« Official Word: The Sounds of Music (Part II) | Main | Opening the box: Epic BattleLore »

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Raven

The Raven After the ‘flower of French chivalry’ (I had dealings with some of those men, bugger their own sisters for a ducat, most of them would) fell at Azincourt, the Dwarves put their prices up. Those thick-headed and thick-tongued mercenaries began to look prettier to your crusading Kings than a wholesome village maid after a spell in the Holy Land. Your average dwarf wouldn’t shy at a row of stakes and a few arrows falling from the sky, mark my words.

So I often found myself negotiating in the Dwarven camps, usually soaked with the spray from fifty beer tankards—they love their toasts, those Dwarves—and the spittle of a mercenary captain as he barked orders into my face. None can touch the Dwarves for feasting and carousing, and few for fighting, so I did not even try. Instead, I employed a simpler strategem to win their trust.

I drank.

Since my younger years, and despite my slight build, I have had an impressive capacity for beer. In a profession such as mine, having a clear head can often be the difference between keeping it and losing it, so it is a skill that has come in handy more than once. When dealing with dwarves, for example while discussing the price to engage Bearach Mac Dhonnchaidh’s band of spear-chucking miscreants in yet another petty skirmish, I repeatedly interrupted my host with such enthusiastic shouts as “to your mother’s beard!” and “to the lochs and glens of your homeland!” and watched him drain tankard after tankard as big as his head.

After five hours or so of keeping the beer flowing, old Mac Dhonnchaidh was ready to bequeath me his family farm.