It is nearly 10:00pm as a green cloaked figure stands outside of the Dancing Mare Inn. He has checked the stable around back and believes he has finally found what he is looking for. It is a crisp winter evening, although there is no snow on the ground. He stands in the shadows, as a small retinue of robed figures enters the bar. One of the figures, easily taller and wider than the rest; walks with an awkwardly shambling gait. There are several South Brixian attendance carrying large pieces of luggage. The tavern is of reasonable quality and is fairly alive with activity.
He doesn’t want to be identified, as a High Elf, when he enters the establishment, so certain accommodations will have to be made. His cloak is that of the long road, so that is not a concern. Underneath is the dull metal of his chain armor. The greenish metal is very light for ease of movement, while sacrificing some of the protective qualities of heavier armor. In addition, it oddly makes little sound. He can easily use his cloak to conceal the armor, so he is confident that that won’t be an issue. He is tall and slender, as are most High Elves, but it is his facial features that are the most concerns. At the utterance of a single word, his long facial features take on the blunt, rough quality of a South Brixian.
His long, pointed ears shrink and round at the tip.
He touches the newly formed features of his face, and the skin of his face move slightly under his touch, as if it was formed of clay. He thinks to himself that this disguise should hold up well enough for now.
He adjusts the sword at his side and makes sure the metal rod strapped to his back is secure and well hidden under his cloak.
He pulls his hood over his head, walks into the tavern and is met with the overbearing sound of eating, drinking and curious conversation. He can see the last of the robed figures walking up a set of stairs, and notices a sword poking out from underneath the ungainly figure’s cloak. He can hear that much of the discussion is about the unusual group of robed figures that entered the inn and moved quickly to the rooms upstairs.
“A lot of strange folks comin’ thru here over the past coupla’ days I think.” Says a jovial man sitting amongst his friends.
“Strange fer sure.” His bleary eye’d drinking companion responds.
This a bar with half a dozen large eating tables. There are also several tables designed to seat two or three. The elf sees that of all the patrons, only one isn’t engaged in speculative conversation. He is a large man sitting alone at the bar with a large mug in front of him. There are several faded scars on his face and hands, and it is clear that he is a mercenary of some sort.
After a moment, the man downs his drink and mutters something to the bartender. The barkeep reaches behind the bar and produces a sheathed sword. He hands the weapon to the warrior, who promptly walks out of the bar.
“Excuse me good traveler…” a deep but feminine voice says.
The cloaked elf looks down to see a thin, gapped toothed waitress addressing him.
“Vallen is my name.” The elf says in a thin soprano.
The woman raises her eyebrow in consternation at the man’s thick accent. Many a traveler has come through the inn, but she has never heard the like.
“I’m sorry sir, but you have to turn in your sword at the bar.” The woman says.
“But those black robed men carried weapons.” Vallen states.
“They have official documents or some such.” She replies. “While they’re here no one is allowed to carry weapons in the bar.”
Vallen unbuckles his sword belt. “I see. Please bring your freshest red flower wine to my table.”
The barmaid looks at him in confusion.
“Just bring your finest house wine.” Vallen sighs. He is not surprised at the woman’s ignorance or the inns lack of even the cheapest of wines.
Vallen walks to the bar and gingerly inserts himself between to patrons. They move aside as he places his sheathed sword on the counter. He speaks quickly, before the approaching innkeeper can engage him in unnecessary conversation. He has no more patience for thick tongued, cloud headed Brixians.
“I would like a room.” Vallen says, as he slides his sword to the bartender. The plump man places the weapon behind the bar, and hands the elf a red chip with the number twelve on it.
He looks at Vallen and quickly surmises that he is no more than a common traveler. “Names Cholo.” The heavy man says as he pulls a large, worn book from beneath the bar. “If there is anything you want can see me.”
“Sorry.” Cholo says; leafing thru the book. “We don’t have any more rooms.”
