A Quiet Day in Sham
It was a busy day in the common room at ‘The Portly Pixie’ in Sham as Rogo looked through the smoke haze. His eye caught the empty corner at the centre table and he sighed as he noted that Mandrake had gone missing once more. He scanned the faces of the hardened adventurers quaffing their ale and knew there was no hope of finding a rescue party there. They just knew too much.
But then he caught sight of the table hidden in the alcove at the back of the inn. Here sat huddled a group of fresh faced youths with the look of those who didn’t know exactly what was going on – and smelling slightly of ditch water. “Ah ha, fresh blood! Here we go, or rather here they go,” he said to himself.
Rogo took a fresh jug of ale from behind the bar and began to make his way towards the group. He paused here and there to top up the tankard of a friend or valued customer, and to exchange a word with Stubbs, the kender, about the table that had gone missing the previous evening before finally reaching the newcomers’ table. He was about to speak when the door of the inn was thrown wide open and in stumbled a messenger clad in Ducal garb. Before Rogo could stop him he started in on his announcements:
“By the Duke, a proclamation. There are two bandits operating in this area.” (Did Stubbs go pale at this news?) “They are to be taken in the Duke’s name. One, known as ‘The Black Knight’ is to be taken dead or alive and the reward for this service is to be 30 beans. The second is a more difficult task. The villain Abdul Huns is to be taken alive and therefore the reward is greater. Here the Duke will give 100 beans for this service. I say this in the Duke’s name!”
Having finished his duties the messenger cross to Rogo and took the jug from his hand. He drained it in a single draft and, with a nod of thanks, turned and left the in to continue to spread his news.
Rogo sighed to himself. He retraced his way to the bar to refill the jug and, once more, set about recruiting a rescue party of gullible idiots. This time he got nowhere near his prey before Malifest entered through the side door. He was laden with travel brochures and set about trying to sell holidays in Ageis. Rogo knew what was coming and looked for the nearest corner to shelter in. The fight was not long in starting.
From his corner Rogo was amazed at the ingenuity of Malifest who seemed to be completely untouched by the mayhem his arrival had precipitated. He watched the opportunist Stubbs who was checking the pockets and pouches of the unconscious to see if there were any ‘concealed familiars’ who might have been damaged in their owner’s fall. “Oh well,” Rogo thought to himself, “This won’t go on much longer and then I can talk to that party.” But he was wrong. A window was flung wide and the head of a member of the Militia yelled over the chaos “Max is back!”
The inn was suddenly full of fleeing bodies.
When the dust settled Rogo surveyed the wreckage and was not surprised to notice that his planned rescue party had fled with the rest. “Ah well,” he sighed to himself, “Mandrake will just have to take care of himself. He started to straighten the furniture and, for some obscure reason, found himself counting the tables. He paused in his labours and, in a bellow that was heard from one end of the village to the other, called for his friend, and greatest trial, Stubbs.