“I’m getting too old for this,” Dengar muttered, rubbing at the sore spot on his lower back. His breath came out in thick white plumes. He straightened, appraising the golden [Wristband of the Solar Prince] for damage. Satisfied, he dropped it into his pack.That’ll go for a mint back down on Level 55 where he kept one of his many shops. Jensen better not be dozing off again. He paid the lad well for minding the shop while he went on his “errands.”Levels 84 through 90 of the Basphelon Dungeon were an icy Hell. Goreshard Fiends, Icehowls, Darkfangs, and most especially Frostreavers. Dengar shivered at the mere memory of those icy behemoths coming out from their perfect camouflage in the ice-caked walls that reflected light like a funhouse mirror.While creatures from Levels 60 through 70 were light-sensitive, the creatures in the icy climes fed on it. Many an adventurer back-tracked to his shop in the dark twisting caverns of Level 55 just to buy his light-boosting items.Items he was now reclaiming.Basphelon was known for its many contradictory Levels. And to Dengar, the cocky little shits that strolled into his shop and haggled or complained non-stop got what was coming to them.Nobody had ever seen the bottom of the Basphelon Dungeon. A tiny grin lit Dengar’s weathered features. Nobody except himself, that he knew of. He’d seen it and understood the truth of the dungeon. It was a truth he rejected to keep his sanity. His very soul.He understood his place in the grand scheme of things and he was okay with that. Once Dengar had been an adventurer. Just as cocksure and egotistical as the next lad or lass out there. Eager to make his mark on the world.Lost a lot of friends delving ever-deeper.Dengar kept his [Darklight Torch] burning, spreading a magical dimness wherever he went that only he could see through. It kept the icy creatures that fed on bright lights away.There was nothing more to do here, so he made his way back up to his shop. It was surprising what coin could do that strength of arm could not. He could hire goblins and kobolds, famous miners that would cut and hew anything he threw at them for the right price.And Dengar always paid well.It was hard not to. Adventurers that made it down to Level 55 and the Five-Five as his shop was known were flush with gold from kills and selling useless gear to other merchants less willing to delve too deeply.The little critters cut him a path through the very stone that surrounded the mile-wide dungeon that sunk deep into the earth. It was through his secret stair that Dengar would retrieve his belongings and often find new gear to sell.All they needed was a little TLC, mostly cleaning up the gore their past owner left on them from an untimely demise.Bobgob, the goblin foreman did an awkward salute with Dengar slipped into the hidden recess. “Almost finished with the whirligig boss! Have you up and down in ten minutes flat!”That was good. Nearly a year ago he gave the goblins plans for an elevator that would ferry him up and down his secret tunnels. The thousands of steps were havoc on his aging joints.Dengar paused, reached into his coin purse – which was always full these days – and passed a handful into the foreman’s green paw. “Keep up the good work Bob, how’re the kids?”The goblin was more adept than the quickest rogue at making those shiny coins disappear. “Oh, not bad, not bad,” he said falling into step alongside Dengar as they ascended the stairs. “Brisar, Moris, Helar, Rasgul, Meesha, Gorganzola, Bitso, and Bobgob Junior all turn three next week.”The merchant shook his head with a chuckle. “Send them my best, and how is your lovely wife, Grobpob?”“Doing well, doing well. Got all the youngun’s to take care of y’know. Can’t complain though! Much better working for Dengar than for some demon lord what’ll throw us at the horde of adventurers clogging the dungeon up. Thanks to you I got Meesha’s cleft palate all fixed up. She’s smiling real pretty now.”“That’s good,” Dengar said. “I’ll have their gifts dropped off tomorrow on the 60th landing.”“Dengar’s too good to us,” Bobgob said.The rest of the trek was uneventful. A few scaly kobolds ran around him, always excitable and happy to see him. They could mine stone almost as good as any dwarf if you gave them half a chance. Most didn’t, to their overall detriment.Finally, Dengar reached the back entrance to his shop and opened the secret door. He passed through a series of heavily trapped and magically warded tunnels that only he could get past.The whole trek from the Five-Five shop down to Level 86 where he had found “Brualt the Brave’s” frozen remains took him a couple hours. This last leg took another hour all on its own due to all the protections in place.“That you old-timer?” Jensen called from the storefront as soon as he entered the workshop in the back. A workshop that his young apprentice was explicitly barred from. The young man only needed one magical zap from the barrier warding to cure his curiosity.“Yeah, yeah,” Dengar grouched. He dropped his heavy pack and took out the golden [Wristband of the Solar Prince].Just as he came through the swinging door to the shop he saw a group of adventurers waiting impatiently, their eyes filled with lust as they stared at each of the many magical trinkets he had on display and out of reach.“This guy’s looking-” Jensen started.“Rockjaw the Unbreakable!” the man bellowed.The two merchants shared a look. Jensen cleared his throat. “’Rockjaw the Unbreakable’ wishes to know if we have any illuminating objects. They have just been into the Dark Rifts and lost their Cleric to a Smokefiend.”Dengar looked at the gleaming gold bracer in his hand and pursed his lips. “Might be, friend,” he said to the large seven-foot-tall bearded man. Dengar’s practiced eyes noticed the dozen or more heavily enchanted items on his person. They would fetch a fine price once the man met his inevitable end.“Rockjaw the Unbreakable demands you furnish him necessary items! Coin is no object!” The big man dropped a sack full of coin onto the heavily reinforced countertop. And still, it groaned for the weight of the sack.Dengar shook his head. His counter had been broken more times than he could count by overzealous adventurers looking to cow him into submission when a list of their deeds failed to work.Judging by the creak of the wood, Dengar would estimate the sack at roughly 127,000 gold. A hefty amount to lug around. He would do his merchant’s duty and lighten the man’s burden.Dengar held up the wristband as if marveling it. “This will illuminate even the darkest magical shadow and deal radiant damage over time to any Smokefiends you come across. Their blinding smoke will be useless and the Lightless pits of Level 64 will be child’s play.”“You will sell it to me!”“It is a recent addition,” Dengar said, he had played this game many times. “Hard to come by.”The towering man was having none of it. “Gold you will have! All of my gold for such items that banish the dark and bathe these foul demons in holy light!”Music to his ears.Dengar held out the golden wristband and just as the adventurer’s massive mitts were about to close on the item, he jerked it back noticing the bloodstain. With a brief polish, he cleaned it up and tossed it to the adventurer.“I’ll just go get the rest.” He turned to his young assistant, who always stared so wide-eyed at the gold people paid the older merchant. This time, he noticed the recognition. Jensen recognized the wristband. “Jensen, please deal with….”“Rockjaw the Unbreakable!”“Yes, ‘Rockjaw the Unbreakable’s’ generous payment.”The young apprentice looked over at Dengar with a dawning realization. The beginning stirrings of fear behind those lavender eyes.As Dengar made his way to the back he sighed. He lost more good apprentices that way. While he was scrubbing the blood off his reacquisitions, the merchant opened a drawer and pulled out a “Help Wanted” flyer.