Juniper and Grace stood outside of the Nick-Nack Inn in the middle of the Town of Bishop.
Both Juniper and Grace were tired and hungry from the journey through The Ollick Forest. They had just woken up in the middle of the forest and made their journey along the road. They had passed a few different people along the road including a woman on horseback who had asked them for directions toward Xylon.
That’s where Juniper wanted to go. She thought that Xylon might be the location of her brother, Julian, or at least some information on his curse.
“Hopefully they serve food here,” Grace said interrupting Juniper’s thought process.
Juniper turned to Grace and smiled a little.
“Yeah me too. I’m starving,” Juniper said patting her stomach.
They both walked into the Inn. There were still a few patrons laying on tables and the floor in a drunken stupor. Juniper assumed that there must have been some kind of fight last night, because tables were knocked over and there splinters of chairs strewn about. There was one Dwarven man cleaning tables and trying to tidy up the place, but it still looked like a storm blew in last night. Up at the bar there were three gentleman sitting at it and one woman behind the bar cleaning glasses.
The one closest to the door was a Half-Elven Man with a mess of black hair wearing a thick, black cloak and fancy silver armor. It was similar to the armor that the woman on the road was wearing.
The one in the middle of the group was a shorter man. About the size of a human child or Dwarf. He had curly red hair and wore a green cloak which obscured most of his body. He had a large pint of something in his hands.
The third one. Oh boy. He was huge. He was bald with an ashy gray skin tone. He wore some clothing, but most of his torso was exposed. He was covered in all types of tattoos. Nothing in particular. Just lines. Like warpaint.
“A lot of people come through these doors,” The woman behind the bar said. “You’re going to be more specific.”
“Her name is Lillian Evergreen,” The Half-Elf said.
Apparently they were in the middle of some kind of heated discussion.
“Look people don’t usually give me their life story. Just the money up front,” The woman said.
“Hello?” Juniper stepped into The Nick-Nack Inn with Grace right behind her. “Do you serve food here?”
The woman looked around the Half-Elf.
“Hello! Hello! Yes please take a seat wherever comfortable. I’ll be right with you.”
Juniper and Grace sat at one of the tables closest to the door and the bar. Right up front. It was one of the tables that the Dwarf had already cleared off.
The woman which Juniper assumed was the bartender dumped off large plates of food for the small man and the large giant before coming over to Juniper and Grace. The giant man began to tear into strips of bacon throwing dozens of strips into his mouth at one time.
“So what can I get you two?” The bartender asked.
“Juniper, I don’t have any money,” Grace said placing a hand on Juniper’s.
“Don’t worry, I got us covered. Order whatever you’d like,” Juniper said.
“Do you have pancakes?” Grace asked the bartender.
“More people who are fans of breakfast at lunch. Sure I can do that,” The woman gave Grace a huge smile.
“I’ll take a stack of pancakes then,” Grace smiled back.
“Make that two,” Juniper said.
“Great. Two stacks of pancakes. That will be a silver for the two of you.”
Juniper reached into her bag and handed over a silver coin.
“Thank you. My name is Liz and I am the owner of this fine establishment. Just let me know if you need anything else.”
“Thank you, Liz,” Juniper said before Liz headed back behind the bar to the kitchen in order to fix up their breakfast.
The Half-Elf turned to the other two patrons at the bar.
“Please you must have seen something. Heard something,” The Half-Elf said.
The large man was too busy with his breakfast to reply, but the shorter one did put a hand on his chin.
“Maybe if you describe this woman to me,” The small one said.
The Half-Elf let out a sigh.
“She’s a human woman. About my height. Long, black hair. Wearing armor from the Knights of Frost Haven,” He said.
Grace’s head pick up.
She tapped Juniper on the arm.
“He said Frost Haven.”
Juniper turned towards the bar.
Frost Haven was Grace’s destination. Apparently Grace was some kind of special being that had angel blood in her veins. She had been told that there was a temple to Pelor there, the Dawnfather, which would take her in and protect her from people who would wish her harm.
Juniper had actually rescued her from two slavers only a few days ago which targeted her because of her angel blood, so Juniper understood why Grace would seek out protection. Maybe this stranger could help Grace get to Frost Haven.
“Yeah I heard him. I wonder if he’s from there,” Juniper whispered to Grace.
The smaller man scratched his head.
“Hmmmm….human girl with long black hair. That does kind of sound familiar,” He said.
“Pretty girl. Last night,” The large one said after shoving another handful of salted meat into his mouth.
“Right you are, Tak,” The short one said. “I do believe we are talking about the same person.”
“You saw here? Lillian?” The Half-Elf asked, his voice full of excitement and worry.
“It’s hard to say,” The short one said. “Lots of girls with black hair. Maybe it was the same one. Maybe not.”
Grace gave Juniper a little smack on the arm.
“The woman on the road. That sounded like her,” Grace said.
Grace sure was observant.
She was right. This did sound like the girl they talked to on the road.
“I think I know who you are talking about,” Juniper said to the entire bar.
All three of the men turned towards her.
“Lillian? You saw Lillian?” The Half-Elf got up from his stool.
