“And that, my friends, is how you walk the plank,” Datak sneered to his erstwhile pirate band. With that, a torrent erupted from the deck and knocked Captain Yarg on his feet as Datak jumped into the waiting arms of the sea.
“Damn yer eyes!” the Captain yelled as he rose on his good leg. “No one – least of all that sea witch– makes a fool of Yarg the Bloody! Bring him to me so he can learn his place…maybe if he’s lucky he can feed the fishes!”
Datak disappeared under the waves and swam toward shore.
- * *
“That’s a ripoff!” said the Dwarf, Thorgrim Barrenkeg. Of course Barrenkeg isn’t Throgrim’s real name, but a nickname given after he had finished a keg by himself a few weeks back. “These skins are worth at least twice as much!”
“I know they are worth twice as much, but it’s illegal to hunt tigers. Who will buy the skins if I won’t? You take the price or leave it,” said the Orc merchant.
“I say you pay me what I ask, Orc scum, if you would like to keep your head.”
“Maybe I should just take them forcefully if you won’t take my price. Guards! Persuade him to see it my way.”
Thorgrim grabs his axe off his back and swipes at the merchant. Not a killing blow, but still a good one. The merchant shrieks in pain and Thorgrim turns to block the blow from the first guard to appear. A quick parry followed by a horizontal strike and the guard is on the ground unconcious. Thorgrim grabs his shield just in time to block the overhead strike from the second guard. He follows up with a quick bash and an overhead strike of his own that gives slams hard on the guard’s helmet and sends him staggering. Two more guards burst from the door behind the counter. Thorgrim, knowing he is well outnumbered, runs to the front door and runs right through it, unhinging it and causing more damage. He turns down the alley next to the questionable shop and breaks into a full sprint. Several blocks later, he hopes he has lost the guards. Looking to his right, though, he sees a curious sight. A Kobold and what looks like a small Ogre running from a mob equipped with swords and torches. Thorgrim knows there is a hidden passage across the street. He goes to open it and shouts to the unusual pair,
“Quick, get in here!”
After a few long seconds, the pair join Thorgrim at the passage and Thorgrim leads them in. Thorgrim can now see that the small Orgre is probably a half-ogre. He has a smile on his face, but the Kobold has a look of fear and concern. Thorgrim pushes them down the passage, telling them to hurry before the mob finds the passage.
“What did you twits do? Light someone on fire?”
“Guy like Kagg’s song so much, he burst into fire!” said the half-Ogre.
“Yes, they definitely loved your song, Kagg,” said the Kobold.
Thorgrim says, “How does a song light someone on fire? Nevermind, move it. We’re almost at the end.”
The trio emerge from the other end of the passage in a separate area of town. They can still hear the mob shouting, but it is off in the distance now.
“Maybe you two should lay low for a bit. You can come with me, I know a safe place,” the Dwarf suggests. Without looking, Thorgrim starts towards the Dusty Mug. Probably the biggest hive of scum and villanry in all of Riddleport, but a safe place to lay low for a day or two. Thorgrim walks through the door, goes to the counter, and turns around to see that the pair did follow him.
“Room for three, inkeep,” he says. “And a hot dinner would be nice.”
“Right away, master Dwarf.”
Once thoroughly fed and cozied up in their room, Thorgrim asks, “Who are you two anyways?”
“Me Kagg,” says the half-Ogre who obviously isn’t the brightest buld.
“And I’m Kazic,” said the Kobold, who is the brains of the pair.
“Can’t say I’ve ever seen a civilized Kobold before. Usually I just kill ‘em outta habbit.”
“Well, I’m different,” says Kazic. “Kagg and I travel town to town entertaining at inns with Kagg’s special “talent” of singing.”
“Musn’t be a very good bard if you piss that many people off,” replied Thorgrim.
“Kagg not bard. Kagg barbarian. Kagg slay many foe with Gramma.” Kagg, for unkown reasons, whispers the word “Gramma.”
“Have you slain as many with your sword as you have with your voice!” Thorgrim lets out a loud, full laugh.
“Kagg’s voice good. Kagg make people happy. Kazic say so.”
“Yes Kagg, your voice is the most beautiful thing this side of the sea. Now, let’s just get some rest and continue tomorrow,” says Kazic.
“Aye, you two can, but I’m going back downstairs for a pint or two… or three…” says Thorgrim.
The next morning, Kagg and Kazic awake to the sight of a naked and very hairy Dwarf snoring and lying with a beautiful Elven woman. Kagg and Kazic decide to go downstairs and have some eggs and bacon for breakfast. As they are finishing their meal, Thorgrim joins them, looking much worse than he had the night before.
