By Carey Sauerbrun
"Deagan! Come over here lad, I want you to meet someone."
Deagan grinned as he pushed his way through the crowded tavern to the bar. Coop, the old bartender of the Hidden Blade, was always pretty chatty. Whenever Deagan stopped in, the former adventurer kept him entertained with stories and tales. He thought tonight would be no exception.
When the half-elf finally shoved his way through the crowd, though, he saw that the barkeep was talking with a man that looked as old as the hills. The man wore a well-maintained robe of the darkest midnight blue. His beard, neatly trimmed, was pure white, framing a face crisscrossed with wrinkles. The thin delicate fingers of both hands rested on the bar, wrapped protectively about a goblet of ale.
Deagan's first thought was that this man was totally out of his depth. The Hidden Blade Tavern was not a class establishment. In fact, the proprietor, Elaith Craulnobur, had a reputation as a deadly assassin and rogue. Most of the regulars to the tavern were of like background.
Then he noticed the old man's eyes. They were dark, hard pools, alert and wary. Deagan revised his opinion a bit. The man knew what he was doing here, and had a look that said he could take care of himself.
"Deagan," Coop said, "This here is Micah. He was with me in the Far Riders." Coop never seemed to stop talking about his old adventuring band. Deagan had even heard of Micah before, a talented mage and, according to Coop, born for battle magic. Deagan nodded his head in respect. You didn't work the art for that many years without learning a thing or three, he knew.
The old mage spoke. "How do you do? Coop has told me much about you. He tells me you are very talented." Deagan shot a quick glower at the barkeep, but Coop seemed oblivious, wiping at the bar with a dirty rag. "I'm gathering a team for a little task, and Coop seemed to think you might be interested." The old mage quirked an eyebrow.
"Coop has been known to talk too much. I'm doing just fine right now."
"Coop, if you keep opening your mouth without thinking, someone will close it for you, permanently."
The old barkeep grinned, knowing Deagan better than that, and turned to his old friend. "He's one of the better rogues in the city, Micah, take my word. He's much better than I ever was, and you know I was no slouch."
Micah nodded. "If Coop is saying you're better than he ever was, you must be good. In spite of how he looks now, he was one of the best thieves I've ever seen." Deagan caught Coop's proud grin. "If you are interested, I can be reached at the House of Fine Spirits." The mage gave Coop a gold piece. "It was good to see you again, Coop. Keep this, as well as the others." The mage abruptly vanished.
Coop winced, and Deagan grinned as he displayed the three gold coins he'd lifted off his friend. "Guess he knows you well, alright, you old thief."
The barkeep looked pained. "He could always tell when I lifted something from him. I never could figure out how." Then he looked at the half-elf sharply. "You would do well to take him up on his offer. It'll get you out of the city and away from your uncle's hunters. I know they're getting close. One even came in here the other day."
Deagan was alarmed. He knew his uncle's men had picked up his trail again, but he had not thought they were so close. "Where did you send him?"
The old thief shrugged. "He left through the basement." Deagan nodded. The Hidden Blade had a number of little advantages. One of those advantages was a portal into Undermountain, Waterdeep's famous dungeon. If the man was skilled, he might even still be alive.
"Listen lad. Micah is setting something up, some dungeon crawl that'll get you out of the city. He's looking for the best. I pointed him to you. Go on, he'll pay well, I'm sure."
Deagan thought about it for a bit, sipping the ale that Coop placed before him. He did need to get out of town. The last adventuring band he had belonged to had pretty much been wiped out. The only reason he even survived was because of his psionic talents. Finding another band wouldn't be too hard, he knew. Blazidon One-eye was always willing to match up would-be adventurers. The problem was, it might take a few days to set up. He was not sure he had a few days.
Finally, he nodded. "Alright, I'll go see Micah." Coop beamed. "Tell me Coop, how much do you get?"
The barkeep tried to look offended. "Well now, it's only right I get a finder's fee, right? And fifty gold really isn't all that much these days."
Deagan grinned and shook his head. Coop could make a profit from a pool of green slime. "I'll see you when I get back. If you run into any more of my uncle's men…" He headed for the door.
"Don't you worry. I'll send them after their mate. Some of them might even find their way out!"
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