by Brian L.
Hogap the Halfling carpet salesman
Sudifi the lame alchemist
Bouya the arrogant battle mage
Melody the traveling minstrel
Urlach the Half-Orc wanderer
Maal-laam the Half-Orc/Half-Elf mercenary
Paul Vazquez the peaceful and confused cleric
The scene is a well-run tavern in the town of Alred. Sorgin, the Dwarf barkeeper, keeps the patrons happy with greasy food and ever-flowing golden ale. The characters are all hanging around for various reasons and hear about the Friday night event that Sorgin runs – a sanctioned bar brawl. The previous week’s winner takes on a new contender, with 50 gold as prize money. Maal-laam immediately signs up to fight last week’s winner, described by Sorgin as a “very nice young lady.”
In the days before the fight, the rest of the crew wanders around trying to get a feel for the environment. There are signs posted all over Alred asking people to sign up to explore a nearby town, Mayn-am-Leit, that had been abandoned some years ago. Everyone they ask says it’s haunted and nobody in their right mind would investigate it, but the town council is offering 200 gold plus expenses per person for the job. People are also talking about a local mage, Uolvos, who has recently gone missing. Though it’s usually thought to be a bad sign when someone like that disappears, the general consensus is that he should be left alone and he’ll come back when he’s good and ready.
When Friday night rolls around, Maal-laam is ready to fight. The bar is full of drunks, including a tall snake-looking guy at the end of the bar face down in a bowl of ale. Sorgin keeps filling up the snake’s bowl as he welcomes the out-of-towners to his event. He calls out for the other fighter, Veldani. A hulking orc stands up at a nearby table and the crowd quickly makes room in the center of the tavern for her and Maal-laam to duke it out. Urlach’s blood starts to boil when he sees the orc woman strut to the open space. He hates orcs more than anything. But any curses he manages to mutter are drowned out by the hollering of bets going on all around him.
The fight is fairly short, since Maal-laam didn’t stand much of a chance against such a strong opponent. While Veldani gets another beer at the bar – and one for the drunk snake guy – Paul runs over to the badly beaten Maal-laam to see if he can help. He manages to somehow heal the orc/elf, but is not quite sure how. And when Sorgin asks what he’s doing, he snaps at the barkeep to shut up. Sorgin doesn’t take that kind of language directed at him in his own bar. He grabs a strange looking carved stick and starts to walk over to Paul and Maal-laam. Paul panics and casts a cloud of darkness around Sorgin, who then flips out and swings the stick wildly, smacking Paul in the chest. A less organized bar brawl ensues, with Sorgin and Veldani beating the tar out of Paul and Urlach getting accidentally caught in the crossfire. His hatred for Veldani grows, but since he doesn’t trust Sorgin or the snake guy not to kill him he doesn’t make a move.
When the blood and bodies are cleared and the tavern goes back to its normal drunken volume, everyone collects their money from all their bets and Veldani heads upstairs to go to sleep. Urlach gets a room upstairs for the night and asks Sorgin about Veldani, pretending he’s interested in her. Sorgin smirks and gives Urlach a wink. Everyone else gets rooms for the night and eventually everything quiets down, with the snake guy passed out in his bowl. When everyone is asleep, Urlach sneaks to Veldani’s room, cracks her skull open with his axe, and closes the door quietly behind him.
That night, Maal-laam unsuccessfully tries to get to a doctor and ends up sleeping on the side of the street outside the tavern with Paul Vazquez. The next morning, he goes back to the bar to try to get his revenge on Veldani. When Sorgin doesn’t let him upstairs, he strikes at the bartender, who quickly bludgeons him to death with an enormous maul that he keeps under the bar to deal with unruly patrons. The snake guy, still in his seat at the bar takes the body and drools on it, turning it to a whitish liquid which he then drinks.
The other patrons come downstairs for breakfast and peacefully prepare to sign up for the expedition to Mayn-am-Leit.