It all started at The Underdark Tavern in the Trade Ward of Waterdeep. Yes, it’s the tavern with the almost too literal black colored ceiling. It was many hours before the dinner rush, so the occupancy was low. The Majority of the patrons were working class merchants, ruffians, sailors, exhausted whores, and any sort that would prefer a modestly priced tavern over the protection of the safer, higher priced counter-part. You see, it was almost a twice-daily ritual for a brawl to break out in the Underdark Tavern. These conflicts were sometimes due to excessive drinking while others were a strategic method to attempt to skip out on a bill, in either case it was like a box of chocolates. The Underdark Tavern was always a target for brutish acts as everyone knew the bouncer in the establishment, Borni, was more interested in chatting up the local barfly than breaking up fights.
The scheduled entertainment for the night caught a bad case of death, which left the toothless wench in a frenzy to find a replacement. She knew that any entertainment was a great distraction from the hardships many were facing and would reduce the amount of broken things inside the tavern (her lack of teeth comes to mind).
In walked a local flautist, carrying his instrument on his belt as a trophy of his achievements (or lack there of by other opinions). Cavanaugh the bard was seeking fame and knew a solo career was his only option as he was often unreliable to others, even despite his best efforts. It must have been serendipitous for him to come on this particular day and time as the wench requested he play his repertoire of songs. She even agreed to compensate him with a gratis meal and mead.
What Cavanaugh the bard didn’t know was that he was being follow by Annabelle the rogue, and she was after the very trophy he wore like a badge. Knowing the common flute had a worth of around 2 gold, 1/5 of that on the black market (seeing as it was used and filled with spit). Anabelle the rogue was surely desperate to pursue a mark for such a small find. Her tattered clothes shed light on the hard life she was living. If I had two words to describe this young girl of 17 years of age, it would be “bath” and “never”.
Moments later, a human wizard named Mr. Waldorf with his stocky gnome apprentice walked in the tavern. Mr. Waldorf tossed his cloak to his apprentice without any care and quickly sized up the room. Before Tim the apprentice could find his way out of the human sized garment, his master was gone. His eyes found Mr. Waldorf chatting up some locals. Undoubtedly his master was trying to score some free mead with his wizardly tricks. How he envied his master for being both tall and thin. Tim the apprentice was feeling quite uncomfortable ever since his master made him enter the city limits. He never knew of city life and spent most of his previous years in the woods living a simple life, with simple dreams (mostly about carrots). It was almost a year since his master rescued him from a life of boredom with tales of great adventures, magic and wealth.
The toothless wench asked the gnome to please take a table, as his presence was making her nervous. Close to the stage, he found himself a table with 2 stools unattached. After ordering a specialty mead, the apprentice was entranced with the bard’s flute talents which he played with such verve that he didn’t even notice knocking over his own gratis meal that was set out for him.
After the performance was finished Tim the apprentice was now officially the bards first, and only fan. He was so caught up with the tantalizing sounds the bard made with his lips (no homo) that he didn’t notice his master had left the establishment. Worried and confused, he scanned the tavern once more to confirm that his suspicions were true. He then started to rifle through his master’s cloak which was more of a task to carry than one might think. Inside he found a note in an unreadable language, and a pouch filled with 100 gold pieces.
The gnome apprentice pulled at the coat of one of the locals his master had been chatting up, as would a child. Like most children, he got the “leave me along” shrug of the shoulder. Once more the gnome insisted, now almost yelling, hoping for the whereabouts of his master/crutch. The group were clearly intoxicated and kept giving him a hard time, until finally they told the little one about how Mr. Waldorf had lost track of time and had an important meeting to attend to. The gnome knew nothing of any such “meeting” so he hurried towards the back door, following the patrons staggering finger. The apprentice was so frazzled that he didn’t notice his sparkling evermead was served on his table then stolen by Annabelle , the 17-year-old rogue. Hard knocks, low standards, and hard drinking; that is how I like my women too.
Right before exiting The Underdark Tavern the apprentice felt a hand on his shoulder. It was none other than a large fellow who he could only deduce was a bouncer. It was the bouncer, Borni, in fact and he was concerned about something he kept referring to as “the bill”. The apprentice resisted, and explained that he had had no such drink and was not attempting to do anything unlawful. The toothless wench attested to leaving the drink on the table, and Borni confirmed that he would have to take payment out on his face. The gnome conceded and agreed to pay the 3 copper pieces but asked if they had change for his gold piece. Without hesitation Borni swiped the gold piece and made his way back toward the bar. He paused for a second and threw a patron into another one causing their beverages to spill.
An all-out bar brawl erupted faster than you could say “not in the face”. Borni used the distraction to mask his escape. But was unknowingly being watched by Urth the cleric of Umberlee. The cleric didn’t like his dinner being interrupted, but more importantly he didn’t like to miss an opportunity to bash in a total stranger’s face. And that is exactly what he did, he bashed Borni’s face in so hard that he forgot all about the gold piece the cleric lifted off him.
Just like at every other twice-daily bar brawl, the local enforcers forced everyone out of the bar using buckets of cold fish water. The last person inside was Peldu the tiefling barbarian was wasn’t going to let some fish water interrupt a perfectly good meal. Not only did he eat his own, but grabbed some of the other unwanted plates with perfectly good morsels on them.
Wet and cold, the gnome apprentice starting inquiring to retain the services of some local adventurers to help find his local his master Mr. Waldorf, for 5 gold pieces each. And he did just that. He hired Cavanaugh the bard (the one he was so infatuated with), Urth the cleric of Umberlee (who already had 1 of the gnome’s gold pieces and wanted to start a collection), Peldu the tiefling barbarian (who’s face was covered in food) and last but not least Annabelle the rogue (who for some reason was still interested in the .4-of-a-gold-piece used flute more than the gnome’s bag of, now, 79 gold pieces).
This is where I knew I would have 5 great new stories to sell, and at a quicker than normal death time.