A random fantasy romp.
The storm pounded hard with thunder as the rain sleeted down into the streets. The tavern in Thorné was as lively as ever, even with it's ridiculously small population (but then, farming towns never do have that many people, do they?). Lights shined out the windows as the sounds of drunken merriment wafted out into the night, bringing a smile to the lips of a hooded and cloaked stranger who felt that he'd been in this exact scene too many times before. Life in Thorné was a hard one, he knew. Hell, if he'd lived here getting smashed every night might not even sound that bad an idea if he only had a lifetime of farming to wake up to. One of the great advantages of adventuring; no real work.
Softly opening the door, the stranger was greeted by a flood of sound and smell. Drunken singing wasn't exactly his music of choice, but then he could always join later if he had enough to drink (the great part about drunken singing. While the style and technique leaves something to be desired, just about anyone can join in). The heavy aroma of potatoes and slaughtered farm animals, however, smelled slightly more promising. Stepping in, he was hardly noticed in the hubbub of the night's revelries. Lifting his hood of his face, he revealed an immediately noticeable mop of wild dark hair topping a face mostly clouded by the short and dirty beards of those who've been travelling for far too long in far from comfortable circumstances. The only noticeable features of the face were the large, crooked nose and the brown eyes jutted out from the mass of hair. Making his way to the main counter of the fine establishment, the stranger looked about the cozy place, filled mostly by farmers and other people of Thorné. Approaching the counter, he only managed the slightest glimpse of a shadow in the corner as the barmaid broke his observations.
''Hile there, stranger. Ye be new 'ere then, yeah?'' she asked him with the sweet smile of any salesman, tell-tale elfin ears peeking out from a mane of brown hair.
The stranger looked put on his own polite smile. Social conditions, accents, races...it all might change as one went anywhere in Terridgard, but the insincerety of a businessman? No, that stayed in whatever world you were in.
''Yes, I suppose I am. Just looking fer a place to stay fer the night, if it ain't too much trouble.''
''N'er too much trouble fer a payin' customer, so says I!'' boomed the innkeep from behind the counter, wiping the inside of a pretty well-wiped ale-glass like anyone would expect (and with a jolly smile to boot). Turning to him, the stranger grinned politely and set a gold coin on the dirty and scratched counter-top.
''Don't mean to keep ye, just holding fer the night.''
The innkeep's eyes widened slightly as he saw the coin. Setting down the glass, he kept his friendly smile that only seemed disturbing as his squinted pupils never left the glinting hik in front of him.
''I 'ope y'know we ain't got change fer gold, stranger.'' he asked, his voice trying to edge out the greed.
The stranger kept his polite grin, knowing that several heads down the bar were looking his way with sudden interest. This far out from the Province Capital, gold was scarce come by. It occurred to the stranger that what he'd done was probably going to lead to violence at some point that night, but that couldn't be helped now. Looking to the barkeep, he answered simply.
''Oh, I wasn't lookin' fer any anyhow, friend.''
As if released from a spell, the innkeep darted his hand out and nabbed the hik, making it disappear in the folds of his apron. Without the taint of gold in his eyes, the jolly look started to take effect again as the innkeep took the strangers orders. After hollering to the barmaid the whatsits and whonots to fetch, the barkeep turned to the stranger. He wasn't a big man (or, more importantly, armed) and probably wouldn't cause too much trouble, yet the barkeep felt some host-patron contact was in order, if only to see if the man had any more hiks.
''An' iffin' ye don' mind me arskin' stranger, but what name do I call ye by, eh?''
The stranger sipped the drink the maid had brought him. A name? That was something he'd had many of in the past. Trying to pick an inconspicuous one was hard. Most were pretty funny, though ''Boo-Boo the Great'' wasn't exactly a tavern side name.
''That'll be Gaelwyn, friend.''
The innkeep furrowed his brow. He knew a foreigner name when he heard one. That would only make tonight's business easier.
