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You are here: Home --> Forum Home --> Free form RPGs --> Fantasy RPGs --> The Bleeding Lute - Come on in and Play!
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Eol Fefalas
Turning Capashanese
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Karma: 447/28
7289 Posts


Short one

“In my opinion, wariness of anyone is never misplaced, cousin,” Nyx smirked dryly, his gaze ticking to the departing soldier for an instant, “but, no, those round-ear breeders are no distraction of mine…” He indulged in a sip of his refreshed wine before continuing. “…Were I hunting you, no distraction would be needed. The less a spell-slinger sees of you, the better, I have learned. They tend to distract themselves easily enough.”

The Mith’ganni chuckled at this, let his eyes flit back to the table where the two remaining soldiers had started tucking in to their meals, and then sipped from his goblet, again, as his gaze returned, almost lazily, to Tatiana. “Now, cousin, you tell me,” he asked, “why might these ‘strapping men’ be inclined to fetch reinforcements at the mere sight of you, hm?”



Posted on 2016-04-07 at 13:54:33.

Boo Boo
RDI Fixture
Karma: 27/1
673 Posts


Short response

“…Were I hunting you, no distraction would be needed. The less a spell-slinger sees of you, the better, I have learned. They tend to distract themselves easily enough.”

Tatiana laughed heartily and nodded slightly as if agreeing with his assessment.

The Mith’ganni chuckled at this, let his eyes flit back to the table where the two remaining soldiers had started tucking in to their meals, and then sipped from his goblet, again, as his gaze returned, almost lazily, to Tatiana. “Now, cousin, you tell me,” he asked, “why might these ‘strapping men’ be inclined to fetch reinforcements at the mere sight of you, hm?”

She locked eyes with him and raised an eyebrow and then a small smile came to her lips.

"I dont know if I should say," she shrugged, "there is a bounty involved and you might be enticed to collect it."

"But then again," her eyes narrowed to regard him as she absently toyed with the blue-gemed ring on her hand, "I think not."

She took a sip of her wine as she considered and then sighed as she set the glass down and picked up the bottle to refill her glass.

"I think we have some time before their friends arrive," she said with a faint nod of her head towards the Inn's other patrons.

"There is a bounty on my head because a Lord thinks that I had something to do with his wife's demise." She sighed wondering what he would say to that. She could guess but wasnt going to say but rather wait for his response. She picked up her now full glass and took a drink.


Posted on 2016-04-07 at 17:32:40.

Eol Fefalas
Turning Capashanese
RDI Staff
Karma: 447/28
7289 Posts


Watching and waiting...

"I don’t know if I should say," she shrugged, "there is a bounty involved and you might be enticed to collect it."

Something of a smile flickered across Nyx’s lips at this and he offered what might have been interpreted as a disinterested shrug. It had been a long time since the promise of coin had motivated his methods.

"But then again," Tatiana continued, her eyes narrowing a bit as she regarded him and absently toyed with her ring, "I think not."

She paused, here, falling into a momentary silence as she seemed to mull over her own words behind a sampling of her wine. While she did, the Mith’ganni’s eyes tracked the room, again, minding the two round-ear brutes and the door through which their companion had recently exited, in particular, and returned to the sorceress only after she had drained and refilled her glass.

"I think we have some time before their friends arrive," she said with a faint nod of her head towards the Inn's other patrons.

"There is a bounty on my head because a Lord thinks that I had something to do with his wife's demise."

“Thinks,” Nyx asked from behind a shrewd grin, “knows, or says, cousin? There is a difference, hm?” He traced an alabaster finger around the rim of his goblet, his eyes seeming to contemplate, for a brief instant, the dark surface of the wine the vessel contained. “If this Lord thinks you had some involvement, it gives some merit to the bounty. If he knows, then the reward is, perhaps, as legitimate as any breeder has ever offered,” he offered a faint shrug and a razor-sharp smile, “But, should it be that he only says that you have something to do with the demise of his slitch wife, the bounty would be pursued by only the most foolish of sorts, wouldn’t it?”

He canted his head slightly to indicate the two soldiers who remained at their table; “Which sort are these, I wonder?”



Posted on 2016-04-09 at 13:20:29.

Boo Boo
RDI Fixture
Karma: 27/1
673 Posts


The Tale

Tatiana chuckled slightly at Nyx's words and looked over at the men once again. She caught one of them watching them and he quickly turned away which only ensured the suspicions that they were watching her.

