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  • Paul Owen

Arrival

In the quiet, shadowy tavern the gnome waited. He had some enquiries and set up a meeting this evening. It was a warm day and the Welcome Wench Inn’s fire was out, probably not needed to be lit for a few months yet. Dust motes and pipe smoke floated in the few rays of sunshine that sliced through knot holes and gaps in the wooden walls. He sipped on his ale and thought of how to present his problem. He needed to build his reputation and this was the first step. The oaken door swung open and the few early evening patrons turned, shielding their eyes at the sudden glare of evening sun, to see a muscular greenish brown half orc carrying a pack and large claymore on his back. He had obviously got his looks from his orc father, with protruding tusks and flat nose. He strode over to the bar, watched all the way by the concerned villagers. Those who overheard him where surprised by his calm, well spoken voice. Ostler the keep, turned to the barrel, poured him a foaming mug of ale and pointed towards the alcove where Quazmo was sitting. He strode over unshouldered his pack and sword and sat down, looking intently at the small creature sitting opposite. Groo had arrived. Few words were spoken between the two as the waiting continued. Piece by piece, others arrived and joined the half orc and gnome at the table. Within a short time at the table sat elves, half elves and a human. The tavern customers, increased in number now, whether by the quest for an early evening drink or curiosity, watched the group with side glances and made whispered comments. “I have lost all my stock to a measly band of bandits,” explained Quazmo. “I was travelling north west of here and I was set upon by a bunch of brigands who took my wares and left me penniless except for the last bit of my money I had stashed away. This shipment was to be my chance to set up a real shop and finish these dangerous road trips. I want it back and you to help me.” “You’re paying?” asked Corky a young elf from the Gnarly Forest. “Ah yes, our thief, of course I’m paying. I’m paying for you and my loss.” Replied the gnome. “Where do you hope to find this stuff?” questioned Zelda, an acolyte of Hextor. “Someone around here must know something, I’ll find out.” Answered Quazmo. The two half elves El and Zenia spoke out at the same time, “How much?” “Money already?” Inquired the gnome, “OK 20 gold in advance plus a share in any treasure we find, except my wares.” “Equal shares?” asked Aether an elven mage who had spoken little except to give her name. “Of course.” “I’m in, give me the coins, I need more ale.” Announced Groo. One by one, they agreed to the terms and Quazmo slid the small coin bags across the table. It’s begun he thought to himself. As the night went on and more drinks were consumed the conversation became livelier, more patrons entered the inn. Corky sensed an opportunity. While Ostler, the innkeeper was busy turning around to the barrels he glanced around. No one was taking any notice of the sly elf. Inching his way behind the bar he delved into the unwary barman’s pouch and grasped some coin. Ostler swung around quickly, Corky flinched, the burly barman placed a tankard of ale on the bar and called out for payment. Quicker than he came in, Corky slunk out and appeared in his group. “Drinks are on me!” He yelled.

The Inn of the Welcome Wench

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