Smash. The mug flew through the air, eventually crashing into the wall just behind its original target.
“Ha! You missed me you stupid crab” a voice of man boasted, resonating around the tavern.
“Ok ka tt ka ta tito cad tatso” replied the crablike creature in a series of clicks
“You expect me to understand your incoherent clicks. Pah. You mirelurks really are as dumb as they say.”
The man raised his head slightly above the table that he was taking shelter behind.
Woosh. Another mug flew by his face, missing by less than an inch, but managing to spill its contents all over the man’s garment
“That’s it you piece of crustacean. You really want to fight, so come on. FIGHT ME” he shouted as he jumped up, expecting to come face to face with his mirelurk opponent. A look of surprise washed over his face as he saw no opponent in front of him.
“Umph. Coward of a crab. They really are as pathetic as I thought they would be. Wouldn’t even fight an old man.”
“That is correct. They won’t fight an elderly man. Seasand, escort him outside” announced the tavern keeper as he stepped in front the man
“Seasand? Seasand…who the bloody hell is–”
The man was suddenly interrupted as a giant pincer grabbed him by the waist and pulled him into the air. The pincer belonged to Seasand the mirelurk, who had patiently been waiting behind the man as the tavern keeper talked to him. Still keeping the man trapped in its pincer, the mirelurk walked across the tavern and proceeded to throw the man through the doorway and into the dirty mud below the tavern steps.
“Pah….. pah” sputtered the man as he scraped off a layer of mud that had entered his mouth. “So… you mirelurks really are as strong as they say” he said, admiring the creature that now stood in front of the tavern’s door, completely blocking if off. With four legs that protruded from a large torso and large arms that ended with pincers that could sever a mans head with ease, the mirelurk was a fearsome sight indeed.
“Let me parley with this man for a moment. Go inside and enjoy a plate of shellfish on the house. If I am in need of your services again, I’ll call you.” came the tavern keeper’s voice from inside. The mirelurk turned and went back inside, but not before letting of a stream of clicks that the man assumed were meant to be offensive against him.
“So, by what name are you called?” called out the tavern keeper as he stood out of the tavern’s door and started walking towards him.
“Pssh” the man shrugged as he stood to his feet. “I have been called many names, especially by the ladies – if you know what I mean.” He winked, while giving the tavern keeper a friendly elbow. “But my friends here call me Llyr…. And your name?”
“Well Llyr, I am pleased to make your acquaintance. My name is Verius Hurea Thiul Ligustus. My fam—”
“Pleased to make your acquaintance Verius Hurea Thiul Lebustus” interrupted Llyr, as he pulled off a mocking bow
“Ligustus….Not Lebustus my dear fellow. Ligustus. Nevertheless, as I was saying before, my family has run this tavern here in Rudvain for the last 200 years. We are also beginning to set up other taverns in the other cities of the Free League such as Yylus, Burian and—”
“Cut to the chase Verius. What do you want from me?”
“Aah. A decisive man. I respect that. This is my proposition to you. We go back inside the tavern, have a couple of drinks, and you tell me your story about how you ended up here in Rudvain. You see I have always been a bit of an aspiring writer, and therefore I would thoroughly enjoy talking to a man, who at the ripe of 49-50, picks fights with mirelurks without even being drunk. So… What is your answer?”
“Now you’re talking, mate” grinned Llyr as he started making a beeline for the tavern door.
“One more thing Llyr” said Verius
“Don’t pick another fight in my tavern, especially not with that mirelurk. Is that agreed?”
Llyr paused on the tavern steps, contemplating Verius’s words, before turning around to face Verius, a grin plastered over his face
“…and so that is how I ended up here, in Rudvain.” finished Llyr, before sculling the last contents of his mug.
A content smile spread across Verius’s face “Well, that was quite the tale. Thank you my friend, for recounting it to me.” He suddenly hesitated, his eyebrows furrowed together in concentration
“Wait…Wait a second. Forgive me if I am wrong, but you never told me what clan you are from. Or is my memory wrong?”
Llyr took a deep breath, and then slowly let it out in a pensive sigh. “No. You are right. I forgot to tell you…. My full ti-” he hesitated, then resumed “ My full title is Llyr of Kraash.”
“Kraash…. Kraash… Hold on. The Kraash? As in the great forest of Kraash?” He uttered in astonishment, finally recognising the name.
“Sadly. Yes. Unless you know of some other forest named Kraash?”
“No. No, of course not… I am just completely bewildered. The only human clan that ever roamed those woods were supposedly wiped out, victims of some genocide from an invading Awolk colony.”
Upon hearing those words, Llyr’s eyes suddenly fell to the table as if a heavy burden had just been placed upon his shoulders. Verius looked at him, trying to make eye-contact, yet Llyr’s gaze avoided him as if he was stared down at something more than just his empty mug.
“Llyr” Verius softly called, trying to break whatever reminiscing was taking in Llyr’s mind, yet no acknowledgment or response was made. “Llyr….?” He repeated, receiving the same silent answer as before. “Llyr.” he finally shouted.