''Hm...that be soundin' like a Gyll name, stranger.''
Gaelwyn smiled into his glass. As lovely as Erimar was in the winter, hard feelings between it's people and their northern neighbours would never die easily. Not that Galewyn really was a Gyll, but the name had a certain ring to it that he loved, however much pain it was probably going to cause him tonight.
''It is, truth be told.''
Almost on cue, the barkeep launched his drooping, double-chinned mouth into a tirade of jolly anecdotes that were (expectedly) extremely bigoted. As much as Gaelwyn would liked to have heard every word, the flicker of a shadow caught the corner of his eye again. Hearing the drone of the innkeep's voice go on, he left his spot walked to a dark corner of the room. He was surprised there was even a table there, as a drunken bar-fight in the dark wasn't exactly easy.
Gealwyn would have known from a ridiculous amount of experience.
The sounds of merrymaking (or, more accurately, calls for more ale) seemed to fade off behind him as he closed on the corner, making it seem even more secluded. Straining his eyes, Gaelwyn made out the vague outline of a hooded (because they always have to be hooded) figure sitting at a small, round table flanked by benches.
''Hile friend,'' he called into the dark, lifting his glass ''Mind if I share a drink and a seat?''
'' 'Dat be way dependin' on yeah big-big.'' a clear, serious voice that sounded vaguely familiar called back. The figure moved slightly into a thin stream of light. Not that it made much a difference in a dark corner as to where you sat, it's always impossible to see you. But Gaelwyn took it as an act out of politeness (and the words as a warning) and nodded. He'd felt power before, probably too many times as it was normally used to throw him around like a rag doll (which, in retrospect, could explain several things about his mental process). It wasn't exactly something that one easily forgot, and Gaelwyn felt it here.
''I tell true that I mean you no harm friend. Do you mind? Standing tends to get tiring.''
The figure motioned and he sat. From a closer perspective, the figure ceased to be a blob in the dark and turned out to be covered by some kind of blanket. Laced with intricate designs that were white and probably red, it gave off an eerie feel that chilled Gaelwyn (and he'd jumped over a dragon). Sipping again at his drink, he put his legs up and stared hard at the man across from him.
''I imagine you wanted to talk, friend-''
''Yeah'd be good to nae call me a friend, Gaelween,'' the man cut across. ''Wae two be long enemies.''
''So you say? Don't think I've met you, much less insulted-''
''Nae, we have never met. At least not in dis world. But meet we shall agin, under mooch less...pleasant circumstances. I did come tae meet yeah, an' for yeah to know my face. We be havin' a loong war ahead of us, an' know we know we two. Don't botha' followin'.''
The man got up and walked with an odd clattering sound, leaning on a staff of some sort. Gaelwyn waited for the man to walk into the light and out the door, but the figure never left the shadows. Some proposal. Gaelwyn didn't even get to see his face, much less know a new enemy (something that he was getting better at acquiring these days). But now he knew him as a magik wielder, and one with power enough to walk unseen. Shaking his head, he put down his glass. Everything about that stranger (though he wasn't one to speak of strangeness) had come off so...disturbingly. From the message of doom Gaelwyn had a feeling the figure was in a habit of spouting in the middle of town-squares to the clatter of his walk, it was all really creepy.
To make matters worse, there must have been some kind of spell holding the sound back, as it suddenly crashed into the corner, filling it with another chorus of ''An' the Bonnie Lass Came Hooooooooooooome!''. Wincing, Gaelwyn rubbed his ears and reflected on the loveliness of silence. Specifically the lack of drunken farmers being loud, as they have the tendency to be. Looking back to the bar, he saw the barkeep whispering to about four patrons making this quite the eventful night. Apocalyptic rant, then a mugging...and he could almost feel the lack of sleep. How fickle a mistress was Adventure, that she couldn't let him have one Goddamned night of sleep. Shaking his head yet again, he made his way to the door as quietly as he could and slipped off into the night.