The Alraeican Tavern, Part IV



  • Katerei kneeled down into the sand and pulled the strange shell out of her haversack. It was glowing even more brightly now, since the sky was much darker than it had been before. She studied it again. There was certainly something different about it. she returned it to her haversack, then stood up and hoped nobody could see her. But, unknown to Katerei, the strange silver-haired woman was watching.
    Katerei gathered her cloak around her against the chilly ocean air and slipped off through the shadows.


    Ten minutes later, she was in the forest. Katerei bent down, pulled out her dagger and uttered the spell to summon Silvre. The familiar white fog swirled around, and then Silvre appeared. She smiled. "Hello, kithaya. I was wondering when you would call me again."
    Katerei bowed her head in greeting. "Seyqua, my friend." She bent forward and petted Silvre, something which nobody except a very close friend would ever dare do to an Amaroq.
    "I have an interesting item to show you," she said. "It seems different, but I don't know why. I hoped that you, with your knowledge of such things, might be able to tell me something?" She pulled out the pearly shell and held it out for Silvre to see.
    Silvre stepped forward to examine it. After a moment, she looked up at Katerei and opened her mouth to speak- then a movement in the trees caught her eye. There was somebody there.
    Katerei turned around to see what Silvre was looking at but all she saw was trees.

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    Vera avadon isma philandraon equinus. Alama quira opaliu tyvanon Elemeniya. Likiyre svanre tyu'aka. Likiyre tyu'aka.



  • Hergat inwardly was pleased, he was forced to rely on insticts that served him well and made him one of the best at his job. Waiting until the precise moment Phinral had finished a rather bad joke, Hergat smiled and spoke out of the corner of his mouth, "don't look now, we're being observed." He saw Xenar twitch as if he was about to turn, but refrained from doing so.

    "Its the people that mentioned the guild." Hergat spoke quietly, in such a manner that it made the two humans at that table wonder if he had spoken at all, his lips didn't move. Lemenath, taking a silent cue, "accidentially" knocked over his cup, and Hergat shifted his chair out of the way of the dripping liquid. Coincidentially, that brought him into a perfect position to clearly face Sideline across the bar if he chose.

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  • Ulf was worried. Sasha and Ranari had been gone a long time; but not having Kwon's sense of his surroundings to fall back on, he wasn't quite sure how to go about finding them. He decided to try something he'd never done before.

    Pulling the Friendsooth amulet from under his shirt, he held it tightly in both hands and concentrated as hard as he could on a mental picture of Sasha. Much to his surprise, his efforts succeeded as he saw an image of her sitting on the beach, next to a fire.

    Smiling, highly pleased with himself, he collected a few items and placed them in a canvas shoulder bag.

    ----------------

    Sasha looked up as she heard Ulf approaching. He sat down beside her, placing the bag on his knees. "Hungry?" he asked.

    "Not just now thanks, Ulf, but I could use something to drink."

    Without a word, Ulf fished a bottle out of the bag and handed it to Sasha. She grinned. "Thanks, again."

    She took a drink, and sighed in satisfaction. "There's no need to wait, Ulf; I'll be all right by myself."

    Ulf nodded, rose, and started back to the barracks. "Thanks for the food," Sasha called after him.

    She sat there for some time after he'd gone, then looked up curiously at the horse; strangely, it had hardly moved. She rummaged through the bag for a moment, and found an apple; she cut it in half with her dagger, and held out a piece to the horse. "Come on, I won't hurt you," she coaxed.

    The horse looked at her with it's intelligent-looking eyes, and trotted slowly over; it sniffed the apple, then gobbled it out of her hand. "There's a good horse," she soothed, as she proceeded to give it a rubdown.

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    There are three kinds of computer users: those that use Macintoshes, those that wish they used Macintoshes, and those that don't know any better.

    (This message has been edited by Ronin (edited 12-06-2001).)



  • Unknowns, unknowns and unknowns.

    Sideline hated unknowns, and there were four of them sitting just a few tables away. He leaned back in his chair, carrying on an inconsequential conversation with Katze, all the while observing the four men in the corner of his field of vision.

    One of the men had a look in his eyes that Sideline had come to know and fear - the look of a killer. That was bad enough, but Sideline was also morally certain that the man knew he was observing him!

