On a dark and hazy in night in the western foothills of the Seed Mountains, a quite uncommon outfit of criminals was gathered. The largest of the deviants was the Stone Golem, reclining stoically against a boulder. Finding a Stone Golem among such crooks and scallywags was rare in itself, but this one was the leader of the operation. His name was Rubin. Quietly, he went over the plan in his mind and surveyed his crew.
The Goblin triplets were playing some kind of Gobson dice game by the light of a candle. “No lights,” Rubin said simply, and the candle went out. Somehow, the dice game seemed to continue. Dreeg the Centaur was seated, sharpening his arrowheads one by one with blinding speed. The Pixie was nowhere to be seen, but that was not surprising; she was only about an inch tall. Some of the others had asked Rubin why he needed a Pixie on his team. He had not bothered answering them.
The two Lyverian Humans were sipping tea together. Rubin could hear their slurping amid the squealing of the pigs. They were pulling pigs, bred for power. Hopefully, these two farmers could keep all eight of them under control for the duration of the job; the pigs were an integral part of the plan.
“It’s time,” said Rubin, his deep voice echoing through the foothills. With a groan he rose, and the outfit quickly gathered their things and began down the hill toward the village of Mitica, where tonight they would rob the First Splintral Bank of the Fireblood.
Neoxian was suddenly distracted from his absurd pile of numbers by a tapping on Dragonglass. Peering over the lenses of his spectacles, he could see a Teacup Dragon hovering outside his tower window, knocking with one of its free talons. Revolting creatures, thought the Dragon Banker as he stood and crossed his lengthy office to allow admittance to the little wretch. As much as he despised them, the Teacup Dragons carried important messages, and Neoxian was an important Dragon whose messages were never unimportant.
Without letting the Teacup Dragon in for a drink, Neoxian snatched the message and quickly shut the window. The little creature was clearly insulted, but the Dragon Banker knew that it would make no trouble here at his window. It simply flew away for its next job.
The message came as a shock, to say the least. According to reliable Gobson intelligence, there was to be a bank robbery this very night, in the countryside of Anumün. Neoxian’s network of spies in the Goblin metropolis was quite extensive, and their intel was never wrong. The Dragon Banker loved Goblins for this reason: They could always be bought.
Allegedly, tonight’s heist was engineered by a Stone Golem. His plan was to simply barrel into the fortified wall of a small town branch, then remove the gold by pig-pulled wagon. It would be a challenging defense, especially from his office in Draykh-Nahka, but Neoxian always loved a challenge. No one had ever gotten away with robbery of one of his banks; tonight would not be the first time. Neoxian had to act fast; he wondered how quickly a cluster of Lightning Dragons could arrive in Anumün.
Rubin’s outfit finally arrived at the crest of the final hill that overlooked the small village of Mitica below. With his heightened sense of awareness, he could feel the electricity in the air growing with each moment. The Lightning Dragons were coming. The Dragon Banker proved as predictable as Rubin had hoped.
The wagons were ready, four pigs to each. The Goblin triplets had their instructions, two of them manning the wagons and the third on loading duty. The Pixie was already buzzing about the bank below, making sure everything was according to plan. The Centaur had a single duty: To incapacitate the Lyverian guard with a single arrow to the leg. Rubin was not interested in killing, only stealing. The two Humans would hang back with the second wagon, prepared to intervene should the pigs go wild.
The timing was extremely important if this was to work as Rubin hoped. Near the top of the hill, the Pixie’s magical flash signaled the team to go. “Now!” Rubin cried, and the party barreled down the hill toward the flickering lights of the little village.
Neoxian was sure that he had dispatched the Lightning Dragons in time; so sure that he reclined in his most comfortable armchair and savored a glass of brandy. Why must they always think they can get the best of me, he wondered. They play Dice, but the Dragon Banker plays Chess, carefully plotting his every move with stunning precision.
