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Tavern Tales

Tavern Tales Part Two

Tavern Tales (part 2)

[Part One]

“Ya a hack is what ya ah!” the livid troll spat at the other troll. “Ya littal voodoo wannabe magics dunnah compah to dah powah of dah Witch Doctah!”

Hukari was a very proud individual, one whom Zooti frequently avoided for reasons of wanting to stay alive. The troll stood hunched over as was common among the males, but he still towered over Zooti by a good four feet. The self-proclaimed “greatest witch doctah evah” was currently arguing over the semantics of a divination spell with his greatest adversary Golomojo, the local Voodoo Priest. The two could never come to terms on anything once the argument started. And if it had time to get root, could last for days and cost the lives of at least a hundred chickens.

“Dunno be messin wit dah voodoo like dat mon, ya be wrong and ya know it,” Golomojo began. Though his robes were far less gaudy than Hukari’s, they certainly conveyed a hidden power. Zooti had seen this guy survive at least two Ogre invasions during the last Brackenwall Boulderfestival.

“Alrighty,” Zooti began, feeling that if it went any further he would never get a word in. “I don’t care who has the right spell or how many chickens it costs. I just need one of you to get me a location of where Leza is specific enough to hit that area with a teleport.”

“Maybe ‘eh can stare through the ass of one of ‘is precious chickons!” Hukari scoffed at Golomojo. Both wore their own version of Voodoo masks that would start at the nose and just rise up over the brow of their head. But they also both had long protruding tusks that they would point at each other as if they were additional hands by which to make rude gestures at the other.

“Hukari, seriously. Remember when you were first showed up here and needed Leza’s help in getting that narcoleptic druid out of the caves nearby?”

Hukari shrugged, grumbling to himself. “Naralex, ya. Ah’ right. But ya know ah be comin’ wit ya tah make sure ya git dis done right.”

“Meh too!” Golomojo stepped up. Both trolls stood up at that point, rising to their full seven-foot height. In truth, they were taller than tauren when they would do that.

“While I appreciate your offer guys, I think it would be best if I went alone. The Alliance has some pretty hefty bounties on all of us, and from what Mr. Sneed said, she may be knee deep in their territory.”

“Ya tink ah be ‘fraid o’ dah alliance?” Hukari asked.

“Ya be smokin’ dah tauren grass again ain’t ya?” Golomojo chided at the little gnome, chiming in with Hukari for the first time in months.

“Just let me get some expendable mercenaries, pop in, grab her, and pop out of there without drawing a lot of attention,” Zooti struggled. He was getting a very bad feeling about this. What was supposed to be a simple rescue mission was quickly turning into the equivalent of a Dwarven beer run.

“Zooti,” a strong woman’s voice came from behind him. “Should hide. Customers come soon.”

He turned slightly to see the young orcish woman walking up behind him. Much like the males of their race, the women were lined with muscles bursting from nearly every inch of their body. Small tusks protruded from her mouth and long black hair drifted over her shoulders. Zooti always had a crush on this one, but then he had a thing for strong, green women.

“Hey there Rukra,” he began, “could you tell your husband here that he is not allowed to go to the Eastern Kingdoms with me.”

“Why go there?” Rukra asked, her eyes drifting to that of her mate, Hukari, who was about to burst at the idea that he needed permission.

“Dis bobblehead no be tellin’ dah whole story,” Hukari yammered. “Leza got pinched. We gonna be rescuin’ er.”

“Oh? When we go?” Rukra asked. Zooti smacked his tiny hand into his forehead in frustration.

“Look all, I really do appreciate the offer, but honestly a gnome is much easier to blend in over there than two trolls and an orc.”

“And Pazo!” shouted Pazo from his vantage point behind the bar, a good twenty feet away. Zooti frequently wondered if the tauren was just psychic or something.

“Oh no Pazo! Last time you were near Ironforge you tried to…” Zooti stopped himself short. No reason to break other’s illusion of Pazo, the huggable halfwit bartender. “I need to go get her myself.”

