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Order of the Sword & Rose
Ranaewen stalked to the bar, fuming. This night had gone ALL wrong. She raised her eyes and saw that her contact still sat at the bar, seemingly uninterested in the drama going on behind him. Well, at least he kept his cool. Hmph, better wait a bit though, til things settle down...She stalked right up to Keiri who, it appeared, had adopted yet another lost soul. She stood, arms crossed, irritation and anger in every line of her body. Keiri chattered on completely oblivious to her presence. Ranae let out a long, dramatic sigh and leaned sullenly against the bar, glancing around the room as she waited.
The dwarf snorted at the elfs comments, aware of the mindgames being played. He had neither a bounty on his head or any grievance with Ranaewen, the threat was just that, a threat and nothing more. However the dwarfs mood was rapidly worsening by the minute, all this trouble had been none of his doing. He had come in here for some quiet time to recollect his thoughts and almost ended up in a bar brawl. A wicked smile cracked on the face of the dwarf. Mebbe a good fecht is whit I need! But he refrained, fighting in the tavern was only going to cause more bother and the elfs only true words were about the local militia. He didn't need them to worry about too. Growling at the two thugs that had blocked his path he made his way back to the bar.
He was aware of the foul mood Ranaewen was in mostly due to the quantity of drink she had imbibed and thought twice about approaching her. She was ready to snap a coiled spring ready to release at the slightest cause. His glance turned to the half-elfs companion still in conversation with the other dwarf and his decision to confront Ranaewen was made. Grabbing a flagon of water that was resting on the bar he strode up to the half-elf a fierce determination on his visage.
"You gotta watch folk like her." he started, " only looking out fer hersel' and that ither one Cloak." He saw the rage in her eyes and gave a heavy sigh. "Look girl I only came tae warn ye that yer friend here is obviously unaware o' the types that drink here, she picks a conversation wi' the wrong person and she'll huv a dagger in her back quicker than ye can blink. Its obvious that ye are companions just dinna get distracted, she needs ye noo. I meant ye no harm and believe me I wid never tell ye whit to do, but ye got friends noo, learn tae trust them." He smiled at her then, warmth and friendship measured in his face.
"I'll get back tae me drink now, take care of yersel' lassie......and that one tae." he nodded at the elf along the bar.
Hmmm, it seems the action is about to begin…or not. Aristoblis watches the confrontation between dwarf and elf mount and then cool. Apparently this one has more self control than many of his kin.
Turning his attention to the performance beginning to unfold before him, Aristoblis decides now is as good a time as any to make an “entrance”, But not like this…They should meet me as I will be, not as I am.
With the same silence and grace, he stands from the table once more and grips his staff in his left hand. Stepping deeper into the shadows, Aristoblis whispers a single word and fades into nothing.
*********************************************************To read about what is taking place in this gap, visit my blog.
As the door to the tavern swings inward, Aristoblis can hear the commotion coming from inside. Not the worst place I’ve spent the night in, he thinks to himself. At this moment, just about any bed would be a welcomed change to sleeping in the tree branches he had been accustomed to these last few days.
Aristoblis steps into the room and takes a quick survey of the occupants, his keen elven senses quickly taking everything in. He is dressed in a simple brown traveling robe that is dirty from the road. His shoulder length sliver hair is pulled tightly behind his head in a pony tail and his silver eyes dance around the room. A pale, grayish tint to his skin belies him as a long lived gray elf. Clutched tightly in his left hand is a tall staff, the smooth dark wood shaft with a silvered cap on the bottom and topped by an amethyst colored gem on a simple silver mount. His cloak covers the rest of his traveling gear, obscuring it from view. All that can be seen is the end of a bow hanging just inches off of the floor behind him.
Eyeing an open place near the end of the bar he makes his way over and climbs gratefully onto the worn bar stool. Waving to the bartender, he says, “Wine, warm bread, and a helping of that fine stew I smell coming from the kitchen if you please, sir.” Producing a few coins from his robes he lays them in the bartenders hand and adds, “Good wine, if you please.”
