Sunday, October 19, 2014

Meanwhile, Back At the North Gate Inn

But meanwhile time flies; it flies never to be regained ~ Virgil (10/15, 70 BC to 9/21, 19 BC), an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period.

Olaf The Angry devoured the four roasted chickens on the plates in front of him, alternately stuffing handfuls of hot meat and the side of hash browns into his masticating maw. Pausing briefly to wash down his meal with a large swig of mead from the wooden pitcher to his right. He emptied the flagon the barkeep had brought him initially with half a gulp and did not bother filling it again.

After a few minutes of this Olaf found the food to be disappointingly gone. This occurred when Olaf reached for another chicken and found there wasn't one. Wiping his greasy face on his sleeve Olaf sighed. "The best meal I've had in weeks" the enormous warrior reflected. Olaf rose from his seat and approached the bar, eager for another pitcher of mead.

Olaf, a hulking brute of a man stood just over seven feet tall, sported bulging biceps he dubbed his "pythons", and rock hard abs to boot. He was indeed an imposing figure. "I don't even work out" he remarked to the busty serving wench he noticed eyeing him as she cleared away his many plates. The serving wench blushed, shying away from the towering Adonis. Olaf sighed again, this time in quiet resignation.

Now that his stomach was full he found that what he now desired was a little tail, and this serving wench looked like she'd be good for a roll in the hay. He was about to engage her in some small talk but found she had already scurried off. "Oh well" Olaf thought. She had previously indicated no interest after reacting indignantly when he playfully pinched her beautiful rounded butt cheek after she first brought him his food. Seems the woman was too stuck up to appreciate a compliment.

Olaf opened his belt pouch and examined the contents. No, not enough gold coins remaining to pay a visit to the local brothel, either. "Damn" the fighter whispered. Fact was this stop here in the city had nearly wiped him out, coinage-wise. Only a few crowns remained after he paid for his feast of chickens, hash browns and mead. "Give me a pitcher of the grog" Olaf informed the barkeep, a scrawny pimply faced teen, one of the innkeeper's sons, as Olaf recalled.

"Coming right up sir", the young man replied, holding a pitcher under the spigot of a oak barrel behind him. Then the teen slid the vessel across the surface of the bar into Olaf's gigantic waiting hands. "That will be three coppers, please" the teen requested. Olaf dug the coins out of his belt pouch and left them on the bar before taking a swig of his grog. The weak swill was a letdown after the full bodied and satisfying mead, but the alcoholic content was enough to add to Olaf's mild buzz. And it did not taste too bad.

Crossing the main hall with his pitcher, Olaf made his way to a table where his adventuring companions were seated. Noticeably absent were his long time colleagues - the virtuous Paladin Onyia Birri, the mighty warrior Chugney the Horrible, the beautify and statuesque Alba Alahwieshous The Worthy, a female fighter that Olaf had the hots for - and Morton The Magnificent, the group's wizard. "Former wizard", Olaf reminded himself. Actually all were "former" because these compatriots were now deceased, having not made it through their deadly encounter with the minotaurs of the Northern Isles. Excepting Onyia Birri, who had decided to part ways with the group following the bloodbath that resulted in so many of their band perishing.

Only the bard Ceraifiot the Bonny, the annoying and puny Steve of Anonymous, the gnomish rogue Paulina Haloverson and the worthless cleric Barry the Botanical remained. Frankly Olaf had doubted Barry was indeed a cleric until he witnessed the holy man call upon his god to heal his own wounds. That was after he allowed the beautiful and similarly large and muscle-bound Alba to die of her injuries. Of course Barry - a man of the cloth who believed in natural remedies over the use of healing clerical magics - excused his inability to save his love with feeble excuses.

"The wounds are too deep and too numerous" a flustered Barry squealed when Olaf had demanded that the group's healer say a prayer for the dying Alba. Olaf had implored Barry to use his most powerful restorative spell - by grabbing him by the scruff of his neck and hoisting him rudely into the air. But Barry declined, or rather he claimed that his god declined.

After saying a prayer Barry announced that his god, Itterway, was non-responsive. Given that her wounds were egregious and only magic could save her, Alba passed from the mortal realm. Olaf was thankful the lady warrior did not suffer for long, but ever since that day he hated Barry with a white-hot intensity. And the animosity grew when the giant fighter witnessed Barry heal himself but a short time later.

Of the remaining coterie Olaf noted that it was Ceraifiot, Barry and Steve who were seated around one of the main hall's tables, engaged in a game of cards. "William the Moderate has not returned?" Olaf inquired of the bard while pulling out a chair to take a seat himself. William (a fighter) and Suri Cruz (a mage) were two recent additions to their assembly, both having joined only shortly prior to the horrible massacre that claimed the lives of so many of their adventuring party.

