Mistress of Time, Episode 3
A Carousing Story
Though this Carousing Encounter does take place in a tavern, if you think all Carousing Encounters take place in taverns or inns, you a selling yourself short. The Carousing Encounter found in WHAT is the perfect catch-all encounter to use for all sorts of occasions and situations such as markets, shops, restaurants, bath houses – anywhere where people gather. Don’t have a copy of WHAT? Well, you can find it here: Warrior Heroes Adventures in Talomir.
Fizzrelda was bored. She had been sitting for what seemed like an eternity next to her mistress, Zhu Paand, drinking weak watered down ale. Zhu Paand was trying to recruit adventurers and having no luck at all.
“Mistress, can we please go somewhere else?” asked Fizzrelda.
“Patience, Fizzrelda,” replied Zhu Paand, “it takes patience to hire good adventurers.”
“Well, I don’t think you’ll find any ‘good’ adventurers in this place.” said Fizzrelda.
Zhu Paand frowned and asked “Why do you say that, Fizzrelda? This tavern was highly recommended as the best place in Clerseau to find adventurers.”
“Bah! You’ve had a dozen say they will not work for a woman, eight have said they will not work for a spell caster and one charming fellow spit on you.” answered Fizzrelda, “I’ve lost count of the number who expressed their desire for adventure between the sheets. Look at this place, mistress, it’s full of men – not a single Dwarf or Elf among them, the only women here are the serving maids and wenches plying their trade, AND there’s not a single black or brown man in the lot, they’re all white.”
“Think of where we are, Fizzrelda.” argued Zhu Paand. “We are in a predominately white, conservative, Red Sun kingdom. Maybe we need to play by their rules, I could join a party and over time, take it over.”
“And in all the time that would take, do you think the artifact you are seeking will stay where it is?” countered Fizzrelda.
“Do you have a better plan?” asked Zhu Paand. “Speak freely, I’ll listen.”
Fizzrelda slammed her mug on the table and said “I can do better than speak – follow me.”
Zhu Paand wasn’t sure what Fizzrelda was up to, but she followed her maid out of the tavern and through the streets of Clerseau until they came to a livery stable. Fizzrelda waltzed through the stable as if she owned the place and then opened the door to the alley.
This was no ordinary alley filled with refuse and waste. Instead there were shops and crowds of people milling about. Entering the alley, Zhu Paand heard music, laughter, and best of all, she could smell fried onions. They crossed to a blue door over which hung a sign with a caricature of a blue goblin. Fizzrelda knocked on the door. A slat slid back revealing a greenish face with angry eyes which caused Zhu Paand to take a step back. “Time” bellowed the voice attached to the angry eyes.
“Time is money, friend.” said Fizzrelda.
The eyes examined them for a moment and then the slat slammed shut – the door opened revealing the greenish face of a Half-Orc bouncer whose angry eyes were now filled with kindness. “Enter, friends.” he said.
Zhu Paand could scarcely believe her eyes, this tavern was much different than the one recommended to her. Here were all kinds of people, adventurers, travelers and locals. There was a healthy mix of men and women – humans, dwarves, elves and even a few goblins. She asked “Fizzrelda, how did you know of this place?”
“Heh,” Fizzrelda snickered, “the only good thing to happen to me as your slave. You know how at the last place servants weren’t allowed to eat in the common room? It so happens while eating in the kitchen, the scullery maids and cooks were going on and on about how this was the place to be.”
“Well, come on in! Don’t just stand in the doorway.” said a large woman, “I’m Edith Algen, the owner. Anyone who is allowed in by my son, Bret,” pointing to the bouncer, “is most certainly welcome. As you can see we are quite busy tonight, you will have to share a table, if that is amenable to your needs.”
Zhu Paand said “That is quite acceptable, Mistress Algen. I am Zhu Paand and this is my serv – this is Fizzrelda.”
Fizzrelda was mildly surprised Zhu Paand didn’t introduce her as her “servant” as she had on countless other occasions. They followed Edith Algen into a large spacious common room. She noticed a small stage where musicians played cheerful music – a woman played the lute, another woman a flute, an elven woman played a violin, and a young man beat the rhythms on a bodhran. In front of the stage, a dark-skinned woman danced suggestively in orange veils threading her way among the tables.
“Tell me, Mistress Algen, why is your tavern called the Blue Goblin?” asked Zhu Paand.
Edith Algen smiled and replied, “You’ve noticed by now the diversity of my patrons. I wanted my tavern to be welcoming to anyone regardless of race, class, gender, or alignment. I was told that in the farthest corner of Talomir there live goblins with blue skin. If one should ever find his or her way here, a blue goblin would be welcome.”
“It’s true, Mistress. I’ve never seen one, but I’ve been told all of my life that goblins with blue skin live far to the North and far to the West where the great northern sea is mostly frozen. They live among the Frost Giants.” added Fizzrelda.
