“You know about the edor?” the dwarf said.

“I’ve heard people using that word in a way that suggest they’re not all that welcome,” Eggebracht said.

“Well, as you know there are plenty of bands of wild folk, and they’re not really united on much,” the dwarf said. “But the orcish wildfolk and the elvish wildfolk, up in the forests and the highlands and the mountains…they were more united than most on account of the edor. They’d set their chiefs up to marry, and from that would come edor, half orc and half elf. They’d be the ones in charge.”

“Interesting,” said Eggebrecht. “Go on.”

“And they were also the only ones the dragon would speak to.”

Eggebrecht pulled out a second dollar, so the first wouldn’t get lonely. “Why?” he said.

“A lot of people–myself included–think that the various sorts of folk are various for a reason,” the dwarf said. “But the edor…well, they’re a handsome folk. They’ve got all the smarts of elves and all the toughness of orcs. I think the dragon just like them because there were so few and it meant he had less people to talk to. Two edor won’t even make any little edor, after all.”

“What did they talk about?”

“He’d judge important matters and, if someone was naughty enough, burn them to ash. Everything paid for, of course, and a regular tribute on top of it besides. A big enough tribute, and Highclaw might just decide to go to war for one batch of wildfolk.”

The ethnologist nodded. “If these edor were in so well with the dragon, why didn’t he come to their aid against the settlers? The wild folk haven’t done well in that area.”

The dwarf nodded. “When the settlers first came, the edor went to Highclaw and asked that the he go to war for them. And old Highclaw, he demanded a tribute so huge that the edor couldn’t possibly pay it. He wanted a river of gold that they just didn’t have. So he did nothing.”

Eggebrecht nodded. “And for their inability to pay…they eventually had their power shattered and were driven to the periphery. The best homesteads and all the mines that had once belonged to the wild folk aren’t theirs any longer.”

“And it might not have made any difference,” the dwarf said. “The settlers weren’t on good terms with Highclaw, seeing as the dragon’s took a shine to eating their livestock right out of their pastures. And, of course, it didn’t take long for them to get word of the dragon’s massive hoard.”

“I heard Highclaw was eventually brought to battle in an ambush, forced from the air by cannon fire,” said Eggebrecht. “And that even with his dying breath, the dragon refused to divulge the location of his hoard, which died with him.”

“That’s right,” the dwarf said, eyeing the dollars and licking his lips. “You’ve probably heard of his bones, a ways outside of Smokewood. What do you think of all that?”

“I think…it might be interesting if there’s an edor around who spoke with the dragon while it was still alive,” said Eggebrecht. “What do you say, Feris?”

“Oh!” The young woman had been listening, rapt, to the old-timer, sitting cross-legged with her head between her fists. Eggebrecht’s comment startled her out of her attention. “Uh, I think that’ a good idea. Yeah, we should…we should totally talk to someone who’s talked to a dragon.”

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