Joined: Aug 26, 2003
Location: Rocanis, Alastari
Sat Nov 05, 2016 8:58 am
Rao of the Skull Squadron stable entered Mylar’s tavern.
The innkeeper behind the bar called out to him. "Welcome to Mylar's!"
The yeasty smell of ale and hard liquor permeated the air. To the left of the room, a curved bar with recessed shelves held small kegs and bottles. At the end of the bar was a small, tapped keg. Larger, barrel sized kegs of ale were stacked in one corner. To the right a burning hearth with a stag mounting hung overhead. Circular metal chandeliers suspended by chains lit the room. Round wooden tables were scattered throughout the room and could easily sit six people each. A few barmaids were taking and delivering orders. A stairway led to the second floor. The tavern was a burst of talk and laugher with the tinkling of plates and glasses.
Rao spotted his teammate the Mytori Priest and Duelmaster of Rocanis at a table near the burning hearth.
Mylar came up to him and gestured towards the Duelmaster. “You have to do something about your friend.”
Rao looked at him and said, “I doubt he calls me amongst his friends.”
“Yes, well, he’s ruining my table digging his sword into it.”
“Ah, I’ll see what I can do.”
Rao walked up to the Duelmaster’s table.
“What do you want spy?” Mytori Priest grumbled.
Rao snorted and assumed it’d be the same old argument again. “Harbinger thought I was a spy--”
“Harbinger knew you were a spy,” Mytori Priest retorted cutting him off.
Rao tried to change the subject. “Grimwood indicated some new Rirorni arrived from the plains. Two of them showed promise.”
“Great, more spies,” Mytori Priest mumbled.
“I’m not here to argue. There is nothing I can say that will convince you I’m not a spy.”
“Your words, not mine.”
The Mytori Priest let the blade of his sword fall again against the edge of the table. He stroked his long side moustache downward to his goatee, a habit he noticed when he was deep in thought. He recently shaven his head, which highlighted a strong widow’s peak and appeared as if he had a black skull cap on.
“You looked better with longer hair,” Rao said.
“Hair is a weakness in battle. It gives your enemy something to grab onto,” the Mytori Priest replied.
Rao also saw a large number of drinks, all full, at the Duelmaster’s table. The mugs and shot glasses were pushed to one side. Not one had been touched. He sat across from the Duelmaster. Normally, he’d ask to sit, but knew the Mytori Priest would have said no.
“I see you have some fans,” Rao said gesturing to the beverages.
“People buying you drinks is a perk of being the Duelmaster and now it seems with Harbringer gone, the new popularity leader in Rocanis.”
“I don’t drink.”
“I see…do you mind?” Rao asked as he motioned towards a shot glass.
The Mytori Priest shrugged with indifference.
Rao downed it. It was good quality. He grabbed two more. The two gladiators from Skull Squadron sat in silence for several heartbeats.
“It’s my fault Harbinger is dead,” the Mytori Priest muttered.
“You didn’t thrust a spear through her jaw,” Rao said, then thought his words may have been too graphic.
He saw the Mytori Priest’s mouth flinch at the mention of Harbinger’s loss. “It was my decision not to blood-feud One-Eye’s death. If I had, she’d still be alive.”
“Harbinger out sped Locky, but missed with a wild attack, and lost the initiative. It was a mistake that cost her life.”
“You can ‘if’ all you want, but it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t matter ‘if’ you didn’t blood-feud, ‘if’ she didn’t missed with a wild attack, or ‘if’ the flap of a butterfly’s wings a league away caused her to not react in time.”
“Yes, it does matter.”
Rao saw a fly land on the tabletop.
Several patrons looked up as Rao wiped the fly’s remains on the table.
“Killing this fly has no bearing on the outcome of anything or what you do next. You need to spend your attention on who is responsible for killing Harbinger, which is Locky and he alone. He’s a formidable opponent and you won’t win easy. Now, you can sulk in Mylar’s with a tableful of drinks, or you can train to meet Locky on the sands next turn,” Rao said.
“Truthful words. Even if they came from a spy,” the Mytori Priest said and made eye contact with Rao and rose.
“Locky is responsible.” The Duelmaster thrust the point of his sword into the tabletop, which shook and spilt a few of the drinks. “Locky showed no remorse killing One-Eye and no remorse killing Harbinger. I’ll issue my blood-feud challenge and when we meet on the sands, neither will I.”
* * *
Later that evening, Rao saw two Rirorni entered Mylar’s tavern. They were Bosh and Cosh, twins, and his older brother, Warlord Bannok’s, personal bodyguards. He kicked up his feet at the Duelmaster’s old table and continued to enjoy the abandoned free drinks. The new arrivals saw him and joined him at the table.
In a whispered tone, Bosh said, “Warlord Bannok sends his greetings.”
Rao shot him a dangerous glance. “Don’t use his name. Now, what does my big brother want?”
“He has become…concerned with your need to prove yourself in the Alastarian gladiator arena,” Cosh said.
“Concerned or frustrated?” Rao asked.
“Both,” the twins said in unison.
“Frustrated at first, but is now concerned with your number of losses. Especially, with the last one almost costing your life,” Cosh said.
“I’m learning their fighting style. It’s not the same as riding on horseback with a bow. I’m starting to get the hang of things, so there is no need to worry. Besides, I like it here,” Rao said and then motioned to the two towards the multitude of drinks.
They each took one and drank. Rao noticed smiles creep at the edge of their mouths.
“For everything I loathe about Alastari, the one thing I like is Rocanis does brew the best spirits,” Rao said as he grabbed another.
“Yes, but if anything happens to you, your big brother will bring his army and raze this city to the ground,” Bosh said.
“Where is he now?”
“Close,” the twins said in unison.
Rao raised his glass in a toast and said, “Then for Rocanis’ sake, let’s hope that nothing happens to me.”