"It's a thousand coins to heal your wounds", the poet said from the balcony of her raised house just beside the lake.|
"What?" The warrior had just arrived and was looking over the muddy waters when she called out to him.
"You plan to dive beneath the lake and hunt the lobsters, aren't you? When you return... IF you return, it'll cost you a thousand coins to heal your wounds."
"Since when are poets so stingy?"
"When you're the only healer around and there's an endless supply of fools like you throwing your lives away for gold. Anyway, it's only a thousand coins. It's a bargain."
"... I have my own medicine."
"I hope it includes some ginseng extract antidote. They're venomous, you know."
"Alright, now you're just making things up."
"What about lodging? Or food? Can you provide those?"
"No such thing. And no, there are no other houses nearby. The villagers all fled when the lobsters made their nest in that underwater cave and started dragging people beneath. I was the only one with the sense to build my house this high."
"But why didn't you just move?"
"Because I didn't have to."
"Well maybe they all fled to get away from you." He was getting annoyed at her.
"It's two thousand coins now."
He decided that the best course of action was to stop talking to this harpy. He made his camp by the water's edge and slept fitfully that night, worried that some giant lobster would drag him underwater. The next morning he dove into the lake. All he needed, and all he could carry, was a torch for himself and a club for the lobsters. Finding the entrance was simple enough with the map he purchased in town. As he emerged in the underwater cavern he lit his torch and looked around. He was standing on a raised piece of wet rock just above the water. The ceiling of the cave was out of reach but certainly not too high. Then he heard the clicking sounds. The first lobster had emerged and was making its way to his small island. Firmly planting his torch in a crack between the rocks, he unsheathed his club and took his stance. He focused his mind and the rage spell he so often used took over.
The club worked perfectly. He had heard stories of warriors taking on the lobsters only to find their swords glancing off the armored shell and coming away chipped. But a club breaks bones and shells easily. More and more lobsters emerged, each between five to nine feet long, but he dealt with them in a swift manner. When the onslaught stopped he set his club down and tried to catch his breath.
Soon he got to the grisly business of cracking each dead lobster open and rummaging inside for the yellow amber that the jewelers would pay good money for. After the tenth carcass he had found nothing but lobster entrails and was feeling frustrated. He failed to notice the eleventh lobster emerging from the water.
The strike was swift. He felt a sting on his side and quickly rolled, grabbing his club. It was a golden lobster nearly thirteen feet long. Not wasting any time, he dealt a blow on its head. It lunged again with its poisonous tail but he parried the blow and countered with a smash to its many legs. It faltered and with all his might he struck its head with his palm, killing it.
He sat and cursed at his foolishness. He needed to dress his wounds and quickly leave. He tore a piece of cloth from his attire but noticed that the dead golden lobster was glowing. Acting quickly, he dug inside and found a cluster of golden ambers, even better than the yellow ones he hoped to find. His elation was short lived as his sides began to throb. Bundling his find into the piece of cloth, he dove underwater and made for the exit. By the time he'd emerged he was numb. The next day the poet found his body on the shores of the lake. Kneeling by his side, she noticed that he was still holding on to a piece of cloth. Whatever inside must have been swept away by the waves.
"I tried to warn you. I'll pray for your soul. Don't worry. It's free."