Manticore’s Prize

“Gather round, I’ve a tale for all you good folks.” Geoff announced to the four people in the Cozy Creature inn; once its heavy wooden door thumped to a close. Aside from the sounds of Madeline Hufroe creaking in her rocker by the fire no one bothered to stir. Undeterred, Geoff strode to the center of the room and reached into his cloak with a measured pause.

“Here now, what’s all this about?” Old Henry stopped swabbing the counter and grasped the handle of his ‘peace keeper’ a studded club below the bar. “I run off the last ‘quest do-gooders’ we had in here. Bunch of singing dwarves said they were gonna find this dragon Frog or Hog something or other…blah, blah, nonsense!”

“I’ll tell you our story good innkeeper.” Geoff deepened his voice, “My companions – Alistar El’aldrin, Dorim Stonesbuckle and I,” he drew out a large yellowed tooth in one smooth motion, “have just vanquished a Manticore!”

“A Man-Truckor?” Old Henry took his fingers off the club and cupped his ear. Miss Jenny appeared at his elbow carrying a tray of meats.

“I think he said MANE-tick-ur, what’s a Manetickur?” The girl asked, flouncing over to have a look at the pointed tooth.

“My last husband was one a those,” Madeline Hufroe said with a squeak of her rocker, “woke up one day, told me he was living a lie. The old tramp stole my best blue dress and ran off with a troupe of bards…calls himself ‘Nancy DePoussey’ now!”

“Ahem,” Geoff gathered attention back to himself and went on, “it’s good for you that we found this Manticore because your town was lying in its path. These beasts are foul, vicious and clever. Put simply, Manticores are pure evil.”

“Never heard of him,” Old Henry pushed away from the bar and stomped to a table that needed more swabbing.

“You’d remember if you ever saw one,” Alistar joined in and followed Old Henry around the snug tavern room. “It has the head of a lion and the body of a Gryffin. They sleep in the craggy hollows of seaside cliffs and nest on the bones of-”

“Wait, don’t a Manticore have the head of a Gryffin and the body of a lion,” Farmer Benjamin piped up from a corner table. He set his mug down with a slosh and began to pantomime the body of a lion.

“I believe those are Southern Manticores, my friend.” Alistar confirmed with a smile of gritted teeth. “Your town was in grave danger…that is what’s important here.”

“What’s important is you smell like you bathed with one of those things.” Madeline Hufroe quipped, and Miss Jenny giggled.

The rest of the story…

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