Friday, January 25, 2013

A Bartender's Speech

A Bartender's Speech
David Stout

“I was once an adventurer like you, but then I learned that the world is a much crueler place to live in.”

The old bartender spoke as he worked at cleaning his bar top.  A female human mage fresh from her graduation at the local magic school and her two friends, an elven male rogue and a female half-orc barbarian, were listening intently after bragging about how they were going to start their first real adventure for the mercenary guild they joined together.

“Listen well young ones, and yes elf I know you’re still young for your race so that still applies to you, but the world you are so excited to be a part of is more dangerous than your illusions of grandeur have made you believe them to be. You’re bonds of friendship will be tested on a good day and that’s if you’ve been close to death more than twice that day. I recommend you find yourselves a good healer, or at least one of you knows the basics in first aid, but the good news is that you eventually get used to feeling sharp objects piercing your skin. Oh and that’s not including building a small immunity to fire, ice, and lightning spells, slowly building up a resistance to various toxins, and of course the sites you’ll see might even drive you mad. Death will be one of the most common things you see, to the point that you might even see the reaper itself at some moments in your travels, worse any gods you believe in will be so familiar to you in sight that you will eventually be able to correct various artist depictions when you reach some of their shrines.”
The mage looked uncomfortable, shifting in her seat a bit while her half-orc friend’s expression remained dour but interested in what the bartender had to say. The elf was nursing his ale, both interested but uncomfortable at what he was hearing so far. The bartender poured some red wine into a mug and placed it in front of the mage and nodded at her to drink.

“You’ll run into monsters that you’ve only read about, heard stories of, or even seen from a safe distance, and then there are the bandits of various races and genders who’ll be ruthless when in numbers, but cowards when their singled out.  You’ll need to rely more on your brain than just your skills with a blade or your fancy spells, tactics and team work will keep you alive longer than working and fighting alone. You may think you know that now, but you’ll lose your wits when the pressure is on and your mates are falling over due to various reasons. Never rely too much in your ability to fight, but remember that words can only go so far, and even coin will not get you everywhere you need to be. Sometimes you will run into allies that will turn out to be enemies and vice versa, so don’t always be too trusting to what you see or hear. A little digging goes a long way when you are doing research, but only make as much time for it as you can spare for it. If you feel you have no time for it then make the time as going into anything blind is guaranteed to end badly for you. Learn to go under different names and changing your appearances, as being heralded as you are can be bait for something sinister.”

The rogue motioned for more ale which the bartender obliged to grant. After he filled the mug he looked up when two more characters entered his tavern: a female half-elf bard and a male dwarven ranger, with a falcon perched on his left shoulder. The dwarf pulled up a stool next to the half-orc and was greeted by both a nod and the bartender placing one of his larger tankard filled with the strongest drink he had in the place. He then motioned towards the falcon on the dwarf’s shoulder towards a freshly caught mouse in a mouse trap for the bird to feast on. After a small exchange of glances between the bird and its owner , the falcon happily flew to its new meal with the bartender resuming to speak.

“There is so much reward though to be had though. I have many treasures of my own, enchanted blades that never need to be cleaned and still generate auras of their ancient magicks placed upon them, various bags that could hold almost an infinite amount of supplies, plenty of gold, jewels, and even special charms that will grant various boons to their holders. I have maps of the dungeons, ruins, and various palaces in this nation, charts that map out the vast number of planes that are filled with even more exotic  flora and fauna that could dwarf some of the these creatures in the world. I can tell you about the demons, dragons, ancient elementals and even dead gods I have helped put into non-existence, the various undead and abominations of the sea that could swallow a whole fleet of ships in one gulf, the machinations of evil tyrants, the hopes of noble leaders, the courage of greater heroes, and the cowardice of fools. Hear me well new comers, there is much to learn in this world and the ones beyond, but only if you survive whatever it throws at you. Remember the injuries you sustain and honor the friends that are lost, but don’t throw your lives away if it will not be meaningful in the long term. I wish you luck on your journeys but understand that even luck is something that can be controlled for both your benefit and your own downfall. The drinks are on me this time, but the next time around be ready to pay with either a good tale of what has happened to you or with the coin you have rightly earned.”

The bartender gave a hearty laugh and a few of the group joined him in their merriment as they raised their glasses in celebration. After they had finished their drinks and have left the tavern another small group of adventurers entered while discussing what they will do after they have gathered their reward for their first assignment. Some were talking about spending the gold on fancier gear, others on saving it for a place to call their own, while the bartender merely laughed at them. After they have quieted from hearing the laugh, the largest one of them, a male human paladin, walked up to the bar and asked what was so funny to the bartender? The owner smiled and motioned for the group to have a seat and began with these words:

“I was an adventurer like you once…”

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