If you haven’t read the first Rothgar story already, you should go do that first.
Rothgar stood before the king and queen, attempting to look like he was listening intently. Rothgar scratched his side surreptitiously, the woolen cloak he had been forced to cover himself with was itchy. For some reason, the king didn’t want Rothgar standing there with his chest bare. Possibly because the queen was 30 years younger than the king and had a glint in her eye.
Rothgar wasn’t interested. It was always the same. Sleep with the queen and get run out of the kingdom. It just wasn’t worth it.
The king droned on, “…and the orcs seem to be organized. What do you think, Rothgar?”
“Er…um…well,” Rothgar hesitated. He really needed to pay more attention. “Organized means someone in charge. Orcs don’t stay organized unless there’s someone smarter around.”
“That’s what I was saying,” the king said in an irritated fashion. Rothgar didn’t care.
“Perhaps, my liege, Rothgar was implying that there was someone of a race smarter than an orc, probably someone quite smart. Some brilliant fiend come to take over the kingdom.”
That was the king’s sage, Kline. He stood beside the throne leaning on an intricately carved staff. Rothgar was glad the sage was here, it would make this easier.
“Well, he don’t have to be smart,” Rothgar said. “Just smarter than a orc. Maybe do a few simple magic tricks. Like, make a fire or something. Not real magic. A person that could do that, why would he need orcs?”
The king seemed to consider Rothgar’s words. “Kline has told me rumors of dark magics being performed around the countryside, haven’t you, Kline?”
“Oh yes, my king. Good heavens, we’ve heard about so many powerful works. This wizard must have great powers you know, oh my yes. It really is quite foolish to think this barbarian will be able to root him out, my liege.”
“Possibly, but we will give him a chance if he will accept this righteous quest. I’ve heard many tales of Rothgar’s adventures.” The king slid his throne a bit so it was closer to the queen’s and eyed Rothgar warily.
“I’ll need full freedom, sir. Permission to kill anyone without a trial. Especially the wizard. He’ll be too powerful to jail.”
Kline seemed a bit taken aback and asked, “Are we not a land of laws, your kingliness? You would trust this berserker?”
“Rothgar who took down the banshee queen? Rothgar who traveled through the nineteen hells? Rothgar who defeated a dragon without getting up from his breakfast? Yes, I believe he can get the job done.” The king shuffled his throne even farther over until it was actually in front of the queen’s throne. “Yes, Rothgar. You have full permission to do what needs to be done.”
Rothgar dropped the woolen cloak with a flourish, revealing his loincloth, his greatsword, and very little else.
The sage collapsed to the floor, his severed neck spewing blood everywhere.
Ulsidar, Rothgar’s mighty sword, quivered in the wall behind his falling body. The queen gasped, but Rothgar thought it might have had something to do with his state of dress rather than the gore.
The king was apoplectic, his face red and his fists clenched. “Guards!” he shouted.
But the guards were wary. Everyone knew the tales of Rothgar. They entered the room slowly, hoping that someone else would be the first to act.
None made the mistake of drawing a weapon.
“Go ahead and lock me up,” Rothgar said, pulling Ulsidar out of the wall. He examined the blade carefully, then flipped it so that the handle was pointed outwards. “I could use a safe place to sleep for a while. You can let me out when the orcs disperse.”
The guards visibly relaxed but still none of them stepped forward.
The king stood up from his throne, “But how do you know it was Kline?!”
Rothgar shook his head, “You heard the same thing as me, right? He was bragging. I could go out and do the whole business. Kill some orcs. Bash some heads. Torture a few. Stay at the local inn. Sleep with a few barmaids. Get kidnapped in the night. Wake up tied to a chair with Kline standing in front of me in the blackest robe he could find, probably with a few skulls on and mystical symbols. Then I snap the ropes, steal some trash orc blade and kill the lot.
“Or I could do it this way. It saves a lot of time. Sages and mystics, mark my word. They’re all the same. It’s boring as hell, honestly.”
The king seemed to calm down some but said, “We will see. If the orcs disperse, you have my word we will release you.”
Rothgar said, “Good. And could someone sharpen Ulsidar? I think I chipped the blade.”