“I’m not sure,” Juniper replied. “I met someone on the road. She matches the description you just gave.”
“Where? Where did you see her?”
Juniper opened her mouth and began to speak, but Grace cut her off.
“You said you’re from Frost Haven, right?” Grace asked.
The Half-Elf turned to Grace.
“I need safe passage to Frost Haven,” Grace said. “We will tell you if you help me get to Frost Haven.”
The room fell silent.
Then the small man began to chuckle.
“Wow. That was a powerplay,” He said with a laugh.
The Half-Elf walked over to the table.
“Listen here. I need you to tell me what you know. It’s important.”
“I don’t have to tell you anything,” Grace said folding her arms.
The Half-Elf grabbed the edge of the table. Juniper stood up and grabbed the hunting knife from her belt holding it out towards The Half-Elven man.
“Back off,” Juniper said.
“Woah! Woah! Everyone calm down. Loverboy sit down,” The short man said.
“Another fight?” The large man, Tak, stood up and picked up a large warhammer off of the ground.
The short man jumped off the stood and held up a hand to both Tak and the table.
“Woah! No fighting. We can’t settle this like civilized men and women,” He said.
The Half-Elf let go of the table and took a step back. Tak lowered the weapon placing it back onto the ground.
“Good. Now let’s all just take a breath. First maybe we just tell each other our names. That’s a good place to start, right? My name is Sigthyme,” Sigthyme said.
“Name is Tak,” Tak raised one of his giant hands.
“Ok now you two,” Sigthyme gestered towards Juniper and Grace.
“My name is Juniper,” She said as she held the knife.
“Great, and now you,” Sigthyme said.
The Half Elf continued to look at Juniper and Grace.
“Riffen,” He said with a scowl on his face.
“Great! Now that we have that out of the way. Maybe we can lower our weapons and just talk this out,” Sigthyme said.
Juniper slowly lowered the knife and placed it in her waistband.
“Please. Just tell me where you saw Lillian,” Riffen said.
“First I need safe passage to Frost Haven,” Grace said.
Riffen’s expression soured.
“I’m sorry. I’m not heading to Frost Haven. I’m searching for Lillian. Wherever she is heading, that is where I’m heading,” Riffen said.
“Then I can’t help you,” Grace said.
“Grace,” Juniper turned towards her. “I will make sure you get to Frost Haven. I’m sure I can find you some kind of transport there.”
“Just so I can get attacked again?” Grace asked.
“We’re out of The Ollick Forest. There’s not going to bandits to attack you here,” Juniper said.
Grace starred at Juniper. She didn’t seem so sure.
“Fine,” Grace turned towards Riffen. “We saw a woman on horseback heading towards Xylon. Following the road South of here.”
“Thank you. Thank you,” Riffen said with a smile. “I must head after her at once.”
“Woah. Slow it down, lover boy,” Sigthyme said. “You look exhausted. You are in no condition to go tracking down this girl. Plus you heard what…ummm….”
“Juniper,” She said.
“Right, Juniper. Lovely name by the way. You heard what Juniper said. There are bandits out there. You want to get attacked in your current state? They’ll eat you alive.”
“You are puny,” Tak laughed.
Riffen turned to Tak and gave him a glare. But the Halfling was right. He was in no condition to go anywhere. He had rode throughout the night. He was exhausted.
“Yeah. Fine,” Riffen said with a heavy sigh.
“Great. Two crises adverted. Who knew I was so good at deescalation,” Sigthyme smiled.
“Not me,” Tak said.
Sigthyme turned. “Do you even know how to spell deescalation?”
“No,” Tak said plainly as he shrugged his shoulder.
Liz emerged from the behind the bar with two stack of hot, buttery pancakes.
She gave everyone a strange look as she sat them down in front of Juniper and Grace.
“There we go. Two stacks of pancakes. Anything else?” Liz asked.
“I think that will be it for now,” Juniper said.
“Wonderful. Just let me know if you need anything else,” Liz said before returning to the bar. “And how did you two enjoy your meal?”
“It was fantastic,” Sightyme said with a smile.
“Good,” Liz said going back to cleaning glasses.
Riffen sat back down on the bar stool and placed his head in his hands.
Liz turned towards Riffen.
“Are you in need of any food or drink?” She asked.
“You really should eat something,” Juniper said before putting a bite of pancake into her mouth.
“Listen to the lady, Loverboy,” Sigthyme said.
“Please don’t call me that,” Riffen muttered.
“Just calling it like I see it,” Sigthyme said with a shrug.
“Sounds like you really care about her,” Grace said although her words were muffled by pancakes.
“Look! I don’t need everyone butting into my life, ok?” Riffen said throwing up my arms.
Liz crossed her arms.
“Are you ordering something or not?” Liz asked.
“Yeah. Sure. Fine,” Riffen said.
“Anything in particular?”
“Pancakes are really good,” Juniper said.
“I guess I’ll have some pancakes,” Riffen said with a sigh.
“Stack of pancakes coming up,” Liz said. “That will be 5 Copper.”
Riffen glanced around the room before producing a Gold coin.
“I’ll get you change,” Liz said with a wink.
