In dank and dreary tavern room
gathered round flickering flame.
Patrons, unwashed peasant folk
lash our thoughts with banal jest
Laughter, banter and bawdy songs
surge, break against our hushed confidence.
With clink of coin and clunk of mug
they turn their dull lives’ night to stupors revel.
On our table gather
once-foaming mugs of swillish ale
Gormlin, does his best to toil
through brackish mire of beer
Blame not his taste, he belchingly declares
A dwarf’s a slave to nature’s thirst
On nights like this, the throat constricts.
We let him drink
his council at best, muddled as his tangled beard,
draped with flotsam snared from
watery gruel masqueraded as sustenance.
Brenwyn picks at table’s edge,
cutting grooves in nervous wait
The road she walks keeps dirk in hand
or never far from reach.
By our meager light
guarded with huddled form
an ancient parchment spread,
old even by Elvish years.
Beyond the wood, mud and mire
that passes for this squalid town.
Hidden by the pass of time
faded from song and memories.
The map before us laid
with glyph and tongue of ancient dread.
A door scribed across the stones,
etched into mountain vale.
The riches whispered from the map
caress our greed like siren’s song
draw us out from safe harbour
pull us to its dark embrace.
The elven pair stands aloof
hooded, quiet, deep in thought.
Their council, in words so hushed,
that a mouse might miss
A plan to reclaim fortune’s lost.
Gormlin offers counter point
a few more days to soak in sights
fix an axe and mend his mail.
Let the thief scout about
She is best at finding ways that
others miss with heavy tread,
eyes muddled in the gloomy light.
And if one did not return
then others would seek the way
or better still remain indoors
ward against the winter’s chill.
Brenwyn offers counterpoint
a place where thieves can stick a dirk
lance a festering dwarven boil
before it bursts more putrescent verse.
Quickly before this night descends
into another tavern brawl
We part the two with consolatory words
lest sharp tongues turn to sharper blades.
Fast as anger rises, Gormlin
roars a hearty laugh
Mugs of ale dissolve his fury
fast as drink is downed.
Brenwyn slithes back into her brood
more difficult humour to cultivate,
nonchalant she shrugs, returns to table’s work
asserting all was spoke in jest.
Still, I fear for Gormlin’s fate
should fortunes find the pair alone
resolving differences in blood.
The plan is bared
its teeth gleaming, sharp and full of malevolence.
As rain sets in
rattling shutters above the constant din
I wonder to myself
what manner of man
would call himself adventurer.