Posted: Oct 15, 2018, 3:53pm
The Hangmans Noose
Balar sat at the bar watching his patrons drink. He growled softly under his breath as he took in the sight of the strange crowd that occupied his common room this evening. The usual local farmers and merchants were absent, driven away by the newcomers. There was something wrong, something in the air. He could almost taste it. Absently he fingered a medallion, hung about his neck on a silver chain. At its centre sat a white stone that seemed to capture and reflect the firelight from the nearby hearth.
"If you keep glaring at them all like that, one of them is going to take a swing for you."
Balar turned to face his wife who stood hands on hips in the doorway to the kitchen. She gave him a wry smile and walked over.
"Its just bloody odd that's all." Balar complained.
"Yes, yes." Tiella soothed, placing a hand on his arm. "As you say, a very odd group of paying customers."
She stressed the last two words and gave his arm a squeeze. With a sigh, Balar reached over and dipped his tankard into a nearby barrel. He took a long hard swig of ale and then another. A sharp scent caught his nose then, it was familiar, just on the edge of memory.
"Do me a favour love." he said, his eyes suddenly on the front door to the common room.
"Fetch my axe."
Tiella did not hesitate. If Balar asked for his axe then his axe would be needed. She had spent too many years with the man to stop trusting his instincts now. Besides, despite her efforts to sooth his mood, she could not help feel wary herself. To have so many strangers visit the inn at one time. They had started arriving around noon the previous day. Not the normal travelers and merchants, these were mercenaries, warriors and worse.
As she climbed the stairs her mind settled on the elf girl. So young to be away from her clan she must be either a run away or an outcast, and seeing the moon symbol etched onto that staff she carried she suspected the latter. Followers of the forbidden path were hated almost as much as half elves amongst the Shill.
Stepping into the bedroom she shared with Balar she made her way to the chest at the foot of the bed and lifted it open. Within she found a pack, an old habit from their adventuring days when they might be required to flee at a moments notice. She hefted it out and beneath it wrapped in oiled cloth she found the axe. She struggled for a moment with the weight before hefting onto her shoulder. She then reached down once more and retrieved a small sheathed dagger which she fastened to her belt. Feeling its weight there gave her comfort, it made her feel whole.
Closing the chest she left room taking the axe and pack with her.
Luna sat quietly near a window looking out into the night sky. Her long silver hair hung down to her lower back. Her silver staff was in her hand. Most people were avoiding her. She suspected that some of the patrons thought she was a dark elf, they had such strange ideas these humans. It was not that simple. She had some dark abilities true and disliked the day. So maybe she was a dark elf in a way, but not in the way they thought. She was not evil! She looked around the tavern studying the people, looking out for danger. Most people avoided her but there was the occasional individual who would pick a fight.
"Watcha doin ere... elf."
The man called across the common room. He had been glaring at Luna for a while now and the drink had finally given him the courage to speak his mind.
"Watcha let her in ere for!?" he yelled at the inn keeper who seemed not to hear.
The man got up and came staggering over to Lunas table. A few of his friends followed, only halfheartedly trying to talk him out of it. They appeared to be mercenaries. They bore no house colours and their gear was ill kept. Their drunken leader slammed a palm on the table in front of Luna, mostly to steady himself. He then proceeded to pour his ale over the table top as a leering smile crept across his face.
Luna looked at the stranger unblinking. Her bright blue eyes bore into him like she were looking at his soul. As he approached he proceeded to spill ale on the table. Luna stood and took a step away so he did not spill his drink on her dress. It was dark blue and the fabric was delicate.
“ your friends are wiser then you, this is the only warning I will give leave me alone” she said. Her voice was sweet and musical as she turned to leave.
The mercenary swayed on his feet, unsteady for a moment as the piercing gaze of the elf girl seemed to lock him in place. He blinked then as the Ale rolled in like a cloud once more to muddle his whit’s.
"Did you just threaten me?" he growled, "She just threatened me." he spoke back to his three friends who having seen the light in Lunas eyes were slowly backing away.
"Borrs that's enough, come have another ale." one of them tried to pull at his arm but he pulled away and turned to snarl at Luna.
"Elves is all bloody thieves and liars."
The Inn keeper had finally pulled his gaze away from the common room entrance long enough to notice the trouble and had begun to walk over.
"Dont you walk away from me." the mercenary snarled.
"Borrs leave her be." another of his friends pleaded, but he was past listening.
Borrs reached out to grab Luna, while at the same time fumbling for his belt knife with his other hand.
Luna turned once more to look unblinking at the man. She held up her hand and conjured a shield. It appeared like dancing moon light. Her gaze bore into the stranger once again. “ I believe I told you to leave me alone. Are you as stupid as you are ugly” she said. She held her staff at the ready.
