Tre hefted a shovel. Stone and packed dirt surrounded him and the two ogres. Neither ogre seemed too interested in the shovel, one picked his nose, the other picked his ass. When Tre had asked Utul for two helpers, he hadn’t specified what he was doing. Next time he noted, he’ll ask for ogres with at least half a brain.

Nose-picker and Ass-picker looked almost the same. Different missing teeth and notches in their ears. They both smelled like recently they had rolled around in a dead animal carcass. Even among Ogres, they were slow, stupid, and not pleasant to be around.

“Only one shovel, so you’ll have to take turns using it,” Tre said not looking at his audience. He stabbed a stone wall with the shovel and made a slight motion of throwing the dirt. A section of the wall disappeared, cutting out a ten-foot cube. The ground was a little lower than where Tre was standing.

Both ogres stopped mid pick at the display. Nose-picker stepped up first.

“I try,” Nose-picker said. Tre handed him the shovel, the tool expanded slightly to fit within the ogre's massive hands. The ogre stuck it in the wall and made the motion to throw the dirt. He threw so hard the shovel flew over his shoulder and thumped Ass-picker on the head.

One Ogre rubbed his head, the other stared in amazement at the new ten foot by ten-foot hole. It was several inches higher than the current floor. Nose-picker stepped forward to dig more but Tre held up a hand slightly blocking his path.

“The shovel only gets rid of the dirt, does nothing about supporting the ceiling,” Tre said waving a hand at the rock and dirt above them. Little showers of dirt occasionally fell from the roof. “So one dig, other builds supports. Take turns or I dig and you both build supports.” Tre wagged a finger at the two ogres. When they nodded Tre lifted a backpack that was sitting in a corner.

Slowly he reached in and pulled until the end of a large wooden pole poked out. About a foot in diameter, it barely fit through the opening. With a grunt, he grabbed it with both hands and stepped on a corner of the backpack. Lifting slowly he pulled four feet of the pole out then stopped.

“There’s forty in the bags. Should get you started,” Tre said brushing his hands off. “Tomorrow I’ll get you more, just don’t cave the place in. If Woodale realizes what we are doing this is over.”

Once both of the ogres nodded in agreement, Tre walked towards a door opposite of the first hole. Remembering one last thing he turned around to the ogres. Nose-picker was trying to convince Ass-picker to use it on his nose. He stood there with both hands pulling his nostrils as far apart as possible. Tre shook his head and changed his mind. If the floor was not level it didn’t matter.

Wrapping the cloak around himself he stepped through the door. Climbing the stairs slowly he worked his way up to the ground floor. The empty building creaked and swayed a little when the wind blew, but Tre confidently strode through the place. Briefly, he paused and double checked the support beams he had reinforced.

The boarded-up windows only allowed a small amount of light. Dust covered everything except a few well placed and polished mirrors. The reflected beams of light, Tre felt, gave an ominous feeling to the building.

Following a zigzag pattern, Tre walked over to the front door and verified the pit trap hadn’t been touched. Slowly he checked the other traps on the ground floor. He didn’t think anyone would be stupid enough to try and come in during the day, but one must never underestimate stupid.

Ground floor checked, Tre invoked a magic item that reduced his weight to that of a feather. Drifting up the stairs he verified it was still set to collapse. On the 2nd floor, there were a few places the floorboards had gaps between them. Carefully he reached a hand down and checked the blades. The old wood bent even under his minuscule weight, threatening to break away and dropping him onto the blades built into the floor.

The windows on the second floor were boarded up as well. A little tighter, so no rays of sunlight entered the area. Briefly, Tre shifted out of darkvision to make sure there were no cracks. He worried some animal or rodent would sneak in and destroy everything. He mused if there was a rodent or animal repellent spell.

No stairs existed for the third floor or the attic. A ladder had to be pulled down, but it was trapped, so Tre just pulled open the hatch and leaped up. Weighing only a few ounces he was able to easily pull himself through the opening. Once up, he closed the hatch behind him and walked over to the window.

The building overlooked the Justice Center. The Life and Light Church was also nearby. The LLC worried Tre the most, sometimes they could sniff evil. Mentally he made a note to soak some rodents in the smoke and set them loose within the church. Hopefully, it should keep them busy for a day.

Gazing across the town, he realized it was about noon. He had a shop to managed. Slowly opening the roof door, he stepped onto the roof. After slowly closing the roof door he moved to the side of the building. Weight about the same as a feather and invisible, He jumped off the building.

He slowly fell to the alleyway, a small gust of wind blew him towards the street. Once he landed he headed back towards his house. Once there he snuck in, removed the cloak and placed it back in it’s hiding spot. A quick shift into goblin form allowed him to grab the scrying device. Visible and looking like he had just woken from a nap, Tre stepped out of his house, yawning slightly before walking back towards his shop.

The young man Frederic was polishing the suit of full plate armor they had sitting by the window. The helm was crafted into a twisted smile when closed. According to Frederic, his father had made it for a customer who paid half up front. That customer then went and decided to fight a dragon. The thing was worth a small fortune, but no one in this little town could afford it. Every fourth day Frederic polished it in hopes it will attract a buyer.

“Frederic, I’ll take over for today. Can you take this letter to your mum?” Tre said pulling out a letter he had written.

“Sure you don’t need anything else done?” Frederic said.

“Na, that group earlier was the only adventuring group I’ve seen. Somehow I doubt the city guards will be paying a king's ransom for Dusty Steel over there.”

“It isn’t dusty anymore, I saw to that.”

“I know, but still, this town is wilting.”

“Aye, if only we were in Centralia. I could apprentice to a master blacksmith.”

“Rather than an old money lender like me?”

“No offense sir, you hav…”

“I was kidding. Here, take this to your mum, ask her to have an answer by tomorrow morning.” Tre said and he pushed the scroll towards the kid. Frederic took it tentatively and looked at the rolled up scroll as if he could divine the contents.

“What’s it about?”

“Your future young man. Your future.” Tre said and almost pushed the young man out the door. Once the door was closed, he locked it but left the sign to open. Tre moved to the office behind the counter. With no prying eyes, he pulled out the mirror and started scrying on the group. If they succeeded he wanted to know before they wandered into town.

He thought, one never knew when they would need every advantage possible.


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About the author


Bio: Life long gamer and geek, after decades of RPG's, decided to start telling his own tales. Ones where the players can't derail.

I love fantasy and sci-fi. Have for decades, from the first time I read Dragons of Autumn Twilight to Stormlight archive, the worlds created have entrapped me. Now after years of attempting to complete a story, I've finished a few and am working on a new ones.

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