“ It started in the Harpy’s Hoof, a bar I used to frequent “ said Bumsit
“But harpies don’t have hooves, they have claws .”
“I know that! ” said Bumsit, “The sign had a picture of a harpy, with hooves instead of claws. I guess the name rolls off the tongue better.”
“So technically it was a .. hippoharpy … or a harpyhippo,” said Leafrot. “Some dumbass artist’s invention no doubt.”
“No doubt. Anyway – there was a wizard who used to frequent the bar, name of Mumblebore. Quiet, uptight fellow, typical magic type. But when he had a few drinks in him he loosened up considerably. So one night he’d had his usual two or three drinks, which was enough to get him going. Started talking in a loud voice about his latest invention that would make him a fortune. Said he had made a magic belt that could make you invisible, it would change the world, etc etc“
“Typical…” Leafrot had consumed a large portion of wine by now and was leaning at an extreme angle. “Bloody wizards, mages, priests and … ”
“Sorcerers,” finished Bumsit.
“And sorcerers. A pox on them all! Responsible for half my grievances, they are.” Leafrot stabbed a finger in Bumsit’s direction … “Mark my words, when the Great Disturbance comes they will be the first to go. ”
“Damn right” said Bumsit, though he had no idea what Leafrot was alluding to now. The half-elf often confused aspects of his elven heritage with his human traditions and as a result had a very fuzzy cosmology and theology.
“Anyway … ” he repeated, “Mumblebore kept banging on about his magic belt- most of the lads in the bar just teased him, but then he said something significant. He was going to make lots of these belts and sell them everywhere. Now – one belt of invisibility is priceless. A dozen invisible belts are highly valuable. But hundreds, maybe thousands of belts? Thats what he was talking about. Common as muck, every second person has one. No value in them.”
“Thats when I decided I would steal it – while it was still priceless.”
“Better to have one belt worth ten thousand guineas, than ten thousand belts worth a shilling each.” said Leafrot, gesturing broadly with his tankard.
“Exactly,” agreed Bumsit. “The latter is peasant economics. Which is why they are poor peasants.”
“So how did you propose to steal a magic item from a wizard”s lair.”
“Well … ” Bumsit paused for dramatic effect. “As it happened, I had a dumbstone.”
“How the hell did you get one of those?”
Bumsit looked smug. “That’s another tale. But I’d been saving it for the right occasion.”
Even in his drunken state Leafrot was suitably impressed. Dumbstones were rare as, well, as anything you could imagine. A dumbstone was a specially enchanted stone that could nullify other magics. Only temporarily, usually, and they often had other caveats – some had only three uses, some could only be used under certain conditions. But if you wanted to break into a wizard’s personal dwelling and circumvent the protective wards, sigils and spells – a dumbstone was just the thing. Which is why they were so rare. The name came from the fact that many protective wards gave a verbal warning to their owner and the dumbstone rendered such wards literally mute.
“So…” continued Bumsit, “I waited for the next time Mumblebore was in the tavern, and when he ordered his first drink of the night I slipped out to his house with the dumbstone.”
Leafrot nodded – wizards didn’t keep their residences a secret, in fact they generally flaunted their places of magic, relying on spells rather than secrecy to protect themselves from intruders and unwanted guests.
“Approached front door, activated dumbstone, bam, straight in. No standard locks, no guard dog, nothing else – silly old fool. Kept the dumbstone activated just in case while I searched for his study. Which wasn’t hard, his whole house was basically just a kitchen and one enormous room with magic stuff, books, and a bed in it. And a lifesize wooden mannequin with a belt around its middle. I kept checking the dumbstone to make sure it was still working – about half of the red lines in the stone had already turned white so I didn’t want to hang around too long. I got the belt off the mannequin and scarpered quickly.”
“Easy as that then? So … what happened?” asked Leafrot
Bumsit grimaced. “Got home, put the belt on – it was a good handspan wide, made of leather. And it worked! Couldn’t see my body at all, which was quite spooky. The belt became invisible as well while it was on me. Took it off, I reappeared. Put it on, I vanished. I could see all my life’s fortune coming my way – I’d already worked out who I was going to sell it to – Lord Screwpatch.”
“The ugliest man in Kardinia – mirrors refuse to show his reflection – good choice” said Leafrot, “So what went wrong?”
“I bundled the belt and the dumbstone together in a strongbox and hid it in a secret nook. Next morning I took them out, and tried on the belt again. The belt disappears , a couple of inches of my waist goes invisible and that’s all! And then I noticed that the dumbstone was completely chalky white. It still was red the previous night, which meant …”
“Oh no …” said Leafrot
“Oh yes … sitting with the belt overnight, somehow the stone had sucked all the magic out of it! Never trust magic, ever! “ Bumsit banged his tankard loudly on the table
“So what did you do with the belt”
“I still wear it- keeps me looking trim.”
Leafrot stared at his friend’s pillow-like stomach. “Trim?”
“Indeed,” said Bumsit, “Imagine how I look without it!”