"I think these are the Lord's men," she said with a sigh as if the coming conflict was something she wished to avoid, "I noticed a crest on the left breastplace under the travel cloaks of one of the men. It appeared to be the crest of Lord Toman."

She turned back to him and sighed then drank again of her wine. If she continued at this pace the bottle would be gone by the time the men's friends showed up.

"I will not lie and say that I have not killed," she shrugged, "but I did not kill the Lady Toman. She had sought out my advice on dealing with someone in her household that she feared was out to betray her husband. I arranged to meet with her to discuss it and see what if anything I could do. We met and had tea while she was explaining this all to me. She collapsed to the floor before she could tell me the name of the traitor. The Lord's chirugeon determined that it was a poison in the tea. They immediately assumed that I was the one that poisoned her."

"Magic I know," she said as she refilled her glass again and looked at the 2/3 empty bottle and shook her head, "but I don't do poisons. If I was going to kill her I would have used magic and I think I would have enough sense to have done it in such a manner that I was not standing over her dead body when discovered."

She chuckled and looked at the men again who were doing their best to make it look like it was only their meal that interested them.

"I was not believed and they have been hunting me and offering a reward."

Looking at him she chuckled a bit before saying, "Frankly when I first seen you I thought perhaps they had finally hired a true professional for the job."



Posted on 2016-04-09 at 16:10:17.

Eol Fefalas
Turning Capashanese
RDI Staff
Karma: 447/28
7289 Posts


An offer?

"Frankly when I first seen you I thought perhaps they had finally hired a true professional for the job."

“And, perhaps, they have,” Nyx snickered, “but, I assure you, that professional is not me, yes?” He indulged in one more sip of his wine, contemplating the tale Tatiana had just spun in regards to her ‘relationship’ with this Lord Toman and his lackeys.

“If what you say is the truth of it, my cousin,” he said after a moment, “my estimation is that, even had a professional been retained to see your thread severed, these men encountering you here, tonight, would look to save their Lord the coin any assassin worth his salt might levy. Should the one that recently left reach his garrison, he would be wise to bring back the entire host, yes? And, even if his wisdom fails, surely he would have sense enough to return with numbers sufficient to at least forestall Murph, there…” he tipped his head to indicate the half-elven enforcer, “…whilst the rest attempted to deal with you. We may not have the time you imagine…”

His moon-yellow eyes slithered toward the door, once more, then to the pair of Toman’s men who yet lingered, making a poor show of pretending to be more interested in their meals than in Tatiana. He lifted his goblet, again, and, after swallowing a goodly portion of it in the next drink, heaved a sigh that registered somewhere between exasperation and… was it pity?

“As I have no reason to doubt your words, arwenamin,” he said, turning his gaze back to her, “and more than one reason to always doubt the motivations of some short-lived, round-eared dandy, I suppose, I could offer some small amount of relief from, at least, this current situation. It can be made, fairly easily, so that these men, here, won’t trouble you and, perhaps, also, seen to that their compatriot does not make it to where he is going…” One black brow spiked probingly above a glittering yellow eye as he smiled somewhat sinister smile. “…but, then again, I recall you asking that I not interfere, yes? Is this still your wish?”



Posted on 2016-04-09 at 17:04:06.

Boo Boo
RDI Fixture
Karma: 27/1
673 Posts


An answer

Tatiana Ravenwood replaced the bottle on the table and sat back in her chair and just looked at Nyx for a long moment. Her face was passive and almost unreadable as far as what she might be thinking. It almost looked like she couldn't believe what she was hearing. Finally she sighed and shook her head.

"Seems that I owe you an apology," she finally said, "calling you a Sereg'wethrin was out of place it seems. For I can't believe that you are one now for if so you would never willingly offer to do such a deed without payment."

She seemed to consider his offer but only for a short moment and then shook her head.

"As much as I would love to be rid of these pursuers," she proclaimed, "removing them would do no good as others would follow. I am innocent of the charges and to just kill the men who think they are doing their duty to save my own skin would make me out to be the monster they think that I am."


"So please," she said with a smirk, "refrain from any gallant acts that would do anything to tarnish your reputation. I will get out of this predicament on my own. If I can't handle a few round-eared sword swingers by myself then what kind of spell-slinger am I?"


