Rise of the Thrall Lord
Tarrsmorr Tales I - Siegfied's Beginnings
An Old Talespinner Tale
Not many of us returned from the raid on the goblin chieftain’s lair, but those of us who did went home with a sizeable stake. The other survivors of our force decided to go off and try their luck elsewhere, some to the east, some to the west and some followed the river. I just went home to Tarsmoor, the village of my father’s, father’s father, and so on down the line.
Before going back to the family farm, I decided to head toward the town for a little fun and relaxation. On the road I met up with Odin and Thor, a pair of friends from my days in the town guard. They told me that they had left the guard also. It seems that Smig, another guardsman, had been given a promotion to lieutenant while Thor and Odin had been passed over. They had heard in town from a loudmouthed ranger that Sir Jack was back in business and they were going to him to look for work. After thinking for a moment I offered them the opportunity to work for me instead. They readily accepted.
When we got to town I began outfitting our group. I bought a new suit of field plate armor for myself, complete with helmet and shield. I gave my old splint mail armor to Odin, who was closer to my size. Thor got a new suit. I got them shields and helmets and javelins as well. They were thrilled to be getting an upgrade from the chainmail that guardsmen had to wear.
After the armor and weapons, we went to the stables. The head groom had been training war horses in case the goblin war expanded into worse. I bought a great big mare for myself and a couple of smaller geldings for Odin and Thor. Then I realized that I really don’t want to be spending all of my time combing and grooming and shoveling, so I asked the head groom if he knew of anybody I could hire to care for my horses. He suggested his nephew, Gustav, who had just completed an apprenticeship. The groom didn’t have enough work for him, since he would be looking to take on another apprentice. I immediately introduced myself to Gustav and offered him double the usual rate for a groom. He jumped at the chance to be out from under his uncle’s thumb. I asked him to suggest a good pack horse and to find a riding horse for himself as well.
While Gustav was picking out a riding horse I saw someone sitting by the public well drinking some water. It was Lewis Lackey. Lewis had been the owner of the Silver Cup tavern. That was back when there was a Silver Cup tavern. One night, a few years back, a couple of rival adventuring parties were both there. They goaded and ridiculed each other until eventually a battle broke out. In the end, the combatants disappeared into the night and left town in different directions, mostly unscathed by the fight. However, the Silver Cup was a smoldering pile of cinders. Lewis had put all he had into that inn. He dug up the melted silver from the cup the tavern was named after and gave it to his wife to help pay for food for his kids. Now, he was penniless and worked odd jobs for anyone who would pay him, or give him food.
I walked over to Lewis and asked how he was doing. He gave me his usual innkeeper’s ready smile, which was the one thing he still retained, and said he was doing okay but was between jobs right now. I asked him if he would be willing to work for me as a valet. I needed someone to take care of the supplies and arranging rooms and food and such for myself and any fighters I might hire. I also needed someone to help me put on my armor. He instantly agreed and asked when he would start. I handed him a purse of gold and told him I needed rooms at the Boar’s Head for that night. I also told him to count out a sum of gold pieces from the purse for his first month’s salary. Lewis appeared to be weightless as he ran off to make the arrangements. I went back to the stables and asked Gustav to pick out another riding horse.
After a full day of shopping, and a bath in the river for us all with soap Lewis had encouraged me to buy, and after packing up the horses and then unpacking at the Boar’s Head, I decided it was time for us all to celebrate the forming of our band with a good meal and some entertainment. We went down to the common room where we heard what may have been the worst rendition of Halfling Hoedown any of us had ever witnessed. The fact that it was a ranger, judging from his clothes, and an elf, judging from his ears and general elf-like appearance, probably contributed to the unhalflinglike nature of the hoedown. In an effort to stop them from playing I went up and greeted them, the elf first in Elvish, and then the ranger. The ranger, who I found was named Riley, also introduced me to his pet giant lynx named Lincoln. The lynx greeted me with a snarl which I imitated back as best I could. The lynx seemed contented with my response and with the general smell of us, which was conveyed to the ranger who confirmed what I had suspected, that the lynx was in fact smarter than he was.
