Chapter 23 - Project Management - Closure
After changing his clothes into something more casual, Elric stepped out of the inn. The sun had already set and the streets were almost empty. A pair of guards wandered around lighting lamps along the street. Faintly in the distance, Elric heard music playing. With a swift pace, he headed towards the music.
The Rose and the Thorn was a large tavern. The building was easily a hundred feet long and three stories tall. Several large windows were along the street every 10 feet. Wooden shutters hung in each, some open and some closed. A stage sat in a corner of the building near some windows. The glow from inside the building like the music spilled out into the street and some people even danced or gathered around open windows. Two large doors fifteen feet tall were propped open in the middle of the building.
Elric approached the doors slowly, not out of caution, a constant stream of intoxicated people. He spotted a few people who moved with the intoxication crowd but moved with more surety than a drunk person should. Swinging his hands as he walked, Elric was able to maintain a little bit of personal space as he entered the tavern.
Music was not as loud on the inside, the roar of people made it hard to hear or make out anything being said. Elric, with a hand in front of him, he pushed through the throng towards the bar. When he got to the bar he glanced around the place.
The main room of the tavern was twenty feet high and fifty feet long. The ceiling dropped down ten feet and the room extended the remaining distance to the walls of the building. Support columns two feet around held up the interior of the building. Above where the ceiling dropped down a balcony looped around the central area.
“…ave?” yelled a broad man standing on the other side of the bar from Elric. Elric quickly looked back at the bar as he had been caught up in the wooden and metal bars weaving a safety wall between the balcony and the people partying below. “What will ye have?” the bartender repeated.
“Ale, preferably cold.” Elric said fishing a silver coin from one of his many pockets. He set it on the bar and kept his hand there until the bartender reached for it. “Is it always like this?”
“Pisser is around the corner, you’ll smell it.” The bartender yelled back as he took the coin. The noise of the crowd seemed to amplify a little more as the band stopped playing. A moment later the bartender returned with a drink setting it down in front of Elric and a couple of smaller coins.
Elric thanked the bartender and picked up his drink. He left behind the coins behind on the counter. Slowly holding a hand over the top of his cup, he walked towards the opposite wall of the band. The tables were all full, the crowd was less though. Finding a spot near a support beam, Elric leaned against it and took a sip of his ale. The chilled sour taste helped wash away the blood of the day.
“No you,” a voice called out over the roar of people. “Ey, member e?” the voice said, this time with a slight tap on Elric’s shoulder. Standing next to Elric, wobbled Samuel. The weapons dealer had a large grin on his face that was reserved for children or drunks.
Samuel waved a hand towards a table with three people. He placed a hand against the column to steady himself. One of the people at the table saw Samuel waving in their direction and did a small wave back.
“E ave oom,” Samuel said. Taking a careful step and pulling himself upright, he took a hesitant step towards his table. Elric followed slowly. After the drunken man sat down, Elric sat in an open chair with his back to a wall. Everyone currently at the table had their heads leaned in and were talking.
Elric leaned in as well to try and hear. Like his head passing through an invisible bubble, suddenly the background noise disappeared. Amazed, Elric leaned back and the roar rushed in. Leaning back in towards the group he smiled.
“That is amazing,” Elric said “It blocks sound.”
The people around the table who were not as intoxicated as Samuel, all smiled and nodded. One of them pointed towards the only lady in the group. She blushed a little.
“Something I created when I was younger, my brother and I used to stay up late and play with toys. Somehow I figured this out to not get caught by my mum.” She said. “My name is Estrella.” A delicate hand with long fingers reached across the table towards Elric. He gently took it and shook.
“Dave,” a taller man sitting next to Estrella. Dave offered neither more information or a hand. He turned his head in the direction of the band and leaned back in his chair.
“Elric, are you all friends of Samuel’s?” Elric said.