Posted on 2016-04-09 at 18:46:52.
Edited on 2016-04-09 at 18:48:35 by Boo Boo

Eol Fefalas
Turning Capashanese
RDI Staff
Karma: 447/28
7289 Posts


As you wish...

Tatiana, it seemed, had been momentarily stunned to silence by Nyx’s offer. For a long moment, the wizardess simply sat there, staring at him across the table, seeming to try and make sense of the words he’d just spoken. Finally, though, she just sighed and shook her head.

“Seems that I owe you an apology. Calling you a Sereg'wethrin was out of place it seems,” she said, then, “For I can't believe that you are one, now, for if so you would never willingly offer to do such a deed without payment.”

“You owe me no apology,” he murmured cryptically, “Mayhap it is not the payment that matters to me.”

She seemed to consider this, too, and, like the last time, dismissed her consideration with a shake of her head. “As much as I would love to be rid of these pursuers,” Tatiana asserted, “removing them would do no good as others would follow. I am innocent of the charges and to just kill the men who think they are doing their duty to save my own skin would make me out to be the monster they think that I am.

So, please,” she smirked, “refrain from any gallant acts that would do anything to tarnish your reputation. I will get out of this predicament on my own. If I can't handle a few round-eared sword swingers by myself then what kind of spell-slinger am I?”

Nyx actually laughed at this. “The sort that gets overwhelmed by a number of swords and a magical retainer brought back from the garrison, perhaps?

Besides, gallantry has nothing to do with it, cousin,” he snickered, sipping at his wine, “Think of it as more a self-imposed blood-debt, yes?” He returned his goblet to the table, then, his eyes flitting about the room once more before he offered a shrug and leaned back in his chair a bit; “But, if you say to leave it, leave it I shall.”


Posted on 2016-04-11 at 08:19:58.

Boo Boo
RDI Fixture
Karma: 27/1
673 Posts


100th Post! Yahhh!

So, please,” she smirked, “refrain from any gallant acts that would do anything to tarnish your reputation. I will get out of this predicament on my own. If I can't handle a few round-eared sword swingers by myself then what kind of spell-slinger am I?”

Nyx actually laughed at this. “The sort that gets overwhelmed by a number of swords and a magical retainer brought back from the garrison, perhaps?

Besides, gallantry has nothing to do with it, cousin,” he snickered, sipping at his wine, “Think of it as more a self-imposed blood-debt, yes?” He returned his goblet to the table, then, his eyes flitting about the room once more before he offered a shrug and leaned back in his chair a bit; “But, if you say to leave it, leave it I shall.”

Tatiana smiled at him and seemed to consider his words for a few moments before she responsed. She took a sip of her wine before speaking.

"Well they are welcome to try and overwhelm me if they can," she said with a michevious grin, "but that hasnt worked for them in the past."

She glanced at the two who had finished their meal and were now nursing their drinks to bide them time.

"I am curious as to what they might try this time," she said then sighed, "but I fear it would result in deaths. I, unlike you dear cousin, do not relish killing even the round-ears."

She looked down at her glass and set it down with a sort of finality.

"Perhaps it is best if I leave now and force the hand of these two whom I should be able to handle without undue problems," she stated but then looked at him, "I will regret leaving such a lively conversation partner. I must say I have not been so pleasantly entertained in such a long time." She finished with a dazzling smile and sparkle to her eyes.


Posted on 2016-04-12 at 19:38:33.
Edited on 2016-04-12 at 19:38:59 by Boo Boo

Eol Fefalas
Turning Capashanese
RDI Staff
Karma: 447/28
7289 Posts


Well... If you must...

As Tatiana spoke, her bright eyes flitting here and there about the room as she did, Nyx simply watched and listened. The ghost of a smile that haunted his lips was the only betrayal of the amusement he found in her self-confident words. This aplomb was a trait common amongst mages, of course, and, in some respects, it was truly admirable. In the Mith’ganni’s experience, though, that same quality had proven to be the downfall of more than one of her ilk. He had little doubt that the woman’s skills were more than a match for the two soldiers that had remained behind, nor did he imagine that she might be able to deal with the pair and make her escape before the other returned with whatever reinforcements he had scampered of to fetch, but, given his own experience with wizards and he like, he knew that her soaring confidence would likely get the better of her before much longer…


And you care about this, why, a dark voice in the recesses of his mind queried.


