F�?Tkari and the Eternal Flame
The hearth crackled as hungry flames licked already blackened logs, throwing up a dirty yellowish light over the Chaos Dwarfs. They paid it no mind, nor even the drinks now forgotten beside them. The Chaos Dwarf ancient and his companion had arrived earlier that day, his accent strange to them. He wove them stories of their ancestors, of forgotten glories, of bloody deaths. The fire crackled again, casting an almost daemonic aspect on the old Chaos Dwarf’s craggy face, he had yet another tale to tell.
"‘I�?Td give my eyes for knowledge, my skin for wealth, my bones for power, my soul for immortality,’ the long forgotten Dirszki once claimed that, for which of us would not want such boons despite the sacrifices? Yet dark fates await those who would reach for such ends. Such as F�?Tkari and the Eternal Flame.
F�?Tkari was an adventurous son of our kind, his blade was always sharp, his eye keen, and his stein forever empty. Here was a Dawi Zharr that seemed destined for great things.�?� The ancient�?Ts companion snorted at this as if he�?Td heard the same line one too many times, the mask covering his face seeming to shimmer in the glow. The ancient ignored him and continued.
�?oIndeed, the hearth would be colder than a spurned Rinn before I could cover the legends of F�?Tkari.�?� His companion grunted something about the old coot exaggerating everything but was ignored. �?oBut his last great adventure,�?� continued the old Chaos Dwarf, �?odealt him the greatest treasure yet the most ill of punishments. Our story begins, as many stories do, on a lonely barren road. F�?Tkari had returned from a great war against our soft �?~cousins�?T and was making his weary bones along the path home when he happened to come across an old pedlar. He was mending a pair of boots whilst whistling a tune, F�?Tkari stopped and began to dance to the tune in merriment. The tune finished, F�?Tkari noticed that his jig had worn away his boots to nothing. The pedlar smiled and proffered the boots he was mending, ‘may your dance never leave you barefooted,’ he chuckled and left without further word. F�?Tkari hesitantly tried the boots on and found them a perfect fit, and he walked onwards noticing how they did not seem to wear.
�?oHe came upon another pedlar whittling away at a piece of dark wood and smoking a pipe. F�?Tkari lit his pipe and joined the pedlar, watching him work. When the pedlar finished, F�?Tkari removed his pipe only to find it crumble away in his hand. The pedlar smiled and gave F�?Tkari his pipe, ‘may your pipe never empty,’ he chuckled and left without further word. F�?Tkari placed some pipe weed into this strange pipe and found it burned for as long as he wished, and he walked onwards, plumes of smoke around him.
�?oThen he came upon a third pedlar who sat there weeping, for he had neither boots nor pipe. F�?Tkari would have left the fool as he was, and yet he was unnaturally moved by the Chaos Dwarf�?Ts plight. Before proper sense returned to him he had given the pedlar his boots and pipe. ‘It is a rare Dawi Zharr who gives such riches,’ the pedlar smiled and gave F�?Tkari a set of strangely crafted dice. 'Go to the ruins to the south and meet with the Daemon of fire. May your luck never run out.'
�?oTaking the dice, F�?Tkari made his way south and found a long forgotten ruined keep. He made camp there and waited. As darkness fell there was a plume of fire and a great Daemon appeared before F�?Tkari. The Daemon cackled and prepared to feast on the foolish Chaos Dwarf when F�?Tkari held aloft the dice. ‘Very well,’ hissed the Daemon, 'what do you wish to gamble your soul for?'
F�?Tkari thought hard and responded, ‘I have seen much in my years and wish to see much more, I wish for life eternal.’ The Daemon smiled and the two began to gamble. To the Daemon�?Ts dismay his every roll was bad and F�?Tkari�?Ts perfect, and by the light of dawn he conceded defeat. ‘You seek the Eternal Flame,’ the Daemon whispered, touching F�?Tkari�?Ts brow. With the path in his mind, F�?Tkari began the long and perilous journey till he stood before the flames eternal. Filled with dreams of immortality he stepped into them and his wish was granted.�?�
The old Chaos Dwarf smiled as the flames crackled. �?oOf course, the Daemon (nor the pedlars he pretended to be) never told F�?Tkari that the fire would scorch his flesh and he�?Td be cursed to forever travel…always burning…never dying…�?�
�?oSo what happened to him?�?� spoke one of the listeners.
�?oHe still wanders…isn�?Tt that right, F�?Tkari?�?� smiled the storyteller.
His companion stood and removed his mask.