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Captain of the Guard: The Disappointed Innkeeper

September 4, 2019

The Disappointed Innkeeper was the name of the tavern ahead. It had been there for centuries. The original owner, and the eventual disappointed innkeeper, set up shop exactly one day’s normal ride from the city, thinking he would get good trade.
In this, he was not disappointed.

What he hadn’t considered was that he was one day’s ride from any law enforcement as well. Other individuals were aware of that problem, in particular a bandit named Toff and his five sons. Toff had learned that it was easier to take someone else’s hard work then to labor for anything of value, a principle that banks and money brokers have used for centuries. He was getting on in years though, and needed to settle down and the inn looked like a nice business opportunity.

The bandit Toff became the innkeeper Toff, and was very well respected. His descendant’s still run the inn and stories about Toff the innkeeper, not Toff the bandit, are still told by the family fondly. Other than the reference in the Inn’s name, nothing was remembered of the original innkeeper.

As they approached the inn, it was obvious that there were other patrons. Painted wagons, and multicolored tents were set up near the inn. Women, some bearded, tended to the children that played under the wagons. Exotic animals languished in cages looking unkempt and listless. Lean men lounged, but watched them approach with predatory eyes.

“Travelers.” Whisper leaned over the side of his horse and spit.

Vul chuckled as he pulled up along side them, “You say that like it’s a bad thing. There’s always something interesting happening when the Travelers are about.”

“I think I would call it trouble.” Cedric answered.

A mournful howl came from inside the largest tent. Cedric moved uneasily in his saddle.

Vul laughed, “See? Something delightfully spooky. Let’s go see what it is!”

Cedric shook his head, “I’m not paying just to be taken.”

“Ah, my Captain, I will gladly pay your way into the tent, so we can see with our own eyes, what made so pitiful a sound, whether it is man or beast. Besides, if the Travelers are trouble, wouldn’t be better to find out what trouble they are up to?”

Al spoke up before Cedric could refuse, “Go ahead Captain, Whisper can get the men situated.”

Cedric glared at the wizard. If Al noticed, he didn’t show it, but occupied himself by scratching his belly. “Fine.” He slipped off his horse and handed his reins to Whisper, “take care of the mounts and see what provisions we can acquire. I will be with you in a moment.”

Whisper grinned, “Have fun.”

Vul walked forward, as exited as a little kid on the Solstice holiday. As they approached the big tent, Cedric noticed that the cloth it was made of was shabby close up. Inside he could hear something shuffling around.

An older man saw them and approached. His face was rabbit like, with crooked teeth, he looked unwashed and an odor of sour milk oozed off him.

“No closer good sirs, unless ya pay to see what lies inside. Something I daresay you haven’t seen before. Something unique in the world.” The man’s voice grew hushed, “something terrible and wonderful.”

Vul pulled out two silvers and handed it to the man. “I don’t want the speech, I want to see what you have in there.”

The man took the coins in his greasy palm, “Go in then, you won’t be disappointed.” He pulled a flap open to let them inside.

The interior was hot – hotter than Cedric had expected even with the summer heat. The lighting was muted.

Something huge squatted in the middle of the tent.  A silver cord around its necks gleamed.

It took Cedric a moment to register that it was necks, plural.

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