figure steps from the sunlight into the darkened interior of the
Lonely Duck Tavern. The bartender, Gerolf, looks up casually to
acknowledge his new patron and goes back to cleaning his bar with
a filthy towel. Too many drinks and not enough exercise have made
him into a quite overweight, and his lack of hygiene is obvious.
He thinks about the number of times he's dealt with this same situation:
a stranger enters the bar, orders a mug of ale, and doesn't even
tip a slug.
"Pah, adventurers," he mutters under his
breath, "barely worth the air they breathe.
The stranger scans the main room with a quick but
thorough glance, noticing that even though it is ten in the morning
this bar has fewer patrons than most. He moves slowly and cautiously,
his plate armor glistens slightly through its dirt and grime. After
sauntering up to the bar, he sits down on the least wobbly stool
and sloughs off his overweight pack and undoes his weapon, a large
and well-used bastard sword. With a low grunt he calls to the bartender.
"What kind of swill ye drinkin' stranger?"
Gerolf asks in his gravelly tone.
"Nothing today my good man," answers the
stranger, who quickly follows his statement with another cautious
glance around the room. "But if you can do something with this,
I might see fit to buy a few drinks for your trouble." He places
small bag on the counter; it jingles slightly.
Raising an eyebrow Gerolf takes the bag and looks
inside. 'More than slug today,' he thinks to himself, responding
quickly to the stranger, "and what kind of drinks ye expectin'
wi' this me good man?"
"Just a favor, and I need it done quietly."
He puts his hands in his rucksack and pulls out a stack of well-worn
parchment pages, each folded carefully and sealed with a blob of
red wax, the stack has been tied together with a bit of string.
"I need you to deliver these, the recipient is named Anna,
here's where you can find her." The stranger hands the bartender
another scrap of parchment with something scribbled on it. "If
you do well, I see fit to stop in with another back of coin in the
Gerolf leans over and looks at the seal; it's an
image of a wolf's head he hasn't seen before. He thinks carefully
about the offer, wondering why the stranger can't send the letters
himself. 'Who cares Gerolf, the stranger's offering gold, you haven't
seen gold in weeks,' he thinks, 'just take the gold and deliver
it, what harm can come?' He nods slowly and speaks, "I think
yer offer's fair 'nuff, and the least I can do is get ye a mug of
ale to seal the deal. What can I call ye next time yer in?"
"Torvald," responds the stranger, "and
I'd be most obliged if you didn't share our little deal with anybody."
He nods slowly and grabs the mug of ale Gerolf brings, "yes
indeed, you don't want to tell anybody." With a final grin,
Torvald takes a swig of the ale, sets the mug back on the bar, and
lifts his equipment back onto his shoulder. "I'll bee seeing
you bartender, I'm sure you've got some deliveries to make."
With a final grunt under the weight of his equipment,
Torvald wanders out the bar back into the daylight. "It's a
new town Torvald, you'll find what you're looking for," he
mutters under his breath. With a final sigh, he moves down the dusty
street, deeper into the town of Zhind, hoping to find what he's
been looking for.