Teller of Tales

by Beestie

Part ONE -- Teller of Tales

P lease come tell some tales at the New Verden tavern, Unca. I'll buy all your drinks!" The younger Rak's tone was close to a whine. Beestie ignored him and pounced on one of the bears that frequented the path from New Verden to Davos. The bear's demise was quick and Beestie began to rip huge paws-full of flesh from the carcass and stuff them into his mouth.

       "You're not rouwrsh are you, Unca?" the younger Rak asked, using the Rakshasa term for outcast -- a term so vulgar in the Rak world as to be on equal footing with whimir -- coward.

       Beestie whirled from his dinner, one of his massive paws slamming upside the younger Rak's head. "Impudent cub!" he hissed. "You are blessed that I did not unsheathe my claws! No living thing calls me thusly!" He snarled a low, guttural noise and shambled away from the bear's carcass. "No one!" he repeated.

       "Then why, Unca? Why will you not come to the tavern and tell us your epic tales from the past glories of the land?"

       "It is because of disrespectful cubs such as yourself -- that is why," snarled Beestie. He continued his shambling gate down the path. The youngster noticed that his current path would take them into New Verden. He hushed.

       Beestie blinked as the two Raks stepped out of the guard house and onto the streets of New Verden. The hustle and bustle of the various races hurrying about them did not seem to phase the older Rak in the least. He stopped short in the middle of the northernmost street and whirled to face the youngster.

       "All my drinks?" he snapped.

       "Yes, Unca. All of them," the youngster assured him.

       "Even if I drink Rak's Purses?" A Rak's Purse was almost every Rakshasa's favorite drink -- a mixture of well-aged mead and heavy cream, with a sprig of catnip as a garnish, it was among the most expensive drinks in the realm.

       "Yes, Unca. Even if you drink them all night long." The youngster made to place one paw on Beestie's shoulder, thought better of it, and let the paw fall to his side. He was shy on healing potions this week, after all.

       "Very well, cub." Beestie began to stroll towards the tavern. "What is your name, cub?"

       "Purrcy," replied the youngster. The tip of his nose began to blush.

       "Purrcy?" One of Beestie's lips twitched. For a moment, hysterical laughter warred with dignity on his face. Dignity won. "That is no name for a warrior cub. I shall call you, Kirrsh. In the tongue of the land, it means, Talon.'" He swatted Kirrsh playfully on the back and began once again to amble towards the tavern. Kirrsh coughed twice from the force of the blow, then quick-stepped to catch up with the elder Rak.

       The tavern, the Hanging Half-Orc, was crowded, as usual. Barbarian humans, thieves, Elves, Dwarves, Giants, Pixies -- even a few Rakshasas -- were gathered in the common room. Meals were being served to the various patrons by a few human serving girls. Drinks were in evidence on most tables, and smoke wafted towards the ceiling from many a pipe.

       Kirrsh headed towards the smallish stage that was near the front of the common room by the cooking fires. Beestie stopped him with a slight shake of his shaggy head.

       "Unca, you need to take your place to tell your tales," Kirrsh said.

       "Mro -- no! I shall spin my epics from my table." He chose one halfway between the fire and the bar. Assured that food and drink were equidistant from him, he sat. Kirrsh spoke quickly to a barmaid and within moments Beestie had a Rak's Purse leaving its foam on his muzzle.

       "Ah! That hits the spot," he murmured, wiping the foam off his fur with the back of one massive paw. He leaned back in the chair, its joints creaking against the strain. He cleared his throat and began to sing. His voice, a deep, rich baritone, quickly cut through the hustle and bustle of the tavern and silenced every other voice.

       "In the days of yore
       not to bore
       I heard of many a fool

       "Who went to seek
       acting not meek
       their fortune away from school.

       "But none came home
       not even a bone.
       The Wyvern was much too strong!

       "Grave after grave
       of those thought brave
       rest empty -- oh, how wrong!"

       Kirrsh looked around the tavern. All drinks and plates were sitting untouched on the tables. The tale had instantly caught the attention of everyone in the room. Not one set of eyes glanced in any direction but Beestie's -- save those of one wizard with robes of swirling colors sitting off in the northeast corner. He puffed heartily on his pipe, his eyes scanning the crowd, a black cat sleeping next to him on the floor. His gaze crossed Kirrsh's. He took the pipe from his lips and smiled, then he, and the cat disappeared. Kirrsh blinked thrice before returning his attention to the song.

