III

Interlude: Ale

In Which Bhavik Hears an Interesting Tale

by godfear

Dinner had been…awkward.

After Aramis had gone off to speak with the Hucrele girl alone, Bhavik had made a hasty departure. Azal told the warden that she was returning to the shrine, but he wasn’t entirely comfortable in such close quarters with the tiefling and her afflicted…lover? Bhavik wasn’t entirely sure what the relationship was, but it seemed intimate, and he felt like an intruder to a private conversation, even when she was just sitting near the young man. He’d asked Madame Hucrele’s maid where he might find lodging, and the girl had directed him to the Ol’ Boar Inn.

He pushed through the door and entered a rustic common room with a handful of what he guessed must be farmers. A bear of a human man stood behind the bar idly cleaning a well-used mug, and he looked up as Bhavik entered. “Ain’t seen you here before,” said the barkeep while fixing an appraising eye on the shifter. “Welcome to the Ol’ Boar. Name’s Garon. What can I get fer ye?”

“Ale,” said Bhavik, taking a seat at the bar.

Garon nodded and tapped a fresh keg, filling the mug in his hand. A light foam rested atop the surface of the beverage as he set it in front of the warden. “Start a tab, Mr..?”

“Bhavik,” supplied the warden. “And sure.” He produced a gold coin and slid it across the bar. Then he took a deep pull of the golden liquid. He sighed as he set it down, and wiped the foam from his upper lip with an arm. “Damn,” he said approvingly.

The barkeep smirked. “Aye. Family recipe. Need a room? Anything to eat?”

“Room, yea. I ate already. Hucrele’s.”

“Oh?” One of Garon’s eyebrows raised. “Ye haven’t the look of a merchant.”

“Heh. No, I’m not. I helped get her kids back from that ruin to the southwest.”

“Oh, aye. I heard they’d been brought back. Good on ye,” said the barkeep. Bhavik grunted noncommittally. “Don’t get too many shifters in here. Ye from the south?”

“West. Brindinford. The grove there.” Bhavik put down his empty mug, passing it across for a refill.

Garon supplied one and replied, “Huh. Thought maybe ye were from the tribe down near Blasingdell. Shame about what happened to ‘em. But that’d have been before yer time, I guess.”

The shifter frowned up at the barkeep and said, “What do you mean?”

“Oh, must’ve been about twenty years back or so,” said Garon, stroking his beard thoughtfully. “Way I heard it, them ‘n a nasty orc tribe’d been mixin’ it up fer years. But that year, somethin’ sparked a powder keg ‘neath both of ‘em. Bloody business all but wiped out both sides. The orcs was driven back to their holes, and the shifters scattered. Those that stayed closest settled in Blasingdell.” He noticed that he had Bhavik’s undivided attention. “But like I said, that must’ve been before yer time. Unless you had family down that way?”

“Yea,” said the shifter quietly. “Before my time. I’m told my mother died in the fighting, but I never knew it was such a…thorough loss.”

Garon placed a brass key on the bar beside Bhavik’s mug and changed the subject. “Yer room is through that door,” he said pointing to a corner of the common room. “Think ye’ll be staying long?”

“We’ll see,” said Bhavik as he took another deep drink. It might be time to find out what Enselle and Tier haven’t told me, he thought.


Act 2 – Forge of Fury

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