"While my brethren in faith seek out the truth in Raghunan, I assure you that on my watch, no further murders shall occur!" The dwarf statesman roared. He was aggressive, passionate, and quite drunk.
"See what I mean?" The barkeep intoned softly, making certain only Ezkil could hear. "As rowdy as any dwarf I've seen with a belly full of ale."
Ezkil waited a few seconds before answering, taking in the deep, dark swirls of the black tonic in his mug. "Indeed. Perhaps that is what endears people to him." He looked up as he answered. "You know how drunk humans are far worse than they already are. He, on the other hand, doesn't seem to change - ale or no. The…honesty, if you could call it that, seems refreshing."
The barkeep smiled, then abruptly changed the subject: "Why suffer tonic, friend? Have something stronger." The dwarf behind them was already making another din along with his closest supporters. Ezkil found himself in a queer situation. He was in a bar in an inn full of humans who support a dwarf statesman, and the only one he could talk to without the topic drifting into statecraft was the elf barkeep who seemed more human than he was elf.
"I always claim my greatest asset is my guile, and ale and strong drinks dim my wits. What have I but my guile, barkeep?" Ezkil smiled wanly as he put a copper coin on the bar to pay for his tonic. He turned his head sideways to observe the fray behind him, and was just in time to observe an interesting event.
The dwarf was seated in the middle longtable with his supporters, and was ordering something from a human servant girl. As the girl bent over to lend an ear to the dwarf's requests, she deftly dug one hand into one of his cloak's pockets and brought out a small satchel. With one smooth motion her hand went from the dwarf's pocket to her own, swiping his pouch. She stood straight and walked towards the kitchen, seemingly intent on relaying the dwarf's request.
Before she could take three steps, however, the dwarf unconsciously slipped his hand inside the very pocket she had just stolen from - perhaps out of habit. He found it empty.
"Wait!" Another roar from the dwarf, though this time not out of passion. The servant girl cringed and turned.
"Little thief! Where is mine purse?" He stood. He was a full foot taller than the human servant, who was barely five feet in stature. And like most dwarves, he was built like a small mountain, while she was a waif.
"I…I d-don't know, m'lord." She managed to stammer as she shrank back, slowly making her way backwards and straight to Ezkil.
"Come now! I understand y'might be needy, girl. But stealin' shant be your trade!" He moved towards her as the crowd watched on. Frightened, the girl turned and fled - and crashed right into Ezkil. He managed to turn around swiftly enough to catch her and prevent her from falling over. She pushed him away and ran for the back door, just as the dwarf reached out and tried to grab her.
This time, Ezkil sidestepped slightly and let the drunk dwarf stagger past him. The statesman almost fell, propped an arm on the bar for support, and caught his breath. The girl almost made it to the back door but she was stopped by a few men.
"I won't hurt ye, girl. Just hand it over." The dwarf said as he let go of the bar and staggered backward, leaning onto Ezkil for support. He got his footing back and half walked, half danced his drunken way to the girl.
"Please! I really don't know! I…!" And then the dwarf was upon her, searching her pockets while she was being held by a couple of human supporters. The crowd was hooting and jeering.
"That's harassment right there!"
"This ain't that sort of tavern!"
The good natured, albeit drunken, jeers didn't reach the dwarf's ears, however, as he was having trouble finding his purse. A few wolf whistles and catcalls later, Ezkil spoke loudly to defeat the noise of the bar.
"Perhaps you should look inside your pocket again, statesman." He said with a smile. It was just another jest on the drunken dwarf, and no one knew better.
The dwarf turned. Annoyed he may be, but he did as he was bid. In a few seconds he found his purse right where it should be - to the jovial laughter of the crowd. The girl thief, however, was surprised. Ezkil collected his sword where it leaned on the bar, and went for the door as the dwarf was apologizing to the girl while being heckled good-naturedly by the people in the bar.
As Ezkil passed the longtable where the dwarf's peers were seated, a hawkish man with sharp eyes stood and stepped forward. They spoke.
"Where might ye be headed, traveller?" He asked softly for the conversation to remain silent.
"West." Ezkil answered.
"Raghunan, perhaps?" The man averted his stare and seemed deep in thought. "If ever you find yourself slightly south of Hampreid, two towns North of Raghunan, in a small village called Drury, you might find it in your interest to join a small sporting competition there."
Ezkil eyed the stranger closely. "Why would I be interested?" He asked.
"Well…" The stranger thought for a few moments. "A man of your…proficiency, would do well in it. And of course, 'tis good sport."
"Anything worth winning?" Ezkil asked.
"Oh, more than a silver stag, I assure you." The man smiled knowingly. Ezkil just had to smile back.
"I'll keep it in mind if I ever find myself there." He nodded, and was off.
Once outside he went straight for the main road, though before he could get there, was stopped by a female voice.
"Sir! Good sir! Please wait." Someone called out. Ezkil turned. It was the servant girl.
"What is it, girl?" Ezkil asked.
"You are travelling?"
The girl held out a worn out cloak of dark green. "Please, take this. And accept my thanks." She bowed low, turned, and headed back to the bar.
Ezkil unfurled the cloak. Inside the ragged cloth was a swathe of fine teal silk that would fetch a fine price in a market or auction. Ezkil wore the dark green cloak which effectively hid the short sword he wore on the small of his back, and decided to wrap his other, more conspicuous sword in the silk. Just then, a cart passed by. Ezkil hailed it.
"Hello there, farmer." Ezkil greeted. The old tiller driving the mule that hauled the cart slowed to a stop.
"Yes, young feller?" He asked jovially.
"I was wondering if you were headed in the direction of Raghunan?"
"Yes I was. My destination be yonder, but I'll go by the city, yes."
"Could you spare a traveller a ride? I'd be fine at the back along with all your hay." Ezkil motioned to the back of the cart where an abundance of hay was stashed.
"Aye, that's fine. Hop on, lad."
"You have my thanks." Ezkil said as he walked behind the cart and hopped on. As they went on their way the farmer began humming a fanciful tune, which he soon began singing - and he was rather bad at it. Ezkil sighed. He reached into one of his pockets under his new green cloak and withdrew a silver stag. It was pure silver, the size of an egg, though it was rectangular. It was the most valuable piece of coinage in the dwarf statesman's purse, Ezkil assumed, when he took it from the servant girl's clothes and felt through its contents with one hand. Returning the purse to the dwarf's pocket would have been futile if the purse was empty, so Ezkil decided to just snatch its most valuable asset, leaving the rest.
"For a silver stag I can secure myself a good meal, lodgings, and a mighty steed in Raghunan." Ezkil whispered to himself. Of course, there was no need for that. His home was in Raghunan.