The Elvish I learned as a boy when an exiled elf swordsman stayed at our home for several years proved to be of little use in the ensuing conversation as the ranger talked ceaselessly and the elf sat mute. Riley, the ranger, was very proud of the fact that he had completed an adventure into distant lands in search of a recipe and store of an amber elixir for Sir Jack. Riley had some of it with him and offered me a taste. It was little better than his singing of Halfling Hoedown, but I tried to be polite by waiting for a moment before scrubbing my pallet clean with a beer chaser. Riley was a much better talker than he was a singer, so I indulged his conversation.
While this continued, a group of travelers came in. They snobbishly asked for a private room, and were told that there were none, so they grudgingly took a table in the common room. Then they asked for the best accommodations, but Lewis had already booked them for us, so they were further irritated. They sat for a time, but when Olga, the barmaid, went to their table, one of the men sneered that his horse’s rear-end was a better sight. Olga, who, to be honest, was not at all attractive, to her merit simply went about her work without acknowledging the insult.
Riley, however, made a comment about how the man’s admiration of his horse’s rear end was more physical than visual. The man started to gesture strangely, but a woman with them put her hand on his arm in a commanding fashion and he stopped. The woman then walked over to our table and asked if they might be allowed to switch rooms with us for the night. To be polite to visitors to the town and to avoid trouble with them, I agreed to let them have our rooms. Lewis was in instant conversation with the innkeeper on rates for the inferior rooms we would be getting in exchange.
The woman returned to her table and things calmed down briefly. Then, Olga went by the table and one of the men punched her in the face, sending her sprawling. He shouted, “Innkeeper, I will not be served by such an appallingly ugly creature!” I jumped up to see how Olga was. I sent Lewis to find the healer and bring him back. Riley began talking to his cat, seemingly acknowledging that the cat was right, but that he didn’t understand what a barbecue had to do with it. In the commotion, the elf went to the bar and took the flagons of ale that had been poured for the men at the table. He went over to their table and said, “Then I’ll serve you instead!” and he poured the ale all over the man.
The innkeeper, who was also Olga’s father, sputtered out that the man who punched Olga and his whole group had to leave. Many insults and heckles were thrown at them while they walked to the door, but before they left the woman turned, smiled and sent forth a cloud of stinking gas into the room. We all began retching instantly. The innkeeper, who was not as badly affected by the stench, helped all of his patrons outside. When we were able to breathe again without vomiting many more insults were thrown at their retreating forms. Lewis returned with the healer just in time.
I decided that the town guard should be notified of these troublesome characters. Riley chose to accompany me, and we went in search of Smig. The captain of the guard did not work at night, so I knew his lieutenant would be the one on duty. I found Smig near the town gate and told him about the incident. Smig had dated Olga in the past, and was shocked that someone struck her. He took a troop of guardsmen and we marched down to the Gilded Swan where the noxious evildoers had relocated to. As we approached the table Smig began to speak to them, but the woman just gestured at him. Smig then said that this must all be a misunderstanding and he told us to leave. Riley was fit to be tied, but I just gave the woman a severe look and told her that this was an orderly town and we don’t put up with troublemakers here. Then we went back to the Boar’s head.
Riley wanted to go back ad confront them some more, but I had to caution against it. There are too many innocent people who get hurt when fights break out in town. Also, I expected that the woman would use her charm of Smig to embarrass him a little, but I doubted that she would harm him. Riley was a ranger and was therefore not used to the mechanics of civilized society. I would go to the captain of the guard first thing tomorrow and ask him to deputize me to rid the town of these serpents. Then I would go to the temples of good and ask if they might lend me some assistance in ridding the town of obvious devotees of evil. It was my thought that I might be able to persuade them to leave with any hostilities.