Scales of War

A Long Peace Interupted
An innocent night at the Antler and Thistle turns to a bloodbath.

It was a cold winter’s day in a peaceful Brindol, yet the town’s market was bustling with activity. The scars on the town’s structures from the war a decade prior were all but invisible. The townspeople had gotten used to the long stretch of prosperity.

It was seemingly a day like any other. People went about their daily chores. Jim of Jim’s Ails (not so adeptly named) swept the dust from the entrance of his small liquor store in the east Brindol slums. That was the end of mediocrity on what would come to be a fateful day. An elven man walked through the Brindol slums; no doubt he had taken the little known entrance to Brindol through the slums to avoid attracting attention.

The elf, named Lavi, walked into the slums, disgusted by the way some humans would treat their surroundings. “Not even dogs would shit where they sleep,” he thought. The streets were littered with trash and feces from the steeds the occasional guard would ride on patrol. Every which way he looked he saw crime and indignity. Still, in a strange town Lavi decided to talk to someone for directions. He approached Jim. While Lavi still despised any human that would live in this filth, at least Jim seemed to keep his store clean.

Jim tried to fight the myriad of emotions that came over him when Lavi approached him, but the look of surprise and excitement mixed with anxiety was as apparent to Lavi as a sunrod lit on a night when the moon was new. Elves weren’t common in Brindol, whose inhabitants were mostly human with small pockets of Dwarven and half-elf communities. Lavi spoke to him in the language commonly spoken to all the peoples of Faerun and asked where he could find some semblance of the natural world within this desert of human civilization. Jim listened intently to Lavi, trying his hardest to decipher Lavi’s thick Elven accent. Jim could tell that Lavi hardly found himself in a “civilized” setting where he would have cause to use the language. Jim pointed Lavi to the city park and also humbly suggested that he make an appearance at the famous Antler and Thistle. As Lavi walked away, Jim could hardly contain himself with excitement. He felt as giddy as a teenage girl who had just spoken to a local hero or traveling bard. He called for his grandson to recant the chance meeting that disrupted to banality of his day-to-day routine.

While Jim was recounting the story to his grandson he felt a sudden rush of heat against his back and saw his grandson’s face turn contorted and his eyes widen with fear. Jim slowly turned, in horror of what he might behold. Before him stood a hooded man, if you could call it that, with eyes glowing red with fire and horns like that of a ram protruding from the top of his forehead and curving back the length of his scalp. Beneath the man’s cloak he saw a tail flickering back and forth, the way a cat’s tail would wag when angered. Jim had heard of such men-Tieflings. Usually hailing from Thay, tieflings were descendants of men and women who made dark pacts with evil demons and gods of death and disease.

When Therai spoke, his voice seemed to rumble and howl like a fire flickering in a strong wind. Jim could barely hear his words over the sound of his heart beating and his adrenaline filled blood rushing to his head. Somehow he conjured the strength to point the tiefling in the direction of the Antler and Thistle and a local temple of Pelor.

When Jim turned back to regard his grandson, he yet again felt a tap on his shoulder. He thought what else it could be on this already eventful day. He turned to see another Elven figure. His hair and clothing seem to float and flow in the wind, almost as if time stopped around him. His clothing and speech were elegant and calmed Jim’s nerves. His name was Carric and he was interested in the local government and other rumors within the recovering city. Jim pointed Carric to the Prancing Pony, which was often frequented by the city’s council members and other high-class citizens of Brindol.

Jim’s thoughts were prophetic. He knew all that had happened couldn’t be a good sign. He closed his shop early that day and kept his family inside the safety of their home the entirety of the day and all through the night.

At the city’s main gate a stout and hardened Dwarven man entered the city’s market. His steps weren’t light and graceful like Lavi, but rather were heavy and determined. He always looked forward to his destination and his stride was sure. His armor and weapons bore the insignia of a legendary and influential Dwarven family. Grimour was beset by a crowd of vendors, but he was only looking for dinner. To ward off the merchants, seeming like vagrants panhandling for a few pieces of copper, he bought a little trinket and asked for directions to a high-class establishment, fitting of a Dwarven lord. The vendor pointed him in the direction of The Red Door.

Aro walked into the market. How he missed the nightlife of his hometown. Aro, once the student of a renowned wizard school found himself somewhat distracted from his studies. While his peers were up late studying to harness the powers of the elements, Aro was at the local tavern studying the art of seduction. Still, Aro did not fall behind. Magic seemed to come natural to Aro, who was finally expelled from the school for fornicating with the headmaster’s understudies and distracting them from their duties. Aro never looked back and his magical abilities continued to grow. After a long journey across faerun, Aro needed to unwind and found his way to the legendary Antler and Thistle.

After a somewhat less than hospitable meal at The Red Door, Grimour headed toward the Antler and Thistle. The Antler and Thistle was a huge tavern by any city’s standards. From the outside it would look like a non-descript warehouse if it weren’t for the sign above the front entrance that glowed with some magical or alchemical energy and read “the Antler & Thistle.” Grimour approached the entrance. There was already a large line of locals forming at the entrance awaiting permission from the tavern’s guard for entry. Gourim walked to the front of the line. The large half-orc man looked him over with a somewhat scrutinizing glance and then let him in. Adventures and accomplished warriors (and their bulging coin purses) were treated well at the Antler and Thistle and were always allowed easy entrance and preferred customer treatment. Quite different treatment than Grimour endured at The Red door.

When Gourim entered, he saw the large tavern also had a stone bath built into the floor at its center. The bath was somehow heated, either by magical means or by heated stones cast into the bottom. He also noticed two waitresses, a half-elf and a dwarf. The half-elf was quickly working serving the customers while the dwarven waitress sat at the bar and berated her about stealing her tips and making her do all the work-all evidence to the contrary. Gourim approached her. She was somewhat homely, but nonetheless more woman that any frail human or half-elf female ever was. Olga appreciated the attention Gourim afforded her and soon they found themselves in a ale drinking contest, practically foreplay for dwarves, and Gourim quickly found himself on the winning side.

Aro was also at the Antler and Thistle and was quickly gathering a group of the tavern’s more beautiful patrons to his table in the corner. Aro brokered a deal with the tavern owner to gain use of his private quarters later in the night, where Aro would later move his party and a wild orgy would likely ensue. Aro, even though he had no attraction to dwarves, invited Gourim and his drunken conquest to join him at the “elite” table.

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