    He noted the subtle shifting of positions that gave the man a clear line of sight in his direction, and twitched inwardly. Stalemates were something else Sideline hated, and this was shaping up to be the strangest one he'd ever seen; neither side could act without the other knowing, and the point was fast approaching at which one group or the other had to act - he could sense it, almost as tangible as the urge to draw his next breath.

    The situation was getting extremely dangerous.

    "This is ridiculous," he thought. "Neither group knows a thing about the other, and here we are, ready to slit each other's throats if someone so much as coughs funny! There must be some way to break the tension!"

    Sideline had a favourite maxim he liked to apply in times like this: "When in doubt, do the unexpected."

    Ignoring Katze's shocked expression, he suddenly stood up and walked over to the other table. "My name is Sideline. May I sit down?"

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    My signature? You want to see my signature? Now why would I go revealing all my secrets to a total stranger, huh?



  • Phinril smiled and stood up, inviting Sideline down before anybody could protest. Sideline uneasily sat down across from Hergat and for a moment there was an uneasy silence. Hergat glanced at Sideline, storing away the info into some corner of his brain for future reference. The uneasy feeling in him grew deeper, gnawing at him.

    "So...err, I'm Sideline. And you would be..." he stuttered, suddenly wondering why. This seemed so silly, everything about this situation was almost ridiculous. Two people at each others throats without knowing who they were fighting. To his immense relief, the man across from him stood up and relaxed. Perhaps he didn't consider Sideline much of a threat, or perhaps there was an ulterior motive that could be pondered later.

    "My name is Hergat. I'm pleased to meet you." He said and then guestered to his companions. "Phinril is the man standing over there," a guesture in the direction of the young man trying to find an empty chair, having given his to Sideline already. Katze got up and showed him Sideline's old chair, to which he blushed, bowed, accidentially bumped into the table behind him too hard and sent beverages flying all over its patrons. "Xenar," the man continued, either oblivious to the scene, which wasn't likely, or had seen it before and knew what to expect, "and the elf here is Lemenath."

    "Pleased to meet you." Sideline had regained his confidence and wondered what it was about Hergat that unnerved him. Perhaps it was that he had the appearance that he enjoyed killing. He was so caught up in his thoughts that he missed what Hergat had said until Xenar nudged him with an elbow.

    "So, Sideline, who's the Mark?" Hergat asked calmly, staring him in the face.

    "Excuse me, I don't think I heard you correctly..." Sideline began.

    "Who's the Mark? Aren't you here to hire my services?" Luckily, Sideline was saved by the appearance of Phinril, having found a chair and avoiding a fight with the patron whose drink he had spilled.

    "No more alcohol for you..." Lemenath smiled, a pleasant smile...

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  • Sideline smiled inwardly. Now these were terms he could understand!

    The man was clearly an assassin; but not from around here, possibly not even from Cythera - nobody local would have dared ask him that question, his stand was too well known. The question remained: just what had brought them here?

    "You misunderstand," Sideline began, sparring verbally and buying time to think. Just because the stranger had laid his cards on the table, it didn't mean that he was going to follow suit. "I saw that you were strangers to Cademia, and just wanted to welcome you to the city."

    Hergat kept smiling the same relaxed smile. His initial attempt to provoke a response had failed, but he'd expected that; this Sideline was obviously a professional - but a professional what?

    Sideline's next question brought him out of his reflections. "So tell me, what brings you to Cademia?"

    ------------------
    My signature? You want to see my signature? Now why would I go revealing all my secrets to a total stranger, huh?



  • Katze looked over at Sideline, who didn't seem quite comfortable with the situation he'd brought himself into. Without further thought, she moved over to the table he and the other men were sitting at. She placed her chair next to Sideline's and sat down, smiling at everyone. "My name is Katze." She simply said, then leaned back in her chair, taking the opportunity to look every one of the strangers up and down, memorizing all the information for further use.


