a hundred miles. Its bad enough that I hate this country but now some of its citizens hate too. So you want to talk about image; lets talk.”
Mikala sat down at his desk with his hands to his mouth attempting to stew on the situation. A lot of money was poured into enrollment and he wasn’t about to back out, but the young brash dwarf had a point.
“Fine, I will show the manager being alive, and pay healers a king’s ransom to have his keg healed. You make the declaration in return, and get the funds for the books transferred to us. Besides, it wasn’t a sword that cut his lower leg off, it was a bite- and you don’t have a mouth that big- although it seems that way” Mikala chuckled, and Overkill joined him- the ice had broken. “Xerx’ses on the other hand….” Now both were laughing out loud.
Mikala sighed, and motioned around himself. “I am just too old for this. I need to sit down." In front of Overkill is Mikala the Defiler, aged over 1000 years. ‘’Sailor I am thousands of years old. This will be my last round of the Lopanic Games my last… anything. We are going to Ma’ip once this is done, all of the Defilers, except for Malkin.. Please do this.”
Overkill raced over from his chair to help the old elf sit. He poured a glass of water as an idea caught his mind. ‘’What if we sent a message to Karowyn’s saying we were going to disown them in public but in private stay their customers? Certain members of CrIsis could still pull from the bank.’’
“We could Mariner, but the face of CrIsis is all over the city, and perhaps the world. That and Karowyn’s would only show anger as you would be a ‘secret’ customer. No dwarf, you can’t do that to my competitor. It would be an insult to them and those associated with them; best to pull the bandage off fast, it’ll hurt less.”
“I screwed this up didn’t I?”
Mikala was in the middle of drinking the water when he stopped and put down the glass.
“Overkill, when you first came to me I wanted to turn you away. You were brash and unpolished; perhaps you still are but I see that you have a great respect for the Defilers and although we were heroes we are just like you, men and women that wanted to do something for the greater good. You made a mistake and you will make more in your life. I sense that you are young as dwarves go and when you become more experienced you will be asked about how to make better judgments instead of just having to learn from your poor choices. I wanted to give you a hard time but I see that you are a repentant dwarf; rare as that is among true pirates. Karowyn’s will probably give you a hard time as Gold Coast did when you… well… you know but it’s nothing that good public relations and a fierce competitive spirit will not repair. They’ll be fine. It’s strange, I thought that I’d never like a young dwarf again but you…. Hang on a second.”
The old elf slid a drawer out from the desk and produced a ring of tarnished silver.
“Overkill, I’m asking you as a favor to a friend to disavow Karowyn’s. Perhaps this symbol will help you take courage when you have none.”
In Overkill’s hand the elf places a ring with the symbol of the Defilers.
“Much like today with CrIsis hero worship, there has been a lot of rings similar to the one you wear that has been mass produced. People look at that symbol and think bravery, heroism, a new hope for me and the gods. Once upon a time this mass produced ring meant the same to the people of my time. Take this and say within yourself ‘If the Defilers can do it, so can I. You say that I am a hero of yours, show me that you can be a hero of mine. Do what must be done.”
Mikala closed the dwarf’s fingers around the trinket and for the first time, the impatient, impulsive, brash sailor is speechless and still.
“It’ll be ok in the long run. No one will remember all the great things you do but I will remember this favor to an old elf.”
Overkill’s eyes began racing as if he was attempting to find something to say.
“What should I tell CrIsis?”
“Tell them what I told you. Your leader will understand. It will make the transition better. Let those that are involved know of the new transition so that the funds of the books get to the right place. Go on and thank you for coming and being prompt.”
Mikala escorted the young dwarf to the door. The appropriate salutations were given to the minotaur who greeted them. Overkill was still stunned when the door closed behind him. Xerx’ses looked at the sailor.
“What’d he say?”
“I… I’ll tell you on the way back to the vegetables.”
Occurred on the 1st of Thoth, the evening of the opening of the Lopanic Games.