This would be but another failed attempt at robbery. Ironically, these botched heists always served Neoxian well. He would now have an excuse to raise interest rates in that district, as if he even needed an excuse. His power was well-consolidated. He had orchestrated the entire Splinterlands to the point that every action made him a richer Dragon. The Dragon Banker was profoundly satisfied, to say the least.
The crash as the Stone Golem hit the wall of the bank was deafening. Right on cue, five Lightning Dragons arrived on the scene as all hell broke loose. The guard was taken down by the Centauri arrow as planned, while the Lightning Dragons began completely tearing the place apart. Rubin grabbed the monstrous satchel from the wagon and started loading gold in the mayhem.
One of the Lightning Dragons chased Dreeg the Centaur. Two more took off north after the first wagon, which Rubin called the Diversion Wagon. One of the two remaining Dragons became occupied with the second wagon as it arrived late to the chaos. Blasts of blue fire were exploding in every direction as the Pixie did her best to disorient the beasts. Only a few moments more, and the Stone Golem would be ready to make his getaway.
The Human farmers quietly stole away from the bank in the dark, leaving the second wagon and the four pigs behind. Rubin knew the pigs were as good as roasted, but at least the poor people of Mitica would get a good meal for once. With a hefty grunt, the Golem picked up his huge satchel and ran to the south, as fast as he could run.
He ran so hard that pieces of his feet ground themselves to dust, leaving a fine fog in the black night. The hazy sky was repeatedly illuminated by the one Dragon that had given him chase, blasting furiously at the Golem’s tail. Even for the incredible strength of a Stone Golem, Rubin was nearly encumbered by the weight of the gold bullion on his back.
He couldn’t win this race forever. The Lightning Dragon would not tire, and Rubin would eventually fall apart from such extreme exertion. His only hope was to make the shore of the Primordic Sea before the Dragon could manage to stop him. Rubin had lived for hundreds of years, and this was the hardest thing he had ever done. It was not the desire for wealth that drove him forward; that is what separated him from the scoundrel, the vicious Dragon Banker. Rubin was a Stone Golem, and like his forefathers, he would fight for justice, and justice alone.
Against all odds, as the sea grew larger on the horizon, Rubin was still outrunning the pursuing Dragon. By now, the other Dragons would have discovered that everything else was merely a decoy. He hoped that his crew had found safe passage while he braced himself for the final sprint.
A blast of blue lightning struck the ground very close to the Stone Golem as the Dragon shrieked in the distance. Rubin dared not look back. Each step took greater concentration and focus than the last, and he wasn’t sure if he could make it. He could now see the cliff's edge running up to meet him. A final blast of fire missed him as he tumbled over the edge of the mighty cliff into the sea, the satchel of gold still on his back.
When Neoxian awoke the next morning, hungover from Beluroc brandy, he already knew something was not right. There in his bedchamber was another accursed Teacup Dragon, waiting for him with a message. He must have left his window open all night. This invasion of the Banker’s bedchamber was inexcusable. After strangling the little beast for some time, Neoxian was quite perturbed at the contents of its message. “At least Stone Golems can’t swim,” he said aloud to himself as he crumpled the message and tossed it at the unconscious Teacup Dragon.
Deep at the bottom of the Gulf of Greenforth, on the outskirts of the great Primordic Sea, a Stone Golem sat, patiently waiting with a massive satchel full of gold and nothing else but time. Eventually, the search parties would be called off and the Dragon Banker would take his losses. As a giant Sea Monster passed by and stared inquisitively at the Stone Golem, he grinned, thinking to himself, I’m glad I learned how to swim.
Lore written by @chrisroberts. He and his wife @carrieallen have finished up the backstories and lore for all the Splinterlands, and working with @zipporah to complete the book. He will be offering sneak peeks, accompanied by brand-new artwork created by the Steem Monsters Team. Both Carrie and Chris prefer you refer to them as The Masters of Lore.😎
The Team is currently building up to launch a Kickstarter for the 150+ page campaign guidebook. Keep on the lookout for announcements and more inside scoops about the Splinterlands.