Night had fallen an hour or so ago, and the whole bar was lit with the gleam of torches and lanterns. It was still empty for the most part, which was the only reason Zooti still felt safe walking through the open. Whenever customers would arrive, the little gnome would frequently hide down in his lab he built in the cellar. It seemed like the safest course of action when living in predominately horde lands. While the employees of the Tavern trusted him, there was too much blood between the alliance and horde to fully make him ever feel safe here.

A dark figure suddenly stepped into the door of the tavern.

It was an orcish male in the prime of his warrior youth. Drawing back the cloak that covered his ornate armor revealed the mask of a wolf over his face, the signature helm of a shaman in the service of Thrall.

The Orc stepped right up to the circular bar in the middle of the room, wasting no time with pleasantries.

“You Pazo Stonehoof?” he asked of the bartender.

Pazo smiled at the orc, but Zooti caught the quick movement of his right hand dropping under the bar where he kept a plethora of weapons for special occasions. The gnome quickly and quietly slinked backward behind a table, working his way as much out of sight as possible.

“Aye,” the tauren replied.

“I am Stone Guard Matok of the Frostwolf Forces,” the orc spoke with a commanding voice that would make no sane person question his credentials. “I am here with news of your sister.”

“Then greet with many greats,” Pazo whipped his left hand around and within seconds had a full mug of ale procured from the kegs suspended in the cavity of the totem above his head. He placed the mug in front of the orc. “Speak and have with infos. Only friends here.”

The orc quickly glanced about the room, barely moving his head. “You have a gnome among you.”

“Zooti most with save Pazo, so okee dokee war buddy.”

“So noted,” the orc let his hand drift away from what could now be seen as the hilt of some strange spiked mace at his side. “Your sister was captured during a military incursion into Loch Modan.”

“Leza no military. Leza smuggles.”

“Aye, but we were the ones making the incursion. Your sister was kind enough to provide us with some information. At a hefty cost of course, and it would have been worth the price had she not been discovered.”

“Why Leza help hordies?”

As the two spoke, Zooti gave up on the skulking since this orc seemed far less interested in him than originally feared. He, like the two trolls and Rukra, was enthralled with what was going on.

“At first we believed it was related to the money she was asking for. But then we learned of your war record and began to understand. Your sister was captured by a traitor we were pursuing. A General Or’gok.”

A chunk of the bar suddenly burst apart as Pazo’s hand flew through the boards and grabbed the throat of the orc. With one swift move he yanked the heavily armed, three hundred pound orc right over the bar and slammed him into one of the columns holding up the totem above their heads. The whole canvas walls of the tavern shook with the impact. The orc instinctually reached for his weapon, but Pazo had already used his other hand to rip it from the orc’s side and raise it to striking height.

“That demon is dead!” the tauren sneered in the face of the orc.

“He…lives…” the orc desperately clung at the deathgrip Pazo had over the throat of his adversary.

Zooti snapped out of his shock at the scene and ran over to the bar, the two trolls and Rukra coming to and doing the same.

“I killed him with my own bare hands!” Pazo struggled with the words, almost as if speaking in the first person was causing him great pain. “I heard that foul creature’s neck snap like a twig!”

“I’ve…seen…him,” Matok was now having difficulty even saying that much. He tried to send his knee flying into Pazo’s gut, but the hilt of his own mace came down on his kneecap with the full force of Pazo’s right arm.

Hukari lunged over the bar and grabbed at Pazo’s right arm with the mace in it. Without even looking at who was reaching for him, the tauren sent his elbow up into the face of the Witch Doctor sending him back dazed from the impact. Rukra slammed into his left side, wrapping her arm around his left arm that was squeezing the life out of Matok. Of everyone in the bar, she was probably the most physically fit, but Pazo had sheer weight on his side. And something else.

As Zooti prepared a spell as quickly as he could think, he half imagined he saw tiny spikes rising up from Pazo’s skin. Not stiff fur, but full on quills, black in color with a hint of burnt red at the tip that had a partial glow to it. They were subtle, but there.