While the stage and center of the common room were well lit, the rest of the room was in shadows, and it was into one of these shadows where Mistress Algen led them to a table. “Masters Goddur and Wegrang, would you mind if these ladies shared your table?’ she asked. One of the men grunted disapproval, but the other rose and said, “Of course not, Edith, I’m sure the ladies will brighten the conversation.” Turning to Zhu Paand he added “I’m Shobish Wegrang, the tailor, and this grumpy fellow is Boris Goddur.”
Zhu nodded to both of them and said “Nice to meet you, I’m Zhu Paand.” She draped her cloak over the back of the seat. as she sat down, Boris Goddur gaze was fixated on the vials and small pouches on her belt.
“Are you a competitor, Mistress Paand?” he asked.
“Competitor, I don’t think I understand, Master Goddur?” Zhu questioned.
“Excuse me, I’m an apothecary and I noticed the vials about your waist.” he said.
Zhu smiled, “The potions aren’t for healing Master Goddur, rest assured, I’m not an apothecary.”
“Gentlemen, please,” interjected Edith Algen, “the ladies haven’t ordered. What may I bring you?”
“Ale” answered Fizzrelda.
“I’ll have the same and I couldn’t help but notice the smell of fried onions, could I get a serving, please?” Zhu asked.
Edith smiled with pride, “Of course dear, the onions are quite delectable with a light golden batter. The ales and a plate of onions will be on your table in no time at all.” With that, she turned and left.
“So the goblin can speak,” laughed Shobish Wegrang. “Do you think she could introduce herself?”
Zhu said “Gentlemen, this is Fizzrelda, Fizzrelda speaks her mind and often, but there are times when she says little.”
“An alchemist, perhaps.” said Boris Goddur, “You must be an alchemist.”
“Alchemist? I do very little with alchemy,” teased Zhu.
Boris Goddur furrowed his brows and said “Then you must be a -“
“A practitioner of the arts.” interrupted Shobish, “Let’s just say she is a practitioner of the arts and leave it at that, Boris.” He leaned toward Zhu, took her hand and said in a low voice “In Clerseau, there is danger in speaking of magic or magic users.”
Zhu nodded in understanding, it was time to change the subject. “I’m a traveler in your land, why is it called Royaume Frontalier, the border kingdom?”
“Many years ago, after the great war, the Kingdoms of Ekra and Treyine set aside these lands as a buffer between themselves and the goblin lands to the North and Goranth to the East. Over time, the soldiers who patrolled these lands settled here with their families. The families built communities and cities, their commanders formed the three duchies and eventually one united the lands into a single kingdom.” said Shobish.
Boris Goddur added “We are the wall between the Red Sun and the horrors of the Black Moon.”
A waitress arrived with ales and the plate of fried onions. Fizzrelda picked up her tankard of ale and said “If you’ll excuse me, mistress, I’ll be about the recruiting.”
“Did she say recruiting?” asked Shobish.
“Yes,” replied Zhu, “as I said, I’m a traveler and I need to recruit attendants and escorts to continue my journey. Do you wish to join, Master Wegrang?”
Shobish Wegrang laughed and said “If I were younger, dear lady, and not so well blessed, I would join your company in a heartbeat. As it is I’m not only a good tailor, but am married to the greatest dressmaker in the kingdom who has given me three children and a fourth is on the way.”
“Then you are truly blessed,” she said. “How about you Master Goddur, care to travel the world?”
“Travel? For what purpose? Traveling without purpose is folly and a waste of time.” he answered and asked, “Where is your destination?”
Zhu looked down, pretending to hide embarrassment, and replied, “I don’t quite know my destination, I suppose I am a fool or sorts.”
A Dwarf in fine robes and a full tankard approached the table. “Ahh, Master Urgrin Craggem, you honor our table, sir.” said Boris Goddur.
“Master Craggem is a cleric and like you, is a traveler. He’s one of the Dwarven emissaries on his way to Ekra.” explained Shobish. “Master Craggem, this lady is Zhu Paand.”
Urgrin swayed and leaned in to get a good look at Zhu. He said, “Bah! Your lady smells of an elf and has the taint of the Black Moon in her eyes.”
Boris Goddur and Shobish Wegrang were shocked at the directness bordering on the edge of rudeness, Zhu Paand laughed and brushed back her hair revealing a pointed ear. She cooed “I’m actually only half-elven, but tell me Master Dwarf, can you really see the Black Moon in my eyes?”
Urgrin staggered back a step and took a long drink. With ale bristling in his beard he said “Aye, lass, through the eyes you can see a person’s soul and yours is shrouded with a darkness. There is hope for ye, for a short time, but if ye don’t change your ways, the darkness will have you. With all my years of experience, what the darkness takes, it never returns.” After those words, the Dwarf turned and walked away from the table with a slight stagger.
Shobish was the first to speak, “That was somber, perhaps even rude. It must have been the ale talking.”
“I don’t think so.” said Boris Goddur staring at Zhu as if he’d never seen anyone of elven heritage.
“I’m inclined to agree.” added Zhu Paand.
It was at this time Fizzrelda returned to the table with what seemed like a herd of female goblins. “Well, it took some doing, but I’ve found some good recruits.” she announced.
“You have? Where are they?” Zhu asked looking about the room.
