Starvale Adventures: A Prelude to Darkness – Chapter 16

Lanaver sees an older human man and Dwarven woman dining together, talking together in low, emphatic voices. Neither looks like an adventurer, as both are dressed in fine clothes.  Lanaver approaches, sliding into the only vacant chair at the table.

“Hey.  This is a private meeting.”  The human says.

“Find your own table.”  The Dwarf gives him a glare.

“Hey, just bein friendly.”  Lanaver says, “This place is crowded!”

“Is that why you just left your friends and decided to intrude on our evening?”  The human says, his voice acid, “We’re expecting a friend.”

Knowing that they’ve seen through his ruse and not wanting to make trouble for Madame Freia, Lanaver retreats back to watch the rest of the tavern for suspicious activity from his original table.

Tallisk shouts her drunken approval and bashes her ale tankard on the table. The human signals the barmaid for another drink, hoping that somehow she can find a way to scam a meal as well. Priorities are what they are however, booze comes first.  Although she knows drinking is a bad habit, the deeds she had run from in Denoria made it a necessity.  At least until she found a better way to cope with it.  Besides, it made her fighting style all that much easier.

“Who’s th musicer?” She asks, turning a deceptively bleary gaze at the empty chair to her left before repeating the question to the handsome man on her right. Well maybe he was missing some teeth, but who was she to judge?

“At be Rowan Red Tale as folk call er ere abouts.” The man smiles, showing his three good teeth.

The man, noticing Tallisk is drunk, idles over and asks, “What brings a lovely lady like yeself ere abouts?”  He runs his hands through his greasy hair and gives her a sleazy grin.

The barmaid arrives and Tallisk pays with her last silver, taking a full and foaming tankard with a smile. “Ain’t it obvious?” She says to the man, “I’m gettin shitfaced!  Whatr you doin in this fine esta… est… err place?”

“Just havin a drink and looken fer some female companionship.”  He says, reaching his hand out towards her barely laced bodice that strains against the ample flesh it contains.

“All tha about heroes an th like sounds great inna song but…” She gestures with her mug, coming very close to smashing his reaching hand with it.  When he reaches again, Tallisk hiccups and then releases a belch of epic proportions, blowing it into his face. “That’s fer idiots an fools right?”

“Yeah.”  He says, leaning away from the warm alcohol soaked smell of her breath.  “Only fools go adventuring.”

“Rowan… Now where’v I heard tha name?” Tallisk muses, taking a pull on her foaming tankard.  “Sounds familiar like.”

Rowan smiles at Blaizette when she brings the critic’s second meal.  “Thank you, Sweetie.” She turns to the critic and says as she stands, “I hope you enjoy your stew. I, for one, love it here. I would appreciate it if you are kind to them.” He takes a bite and begins to scribble notes with a pen that never seems to run out of ink, seeming to have forgotten she was even there.

With a sigh of resignation, Rowan gets up to casually wanders the room, playing her flute almost absent-mindedly. When she gets back to the table where Lanaver sits, she takes a few gulps of mead from her mug and whispers casually to him that seems to be a harmless restaurant critic with a magical pen. She then heads into the kitchen to make sure that everything seems ok back there. She is concerned that the magical item might have been planted back in the kitchen where there is much that can be gotten into, including fire and food.

“The venison is particularly good tonight.” Rowan says with a smile to the chef.  “Let me know if any of you have requests for music, I’m happy to oblige!”  She says, sneaking a sample a strawberry tart that’s fresh out of the oven.

The kitchen staff asks for ‘Basil Butterbarrel’s Boast’ and ‘The Lovers’ Twixt’ and Rowan promises to play their favorites when she plays her next set.  After that, she wanders back out into the common room.

As Sebastian comes back downstairs and sees a Wild Elf dining alone at table one. She looks out of place in a nice establishment like this. She wears leather armor dirty with sweat, grime, and the stains of moving through vegetation. A fine-looking bow of strange, purple-hued wood is strung across her back. Of the six tables, five of them show signs that someone at them carries something magical.

Sebastian moves to the table where the Wild Elf sits.  He notices that although her armor is dirty and her hair unkempt, the bow she carries is meticulously maintained and shows no signs of dust, dirt or stain.

“Mind if I join you?”  He asks over the general din of the other patrons.  She meets his eyes, shrugs and goes back to her meal.  At this close distance, Sebastian can identify the bow as being fashioned from Morcant Burl; a rare wood that grows only within the Quivering Forest.

“My name is Sebastian, I must say that is a nice Morcant Burl bow.  Did you make it yourself?”  He asks, “I can appreciate good craftsmanship.”

“I’m Surruk, and aye I made my bow.”  She says, obviously enjoying that he has noticed her prized weapon,  “The Quivering Woods are a dangerous place, The Starshield knights see Starvale safe against the fae and fell creatures that dwell there, but those who venture aways from Starvale get no protection but what they give themselves.”

“Yesh th woods are treche… malev… Dangerous.” Tallisk says, leaning back dangerously on her chair to interject into a conversation she isn’t a part of. “Tha’s why I like ta stay in a civiliz… Er… a town.”

Anyone who really looks beyond her disarming smile and flashing green eyes notices that she’s nowhere near as drunk as she seems, but most men are too busy looking at the generous cleavage she brazenly displays to think about her possible motives. Many women also, although in her experience men are easier marks.

“Tell me more a th Starshield knights I ain’t heard of em.”  Tallisk says with a sloppy smile.

The Elf quirks an eyebrow and says, “You must be new in town I take it?  The Knights of the Starshield are all that’s left as a semblance of law enforcement in Starvale.” She leans in closer and says softly, “Some of them are even corrupt, and they are heavy handed with innocents and those of guilt alike.” She glances about to make sure there are no guards around. “They serve Lord Ector, who rules us all here.”

“Sure, jest got in th other day.”  Tallisk says, turning back to grin invitingly at her table companion.  “How’s bout ‘nother drink?”

The man is walking away from their table, glancing back over his shoulder at her with a sour, disgusted look on his face.  Tallisk frowns, pulling out a small steel mirror to check her appearance.  Her well fitted green and cream dress is all in place, her bodice is still unlaced just a hair above the point where it would be truly indecent and her tangled mass of coppery curls are still attractively framing her plump face.

Tallisk scratches her head, “Nothin stuck in m teeth, m hair’s OK still… Maybe I’m losing m touch. Or maybe I jest got too many teeth fer him.”  She laughs uproariously at her own joke, leaning precariously back in the chair and nearly unbalancing herself in the process.

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