But then the little gnome let the magic flow from his fingers and fly into Pazo. Smoke erupted from the tauren and both Rukra and Matok fell to the floor. When the smoke cleared, a massive sheep could be seen in the middle of the bar area, the look of glazed red eyes staring at them in confusion.

“Ah coulda’ takin dat cow!” Hukari muttered as Rukra helped him up. Zooti turned to see Golomojo watching from a chair at a nearby table, munching on some nuts and enjoying the show.

Matok rose to his feet, his throat still looking as if a bear had mauled it.

“That was not entirely what I had expected…”

Leza awoke in her cell. The cold stone floor had left cramps in every muscle in her body. The stench of filth and waste filled her nostrils like a burning spear. Her head still felt like it was rolling from the impact of the strike that had knocked her out.

The last thing she could remember was the hilt of a warhammer being slammed into the back of her head, but little else before or after that.

“Ugh…not again,” she mumbled to herself. It was becoming a hassle getting captured as often as she did. Granted, it was never by the same person, since those who captured her usually found out why to not do so shortly afterward, but this was really getting old. “Now, where are we today?” she questioned as she turned her head to survey the room.

The cell was probably ten-foot cube. Or at least, it would be if chunks weren’t missing from most of the stonework giving the whole cell a near shapeless form. A door rose up on one wall, crafted of old, hardened wood. A small opening in the door covered with bars allowed provided the only view of the hallway beyond she could see from this vantage point. The light of the cell all came from a single window, high in the wall opposite the cell door. It was only a foot high and a foot across and covered by bars, and it appeared to only open into a shaft from which light from the world outside would drift down and illuminate the room.

“You’re at the ruins of Durnhold Keep,” came a muffled, feminine voice from the other side of the wall her back was leaning against.

“Well,” Leza replied, too exhausted physically to be startled in any way. “That answers that question. I’m assuming this is Or’gok’s doing?”

“I didn’t ask for names when they threw me in here,” the voice responded. “I only got that they were territorial over their body parts. Go fig. No one has escaped in the entire time that I have been here.”

“Yeah, go fig. How long have you been here?”

There was a pause from the other side of the wall. “A few hours.”

Leza chuckled to herself. “I love your optimism, but if this guy really is Or’gok, you may not have time to let them get cozy. The guy is one of the Burning Blade’s most powerful figureheads. I even heard he died once, but I guess not everything you hear at a bar can be taken at face value. So what’s your name?”

“Xynth Oglethorpe,” the voice muttered back, oddly cheery even though the voice was fairly deep and raspy.

“Pleased to meat you Xynth. I’m Leza Stonehoof. Now lets see what we can do about getting out of here before my brother finds out what happened.”

Matok sat sternly at a table, a pint of Durator Draft in his hands. He stared at the Tauren bound to the chair across from him. Pazo was still unconscious, and any signs that Zooti had seen of the quills was no longer visible.

Rukra and Hukari sat on either side of the big Tauren, keeping their eyes on him as Matok spoke. Zooti and Golomojo sat back up at the bar watching from a safe distance but still close enough to participate in the conversation.

“So are we having beef tonight?” Tehd asked as he stepped up next to Zooti. “Cause if so I need to get the big fire spit going.”

“Wraak,” came the squawk of Mr. Sneed from his small roost above the bar. “Don’t eat the idiot, wraak!”

Tehd looked up at the bird and glared at it as best his lidless eyes could glare. “I really hate that thing.”

Rukra turned to Matok, now that she was sure the bindings on Pazo were properly tightened. “Matok, tell us what is going on.”

The shaman looked at everyone in turn and then began to speak. “General Or’gok was a horde champion during the last war. When the war ended, the General didn’t let it end. It was late in the war when Thrall discovered Or’gok was actually a champion of the Burning Blade. While he wore the mantle of a horde general, he aided the Burning Legion in gaining vast amounts of territory in the Eastern Kingdoms. He was mounting an incursion into Dun Morough when he was discovered. All of his forces were accounted for when Thrall had him dealt with. All but two. General Or’gok himself, and one lone assassin that had been believed to have perished in the dungeons of Dun’Morough.”

