Campaign Logs

The Sunset Vale Saga

By Brian Flood

Chapter 19 - Dinner and Drinks at the Den

The Bear’s Den Inn

Along the Uldoon Trail, The Sunset Vale

Early Evening, 27th Day of Eleint; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)

Kjira lets out a sigh of relief as she enters the tavern.  The respite from the cold and dreariness of the road is received with open arms as she takes in the warmth of the building.  She pauses for a moment with the rest of the party as they enter, taking time to survey the room and its occupants.

Her gaze stops on a hulking man sitting next to a woman.  Quite a large fellow indeed.  He must be a guard or escort of some sort, she thinks to herself as she notices the finery his companion is wearing.  The two don't seemto fit together any other way.  She smiles uncomfortably as he notices her gaze and diverts her attention elsewhere.


Kryian arches a devilish eyebrow in the direction of Rosy, turns to the rest of the party and confidently states, "It would seem that the Gods are smilin' on me and, well..., I'm not some brigand who doesn't like sharing  with a crew I've bled with... again, if there aren't any objections, I'd like to buy as many of you as my purse allows a round” 


As he finishes, Kryian finds himself nearly on top of the elf-maiden yet all who are watching take notice of his impeccable etiquette.  “My fair maiden, I would like to buy a round for my companions and... I'm sorry, I should introduce myself, the name is Kryian.”


Unfettered, Rosy returns Kryian’s smile with a dazzling twist of her own lips.  “But of course Master Kryian,” the maiden replies.  “As soon as everyone has found a place, I’ll bring…..” she pauses as she counts the number of companions, “ten mugs of ale right out.”


Alric smiles, and says, “Okay, Kryian.  I will be the first to accept.”


“What say you Lucas,” Kjira says as she turns toward her fellow mage.  “Care
to join me in a drinking contest?”


“Nay, only nine mugs,” says Darius to Rosy.  “Fruit juices, or water for me please.” 


Rosy replies with a smile, “But of course.  Anyone else care for something other than ale to start with?” she asks the rest of the group.


“What?  Fruit juice you say?  Oh,” Kjira smiles, “perhaps we won't make it a contest then.  We should find a place to sit.  It looks a little crowded in here, already.”

Lucas chuckles at Kjira's suggestion for a drinking contest.  “Maybe another time when we have less to concern us.” 

Kjira moves to the empty table and sits down in the westernmost chair, facing the bar.  She looks about for a place to rest her staff but finds nothing in the center of the room but empty space.  Finally she lays it on the floor underneath her chair. 


“Try not to trip,” she calls out to her companions.  “I've run out of bandages for the night....”


Lucas follows Kjira's lead and takes the open seat to her right.  Before sitting, Lucas places his woodland
cloak over his seat and makes sure his robes are in order so as to make a good impression of a mage of Silverymoon.   Then he sits, his back to the fireplace and his attention toward Kjira.


Cyzicus takes a good look around the room before moving to a chair at Kjira’s table.  He selects the chair across from the lady mage and takes one last look around -- as once he's down, there is not a lot he can see.  “Aye, an ale would be great,” he chimes to the barmaid, encouraged at the thought of removing some of the dust from his mouth.


Once seated, Cyzicus scans the room for any sort of trouble, taking a mental note of all the entrances and exits.  He also scans the folks in the room to take note of anything interesting.


Darius turns to Alani and Alric, “Shall we sit?”  He heads for the seat next to the door and places his spear against the wall. 


The druid exchanges greetings with the young woman at the table and then motions for Alani and Alric to sit down.  “Come, sit down friends. It's been a long haul and we can use the rest.”

Dolak taps his foot impatiently as he stands in the doorway, waiting for the others to decide where to sit.  Finally, he ‘harumphs’ and begins to stomp toward the bar, his battle-axe over one shoulder.  “I’ll be havin’ me ale at the bar, lassie,” the dwarf grumbles to Rosy as he moves toward the empty bar stools at the far end of the room. 


Reaching the bar, Dolak chooses the middle of the three empty seats and sits down heavily on the stool.  He glances over at the dwarven stranger who sits at the far end of the bar and enchanges a slight nod of greeting with the fellow customer.


Rosy watches Dolak’s display with amusement.  Turning to Kryian, she coyly slips her arm around him and guides him toward the table where Kjira is already sitting.  “Since you will be covering the first round, allow me to lead you to your table, good sir,” she says with a flirtatious smile.  The attractive barmaid leads Kryian to the northernmost chair at the table and pulls the chair out with her free hand.  She dramatically sits the mariner and then turns to the others who remain standing.