Vallen shakes his head slightly at the man’s butchering of the common tongue, used by most races throughout Byrra. He pulls a coin from his purse, and drops it in the pot bellied man’s hand.
“But I’m sure that we can find some space in one of our storerooms.” Cholo states in a slightly warmer manner. “I will set you up when you are ready.”
Vallen sits alone at one of the smaller tables and cups his drink between his hands. Before long the large warrior re-enters, with an exceptionally small figure at his side. Vallen would be surprised if the slight man reaches five feet on his toes. He soon recognizes the man as a wild elf, and the little fellow seems not to notice or care about the curious looks of the bar’s patron. Vallen thinks to himself, that there are many strange travelers out and about tonight.
The large man hands his sword to the approaching bar maid and takes a red chip. He speak briefly to the woman, and it is clear that the large mercenary is ordering food. They then find a table and sit down.
Vallen sips his wine and frowns as the tart liquid drains into his throat like watery pebbles. He looks up to see the barkeep personally bring two steaming bowls of stew, and set them in front of the warrior and wild elf with a grin. The small elf shakes his head. In response, the portly innkeeper shrugs his shoulders and takes one bowl away.
As the night wears on the patrons of the inn either trickle out into the cold night, or make their way upstairs to their rooms. The large fighter is obviously drunk, and yawns loudly, as the wild elf helps the stumbling man up the stairs. The bartender ushers the last few drunks outside along with the barmaid; glances into the street and closes the door. He then walks over and addresses the Vallen.
“The storage room is ready good traveler.” The bartender says as he walks over to the high elf, who has been nursing his drink all evening.
“You know we could sell more than one of those.” Cholo says, indicating the nearly full mug of wine.
Vallen ignores the fat man’s sarcasm and rises calmly to his feet. The innkeeper freezes and stares at the elf with and odd look on his face. Vallen instantly knows that his magical façade has begun to slip and revert to its original shape.
“Just show me my room innkeeper.” Vallen says, as he angles his face away from Cholo’s curious gaze.
“Uuh… right this way.” Cholo says as he observes the elven adventurer suspiciously and pauses for a moment. He then replies thoughtfully. “I’ll bring you some warm stew to take to bed with you.”
Vallen nods and follows Cholo into a back room. Stacks of flour and wheat have been turned into a makeshift, if uncomfortable bed. Vallen sits down to rest amongst the cans and barrels as best he can.
Moments later the fat innkeeper brings a large bowl of beef and vegetable stew. He hands the bowl to Vallen and turns to leave.
“Leave the door cracked.” The elf says to Cholo as the barkeep begins to close the door to the storeroom. Cholo nods and walks out into the bar.
Vallen wrinkles his nose and sniffs the thick unsavory broth. He reaches into a pouch and pulls an ochre colored leaf from within. He crushes the leaf in between his palms and sprinkles the contents into the bowl. After mixing the ground plant into the soup he takes a mouthful of food in his mouth. After tasting the stew he spits the distasteful mixture back into the bowl.
“Uncultured barbarians! Not spice in the world could make this mud palatable.” Vallen mutters to himself. He places the bowl on the floor and settles back onto the lump of sacks. He touches his face and feels that it has gone back to its original shape. Vallen decides he will rest for a moment before he investigates the inn further.
Vallen removes his cloak and wraps the rod that was strapped to his back into the cloth. He careful places the cloak next to his resting place. The elven adventurer produces a smooth blue stone and holds it in the palm of his hand. It rises several inches in the air and begins to glow brightly. He rotates his hand around the room and it flares with a white light.
Vallen quickly grabs the stone and places it in his belt. That was foolish. Vallen hopes the oafish barkeep hadn’t noticed. In any event, judging from the intensity of the stones light, D’sin Whitehair’s translating stone is very close. Vallen contemplates how he will retrieve the artifact, as sleep stealthily, and unexpectedly overtakes him.