Tak had finished his meal and half of Sigthyme’s while Sightyme was busy talking to everyone else. He noticed this and walked over to Juniper and Grace’s table. Sightyme pulled out a chair and welcomed himself to the table.
“So what brings you two ladies to the town of Bishop?” Sightyme asked.
Grace gave him the stink eye.
“We’re on a very important mission,” Juniper said. “We’re in Bishop to resupply.”
“I totally get that. That’s pretty much why Tak and I are here too.”
“Mission,” Tak repeated.
“Really?” Juniper asked narrowing her eyes. “What kind of mission brings a giant man like him and a tiny man like you together?”
“Woah! Woah! I’m not tiny where it’s important,” Sigthyme said with a smile.
Grace rolled her eyes.
“Tiny Man,” Tak said.
Sigthyme turned back to Tak.
“Everyone is tiny compared to you!”
Then Sigthyme turned back to the ladies.
“So your mission?”
“We asked you first,” Grace said.
“True. True. Buuuuuut….ladies first,” Sigthyme said. “You already mentioned Frost Haven.”
“Why are you heading to Frost Haven?” He asked.
Grace sunk back in her chair a bit now that everyone was looking at her.
“Why do you care, Half-Elf?” Juniper asked.
Riffen’s ears twitched a bit.
“The name is Riffen,” Riffen said through gritted teeth. “And if you have to know, I’m from Frost Haven.”
“But you’re not heading there?” Grace asked.
“No, I’m heading towards Xylon for track down Lillian,” Riffen said.
“Do you think you can arrange passage to Frost Haven?” Juniper asked.
“Maybe,” Riffen said. “I don’t really know anyone here in Bishop.”
Liz emerged from the back with a stack of pancakes for Riffen.
“Can’t help to overhear, but is someone looking for passage out of Bishop?” Liz asked.
Grace sunk into her chair again.
“Yes we are,” Juniper spoke up. “We need passage for Grace here. We need her to be protected.”
“You might need to head to the stables on the North end of town. The stable owner’s name is Xan. Nice man. Should be able to help you.”
“Thank you, Liz,” Juniper said with a smile. “That is very helpful.”
“I try my best,” Liz said returning the smile before wiping some grease from her forehead.
“Do you take care of this whole place yourself?” Juniper asked.
“Well I do have some help from Harvey there,” Liz pointed to the Dwarf picking up splinters of a chair off the ground. “But besides that, it’s just me.”
“Very admiral for you to own a business,” Sigthyme said.
“Yeah, well, I do it for the fame and fortune,” Liz said with a laugh before disappearing behind the bar and back into the kitchen.
Grace pulled on Juniper’s clothes.
“Can we go check out this Xan fellow?” Grace asked.
“I think that’s a good idea,” Juniper said.
“Leaving so soon?” Sigthyme asked.
Juniper gave him a sideways look.
“Are you insisting on coming with us?” Juniper asked.
“Well it’s just that you are heading to get supplies and Tak and I want to get supplies too. Might as well go together,” Sigthyme said with a smile.
Tak stood up and slung his large warhammer over his shoulder.
“Tak, no need supplies,” Tak said.
Sigthyme turned to him.
“Well I do. Plus its partly your fault I’m all out of food.”
Tak shrugged and gave Sigthyme a toothy smile.
Their conversation was interrupted by a chorus of yells from outside. All five of them, including Riffen, turned towards the door.
“What was that?” Juniper jumped up from the table.
“I don’t know, but I’m guessing it’s not good,” Sigthyme said standing up as well.
“Sounds like a fight,” Tak said moving towards the door.
Juniper turned back towards Grace.
“Grace, stay here. I’m going to check it out,” Juniper said grabbing her long bow and slung her quiver of arrows over her shoulder.
“I…I can help,” Grace said.
“No, this is no place for a child,” Sigthyme said.
Sightyme made eye contact with Grace and then looked towards Juniper. They both nodded.
“Fine,” Grace crossed her arms.
Tak opened the door and walked out into the street ducking his head to get through the doorway.
Sigthyme and Juniper followed suit. Juniper had her bow ready while Sigthyme wielded a long, thin rapier. Tak stood there with his warhammer.
“Well don’t forget me,” Riffen walked out into the road.
“You, loverboy? You’re going to fight?” Sigthyme asked.
Riffen raised his shield and pulled a longsword from the sheath on his belt.
“I’m not completely useless,” Riffen said.
“Still pretty puny,” Tak said.
“Shut up,” Riffen said. “I’m helping you.”
“Both of you, shush,” Juniper said. “Look there!”
She pointed up ahead of them and the three men turned down the street. There up ahead of them a few different people were running towards them. There were yells and screams coming from the end of town.
Ahead of them was a large, lumbering being about 9 feet tall with green skin, long arms with sharp claws, thick black hair, and large fangs. It stood here dragging the body of a human through the street leaving a trail of blood and dirt.
It let out a guttural roar in the direction of these four.
They were about to have their first battle as a group. Time to fight a troll.
Other Dungeons and Dragons inspired pieces:
Header Photo Credit to Moddb.com and it’s images of European-inspired taverns