Dagger Doug was flitting about the bar striking up conversations, inviting himself to tables, and in general just harassing the patronage. It was not in Doug’s nature to be so boisterous, in fact he preferred in most cases to remain unnoticed. It was however it was in his nature to take advantage of the distraction created by his antics to accept the unwitting charity of his newfound friends.
As he smoothly removed his hand from a pocket of the nearest drinker there was a whisper at his back.
“The guards are watching you, I’d cool it for a while.”
Doug turned his head slightly, confirming what he already knew; there was no one behind him. Casually, he made his way to the bar and, propping himself upon his elbows, began to watch the crowd.
Timar Necare sat at the bar contentedly eating his dinner, and sipping at a glass of port. He watched with amusement as the hooded fellow who he’d been watching pick pockets all night detached himself from a table full of adventurer looking types and walked stiffly towards the bar. Whispering in his ear from across the room had been a simple trick, but it clearly had the thief on edge. It was his turn to be alarmed then, when a rasping whisper sounded behind him,
Timar gripped his staff as he turned to look over his shoulder. He saw nothing, but heard a growling near the floor. The source was a disconcertingly calm and seemingly tame wolf. The voice, clearly not of, but connected to the wolf, repeated itself,
Doug had noticed the strange animal weaving between the many feet in the tavern, though it had aroused little suspicion from the people themselves; it’s appearance was not far off from that of a typical dog. The wolf had approached a wizardly looking man in robes. The man clutched his staff protectively, and had flashed a curious glance his way before regarding the animal. The rogue, assuming he had found his advisor of caution, decided to approach the unusual scene.
he inquired casually.
replied the wizard, looking with intent towards a shadowy corner of the bar. Following his gaze, Doug spied a hooded figure who, on reflection, was not so very different from himself sitting alone at a table.
proclaimed the wizard, holding out his hand. Realizing this was not an incantation but an introduction, Doug took the hand and shook it.
“Dagger Doug,” he replied, “pleased to meet’cha.”
Doug removed a pinch of trail rations from within his cloak, and waved it in front of the wolf’s face, garnering no interest from the animal.
“Well trained though, isn’t it.”
The human responded by picking up a piece of meat from his plate and dropping it on the ground before the uninterested creature.
“Perhaps we should find out what he wants?”
suggested the rogue.
“Oh, I already know what he wants,”
was the reply. Nevertheless he stood, and together they approached the unlit table. They needed to make no introductions, as the hooded figure spoke first. If they had been surprised that it was the voice of a woman, it was not near to their surprise at the sound of her voice itself, for it seemed to come not from the figure seated at the table, but somewhere far behind it.
“I will give you thirty pieces of gold, surely an exorbitant amount, far more than it is worth.”
The wizard was indignant.
“My staff is not for sale, at any price.”
Suddenly Tamir looked down at his feet, onto which something had landed. That something, he saw, was the piece of meat he had dropped in front of the woman’s pet. The same pet now stood growling up at him. Perhaps taking stock of his surroundings, and the unsavoury characters with which he was dealing, he decided to take his leave.
“If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to finish my supper.”
He stated curtly, and returned to his seat at the bar. Doug on the other hand had a taste for opportunity. And taste it he did. Straddling a chair he made his proposition merely by stating the obvious;
“So it’s his staff you want.”
The woman, who in the low light was betrayed by her faintly glowing eyes to be an elf, held up a finger, gesturing that he stop talking. As the wolf began to make it’s way back to the wizard’s seat, she explained;
Timar fiddled with the food on his plate, but was more interested in keeping a finger pointed discreetly in the direction of the two hoods, allowing him to magically keep tabs on the conversation. Suddenly the wolf was before him again, and began barking. Loudly.
Doug thought back on that night with a chuckle as he fitted another arrow into his crossbow. How did we end up here, he asked himself. Tamir was frantically rowing their dilapidated boat away from the shore, but still they seemed to be gaining no ground on the trio of animated corpses swimming after them. The elves kneeled in the prow of the boat, flinging arrows at their pursuers as they continued to move into deeper waters. It seemed almost as if he had been fated to fall in with these two, Doug thought to himself.
That night, it may as well have been fated that they all end up in prison, too. After the druid’s wolf had nearly gotten them thrown out of the bar, Doug and the druid had begun hashing out a deal for the acquisition of Tamir’s staff. The druid waved a serving wench over to the table, and began propositioning her in ways Doug thought unlikely. Casually, he inventoried the contents of her pocket, and decided to keep the coins he found. The girl did not notice; she was busy being affronted by the druid’s accusation that she ‘could be better looking’. The druid quickly changed her tone.
“That man over there,”
she began, gesturing toward the wizard.
“He is weary from his day, and requires sleep. Surely you have some herb that could be added to his drink in order to aid his slumber tonight.”
Doug palmed two gold coins out of his pocket and flashed them to the girl as she added,
“It would be worth it to us to see him at ease.”
Doug tried with difficulty not to laugh; the woman certainly had a silver tongue. It would indeed be a very easy thing to rationalize to oneself, at least for him it would. The girl agreed, and went off to prepare a drink for Tamir.
Tamir watched the dark pair in the corner propositioning (and pickpocketing) the bar girl, and sighed as she left their table to immediately bring him another drink. Eyeing the drink, it was not hard to discern some manner of addition, and not likely one for improved flavour. He set the drink down untouched and left the tavern. The rogue and druid of course followed, Doug hanging back to empty the tainted ale into a cured leather pouch.
Outside, the druid was walking after Tamir. The rogue quickly came astride. Suddenly the druid called out to the wizard, and the rogue immediately disappeared down an alley, hissing
“Not the subtlest approach, friend.”
Watching from the shadows, Doug observed them arguing until the druid got aggressive. Tamir began shouting for the authorities. The druid quickly began doing the same. A pair of the local peacekeepers appeared and the two began pleading their cases, each claiming the other was attempting to steal their staff. Doug sauntered out of the shadows and explained that the two of them were obviously conniving and lying to the guards in order to claim the staff – which, he explained, they had stolen from a haggard old lady, a friend of his in fact. The guards were far from convinced, and looked more likely to arrest him on the spot. Tamir, in a bid to ‘resolve’ the dispute, held the staff aloft and unceremoniously broke it over his knee, dumping the pieces on the ground. He began to walk away. The guards were satisfied that the conflict was ended and began to walk back to their post. The druid was enraged; she had seen through the ruse. For Tamir had merely cast an illusion; the staff was tucked neatly into his robe.
“If you will not perform the function of your office,” the druid began yelling, “Then I am forced to see justice done by my own hand!”
Eyes glowing, she threw her arms wide. Suddenly gnarled vines burst up from the ground, ensnaring all within a 30 foot radius. The guards and Tamir were immobilized, the druid and the rogue (who had nimbly jumped out of reach at the last moment) were not. At once they began to run, as the entangled guards began to yell. More guards poured out the tavern door and ran towards the scene, piling upon the druid at the very moment she laid hands on the coveted staff. All excuses and explanations fell on deaf ears as the three were dragged to the local stockade. A verbal battle for the right of the staff was waged through iron bars well into the night.