Keiri was so happy to see the change in Kramer's demeanor that she smiled brightly at him, her whole face lighting up with delight. Her expression sobered quickly, though, as she heard a cry and looked around to see the man crumpled on the floor.She hopped down and moved quickly to kneel beside him. "I know the ways of healing," she said softly, placing gentle hands on his face as she examined his eyes and skin carefully. She frowned. Her pale eyes suddenly stared into the bard's with a knowing look. She gazed at him silently for a moment, judging, and read something in his expression that lead her to nod imperceptibly.She looked up at Whisp and the others. "He is ill, but will be fine. I will heal him but I need some room and air to do it. I will take him outside." She glanced around the tavern quickly. Suddenly her soft voice rang with authority. "Kramer! and...you" she said, looking right at Aristoblis, "You will help me carry him outside."**Ranaewen saw the friendship offered in Ralthoin's gaze, but it was over-ridden by what she heard. You should not have brought Keiri here, rang in her head. Still angry and irritated by everything that had happened, she took his kindly advice as criticism. "Excuse me??" She said loudly as he turned away. "I can look after myself just fine. And so can Keiri!" She scoffed and gestured to the vacant spot beside her, not even noticing that Keiri had moved away. "And what gives you the right to follow me here? What I do is my own business!" Her voice was getting louder and more belligerent. She glanced around, her face thunderous, and briefly crossed gazes with the man waiting for her at the bar. Rae, calm down, the voice echoed in her head.She drew herself up and stepped toward Ralthoin slowly. Her eyes were cold and hard, her voice scathing as she said quietly, "Strange...you thinking that you had advice to give on how to look after other people..." She raised an eyebrow mockingly and stared him down, her readiness to fight in every angle of her stance.
"Strange...you thinking that you had advice to give on how to look after other people..."
The words struck Ralthoin like a blow to the face, the water jug he carried fell from his grasp and crashed to the floor as he turned to face the furious half-elf. She was ready to strike, muscles knotted, hands clenched in fists of rage. Apart from those who were taking the bard outside for fresh air all eyes in the tavern were fixed on him, he knew he had to be careful but the girl needed taking down a peg or two. As angry as he was though the words she just spat at him had taken all the fight from him, he was tired of arguing, in fact he was just plain tired altogether. His shoulders sagged and his head bowed slightly as he began to reply not even able to look the girl in the eyes.
" Look lass, the advice I gie ye has bin learnt the hard way, because of ma stubborness and anger I have lost everything, my family, my home, my Clan, even my betrothed....." as he spoke he began to shake, the memories he thought he had put to rest mocking him much like the girl had just done, " I walked away fae the only folk I had ever cared aboot never did I realise how much it wid hurt. As fer following ye I huv been in here fer hours drinking with only ma thoughts as company. Matter of fact I bin comin' here fer months as any o' the regulars will tell ye." A few nods from around the bar confirmed this.
" Im no spyin' on ye, tae be honest I couldnae care less whit ye get up tae. But that one..." he pointed to Keiri as she departed the tavern,"...doesn't deserve to be here. Fact is shes the only one that seems to gie a damn aboot anyone in this place."
He took a small step towards the half-elf and lifted his head, the sorrow marked on his face as clearly as the wrinkles on his brow. "If it makes ye feel better go oan hit me, I probably deserve it onyway. But Im tired girl and reckon ma bed is callin'. Mebbe when ye sober up ye'll realise no everyone is an enemy...." He stood within a pace of the girl and waited for either a reply or a strike......
