Adventure Fantasy Friendship

"Ah. Nothin' like a fine meal after a hard day's work," Rhogar sighs contentedly, sitting back in his corner of the booth as he sips his dark ale. Dishes for two meat pies sit on the table in front of him, licked clean.

"Aye, and no finer place for a meal than the Felnuth Tavern in all of Thradnyss," Vladislak agrees. His eyes scan the other patrons of the tavern, doubtless looking for a woman who might be persuaded to go home with him. However, his roving eyes find no one more interesting that his companions at his own table, and so his attention returns there.

"I daresay we work rather well together," Darrak remarks through his impressive, braided beard.

"Well enough for total strangers," Lorilla allows. Her voice sounds like wind stirring the branches of a weeping willow, and she looks like she belongs in a forest, not the smoky stale atmosphere of a city tavern.

"No need for us to remain strangers," Vladislak suggests. "There could be some real benefits to the five of us working together in the future."

"Don't have to know each other to work together," Naivara mutters darkly. She's devastatingly beautiful, but Vladislak learned earlier today that Naivara is not looking for love and has no qualms about causing others harm.

"Could be helpful, though, to avoid hangups like we had this afternoon once we'd caught the thieves," Darrak argues. "Was it really necessary to kill them?"

"Yes," Naivara and Rhogar answer together. Then the two of them exchange surprised smiles--Naivara doesn't even flinch at Rhogar's pointed, Dragonborn grin--and clink their steins together before gulping down more of the Felnuth's signature brew.

"Honestly, Darrak, they were caught in the act. No need for a trial and all that bureaucratic nonsense," Rhogar continues.

"Under what law is common thieving punishable by death?" Darrak demands.

"Seems more merciful than being forced to learn to make a life for oneself with one's hands cut off," Naivara grumbles.

"I assure you, with my poisons on their blades," Lorilla interjects gently, gesturing to Naivara and Rhogar as she speaks, "the thieves met their end quickly and painlessly. Your oaths have not been broken."

"And what an impressive feat that is," Vladislak compliments, only to be met by a withering stare from Lorilla's grass-green eyes. "Which brings me back to my main point. We're all skillful, in our own ways. I've never met anyone as strong as Rhogar, and Lorilla, your knowledge of poisons is beyond compare. Darrak, your healing and protective spells are useful in almost every circumstance, and Naivara..." His voice trails off as he contemplates the lithe wood-elf.

"Yes?" she prompts with a voice to match the knives on her belt.

"You're agile and cunning and as deft with words as with your bow and blades," he laughs nervously. He'd rather have her in his bed than anyone else in the tavern, but suggesting such a thing would be suicidal. "And of course, I can do whatever a situation calls for."

"Except, perhaps, be humble," Lorilla mutters. Only Naivara hears her, and the two share a brief, conspiratorial grin.

"So you want to...what, exactly? Form a band of traveling mercenaries?" Darrak questions.

"When you put it that way, it sounds like a swell idea," Rhogar grins, rendering himself truly fearsome to behold.

"Being a mercenary would be in direct violation of my oaths. I used that word rhetorically."

"So you wouldn't have to do any of the killing," Vladislak replies brightly. "Assuming, of course, that any future job would require killing. Most problems can be solved without resorting to such extremes--"

"If you're a coward," Naivara interrupts.

"What in blazes happened to you to make you so vicious?" Darrak demands.

"None of your business."

"Leave her be," Lorilla counsels. "We all have darkness in our pasts, secrets we'd rather not share with people we just met today. Let us focus on the question at hand. I would not mind having companions for the next leg of my life's journey."

"Oh! I... That's great!" Vladislak exclaims. He had expected Lorilla to politely decline; the druid clearly prefers the company of trees to people and is far more spiritual than anyone else at their table, except, perhaps, the judgmental Darrak.

"Why are you surprised? I believe, on some level, we all have an urge to help others. And we will be more help to those around us working together than working separately."

"A strong argument," Darrak muses. "And perhaps with all of us together, you and I can curb the more...violent and wanton impulses of the others."

"No one asked for your opinion on our impulses," Naivara snaps. "We didn't swear your oaths, paladin. Just because my morals don't align with yours doesn't mean I don't have any."

"I meant no offense, Naivara," Darrak apologizes gruffly, "and anyway, my remark was not directed only at you."

"She raises a good point, though," Rhogar says. "I'm not opposed to working together, so long as you're not gonna spend all your time policing our behavior."

"Of course we'll have to make decisions as a group, based on the requirements of the job and whoever hires us," Vladislak smiles, trying to smooth things over. "But are we agreed?"

"We can try it for another job and see how it goes."

"I can live with that. Better than trying to scrape by alone," Naivara relents.

"You wouldn't have to scrape by alone even if--" Vladislak begins seductively.

"I thought you'd set your cap for that nobleman's daughter we met this afternoon, and I know I've already told you that if you touch me--"

"Relax, Naivara. Vladislak jests," Lorilla intercedes. "And there's no need for bloodshed when we've so much to celebrate."

"Aye. Barkeep, another round!" Rhogar calls loudly. "A toast, to new beginnings!"

"I'll drink to that," Darrak agrees, though he's never been much for ale.

"To new beginnings!" the adventurers shout, crashing their steins together and smiling in spite of themselves, all eager to see where their new-forged alliance takes them.

June 30, 2021 15:24

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