I suppose I truly don’t, he answered internally as he allowed another sip of wine, Perhaps I am simply weary of the humdrum of this place and seek a diversion, yes?

The dark voice whispered out a chuckle; Of course you do…

"Perhaps it is best if I leave now and force the hand of these two whom I should be able to handle without undue problems," Tatiana said, at that moment, "I will regret leaving such a lively conversation partner. I must say I have not been so pleasantly entertained in such a long time."


“Pleasantry is a matter of perspective, I think, cousin,” Nyx grinned, “but I am glad I could entertain you for however short a time.” He lifted his goblet, then, in something of a farewell gesture and said; “If you feel you must go, far be it from me to stand in your way, arwenamin. May the stars lead you to peaceful pastures, yes?”



Posted on 2016-04-16 at 16:43:43.
Edited on 2016-04-16 at 16:45:52 by Eol Fefalas

Boo Boo
RDI Fixture
Karma: 27/1
673 Posts


Farewell for now.

"Perhaps it is best if I leave now and force the hand of these two whom I should be able to handle without undue problems," Tatiana said, at that moment, "I will regret leaving such a lively conversation partner. I must say I have not been so pleasantly entertained in such a long time."


“Pleasantry is a matter of perspective, I think, cousin,” Nyx grinned, “but I am glad I could entertain you for however short a time.” He lifted his goblet, then, in something of a farewell gesture and said; “If you feel you must go, far be it from me to stand in your way, arwenamin. May the stars lead you to peaceful pastures, yes?”


Tatiana considered and then decided that she shouldnt endanger this good place with her problems. She downed the last swallow of her wine with finality and set the glass down and picked up her staff which still was resting against the table.

"I feel that I must deal with this problem now," she said as she rose to her feet, "rather than later."
The two men stiffened visibly in their seats as they saw her rise and look as if she were leaving.

"Dont worry," she said as she leaned over towards him slightly, "I wont incur the ire of our faithful 'problem solver' there." She nodded her head towards Murph who had sat up in his seat as he had apparantly noticed the tension in the air.

The two warriors glanced from Tatiana to the Half-Elf and relaxed a bit as they seemed to realize that if they started anything here then they would have to deal with multiple assailants.

"I thank you Nyx," Tatiana said as she stood tall and grasped her staff tightly, "you have shown me that not all Mith'ganni are untrustworthy loners." She grinned at him as if she had just made a joke.

"Quel fara Nyx," she said with a sigh, "Tenna' ento lye omenta."

After his response she turned towards the door. Her gaze purposefully sweep over the two men and when one of them met her gaze for a moment she winked at him. She walked past Sarah as she entered the room from the kitchen. She paused and handed her another gold coin and nodded her head towards Nyx when she spoke to the girl. Whatever she said the girl nodded and then glanced at Nyx.

Tatiana stepped to the door and opened it. She paused and glanced back to him and smiled and nodded then stepped out of the Inn letting the door close behind her.

After she left Sarah came over from the bar with another bottle of what he was drinking and set it on the table.

"Compliments of the Lady," she said and then turned and went back towards the bar.


Posted on 2016-04-16 at 18:11:32.
Edited on 2016-04-16 at 18:13:50 by Boo Boo

Eol Fefalas
Turning Capashanese
RDI Staff
Karma: 447/28
7289 Posts


The plot thickens...

“I feel I must deal with this problem now rather than later,” the elven woman said, getting to her feet after finishing her wine.

Nyx offered a fractional nod at that and, then, a wry grin as Tatiana promised to do nothing that would draw Murph from his spot at the end of the bar.

“I thank you, Nyx,” she continued, squaring her shoulders and gripping that staff of hers, “you have shown me that not all Mith'ganni are untrustworthy loners.”

He shared her bemused grin and, perhaps, chuckled a bit as his goblet met his lips, again.

“Quel fara, Nyx,” she sighed in conclusion, turning, now, toward the door, “Tenna' ento lye omenta.”

“Tenna’ san’, Tatiana,” he replied, “Namaarie.”