“Now,” she says, “I don’t have sufficient time to personally seat ALL of you.  If the rest of you will find a seat, I’ll be getting the first round.”  The half-elf turns and walks toward the bar, her hips swinging seductively.


Alani finishes scanning the room.  Satisfied that there is no immediate threat, she wanders over to where Darius sits with the woman. 


Slyvia takes the seat at the far end of the bar, next to Dolak.  As she rests her weary frame, she looks over the room and the inhabitants within.                             


Tomar notices the pair of men engaged in conversation.  “Ah,” he sighs, “this looks like a pair of enlightened fellows.”  The party’s employer approaches the table with the two men and introduces himself – the exact words of the exchange are drowned out by the buzz of the other conversations occurring in the room.  The two men nod at Tomar and then the book dealer takes a seat at their table.


Alric, the last one standing, nods to himself and then walks over to the table where Darius, Alani and the young woman are engaged in conversation.


Autur stands at the door and nods approvingly as all the guests are seated.  The door leading outside closes behind him and a sudden dimness falls over the taproom.  The lack of windows on this level leaves only the fireplace to provide light to the large and crowded room.  Autur moves through the crowd to stand behind the bar. 


* * * * *


“Mind if we join you?” the druid asks of the lady sitting down.  “I am Darius, and this is Soft Fang, my friend.”  Darius reaches down and scratches behind Soft Fang's ears and then sits down.


The woman in traveling leathers rises and smiles as the druid addresses her.  She is slightly built with short-cropped brown hair and green eyes.  A short sword rests in a scabbard at her waist.  “Greetings Darius, and Soft Fang,” she says, with a smile at the wolf.  “My name is Corin.  Welcome,” she continues, offering her hand in greeting.  “Lousy weather of late – have you traveled far?”


“And greetings to you Corin.  Yes we have traveled from Berdusk, and are heading north,” replies the druid.  “Do you play?” he inquires, pointing to the flute.


Darius sits down with his back to the wall in the seat next to the door and places his spear against the wall, and his shield over the chair.  Soft Fang curls up to his left – next to the door --and is soon asleep.

Darius motions for Alani and Alric to sit down.  “Come, sit down friends. It's been a long haul and we can use the rest.”


Corin sits back down in her seat and patiently waits for Darius to finish talking to his friends.  A little,” she says with a slight smile and a shrug.  “Mostly just popular tunes that you would hear in any marketplace.”


The young lady then leans over to look at Soft Fang.  “Is that a wolf?” she asks with wide eyes.  “I don’t think I’ve ever met someone that traveled in the company of a wolf!  My,” she says with admiration, “for such a large and unique band you must surely be on a quest of some importance!”  


At that moment, Alani approaches the table where Darius converses with the young woman.  “Hello,” she says.  “My name is Alani Ellessil.”  She reverses the chair across from the young woman and sits stradling it.  The elven woman pulls off her leather gauntlets and shoves her bow into its bow sheath.  The sheaf of arrows is next to be unclasped and dropped on the table.

The woman’s eyebrows rise at Alani’s arrival.  “Greetings Alani.  My name is Corin,” the young woman says.  “I was just telling your friend Darius that I have never met a group that traveled in the company of a wolf!”

Alani laughs at the woman's observation – a merry sound.  “Yes, it IS rather unusual.  But Soft-Fang and Darius saved my life a few nights ago.  So you can't deny the value of a wolf as a travelling companion in the wilds.”  She looks at the woman apraisingly, “So what brings you to these parts?”


“Oh,” Corin replies, “I am just passing thr— and who might this be?”  Corin’s sentence goes unfinished as Alric approaches the trio.  “Welcome, noble warrior,” the young woman says, appraising Alric’s imposing presense.  “I am called Corin.  Please, join us,” she says, gesturing at the last empty chair at the table – the one immediately to her right hand side.


Just after Alric has taken his seat, Rosy appears at the table.  The half-elven barmaid balances a wooden tray, cluttered with several mugs, with her left hand.  She sets mugs of ale in front of both Alani and Alric.  “Iriaeboran North Brew – it has a somewhat bitter aftertaste, but I think you will enjoy it,” she says.  Then she places another mug in front of Darius.  “Apple juice,” Rosy says with a friendly smile.  “I hope you will enjoy it.”


“This round is on that splendid man over there,” Rosy says, nodding in Kryian’s direction.  “Once I finish delivering these drinks, I will return for your dinner orders.  We have a splendid hunter’s stew for you this evening – I sure you will enjoy it.  I’ll return shortly.”  The barmaid moves off through the poorly lit room to serve the other tables, leaving Alric, Alani, Darius and Corin to their conversation.


