The 9th Day of Ches, The Claw of Sunsets
Dale Reckoning 1489
“Let them handle it.”
“It doesn’t sound like they’re doing particularly well.”
“They’re adults. They’ll come to us if they need us.”
Greez leaned back in his chair, still tense. “You realize we’re just falling into the stereotype.”
“And what stereotype is that, Greez?”
“That bugbears are lazy.”
Mintz set down the scroll he had been idly perusing and looked up at Greez. “Bugbears aren’t lazy. It’s just us.”
Greez stood up. “I’m going out there. Following me if you want.”
Just as Greez reached for the door, it flung open. One of the human guards, small and puny and clearly still drunk, stumbled in.
“We’ve got them on the run!”
Mintz barely stifled a laugh. “See Greez? Sit down”
Greez ignored him. “What happened?”
“Looks like some wanna be adventurers stumbled into the cave. They just came barging into our card game. Walked right past out one-eyed friend.”
“Yeah? He make an appearance?” Mintz asked, casting a quick glance back to his scroll and the crudely drawn sketches of bugbear in various states of undress.
“He did but he was much clumsier than we gave him credit for. They took him down as they ran away from us.”
“But come on out. There’s just one asshole trying to take on the lot of us. Most of them are back at the entrance to the cave, taking potshots when they can. Some midget keeps trying to sneak up on us and scurries away when we catch a glimpse of him. It’s actually kind of hilarious”
“Come on Mintz, you need the exercise,” Greez said as he picked up his weapon.
With only a slight sigh of protest, Mintz lurched to his feet. “Alright.”
The hallway was more frantic than the human had suggested. The asshole he talked about was actually making short work of the other drunkards, and his friends seemed to be building up something resembling courage. Greez, with as much enthusiasm as a bugbear could muster, charged at the asshole. Mintz contented himself with taking some shots from distance.
Mintz was preparing to hold back a yawn when the frenetic motion of the fight between Greez and the asshole, some kind of paladin if Mintz guessed right, suddenly came to a halt. The paladin produced from his belt some kind of jar. He dumped a handful of salve out of the jar and began to spread it across his bare chest. The flickering light from a dropped torch seemed to reflect and refract across the man’s flesh. He glowed, he sparkled. Mintz had never thought about going cross-species until that moment.
All too soon, it was over and the paladin was attacking Greez with renewed health and vigor. Blow after blow landed on Mintz’s…friend? No, coworker. Associate at best. Nevertheless, the sight of Greez falling mixed with Mintz’s confused lust to inspire him to charge the man.
Time slowed down to a trickle. Between the blows, Mintz took in the scene. Their one-eyed friend lie dead on the staircase along with two or three slain humans. The paladin in front of him, mad as hell and yelling at his friends twice as much as he yelled at Mintz. The midget, a halfling maybe, throwing darts much harder than he had any right to. A foppish dandy insulting him in ways that hurt more than he could ever admit. How did he know that his dad abandoned him when he was five? And in the back, at the top of the stairs, two skittish figures popped out from around a corner for only an instant at a time, sending arrows well over his head.
Suddenly it came to him: these were the adventurers the boss, the wizard Glass Staff, told them about. They were causing trouble in town, asking the wrong questions and punching the wrong people. They were weak and poorly organized. Two of their party died on the very first day of their adventure. Their replacements were a tiny person and another who apparently didn’t even bother to show up (though Mintz assumed he had a very good reason for not being there). These were not opponents he should be losing to.
Mintz was dimly aware that reinforcements had finally come. More of his bugbear associates, and that absurd goblin who ran more often than not. He launched into the paladin, assuming he finally had the edge. Unfortunately it was the wrong type: the tip of the paladin’s sword pierced Mintz just below his bugbear heart. He staggered back, attempting another swing but instead fell face forward into the stone of the staircase.
He came to moments later, unable to move. The blood loss was too much. He opened his eyes. The dark green liquid pooled around his chest and leaked slowly down the stairs. There was talking above him. The human, the one who dragged them out into the hallway, was captured and telling the adventurers everything. Coward. Below Mintz lie the bodies of the other bugbears, apparently slain after the paladin was done with him. The goblin was no where to be seen. The words were hard to make out, but there was some tension in the group. An uninvited guest, the halfling. He snuck up on the party, warned them of the monster. It sounded to Mintz like he was a pretty stand up dude, all things considered. He was here to help avenge the death of his fallen friend Tayasal. Despite such an honorable mission, he was accused of bringing the one-eyed monster to them. It was a dick move on the part of the adventurers, and Mintz didn’t blame the halfling when he caught him disappearing off into the shadows.
The remaining adventurers began looting the bodies of the fallen. They would rest here until they had enough strength to continue onto Glass Staff. Mintz tried to conjure up some sympathy for his enemies. Glass Staff would not underestimate them as he had. In fact he would take the revenge Mintz wished he could.
A half-elf, one of the ones from the top of the staircase, pilfered through his pockets. As he began to stand he caught Mintz looking at him. Silently he unsheathed a dagger and put it to the bugbear’s throat. Mintz declined to give him the satisfaction and died just before the blade cut into him.