Zooti didn’t like the way this was going. Old memories were beginning to rekindle.

“Obviously,” Matok continued, “the assassin escaped.” And at this he nodded in Pazo’s direction. Rukra and Hukari both let their jaws drop as they turned to stare in wonder at Pazo.

“Hiya!” Golomojo caused everyone to jump in surprise as he bounded off the barstool and started dancing. “Ya be beat mon!” He pointed at Hukari as he kept dancing. “Ya owe meh ten gold now ya hack! ‘Ah called it!”

Hukari glumly pulled out a small bag of coins and raised the pouch high. “Banto binto becko boto, may the itch of a thousand bad trollops get you,” he spoke as he passed the pouch to Golomojo.

“Pazo doesn’t remember what he did,” Zooti spoke up, interrupted the wagers of the trolls. “I found him in the dungeons and we helped each other escape.”

“Bronzebeard did make some demands of explanation around that time. It was his first experience with a tauren,” Matok continued. “And we even heard rumors that the assassin had killed Or’gok before his training kicked in to carry out his mission. But these were only rumors.”

“You saw this General?” Zooti asked, now realizing that what was going to be a simple rescue mission may become something far more intense than originally expected.

“I watched him slaughter half my men in battle and was forced to watch as he fed the other half of my men to demons in a pit.”

“And yet you lived,” Tehd chimed in, ever being the cynic.

“I was set free in the southern side of Hillsbrad and told to take with me what I had seen.”

“Why he want Leza?” Rukra asked.

“Bait I assume,” Matok continued. “Pazo is the one whom the trap was lain for. I have traveled by Zeppelin, wolf, bat, and wyvern to come and find this bartender of whom this General told me to seek out.”

“Well,” Zooti spoke up again. “That is a good thing then.”

Everyone turned to him with an odd look, except for Matok, whose eyes never left the drooling bound figure of Pazo.

“Good in that we can take as long as we need cause they are not going to kill her or anything. She is bait, and has been there for at least a week already so we have a fighting chance. I say we go by sea and hit this bastard hard.”

“Aya! Kick ‘em in dah’ jimmah!” Hukari cheered. Rukra nodded in agreement.

“I’m coming with you as well,” Matok insisted. “Vengeance must be paid.”

“Ah’ still be goin too,” Golomojo spoke up.

They all turned to Tehd, who had yet to say anything.

“What?” he asked nervously. “You’ve got to be kidding me. If all of you go who is going to run this dump of a bar? Besides, I’ve got an arms deal scheduled for four tomorrow.”

“Leza has saved your life on more than one occasion Tehd,” Zooti pointed out.

“I’m an undead demon summoning arms dealer who works as a chef in a dive in the middle of no where,” Tehd shot back, “please keep that in mind when you dig for gratitude over who saved whose ‘life.’ I’m staying here and running this filthy joint. I’ll just make Taurog sober up a bit more than usual and get him working.”

“Can you at least let us use some of your contacts then?” Zooti begged. As despicable as this forsaken filth was, he walked in some very powerful underground circles and had enough contacts in the arms smuggling industry to determine the outcome of any war, assuming he would pick a side.

“Alright fine,” he grumbled as he reached behind the bar and dug out a small scroll of paper. He chanted a bit as he wrote on the page and the ink he scrawled on it glowed with an iridescent blue hue. “Here is my card.” He rolled it up and handed it to Zooti. “Your best bet is to head to Ratchet and talk to a captain I’ve developed some connections with over the years. I warn you he is a bit eccentric, even for an elf, but he commands one of the best ships in the South Seas. And more importantly, he owes me enough favors to have to take you for free wherever you want to go.”

Zooti glanced at the page and a symbol was etched in the page, written almost entirely in flames, along with the ever-recognizable symbol of Tehd’s trading name.

“So it is settled,” Zooti spoke. “Tomorrow we’ll head to Ratchet, and from there to the Eastern Kingdoms and end this General once and for all.”

“What is it with you gnomes being so overdramatic?” Tehd scoffed as he stumbled off back to the kitchen area. “Now get back to work!”

[Part Three], [Top]

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