The Memoirs of Father Shiron

shironbar.gif

 

Part 5 - B&B

Falamir and Shiron both tripped over together and went crashing into a tangled heap on the ground.
        "What was that?" asked Shiron in a perplexed tone.  "I just tripped over but there's nothing there at all to cause it."  The others exchanged amused knowing glances and Feanar answered his question.
        "That is something that happens if you aren't extra careful in situations like these."
        "Situations like what?" asked a bemused Falamir.
        "Crossing a time interface during an adventure."
        "Time interface?  What are you talking about?"
        "What is the time now?" asked Feanar.  Falamir glanced at his red Ingersol quartz.
        "3.20 pm." he replied.
        "Right," said Feanar.  "And what was the time when, I quote, 'the party picked up their weapons and equipment and marched off onward into the next part of their quest'?"
        "3.15." replied Falamir.
        "Right again," said Feanar.  "That's 5 minutes adventure time, but in 'reality' it's a whole day, as the author stopped writing at 3.15 our time and went to bed.  He then recommenced writing the following day at 3.20 our time.  Get it?"
        Falamir scratched his head and looked a bit pained.  "Yeah, I think so."
        Feanar continued.  "So he inadvertently created a 'time step' which you both very carelessly tripped over, although it's perfectly understandable as you've never come across one before and it doesn't mention them in The Book.  They can happen at any time but once you have got some experience under your belts you get a feel for when one's coming and take avoiding action.  You may have noticed us all walking rather strangely when we started off again after dinner.
        "Yes.  We couldn't really miss it.  We both thought you must all be pixilated after drinking too much Carlsberg.  Striding along arm in arm with big ungainly steps shouting 'Oggy Oggy Oggy, Oi Oi Oi' at the top of your voices."
        "Precisely." said Feanar.
        "I see," said Shiron and Falamir in unison, together and simultaneously both at the same time.
        "The singing and linking arms isn't strictly necessary, just the big steps, but it's more fun that way.  It makes onlookers think we just a load of drunk mates having a laugh rather than looking completely crackers."
        "Good idea," said Shiron and Falamir both at the same time simultaneously, together and in unison.  "We'll remember that for next time."
        The party continued onwards.  The ground was now sloping away from them (a subtle literary phrase meaning they were going downhill!).  They had reached the crest of the hill at dinner time, or lunch time, whatever you want to call it and were now walking down the other side of it which I might add is a very large hill with lots of grass 'n' stuff on it, and some sheep, anyway.....

(To avoid further confusion among the readers concerning relative meal times - Breakfast is had at breakfast time, lunch is had at dinner time and dinner is had at tea time.  3 meals are generally taken during the day unless there is a big battle going on or the characters have been incapacitated by death or a sleep spell or something.  In author speak they are Breakfast, Dinner and Tea.  Breakfast is eaten first, then dinner followed by tea unless of course the party are sucked into a mirror dimension where the reverse is the case.  Clear?  Good.)

Most of the afternoon was taken up with walking down the hill and at around 5.30 pm the party noticed a ruin to their right as they passed round a cluster of tall trees.  The ruin looked very untidy and poorly kept and, well, ruined.  All in all quite usual for that kind of thing really but there was enough of it left standing for it's past purpose to be ascertained.  It had been a temple or church, some kind of religious structure which looked like it had been derelict for much longer than the last 6 lines.
        Just prior to spotting the ruin the party had seen what they had been heading for, a village, nestled between the base of the hill and the sea.  The village was still a good hours walk further on and they were all beginning to feel weary.  Thoughts of a cozy tavern with fine beer, hot food and snug beds permeated their minds so they decided to give the ruins a miss for today and press on to the village to spend the night.  The ruins would still be there tomorrow.

1 hour later......

