9th day of Alturiak. Evening. Old Skull Inn.
"Ma good lady! Let me tell ya," exclaims Druckner excitedly. "I haven't been in a civilized place like this in a long time, and ah've got a thirst in me that's gonna be hard to satisfy. But ah'll try! Brang me your premium brew, your finest of the finest, the one that grips yar tongue and gives it a good twist before roaring down yar gullet! Brang me a mug o'that and another one for my good buddy Gnore here! And after that, ah'll have a few questions fer ya." Druckner winks and puts more than enough money in gold on the bar to show that he can pay.
Jhaele smiles heartily at the jovial attitude of the fiery dwarf before her. She moves to pick up two mugs, filling them to the brim, a mighty head sitting atop the mugs before placing them in front of the dwarves. As Jhaele turns away to serve some other customers, Druckner elbows Gnore in his ribs, "See that Sembian against the wall? Looks as nervous as a dwarf maid afore her first spring dance. Wot ya think he's up ta?"
Gnore glances at the young human and whispers so that only Druckner can hear, "Either waiting for someone to do business with or do business to. Or maybe he's wanted by the law." Gnore shrugs as he turns his attention back to the mug of ale before him.
Druckner takes a big gulp of his ale and smiles at Jhaele as she calmly towel dries a few mugs, "We're members of the Red Feather Adventuring Company, Druckner Brombreath's me name, and here's Gnore Withercourage. We're in town ta get properly equipped fer an' expedition and we need ta find a good outfitter, ya got any names fer us?"
Gnore frowns as the identities of both he and Druckner are knowingly revealed but after the first mug of ale, dismisses his worries with a huff. Gnore keeps a watchful eye out for possible trouble, another for the Sembian in the corner as well. Gnore's concerns are quickly brought to life as two large humans rise from a table in the center of the room. Both men have thick dark hair and mustaches over tanned skin and dark eyes; standing well over six feet in height. Twins maybe? wonders Gnore as he watches the large men approach he and Druckner. Not surprisingly, both men have leather vests over dirty shirts, dark breeches and black walking boots. Hanging at the side of each of the men is a normal looking longsword.
"Ye'd better watch wot ye say 'round 'ere, friend," says the first of the men as he walks over to stand in front of Druckner. "Runnin' round taken the praise of the deeds o' others don't settle well in these parts."
"Yeah," says the other second man.
Gnore silently curses to himself as Druckner calmly sets his mug of ale down on the bar and hops off the barstool to stand before the man. Puffing up his massive chest and rising to his full four feet and one inch of height, Druckner places his fists on his hips as he looks up at the man, a dark scowl on his face.
"Now yoo hear me, yoo callin' me a liar?!"
As the rather foul breath of Druckner wafts up to invade the nostrils of the man, his nose wrinkles from the odor and he takes a step back. "By the blood of Cyric," curses the man. "That's foul. Ye must be who ye say ye are. I heard stories, but ne'er thought I'd smell anythin' that bad." The man waves his hand in front of his face as he futilely tries to diffuse the smell of Druckner's breath.
Gnore almost falls off his barstool as the laughter erupts from him. "Har! Well Druck, it appears yer reputation preceeds ye! ha ha ha!"
Druckner frowns deeply at Gnore, which only manages to bring another round of laughter from his friend. Turning his back to the men, he gets back on the barstool and takes a drink of his ale. "Seems the folk 'round here need a lesson in manners," he says with a look to Jhaele.
"Sorry friend," replies the first man. "I meant no offense. Just heard rumors about ye breath. Never thought it'd be true. Name's Durenn. This hears me brother Damen." Damen simply nods his head at Druckner and Gnore as he steps up to the bar beside Gnore. "Let us buy ye a drink," offers Durenn with a nod to Jhaele.
"Of course," replies Gnore around fits of laughter.
A few hours and several mugs of ale later, Druckner's attitude towards the offending brothers has eased up considerably. Anyone walking into the inn at that moment would assume that the two humans and the dwarves had been lifelong friends. Laughter often erupts from the four seated at the table they moved to hours ago as Druckner enlightens the young lads on stories of the exploits of the Company. As always, Druckner's tales tend to not only be exaggerated a bit, but also portray a central role for Gnore, himself and the other dwarves in the Company. Although drinking quite a bit, the ale doesn't really seem to be affecting Druckner or Gnore much, both able to maintain their control and their senses. Their drinking partners on the other hand are quite drunk.
Druckner manages to ask several questions of his own amongst all the tales he tells; again finding out that there have been several other kidnappings recently within the area. The common thread of course being that of mages or priests as the central target.