His moon-eyed gaze tracked her as she strode for the door, pausing briefly to speak with Sarah before taking her leave of the place. When she was gone, the Mith’ganni’s attentions slithered from the door to the two soldiers who had done such a poor job of masking their interest in the woman. One of them glanced at him, now, but only for an instant… And your anxiousness grows, yes, breeder Nyx smirked internally, So uncertain as to what your fate might be should you follow her, now, yet all the more unsure as to what may happen if you do not…
Sarah appeared at the table, then, and set a bottle of wine on the table. The girl almost visibly shuddered when those glittering yellow eyes turned to meet hers. “Compliments of the Lady,” she explained, turning to retreat from the table.

Nyx took up the bottle, studied it for a moment, and, as he unstoppered the thing and poured his goblet full once more, he called out to the retreating barmaid; “Sarah, if you please…”

The girl clenched, stopping in her tracks and forcing herself to turn and face to eerie Twilight Elf; “Sir?” She watched uneasily as he turned in his seat, the bottle of wine the elven woman had bought for him in one pale hand, and the other disappearing into his coat only to reappear with a couple of silver coins. He stacked the coins on the bottle’s mouth and took up his goblet before rising from his seat and holding the bottle out to her. She approached, a hesitant but curious expression fighting with the smile she tried to force, and took the bottle being careful not to let the two silvers fall from it’s top.

“Give this to those soldiers, ” he said, his voice like the wind in a graveyard to her ears, “Compliments of the Lady, yes?”

She blinked at him and nodded; “O’ course, sir.”

“Diola lle,” the Mith’ganni hissed as he moved back toward his favored table in the shadowed corner, “The silvers are yours but not until the bottle is on the table.”

Another blink and nod was Sarah’s initial answer. “Thank ye, sir,” she said, blinking now at the two coins perched on the bottle’s mouth.

Then, as requested, she carried the bottle to the table where the soldiers sat and deposited the thing between them, the coins making a faint clinking sound against the glass as she did. “Compliments of the Lady,” she smiled when the soldiers blinked questioningly at her. She snatched the coins from the bottle, then, and, with a polite half-curtsey, took her leave of the table.

From his shadows, Nyx smiled wickedly as, after a moments conversation, the soldiers each poured themselves a sampling of the wine. Quel kaima…


Posted on 2016-04-22 at 12:05:11.

Boo Boo
RDI Fixture
Karma: 27/1
673 Posts


Departure and death.

The men hurriedly drank a couple of glasses practically gulping them down. They usually didnt drink such fine spirits. One of the men downed his second glass and nudged the other and they both stood up. They glanced momentarily over towards the Dark elf in the corner as they hurried out the door.

Outside they looked around and one of them saw a flash of light colored cloth towards the woods and they hurried towards it. They entered the woods and stopped to look around for further signs. One man was looking around when the other suddenly crashed into him as he fell to the ground.

"Hey," the man said as he barely kept his feet, "What the matta with ya?"

Looking down at his comrade whose face had already turned blue as he grasped at his throat. He started to lean over when suddenly he felt a tightness in his chest and then it turned into a burning sensation as he grasped his chest and fellt next to his partner.

In less than a minute they were both stone dead. As darkness was deepening the howl of some wolves echoed across the forest. The pack would eat well tonight.

Further into the woods Tatiana Ravenwood paused in her walking and turned to look back towards the way she had come. Her eyes narrowed a bit and she sighed as she shook her head. Seems the Mith'ganni couldnt help himself she thought.

Moving on she raised her staff and the head of it began to glow with a soft blue light. This served to not only light her way but it also allowed her to sense life forms within a certain radius. She was on the look out for others that might be following her. She knew that the man who had left would bring back others but she wasnt sure how far away he had to go to get them.

So far she had managed to elude her pursuers and she hoped to avoid them if possible. It wasnt that she was afraid for he life but rather she feared for theirs. She had faced them before and so far it had only cost them lives of their men who were only doing as their Lord had instructed. She hated to kill them for only during their job.

She walked for awhile and had sensed only animals such as wolves and such. She knew that somewhere behind her some wolves were going to have an easy meal. The light from her staff served another purpose to keep the scavengers at bay. It told them that there was easier prey to be had elsewhere. Here would lie only death if they approached the soft bluish light.



Posted on 2016-05-01 at 18:16:26.

Celeste
Hippy-snapper!
Karma: 138/3
1049 Posts


DM Scene - PLAGUE.