The party entered the village, looking about as they walked down the main street.  It very much resembled a little old fishing village, probably because it was a little old fishing village.  The buildings were of a timber and natural stone construction, complete with thatched roofs, smoking chimneys and deep set windows with the occasional characteristic round-warped effect glass panes.  The single main street wound its way down to the harbour where wooden landing jetties projected into the calm water from the rear of the quayside buildings.  Fishing nets were hanging from poles all around the harbour, drying in the evening sun.  All looked tranquil and sleepy, very much picture postcard, except for sounds of music and party noises emanating from a ship docked at the main jetty.  The ship was rather large and obviously not a fishing boat.  It seemed out of place in this quaint little harbour.
        They all agreed the first priority was to get the drinks in and so they made their way back up the street to the only tavern they could find.  The appropriately named Village Tavern emanated a welcoming homely amber glow from it's downstairs windows and general tavern type sounds filtered through it's large open front door into the street.  Looking up Dick noticed one of the upstairs windows displayed a little red light.
        "This looks just the place," he said, nudging Presto in the ribs and nodding his head towards the upper story as he spoke.
        "This is the only place by the looks of things,"  answered Erendil.  "Let's get inside and sort out some rooms for the night and then get some nosh."  The party entered the tavern and were relieved to notice that the patrons greeted them with little more than cursory glances before returning to their business.
        "This has got to be the right place,"  observed Feanar.  "They've hardly paid any notice to us compared with those people back at the resort.  They're all dressed similarly to us apart from the armour and weapons and the village in general is much more in keeping with a D&D adventure.  That resort was definitely out of place."
        "Quite so Feanar," said Presto.  The party found a large vacant table, piled their gear on the floor and sat down.
        "Who's round is it then?"  asked Dick rubbing his hands, eager to get the nights drinking underway.  "I seem to remember you still owe me a couple of drinks Presto after I rescued you from that Hill Troll two adventures ago."
        "And they say elephants never forget," replied Presto with a resigned look.
        "I'll get the first lot in," said Erendil.  "It'll give me the opportunity to find out some information from the bar staff."  He turned to Shiron.  "In these sort of fantasy adventures the innkeeper is always a mine of knowledge about all sorts of stuff.  Local places, people, happenings, rumours, you name it.  They are also very well connected and can put you in touch with useful people.  In fact now it's a requirement of every adventure, laid down in The Book.  Once an adventuring party went out on strike because there wasn't a helpful innkeeper to be found anywhere, caused an awful fuss."  Shiron nodded in a 'I'll bear that in mind' kind of way.
        Erendil made his way over to the busy bar which stretched along the entire length of the far wall, and sat down on a stool straight across from the pretty barmaid.
        "Hello there," said Erendil in a suave voice.
        "Evening," answered the girl.  "What do you fancy?"
        "We'll get to that later," answered Erendil with a grin.  "First things first.  What's your name?"
        "Stella", she answered, deftly pulling a pint of bitter into a pewter goblet.  "I'm the innkeeper's daughter.  That's my father, Mr. Artois, back there."  She nodded her head in an apologetic sort of way to a rather tubby looking man in a beer stained apron being sick in the back room.  Erendil raised an eyebrow in surprise but otherwise maintained his composure.
        "I see.  Well then Stella, I'll have 6 pints of your finest house ale please.  (If you can't get that one first time then I'd give up now!)
        "Certainly sir," said Stella and proceeded to pour the requisite number of pints of you know what.  "That'll be 3 silver pieces please."
        "3 silver pieces?" choked Erendil in disbelief.  "It's only 98 pence a pint in my local back home."
        "We like to think of it as 'reassuringly expensive'," answered Stella defensively. "It's partly the tourist trade which allows us to charge so much but we also suffer heavy taxes here, especially of late due to the happenings."
        Erendil's elven ears pricked perceptively forward as his senses sharpened.  "The happenings?  What do you mean?"  he enquired.
        "I don't really know that much about it myself but my father will no doubt be able to tell you more if you are interested.  He knows all about that sort of thing you know.  It was a requirement of the job.  He could only take on as innkeeper if he was a mine of local knowledge and had connections in all the right places.  Something about keeping up the popular image, or something like that."
        "I would be most interested to hear more if your father doesn't mind.  We'll be sitting over there when he's, erm, ready.  Thanks for the drinks, keep them coming."  Erendil paid for the round and, placing them on a tray, carried them carefully over to the others.  They only had time for a couple of deep, thirsty swigs before the innkeeper appeared at the table.
        "Stella tells me you'd like to see me sir," he said to Erendil.
        "Indeed," answered Erendil.  "I understand you are a mine of knowledge about local happenings and know all the right people."
        "That's correct", answered the man self consciously.  "I do so hate being type-cast.  I've run several hostelries in my time and it's always the same - 'requirement of the job', blah blah blah.    It would be nice just for once to not have to keep up with everything that's going on and maintain good relations with all sorts of folk who may or may not prove useful.  But that's the way it's got to be so here I am.  Have you any idea how much time and effort it takes?  It's hard enough work keeping the tavern running smooth, especially in high season, without all this as well.  Anyway sir, that's not your problem now is it.  What can I do for you?"
        "I couldn't help noticing you being rather ill earlier,"  observed Erendil.  "Are you alright?"
        "Oh I must apologies for that sir,"  apologized the innkeeper.  "I was experimenting with a new mixture and unfortunately it rather disagreed with me."
