Friday, June 5, 2009

Chapter 3 - Interlude at Lost Lamb

The Lost Lamb Tavern was one of Losthaven's most recognized landmarks amongst a certain set of people. Mercenaries, fortune-seekers, brigands, and all other types of wanderers found a home away from home in the Lost Lamb. The tavern itself was marked by the black iron silhouette of a lamb which swung above the entrance, and at all hours the open door welcomed the custom of its often-dingy clientele.

Despite its reputation as a place frequented by people who, as often as not, saw profit more than pain in engaging in the violent arts, the Lost Lamb was a surprisingly-peaceful place. It was widely known that Aildrek, the shrewd half-elven owner of the Lost Lamb, offered free drinks both to members of the Losthaven Guard and the Thieves' Guild, gaining the tavern the patronage and protection of both groups. The Lost Lamb was also host to quite a few regular patrons who had fought against (or were) dragons and denizens of other planes and lived to return for happy hour, and none of these patrons were particularly adverse to handling bar fights with decisive violence.

It was just before midday when Porphyria strolled into the Lost Lamb and was greeted by the sight of a mostly-empty bar. The serious drunkards had mostly gone by this hour to nap away the various intoxicants they had imbibed for breakfast, and they had yet to be replaced in their positions on the well-worn stools by the lunchtime drunks. A handful of various shady types peppered the stools which were arranged around the tables -- Porphyria noted a pair of Orc men playing cards at one of the tables near the center, an old, red-headed gnome woman nodding off on a stool against a bar, and a yeti of indeterminate gender in red wizard's robes apparently trading shots with Hank the Garbage Dwarf. Without ceremony, Porphyria took a seat at a table near the center of the room, with her back to the open door.

The interior of the tavern darkened noticeably upon the entrance of Porphyria, whose personal aura of darkness muted the sunlight streaming in through the doorway. The darkness caused the two orcs playing cards to glare over in Porphyria's direction. Quickly, Porphyria reached into a pouch at her belt and released a small black stone which hovered in the air for a second before beginning to orbit around her head in an erratic pattern. The aura of darkness surrounding Porphyria quickly abated.

As she was about to call Aildrek over to bring her a drink, Porphyria was surprised by the entrance from the room behind the bar of a young-looking, blonde-haired human woman who strode up to Porphyria's table and asked, "Is there anything I can get ya, hon?"

Aildrek had for years worked alone at the Lost Lamb, day and night, rarely closing except for riot, flood, or other disaster. Porphyria had once heard that Aildrek had not slept for over ten years, and that he had employed the help of a mage to craft a magical device which allowed him to maintain his constant state of wakefulness. Whatever the case, nobody had seen Aildrek sleep or leave his tavern in living memory, and so the appearance of this new person, apparently a waitress of some sort, disrupted the natural order of the Lost Lamb in Porphyria's mind for a moment, and she hesitated slightly before she answered, "deep dragon's blood, if you please," and handed a few coins to the barmaid.

The serving girl nodded and went behind the bar, shoving aside Aildrek (who was reading a newspaper) non-ceremoniously before grabbing a clay bottle from the shelf behind him and pouring a glass of deep-red liquid, which she set down on Porphyria's table. "Anything else I can do for you?" the barmaid asked, peering down at the strange winged woman.

The barmaid barely waited for Porphyria to shake her head slightly before going back behind the bar and taking up a station next to Aildrek. Porphyria sipped her strong liquor carefully, thinking that at least the new help was efficient and poured large shots.

A handful of hours passed while Porphyria sat at her table and sipped her drink, replenishing each shot with a new one as it was consumed. The card-playing orcs had wrapped up their game and moved on and the yeti mage had been shown the door after vomiting profusely on the sawdust-covered floor. The setting in of evening brought with it a livelier crowd, and Porphyria soon found herself engrossed in conversation with an old acquaintance named Galrick, a quessae cleric who had once helped patch Porphyria up after a particularly nasty run-in with a bezhuldaar.

The relative peacefulness of the now-lively tavern was suddenly shattered by the sound of breaking glass, and a high, shrill voice screamed, "Goddamnit, no! I keep telling assholes like you -- I'm not looking for adventure of any kind! I don't know any fucking rumors about dragons or gold or whatever shoggoth-buggerers like you jerk off to in lonely hours! I'm not the heiress to some forgotten kingdom! I'm just working here to fucking put myself through school, and I'd appreciate it if you would shut the fuck up!" The source of the voice was the new barmaid, who was holding a broken bottle to the throat of a rather surprised-looking man at the bar. The dim commotion of the bar had silenced itself as all eyes turned to make the strange tableau the center of attention. Aildrek had taken up a station within arms-reach of the man, and had his hands hidden behind the bar, but undoubtedly resting on something lethal.

The dark-haired man took a look at the jagged glass perched inches away from his throat and slowly raised his hands, inching backwards slowly. "I'm sorry, miss. I didn't mean any offense." the man pleaded in a thick Graecan accent.

The young barmaid nodded slightly in satisfaction, placing her broken bottle in the trashcan beside the bar.

Porphyria waved the barmaid over once the moment of excitement had passed, and ordered another drink. The familiar confusing murmur of conversation once again filled the room as the excitement died down, although a respectful deference seemed to follow the new barmaid as she made her rounds through the crowd.

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