Part 47: InterludeInterlude
The Tavern of Broken Dreams (Music)
"I do so envy the Nameless One," Scii murmurs, "possessing a bottle whose stopper holds back endless waters. One could change a world with such a thing... found a new kingdom fat with water and wealth. Draw together the largest city ever built on the dunes. Drown the Sea of Silt and plant a wealth of grasslands in its place. Oh I have dreamed of such things, I have..."
"Aye, aye, yer home world sucks donkey teats get on wit' it alreaAIEEEEEEEEEEE!" a solid thunk accompanies G'mir's squeal of shock as an obsidian spear buries itself into the wood of the table where his boot was just a moment ago.
"I did warn you," Scii-tavakis smiles, "On my world, it is also quite rude to interrupt a telling."
"You- YOU MADWOMAN!" the dwarf screams, kicking aside the spear. The shrill cry that booms through the high-ceilinged tavern seems much too loud for a creature of such small stature and lung capacity. Yet launching his three-foot-high bulk at the stage, G'mir the Midget Dwarf swings his axe, red-faced with the heat of insane fury roiling through him.
It takes three able-bodied men and a pixie just to slow him down, and a bariur receives a swift kick in the face for snatching away G'mir's axe. How such a squat creature could leap high enough to do so is a mystery in itself. Patrons leap from their seats: some shouting encouragement, others demanding the dwarf be beaten or killed so that the story could continue.
In the background Oudilin plucks frantically at the strings of his lyre in bizarre contrast to the soothing bard-song he is attempting. Mikon screams at the patrons, his threats of arrest impotent against the steadily growing chaos in the tavern. Several barmaids join in the fray, clubbing the enraged dwarf with their trays and pelting him with nearby mugs. Futile endeavors to say the least.
Disarmed but still full of spitfire and vinegar, G'mir rips off the leg from the nearby table, clubbing anyone foolish enough to venture close enough. A black-clad rogue that was attempting to sneak behind him is tossed two tables over. A barmaid is caught across the jaw by the makeshift club. A bespectacled cacodemon takes it in the shin as the pot of mint tea and plate of strawberry scones he had been enjoying crash to the floor as the table collapses.
With the way cleared, G'mir clambers up onto the stage even as a tiefling and several other planars grab at his stubby little legs.
Taking a step back, Scii-tavakis calmly places two fingers to her temple just as the maddened dwarf finishes pulling his plump little body over the edge. The elf focuses.
The pale bolt of light that shoots from her forehead was an almost placid azure. It strikes G'mir squarely in the head and with a soft cracking sound he falls back like a limp, overcooked noodle, collapsing against the bespectacled demon as he sobs over his fallen tray. The tussle resolved, a dreadful hush falls across the crowd.
"Well," the elf's tanned, leathery face pulls into a wry smile, "I didn't think I'd have to use that trick again."
Mikon's face has grown to be nearly as red as his armor. Sweating and furious, he bellows, "You are all under arrest!"
The three hundred or so planars that crowded around him stare, unimpressed. A few chuckles arise from those on the second tier of the tavern.
Shara Six Blades' voice is cold and razor-edged, "On whose authority?"
"Mine! On the order of the Harmonium I hereby place everyone in this bar under arrest until the matter can be resolved, and that includes you, tavern wench!"
Spreading all six arms out and stretching her claws, Shara rises up onto her tail, towering at a full twelve feet and encircled with a halo of talons. She speaks with a voice thick with deep, abyssal fury and with eyes red as fiery blood.
"Do you think your petty laws have meaning here, manling? Do the words of addled old men swaddled in Guvner robes hold weight against the crushing madness of the Hivers?" The blood drains from Mikon's face as Shara slithers over the bar with a tail flowing like sinuous water, "Can you wrap chains around the infamous fury of a marilith, manling? Truss up the blackness of a fiend's heart for the Mercykiller's axe?"
One bare arm curls down towards Mikon as he backs up against a pillar, his skin pale as smoke and eyes bigger than teacups. Those long, red-black talons seem to elongate as they snap around his face like a cage, holding him still as he trembles on the edge of soiling his armor.
"There is a reason this is the Tavern of Broken Dreams, foolish manling. I have supped many times on the hopes of men from a hundred kingdoms, gorged myself fat and happy on the wants of peasants and kings. By all means, challenge my word here. It has been long since I have painted my tavern sign red with mortal folly."
"S-s-so long as we understand each other," Mikon trembles, and the talons withdraw.
"I thought so," she hisses. The Harmonium guard collapses to the floor as Shara points a talon towards the grinning storyteller, "You are in no place to smile, Athasian. This establishment works by my word of law, and you are the instigator of this conflict."
Even the sturdiest steel will warp and bend under a hot enough fire, Scii-tavakis' eyes widen and she bows meekly. It's a strange sight, and the subdued tone she speaks in is unnatural, "I humbly seek your forgiveness, Innmistress. I have been a poor guest to have taken advantage of your gift of water and shade."
"Continue your tale and I shall decide your punishment afterwards. If it pleases us, I shall consider mitigating it. Now," Shara smiles sweetly, calling out to the entire crowd, "For the next hour all drinks are half-price save the premium black-box items on the list. No need to crowd, the barmaids will be happy to take your orders. And someone tie up that dwarf... I know exactly how to deal with him when he wakes."
Mikon doubles over and vomits noisily.
As several adventurers pull out some lengths of rope and manacles, Scii-tavakis continues her tale, if a bit more unsteady than earlier. Holding your mug by the rim and giving it a little shake, you attract the attention of Shara herself, who sighs as she fills it to the rim with that bubbling obsidian brew. This vintage is a bit sweeter than you remembered.
"With- with care the Nameless One entered the darkened hall, the ancient ways had been hewn by a master. But while the brick was newer than the city before, the path was caked with the dust of time, spans of time and seas and mountains of dust deep and high enough to bury the Pristine Tower itself..."