“What! Are you mad woman! This man has just recently come crashing into this quiet establishment, with thugs on his heels than meant to do him harm.” Whisp voice was louder and more shrill than she had expected, but she was getting worried and paranoid now. She was totally loosing control of the situation and her distrust of all new persons called into, this soon to be conflict, was verging on paranoia. “The only reason he is not well ventilated right now is that his pursuers were more rude that him. What is to say that these thugs are not waiting out side right now! Waiting for our ill friend here, to wander out into their clutches. Are you all mad!” She was getting hysterical now, she needed to reign herself in. And in a visibly forced effort calmed her shaking self, and tried to regain her composure. “At least let me check outside to see if any one is hanging around that shouldn’t be.” Calm had returned to her voice and her hand absently reset a piece of hair that had fallen out of place. She did not wait for a response and headed directly for the broken door. She did not expected to see Reven’s “friends” anywhere, and in fact if she did see them would have thought them total buffoons, but she need time to think and re-evaluate the situation. As she stepped through the doorway she saw Cloak running down the alleyway across the way. ”Damn it!” she cursed to herself under her breath. She had let time slip away and now the game for tonight was afoot, she would get no share of tonight’s bounty. She could feel her blood boiling again. It was one thing to be out maneuvered by a group of strangers, but now they were costing her coin. “Calm yourself. Calm yourself. Now is not the time to explode.” She mantraed to herself.
Just as she was about to turn she heard commotion heading in the direction Cloak had fled. Fled. Yes fled was the right word. She realized now Cloak had not been his usual stealthful self. He had been in flight from something. Just then cloak saw Edonelle, Vrindell and three others from the Guild come pouring onto the streets. The Guild must be under attack. No wait. Edonelle and company were not running from someone, they were in pursuit of someone. Cloak! They were in pursuit of Cloak. But why? She had no time to reason. It was time to act then they could figure out what was going on afterwards. Five on one, even Cloak would have a hard time winning with those odds, especially against those she had trained herself. She turned back, in dramatic fashion, towards the doorway, her cape flaring out. And to the unwatchful eye that is all they would have seen. Those who were more astute would have seen the flash of steel leave her hand, for as she turned she released two stilettos into her left hand and quickly fired them at the two trailing pursuers.
The first struck high in the next of one of her former company severing the spine at the forth vertebra, causing him to collapse instantly dead, the second blade struck lower between the seventh and eight rib, puncturing the lung and nicking the spinal cord, causing the second assailant to fall to the ground, unable to move but also unable to call for help. She did not look back to see if her throws had hit the mark, she did not need to. Three on one much better odds she thought to herself, but she need to find out what was going on. She looked back into the bar for Shoria. She need help she could trust and Shoria was as good as it was going to get right now. That’s when she noticed the two thugs that Cloak had left her coming hard and fast in her direction. Then she quickly noted two others trying to flank her as she started to walk through the door. How many others? She did not know. Was this why Ranaewen was here? She hoped not. This was not going to be pretty!
Aristoblis was eagerly grateful when the barkeep brought him his request. He snatched up the bread in one hand and a halfway clean spoon in the other. The bread was cold and hard, but it made no difference. The stew was warm, though fatty and not at all good, but he was hungry and didn’t care. Proceeding more dwarf-like than elf-like he began to eat his meal with vigor.
To this moment he had been almost unaware of the commotion going on around him until he heard a sweet female elf’s voice ring out clearly above the commotion, “...you, you will help me carry him outside." Feeling eyes on him, Aristoblis slowly lowered his spoon and raised his head. Juice from the stew dripped from the corner of his mouth onto the bar.
Awkwardly he finishes the bite in his mouth, swallowes with a gulp, and says, “Who…me?” Taking a corner of his robe he wipes the stew from his lips. He scoops up his wine goblet and takes a long pull before setting back to the bar. “Let’s make this quick.”
Arisoblis instinctively grabs his staff as he slides off of the bar stool. As he walks around the end of the bar towards where the man is clutching his stomach on the floor he looks back to the barkeep he says, “Don’t take my food, I’m not finished yet.” Taking up a position opposite the elven woman, he slips one of his arms under the man’s arm and starts to heave. Oof, he thinks, perhaps whatever malady this bard is suffering from will cause him to lose some weight too.