Night has fallen as Davian, with Sergius in tow, pushes through the doors of the tavern known as the Fairy Garden. The room is hot against the chill of the late fall air, packed full with bodies which themselves are packed full with booze. The dark hardwood tables and floors are well-stained with beer, showing the scuffs of many feet and many brawls. This place is the level playing field of the merchant district. The rich don’t bother coming and the farmers stay clear. But here come the people who spend their days arguing over the price of a single good. It is here they all agree: The wenches are the best in the city.
A few heads turn, and a couple nod in recognition of Davian. One in particular, sitting at the bar, keeps his gaze steady and staring. That head belong to one Tauren Bidden, a local merchant who has hired Davian in the past for his illicit skills and has also been the target of someone hiring Davian.
Davian heads into the bar and takes a seat next to Tauren. Sergius follows tall-brother, looking nervously around the room and clutching his quarterstaff lightly. Davian call the bartender over and orders a couple of pints for himself and Sergius and then turns to Tauren and says, “Hello.”
Tauren replies, “How are thing, Davian? You’re looking worse than usual.” He grins in a way that reads neither sincerely concerned nor cynically pleased at Davian’s misfortune. The bartender pushes the beers in front of Davian and Sergius. Sergius looks at the drinks with both shock and offense. He shaked his head and mumbles in bewilderment, “City dwellers serve rotten drink in exchange for metal discs.” Grabbing hold of both glasses he again mumbles, but this time incomprehensibly. Davian glances over at Sergius quizzically.
“There’s nothing like being sucker punched by some inbred hick,” Davian takes a sip of the beer which has now been stripped of all fermentation leaving only the dredge remains that usually come out the other end of the digestive track. Davian cringes and pushes the digusting purified brew to the back edge of the bar hoping the bartender might bump into it and spill it. Sergius sips the foul liquid, grimaces, and swallows. Then he quickly slams down the rest of the yellow substance trying hard not to taste any of it. Afterwards he shivers and reaches into his pocket. He pulls out two berries and offers one to Davian, popping the other into his mouth.
“How’s business, Tauren?” Davian asks sneaking a pinch on a barmaid as she passes.
“Business is…” Tauren looks at Davian with a frown thinking for a moment. The barmaid turns and gives Davian a look with pursed lips and rolls her eyes, turning back to one of her tables. “Business is good. Good. When isn’t it? There’s always some brew you can convince people to swallow, eh?” He chuckles, reaches up to the bar to grab his beer and gulps it down. “Who’s you’re mumbling friend?” he asks staring at the back of the bar over the rim of his mug.
“He’s the one who helped scare off the guys who jumped me,” Davian chuckles chuckles and decides to try the berry, which leaves him feeling nourished and slightly less injured.
Tauren watches this with raised eyebrows, “Well, I guess he must be useful to have around then.” He shakes his head and takes another drink, “I suppose you’ve heard about Brutus’ insane offer? Heck knowing you, you’re probably already planning something.”
Sergius asks whether all city drinks taste like 3 week old goat piss. Tauren glances over at Sergius caerfully. Davian replies, “Only the good stuff.”
To Tauren, Davian says, “I heard something of it, but I didn’t manage to catch the details. I must be slipping in my old age.”
“Only the good stuff,” Tauren retorts and nods at the beer Davian has pushed asige, “Why aren’t you drinking any of it then?” He chortles and then, “I don’t really know the details of Brutus’ offer myself. I know he sent people after the good ol’ Elder’s Source and never heard from them again. Likely they were taken out by who know how many enemies Brutus has these days. Now he’s offering serious cash to anyone who can bring back information on them… but I have to wonder. Who’s he going to send out to find those guys when they don’t come back? Someday here, he’s going to run out of money! But that’s not the real question anyway.” He pointedly halts his story there.
“Aye, it matters not if his money lasts forever, as long as he can afford to pay now.” Davian says. Forgetting his prior experience he takes a swig of the piss water and frowns, pushing his pursing lips forward he manages to say, “Has anyone signed up for the job lately?”
Sergius meanwhile has emptied the last few drops of the foul liquid onto the floor. He turns over the glass and with a word and a tap fills it with clean water.
