Two more weeks pass after saying goodbye to the Void Elves of Darnanan before we finally come to the strange world of Refuge. Apparently it’s not the planet itself, but a “guardian moon” of sorts that orbits around it; at least that’s what the troops in the blue and white uniforms tell us after a 3 hour check-in process.
I gaze longingly at a ship that leaves the docks, free of this seemingly never-ending bureaucracy, and do a double-take as I swear… I can’t place it, but… it seemed like I saw ghosts on the deck.
Once we’re finally free to roam, it’s easy to see why this place might be named Refuge. Ships of all kinds of different styles populate the docks… even a tentacled one that makes me shudder in cold rememberance of sleepless nights filled with maddening visions.
“What’s a squiddy ship?” asks Hodey as we walk by.
“Those belong to Mind Flayers,” Constance explains kindly. “Best to leave them be.”
“So… who is up for a drink?” offers Khal suddenly. “I’m buying!”
The Githyanki priest must be grateful to be on solid ground after that last battle… so who am I to deny his generosity?
“By Adzmodeus’ beard, I certainly am,” I reply as we make our way through the throngs of humans, lizards, insectoids, and even past a group of Waylond’s race, the Giff. “It looks like there’s one down here past ’Dassam’s Leather Emporium.’”
Waylond starts up into a bawdy bar song as we step through the doors of The Golden Helm, and I can’t help but notice the groans of the elf as he searches frantically through his pouches and mutters about wax. “I’ve got to have something I can stuff in my ears…”
“Earplugs… don’t leave home without them,” I joke as I show him the crafted pair I always carry in my pouch. As one who practices in charms, it’s always good to have that last line of defense.
The bar is bustling with activity, but unfortunately they’ve got soliciting issues so it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to make some extra pocket money tonight. Feh… they probably just want me to get an overpriced license or something first. I wander my way thorugh the crowds and take particular notice of the tall blue creature talking with a Mind Flayer in the corner. Hmm… the Arcane… they were banned from Sigil, but apparently the news hasn’t gotten to here yet.
I also can’t help but notice the sparkling flamboyent gentleman with the looker at a private table in the back. Heh… Reigar… those vendetta-loving fashion victims just love to stir up trouble for their own entertainment. I’m sure they’d get along just fine with the people in Ribcage… if their clothes didn’t get them tossed out first.
“Do you all have any Wamoosh Ale?” Waylond asks cheerfully as he slaps a hand down on the bar.
Ah yes… a drink!
“I’ll have something that tastes better when you set in on fire,” I chuckle as I take advantage of the bartender’s attention and sidle up to the Giff.
“Old Troll’s Piss it is,” mutters the bartender as he comes back with a mug filled with a pink mist, and another mug that’s crackling with flames.
“Exactly what I needed,” I moan in appreciation as I sip delicately at the flaming liquid and lick my lips as I gaze around the crowd for any telling reactions. Hmm… there’s an interesting fellow in the booth over there… I wonder why people keep coming to him?
I turn to tell Waylond where I’m going, but it looks like he’s already occupied with a jittery fellow named Shaundon muttering about the “Secrets of the Arcane.” Ah well… I’m sure I can handle myself.
“Excuse me sir, I couldn’t help but notice that you seem to be someone of importance in this place,” I say to him as I saunter up to him seductively with my ale in hand and sit down in the booth with a swish of my skirts.
“You and your friends are new here, aren’t you? Let me guess… you’re looking for a job.” he replies as he taps his rings against his glass of ale. “What can you do?”
I palm my cards and spread them out with one hand as my braids pull two candles from my pouch and place them on the table to each side of me. “I can predict your future!”
“I can predict yours too if that’s all you can do, gypsy,” he snorts in derision.
Hmmn… tough crowd. I snap the fingers of my right hand and light each candle with the flame that is now glowing brightly at the end of my index finger. “I am no ordinary gypsy.”
“We’ll see about that,” he replies as he slaps a few coins on the table and hands me his card before leaving. “My name is Halas…I’ll be in touch.”
I pocket the card and finish off the last of my drink before the fire goes out and I can actually taste it. I turn to head back to the bar to look for Waylond and can’t help but groan as I see that Hodekin has joined him as they continue to talk to Shaundon. Suddenly the jittery pirate dives for Hodey and misses as he ends up landing head first onto the floor. Waylond kindly picks up the dazed drunk by the back of his collar and sets him back up on a stool as Constance hurries over in a huff.
