Ah Edton, one of the many cities belonging to the Ascents. All of them walk around being so proud of their short lifespans and overconsumptions. It sickens me to watch the Ascents trounce about. They use too much stone in their buildings, too much cloth in their clothing, too much food in their meals, all because they're "bigger" than me. Well if by 'bigger' they mean that they somehow are oblivious to the fact that they walk around with their butts at nose-level for me then yes, the oafs are bigger. And disgusting.
They have one redeeming value, one thing which keeps me and my people from wiping their sad existence as a blight on nature from nature. They know how to party. And nowhere near Edton can party like the Cracked Flagon. Three stories, it's one of their five biggest buildings; the top level is full of inn rooms, but the bottom two make up a magnifiscent tavern. The ale, wine, and wiskey flow like water from a fountain, and they make amazing roasted pig, hard-crust bread, and import amazing cheeses.
So after I rode into down in a grain cart and offloaded my payload at Fantastic Mel's Shiny Accessories, a nice payday indeed, I made haste to get to here with as little contact with the crowd of Ascents as possible. I took up a small table on the balcony above the bar and had a beautiful Halfling waitress serving me wine and cheese while I listened to a group of musicians play a jovial tune.
My seat was fantastic, I had my back to the wall and to my right was a clear view over the balcony to the front door so I could see everyone who entered. Of course most people who entered were disgusting as they were tall, but when slightly pointed ears poked out of a head of curly auburn hair it caught my eye. See, there is nothing worse in the town of Edton than the Ascents, so when they go and mix their blood with another of the lesser races it can only result in improvement from the pure filth of their own gene pool.
She carried a bow on her back, which caught my attnetion in full. The curve at the tips of the wood were neither Elven, nor the the work of Ascents. It was far too large, but that bow was made using the perfect techniques of Halfling craftsmen. I had to talk to her. I turned to my waitress.
"Have a bottle brought to her table please."
"Sure thing short stuff." She winked at me. What can I say, I have a way with the ladies.
I got up and walked over to the edge of the balcony, leapt and swung down along the rope lanterns hung from. No sooner had I begun to lower on the rope than the door opened again and another woman walked through, followed by a second. The first had grey skin and tusks, clearly carrying Orcan blood. Well I guess not all mixtures are a step up, but she looked stronger than almost any other man in the bar so that's a fight I'd pass on. The second wore a lovely blue dress that completely concealed, wait, wait. Holy shit! I swung upside down from the lantern and pointed at him,
"Wait, what are you doing wearing a dress? Does it just make you more free?"
The bird on his shoulder cawed and I felt Phillip squirm in his pouch.
"It's not a dress! They're robes ya friggin midget!" He took a swing at me, and missed by about six inches.
"Slow, clumsy, and bad at aiming. I'm scared now!" I dropped from the lantern and landed on my feet. I took a bow, "Well I have more important things to do than embarrass you further. Good day."
I walked over to the table the half-elven woman had gone to and hopped into the chair to her left; the one on her right had her bow and quiver leaning on it.
"Hi there, I'm Roscoe, who're you?"
She rolled her eyes at me, "Why is everyone talking to me today?"
"I don't know anyone else's reasons, but I noticed your bow, and I was wondering what a young woman like you was doing with an oversized halfling bow?"
"Oh, um, well I was taught by-" She looks up from me as the half-orc sits down at the table with four large tankards clutched in her hands.
"Look, I'm sorry, that was rude of me back at the taxidermist's. I bought you an ale, and since I saw you have an admirer I bought him one too." The half-orc smiled. She seemed a whole lot happier to see me than the half-elf was to see her.
I offered my hand, "I thank you for the drink. Roscoe Redbottle, expert in item recovery and treasure reallocation. And you are?"
"Challa Axeborne, ranked third in my class at the Hexagon War Academy."
"Impressive, I guess." I turned back to the half-elf, "And you mistress archer? Or would you just prefer Mistress?" Her eyes widened and her lip curled up at the line, as I expected, and thank the gods she didn't show interest in me. I'd hate to break her heart.
"Sam Fletcher, no credentials."
The thing-in-a-dress joined us at the table. "I took the liberty of ordering food."
Challa chimed in, "Sorry, this is Larry. Larry, this is Roscoe, and you know Sam."
Larry cleared his throat, "It's Lawrence, son of Logos, magus of the Raven's order. I'd prefer you not call me as anything but my full name."
"Larry Sawnoff Logos, your name is way to long for casual conversation. Thanks for the food, I ordered us a bottle of wine. So how do you all know each other?"
Sam rubbed between her eyes. "They tried to recruit me, but I already told them, I work better alone."
"Well that makes sense to me. I too work better with just the one partner. Team jobs tend to carry way to much danger for my style."
Challa jumped in, "They also tend to pay a lot more little man. Larry and I just pulled in a cool hundred gold pieces. With an archer," She nodded at Sam, and then looked back to me, "and a skilled 'securities specialist' we could pull in three times that."
I looked up as if in religious exaultation, "I've seen the light, my mind has changed." I turned to Sam, "I don't see why we shouldn't join up with them."
She looked down at me, "First, there is no 'we'. I work alone. Secondly, if I wanted to take on a team and watch them get killed because they couldn't keep quiet I don't think I'd choose this hodgepodge."
The waitress walked by and dropped off four platters of ham, white goat cheese, steaming sliced bread, and fresh fruit. If I'd doubted Challa's claim about deep pockets, this cemented me. She'd probably had to spend eight gold pieces to get this spread, more than most would need to eat and sleep in an inn for a fortnight. The waitress also had my bottle of wine and four clay cups.
I began to pour the wine and pass the cups, "Well Sam, way I see it you've just been given a tankard of fine ale, a platter of high quality food, maybe the best in the house, and I promise you this wine is astounding, as a recruitment attempt. Why not do one job with us, and if you don't like it then you're free to walk away and Challa will never bother you again. Right Challa?"
"Sounds fair to me," Challa shrugged.
Sam smeared some of the cheese on the bright red berry.
"Alright, I will give it a shot, but on one condition. You three have to go find us a healer. I'm not putting all of our lives on the line if you don't first get us a holy man."
"Sure thing, I mean, how hard can that be?" Larry said.
My jaw literally dropped, "Do you make a habbit of saying things like that, because if so then I'm going to have to ask you to change your battle cry to 'I'm invincible' on principle."