“Always there for the highest bidder, aren’t you Davian?” Tauren says through another swallow of beer. He knocks it against the bar like a gavel and yells, “Hey!” at the bartender, sliding the beer over to him for a refill. “How should I know if anyone’s signed up for that job?” his voice takes an irritable turn, “I don’t want anything to do with that one!” Sergius’ hand slowly goes to his staff at the sound in Tauren’s voice. His fingers curl around it tightly.
“Oh well,” Davian stands up and flips a silver piece to the bartender, “You’re loss.” He turns to look around the room for someone more interesting.
“You misunderstand, Storm,” Tauren growls (and obviously a bit drunk) as you turn away. “Conflicting prophecies stir these political pots. Bad taste in my mouth. Goat piss!,” he tries another laugh but it’s more a cough, “It’ll be your loss! Consider…” his head wobbles in your direction and then he waves as though batting a fly.
Sergius with wide eyes quickly moves his chair closer to Tauren while indicating somewhat forcefully for tall-brother to sit down. Then, while staring intently into Tauren, says, “Man, what do you know of “conflicting prophecies”?” Davian sits down and watches, curious to see how Tauren is going to react to being interrogated by this wild man.
Tauren glares first at Sergius and then at Davian as each takes a seat. “You’re dog seems to have you well trained, Davian,” Tauren grins viciously and finally replies, “What does anyone know of prophecy, wildling?” He leans back in his chair gulping from his mug. “Everyone knows the Elder promised the Source would keep the peace the way he did. That’s the prophecy all these Brutus types are spewing to get what they want. The other prophecy, I don’t know. Something about the Source being destruction. The end of everything.” He hiccups and then coughs uncontrollably for a few seconds. “I shouldn’t drink so much.”
More people enter the tavern. Apparently the sun has gone completely down and business is no longer possible outdoors, so it has moved indoors. Tauren looks at the new crowd suspiciously.
“That other prophecy, ” he speaks louder over the noise. “I heard its from the Hill people (Davian know this means followers of Immortals, or more specifically people still loyal to the Warrior). They obviously don’t want the senate taking the last strands of power from the last remaining immortal, right? Where isth th-the truth-th anyway?” he’s starting to slur, “Only the Elder. It’sth all about…” He pauses abruptly as a woman walks out of the crowd and leans down to whisper in his ear. She is tall and well-built, wearing pants and a tunic. Her hair is pulled tight against her head. After she speaks she looks up, barely glancing over Davian and Sergius and turns to leave.
“Therere you go,” Tauren says watching her leave. “Looksth like I’m nee-eeded at the docksth.” He makes a swashbuckling maneuver with his hand. “My pen arm isth might yer than my sthord arm.” He jumps off the stool and walks over to Davian.
“If you want to do thisth. If you want to do thisth, you’re gonna need backing,” he says looking up at Davian from his very short vantage point, “I’ll give it and Brutusth might even take it. Heck, I know very well that you’re loyal. Loyal… asth long asth itsth to the money.” He frowning intently, “But you owe me. Gardle Nord. You know him.” It’s not a question. (Gardle was the one who hired Davian to steal information from Tauren.) “He’sth been cleaning my clock with his wha wheat pricesth. I want to know. I want to know who histh theller isth. It gotta be thomeone cl-close. Roads all to hell. Just got a. He just got a large ship. Shipment in. Figure it out,” he grins looking up and loses his balance for a moment, “I wouldn’t fe-feel bad if thomething happened to his tock there.” He reaches up to pull on Davian’s shirt. “Make it look goo-good. Like an accident. Do. Don’t let anyone thee you thisth time! Gardle thill thinksth we’re on good terms. He doesn’t know. He doeth not know what I know.” With that Tauren staggers into the crowd.
Davian takes a second to digest (and translate) what Tauren says, then grins wildly.
“Looks like we’ve got something interesting to do!” He slaps Sergius on the back. “How about it, man. Care to do a little information gathering?”
“I was born in the dust. In the wilderness, I have made my home. I have hunted animals. I have been hunted. But never in this city place have I hunted or gathered. I will follow you in the city.” Sergius pauses and his eyes grow wide and with a distant look he continues “Unfolding the now, I see that soon I will be leading you into the wild”
Davian then heads out of the tavern and begins walking towards Gardle’s place, not making any attempt to hide himself. Sergius follows slightly hunched over, gripping his staff, and peering intently in all directions.