        "Oh, and what was that?" enquired Dick as he finished off his pint and wiped his arm across his mouth.
        "A rather potent cocktail consisting 2 parts lager, 1 part sweet cider and 1 part whiskey," answered the innkeeper sheepishly.
        "Good God man, that sounds disgusting," said Dick with a grimace.
        "It doesn't taste that bad actually, especially after a few tinnies to warm up, but it does kind of take you by surprise and then you're on the road to chunder city."
        "Definitely sounds like something to avoid for the future," Dick advised.
        "Absolutely.  I think I'll stick to Snakebites from now on," agreed the innkeeper.
        "I'm for another," announced Dick emphasizing his empty glass.  "My round."
        "But I've only just started mine," said Falamir with a virtually full pint before him.  The innkeeper gave him a suspicious look. 
        "Are you over 18?" he asked him.
        "We'll, err, no, not exactly,"  answered Falamir in an annoyingly, frustratingly honest manner.
        "No matter," said the innkeeper.  "Although the prices have gone up of late the licensing laws have been relaxed and so you can get a drink at any age."
        "Thank goodness for that," said Falamir with relief in his voice.  "I couldn't face having to drink bitter lemon for the next 2 years.  This stuff's really nice.  What is it?"
        "It's our own home brew," answered the innkeeper proudly as pride swelled in his chest.  "We haven't actually given it a name yet.  If it was a pure hop beer I would have been tempted to call it Artois Ale but it's more of a strong lager and so I'm stuck for a good name."
        "I'm sure you'll think of something," said Falamir.
        Presto slammed his newly emptied glass down on the table.  "Set 'em up Dickie boy.  Will you join us Mr. Artois?"
        "Well alright but just a Pepsi thank you," answered the innkeeper rubbing his ample stomach under the beer stained apron.  He pulled up a nearby stool and sat down.  "I've had enough alcohol for the time being."
        "Does your fine establishment provide any gastronomic amenities Mr. Artois?" asked Presto.
        "Beg pardon?" replied the innkeeper puzzled.
        "Food," said Presto.
        "Ah.  Yes of course.  We have a full a la carte menu available between 6.30 pm and 10.30 pm, a specialty Chinese menu, a comprehensive range of bar meals and snacks served from 12 pm onwards and, when it's in season of course, the house specialty, fresh Dover sole."
        "Mmm, I fancy that, but when is it in season?"
        "All year."
        "Great.  Put me down for one then please."
        The others all agreed that the house specialty sounded fine and so the innkeeper ordered up a batch from the kitchen along with a basket of appropriate condiments.
        Dick returned with a tray of brimming pints and a Pepsi and Erendil leaned in conspiratorially towards the innkeeper.  "Now then Mr. Artois.  What's all this about strange happenings?"
        "What's it to you, if you don't mind me asking?  Can't be too careful these days, a lot of funny folk about and information is power, as they say."
        Erendil looked around him, leaned in even closer and answered in such a way as only the innkeeper could hear him (called whispering in his ear).  "Quite so.  We are a party of professional adventurers, hired to solve the problems of this community."
        "Thank goodness for that.  So you are the people we've been waiting for!" exalted the innkeeper so everyone in the entire place heard.
        Erendil visibly winced as he put a finger to his lips.  "Keep it down please.  We don't want every Tom, Dick and Sauron to hear of our business.  No offence Dick."  Dick was too engrossed in his pint to even notice.
        "Sorry," apologized the innkeeper.  "I'm just so happy that someone's finally here to do something about it.  I guess it started about 3 months ago."
        They all gathered closer about the table and listened with interest.  "You see it all started when there was this.........."  The innkeeper's voice faded into a inaudible monotone and the scene became all fuzzy so you couldn't follow what was being said.  That's what it's like in films when they don't want you to hear the story being told isn't it?  After about 15 minutes the haze cleared and the innkeepers talking became audible again  "..........and now you're here and will hopefully sort it all out."  They all pushed their empty plates away and complimented Mr. Artois on the fine meal that had arrived sometime during the hazy, inaudible bit.
        "I see," said Erendil rubbing his chin in a thoughtful manner.  "Interesting.  Very interesting indeed.   I think that calls for another drink."
        "Hear hear," agreed Dick enthusiastically.  "Must be your round now Presto."  Presto grudgingly got up and made his way to the bar.
        "You say these hippy types in the ship turned up just after it started and have been here ever since?"  asked Erendil.
        "That's right.  But they haven't really been any trouble at all, other than the all night on board parties, and the freely available mind altering drugs," added the innkeeper.
        "But you think they're connected with the strange events?" probed Erendil.
        "I'm sure of it.  Got to be more than just coincidence them turning up like that, but they're good at hiding it if they are," responded the innkeeper.
        "OK we'll check them out." said Erendil in an authorative way.  By now you must have noticed that Erendil is the front man of the outfit.  This is mainly because his ego is bigger than everyone else's put together and his desire for EPs (experience points) is unprecedented.  "We'll get started in the morning, meanwhile we'll be needing somewhere to stay overnight and possibly for the duration of our business here.
        "No problem sir,"  said the innkeeper.  "We have a number of rooms upstairs all with en-suite and mini bar at very reasonable rates."  They booked up 3 twin rooms and then returned to the important business of drinking more pints of Mr. Artois fine home brew.
        "Let's not get too carried away lads," said Feanar.  "Remember we've got a job to do tomorrow and we'll need our wits about us."
        "Spoilsport.  First one under the table's a sissy," contradicted Dick.  They all took up the challenge and stayed up well into the night for a lock in, getting absolutely plastered.  At last they staggered upstairs and somehow managed to sort out who was sharing with who.  They all crashed out on their beds and immediately fell into a deep dreamless sleep.

