Parting Gifts: Ch 1 - Dusk - IC




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    Parting Gifts: Ch 1 - Dusk - IC

    The Roasted Boar Tavern is surprisingly full considering that it's not in the central district of Settonton. The smell of roast pork fills the air along with the clinks of beer mugs and the rapidly fading chatter as a great hero of the war stands to give a speech. "Fred! Three cheers for Fred Foster!" goes the chant amid clapping.

    Looking as splendid as he can pull off in his brown tunic, Fred hushes the crowd with a wave. As always, his longsword hangs at his side. He scans the crowd carefully. They are mostly human, with a couple of halflings and an elf.

    "Thank you" he says. "I just want to say that I wholeheartedly support what Mayor Richards is doing. Crowning himself King is a bold step but we need to take what we can get. Monsters destroyed the Bylan Empire, but humans shall rebuild this land!"

    Cheers and clapping result.

    "I have to admit though, I am troubled, my friends. Not merely by the enormous task ahead of us. For there is a more subtle threat, I fear. You know what I am speaking about. Monsters walk among us, creatures of evil blood and base instincts. They are corrupting our women and mingling their blood with our own! This must stop!"

 

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    Fred's declaration is met with some cheers, but the response is more muted. Not everyone in the audience seems comfortable with what he is saying.

    One such young man musters the courage to stand up at his table. He is blond, wearing a worn blue cloak. "Excuse me" he says. "Sir Foster, I do have great respect for what you have done. But I must speak. Some of my friends are half-orcs. They are decent people. There has been enough of fighting. We should just leave them alone and get on with our lives." He sits back down. The crowd is silent, waiting for Fred's answer.

    "A well intentioned sentiment" Fred declares "but short sighted. It's true, not all half-orcs are as evil as their kin. But many are and their numbers are growing while ours are diminished. The orcs lifted no finger against the Sasoguese. Now, an orc kingdom has arisen to our north. There will be war, sooner or later, mark my words.

    But treachery is not all we have to fear from the half-orcs. With every generation, they foul our blood. In my grandfather's day, murder was rare here. Now it is common. We all know who the perpetrators are!"

    Many in the crowd clap to indicate their agreement with that.

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    Another man calls from the audience "But what can we do about it?"

    Fred replies "I do not propose violence. We must seperate these orcs from ourselves. The creatures are strong of body but slow of mind, and they will be suitable as farm laborers. A camp must be set up, to concentrate them in one place so we can better deal with them, and find suitable work for them. I will propose this to the King.

    Of course they may resist, and that is precisely why we have to deal with the problem sooner than later, when we still outnumber them greatly."

    Many in the audience nod in agreement.

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    The young man who stood earlier sees that he's overmatched. "Bullsh-it" he shouts in a parting commentary. "That would cause violence, not prevent it." To his friends he says "Let's get the hell out of here." He and those at his table stand and walk out, as do a handful of others, including the halfling.

    Fred smiles in satisfaction; it is obvious that the majority is with him. If it had been otherwise, he wouldn't even bother presenting a proposal to the king, for popular support was necessary.

    "Song!" a cry goes goes up. "Song!"

    "As you wish" Fred says.

    The famous leader is widely known for inspiring troops with his songs, and he does not dissappoint tonight. Unlike most bards, he plays no lute or mandolin; his deep baritone is more than enough.

    He sings "Giants there came to old Hill town, seven men came to put them down ..."

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    It is a few more hours before Fred Foster takes his leave of the tavern. "It's still early!" his buddy Greg - himself a renowned warrior - complains. "I have something I have to do" Fred explains. Despite the entreaties of the crowd he takes his leave.

    With the celebrity gone, the crowd quickly thins out. Foster's group leaves, and most of the others finish their mugs and head out as well. The bartenders and waiters have their hands full just cleaning it all up.

    Another hour later, the door swings open and two burly grey-skinned half-orcs enter the tavern. They look very similar, perhaps they are brothers; each carries a huge axe and wears a chain shirt. The lead one opens a palm and smacks it with his fist.

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    The oldest bartender, a man who looks to be in his late fifties, is the only one brave enough to approach the newcomers. "What do you want?"

    The half-orc replies "We want to speak to the owner."

    "The old man's not here" the bartender replies.

    "Whoever's in charge then. That you?"

    "Yes."

    Some of the nervous patrons head towards the door. The half-orcs turn in their direction. Fearing the attention they pause.

    The one who hasn't spoken yet says "Go on out. All of you! We want to have a private chat with this guy."

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    The bartender doesn't like the sound of that. "I'm not interested in any private chat. You two should just leave" he says.

    The half-orc responds "Huh, why is that? You have a problem with people like us?"

    The group that had been near the door does leave, but the other patrons just sit and watch.

    "You are disrupting my business, telling my customers to leave. Of course I have a problem with it" the bartender answers.

    "I heard" the half orc says "that you brought Fred Foster in here to stir up trouble for half-orcs. Is that true?"

    The bartender's nervous fingers wander towards the dagger strapped to his leg.

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    Realizing his error, the bartender backs his hand away from the dagger. The half-orc confronting him sighs in disappointment; if only the man had been so foolish as to draw his weapon, this encounter would have become a lot simpler.

    "Foster's famous" the bartender says. "He drew in a crowd, and I couldn't afford to pass up the money. If he didn't speak here, he'd just speak somewhere else."

    The half-orc says "No, you can't afford to take that money. Because I'm going to hold you personally responsible for whatever comes of it. All of you! I never forget a face. Do you hear me?"

    He looks around, staring intently at the huddling patrons.

    "Are you threatening us?" he bartender asks.

    The half-orc in the back, some ten feet away, pipes up. "We're just warning you."

    The lead half-orc, only 5' from the bartender, says "I am." As a visual aid to help make his point, he punches a nearby table with a massive fist, sending it flying over. The people seated nearby scramble up as shattered beer mugs and glass pitchers spray past their legs.

    "Let's go" the other half-orc says. The two of them saunter out as the tavern patrons check for damage. No one seems hurt but the place is a mess. The bartenders and waiters start cleaning it up and the patrons pitch in.

    Outside, the blue marble of the moon is visible on this cloudless night. The street is largely deserted.
    Last edited by kinem; Thursday, 22nd March, 2007 at 11:28 PM.

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    A somewhat hunched figure pauses in the moon's silvery light for a moment to peer up at it from under a wide brimmed straw hat and two bushy eyebrows. His left hand, gnarled with age, traced a circle in the air as the old man bowed to the moon, supporting his weight largely on the simple, smooth staff he kept a firm grip on in his right hand.

    "As beautiful as ever, aren't you, my silver vixen," he said with a quiet chuckle. "But then you always did shine brightest just before a storm."

    He resumed his limping gait towards the inn; a road weary old man in a straw hat, homespun brown robe, and threadbare linen garments. Only a sharp eyed soul would notice how his boots gleamed, and left no tracks in the soft dirt at the side of the wagon road. No tracks at all.

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    (ooc: I mentioned it in passing but should have been explicit: The Moon in Bylan looks like that.)

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