A flash of steel and the first thug slumped to the ground.

"For the love of all that is good, Rik, don't kill them!  The shining one teaches us life
is precious."

“Relax, Dudley.  I didn’t do any real damage, he’s just unconscious.”

“Tank no kill, Tank smash.”

The second thug dropped to the ground.

Tank frowned, his fist still hanging in the air.  “Him too weak.  No Fun.”

Lin glared at the barkeep and stowed her dagger while Dudley knelt to make sure the two men were unconscious and not seriously injured.  Satisfied the men would be alright, Dudley placed the cost of dinner and two extra copper coins on the table.

“You’re seriously going to leave a tip?” Lin asked.

“It is common courtesy,” he said glanced at the tavern owner, “Even among heathens.”

The EverGrim glared back with enough hatred to make Dudley shiver.

Once they were a few hundred feet away from the tavern, Rick chortled.  “What kind of name is Bartender Bob EverGrim anyway?”

“He’s not that bad.”

Rik spun around hand crossbow drawn.

The singer from the bar raised her hands.  “Easy there fella, I’m not out for revenge. I just want to talk to you.”

Dudley closed then opened his eyes.  “If she’s wicked, I can’t sense it.”

“Thanks for your vote of confidence.  My name is Melody.  I make my living performing at Bob’s Tavern.”

Lin eyed Melody coolly, keeping her hand near her dagger.

“As I said, I mean you no harm.  I’ve actually come to ask your help.”

Tank blinked.  “Oh yeah, pretty singing lady from food place.”  He grinned in self-satisfaction at placing her face.

Melody smiled.  “Thank you, sir.  I’m guessing, by your garb, that the four of you are mercenaries.”

Rik lowered his crossbow but not his guard.  “Perhaps, why do you ask?”

Melody bit her lip and started to turn back away.  “Maybe this was a bad idea.”

“Melody wait,” Dudley said.  “My friends and I are waiting on a mission from the church.  Or rather I am waiting and these brave souls have agreed to travel with me in exchange for…”

“Money,” Lin interrupted.  “Scrolls and other magic supplies can cost a pretty penny.”

“I have my own reasons,” Rik seemed to look through Melody.

“Tank get to smash things.”  The boyish grin sat out of place on his hulking frame even more so his jagged lower teeth which passed for human only from a distance.

Melody stared at the ground for a few moments before speaking.  “Bob used to be a good guy.  He’s been acting so strange lately.  I’m afraid he’s gotten tangled up with the wrong people.”

Lin’s expression softened slightly, which given her childhood in the Gray Elf community signified much.  “I understand your concern, but if he’s getting into crime, why not find another place to work.  You sing well enough.”

“I would,” Melody said.  “The problem is that Bob is… my father.”




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