* * * * *


“Well friend Kryian,” Kjira begins, as Kryian joins her, Lucas, and Cyzicus at the table.  “For someone nearly dead a few days ago, you haven't seemed to have lost any libido!”

The lady mage watches the barmaid slink away.  “Of course, she could just be playing you for a better tip....let's see how she acts with the other fellows around here tonight.  Care to bet?” Kjira asks, winking at the sailor.


Kryian casually turns away from Rosy's saunter and raises an eyebrow toward Kjira.  “Kjira, fair maid that you are, your jealousy flatters me, it does.  But, 'booty gained of ill means, is returned by ill measures...' or
something.  Anyway, no wagers for me, you wouldn't want to distract me from the task at hand, would you?  And 'hurt?'  Aye, t'wasn't me and I'd appreciate you taking back the jinx fine lady...” Kryian uses the opportunity of Rosy's departure to brush any remnant of the forest from his finely woven chemise.


Lucas raises his eyebrows as he listens to exchange between Kjira and Kryian.  Then, he leans forward and addresses Kjira.  “Since we have some time,” the mage begins, “allow me to discuss some nuances involving the conjuration of various creatures….”


Lucas proceeds to begin a small lecture detailing the finer points of conjuration.  Kjira listens intentively while Kyrian and Cyzicus frown and attempt to follow the talk of spells, magic, and such.  The two non-mages take the opportunity to gaze around the poorly lit tavern. 


By the light of the fire, Kyrian and Cyzicus watch Rosy and Autur fill several mugs from a tapped keg that sits behind the wooden bar.  Then, the barmaid moves through the crowd with the cluttered serving tray and begins to serve beverages.  The two lick their lips anxiously as they watch the barmaid move from Darius’ table to where Tomar sits with the two scholars. 


Fortunately, their relief comes next.  After a few minutes, Rosy reappears at the table and places a mug of ale in front of each of the four companions.  “Iriaeboran North Brew,” the maiden says.  “It has a somewhat bitter aftertaste, but I think you will grow to enjoy it.”


Lucas addresses Rosy saying, “I would like to order the fare of the eve my good hostess.  By the savory odors coming from the kitchen it would be a great pleasure to take a break from the travelling rations.”


“Of course, good sir,” Rosy replies.  “We have a splendid hunter’s stew for you this evening – I sure you will enjoy it.  Would anyone else care for dinner?” she asks.


Kyrian smiles at the barmaid and says, “You know, I forgot myself yet again...Rosy was it?  I want you to have my glass, a 'thank you' for the warmth you've returned to these chilled lips.  As of late, in this forest, I've not had cause to smile, but now I feel I’m grinning like a cabin boy who’s just seen a mermaid.” Kryian gets quieter, almost gentle.  “Later, as the ebb and flow eases, I'd like to learn about you... mermaid.”


Rosy blushes and says, “We shall see about that, Master Kryian.  For now, can I interest you in dinner?”

 * * * * *


From her vantage point at the bar, Slyvia scans her surroundings.  Her eyes peer into the poorly lit room – the blazing fireplace and lack of windows combine to create a myriad of shadows that seem to dance in the corners and across the large chamber.


Autur soon walks past her and moves through the small swinging gate at the southern end of the bar.  He joins Rosy behind the bar where the half-elven barmaid fills several mugs from a tapped keg that rests on a table.  As Rosy moves off with a wooden serving tray crowded with several mugs, Autur places a foaming mug in front of both Slyvia and Dolak.


“Iriaeboran North Brew,” the bearded innkeeper says with a smile.  “Its got a bit of a bite, but you’ll be appreciating it soon enough.”


Dolak takes a sip from his foaming mug and winces slightly.  “Aye,” he says.  “A bite it is.  So, can ya tell us about the local happenin’s?” the dwarf asks.  “We were noticin’ the roads were bare of traffic headin’ west.”


Autur nods in reply.  “That would make sense.  It’s almost Harvestfest, you know.  Three more days ‘til the big celebration in Asbravn.  Most of the folk in these parts are farmers.  They’ll be bringing in their crops about this time and taking them to town.  That would explain the lack of folks headin’ west – most everyone should be headin’ EAST.  I know you’re coming from the west -- are you going to Asbravn yourselves?” the barkeep asks, glancing from Dolak to Slyvia.

The content of The Sunset Vale Saga are the property and copyright of Brian Flood, and are not to be published or redistributed without permission.

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