Today's Menu
Look. I ain't sayin' it's fancy. But it's fillin'. And I'll be damned if my patrons go 'ungry. We're calling it "stew". Got summit to liven up the pot? Lemme know, I'll give yer good money. Everyone's sufferin' through this plight, and it'd be a right kindness fer summit fresh.

Beverage of the Day
Ain't nothing new wot account fer the drought. In fact, the damned Mahogany's all run dry. Cider too. Grog's wot's left. I got 'er few bottles o' the good stuff tucked away, but it'll cost.
-Henry


The Inn feels unusually crowded considering the current plight in the area. Maybe folks felt the need for community, mutual commiseration, or drunken consolation. Whatever the reason, the tone is far from cheerful here.


A young man sits on the stage with a lute. He keeps playing jaunty tunes to try and lift everyone's spirits, but the folks in the tavern aren't having any of it. Someone should stop him.



A group of three men sit at the far end playing a game of dice. One keeps eyeing the bard on the stage, grimacing every time a new song begins. He subconsciously fingers a blade at his side.

Four hunters pour over a map of the local area. A half-orc, two humans, and a dwarf are discussing where game might be hiding during this lean time. Their conversation is heated, specifically between the dwarf and one of the humans.

A rich looking noble and what is clearly a mercenary are chatting. The noble is extremely nervous while the mercenary does not look amused.

Seven farmers sit around one end of the long community table. The conversation is dour; the fields have been hit the hardest and the community is beginning to blame them for the lack of food.

An orange tabby cat named "Socks" flits around the Lute. She is known to be an excellent mouser.

Two half elves, a human, and two gnomes sit together laughing. Each is a little worse for wear, but the human looks like she lost an argument with a wolverine. They are all clearly drunk.

Five sit at the bar, leaving space for only two more. Waldorf and Statler sit in their normal seats, but quite unusually, Murph is leaning against the bar chatting quietly with someone who is hooded and cloaked while he surveys the room.

Creaking sounds coming from the floor above indicate that there is something happening in the library upstairs.



Posted on 2017-05-08 at 08:40:27.
Edited on 2017-05-17 at 20:07:44 by Celeste

Eol Fefalas
Turning Capashanese
RDI Staff
Karma: 447/28
7289 Posts


A scene or two...

On the road outside – late afternoon
The door of The Bleeding Lute opened and spit four, obviously travel-weary, men into the street. Milling in the road just outside those doors, the men were grumbling amongst themselves as they hitched their packs to their shoulders and, each in turn, sent their gazes in different directions. Two of them simply seemed to be scanning the street, north and south, as if to verify nothing had changed in the hour that had passed since they’d entered the inn. Another turned his imploring eyes skyward; seeking signs of impending weather, perhaps… or, maybe, sending up a silent prayer to some yet to be named god or goddess. The fourth man, though, focused his gaze on the door that had just banged shut behind them; scowling at the portal and scratching absently at his beard while he contemplated.

That is what seven Brissans buys us,” that fourth man groused after a long moment, finally letting go of his irritated study of the inn’s door, “She’s been taken to the Chakran Mountains?! Nothing about who, or how many, they might be? Nothing about which route they might have taken? I’m half tempted to go back in there and take back half that silver… or at least take it out of that cursed elf’s hide!”

“Take it easy, Curlan,” encouraged the man who had, heretofore, been eyeing the skies, “That’s more information than we’ve had in weeks and…”

“Easy?!?!” The one called Curlan spun on his heel and glared angrily at the other; “This is easy, Boorl! You really don’t want to see anything else from me, just now!

And don’t tell me about weeks! We’ve been doing this for months! Months!!!

The other two had moved to put themselves between their compatriots in order to keep the exchange from coming to blows. It was an unnecessary intervention, though, as Boorl had already raised his hands in a placating fashion and backed a few steps away from the larger Curlan.

“I know,” Boorl was saying, “I’ve been with you since the day after she went missing. And, my friend, I didn’t mean to offend you. I was simply saying that, as information goes, what that elven fellow, there, gave us, was more than worth the silver we parted with to get it. She was seen just west of the city less than a week ago… alive. Local outfitters sold members of the party she was with mountaineering equipment. Incoming caravans passed them just days ago, obviously bound for the Chakrans…”

Curlan’s shoulders slumped in the wake of the sigh he heaved into the air, just then, and the scowl eased a bit if it didn’t melt completely away.

