“That’s not what happened,” Gee slurred and motioned for the barkeep.
“Well then what did happen then, stranger?”
“It was the half-elf who killed that woman.”
“Now why would the half-elf kill the woman? He’s the hero of this here tale.”
Gee dug in his pocket to retrieve a coin and slapped it on the bar after the barkeep was done pouring the ale. He grabbed the mug by the handle and turned in his seat to face the two men seated at a table behind him.
“He didn’t mean to. She was being held hostage by one of Iarno’s men and the half-elf was aiming for him, not the woman. He missed. A couple times.”
“Oy, you some kind of expert then? Were you there?” the storyteller asked.
Gee only smiled.
“You mean Harbin’s men? The woman was being held by Harbin’s men?” the other man at the table with the storyteller said, confused and looking back and forth between the two men. He was drunk, drunker than Gee at least, and having a hard time keeping his eyes open.
“Iarno. He’s the wizard,” Gee began. “Turns out he was a friend of Sildar, the very man who sent the adventurers on the quest to the cave to begin with. Sildar didn’t know that though until the adventurers put two and two together for him.”
“Listen, mate,” the storyteller said. “You telling this story, or am I?”
“Sorry to interrupt. Please continue,” Gee said, leaning back in his chair and sipping the froth off the top of his mug.
“Right,” the storyteller said, glaring at Gee. “Where was I?”
“Our heroes had explored the wizard’s lair but found nothing but a big spider. A smart one,” the storyteller’s drunk companion enunciated as best he could through the drink.
“There ain’t no such thing as smart spiders, you daft fool,” the storyteller corrected. “He was an evil spider.”
“Smart enough to follow Fernly and the rest of them to the inn in town when they left the wizard’s hole,” Gee said into his mug.
The storyteller ignored him. He began counting the story details out on his fingers. “Right, so then they went to the inn and got some rest. The spider was there, trying to get Fernly’s attention for some no doubt evil reason, but they survived the night. They met Sildar in the bar the next morning over breakfast. He was very nervous, skittish even.”
“That was Harbin, the town master.”
“Listen, you knob, I was there, in the bar wit them, was you?”
Gee downed his ale and shrugged.
“But you’re right, it was Harbin and not Sildar,” the storyteller relented. “Sildar had this proposition for them. Big grab, five hundred gold pieces to clear out this castle north of town. Goblins had been running a duck.”
“What was that?” Gee asked.
“What? They was running a duck, ruining the whole castle, like a bunch of running ducks.”
“I think you mean ‘muck’, friend. Running a muck.”
“That make no lick of sense whatsoever. You ever seen a duck run? Fucking mental. And I ain’t your friend. May I continue?”
Gee raised a hand apologetically.
“Sildar, he also mentions that he’s been looking for a man named Iarno…”
“That man already said that,” the drunk interrupted, pointing to Gee. “He was that there wizard they’d been looking for. Ducks and such.” He ran a finger along the bottom of his empty mug, attempting to retrieve what ale was left.
The storyteller fumed but still slid his full mug of ale over to his friend. “Right, sorry. So the heroes, they tell Sildar they know who this Iarno fellow is, and plan to hunt him down. But before they can arrange for that adventure, in comes Harbin. He’s anxious and scared over something.”
The drunk took a long sip from the beer that suddenly appeared before him and began to laugh loudly and inexplicably. The storyteller continued, raising his voice to talk over his friend’s cackles.
“Harbin, he tries to get them off Iarno’s scent, he wants them explore some reports of orcs in a nearby town. Our heroes, though, they’re smart ones. They see through this ruse, this clever attempt at trickery, and they stall.”
The storyteller glances over at Gee. “Oy, you been quiet. How am I doing?”
“Just fine,” Gee begins as he idly searches his pocket for more coin. “Just make sure you get this next part right.”
The storyteller smirks. “So they part ways and decide to check in on this man imprisoned down at the town hall, see if he has some info on Iarno for them. Here’s the thing though: town hall’s locked up tight, and guess who done it? It’s Harbin hisself. Yelling through the door for them to go away and such.”
“But they aren’t having it,” Gee interjects as he sits at the table, a fresh ale in hand. The storyteller attempts to speak up but Gee only continues. “Reggie the paladin rams through the door, knocks it clear off its hinges. Inside there’s Harbin, a ball of tears and sweat, plus me and my fr…a couple of those Red Hand fellows, or whatever they call themselves. They’ve taken prisoners, a woman and her kids, in the anteroom as well as in the back. The adventurers charge. The guards are killed but in the confusion Saag, the half-elf, kills the woman. They tie Harbin up and get set to question him.”
The storyteller places a stern hand on Gee’s shoulder. “Nice try, friend. You forgot something.”
“Yeah, one of them guards escaped.”
“Yeah, mate, one did. Now may I continue the story? Or are we to get more of your expert testimony?”
Gee nods, his attention distracted by the tavern door opening. A dark figure consumes the whole doorway.