“No! Bad Kobold! No stealing!” she says in her best motherly tone as she pinches Hodey by the ear. I shake my head and chuckle at the sight of it… I just hope he doesn’t start biting again.
Thankfully the cries of “Next round on the house!” from a group of military elves walking in is enough for everyone to quickly forget any offense and get back to what we’re all really here for. “The tide is turning the way of righteousness in the Inhuman War, my friend,” one of the elves says cheerfully as he drops a pouch of coins onto the bar.
Inhuman? They’ve obviously never been to my neck of the woods. Still… I wonder if they could use any…
“What is that doing in here?” One of the elves says coldly as he stares at Hodekin sitting at the bar with narrow eyes. Oh Hells… here we go.
“He’s of no harm or consequence, really!” Solon stammers.
“He’s our pet!” Constance replies with a smile as she puts a firm hand on his shoulder to keep Hodekin on the stool. Oh, he’s going to just love this…
After having enough of the show, I make my way through the crowd to find Khal sitting next to a grizzled dwarf staring at the Mind Flayer and Hodekin intently. “Oh not you too,” I groan as I slide into the booth next to Khal. “He’s really not that bad… honestly.” I wave down the waitress and order another glass of the local ale. Whatever it is, I’m sure I can just set it on fire myself. “So, Khal… I was always meaning to ask you… who exactly are you running from?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” he replies after nearly choking on his drink. “Nobody is after me.”
So we’re going to play it that way, are we? “Yeah… okay…” I reply with a click of my fingernails along the table in annoyance. “Well… nobody is after me either, then. I just decided to leave home because I needed a vacation.”
I don’t know who started it first… whether it was one of the uptight elves, or the dwarf with an attitude problem… but a fight breaks out before I’m even done getting my next drink from the waitress. I hurriedly slink back into the shadows of the corner and down my drink as the dwarf flings the table over and makes a bee-line towards the Mind Flayer. Oh Hells… wait for it… Suddenly people all over the bar are grabbing their heads and screaming in pain… unfortunately Khal included as he slips to the ground unconscious. I grab my head and hiss as the feeling of a spike driven into my forehead quickly passes. What was that berk thinking, anyway? Is he trying to get us all killed?
I scan the crowd quickly and notice that the military elves are starting to regroup. Even better… soldiers drunk on alcohol and victory… we’ve got to get our asses out of here! I quickly pull a thunderstone from one of my pouches and lob it to land smack dab in the middle of the table of elves.
The sonic blast from the stone stuns most of the elves, and manages to send one of them flying into the back of a Giff who was still playing cards at another table. Bar fights are apparently nothing new… but you still don’t interrupt a man’s card game. The Giff slams his hand down on the table and with a bellow strikes the elf before grabbing an unsuspecting human by the collar and hurling him across the bar towards our table.
I take a quick step to the side as the body hits the wall behind me and slides to the ground. I can just see Hodey through the crowd scampering over tables before his foot gets caught up in something and he tumbles into the bright flames of the fireplace. Crud… guess I better go help him. I roll my eyes at the Kobold and work my way towards the fireplace as Waylond swings his axe in a great arc above his head and charges towards the irritated Mind Flayer. It would’ve been quite the impressive sight… if he hadn’t slipped in some ale half-way there. Instead it was funny AND impressive as the large Giff slides across the floor with arms waving and crashes into the Mind Flayer, sending the both of them over the bar with a sickening “squish” and loud “thump.”
By the time I make it through the throngs to the fireplace, a bottle-bruised Constance has already gotten there to take care of Hodekin. At least… I assume that’s what she did, since he’s no longer in the fireplace. “Where is he?” I ask curiously.
“He’ll be fine… just give him a few minutes,” she mutters as she rubs a bump that’s forming on her head from a stray bottle.
“We need to get out of here!” says Solon as he appears out of the crowd to crouch by the fireplace with rapier drawn.
I bite my lower lip as I look at the worried elf. I didn’t want to do this in front of him… but things are getting out of hand quick. “Time to go,” I reply as my braids sneak out to wrap around Constance’s wrist and the ankle of the unconscious Khal in the corner.
And with a thought, all turns to darkness around us as I make my way towards the exit with the others in tow.
Gods… I wonder what Solon’s going to think of me now?