“Th’ elf did offer ta guide us,” one of the others said, offering a faint shrug as his gaze drifted back from its surveillance of the road and found Curlan’s face, “We coulda jus’ took ‘im up on it an’…”

“And possibly wasted coin that we’re already precious short on,” Boorl cut the other man off before the scowl could return to Curlan’s lips. “His retainer, alone, would’ve cut into what we’ve set aside for rations and the gods only know what other expenses he’d incur for us along the way.”

“He mighta got us there faster, too,” the other man murmured in mild protest, “an’ saved us more coin then’s right we oughta spend out.”

“Jory,” Boorl cautioned.

Jory flinched and raised his hands. “He said he knew th’ aree like th’ back ta his hand’s all I’m sayin’,” he offered as he took a step back, “an’ we don’ know nothin’ bout nothin’ since we crossed off th’ border a fortnight ago…

“JORY!” Curlan snapped, now, “We’re not hiring the pathfinder!”

“Fine,” Jory demurred, dropping his hands and turning his eyes back to the road…

Curlan sighed again, his voice softer, somewhat apologetic, when he added; “This ain’t the business of elves, anyway, Jor..”

“Tha’s fine, I said,” Jory interrupted without looking back, “Yer th’ boss. We ain’t hirin’ th’ damn pathfinder...” He muttered something else under his breath, too, but it was indistinct enough that none of the rest truly heard what it might have been.

Boorl and Curlan exchanged a glance and a shake of their heads and, Gar, the one of the four whom had yet to speak, asked the only question that remained. “Well,” he drawled, his voice as deep and craggy as the wrinkles that encircled his eyes and disappeared into the great grey bush of a beard sprouting from his cheeks, “what are we going to do then?”

Once more, Curlan and Boorl traded looks and, following yet another sigh and an imperceptible shake of his head, the larger man gestured vaguely westward. “We go west until we start to lose the light,” Curlan said flatly, “then we find lodging or make camp til morn.”

“I suggest we get to it, then,” Gar rumbled, the butt of his staff grinding into the gravel of the road as he strode in the direction Curlan had indicated, “the light won’t last us much the longer.”

“Er we coulda stayed here, t’night,” Jory grumbled, cinching up his pack and trudging into step with the old greybeard, “not had ta sleep on th’ damn bumpy ground fer a change…”

Boorl clapped Curlan on the shoulder, then, and, adjusting his own gear as he went, set off on the road behind the other men, leaving Curlan a step or two behind, sardonically contemplating The Bleeding Lute’s door, for another instant.

“…coulda hired tha’ elf feller, too,” he heard Jory continue to grouse. “We’s only gon’ hafta go thru elf lands on our way ta th’ mountains but, nah, Jory, this ain’t no concern o’ elfs… hope ya don’ regret yer choosin’…”

Curlan tore his gaze from the Inn’s door, spit in the dust at his feet as he snugged up the straps of his own gear, and hauled in a determined breath as his eyes framed the backs of his compatriots and the road ahead. “I hope not, too, Jory,” he all but whispered as he set off after the men who had followed him on this quest, “I suppose we’ll soon see.”

Inside the Bleeding Lute
“You really should have tried harder to get them to hire you, hon,” Maria cooed at the elf that stood on the opposite side of the bar, absently toying with a newly acquired piece of silver, “I’ve the feeling that folk like that’ll have more than a bit of trouble in the Hith without the likes of you.”

The elf’s golden eyes danced up from their contemplation of the foreign coin, flicked briefly toward the door through which the men of whom she spoke had recently departed, and sparkled in the wake of the smile he offered when his gaze met hers. “I tried to tell them much the same, Maria,” he offered with a shrug, “but, that big one, he didn’t want a guide. There’s more to their tale than what they’re telling, I imagine…”

“Talca thinks he can read people like he reads trails,” snorted Statler from his typical perch at the end of the bar.

“I didn’t know Talca could read at all,” chortled Waldorf, rocking forward on his usual stool flanking Statler as both men enjoyed a laugh at the elf’s expense.

For his part, the elven Pathfinder known as Talca simply offered an amused glance in the direction of the two, old barflies, a faint chuckle at their tired joke, and a grin as he turned his attentions back to the Lute’s bartender and the cup of mulled wine she had poured from him.

“Will you be in long,” Maria asked, though she knew his answer before he spoke it.