“ a thief you say, I think you have me mistaken with someone else” she said simply. The statement was not unusual but she was getting angry. At this point if he gave her any more reason she would make a fool of him!
Majvoc watched the little commotion happening in the corner of the Hangman's Noose. It was nothing new, some drunkards accosting a young female who was brave enough to walk into an inn alone at night. But Majvoc continued to sit before the fire, playing his whistle. The music was light and airy, a gentle reel to keep the spirit high.
A woman rushed past, carrying what looked like a heavy axe with her. Something was about to kick off. Not that something like that bothered Majvoc. If anything it would help. Behind the bar of the tavern was the little chest that the tavern's owner, a big brute of a man, kept the money made from the day before it was put away in a chest out of site at the end of the night. All of the day's takings would be in there. Nothing amazing, but a healthy amount at least. Enough to get him over the border, maybe.
Something happened, one of the mercenaries talking to the girl lashed out and there was a flash of steel in the light of the fire. Everybody turned to watch, and no-one noticed or was surprised when Majvoc stopped playing music. This was his chance.
He crept away from the light of the fire and into the shadows along the edges of the room. Majvoc took one small step after one small step so as not to attract the attention of anyone else. The chest was sitting there waiting. It was like the gold inside was calling out to him.
It was locked, of course, but that was no problem. Majvoc dug around in his pack and pulled out a small set of lockpicks. He carefully inserted them, using the light of the fire to allow him to see what he was doing. He twisted and racked and then there was that most satisfying noise he knew. The soft click of the lock opening.
But a shadow loomed over him from behind, and he felt a hand tightly grasp his shoulder.
Tiella walked back into the common room to see the elf girl being harassed by several of the drunken mercenaries. She growled under her breath and walked up to Balar who was still glaring at the inns entrance. For a moment she thought she caught a strange smell in the air, something familiar and unpleasant, she shrugged it off as she shoved the axe into Balars hand.
“Here take this and sort that out will you.”
Balar grunted as he took the weapon and then looked over to see the situation developing over by the window. One of the louts had just tipped his ale over the elf girls table and she was trying to walk away from him.
“Oh crap.” He cursed and made his way over.
Tiella made to follow but then an odd feeling caused her to turn. A sense of movement against the flow of the room, a shifting of shadow, and something else. The music, the music had stopped. She smiled grimly as she trained her eye on the bar. Oh he was good, very good.
She walked over carefully, ignoring the commotion with the elf, Balar would deal with that. And there he was. There was a soft click and a satisfied grunt as the inns lock box snapped open to reveal the days takings. She smiled as she remembered the thrill of a successful theft, she and Balar has been forced to steal to survive in a former life and she had to remind herself that the bastard was stealing her money.
She hesitated for just a moment before placing her hand on his shoulder. If this went wrong there was always the dagger. He turned to look up at her,
“You play well master bard, take twenty silver and leave the rest and my husband need be none the wiser.”
There was a flash of light at the other side of the inn and she whirled with a curse. The stupid elf girl had used magic, some kind of shield spell in front of an inn crammed with ignorant drunks. They would have her hanging from a tree by the nights end.
She glanced back at the would be thief with a wry grin and she drew her dagger.
“I’ll make you a deal, you keep the bloody box and everything in it if you help keep this rabble from tearing my inn apart.”
Balar glanced down at his axe, it was good to be holding it again after all these years, but he had to admit it was perhaps overkill for this situation. Then again maybe not, the mercenary went for his dagger and made a grab for the girl. Balar surged forward only to stop short as the girl conjured some kind of magical shield to hold the lout back. Of all the bloody things that she could do.
“Oh shit.” He cursed as all around the room men began to rise from their stools and reach for weapons. “Oh bloody shit.” He growled.
The elf was raising her staff and speaking to the mercenary with quiet anger in her voice. This was bad. The drunk was not even listening, he was staring wide eyed at the magical light that danced before him. He looked like he was about to sick up.
“Everyone calm down!” Balar roared as he lifted his axe between the mercenary and the elf. “All of you back to your chairs... and you, get behind the bar and stay there.”
He said the last to the girl. “and no more magic tricks, of all the damned bloody....” he trailed off as he saw that many of the inns occupants were not yet seated.
They had weapons in hand and they were moving to surround the elf. Still others were leaving through the front door. Could he hear screaming outside? He shook his head, and returned his attention to the room.
“Right you bastards this is your last warning, I swear by Odins left bollock that the first one of you to swing a blade in here will loose his dick and his head in that precise order!”
“ of course sir.” Luna said as calmly she dropped her shield and headed over to the bar. She moved gracefully as she walked through the crowd. She held her staff ready. If the people continued to harass her it would end with a fight. She looked at Tiella and then to Majvoc.
