Tales from a crowded tavern

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entry Nov 30 2007, 07:58 PM
It is a common tale, is it not dear reader? One told of men and women who seek each other late into the evenings. Companionship, pleasure, worship… all reasons that strangers might meet around a crowded bar. But occasionally the story changes…

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The night falls quickly during Darkfall, and this particular evening was no different than any other in that regards. The four men lingered about the common room, more than a little intoxicated and intent on entertaining themselves until the suns rose or the inn-keeper drove them away.

One of the four was a bard, long dedicated to Melchior, who carried with him the tools of his trade, and after awhile began to play a melody on a silver flute as his companions danced around the nearly empty room. Whirling with tankards full of ale, they soon fell into laughing heaps on the floor, and more than once spoke of their desire for female companionship. Other than an old crone sitting at a table by herself, there was none to be had on this particular evening, and so the men continued to dance alone.

Be wary of what you ask for dear reader, as our friends are about to find out.

It wasn’t long after this that the door opened and four young lasses entered the tavern, joining in a lively frolic with the three dancers. Though they didn’t drink, three of the women encouraged the hapless men to do so, and before long they were stumbling about drunk, hardly able to keep to their feet in the dance. The more the men stumbled however, the more frenzied the women became in their dance, which took on a wild edge, before fading into passionate embraces. This went unnoticed for quite some time as the bard, lost in his music, continued to play.

In fact, it wasn’t until the first pain-filled cries rent the air that the curly-haired bard looked up from his tune to see those same lovely lasses tearing into his companions with what appeared to be supernatural strength. Blood flowed, splashing across the floor of the room, as the women lapped at the wounds. Backing away slowly, he turned, just in time to see the fourth woman approaching behind him; a firey red-head with eyes to match. Her outstretched hands were twisted with claw-like nails and as he watched her pale, freckled skin began to darken, turning the shade of deepest night. A scream filled the air – his own, startling him into action as he dashed for the door and out into the street.

Despite fleeing blindly, our hero was so attuned to his music that he continued to cling to his instrument – no more interested in abandoning it than in giving up his own life! When he found himself cornered at the end of an alley with nowhere left to run, he turned to face his attacker. She, if this creature was truly female, was nearly impossible to make out among the shadows, given away only by the flames which danced in her eyes.

As a pair of twisted talon-like hands reached for him, the bard lifted his hands in a feeble, instinctive attempt at self defense. With a sudden hiss, the creature drew back, though she did not abandon her prey. Circling and pacing about the alley, she reached for him many times, though it appeared that some type of barrier had been formed between herself and the man; an invisible wall which she could not break through. Snarling and hissing her rage, she continued her assault until, at length, the suns broke across the horizon and she vanished into the early morning mist.

Beating a hasty retreat, the man quickly returned to the tavern where he was greeted with the grisly fate of his three companions. Twisted into positions of pure agony, their bodies were sprawled on the floor of the tavern, completely drained of life.

So thoroughly had the women completed their task that not a single tell-tale drop of blood remained, and were it not for the bard who told me this tale dear readers, the story of their fate may well have stayed a mystery.

entry Nov 18 2007, 03:57 AM
Stories fly rampant around the tables in the city taverns. Stories of the unknown; the mystical and the frightening. Retold here are but a few of these tales, sworn to be true by those who told originally told them. But that, dear reader, is for you to determine, is it not?


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This story as it was told to me involves a woman of noble birth, born and raised in the lap of luxury in a city much like this one, although many many years ago. She was human and beautiful with waist-length red hair that gleamed in the sun and flashing golden eyes to match. Everything about her spoke of grace and power, and she was sought after by many.

One suitor in particular was naught but a lowly hunter; a Ranger in the service of Sykala, and a proud man, though of humble birth. He had caught her attention with his storm-grey eyes and shaggy black hair. He was raw strength to her subtle grace, and despite the unhappiness of her parents, she began to spend her time with him exclusively.

Oh, a love tale for the ages, it is true. But do not get your hopes up, for it was not to be, dear reader.

Wolves haunted the hills beyond the city walls, raiding the farms and carrying off the sheep and chickens. Finally, at a loss for what else to do, the woman's father called in the hunter and offered him a compromise.

"Bring me the paws of twenty of the wolves which haunt these lands," he said. "And I will give you my daughter's hand in return."

What could her lover do but agree? And agree he did, setting off the very next morning before sunrise towards the wolf-infested hills. The problem quickly became obvious, as he followed the trail of first one wolf and then another. They hunted the sheep because there were just too many of them. Feeling far less guilt now about his task, the hunter began his task. Nineteen wolves were his before the sun began to set and nineteen paws tucked safely in the pack on his back.

Dusk was falling quickly, and as the twin suns set, he caught sight of yet another wolf standing proudly atop a nearby hill. The creature's coat gleamed red in the fading light, and our hero was reluctant to spend another day away from the arms of his beloved, so he turned and began to stalk the wolf, determined to take the last paw and be done with his gruesome task.

When he finally caught the animal, night was almost full upon the land, and the fight was fierce, each a match for the other in strength and cunning. Eventually the hunter got his paw, but the wolf landed a fierce bite to the hunter's shoulder in the process, leaving him badly wounded.

Returning proudly to his soon to be father-in-law in spite of his wound, the hunter dumped out his pack, displaying the nineteen wolf paws that he had collected. However when he offered forth the bag which contained his final trophy, the elderly man gasped in horror. Blanching, the hunter reached into the bag and drew forth not a wolf's paw at all, but a slender, delicate, severed female hand.

The hunter was lead away in chains and publicly executed as a murderer that very night for, despite his pleas nobody would believe his story of the magnificent red wolf.

As dawn broke, and the twin suns rose over the horizon the next morning, an elderly villager who had set out in search of a missing sheep stumbled across the body of the beloved noble woman lying dead up on the hill with nothing but a bloody stump where her right hand had once been, and several scraps of a leather shirt caught between her teeth.

 
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