While Druckner has the brothers and several other patrons engrossed in his tales, Gnore gets up and walks over with ale in hand to table of the Sembian.
"Are your travels well, young human," he asks as he takes a seat. The Sembian looks at him for a moment with a measure of shock before that disappears. "You have the look of a harsh road upon you," continues Gnore as he sets his mug of ale on the table. "Thought I might venture an exchange of tales with you."
"I have nae tales ta tell," replies the Sembian, his accent so thick that it is almost impossible for Gnore to follow.
"Well all have tales ta tell," replies Gnore as he looks at the young man. "And ye appear to have more than yer fair share."
The man is about to speak when he stops short, thinking on the words from Gnore momentarily. As he stops, Gnore can see that the man's thoughts or emotions fly across his face briefly, the man apparently unable or unwilling to hide them. Finally, he looks to Gnore and smiles every so slightly, "Name's Kedaywyn. Kedaywyn Tresean," he offers his hand to Gnore.
"Gnore Withercourage," replies Gnore as he shakes Kedaywyn's hand. "Ye seem a bit edgy this night, Kedaywyn, if'n ye don't mind me sayin'. Any reason in particular?"
Kedaywyn looks at Gnore and finally does fully smile, "Pardon, friend Gnore. Ah'm not used ta crowds, make me a bit uncomfortable. Ah prefer the out of doors."
Ah like this kid more and more, thinks Gnore to himself as he thinks on his own distaste for crowds. "If that's the case, why be here at all then?"
"Oh, Ah'd much rather have camped outside this eve, but it's comin' a rain shortly and I dislike the rain more'n crowds."
"Rain! Yoo must be jokin' lad, there be no rain comin' tonight. Thar's not a cloud in the sky!"
"Maybe no clouds, my friend. But the rain's a comin' tonight, mark me words," replies Kedaywyn as he tips his mug to Gnore.
Gnore frowns but lets the argument pass as he knows he has no great talent in forecasting the weather; perhaps the boy does.
Kedaywyn and Gnore sit silently together for an hour or so as they enjoy their ale and listen to the tales of Druckner, Gnore supplying Kedaywyn with the less exaggerated version when Druckner goes a bit too far. Gnore begins to feel a slight kinship to the lad as they sit in silence. Gnore happy to have at least for this evening a companion that doesn't feel the need to chat on and on.
Finally, Kedaywyn tips his empty mug toward Gnore and rises. "Ah'm afraid it's bedtime for me, friend. Thank ye for the drink. Godspeed on yer journey's."
"Ah. Same ta ye," replies Gnore as he Kedaywyn takes his leave and heads upstairs to what Gnore assumes is his room.
"So where can we find any dwarven lasses?" asks Druckner of Durenn with an elbow to the man's ribs.
"Heh, heh, that would be the Festhall, ask fer Mother Tara," replies Durenn with a smile for Druckner and a wink to his brother. "Been long with the Company there, friend Druck?"
"Aye, that it has been, Durenn."
"What say ye, Gnore," asks Druckner of his friend as Gnore rejoins his table, "shall we make our way to this Festhall then?"
"Excellent idee," replies Gnore with a broad smile for his friend.
Walking out of the Old Skull, Druckner and Gnore head south along a secondary road, following the directions given them by Durenn to the Festhall of Mother Tara. Quickly reaching the two-story building that could only be the Festhall, Druckner and Gnore can hear the sounds of merriment coming from inside. Smiling to each other, the two dwarves enter the hall. Inside, they see several gaming tables throughout the main room, a vast banquet table laid out with plenty of food and wine and other spirits. A cheery halfling with dark, curly hair going gray moves forward to greet the two.
"Welcome to Mother Tara's," responds the halfling, "I'm Mother Tara. An evening here is ten gold crowns. That'll get ye a fine meal, plenty ta drink and a chance at the gaming tables."
Druckner and Gnore smile as they see the room filled with plenty of scantily clad women of all shapes, sizes, and races walking around serving the patrons. Quickly pulling forth the gold, the two pay up and enter the hall.
Early that morning, as Gnore lay in an upstairs room in the arms of a rather nice dwarven lass, his belly full from the delicious banquet meal and his body relaxed from the release of the previous hour, he is awakened by a loud crack of thunder. As the window is lit with a blast of lightning, a steady rain begins to fall on the roof of the building.
"Whall I'll be a goblin dung-herder, the boy was right," he thinks to himself before falling off to sleep again.
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