The waitress tells me that you asked for a strange story.
Well my time is expensive so I require payment up front, gold if you please but I’ll take Silver as well.
What is that? Platinum? Well, we have a lord among us!
A platinum piece gains you one of my best tales! And a second round when you finish whatever it is you are drinking.
If you are still standing that is.
What? Change? I don’t give change.
What do you take me for? This is an Inn not a bank. Shut up and enjoy your overpriced drink and the story you paid for.
Being who I am, and doing what I do for as long as I do it, you’d think I’ve met all kinds of freaks.
I’d easily bet half my Inn and a whole of my wife that I cannot be surprised anymore.
You see, during my years behind the bar I’ve met Devilspawn that wanted to be Paladins, Angels that had a facination with Necromancy, Elven Kings -two of them actually, Ancient Vampires seeking redemption, Gunslingers, Spellthrowers and Barbarians, Commanders, Generals and Chosen Ones, and even a Dwarven Druid, so fed up with his kind that opted to be anything else but a dwarf.
The last one if I must be frank, was actually pretty special in his own, disgusting way.
The fact is, that all of them thought that they where original and unique, special snowflakes in the multiverse’s grand snowstorm, and yet, if you looked closely within their stories -should you care to do so- you would find ongoing similarities among them.
However there was one, if I had to choose, that actually fascinates me.
One that is so strange that I still remember him, despite the fact that he came here only once, and he stayed for less than a week.
I don’t remember his name. I don’t think I asked him.
Sure, I’ll remember your face tomorrow, but if you leave and I don’t see you for about a year, then you are as good as dead to me.
And let’s face it, you probably are dead in the literal sense as well.
I don’t keep names anymore. As soon as I learned someone’s name, the bastard would finish his drink and go on his grand adventure, and then I would usually host his funeral.
Anyway, the one I am going to tell you about, was a boy not much younger than you. At first I didn’t want to serve him, due to the fact that he was so young, but he insisted and he paid, and there are no laws that I know of that require you to be of a specific age to get wasted. And oh boy did he got wasted, he would come here day after day at opening, and drink himself to oblivion.
Drink after drink, his eyes lost focus and he started to speak about things I never knew about. He spoke of empires and heroes long lost in Legend, of creatures not seen in this world for about an age. My curiosity got the best of me I’ll admit -I was much younger then, at least thirteen winters, if not more- so, one day I wenτ to him with a bottle full of my best wine and sat down next to him.
“What ails you my young friend?” I asked
“Young?” He repeated as he looked through me. He had the strangest sort of eyes. Sky blue with a shade of purple. “You call me young?”
“Well, aren’t you?”
He laughed. A bitter laugh full of pain. I swear to this day that the raven that was next to him laughed as well. Not mimic the sound as many of these critters tend to do, but actually laugh as if the two of them shared an intimate insde joke.
My gods! I never told you about the Raven! He had the ugliest bird I ever laid eyes upon perched on his shoulder. When he first sat, he ordered spirits for the both of them, and before I went to sit with him I thought I saw him kiss it tenderly as one does with a Lover.
“I am not young sir”. He replied. “I haven’t been young for a very long time”.
“What do you mean?”
“I am as old as the world. Maybe older, I tend to forget the worlds after a few millennia. I was here when this Inn was a grand battlefield, and before that a village, and before that a Tower, and before that…who knows”. I started to think that this youngster thought he could prank me into thinking he was some sort of Great Hero.
The fact is, that though enough heroes have drunk their share of ale beneath my roof, this place is as you say it, a place for beginners.
ou ‘ll not find many high and mighty people here.
Do you see this shady guy in the Corner? He is here every night paying meager silver pieces to novice adventurers such as yourself in order to clean his cellar of rats. No sooner do the rats die, and he gets out to the docs and gets more.
I think he likes the attention all these wannabe heroes give him. Who am I to judge?
Anyway the point is that though this place is friendly for both novices and masters, but we tend to serve a lot more of the former.
“If you excuse my inquiring” I told him “How can you be that old? You don’t look like an elf. Nor do you look undead, and you are certainly do not” I emphasised the “not” part “look that powerfull”.
“I’ve been an elf. And a Human, and a gnome. And I’ve been powerfull. I’ve slaughtered empires, and I’ve saved kingdoms. I’ve been a Hero, a villain, a maiden and a knight. I cannot die. Nor will I die. Ever. I will live this life as I’ve lived countless others, and when I die, I will go back to oblivion and then be born again only to grow up and try from the start and die. And it never ends. Not for me…”he peted his raven’s beak “and not for her either”.
I was mesmerized. His voice, his posture. I don’t know if he was telling the actuall truth, but he at least seemed to believed it.
“Are you Immortal?” I asked
“No. I am as mortal as you. At least in body. But when I die, I get to be born again, live again and then die again. I am cursed to be forever chained in this endless wheel of nothingness that you call life. And let me tell you something. Live enough of them, and you start to see the great gift of life for the curse it really is”.
I felt sorry for him. And mind you, I don’t feel sorry for anyone. I am here to serve drinks and nothing more. I asked him what I can do for him. He asked for a bottle of smoked dwarven spirits.
I replied that we had just placed the liquir on the barrel and he would have to wait one or two decades if he wanted to drink the best one in the land.
I was kidding, but how could I know what would happen next?
He sighed -and I swear this on all the Gods I know- said, “well, I might as well skip this life. I’ll see you then”, throwed a platinum piece on the table, took up the cuttlery and sliced his own throat.
He died right here where you stand…
…drinking smoked dwarven spirits….
…that you paid with a platinum coin…..
…is that a Raven I see in your cloak sir?
- : Lost souls and midnight tales...
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