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The straw haired youth stggered over to his table and bent forward, both hands grabbing the table edge. He spoke, spittle flying between the too loud words.
“What’re you doin’ here dwarf! Ain’t seen many of yer kind in town! Why don’t ya give me some of yer bottle. Damned barkeep cut me off.
The dwarf, sighing heavily, upended the bottle and finished it in a few loud glugs. He heaved himself up from the table, snorting a bitter laugh as the youth, leaning so heavily on the other side, barely caught himself before flipping it with his weight.
“Learn when t’ keep yer teeth together, boy or ye’ll find yerself spittin’ em out. I ain’t interested in chattin’r sharin’r even seein’ yer ugly mug. I ain’t fer botherin’ no’un an’ ‘spect the same courtesy. Seen enough killin’ an dyin’ fer a dozen dwarf lifetimes and I sure as hell ain’t interested in sharin’ the one thing that keeps that all at bay with some long leg kidnwho shouldn’t even be ofd his mother’s apron strings. Get outta my face while ye still have one.”
The yound man straightened, drink providing liquid courage and sharpening the sting of the dwarf’s belittling comments. Crimson indignation flushed out his cheeks and he sputtered a slurred retort, fists unknowingly clenching at his sides.
“You think you can jus’ come in ‘ere an’ shtart talkin like ye own da place? I been drinkin’ ‘ere fer...fer...months. Years even! An’ I ain’t goin’ ta take...”
His reply is abruptly ended with a ham-sized fist to the teeth, as initially promised. The fist was connected to a burley forearm, thick wristed and covered with coarse hair. The forearm was joined to a veined and bulging bicep, a detail obviously missed by the drunken teen. A well-rounded shoulder, broad chest and bull neck lent mass and pivoting hips with experienced footwork gave power to the jab. The lad’s eyes rolled over white and he fell backward, limp as a rag doll. As his head impacted the floor several teeth flew out of his mouth, landing askew around him on the sawdust covered plank floor.
The dwarf looked at the unconscious youth, holding his loose fist up in front of face grunting and shaking his head. He had never used to be so quick to temper. Not when he was part of something. A happily married dwarf, a half dozen grown children, a place of honor among hold’s defenders and camradarie between his peers. The death of his wife and eldest daughter, shield-maidens alongside him had changed all that in an instant.
Yes, his friends had tried to bring him close, to give him purpose, as had his remaining kin. They spoke of honorable deaths, noble sacrifice, places of esteem for his late wife and daughter at Clangeddin’s side. What matter any of that, for the great hole in his heart. His love, his first born both gone. Filthy trolls, bolstered by devil kind, pressing on the keep. It should have been him. His men. His command. He would have given anything to trade places with them now.
A low growl forms as he lowers his hand, stepping over the prone boy and making for the door amid shouts from the barkeep and other patrons. Mixed calls for him to halt and others telling him to get out. He chose the latter, not bothering to look back. Snatching an unattended bottle from a table near the dooe he shouldered through out into the chill night air. So much for Luskan. Another day, another town. South, perhaps, past Waterdeep surely. Baldur’s Gate maybe.
The Copper Fox - Scoundrel and Sailor, in that order.
Kellan Armstrong - Deacon of Lathander