“That remains to be seen,” Talca smiled, his long, graceful fingers curling around the cup. “It’s been two months since last I was here,” he mused following a sip of the wine…

“Two and a half,” Maria corrected, “almost three.”

…The ranger grinned and nodded his concession and, lifting a hand to tuck a spilled braid of chestnut hair behind a pointed ear, and tilting his head toward the door, continued; “That group obviously won’t be hiring me to join them, but they did leave me with a bit of fresh silver…”

The curvy, dark-haired barmaid rolled a hip and leaned almost seductively over her side of the bar top. “So you thought you might get yourself a room at The Lute, tonight,” she purred, reaching out to brush a bit of road dust from Talca’s well-worn leathers, “Have a bath, some supper, and maybe more than a few drinks before you’re hired off again?”

“You know me well, melui,” Talca winked.

“Well enough,” Maria winked back, “but, maybe not as well as I’d like, hon.”

The ranger grinned and, possibly, blushed, although, if he did, he managed to hide it behind the tip of his cup as he took another swallow of wine. “I’ll need that bath first, then,” he chuckled as the cup returned to the bar top and he licked a drop of wine from his lips.

“I’ll see to it,” Maria chuckled in response, and, offering another playful wink as she pushed away from the counter and made her way down the bar to top off the two old barflies’ drinks, added, “You might, also, want that supper, first. You may need the energy.”

Talca, as stealthy as he was in the wild, was nowhere near able to camouflage the flushing of his cheeks at that. “I’m sure I would,” he laughed softly…

As jovial as the conversation with Maria might have been, though, and as much as that cheery veil was propped up by the songs played by the bard who occupied the tavern’s stage, the atmosphere in the Bleeding Lute was uncharacteristically guarded and somber. It wasn’t just the Inn, either; the entire city of Lynnbrooke, along with the outlying farmlands and settlements, seemed to be mired in the doldrums that came with the blight which had recently fallen over the place. No amount of friendly, playful chit-chat or any number of bright and breezy ballads could scour that pall from the air.

“What’ll you have, then, hon,” Maria asked, her gaze returning to Talca after having swept the room in search of other patrons who might need her attention, “We’ve got little but stew, at the time, but it’s not terrible.”

“The stew will do,” Talca nodded faintly. As he did so, he leaned over in his seat and reached down to tug open his pack. “I’ve got a brace of coneys that I rousted out, this morning,” he said, producing a neatly wrapped bundle from the pack and offering it over to the dark-haired woman, “Not the largest rabbits I’ve ever seen in these parts, but, I imagine, they’ll go a fair way toward stretching out that stew. Cookie’s welcome to them, if he’d like…”



Posted on 2017-05-08 at 09:34:03.

Celeste
Hippy-snapper!
Karma: 138/3
1049 Posts


Dear Maker MEAT.

Maria wrinkled her nose appreciatively.

"Well, look at those! Mighty kind of you, Talca. It's been damn hard to find much in the way of meat these days. Cookie'll be right pleased."

She winked again, removed the bundle from his hands, and sashayed into the kitchen.

A few minutes later Maria came back laden down with a large bowl of stew and a hunk of crusty bread. The door to the kitchen banged open behind her and out strode Cookie.

His shoulders stood well above Maria's head. A large hand absently rubbed the 5 o'clock shadow along his muscular jawline. Inked in runes dotted the backs of his fingers. The stained tunic he wore lacked sleeves, and up and down his arms ran more tattoos. They were tribalistic in nature, and the repeating patterns seemed to interweave in a symbolic way. The discolored apron tied around his waist was clean with an old dish towel draped haphazardly off one side. His black eyes found the elf's honey colored ones, and he stared hard. As the seconds ticked on, his gaze didn't waver, and Maria shifted uncomfortably behind him.

He reached out and delicately set down a tiny crock next to the bread.

"Thank you," he boomed. Cookie turned heel and walked over to the slate that usually bore the house specials. His beefy hand picked up a piece of chalk and ever so gently scrawled the words "Rabit Stu".
Satisfied with his handiwork, the cook went back into the kitchen, the door banging shut behind him.

Maria looked pointedly down at the little crock, and then back into the elf's eyes.

"No charge," she whispered with a slight giggle.



Posted on 2017-05-08 at 19:31:55.

   


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