They never once told you how much you’d sweat while killing a dragon. All right, sure, dragons breathe fire, it probably was something you could have figured out for yourself. Still, all those lessons at the academy, all the tales of adventurers like yourself you studied meticulously, and nobody mentioned something like “bring a fresh shirt so you won’t stink so much afterwards?” It seems like a practical detail, and you make a note to share it with your professors to pass on to the next graduating class.
Honestly, though, you shouldn’t complain too much. You’ve only been out of the Adventurer’s Academy for a few months, and already you fell into a party hired to do some dragon slaying? The best adventurers might face five, maybe six dragons in a lifetime. To handle one in your first year on your own? That’s nearly unheard of.
All right, sure, the team you’re working with isn’t exactly ideal. For one thing, you’re the only Academy graduate, and the feel of this group is a bit less professional and more “every man for himself” than you’re used to. You hate to seem snobbish, but they’re not the most competent individuals. Seriously, you were the only one to spot the problem with bringing healing spells on paper scrolls to fight a dragon. Gary the Gnome still gives you the occasional dirty look over that. Apparently, he had a line on a really good deal on the scrolls, but what choice did you have? Someone needed to say something.
Still, be fair. Professional or not, their methods did prove effective. Slaying the dragon was perhaps not done according to the ten step procedure you memorized for your final exams, but the creature is dead, right enough.
“All right, that seems to be that. I don’t hear a heartbeat, so this dragon is sufficiently dead.” Ovrock the Mage likes to keep track of little details like this, and he insisted on checking for the heartbeat. As the youngest member of the party, you really didn’t feel it polite to point out that with an axe imbedded that far into the creature’s head it could hardly be anything but dead. You tell yourself he was simply being cautious, and that wouldn’t be a bad thing.
“Good work, men!” There are men and women (and Glymsore the Troll whose species doesn’t really do the whole gender thing) in your party, but Sartalla always refers to the group as “men.” No one else seems to notice, so it certainly isn’t something you’d like to point out. Sartalla is the acknowledged chief strategist on the team, and since no one died, you can hardly fault her success rate. Any battle you can walk away from without getting a healer to regrow your leg is a good battle. “Now, before we begin, is anyone seriously injured and in need of more than a light heal?”
Before we begin? What on earth could she mean? You literally just finished. But your training kicks in. Your team-mate asked you a direct question, and there’s no good reason not to respond. “I’m sound, thanks.”
There’s a little undercurrent of irritation when you say that. You do appear to be the only one without any bruises or scorch marks. You feel bad for the rest of them, certainly, but you did try to suggest some positions which were less likely to be in the direct line of fire, so to speak. Can you really be blamed if they didn’t listen?
“All right, so let’s get to the division of the loot. We’ll count up coins later, and those will be divided into shares like we always do. We’ll take the gems back to town, sell them, and divide that into the same shares. But . . .” A slightly unpleasant grin spreads across her face. “ . . . we do have all this other stuff to sort out.”
She is not wrong. You’ve never seen a dragon’s hoard before, but it certainly lives up to the legends. Even if the coins weren’t enough to live off of for a couple dozen lifetimes — and they very much are — you see nearly everything you ever dreamed of owning in one form or another.
“All right, you guys know the drill. We’ll take it piece by piece, and first pick goes to the person with the kill shot. So who actually dropped the bugger?”
There’s a ten second pause which seems to last a lifetime. You hate to brag, but . . .
“It was the new kid.”
Glemtro the dwarf shrugs. It’s his way to be honest come what may, but you can tell he has his eye on the big glowing axe.
Sartalla gives you a look that is less congratulatory than you’d expected. You feel a tinge of concern, remembering how little you know about these people.
“Fine, new kid gets the first pick of the items here. So,” she stares at you with obviously strained patience. “… what do you want?”