Part 58: InterludeInterlude:
Tavern of Broken Dreams (Music)
"And that... is the end of my part of the telling," Scii-tavakis says with a bow. With that she snaps the box shut, and the flow of runes vanishes.
There is no applause, no murmurs or cheers. The stark silence of the room is all that greets her when she leaves the stage. Her leather armor creaks as she moves, and the blunt end of her spear clacks against the stage as she descends, melting back into the crowd.
"I do hope the next storyteller is not going to leave us hanging," Oudilin urges, trying to fill the awkward silence with the strumming of his harp.
"Give it a moment," Scales-of-Three murmurs, coins clinking as he counts them.
Like a pinprick the chatter begins, first as one voice, then as a handful. The whole crowd begins its whispers over the story, correcting misheard details or embellishing others. You sigh. With the drink that had been flowing and the feckless nature of rumor and gossip, a thousand versions of the tale would spread from the tavern when it is finished.
If it ever is finished.
Already you can see the patrons glancing at each other. They are restless, and as that begins to build once again the tavern would be in trouble. Tavern brawls in Sigil are neither small nor legendary, but rather, bloody, and merciless. Doubly so in the Hive.
Mikon's nerves are shot. Two rounds of ale ago he had pulled out a pipe and stuffed it full with dry leaf. Puffing away with a mug of beer in hand he had abandoned all pretense of being on duty not out of laziness, but by the simple sad fact that he was utterly helpless in the throng.
You check your pouch with a squeeze, satisfied that there should be enough gold to cover your tab. Shara Six-Blades smiles as she offers to refill your mug, pleased at all you'd been downing this whole time. The food is rich, the snacks are salty and well-spiced, and as such it would been impossible for you to stop drinking now. That marilith's attitude is as matronly as they come, but she would get a customer to drink himself stupid if he didn't watch himself just to pad her coffers.
Well... a few more crisps wouldn't hurt.
The flow of ale and wine, beer and whiskey hasn't slowed a hair. Flashes of dim light fills the room each time the door is opened, and each time it admits a pair of burly thugs with a keg on each shoulder or a few more patrons who were drawn to the tavern. No Hive rats are these, no... but high-born men, women, and otherwise in fine silks. Their faces are veiled with perfumed kerchiefs to block the Hive's stench even as it fades with the day.
A woman sways in wearing a green silk gown and a high wig. Her pale white hair curls around a cage, which holds two small buntings that flutter and chirp as they flit among the perches. She is decked with jewels and clattering with gold bracelets, and somehow had entered the Hive alone at this hour without having her throat slit.
Three monks enter, swathed in black robes. Their faces are hard as if carved from stone: slim, stern, and pious. Still they approach the bar and order all manner of indulgences a Planar mind could conceive of, in defiance of their vows.
And there is the group of a smattering of races, each as different as the next in color and costume, but each muttering to themselves and nodding in agreement, fingering the Signer brooches at their chests.
"So I bring myself to this tavern, one I've never seen before yet imagined in my dreams."
"I've built this bar for some purpose and I know not what."
"All shall be revealed by myself to myself, of this I am sure."
The pitched shriek is sharp as a dropped glass and as grating as a fiend's claws on a chalkboard. Fluttering up over the crowd is a mephit, no more than six inches tall. In its little claws it carries a tome that shifts among a hundred colors. One moment it is circular, the next it is shaped like a spade. And then it becomes a wedge, a square, a slim notebook before it turns into a circular grimoire once again.
"I iS XoRaskAvitT aNd my tUrn iT is mIne!"
Drunkenly he flies, and weighed down by the journal he careens and cracks against a pillar before flopping proudly upon the stage. With a mad grin Xoraskavitt perches up on the stool, cackling at the bewildered crowd as he begins his tale.
"gREen anD mad And qUIckeNing wiTh paVEd glImMers ThE OnE naMEd NAuGht tuMbles froM the sEa, wHIte anD blaCk at tHe SAme tiMe IN tHE sAme maNneR. TwICe The sUm of Four bE tEN wHIch daNCes into thE chiLl bOne-nIght..."