Dusk was approaching and William and Suri had informed the group that they would be back from their outing to the temple the oracles before nightfall, but nobody at the table had seen either of them since they had set out around mid-morning. Olaf, while inquiring about the fighter William, was actually more concerned about the knockout mage Suri Cruz.

While a great deal lesser in stature than his former sweetheart, Suri made up for it by being a gorgeous blonde with a rocking body, including bazooms Olaf greatly desired to bury his face in. Her facial disfigurement, a result of being burned by acid, detracting only slightly from his desire to get with her.

Although she had, so far, spurned his advances. It seemed that if anyone had a chance it was the the bonny Ceraifiot, a dashing hunk that all the ladies seemed to swoon over. And it did not hurt that the bard had a silver tongue that apparently enabled him to charm the most reluctant lass into bed. Still, Olaf could not help but admire the bard, even if he would engage him in fisticuffs to win the hand of the shapely Suri. But Olaf was determined not to humiliate the man too badly if it came to that. Although Olaf was not certain if there was any romantic interest between the two at all, given the fact that she was still mourning the loss of a former flame. It was possible they were simply friends. At least he hoped that was the case.

"You win again!" Barry moaned ruefully, throwing his cards to the table. The oily Steve smirked and scooped up the pot, drawing the many coins toward him. "Not so fast" Ceraifiot loudly declared. "My full boat beats your three of a kind" the handsome bard grinned. Steve glared at the cards Ceraifiot had placed before him. "Very well" he uttered, scowling angrily. "But you owe me a least one more hand. I deserve a chance to win back what you stole from me" a bitter Steve sputtered.

"No, I am finished for the evening" Ceraifiot countered. "I think I shall go out for a stroll and see if I might meet William and Suri on their return. Perhaps Olaf would like to take my place?" the bard asked, gathering his winnings and rising from the table. "Me, oh I do not know how to play cards" Olaf admitted. "In any case, I have few coins to bet" the muscle-bound warrior added dejectedly.

Steve glowered at the departing Ceraifiot. "As*hole" he muttered under his breath. "I'm going to get myself another ale" Barry said to nobody in particular. "Let me take our cards back to the barkeep and collect the deposit" Barry said, reaching for the other player's cards and adding them to the deck. Placing them back into their wooden box, Barry departed as well, leaving only Olaf and Steve at the table. Seve, a wirey man with a hawkish nose who wore his greasy jet black hair slicked back had always made Olaf uneasy.

Steve was a sneaky bastard in Olaf's opinion, more like a thief than a fighter, as Steve claimed to be. Indeed, Steve did enter the fray when needed, but as always, the majority of the fighting was left up to Olaf, Alba and their former leader, Chugney the horrible - a land-mass of a man had stood even taller and was even more muscle-bound than Olaf. And he was smart as well, unlike Olaf. Which is why he had had been the one they all decided should head their band of fortune-hunters. But Chugney too was now gone, along with the others.

Which left a void in their group that Ceraifiot seemed to be filling; their de facto commander on the weeks long journey out of the wilderness following the deaths of so many of their group, including Olaf's beloved Alba. A tear ran down his cheek at the remembrance of his deceased female friend. If only it had been Steve or Barry that had bit it during that deadly encounter, instead of his sweet Alba Alahwieshous, a woman who was surely more worthy of life than the two cowards who, now that he thought of it, did not even participate in the fight? Olaf certainly had no idea how either Steve or Barry had contributed, which was something that would continue to bother him.

"I think I'm going to see what Ceraifiot is up to", Olaf said after wiping the tear from his cheek. But Steve wasn't there to hear him, having already left. Olaf exited the front entrance of the North Gate Inn after striding across the main hall, noting that Steve and Barry were both drinking at the bar. The cool dusk air on his face, Barry looked for but failed to locate the bonny bard. Looking down he noticed the gnomish woman Paulina seated on a rock. Good thing, too, as he nearly tripped over her.

"Watch where you're going, you oaf!" the tiny gnome shouted, staring directly up at Olaf's crotch. Bending over Olaf saw the reason for her displeased yell, which was the tip of his boot budging the gnome from her perch upon the rock. "Oops, sorry about that" Olaf apologized, taking a step backward, removing the tip of his boot from her ribcage. Suddenly Olaf heard a feminine voice (not the gnome's) calling his name.

"Olaf" the voice intoned again. Then Suri Cruz, the group's replacement mage appeared out of the growing darkness, her beautiful bosoms heaving. "It's good to see you, Olaf" Suri remarked as she drew closer - William noticeably absent.

"Where are the rest of our companions?" Suri urgently inquired. "I have news to share that concerns us all" the mage explained, catching her breath. "What of William?" Olaf replied, wondering where Suri's companion was. "William... he is the subject of the news" Suri stated, the tone in her voice indicating to Olaf that this was another instance of William causing trouble for the group, as he had on a number of occasions previously. Why they did not simply dump the dud was a question Olaf found himself pondering - yet again.

SWTD #272, WTM #11.

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