- * *
“Well, that should be a safe distance,” Datak thought to himself as he surfaced in Riddleport Harbor. “Still, one can’t be too cautious.” Making sure he wasn’t being watched, he took a deep breath and cleared his mind as his flesh rippled. The turquoise washed away, replaced by a golden tan. He looked at his webbed hands and frowned. “Not perfect, but it’ll do.”
Datak needed a place to stay for a few days while he figured out his next move. In his travels, he had heard of an inn that didn’t ask a lot of questions. He headed to the Dusty Mug.
“What’ll it be?” the innkeeper asked.
“Fish. A mug of ale. And a room.”
It was the finest dinner and the most restful sleep he had in weeks. The next morning, as Datak was enjoying his breakfast, he couldn’t help but notice the motley crew gathering at the table nearby. A smirk came to his face. “It’s like one of those bard’s tales…a dwarf, an ogre, and a kobold walk into a tavern…”
He decided to listen in on the conversation.
“Oi, you two are still here? Should you be off ‘entertaining’ more folk?” the dwarf asked.
“Kagg like Thorgrim. Thorgrim come with us?”
“We saw blood on your armor last night and figured you must be at least a decent fighter. We could use someone like you to protect us from the very happy mobs that really enjoy Kagg’s singing,” explained Kazic.
“What’s in it for me?”Thorgrim said, “You know, hunting tigers and such pays pretty well. Well enough to outweigh the danger of fighting them in melee. How much you pay?”
“I took you for the kind that would enjoy the job enough to make up for the low pay,”replied Kazic. He gets a good laugh from Thorgrim.
“Aye. I do like meself a good fight once in a while. Maybe I should get out of the smuggling business. Haven’t made a copper in the last week, to tell the truth. Everybody be refusin’ my business after I ripped off a fence two weeks ago. The skins I had were worth twenty gold, I sold them for forty, at axe point. Maybe I shouldn’t ‘ave been such a greedy bastard, but a Dwarf ’as got to make a livin’ somehow. Yeah, I’ll join ya’ misfits.”
“Alright, it’s settled. You play bodyguard for us and we’ll provide your living,” Kazic decided.
“Now eat breakfast. Dwarf is punier than last night!” Kagg said as he slid a massive plate of various breakfast foods towards Thorgrim.
Datak decided there might be safety in numbers and approached the unlikely trio. “Well met, friends. I was just leaving town and thought you could use a traveling companion.”
Thorgrim eyed Datak suspiciously. “Why should I trust you, elf?”
“A good question. Allow me to offer you a gesture of good faith.” Datak placed a hand on Thorgrim and chanted.
“That wasn’t my blood!”Thorgrim laughed heartily. “But I like you. So, who are you running from?”
Datak chuckled. “Well, you see, there was a girl…” He winked at Thorgrim. “But isn’t there always?”
- * *
You make one mistake and everyone turns on you. Granted he was assassinated on my watch but it isn’t like I was drunk. Now here I am running for my life with nothing but my armor and a mismatched helm I had to grab from the family armory before they threw me out. I made it to the docks just ahead of the Baron’s men and was able to grab the first ship out of town. Now I am headed towards some town I can’t even name but it is hopefully far enough not to be chased.
I have learned 2 things about the sea. 1 I hate it. 2 It hates me more. It has been 2 months since we set out and our port is finally in sight. The first thing I am going to do is find an inn and get a meal that is anything but fish. Then a bath, maybe two. I have found what passes for an Inn in the town and ordered a bath and meal to my room. I passed a most unusual pair on my way up the stairs. It appears to be a half ogre has adopted a Kobold pet. It takes all sorts out here I guess.
I am awoken from my nap by the most awful racket. I think something may be dying in the tavern below. I quickly don my armor and rush down the stairs. There is smoke everywhere. The Baron’s men must have followed me. I rush out the back door through the kitchen to avoid detection in the confusion. Running down the street I can see a mob chasing the half ogre and his pet as they duck into an alley. That brings back the memories of getting chased out of my own home but at least they had the honor to make it a fair fight.
Running into the Alley I yell “At least make it a fair fight you cowar….” The half ogre is gone?!. But everyone is staring at me now. They don’t look very friendly. Turning on my heel I sprint back down the alley and head for the street. They wait a few moments and it appears they may not give chase but then I can hear the growing unrest. I make it to the end of the street before the mob appears. Diving into a trash pile I hope they will just run right by me. So much for my bath.
The next morning I see the Half-ogre & kobold have been joined by a dwarf and another fellow that looked normal enough. Hailing them on the way out of I town I introduce myself.
“I am Lorken of the family, well of no family anymore. I couldn’t help but notice you getting chased out of the tavern last night. Are you by chance headed anywhere away from here?”
- * *