The Eternal Brotherhood
The inn was raucous tonight. Bede Eightstrings kept the ale flowing and the music playing all around. In typical fashion, he kept pace with his customers and sang and danced along with them. Allan the woodsman was yet again attempting to bed the tailor’s wife, while Farlowe the Fence occupied his typical corner seat, surrounded at the moment by shady halflings and a severely out of place half orc. Galen, an unspeakably illiterate fellow, was telling Bede all about his latest adventure. “And so I says, ‘Well fuck you, mister. I know all ’bout them witches and their magic. Me mum warned me hows they find you in your sleep and drain your soul through your toes.’ S’why I wear three pairs of socks to bed, I do.” Meanwhile, the music captured the essence of Bede’s mind, which is fitting, since he magically conjured it.
Well I don’t know why I came here tonight
I got the feeling that something ain’t right
I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair
And I’m wondering how I’ll get down the stairs
As the revelry continued into the night, tempers rose and fists flew. Bede, as quick as a cat, intervened and threw out the trouble makers. He went back to the bar to tend to thirsty folks when a sudden series of worried whispers announced the arrival of Balthezar, the cambion his employers had forgotten to kill on their way out of Fallcrest. Apparently he was investigating that cult, the… Internal Fraternity? Whatever it was, the devil-man thought it was still a threat and wanted to investigate further, and had taken up a room in the Lucky Gnome. Oh well, at least he always paid on time.
Balthezar strolled through the crowd, who in equal measure stared him down and avoided looking at him. One of the more pugnacious (and drunker) fellas thought it wise to pick a fight with the six and a half foot-tall devil. Trying to look as burly as he could, the poor moron saddled right up to the cambion and said, “Look here, demon boy…” Oh great, Bede thought, he used the d-word. The wrong one. “We don’t want your kind ‘round here. We’re god-fearin’, and I mean the good ‘uns, simple folk, and we do not appreciate the company of such as yerself. So if you would be so kind as to use those big ol’ wings of yours and fly back down to hell where you belong, I think that would be best.”
Balthezar simply looked at the man before him, probably, Bede assumed, enumerating in his mind the number of ways to eviscerate this ignorant mortal. Instead of outright flaying him from the shins up, the devil looked the man in the eye and said, “Pardon me, sir, but if you ever have the misfortune of calling me a demon again, I shall have no choice but to feed you your own entrails…lightly seasoned and crisped, of course. Fortunately, although I do suspect blundering luck to be an agent in the matter, you correctly named my homeland. For that, I shall spare you the horror of eating your supper for a second time. However, while I have business in the area, I would appreciate your lack of interference. In case you should forget, though…” Balthezar grabbed the man’s face with his right hand, and almost immediately a sizzling sound, followed by a foul odor, followed by screams emanated from the contact. Bede jumped to the rescue and pulled the devil off his victim. The man only had a light burn, nothing compared to the complete incineration which he might have otherwise endured, but he cried in pain nonetheless.
“Balthezar, you need to get out of here now. I though you were supposed to be discrete?”
“What’s the problem? He still lives, which is more than he deserves. Considering the fact that he called me a demon, I think my actions were quite restrained.”
People were beginning to file out of the inn. So much for a busy night. At least these people have the good sense to leave the guards out of this. “From now on, I think you should stay in the manor. You can use the sky hole to come and go unnoticed. We cannot afford to have the word of your presence spread.”
“I know. There’ no need for me to leave, though. That problem should be fixed.”
With that, the cambion went upstairs, likely until dusk the following day. Now that I think about it, Bede thought, he came back earlier than usual… Was it a slow night for necromancer hunting or could he be planning for an early start? Either way, it did not really matter to Bede so long as Balthezar kept the inn out of trouble. Bede closed up the inn for the night and set up his meager bed behind the bar. He could always take one of the empty rooms, but Bede had never been comfortable being, well, comfortable. Comfort was something he never knew growing up, always on the move from camp to camp. Instead he opened a bottle of swill. The good stuff was for those who paid.