    Ranari leant forward in awe as the blue-haired stranger summoned the wolf, and talked to it. The wolf's gaze flickered to her position, and she dropped back into the bushes just in time, breathing heavily. They had almost discovered her. She focused her attention again, observing the wolf. It was great and white and had an aura of kindness and wisdom about her, accompanied by an intelligence which surely surpassed that of any human she'd met so far. In short, it was breathtaking. Ranari put down her crystal bow and Mam'ra, and the small knife she always used to bring along, keeping only her ivory flute, the one item nobody would ever take away from her. It was special. Her sister had carved it for her even before her birth, and had taught her how to play it. Ranari had been ten years old when her sister had mysteriously disappeared. Ranari clasped the flute. Then she stepped out into the small clearing. No one who knew and had befriended such a beautiful creature could possibly be bad.

    ------------------
    As l lay in my bed staring at the sky I asked myself:
    Where the hell did the roof go?



  • "Sorry, I keep my clients and their Marks personal, unless they request otherwise." Hergat continued, "You seem to know your way around here, and probably most of the people. Can I ask you a question?" Hergat smiled, perhaps from watching Sideline suddenly flinch.

    "Uh...sure. What would that be?" Sideline asked with a calm voice; Hergat privately moved his opinion of this man a notch higher.

    Hergat grinned, Katze shuddered inwardly wondering what the question would be, "Where's the bathroom?"

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    (This message has been edited by Lemenath (edited 12-06-2001).)



  • Katerei turned back to Silvre. The white wolf was studying the pearly shell again.
    Silvre shook her head. "I have an idea of what it might be, but I cannot say for sure right now. Do you think you could leave it with me for a time?"
    Katerei nodded and started to speak, but she was interrupted by Silvre. "Quatra. Are you from Cademia?"
    Katerei turned around in surprise to see who Silvre was greeting. It was the strange silver-haired woman.
    Katerei took a step backwards. "It's you!" she said, her eyes flickering to the woman's wrist, which still bore the bracelet. She shook her head, continuing to back into the forest. "No," she whispered. "You can't- no, you're not with Zrenerr, you can't be...but the bracelet?"
    A smile crossed Silvre's face. "Katerei, do you not remember what I told you? This woman does not bear the bracelet of Zrenerr. It is a different one."
    The woman lifted her wrist. "My bracelet? It belongs to no one but me. And who is Zrenerr?"
    Silvre shook her head. "Do not mind my friend. She is still haunted by her memories. Ask not of the bracelet; perhaps you shall know sometime. But for now- I am Silvre, leader of the Amaroqs, and this is my friend Katerei. By what name shall we call you?"
    "I am Ranari," the woman replied. " I am not from Cademia. I live elsewhere- I am here to find my friend Madaya, who you know as Moonshadow."
    Katerei scowled at Ranari. She still didn't seem very trustworthy, and even now, she felt uneasy. It felt rather as if Ranari was searching her mind, her memories, and the only ones near here who knew Katerei's past was Ferazel and Silvre. But she tried to push that aside for now and answer the woman's comment.
    Katerei shook her head. "Silvre knows not of Moonshadow, and I have never met her either. Only from people who have mentioned her, do I even know who she is. Moonshadow left before I arrived in Cademia."
    Ranari raised an eyebrow. "You are not from around here," she said. "I sensed as much."

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    Vera avadon isma philandraon equinus. Alama quira opaliu tyvanon Elemeniya. Likiyre svanre tyu'aka. Likiyre tyu'aka.



  • "Oh," Sideline replied, "down the corridor behind you, second on your left."

    Hergat stood up from the table, and made his way in the direction indicated, careful not to turn his back until he was well away from the table. As soon as he was out of sight, Sideline turned to Lenenath.

    "So, what brings you all to Cythera?" He sensed Katze stiffen momentarily, as the significance of the question sank in, but he knew she'd have sense enough not to overtly betray her surprise.

    He looked innocently at Lemenath, awaiting his response.

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    My signature? You want to see my signature? Now why would I go revealing all my secrets to a total stranger, huh?



  • Lemenath smiled disarmingly, "I'm here with him." he pointed a finger in the direction Hergat took, "He owes me a favor and I want to make sure he collects on it."

    Xenar spoke up, "I'm with Lemenath, we have uh...a common goal."

    "They want to...ow!" Phinral interrupted and stopped, at a kick from one of his compainions.

    'Would like to what?' Sideline would have loved to inquire, but that would seem improper. "I understand." is what he replied instead. More uneasy silence settled upon the group for a few moments. Then, Lemenath suddenly stood up.