Llyr’s head suddenly jerked up, his eyes taking in his surroundings, as if he had just been somewhere else. His eyes locked with Verius’s, confusion momentarily clouding his face before he smiled, recognising the bar tender’s face.
“Enough talk about me” said Llyr “Tell me some news about Rudvain. What are the spice prices like here?”
“Spice prices are starting to rise dramatically as both spice caravans & cargoes are becoming and less and less frequent. The Scepter has sent ambassadors to both the spice caravan and cargo routes to inquire as to why spice shipments to the Free League have become rarer. Some in the city claim that it is the fault of the Alvaca Empire, that they once again are trying to interfere with the Free League, but I believe such rumours are simply frauds. The Alvaca Imperials have not marched on the Free League for over 500 years, and they are even weaker now then before.”
“Pah. Those pompous Imperials aren’t a threat to anyone outside of their tiny empire. They would never interfere with the dealings of the influential Free League, that I can assure you”
“I do agree with you there Llyr. But the Imperials are not the ones who have me worried. Far stranger things seem to afoot. Local fishermen are reporting that the ocean waters are slowly rising every day. This season of the Sun has just passed the record for the hottest that the Athenaeum has on record. And amidst all of this, rumour has it that the Muerkilids have started meeting in secret once again….. But my lips betray me, I probably shouldn’t have told you this much.”
“Rest easy mate. I am no Imperial sympathesir nor am I a Murkilid cultist. Though…, I’d imagine that an Imperial or a Murkilid would say the very same thing.” Llyr smiled, an ironic grin spread over his face. “But getting to the point of why I am here, do you know of any work that is up for grabs in this city? I’m somewhat a jack of all trades, and can pretty much do anything that is needed… So?”
“Well… Rudvain has few job niches in which an accomplished individual could make some profit, but currently with the spices running out, I’d say that your best hope was to get a job with the Sceptre. They constantly send out expeditions to faraway lands, so they are always looking for skilled individuals to guard them on their journey.”
“Mercenaries, in other words”
“Mercenary is such a derogative term. We, here in Rudvain, prefer to call them ‘Soldiers of Fortune’.”
“Hmph. You can call them whatever you want. It doesn’t change what they are….. Nevertheless, I think it would be suitable work for me. It wouldn’t be the first expedition I’ve guarded as it traveled into some unknown land. Now would you would you be good enough to guide me in the right direction”
“Consider it done. I was going to be closing up the tavern after how long last night was anyway. Meet me in around 30 minutes at the marketplace, and I’ll lead you to the place and even get you a meeting with your soon-to-be employers.”
“That would be great. I truly appreciate your help. Is there someway I can help you out in return?” They both rose to their feet, as Llyr prepared to leave.
“Not now. But maybe…Maybe another day.” Verius hand rose from his side, stretched open in an expectant handshake. Llyr’s hand completed the handshake, as they both let out a small grin. They had helped out one another, and as side consequence had started to establish a friendship between one another.
“Fresh fish. Fresh fish going cheap” called out a large creature from behind it’s stall
“Hot bread. Hot, tasty bread going for 1 ounce of spice” shouted back a fat lady from the opposite side of the marketplace. The market was crowded with it’s usual morning customers, all jostling around trying to get the best bargains before everyone else did.
Amidst all this busy hecticness, Llyr wandered aimlessly throughout the busy crowd. His eyes searched randomly through the crowd, searching.
Stupid Verius. He said he’d be here to meet me. I knew I-
His thoughts were suddenly interrupted as the market crowd suddenly started condense, as if making a passageway for someone to get through. Llyr strained his neck, while stretching on tippy toes, trying to see who was passing through. Failing to see, he started to elbow his way through the dense crowd. Finally making it to the edge of the crowd, he finally laid eyes on what everyone else was so enraptured by. Marching in front of him, was a ragtag group of what seemed like soldiers, many of them limping along due to their wounds, while a few others carried what seemed like an unconscious woman.
Strange. They don’t seem like soldiers. Must be some patrol of some sorts….
Turning to a large karuuni squatting next to him, he asked “Who are they? Soldiers?”
“Ha. They aren’t even close to soldiers. They are the Seaside Watch. You’re unlucky in you get drafted into them.”
“Interesting. What happened to them?”
“Rumour has it that they come upon frenzy of wildlife eating all the survivors of a shipwreck down at Scuttle Cove. That unconscious woman was the only one they managed to save. No one knows who she is though. So they’re taking her to the Sceptre, so that they can question her when she comes to.” replied the karuuni, as it swatted a fly away with it’s long tail.
“Llyr. There you are. I finally found you.” called out Verius from behind them.
“Well, I’ve been waiting here for over an hour. And now you finally show up. Hhmph.” Llyr sighed “Well, are you going to take me to my future employers?”
“Patience… Yes I will, but I believe that we will want to hear this tragic story of this unconscious woman first of all. This might be your chance to get some work. Plus, she is going to the Sceptre as well, we may as well just tag along.”
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