00 – All Stories have a beginning

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    This is the personal property of Ebrithil Greeneyes, also known as Ebrithil the Elder.

    To the reader, you are welcome.

    Here begins the story of a group of misfits, all. Unlikely friends & even unlikelier heroes. The story of Ebrithil & Co name to be determined.

    It was a pleasant autumn evening in the small town of Winterhaven, the lights from the shuttered windows twinkled in the twilight and the music from the town’s inn rode the breeze out into the night. I had arrived just before sundown, parting with my animal friends at the edge of the forest.

    (Who knows how these unwashed humans would act if Jarrod, James & Jeremy sloped into town at my heels, bears are notoriously large targets for the crossbows such as the guards carry here).

    Walking between the large wooden gates that apparently defended this town from evildoers, I was immediately confronted by the towns market which was winding down for the day. A group of small children ran past me throwing rocks at each other, what a wonderful settlement of civilization I had chosen for my entrance back into society.

    Slowly making my way down the main path through the town, I had barely made it thirty feet from the gate before the serene evening was explosively shattered by a large, ugly half-orc slamming open the door of the inn to my left. “GOTTA PISS” he yelled at someone inside, and took not three steps to the side and unleashed a jet of stinking urine straight onto a pile of discarded rags that someone had unceremoniously dumped just outside.

    “You’re making a big mistake, orc” said the pile of rags and a small, dishevelled looking man slowly got to his feet with the aid of a cane that I had mistaken for nightsoil. The Half-Orc flared his nostrils and snorted, “Gronk does not make mistakes, ragman”, and with that, promptly returned inside, leaving the soaking man glaring at the closed door. Clearing my throat, I stepped forward.

    “Fear not, good sir, I hear it’s good luck to be pissed on by a half-orc!” He grunted something intelligible and pushed open the door to the inn, spilling the light onto his weathered face as he shuffled inside. I made a note to talk to him later, if he was still conscious. I have encountered drunks before, but none that had such intelligence and cunning behind their eyes.

    I followed him into the embracing warmth of inn, and let the music wash over me. Wrafton’s Inn (it was called that because of the original owner, I learned later) was as basic an inn you could get in this part of the world. It had a small stage in one corner, a few tables strewn haphazardly about the room as if a drunken child had arranged them, and a great fire blazed heartily in the hearth. All of this was overseen by a large, imposing bar at the end of the room.

    Built entirely of a dark wood (my guess, oak) and obviously very heavy, it looked to be wrought out of one trunk of a giant tree. I was slightly impressed, it was nothing like the beauty of the craftsmanship that we elves wrought, but it had its own.. Rustic quality.

     

    The soaking man was nowhere to be seen, however the now empty Gronk had squeezed himself back into one of the prime seats next to the fire. Sitting next to him was something I had never encountered before, it was a keg.

    When I say it was a keg, I mean it in all sense of the word – a barrel to hold ale or whisky, however this particular barrel not only had arms and legs but it was talking to the Orc. My curiosity aroused, I strolled past the ten or twelve other patrons watching the bard on stage straight to this wonderment of magical ability.

    “May I sit here?” I asked Gronk politely. “Fuck off, Elf” he growled, narrowing his beady eyes. “May I sit here if I buy you a round?” I asked again. He thought for a second, the two gears in his head churning like any other orc-engineered machinery, slowly.

    “More beer, sit here” he said, and turned his attention back to the barrel. I had no choice but to order three large mugs of ale from the passing waitress and took my seat. I stared at the barrel, was he a dwarf machine? I could not see any gears or levers, save for the spigot between his legs.

    I asked his name, “Keg” he replied cheerfully – smiling at me as I handed him his ale. I was so fascinated by him that I almost didn’t recognize another elf sitting in the shadows towards the back of the Inn, she was beautiful. Like starlight.

    The Orc broke my reverie by slapping me on the back and pointing at the bard on stage, who had just fumbled a string on his lute. “Look at that fool, look how he struggles” he choked out, doubling over in loud, raucous laughter. The bard looked over at our table, unperturbed. His fingers were a blur, creating something almost magical in that little inn. I personally feel like he was trying to make up for the stumble, but to this day he denies it. Finishing with a flourish of his hat, he stepped lightly off the stage and sauntered over to us.

