Story-A-Day May #11: Tavern Tales

Today’s prompt from storyaday.org is to write a story of exactly 100 words.

Since my daily goal has been a minimum of 1,000 words, I decided to write 10 interconnected vignettes of exactly 100 words.

Each vignette focuses on a different character in a busy, fantasy-style tavern, on a rainy evening. I think this is my favorite story I’ve written for the challenge so far, and I hope you’ll enjoy it, too!

***

The Deserter

Allen warmed himself beside the tavern’s roaring fire, pulling his rain-drenched hood tight.

He startled at the approach of the bartender, who personally delivered him a mug of hot buttered rum. “On the house, friend. You look like you need it.”

Astonished, Allen mutely nodded and sipped. Then choked when the front door swung open. Had his fellow soldiers tracked him down, at last? They only sat around a table, and ordered drinks.

Head turned, he waited.

A heavy hand fell upon his shoulder. Allen held his breath.

“Say, stranger. We could use one more player for our card game.”

The Bartender

“Wine, for the elvish lass with the big sword!” Hamish slid a glass along the bartop. The adventurer distractedly caught it, and slid back a silver coin. Her eyes were all aglow, upon a dark-haired rogue. Ah, love.

Next, a half-dozen pints of ale. “Kayli, dear! For the soldiers.”

The newly-hired barmaid sullenly carried off the tray. She didn’t exactly fit in, but Hamish couldn’t be choosy.

“I tell ye, I am a king!”

“King of loudmouthed peasants!”

A ragged dwarf and respectable halfling had almost come to blows, and Hamish scurried to break it up. Never a dull moment.

The Adventurer

“I’m a man who’s been wandering in the desert, and you’re an oasis. I’d die for just a sip, or drink of your beauty until morn.”

Elethia concealed her amusement behind a glass of wine, eyes freely roaming over the dark-haired human — Victor, was it? — his half-opened shirt, his very un-elvish, furry chest.

It had been a good long while… and he wasn’t bad looking… Even if he talked a lot of rubbish.

“I have a room across town, much nicer than this inn,” he ventured.

Oh, why not? Her fingers traced his collarbone. “Don’t disappoint me, human.”

The Thief

On tiptoe, Grikthaz stretched toward the adventurer’s purse, trying to ignore the massive sword upon her back and how the elf might employ it against a goblin thief.

As his fingers brushed the pursestrings, Victor gave him their secret “stop” signal. What was that bastard playing at? The coins were practically in Grikthaz’ palm.

But Victor’s gaze returned to the mark, smitten, and not in any clever, performative way — he wasn’t that good an actor.

True love, no doubt. His loss.

Grikthaz gave him a rude gesture and nabbed the purse. No need to split the coin, this time.

The Wench

Kayli do this, Kayli do that. Not to mention the rotten pay! How did actual tavern wenches put up with it?

As she carried trays between the crowded tables, she dodged wandering hands, widening her smile to hide her disgust. If they only knew who they were dealing with, they’d show some respect. But their ignorance was the point, wasn’t it?

In one smooth motion, her nimble fingers plucked a vial from her apron, emptied it over a mug of ale, and made the vial vanish. She hefted her tray. “Who’s thirsty?!”

The tavern-goers gave a raucous cheer. Easy money.

The Captain

Captain Fane had decided the stranger across the table was a rotten, cheating card sharp. Why else would the man hide behind that hood? Or only speak in grunts?

He called the stranger’s bet, only to lose again, and threw his cards down in anger. “How about taking that hood off. Aren’t we all friends-”

“Here’s your crown, your Majesty!” A halfling smashed a tankard over a dwarf’s head, and they crashed into the soldiers’ table, upending all the cards, coins, and pints.

“Little monsters!” the captain howled, wiping his stained uniform. When he looked up, the stranger had vanished.

The Bard

Rita plucked her lute, accompanied by irregular percussion beats as the brawl continued across the tavern and threatened to become contagious.

She sang, “In that valley, I have seen

      Withered oak and dying dreams

                   But you, beloved orc, are ever-green.”

An incredibly drunk orcish woman sprawled beside her tiny stage, looking up with admiration. Though Rita hoped for better than a cheap tavern that stank of cheaper ale, she only needed her music to reach one person a night. To her, one was the whole world.

“Settle it outside!” Hamish punted the combatants out the door.

Rita strummed a finale.

The Rogue

Victor would have revenge on that damnable goblin, but tonight, he was busily in love.

“I don’t care to walk in this downpour, let’s hire a carriage.” Elethia reached for her coinpurse — or where it should have been.

“No, wait!” He intercepted her hands, which were quite warm. Calloused and rough. His next words pained him, and his own near-empty purse, terribly. “…I’ll pay for the carriage.”

“That’s a surprise.” She appeared to be waiting for a punchline. “I hope you’re not too gentlemanly.”

As they left the tavern, his arm wrapped around her waist. “You’ve nothing to fear.”

The Assassin

From a corner table, Jasper scrutinized the jolly, overworked bartender.

A fat and stupid man. Too generous, too quick to smile. No awareness of his surroundings. No idea an assassin was watching him. Sent to kill him.

It would be quick and easy. No fancy stuff. Go to the bar, request another ale. When the man handed it over, tug the wrist and pull him onto the knife. Through the armpit, into the heart. Leave before any of these degenerate drunkards figured out what happened.

Jasper drained his ale and wiped his mouth.

Two steps later, he hit the floor.

The King

“The ale is tainted!”

The dead body’s foaming mouth inspired a panicked exodus from the tavern.

Gregor pushed against the loutish commoners, nursing his broken nose. That halfling had a mean left hook.

The bartender looked similarly defeated. “You lost the battle.”

“But not the war,” said Gregor. “Don’t fret, lad. Commoners have short memories.” He drained an abandoned, half-full mug.

“Aren’t you worried about poison?”

“My rivals tried so many, I’ve quite a tolerance. Ach, but their last poison finished me, I had no defense.”

“Why’s that?”

“It had green eyes.”

The bartender smiled. “See you tomorrow, Your Majesty.”

***

Thanks for reading!

3 thoughts on “Story-A-Day May #11: Tavern Tales

    1. Thanks! The execution could be better, but I really enjoyed the whole concept, and planning it all out. The 100 word restriction also made for the perfect challenge.

      Like

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