There was a thunderous crashing on the door.  Shockwaves reverberated around the room and straight through Falamir's head.  He put his hands over his ears to block it out but it didn't seem to help at all.  His brain felt like it was being violently pounded from within.  He cracked open an eye and immediately shut it again as searing bright white light fired into it.  He vainly struggled to comprehend what was happening.  Were they under some kind of magical attack?  Was there a dragon in the room with them?  Was the world ending?  Why did he feel so dreadfully bad?  He turned his head and dared to open his eyes again.  Although still bright, the light was not so blinding as before and he could make out vague details.  He was still in the tavern bedroom and he could make out Shiron lying motionless in the adjoining bed.  A quick check revealed the room was thankfully mageless and dragonless.  The searing light was nothing more than sunlight streaming in through the window.  Again the door thundered but this time he could make out a voice over the din.  It sounded a bit like Dick.
        "Come on ladies, get up.  It's nearly 9 o' clock.  We're all down stairs waiting for you."
        "For goodness sake please keep it down will you?" pleaded Falamir pathetically as the very effort of speaking sent fresh sharp pain shooting through his head.
        "Don't be such a pansy.  Get your butts out here, there's work to be done."
        Movement and groaning came from Shiron's bed.  "Oh God I feel awful," said a shaky voice.
        "Me too," agreed Falamir.  "We'll be down as soon as we can," he said to the door.
        "OK but don't take too long about it.  You don't want to make me come in there and get you."  Falamir heard the sound of heavy boots disappearing back along the wooden landing.  15 minutes later they appeared in the tavern lounge feeling and looking like death warmed up.
        "Oh dear.  Can't take our drink can we lads?" teased Dick with a wry smile.  Falamir thought some of the others looked like they didn't fell much better than he and Shiron did, Presto especially, who was slumped against the stair rail.  Falamir shuffled over to Feanar who looked brighter than most.  Maybe he could just magic him well again.
        "Can you do anything for a banging headache Feanar?" he asked hopefully.
        "Luckily for you, yes.  Put out your hand and close your eyes."  Falamir did so expectantly.  "As with most spells there is a material component," continued Feanar as Falamir heard a rattling sound and felt something fall into his hand.  "You can open your eyes now."
        Falamir saw two small round white pills in his hand.  "What are these?" asked Shiron who had also received some.
        "Dissolvable Asprin," answered Feanar.  "You know what to do with them?"   
        "Yes, thanks," they replied, feeling slightly short changed.