       "How the mothers wailed
       yes, the fathers railed,
       This Wyvern -- he must be stopped!'

       "But who to go?
       I do not know!
       To certain death we will not opt!

       "Until one day
       from across the bay
       came one so bold as he.

       "This Wyvern, he's dead
       or back to bed
       I most certainly shall flee!

       "For hear me out
       this Wyvern's a lout!
       I'll kill him before sunset!'

       "Away he ran
       like one on the lam
       straight to the Wyvern's get.

       "The noise, how loud!
       It drew quite a crowd
       as the earth shook beneath their feet.

       "Gouts of fire
       rose higher and higher
       casting dark shadow upon the street.

       "But after a while
       it became quite final
       another had fed the wurm.

       "Well, that's that!'
       said the grocer, so fat
       as the world took another turn."

       The silence was palpable when Beestie finished his tale. He grabbed his mug and took a deep gulp from it. The tunk of the earthenware crockery hitting the table as he put it down seemed to break the spell cast over the crowd. The applause was thunderous. Heads nodded towards one another as they all reminisced on the true plight of the land.

       "That was wonderful, Unca!" bubbled Kirrsh motioning to a serving girl to refill Beestie's crock. Do you have another?"

       The older Rak glared at him. "You do prattle on, don't you," he snarled. But as he buried his muzzle in the freshened drink, Kirrsh caught a glimmer of, something -- could it be pleasure? -- in Beestie's eyes.

       Clonk! went the mug on the oak table. Without skipping a beat, Beestie inhaled deeply and began once more to sing. The sharp report of his mug hitting the table had stopped all other voices in the tavern.

       "The Pixies are wild
       flying around, all the while
       annoying every being they meet.

       "Here and there they go
       laughing, dancing and lo!
       Knocking old ladies into the street!

       "Away from me gnat!'
       snarled one so fat
       as the pixies pulled her hair.

       "Look! There's a Rak!'
       cried the smallest named Stahk
       and off they flew through the air.

       "But this Rak was strong.
       The Pixies chose wrong
       and in a flash they were all quite flat.

       "For the Rak was Beestie
       and this task was easy --
       with a flyswatter he gave them a tap.

       "Since then there's a price
       on Beestie -- set thrice!
       By the King of the Pixies, Lord Ahwk.

       "Why thrice?' you might ask
       while the teller, he'll bask
       saying the King's son was young Stahk.

       "A war had now started
       Raks and Pixies now parted
       and planned the demise of each other.

       "Were the Raks truly worried?
       "No, not even hurried --
       Killing Pixies is not even a bother."

       Beestie looked out over the crowd. Another song finished, he picked up his mug. His eyes caught those of a Pixie. Sheer, absolute hatred filled the small being's eyes. Beestie recognized the gadfly as Stahk's younger brother, Awkrike. He had been hunting Beestie ever since the incident mentioned in the song. Beestie lifted his mug up in the petite Pixie's direction in a mocking salute. He then deliberately turned his back on Awkrike in a deliberate insult.

       "Come, Kirrsh. Our business here is finished." Without a backwards glance, Beestie stood and strode out the door to the tavern.

       "Unca, what's wrong?" huffed Kirrsh, huffing in the effort to keep up with Beestie's unhurried long pace.

       "Trouble's a brewing," said Beestie, a smile flickering across his muzzle. The muscles under his sleek pelt were rippling with anticipation.

       "And trouble is what you're getting!" piped a squeaky voice at ear-level. Beestie whirled about, one massive paw lashing out, not at where the voice was, but at waist level.

       Pat! came the sound of a large paw hitting a small, flying body. No one could be sure afterwards if the whistling sound that came from it as it hurtled through the air and against a wall on the other side of the street with a dull thud had been the Pixie's wings cutting through the air, or its dying scream. All anyone could testify to was that the Pixie hit the wall, slid to the ground, and never moved again.

       As Beestie and Kirrsh moved so they stood back to back, claws now fully extended, Pixie after Pixie buzzed into position. "Unca!" said Kirrsh, a note of worry in his voice.

       "Hush, cub," growled Beestie. One of his notched ears swiveled towards a dark alleyway. The sound of large claws could be heard walking hurriedly up the alley. One set after another of big, round, golden Rakshasa eyes peered through the darkness and locked onto an angry, flitting Pixie form. With an eager growl, the crowd of Rakshasas pounced in unison.

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