Chapter 17 - Non-Paid Time Off

“Done,” Elric said as he walked back to Guldag who had been sipping a drink in a tavern. “I wrote the message, paid some town criers, and even found a crooked priest to add it to the daily prayer.”

“While it’s your money,” Guldag said when Elric sat at the table. Though the tavern was empty, he kept his voice low. “Will spreading rumors of a fake god with the same name really cause that much of a problem?”

“What you saying you do not believe there is a new god of easy and smooth shits? Do you doubt the divinity of Mar, the powerful being that helps crap flow from your asshole?” Elric worked hard at trying to not laugh, “Blessed be those who proclaim his name and beg his favor so they may shat with ease?”

“So people will think of him when they shit,” Guldag said. He whirled a finger in the air, “woo. Sounds like a minor annoyance.”

“Sure, minor, until your woken or have your dreams invaded by images of people shitting. Usually those who will invoke his name won’t be those who have easy movements.”

“I’m still a little lost on this, but it is ok. Those guys killed two of my drinking buddies when they attacked. I’m all for sticking it to them.”

“Enough,” Elric grinned a little before continuing. “to give me some money back?”

“No, I got other drinking buddies to buy for.” Guldag said shaking his head. “But if you print me some of those papers, I’ll make sure I leave them when I teleport. Also whenever I use the facilities, I’ll scrawl the message on a wall.”

“What about leaving me in the city of Centralia and picking me up in a couple of days.” Elric said and after a moment of silence he set some coins on the table. “I’ll buy the next round.”

Elric stumbled along the main street of Centralia. Guldag had negotiated 4 drinks for the side trip and declared he never drinks alone. Briefly Elric wondered if the goblin was teleporting the alcohol to another location as the goblin did not seem to be as tipsy as Elric. After noting the place and approximate time, Guldag had disappeared, leaving a drunk Elric on the streets.

The sun was still in the sky with two hours or so till dark. People avoided the drunken Elric as he stumbled. Stopping at the first tavern he saw, ‘The Clockwork Mug’ he darted in.

Instantly he regretted it. The Clockwork Mug appeared to cater to mostly gnomes. There were a couple of free seats, but most of the tables and chairs were built for people half Elric’s size. Carefully he weaved between the gnomes and tables to the bar. Thankfully the bar was set at normal height allowing Elric to use it to steady himself.

“Water and do you have anything to eat?” Elric said once the bartender came over to him. The little gnome was bald but for a tiny patch on the top of his head. That little tuft of hair had been grown out and hung in a braided knot.

For a moment the bartender looked like he was going to say something, but he kept his mouth closed and headed to a door to the back room.

“Ye have any of that bread left?” the bartender called out in gnomish.

“I threw it away like ye told me to.” A higher pitched voice replied in gnomish from the kitchen area.

“Take it out and slice a few chunks for me. We have a customer.” The bartender replied, still in Gnomish. When he turned around he glared at the smiling gnomes before looking towards Elric. “One moment sir, we have some bread, it isn’t our best, but all we have till morning.” The bartender said this time in the common tongue.

“I’ll take anything,” Elric said. He placed a gold coin on the counter and slid it over towards the bartender. He didn’t see any signs stating price and figured they’d ask for more if it wasn’t enough. Currently he was working on trying to not fall out of the chair he was sitting in.

A female gnome sauntered out of the kitchen with a plate. On top of the plate was a few slices of bread. The bartender pointed at Elric and she placed the plate in front of him. The bartender brought over a mug of water. The bartender also left a few silver as change on the bar in front of Elric.

“Rough day,” a male voice said to the left of Elric as he was chewing on the bread. The burnt pieces were tough but it was edible. Elric turned towards the voice and had to look down a little. A Gnome sat on the stool next to him.

“A friend of mine likes to party,” Elric said once he swallowed the bit he was working on.

“I know some people like that. Buy you a drink?” The gnome said.

“No thank you, the water is fine.” Elric said.

Suddenly the buzz and background noise around them disappeared. Elric glanced around and saw that people were still moving and talking, just no noise was reaching them.

“Just a bit of privacy, I dabble in magic stuff and noticed you have some power. Do you have any shape changing stuff you’d case for some coin?” the gnome said.

“I’m not that type of wizard, sorry.” Elric said. As soon as he finished the noise of the world returned.