Predictably, Erendil took charge of the situation.  "While we were all asleep, someone slipped this note under Dick and Presto's door."  He held up a written piece of parchment and gave it to Shiron.
        "But it's just a shopping list," said Shiron puzzled.
        Erendil rolled his eyes. "Try the other side."  Shiron turned it over and with Falamir peering over his shoulder, read the note -

'Leave now while you still have the chance.  The business of this place is none of your concern.  If you involve yourself you will bring great evil down upon you.  This is your first and only warning.'

"Seems someone doesn't want us here." said Shiron handing it back.
        "Evidently." replied Erendil.  "We've got no way of knowing where or who it came from.  Maybe if we had set a watch we would have found out and got a valuable lead on the case but instead we're in a worse position than before as who ever we're after knows we're here and is ready for us."
        "Told you so," said Feanar smugly.
        "It's my fault," said Dick sheepishly.
        "We're all as much to blame as each other," continued Erendil.  "We'll consider it a lesson learnt.  The important thing is what we do about it now."
        "Didn't Mr. Artois mention the ruins last night?" said Feanar.  "He said nobody went near there now because strange things have been seen and heard there recently."
        "Yes, I believe he did," answered Erendil.
        "Well, then I suggest we start there as it's the best thing we've got to go on at the moment."
        "Sounds good to me," agreed Erendil.  "What about the rest of you?"  There were general nods of agreement from the others but Falamir piped up,
        "I'd rather go back to bed if it's all the same to you."
        "We all go together.  One golden rule in this game is never split the party, it causes all sorts of problems and can lead to disaster.  Anyway the walk in the fresh air will do you good."
        "OK then, let's go," commanded Feanar.
        "That's my line," snapped Erendil.
        "What?"
        "I give the commands around here," answered Erendil, his ego inflating rapidly.
        "Oh, I'm so sorry old boy, I didn't mean to intrude.  Please, be my guest," retorted Feanar with a huge slice of sarcasm as he bowed theatrically.
        "Good.  Ok then, let's go,"  commanded Erendil in a commanding way.  The others rolled their eyes and exchanged tired glances as they picked up their gear and followed Erendil outside into the glorious morning sunshine.

shironbar.gif

Here endeth Part 5.
Don't miss the next episode 'Going Down'
It's here now.  Click on Next.

 

Previous

Intro Top

Next

Fantasy page

 

Index

 

Copyright John Angus Walker 1986, 2003.  All right reserved.