    Patting Keg on the back, he introduced himself. “Barnaby the Brilliant, at your service”, his voice lilting with half a dozen different accents I found hard to place. A smile filled his face as a gaggle of young girls swarmed him, asking for autographs and swooning every time he looked their way, they were incredibly noisy. This debacle took a lot longer than I had originally anticipated, as he asked each girl their favourite flower and produced that flower from behind his back, to their delight.

    Gronk and Keg were getting more and more boisterous, having emptied and filled their mugs of ale multiple times since I had arrived. Their noisiness was a stark contrast to the quiet life of the forest that I had lived with for the last ten years. Distancing myself from the noise, I scanned the room. The soaking man had returned, in the queer garb of monks that I had little time for, with their jumping and kah-ratee moves.

    His movements were calculated, never taking more effort than required, as he sipped his mug and stared into the fire from across room. Ale soaked into my foot as Keg moved to sit next to me. “Keg and Ale, Ale and Keg, I spill beer on your leg” he chanted, arms swinging wildly with his mug sloshing everywhere. I smiled weakly & cursed internally, these were new boots that I had made the day before last, already they would need a good cleaning. He tapped me insistently, “More beer for Keg?” – I raised my hands, “I fear I am out of money”. His smile wavered, but only for a second – as Barnaby leant over and showed Keg his pockets, silver and gold gleaming in the firelight. Whispering “We had a good night tonight Keg, my shout” he called out to the waitress for 3 more ales.

    Whilst Keg, Gronk and Barnaby drank to their good fortunes (Barnaby had “forgotten” to order me an ale) I quietly excused myself and walked over to where the monk was sitting, still staring intently into the flames. “I apologise for before” I told him, sitting down. “I only meant to make light of a bad situation”. He sat in silence, ignoring me, his hands tapping on the table. I looked at his knuckles, raw from use.

    I tried again “So, this inn, are the beds soft, no bedbugs?” – He turned to look at me, the intelligent eyes I had noticed previously searched my face for ill intent. “How did you know I was staying here?” He croaked, his voice deep and husky, like a heavy fog.

    “You’ve changed from the rags you were in before” I responded, trying not to bring up the fact that he had, in fact, been pissed on not an hour previously. “Oh, you’re quick”. I laughed, mostly to break the tension but also because I hadn’t laughed in years, bears and foxes aren’t the most humorous of companions. His mood lightened considerably, as if a veil had been lifted from his face.

    “I’m Saudade, it’s a pleasure to meet you, I apologise for being so quick to bite, I’ve lived a hard life and Elves are not always so forthcoming”. He was smiling now. “I’m Ebrithil” I countered, and asked him to join our table. “With that Orc? Not a fucking chance, that pisspot owes me an apology”. There was no persuading him, so, as any good Samaritan would do, I lied.

    “He’s said he’ll apologise if you come over and sit with us, he’ll even buy you an ale as a way of saying sorry”. That got him. I hadn’t lost my charm.

    “Who the FUCK is this?” Gronk yelled as we strolled over, standing up abruptly from his chair. His shirt was soaked with ale & his trousers not much better off. “He’s a monk, a fierce fighter” I answered, calmly, laying my hand on the big orcs arm.

    “He just wants to drink ale & be merry”. Gronk chuckled and stopped, eyes wide. “BRAAWWWWPP” he burped, the noise echoing off the roof. Keg roared with laughter, so hard he fell over and rolled, coming to a stop at my feet.

    Saudade smiled as Barnaby pushed a mug of ale into his hands, looking down at Kegs upturned face. “HI I’M KEG, KEG IS HAVING FUN”. Saudade lifted him upright, (I had felt Kegs weight earlier in the evening, and was impressed with the old man’s strength). He saluted, “Saudade, but you can call me Soldatis”.

    We drank long into the evening, and so began our friendship & the group known as Ebrithil & Co.

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