An Unwelcome Reclamation

The Hart and Tail Tavern

Although the weather is quite pleasant out, it’s a quiet night in Gayle as most of the workers have either gone home or are gathered inside one of the local pubs and taverns that line the docks. The walkways and alleys are empty except for the occasional Guard on patrol or drunk looking for a place to sleep, greeting any passerby with an uneasy glance or unintelligible mild heckling.

Inside the Hart and Tail Tavern, the mood is noticeably lighter. A varied mix races have managed to find comfort here, escaping the troubles of outside by drinking, gambling, and drinking more. The most common drink is Vanco, a cloudy white liquid that smells and taste like month old leftovers from the fish monger.

At a large table in the center of the room, several local Men and Dwarves make jokes and drink while playing a game that either has very loose rules, or those playing the game are making them up as they go along. It appears the only things required are a few coins, some cards, a freshly skinned rabbit fur, and as much Vanco as you can get your hands on. Occasional shouts of “Brekenburn!” are heard from the table as they all drink together.

There are smaller groups scattered at various tables throughout the tavern. They mostly drink and talk amongst themselves. Several of the patrons appear to be local guards choosing to spend their shifts indoors where the only trouble is an occasional bar fight that is easily resolved with a bottle or two of Vanco.

At one sits a handful of young Elves, two young Men, and very drunk Halfling. Despite his state, the Halfing appears to be out-charming the other lads at the table and winning the affection of the fair-haired Elven maids sitting nearby.

As a robed figure walks by, a few at the table wrinkle their noses and the halfling jumps up on the bench and grabs his nose and throat, falling to the ground as he gasps for air. He then rolls on the floor laughing as the others try to stifle their amusement. The robed figure glances back over his shoulder with a pale almost sickly visage and the table quickly straightens up as the halfling manages to find a new seat between the Elven maids and orders a round for his two new lovely friends. The robed figure walks to a corner table, sits down hard with a sigh and rest his staff beside him. His robes are worn and look as though they are hundreds of years old. Long, stringy black hair hangs in his face as he raises his hand slightly and calls over a barmaid to bring him some dinner.

At the end of the bar, surrounded by a cloud of smoke, sits a hooded figure that could easily be mistaken for a statue if he didn’t move to re-pack his pipe or occasionally toss a coin to the bartender after having his drink refilled.

At another table, towards the back, a few heavily armored crusaders sit and eat. Made up of a mixture of Men and a couple Dragonborn, their armor and banners clearly display the silhouetted head of a dragon on a field of blue. Crusaders, like all travelers, are welcome in Gayle but only a fool could miss the feeling of uneasiness they brought with them. Not helping was the sometimes savage appearance of Dragonborn and recent killings outside the walls. The crusaders are aware of this and appear to be keeping to themselves to avoid any trouble. Gayle has seen more and more of their kind pass through recently, though no one has been able to get a straight answer as to where they are headed.

Just as the patrons had begun to forget about the outside world, the outside world came bursting through the tavern door in the form of a rugged looking middle-aged man with a blank look in his eyes and large burlap sack over his shoulder, soaked through with water and a dark, thick stain growing from the bottom…

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