“Darn, I was hoping you knew him. He owes me money.” The gnome said as he dismounted the stool. As casual as he could the gnome walked towards a corner table away from Elric.

“Just cause I’m human doesn’t mean I know all the humans.” Elric called out towards the retreating gnome.

Right about the same time as Elric finished the bread and second cup of water, he realized he needed to use a restroom.

“Excuse me, do you guys have a bathroom?” Elric called out towards the bartender.

“Sure, praise be Marcanous, one of his priests had wandered by just yesterday.” The bartender said as he pointed towards a back door.

Elric wandered in that direction and smiled as he saw Marcanous’s name written upon the door. He entered and almost laughed aloud at the various writings on the walls praising the name of the new god. He quickly relieved himself and exited the room, marveling at the gnomish plumbing.

“Thank you,” Elric said as he headed towards the door. His steps were much steadier and he didn’t sway as much. The water, bread, and time helped reduce the intoxication. Now he had a little more work to do.

Elric headed towards the loudest tavern he could hear. Faintly he could hear a bawdy song, so he headed in that direction. Soon he located the Dwarven Lady, it’s sign a dwarf holding a mug that somehow had a ring in it’s handle. The noise and occupants overflowed onto the street in front.

Pushing himself through the mass of people, Elric worked his way towards the bar. Holding a single gold piece hidden in his hand, he held it up light a torch as he moved. When he was within a few people of the Bar, he shouted over the noise.

“Two mugs of your finest,” Elric said. He flashed the coin at the bartender as soon as he saw someone look in his general direction.

“Move aside, we got a paying customer,” a dwarf shouted at someone sitting at the bar.

The guy didn’t have a mug in front of him and he seemed to hesitate for a moment. Elric saw him pat some pockets, then the man dejectedly got off the stool. As soon as the spot was open, Elric thrust his hand towards it and squeezed in. The bartender brought over two mugs of a dark liquid.

“Ones for the bard playing up there,” Elric said reaching for one mug. His other hand went towards his money pouch, he pulled out ten gold coins and set them on the counter. “This is to cover what ever else the singer needs tonight.” 

“Ye got a request?” the bartender said as he took the coins.

“Anything about the new god of the bathrooms, I’m hoping a good tune will help me tonight.” Elric said. He quickly took a drink and looked away. The dwarf grumbled and left, leaving little doubt that he’d be pocketing a few of the coins.

Elric left before a new song could be started. As much as he wanted to hear it, he didn’t want to be in the background of a scry. In a tavern if people started singing along, he wouldn’t be able to be hidden. Walking quickly, Elric went to the next taverns and repeated his requests.

The Cracked Mug.
Dancing Bear.
Tipsy Siren.

When he arrived at the Thirsty Tusk, he didn’t hear any music playing. Some tough looking half orcs hung out in front and the whole area seemed questionable. Against his better judgment he went in.

The tavern lived up to it’s name. A handful of people were scattered about, most of them half orc’s sitting at their own tables. The owner, a burly and graying half orc, looked at him with a sneer.

“What is a pretty ting like you doing ‘ere?” the bartender said.

“Not pretty enough for the elven taverns, and not rich enough for the human ones.” Elric said with an attempt to add a weariness to his reply. He reached into a pocket and pulled out a handful of copper coins. Quickly counting, Eight, he made two piles on the bar. “Something cheap and keep them coming until that runs out.”

“You will be in good company ‘ere.” The bartender said, then chuckling to himself he grabbed three of the copper coins and came back with a mug.

The sour smell filled Elric’s nose before he could see the yellowish liquid. After it was placed in front of him, Elric reached for it. The bartender leaned in a little.

“You’s a guest, ‘member t’at.” And the burly half orc moved towards some other customers.

Elric drank the sour beer that seemed to have more in common with water than alochol. The strong taste forced him to drink it slowly. After the activities earlier in the day, he already wasted too much time sobering up once.

Letting the liquid settle in his stomach, Elric turned around and examined the occupants of the tavern. There was no minstril or bard playing. The slight din of people talking in low tons filled the air but wasn’t loud enough to his ears to understand anything. When he caught the eye of a half-orc drinking alone, the scowl, kept Elric looking around.

Forcing himself to finish his drink, Elric made a show of standing up slowly and with a little wobble. He set the cup down on the bar a little too hard before turning towards the door. Slowly he walked out of the tavern, leaving the copper coins behind him.

It was time to go back home.

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