Story-A-Day May #30: Revenge of the Tavern Tales

We’ve already hit storyaday.org’s penultimate challenge prompt! It’s an intriguing one, to “plagiarize yourself” — specifically, to rewrite one of your stories from earlier in the month, in a different way.

I enjoyed the excuse to revisit them, and I decided to use my story for May 11th, dubbed “Tavern Tales”, which you can read here: https://philipfolk.com/2021/05/12/story-a-day-may-11-tavern-tales/

The prompt for that day was to write a story of exactly 100 words. Since I’ve been aiming for at least 1,000 a day, I wrote a series of 10 vignettes, 100 words each, about characters in a fantasy-style tavern on a rainy evening. Plotting out their intersecting storylines, with that strict word limitation, turned out to be an incredibly fun and unique challenge.

In this re-imagined version, a small change causes a “butterfly effect”, which reverses the outcome of each character’s story — all because, this time, the first character lost his cloak.

***

The Drenched Deserter

A violent sneeze shook Allen’s body, even the tavern’s roaring fire no help against the rain that soaked his bones. If only his cloak hadn’t caught on that tree branch, during his desperate escape…

He reared back for another sneeze, accidentally striking the bartender who had come to offer a drink. Hot buttered rum coated Allen’s head.

“A thousand pardons, friend!” said the bartender, wiping Allen’s eyes clean.

He licked a drop off his lips and smiled ruefully. “At least it warmed me up.”

The front door swung open. Familiar-looking soldiers swaggered in, and Allen had nowhere to hide. “You!”

The Beleaguered Bartender

Hamish bravely stepped between the angry soldiers, and the poor rain-and-rum-drenched fellow. “Please, gentlemen, no fighting! Why don’t I bring you a round of ales, on the house, and let cooler heads prevail?”

“Why don’t you.” A man in captain’s armor wrapped his arm around the fellow. “You’ll share a drink with your old comrades, won’t you, Allen?”

Any outcome that didn’t spill blood on Hamish’s furniture was acceptable.

Voices rose across the tavern, “I tell ye, I am a king!”

“King of loudmouthed peasants!”

Too late, Hamish spotted the ragged dwarf and respectable halfling, who began to trade blows.

The Irritated Adventurer

This tavern had the worst service. All Elethia wanted was a glass of wine, but the bartender had abandoned his post.

Even worse than the service was the company. This annoying, furry-chested human was attempting to woo her, and she wasn’t in the mood.

“I’m a man who’s been wandering in the desert, and-”

She fixed him with an impatient glare.

He paled and tripped over his words, “-and, uh, you’re- you’re an elf? A very pretty elf.”

Under different circumstances, that might have been endearing.

As she stood to leave, Elethia noticed a small green hand untying her pursestrings.

The Green-Handed Thief

Grikthaz froze, his nimble goblin fingers still wrapped around the elf’s purse. His eyes slowly scaled her frame, past the massive sword upon her back, until he met her murderous, purple-eyed gaze.

The raucous brawl between a dwarf and a halfling continued, as Grikthaz stared at the adventurer. And she stared back.

This was all Victor’s fault for not effectively distracting her. Grikthaz warned him they should swap roles —  goblin charm was irresistible — but the stupid human had insisted.

“Um,” he said. “This isn’t what it looks like?”

“Wrong answer.” The elf picked him up by the neck.

The Foiled Wench

Carrying a full tray, Kayli ducked the green missile that flew across the tavern, crashed into a wall, and groaned. How did actual tavern wenches put up with this nonsense?

She discreetly emptied a vial from her apron over a mug of ale. Now to deliver-

A bloodied, disheveled dwarf bumped into her. “Did ye see that? Laid that halfling out with one punch. Calls for a celebration.”

“No, don’t!” Kayli reached for the poisoned mug too late.

He drained every drop and wiped his beard with his sleeve. “Ach, dinnae worry, lass. Hamish will put it on my tab.”

The Crowing Captain

Already quite drunk, Captain Fane was feeling jovial as he turned over his cards. “I just can’t lose tonight, boys. Isn’t that right, Allen?”

Across the table, the deserter looked miserable. Technically, the soldiers should have hauled him back to camp immediately, but the night was young.

“If so,” said Allen, “why don’t you deal me in? But if I win, you let me go.”

Captain Fane guffawed. “We confiscated your coin. What do you got left?”

“Dirt on Lieutenant Angier. I know you’ve been angling for a promotion.”

“If you’re lying, boy, we kill you real slow.”

“Try me.”

The Beloved Bard

Rita plucked her lute for the benefit of an enraptured audience. The brawls had ended surprisingly quickly so far, tonight, which allowed the patrons to actually hear her music.

She sang, “The dragon roared and spat hot flame

      While all who opposed him wailed in pain

      Until onto the field a golem caaaaaame.

       And rolled on without a care.”

The tavern hollered and cheered, but Rita’s smile only favored the incredibly drunk orcish woman who sprawled beside her tiny stage, gazing up with admiration. Rita only needed her music to reach one person a night. One was the whole world.

The Heartbroken Rogue

Still mourning the adventurer’s departure, Victor helped Grikthaz to his feet and brushed the dust off. “Nice going.”

Grikthaz scowled. “I only got caught because you got rejected. You’re lucky I didn’t rat you out. You deserved a thrashing more than me.”

The thought alone stirred Victor’s lonely heart. “Oh, I wish she would thrash me. It was true love, but she never knew.”

“So that’s why you wanted to play the distraction. I shoulda known.” Grikthaz spat. “Well, luckily, you still get to take a real beauty home tonight. Come on, partner.”

Victor sighed wistfully. Maybe in another life…

The Upstaged Assassin

From a corner table, Jasper studied the bartender. A fat and stupid man, who annoyingly kept hovering near those soldiers. This called for subtlety. Jasper grabbed two ales from a passing wench, then sprinkled poison into one. Now to make a kind offer-

 A frumpled dwarf approached. “So, ye want to celebrate my victory, too? Very kind.”

“Wait!”

The dwarf drained the poisoned mug and teetered away.

Still baffled, Jasper gasped as a dagger slid into his back.

The wench whispered, “I was gonna be discreet. But I realized these drunken louts wouldn’t notice if I cut their own throats.”

The Uncrowned King

Disgruntled soldiers brushed past Gregor on his way to a barstool. “Hamish! Did ye see me lay out that snooty halfling?”

Hamish smiled. “Aye. But aristocrats hold grudges. He may return to slip poison in your stolen drinks.”

“Ach, a king cannae steal! As for poison, my rivals tried so many, I’ve quite a tolerance.”

“I’m serious.”

“So am I!”

“I believe him, Hamish.” A wench leaned on the bar, staring at Gregor very strangely.

Gregor grinned. “I cannae help but notice, lass, ye’ve got the loveliest green eyes.”

Her disapproving little half-smile was the sort that brought down kingdoms.

***

Thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “Story-A-Day May #30: Revenge of the Tavern Tales

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