Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Opportunity, Part One.

While my slew of meh-ly written Halo fiction has gotten me by for a while, I've been yearning for something new, different and original to write about. After much deliberation, I've finally decided to make a start on a new story. So here you have it, the pre-prologue of my upcoming story, <INSERT NAME HERE>!
The Fried Ferret Tavern could be summed up in it's sign, which swung from a pole outside. It hadn't been oiled or taken down in generations, and squeaked relentlessly in the night wind. The sign depicted some kind of rodent, presumably the titular ferret, sitting by a mug, with the words 'WECLOME ALL TRAVLERS' inscribed into the wood beneath. Spelling errors and inaccurate animal depictions aside, it had remained there for many a year, a sight for all journeying into the capital from the main highway. Recently, it had come to the owner's attention that someone had, by some miraculous feat, scaled the ancient pole and scrawled an obscenity over the sign.

After various attempts to remove the red paint had failed, it had, as most things were in those parts, been blamed on wizards. Unexplained and inexplicable things usually were. So, that was the sign. Old, squeaky, slightly crooked and defaced. The Fried Ferret Tavern, though appearing on the outside to be fairly regular by the region's standards, even called 'modern' by some of it's more verbose clientele, was exactly that on the inside, albeit with alcohol. It was said to tourists passing through the capital that on a good night you could watch the spectacle of some of it's more rowdy patrons being forcefully ejected. Bets were even placed on how far the drunkards would soar across the street once the bouncer had picked them up bodily and shown them the door. Face-first, usually.

The inside of the Ferret, currently twenty four times the legal maximum capacity, was a noisy, cheery, and very drunk place. Should a tourist or outsider venture in, and by some miracle acquire a seat at one of the near-mythical tables, they could easily pick out the wide variety of patrons that favoured the bar. In addition to the general crowd of regulars, people whose only purpose in life seemed to be for filling out these places and making up the bulk of mobs everywhere, there were several 'forn types', huddled in the corner wearing hooded cloaks and speaking in hushed voices, a group of men with poorly concealed weapons, likely sellswords of some sort, and a few young women, likely ready to sell themselves to the sellswords at some point, once the overpriced beer had taken it's toll and the mind cannot warn the body of impending danger.

These people, however, were nothing special. A trip to the tavern three streets away would likely reveal a similar scene, though lacking the fried rodent that this particular establishment had long specialised in selling. However, sitting in a booth, in one of the darker corners of the crowded room, was someone very special indeed. Currently, he was adjusting his hat so that it overshadowed his eyes without obstructing his vision. After fiddling with his headgear, a wide-brimmed red straw hat, for some time, the man gave up, and went back to searching for his beer, which he had purchased an hour previously and was drinking at the same rate a fish might climb a mountain. A clank and the trickle of liquid confirmed the location of his mug, followed by a string of hissed expletives. Perhaps extinguishing the lights in his corner had been a bad idea.

Getting up, the man clicked a small silver device several times against the lamp, until it ignited, finally giving him some light. Seeing the pint as a lost cause, he sat back down again, eyes roving around the room. The silver lighter had gotten him some dubious looks. In these parts, the people were more akin to crows than actual human or near-human beings at times. He placed the hat back on the table and attempted to brush the hair from his eyes. That got him some looks as well. Shoulder length hair was generally reserved for practitioners of the arcane arts, women, westerners, or subjects of intense ridicule. The hat was swiftly replaced. It had been a waste of a day, really. All the time spent here today had been wasted. Sighing, he took out a small notebook and pen, and scribbled a brief sentence before stowing it away in his rucksack. Looking up, he locked eyes momentarily with a man halfway across the room, who had been watching him intently. The man, who had the build, and from the dull expression in his eyes, the brain of an ox, began walking towards him, followed by several others.

"Oh, bugger"

The other men stopped at his table, spreading out and surrounding it, giving off the general sneers and malicious grins that could only have been achieved in a lifetime of picking on smaller beings. The leader, who probably attained such a prestigious rank through a dim flicker of initiative and raw strength, leant over the table, his grin revealing a row of mismatched teeth, and letting out the familiar stench of someone who had long  since abandoned any kind of oral hygiene. That said, he was not a good looking man, though such types rarely were.

"Well well well" he said simply, leering at the smaller man. "What have we got here then?"
Completely ignoring the rhetorical question, the man smiled pleasantly and tipped his hat. "Alendrian Barnes. What can I do you gentlemen for?"
This took the larger  man by surprise, causing his lackeys to look at their hero in blind panic for a moment before he glared at his now-mortal enemy. "Ooh, fancy name, eh boys? Well, I've been watching you, I have"

"Have you? Whatever for?"

"Well, me 'n the boys here, we don't like people like you coming in 'ere, getting a whole table to yerselves and doing things we don't like"

Looking back on his obviously unforgivable crimes committed in the last minute or so, Alendrian realised that  diplomacy would be tantamount to suicide right now. He tried once more, putting on that same disarming smile. "Come on boys, there's no need to be like this. How about I buy you all a drink, eh?

The response wasn't exactly what he had expected. While your average drunken patron would be delighted at the prospect of someone else buying a drink, this lot didn't even seem to consider the offer. This wasn't good. While most normal men could be bribed, coerced or begged into considering other options, the five men facing Alendrian right now were of a different breed, that of a pure, moronic thug. Given the chance they would probably be prime employees for some kind of crime boss or evil overlord. The leader took this offer, as he did with most things, as a final insult, his hand moving for the knife that hung from his belt.

"Have it your way, then" Alendrian said, bored at the prospect of fighting people as bland as this.


There you have it. My apologies to McGee for the excessive length of this post. I intend to write up the second part at some point in the near future. Here's the bloody joke:

Q: What kind of tree grows in your hand?
A: A palm tree!

It physically hurt to type that. I may have acquired some kind of fatal disease. You bastard.

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