    "If you'll excuse me, I need to rest before a long days work tomorrow." he said as he bowed and left the tavern.

    Xenar stood up, "I should be going as well." he nodded to Sideline and Katze, and started to turn away but stopped as if he remembered something. "Stay out of trouble" he told Phinral as he turned and left.

    It wasn't until hours later that Sideline remembered that he never saw Hergat return from the bathroom.

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  • It was about noon in the tavern on a sunny day, several days after the tense encounter between Sideline and Hergat. Lemenath, Hergat, Xenar were at a table off to the side of the tavern playing a variation of tarok, out of direct view of the doorway. Phinral was off attempting to fit in at the gambling tables, yet failing miserably. Lemenath was grinning, about to go nolo on the final round when Hergat held up his hand.

    "Shush!" he hissed to his companions. Lemenath shifted his chair so Hergat could see past him and out the window. Xenar turned his head and gasped. Outside, several men were making a commotion, causing either fear or curiousity to plague the nearby populace. Twelve or so men were in sight, each wearing full shiny silver armor and an odd object in their hands, and strange gear...for this world. As a matter of fact, so strange it was familliar.

    "Get down!" Xenar shouted, overturning the table, ignoring the questioning looks being given to him, not the least of which from Sideline and Katze. Phinral turned questioningly. "The Defenders!" Xenar hissed, making a motion with his hand. Phinral's jaw dropped, and he overturned the table he was sitting at, stirring up angry patrons. Phinral moved the table to cover the window, and started turning a few more over. They were going to need all the cover they could get...

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  • "What the devil -" Sideline exclaimed, as Xenar overturned the table. Since their encounter a few nights before, he and Katze - and a few others that owed him some favours - had been keeping a close, but unobtrusive, watch on Hergat and his associates. They'd been prepared for violence aimed in their direction, but this was totally unexpected; Hergat and his friends appeared completely on the defensive, but were ignoring him and Katze totally.

    "What could have spooked them that much?" he asked himself, moving around to get a view out the window. He jostled Katze, who'd had the same idea - but being seven inches taller than he was she could easily peer over his head, and made space for him. He caught a glimpse of the silver figures, just before Phinral blocked out the window.

    "What in the world...?"

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    My signature? You want to see my signature? Now why would I go revealing all my secrets to a total stranger, huh?



  • Theo's eyes flashed open as his table was shoved across the room. "Huh? What?" When no one answered him, he too crouched down.

    He nudged another patron, and asked, "What's going on?"

    "Seems t'be some bandits or something out there causing trouble. Don't know who they are, so long as they leave me to my refreshment," he said, staring at the remaining contents of his mug.

    Theo glared at the man, who was obviously more interested in his drink than his life. "I don't have time for this," he sighed, "I must finish the book I'm working on. Hmmm, what to do? Well I don't want to miss anything exciting going on over here, so..."

    Crawling on his hands and knees, he made his way to to back of the tavern. There was shouting going on, but he ignored it. Once he got there, Theo searched in his pocket for a few seconds, then pulled out a polished stone in a rough egg shape. Then he cast a green glob spell, through it at the wall, and poked the stone sideways, half way into it.

    "There, now I can see when I want to, and now I must be off." He opened his crackling blue portal and stepped through. The portal closed in on itself behind him.

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    I am no one, and I am everyone. But most importantly, I am
    The One And Only:
    ~Theo Nean Donly~



  • The uproar in the tavern was instantly quelled as the door was kicked open and fell to the floor in splinters. Six men in some really shiny body armor carrying small tubes of some type smoothed in curves and glowing brightly filed inside, sweeping their tubes around the room as a red light next to their helmet scanned the crowd.

    "We are looking for Hurphindal Retelchazer, if you are here come out now and nobody would be hurt." One of the men in front shouted as the group made their way to the front, and fanned out in an arc in front of the bar.

    "Nobody will be fighting anyone in my bar! If you don't like it, get out!" Shrieked a voice behind the supposively empty bar. Startled, several members turned towards the sound, and a look of disbelief crossed over two as they stared at a pious frog ghost. With a curse, they turned their backs on the protesting frog, and stared at several of the patrons who had yet to hide behind their overturned tables.

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    "I'm a controversial figure. My friends either dislike me or hate me."



