I figured if whoever I was looking for was seen in town, there’d be someone at Garabaldi’s who would know. Maybe even the gnome himself, after all despite his oddities, he payed pretty good attention to who came in.
I stepped through the door to see a huge crowed. Of course, it was story day. Everyone was going to be boasting tales about their past and perhaps their family’s war tales. They’d also be from everywhere. Talk about good timing for the murdering bastard. I walk towards the bar and see Ustalv Garabaldi’s white hair bouncing. “Hey Ustalv.”
“What, one second.” He hopped on his stool to see over the bar. “Oh Keyadrune! How ya doin? You look, well you look like shit.”
“Yeah, came to talk about that actually, got somewhere quieter?”
“Sure, come back here. Hey Missy! Going back, come tend the bar!” he shouted to his only floorwench before hoping off the stool and leading me to the pantry. “What’s going on?”
“Unali’s dead, someone killed her and destroyed my lodge while I was out helping that goat herder with a wolf problem. Whoever did it came here to town after.”
“What, that’s crazy! How did they even find your place? I can’t even find your place.”
“I’m serious Ustalv, found her three days ago. Anyone strange around here about that time?”
“Lots of odd ones lately, tonight and all. However, there was one group.”
“Fancy dressed man, but his clothes dirty like he’d been roaming a little. Two men with him in robes and hoods. Payed well, but then his coin turned out to be worthless. Red tint to the gold, real, but no one in town will take it.”
“Got a few with you?”
I pulled a gold coin from my belt pouch. “I’ll trade one now, and others for more information if you get it.”
“You sure, no one takes it.”
“Yeah, I’m sure.”
“Okay, thanks. You not bad Keyadrune.” He said as he traded coins with me.
“I just want these guys, and if that tingle in the back of my head is right. Missy and Melcath aren’t getting along again.”
“Yeah we should get back, get your crazy cat out of the way so we can deal with the customers.”
We returned to the main room. Mellcath was indeed behind the bar, being a general nuisance. I called him to me and found a corner to watch the tavern for something or someone who might know what was going on.
After sitting a while, a dwarf started the local ritual for the night of telling a grand story of how he killed several dragons with his axe. He was obviously drunk and exaggerating. He took offense when someone challenged his story, but passed out mid charge. The man who challenged him spoke grandly of slaying demons with his odd sword. I sensed something amiss, and spoke out myself. He drew, stepped my way, and tripped… which promptly dispelled the illusion he was using. The now embarrassed twig of a man ran out of the tavern. Someone called for a true story. I said I had no true stories of heroism, only of pain.
Another insisted I tell. I frustration with life, combined with a little to drink convinced me to stand and silence this silly gathering with the truth of monsters. I told of the day a giant black cloud of death descended on the village I grew up in many years ago. How anything it touched burned, and how no one could stop it. Then I drew my bow, and explained how it, in the hands of my father, proved there was something killable in the middle of that cloud. Then, I warned them that the cloud had returned recently and was attacking creatures in the wilderness.
This didn’t have the effect I’d hoped for. Ustalv spoke about how my story was indeed true. He was followed up by another, a human in dark robes. The human spoke of how the thing was tied to a great war long ago. He spoke of heroes who were declared enemies. He said that he was chasing the darkness that had returned, and wanted to support it. Someone realized he was a cultist of the general from said war. Someone attacked him, the same darkness sprung forth from him and flung his attacker aside. Others attacked, and were killed for their trouble. I grabbed my bow, and shot. My arrow wounded him, but then he threw something from his hand to the ground. All was blackness.