Fizzrelda rolled her eyes, “Standing right here before you. Like I told you earlier, men don’t want to work for a woman unless they are getting ‘fringe benefits’; dwarfs won’t work with anyone who has a goblin servant; the elves say they won’t work for a half-elf and goblin men are scared shitless of you. However, I found some badass girl goblins who are more than ready to follow you on your quests.”
“Men have worked for me before.” snapped Zhu.
“Yeah, and pieces of them are scattered all over Zosix.” retorted Fizzrelda.
“Zosix? Zosix is in Goranth.” said Boris Goddur.
Zhu Paand sighed, “Alright, you have a point. I didn’t mean to offend anyone. Introduce them, Fizzrelda, please.”
“Humph!” grunted Fizzrelda, “Why we’re better than any men you can find in this whole town.” She brought forward a girl with bright blue hair, “This is Gredra, a warrior.”
Gredra smiled and curtsied as if she were before royalty. “Pleased to be of service mistress, I’ve fought in four battlers and several skirmishes.” She said stepping to the side and in her place stood a girl with pink hair.
“This is Yoko,” continued Fizzrelda, “she’s a thief like me.”
Yoko said “Pleased, to meet you, boss. I won’t boast, but see,” she said proffering her hands for inspection, “I still have both hands and all of my fingers – never been caught.”
Next in line was a goblin girl with bright green hair. “This is our shooter, Joonda.” said Fizzrelda.
“Shooter?” asked Zhu Paand. “Do you use bow or crossbow?”
Joonda snickered, “Neither, my lady, I use handguns called ‘pistoles’.”
“Oh, yeah,” said Fizzrelda, “Joonda is our expert on gunpowder and explosives.”
“Explosives?” Zhu asked.
Joonda winked and answered “Things that go ‘boom’!”
“And this is Umsa, another warrior.” said Fizzrelda pointing to a girl with darker blue hair.
Umsa nodded and said “Mistress, I’ve not been in as many scrapes as Gredra, but I can hold my own.”
“Who is the one in the very back?” asked Zhu Paand.
Without looking Fizzrelda said “Oh, that’s Meagle, she’s a scullery maid, she can’t do anything except clean. She’s not on the payroll, she just wants to hang out with us while we are here and I thought ‘why not?'”
“Goblins!” bellowed Boris Goddur. “You’re surrounding yourself with goblins?”
“Master Goddur,” said Zhu, “I’ll associate with anyone willing to accompany me on my journeys regardless of race. If none of the fine men of Clerseau wish to do so, then I will certainly hire goblins. Now, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I need to make accommodations for my party.”
Zhu Paand left the table and made arrangements with Edith Algen for two rooms at the Blue Goblin, one for her goblins and one for herself. Then she sat at the bar and drank. She was quite tipsy when she entered her room to find a goblin with purple hair standing next to the bed.
“You, you’re Meagle, right?” she stammered with a slight slur.
“Yes, mistress.” Meagle replied.
“Wha – what are you doing here?” she asked.
Meagle looked as though she were about to cry. “I’m confused, mistress.” she said. “Fizzrelda said I should come and warm your bed, but it is too heavy for me to move closer to the fire and if I warm the coverings in front of the fire, they’ll be cold by the time I put them back on the bed.”
Zhu Paand blinked. “You, you mean to tell me you don’t know how to warm a bed?”
Meagle looked at the floor and replied, “No, mistress, I know nothing of beds.”
“Then where do you sleep?” asked Zhu.
“On the kitchen floor next to the oven.” she answered.
“You’ve never slept in a bed?” Meagle shook her head. “And you don’t know what ‘warming the bed’ means?” Again, Meagle shook her head. Zhu Paand sighed, “I think Fizzrelda was trying to play a joke on us. I’ll show you how to warm a bed, take off your clothes and get in between the sheets. Heat from your body will warm the bed and once it is warm, you can leave for your spot near the oven – no, for tonight you can sleep by the fireplace in my room, there are plenty of blankets.”
She extinguished all of the lights in the room except for a single candle. She had to be drunk for letting a goblin in her bed, even if it was just to warm it up. She undressed and picked up her nightgown, she heard snoring. Meagle was asleep. Perhaps she was in an alcohol induced stupor, but she didn’t have the heart to wake the goblin. She blew out the candle and dropped her nightgown. Slipping into the bed, she snuggled against the naked goblin. Lying down caused the room to spin, Meagle stank a little, but mostly she smelled of fried onions, which made Zhu Paand smile as she passed out.
I know, I know, the purist out there are saying “Have you read the rules? Bad Moon aligned characters are hostile to Red Sun aligned characters, how can they be in the same tavern?”
Well, the rules say they are hostile when they have a “chance” to be hostile. So, what keeps them civil in a tavern? Well, there’s an awfully big bouncer and Clerseau, like most towns, have laws against disturbing the peace and violence against persons. And a town with laws has a city guard to enforce them.
What do you think about folk of different alignments interacting? I mean, there are times when I have to be civil to Republicans. Leave a comment, let me know.
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Mistress of Time, Episode 3
If you liked this episode of Mistress of Time, please consider a small donation to keep the story going. Thanks!