That Goes on Your Tab
By Nojh Livic
The beams of light swirled around the gnome’s hands as he manipulated the elemental forces. With his own mind he gathered these forces and separate out the particular forces he needed. It was difficult work to do, surrounded by the chaos of battle, but he was Quin, sorcerer premier. He and his companions had traveled far to find the source of necromantic magic making the dead rise to terrorize towns. They had tracked it to a dungeon in the nearby mountains where they now faced off against a necromancer of significant power.
Not as powerful as Quin of course. He was about to prove this by clearing the room of the necromancer’s minions. With the threads of air and lightning full grasped, he poured all his power into the spell until it was ready to burst forth from him. His hands spread wide and he pointed at the largest group of skeletons, aiming where the forces of magic and nature would strike.
Like usual, most of his group had run forward to engage the enemy. This often put a kink in Quin’s plans. While he was a master of the arcane elemental forces the elemental forces of the arcane often took exception to being mastered. They could be harnessed and directed but not targeted. He knew quiet a few useful spells, such as lightning bolt, that let him engage a single enemy from afar without endangering his companions but none of them had the kind of power that was needed to stop the skeletons in their tracks.
A large cloud formed above the group of skeletons despite the ground being underground. The skeletons were too busy to notice as a human stood in their midst waving a medallion. The human wore chain mail but carried no other weapons save for the metal emblem. He seemed to be faring well, keeping the skeletons a bay, despite of his lack of weaponry. However as the storm cloud began to appear, he faltered, then looked threw a glance over his shoulder at Quinn. It was not a friendly look.
Everybody in Quin’s party had experience attempting to dodge lightning if mostly because of his own tactical decisions. Plus Quinn saw the necromancer was readying yet another wave of servants to rush them, making clearing the entire room of skeletons worth more than the bruises and burns his companion would suffer should he take a glancing blow from a lightning bolt. Quin gave his cleric companion a confidant smile and let his hands fall, summoning the lightning.
The gnome was giving Ellard that smug little smile of his. Ellard looked up at the sky. He understood the tactical advantage of the sorcerer’s lightning storm but he had to wonder if the gnome was out to get him. The fire storm the day before and another lightning storm two weeks ago had been advantageous too. Advantageously right above him. He braced himself while trying to keep light on his feet. The storm would strike at everything but it only struck once. He just needed to dodge at the right moment.
He felt more than watched the lightning strike, missing the skeleton in front of him by inches. Two more claps of thunder and he whirled around to see they had left scorch marks on the stone floor but nothing on bone. Again, the storm struck but failed to connect to the undead foes around him. Then he felt the tingling on the hair of his arms and knew the next strike was for him. He leapt back instinctively.
Ellard’s instincts were wrong.
It took willpower he barely knew he had to stay conscious after he recovered from the pain. There was ringing in his ears and he found he was on his knees. He still held his divine focus but his bare hand was bleeding where he had gripped it too tightly. He lifted his head and counted. Three, four, six skeletons, wielding various rusted and dented weapons, still surrounded him. None of them had been struck.
He groaned and pushed himself to his feet. This was going to be a long battle.
“Well now. I think that one was worth a ballad or two, don’t you?” Quin said to the company’s bard. All five of them were burned, bruised, and a little bloodied. The gnome had doubled up with the elf musician on the horses the group was riding back to town. The necromancer was now vanquished and they had a not small amount of loot.
Ellard too was doubled up on a horse with the group’s warrior as his arm remained in a patchwork sling. The cleric had used the last of his divine magic healing the warrior and bard’s wounds that Quin and himself had gone without. The cleric gave a soft chuckle and leaned around to speak. “Sure. As long as you don’t sing it!”
This garnered a half-hearted chuckle from their other companions. Quin scowled and looked away from the others. He had once had to do a street performance with the bard in order to go undercover against a thieves guild. He had tried singing for a crowd of little kids, only to scare them away with his voice. It had ultimately gotten them the location of the guild but only because it had blown their cover, drawing guild agents down upon them, which they later interrogated. Ellard had never really let him live it down.
Quin stewed in the saddle as the conversation shifted to discussing how to divvy up loot and where to get the obviously magical gear appraised and identified. It was a long journey back to town.
No less than seven empty mugs of ale sat between the cleric and the sorcerer of which only one or two had been consumed by their other companions. The bard, warrior, and ranger had already retired to the inn’s common sleeping area, leaving Ellard and Quin to their drinking contest in the attached tavern.
“That it? That’s all you got?” the gnome goaded as the cleric chugged another mug of beer before dropping it to the table loudly. He looked like he was about to puke. Fartha, the waitress already had two more mugs on a tray by the time Quin turned around. She levitated the tray across the tavern to the pair’s table. Ellard clapped again, mostly managing to slap his hands together, while Quin tried not to look too impressed. She had stopped physically serving them after the third round, when hands had started roam further from the mugs than she had desired.
“Come on then. Beat that!” Ellard shouted at the gnome as if he wasn’t less than two feet away, once he had his stomach under control. Quin eloquently replied by blowing a raspberry before taking up his mug. He was half way through chugging the mug when the human had stood up to watch, wobbling on his feet as he did. Ellard was saying something but the gnome was too focused on not drowning. Quin was just a few more gulps away from finishing the beer when the human suddenly fell over the table, knocking himself into the gnome, sending them both sprawling to the floor. The beer mug flew from his grasp and shattered on the floor with a sickening crack, followed by the boisterous pair.
“You did that on purpose!” Quin accused, squirming to get out from under the heavy human.
“Did not,” Ellard slurred, pushing himself up, only to slip a puddle of beer. “You just wouldn’t stop swaying!”
“I wasn’t swaying!” Quin said, managing to sit up. He jabbed his finger at Ellard who once again lost his balance.
“Ow. Hey! Yeah you did!” Ellard pushed at the little gnome, who only just managed to keep his balance. Ellard seemed to notice the piece of beer mug and then grinned widely. “Ha. You didn’t finish it. I win!”
“You do not!” Quin yelled, getting to his feet.
“Do to!” Ellard said, managing to sit up, laughing.
“That’s it! I’m going to kill you!” Quin said, balling his fists.
“Oh, like you try earlier you two-bit magician?” Ellard yelled, also making fists even though he remained sitting. At that prompting, Quin launched himself at the human with a slurred battle cry.
Despite being drunk, both adventurers were still excellent fighters. Ellard, however, was bigger and more experienced in melee combat than the small sorcerer. This let him deflect the first of the small fists. However his return jabs were not connecting, mostly because he kept aiming at the air to the left of the gnome.
By now their companions had awoken and were sleepily holding weapons, looking around for the fight. Upon finding that it was their friends, not a random bunch of orks, fighting they were somewhat at a loss for what to do. However before any of them could do anything, two stools by the bar danced into the air before flinging themselves straight at the drunks. The stools struck both men directly in the head while they were in mid punch, knocking them out cold. They slumped forward against each other, then rolled onto the beer soaked wooden floor.
The waitress dusted her hands from across the room then glared at the drunk men’s companion. “I’m not cleaning that up,” Fartha declared, dropping her apron on the bar. “And that is going on all your tabs.” A confused trio watched the waitress stomp up the stairs.