Her tail swished a little behind her. It looked almost like an own life, like a snake stalking its prey. It seemed so out of place in the atmosphere. The room was filled with a tension. One so tense, one was afraid to break the whole room if he would dare to do more than breathe. Some of those gathered in this room were even holding their breath, as it seemed that the situation was about to escalate. And in the middle of all that there was that swishing tail that seemed so out of place with it casualty and its pure ignorance of the whole tension between the three parties gathered. But how did it come to this? How did fortune manipulate all of their lives to end up gathered in that little room staring at each other and expecting the little place of peace to collapse and fade into chaos and sink into the tides of blood? That’s what I´m going to tell you, because that is my purpose in this world. I am here to document all and everything. And so I did. So enjoy our little travel back in time and listen to an old skald and his tales.
Our story starts in a big city, one you would take hours if not a whole day to surpass. In that town there was a tavern. Not a big one. More like some little inn at the edge of town. That inn, namely the “Pitchfork´s Payment” was driven by an old and grumpy Bernese Mountain dog. His name was Richard Frank Redley, but everyone called him Pitch. Pitch didn’t name the inn, and he never wished to be an innkeeper, but as his father, and his grandfather before he was stuck in the family tradition of keeping an inn. So the mistake in the name of the inn wasn’t his fault though he still disliked the taste it left in his mouth seeing that mistake every morning. But he was either too lazy or too busy to change it, and so the mistake carried on. Everything was quiet and according to rules in Pitch’s life. He had a wife, which was approximately as old as him and had given him a son and two beautiful daughters. Even if he was somewhat alarmed about how one of them developed throughout the years he was still as happy as a poor man, with a poor inn, in a poor district could ever be. He raised his children with love and care. He never hurt them or yelled at them like he heard others do and so his children were loving him and he was loving them. Pitch was sure about his son taking over the inn at the given time and so he worked hard for him to have a good start when the time would come. It´s in this inn – 20 Years prior to some people being together in a little room aching to kill each other or at least hurt each other as bad as possible – that our story starts. Or at least it is one of the many stories intertwined to produce said meeting.
It´s dark in the city, not like it was night, it was more like the sky being about to rain hell down upon the roofs of Laveos, the capital of Morhush, country of the seven winds. As the storm was brewing far over the rooftops Pitch stood behind his counter polishing an old jug with an equally old towel and looking at the ceiling worried about what was going to come. The City had not seen a storm like that since he was a little boy hiding underneath his bed while the thunder was shaking the city and the rain coming down as if it was a river crushing the city and trying to even it out the landscape. But Pitch was not a little boy anymore and he was not afraid of the thunder, not afraid of the lightning, not afraid of the ghostly whispers in the wind anymore. A man who was able to clear his pub out without any help wouldn´t be afraid of those things. And in fact he had experienced much worse than a storm coming forth. He looked around and inspected the few visitors still in the inn. He inhaled deeply one time, exhaled again, a little sigh on his lips and raised his voice.
“ `kay boys. Ya last order fer t´day please, all depths have´ta be paid today, I want nofur ta owe me when they die, and if mah eyes aren´t betrayin´ it looks like some nasty piece of storm out there. So order, pay, rent a room or get home.”
Half a dozen faces turned over to the Dog behind the counter and half a dozen hands raised to settle said last order. Only one fur pretty much ignored Pitch as he sat at a window with a glass of wine in one hand and a worn pipe in the other. He was smoking some “Kandkraudt”, a plant growing somewhere far east close to the great desert. Pitch prepared the last six beer for the day and brought them to his customers. Then he wandered around in the room, trying to avoid having to confront the stranger at the window. He somehow had a feeling that fur would cause him some serious problems. But anyways he had to get that stranger into one of his rooms or out of his tavern one way or the other. So he breathed again one time and approached the one sitting at the window. He came to stand about a foot away, clearing his throat and looking down at the pipe. It was a nice piece of work. A long shaft and many ornaments made up for the halfway burnt bowl which seemed so worn as if to fall of every second. Pitch cleared a throat his second time before raising his voice again.
“How ´bout you fella. Want a last drink before gettin´ home?”
This time he wasn’t ignored. A voice, deep and hypnotic but somewhat dangerous at the same time was heard from the strangers mouth. He didn´t look up at Pitch but he was clearly addressing him.
“Oh, but I´d like to rent a room for the night at your inn mister Redley. If there are any left of course, that is.”
There was still some part of him unsure about letting that stranger sleep in his house, but Pitch was not someone to deny money thrown at him like that. The stranger was sitting in front of that window for about six hours now, ordering glasses of wine never letting his pipe unlit.
“Well if that is what ya´ wish fer. I´ll be havin´ up fer ya´ in a few minutes. But as with all the others here ya´ll haveta pay me today, cause if ya´ll be goin away today it is uncertain that ya´ll return ya´ know?”
Pitch scratched his forehead with one paw and looked down at the stranger who still hadn’t faced him yet.
“Oh of course I will good sir. And don´t bother getting a room made up for me, I´m okay with everything if it has a bed and a closet in it.”
The stranger seemed amused in a way Pitch couldn´t understand. But still he was a little suspicious about that stranger.
“Well suit yourself.”
Pitch said before returning to his counter and to polishing an old jug with an equally old towel.
And that´s how one of them stories started. It sounds very common doesn’t it? A stranger, taking cover at some random tavern in some random district of the capital. Of course it does. And why is that? Because great stories, great epics don’t start great. Nothing starts as a big thing. Everything has to grow and take shape. It all starts with little thing: A seed, some grains of sand being lifted by the wind or even by some random stranger taking cover at a random inn.