“I was told to come back her” she said her voice was sweet and music.
She studded Tiella for a moment before saying. “ he did attack me first I was only defending myself” She was clearly did not understand the reaction of the others in the inn.
Tiella studied the girl for a moment as she made her way to the bar. When she spoke her voice was sweet and melodic and it brought back memories of her childhood, of a family lost to her now.
"Dont worry about it you weren't to know. Just stay close now and you might live through this."
She glanced down then at the would be thief, "Well what's it to be?"
All around the inns occupants were drawing closer, ignoring Balars warnings, a few were leaving the inn quietly. She frowned as a large shadow passed by the window outside and for a moment she could have swore she heard the clash of steal.
Then one of the drunken fools lurched forward and made a grab for the elf girl a drawn sword held in his other hand. Tiella swiped her dagger across his grip causing him to lose his weapon and draw back in pain.
"Balar!" she screamed as the small crowd surged forward around them.
“Magic! Bloody Magic!” Thought Majvoc as he watched the situation unfold.
Majvoc spun around and drew his own dagger. It was nothing special, and he was certainly not an expert in its usage. Sure, he had sliced the bellies of a fair share of men and women, but that was in the dark of night and he had the upper hand. A fair fight? He didn't stand a chance.
Across the room, he could see his bow. It might be a little big for use in a room like this, he supposed, but it would be better to him than his dagger. And after all, a chest of silver for his work? Sounded like a plan, if he could survive.
"Balar!" the woman screamed as the small crowd surged forward around them.
'Right then,' growled the owner of the inn, and he swung his axe at the crowd. The sharp edge of the weapon never connected with anything, but it was enough to scare the crowd back a little.
'Come on, boy,' said one of the crowd, pointing at Majvoc, 'You don't want to stand with them!'
'Remember the chest, thief,' said the inn owner's wife, 'All of it is yours if you stand here with us.'
'Thief?!' shouted Balar, resisting the urge to swing his axe in Majvoc's direction.
'Can we talk about this later?' asked Tiella, 'You know, when we haven't got a room full of people wanting to kill us?'
'Whatever she is promising you can be yours when she is dead!' said another of the crowd.
Majvoc thought for a moment, the cogs in his mind grinding as he thought of the best plan out of his predicament.
'He's got a point, you know,' said Majvoc, standing up straight and sheathing his weapon, 'It was nice meeting you three, but my life is worth a bit more to me than a chest of silver.'
Majvoc took out the flute from his pack and began to play a lively jig as he walked away from Balar, Tiella and Luna. The crowd parted to let him pass, and soon he was safe behind the points of swords and daggers.
'Bastard,' spat Tiella as she prepared herself for the fight. But she noticed the music stopped.
Just as a member of the crowd surged forward, an arrow pierced his throat. He collapsed in a spurt of blood, leaving a gap in the crowd for Tiella to see Majvoc all readying nocking another arrow into his bowstring.
'On the other hand,' said Majvoc as the pulled the string back to aim at another of their assailants, 'I really could do with the money.'
Luna was too distracted her by the crowd to be interested in the nonsense between the thief and Tiella. “ can I please use magic now” she said knowing she could scare the wits out of all of them.
One of the drunks ran towards her. She moved quickly raising her staff and bringing it down on the mans head. He stumbled away dazed and confused.
Tiella counted fifteen in the crowd. Not including the dead one with an arrow through his throat. The elf girl was holding her own, and was asking to use her magic.
Tiella shrugged as she plunged her dagger into the heart of the man she had just disarmed, just as a second assailant fell at her feet with an arrow in back. Energy coursed into her as the dagger pulled the life force from her victim.
She opened the palm of her free hand and summoned a sphere of light. Her new thief friend cursed at the sight but he was committed to the fight now as several of the mob had turned to see where the arrows were coming from.
Balar roared with anger as it became clear that things had gone past the point of no return. She smiled to see the old fires light anew in his eyes as he began to carve his way towards her.
"We are fine she called to him. Protect our archer." He did not hesitate as he turned his path towards the embattled thief.
She turned then and winked at the elf girl, before launching her ball of light into the dwindling crowd. "Give them hell girl."
Luna grinned at the men In front of her. She raised a palm the shadows seamed to gather around her casting her in a menacing shade. Silver light gathered in her hand. She threw it at the men. She then used the shadows to concentrate around the archer obscuring him from sight.
“ you all need to stop” she yelled at the pressing crows hoping in vane that they would listen. She held her Palm out towards the wall. The dark image of a huge wolf man appeared and men began to scream out in terror!
OOC: Just for fun :)