  • "He aint here, why don't you take yer circus somewhere else!" one of the angry bar patrons angrily exclaimed, having lost his drink in the hurried confusion.

    "Oh he's here, I know it." The leader smiled and shot a beam of bright energy into a nearby keg on the counter. The keg burst forth its contents in a rush, having had a hole burned into the side. An angry patron threw his empty mug, which clattered harmlessly off of one of the men's chest armor.

    "Very well, men! Fire at will!"



  • Crimson and blue plasma blasts struck both unsuspecting patrons still standing, burning a hole, leaving them dying with a charred chest, and also several tables. Fortunately, Talos had problems with exceptionally strong drinks early on and had renovated the former wooden tables with a metal plating on the inside, keeping both the antique fashioned design, yet also cutting replacement costs. Thus, the plasma bolts did not at first burn through the overturned tables, but several shots in the same area would finally melt their way through.

    The remaining patrons standing turned over the last few upright tables or dove for cover under other objects readily available. Cracked mugs and varios liquids spilled everywhere, the amount of glass on the floor in some areas was hazardous. Some shots ignited the spilled liquor, burning fires engulfed those nearby. The once serene and joyful tavern had become, literally, a living hell.

    A guard off duty had the bright idea of using a crossbow to fight back. The bolt was strong enough to penetrate armor to the Defenders' surprise, and one took a shot in the upper right chest. Blood seeped out, staining the surrounding metal. Three Defenders angrily bombarded the poor guard in return, eventually piercing his cover and puncturing his body with multiple wounds.

    "Damnit, we've got to do something!" Lemenath hissed to Hergat. "My bow and arrow won't harm them, and the guy with the crossbow was taken down!"

    "Keep calm. I thought we might be followed. Here, take one." Hergat offered a phaser to both Lemenath and Xenar, who started returning fire. One of the guards fell with a gaping hole in his chest, a few more dove behind the bar, knocking over some bottles previously standing on top. A quick exchange of fire occured between Hergat and the Defenders, as Xenar and Lemenath worked their way around the tavern, spreading out, yet remaining behind cover.

    Xenar found himself hiding near Sideline and Katze. He also noticed the crossbow was lying on the ground just a bit away. The three of them couldn't handle all six alone, they needed as much help as possible. Xenar waited for a particularly heavy exchange of fire from across the room, then dove behind Sideline's table.

    "I need your assistance, have you ever used one of these before." Xenar asked, already fearing the answer. Seeing Sideline nod a negative he continued, "point the phaser like this, and aim. Then, pull the trigger" he said as he handed the phaser to Sideline. "I need covering fire, the crossbow would help us greatly. Sideline nodded once in acknowledgement, still stunned at this outworldly technology, and stared at the phaser. Xenar grunted and turned, hoping he'd have the sense to use the weapon. He crouched as close to the crossbow as he could, behind cover. Turning, he shouted "now!" to Sideline, and dove for the weapon.

    He was mildly surprised that Sideline stood up, pointed in the general direction of the four remaining silver-armored men, and fired several shots at them before ducking under the barrage of fire that came his direction, chewing up the table he was at. All of his shots missed by at least a mile, but it gave Xenar the time to snatch the weapon, roll to his knees, and dive back behind cover. Sideline willingly exchanged the phaser for the crossbow, having a weapon he was comfortable and familliar with to use instead.

    The battle lasted a relatively short while, the bar regulars finally won. However, they suffered serious casualties, not being able to easily defend themselves against the outworlders. Sideline suffered a mild burn on his left shoulder, Phinral had a nasty scorch on his right elbow. Katze was about to stand up in relief, when Hergat suddenly shouted out. "Keep down! Its not over yet!" just as a metal egg was hurled in through the splintered door. Luckily, the Cytherians had had enough of technology, and backed away from the object, rather than running gleefully over to pick it up, as some had foolishly done. The object exploded in a blast of smoke and fire, as the remaining eight defenders rushed in, guns blazing wildly as they sought to drive out those they were seeking...

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  • The story of the tavern continues on. You can find it under the name "The Alraeican Tavern, Part V"

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    "I'm a controversial figure. My friends either dislike me or hate me."

    (This message has been edited by Avatara (edited 01-01-2002).)


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