“Yes, we keep trying to get him to come adventuring with us, but he refused to leave the family business.” A short man said sitting to the left of Estrella. “Forgive me, names Anton.” He similarly reached a thick calloused hand over towards Elric who shook it in kind.
“My amily, they too-pid,” Samuel said.
“Perhaps it is time for him to switch to water.” Elric said.
“Yeah, his constitution must not be very high. So what brings you to Hausten?” Anton said. Estrella and one of the other members had leaned their heads out of the bubble and were bobbing them to some music.
“Business, which I would rather not talk about.” Elric said
“Oh secretive!” Anton said.
“Na, just don't want to deal with it any more today. How do you guys know Samuel?”
“We’re an adventuring group, did a few quests for Brothers in Arms and they give us a good deal on stuff we find.”
“Now, they working to bankrupt us.” Samuel said in a surprising coherent tone. Anton, Samuel, and Elric stared at each other in surprise.
“The gods made heaven and earth, that which gave us birth, may our sorrows be dearth, days overwhelmed by with mirth.” Samuel said. He threw a glare at Estrella who’s head was still outside the bubble and looking towards the corner with the band. “Estrella, it took several good drinks to get that wasted.”
Anton poked Estrella and she brought her head back over the table. Briefly she looked confused until everyone glanced from her to Samuel. As soon as she saw the no longer glazed eyed on Samuel, Estrella giggled.
“Seemed rude for you to invite someone and be too drunk to participate.” Estrella said and she quickly placed her head away to where it was previously.
“Sorry, it has just been a tough few days. Someone sold my brothers another 50 or so goblin weapons and armor. Now I have almost a hundred that I need to unload before we go bankrupt.” Samuel said with a sigh. “At least you guys never try to unload your trash on them.”
Estrella leaned back in and tapped Dave on the chest. Dave leaned back over the table.
“We’re heading to bed. Nice to meet you Elric, and Sammy don’t drink your life away.” Estrella said. She stood up from her chair and gave a little bow.
“Night, and if the bed bugs bite, remember they aren’t worth anything to kill.” Dave then stood up and followed Estrella.
“Are all your friends this weird Sammy?” Elric said.
“Being these are my own friends, yes. Yes they are.” Samuel said.
“I’m going to get us some drinks, save my seat.” Anton said before standing up and working his way towards the bartender.
“If it is so hard to sell 30 goblin swords, why does your family buy them?” Elric said.
“It’s my brothers, they were already adults before Ma and Pa found me. So they run the store like they were taught. Which seems to be buy anything people sell for cheap and worry about how to sell it later. We have a pile of Orc skulls in the back for some reason. Some guy came through and sold 18 of them.” Samuel sighed at the thought of a little pile of skulls.
“I could see there being a market for those, maybe in Centralia. Find a necromancer…” Elric said but stopped as Samuel’s eyes opened wide.
“You going there soon? I’ll get you a good price on them. Think of the profit you’ll make!”
“No, no, I’ve got a job and doubt my boss would like me doing stuff on the side.”
“Oh well, if you know anyone interested, send them my way.”
“Actually I’ve been thinking about your goblin armory. Was curious if you could write down a price and I’ll present it to my boss.” Elric said. As soon as Samuels eyes started to widen Elric continued, “no promises, but I’ll check.”
Samuel wrote down a price on a piece of parchment. On there was different options from 30 goblin swords to 80 swords and armor. He even listed 15 short bows and 10 wooden shields as well. Elric nodded and smiled at the price, even whispering, ‘not a bad price’ to the delight of Samuel. Anton returned with a drink for each of them.
“No charge my friend,” Anton said when Elric asked what he owed, “I haven’t seen Sammy this cheerful since he was kidnapped by a succubus.” Samuel nodded and smiled, then frowned at the memory and shivered.
The table grew quiet as everyone nursed a drink for a moment before smiling Samuel said, “If you guys buy the 80 kits, I’ll throw in the Orc skulls for free.”