As you enter the mostly-empty watering hole, you see the young man Dargellon sitting at a table in the corner, his unkempt black hair falling down almost to his reddened eyes. On the tabletop, you spot 2 bottles, one completely empty and one halfway finished. He waves an older man standing near the table to sit with his left hand, clutching a glass of some dark liquid in his right.
“Nice funeral, eh? It’s the least we coulda done for her. She went out like a flamin’ hero. Yeah, you heard right, I was there at the end. Heh, yeah, I guess I could tell the story… again.” Light from the nearby lamp seems to make the scar running up the side of his head glow as he leans back to begin.
“That spellflinger Treen told you true; we had gone out that morning to lay down a false trail for the orcs to follow. Mostly it was me and Irem and that new buddy of his laying the trail; Anya wanted to go get another look at what was happening at the hamlet. I hadn’t decided if I trusted her yet, but I gotta admit, between her attitude and her string of orc ears, I kinda liked her.”
“Anyway, when she got back, she was in a flamin’ fit over what the orcs were doin’ in the hamlet. Told us they were startin’ some mumbo-jumbo ritual that was buildin’ up to something big. We decided Anya and I would go back to that hamlet to see if there was a way ‘ta stop it, and Irem would go back to warn the others. Our horses would be spotted, so I handed ’Stomper’s reins to Irem and headed out with Anya on foot.”
“When we got there, we could hear the noises of the orcs gettin’ all worked up with this ritual they’d started. We couldn’t get too close without being seen, but even that far out I could tell it was one of the ugliest things I’d seen since those flamin’ flyin’ kobolds spat their goo in my face. The orcs had human prisoners trussed up in front of some warped spellflingin’ shaman, complete with a nasty-lookin’ staff with a flamin’ skull at the end, I think with one of those bloody eye symbols they use on it. Around him, there were these strange-lookin’ orcs that I’d swear looked half human, but also stronger and tougher than your usual orcs.”
“The ceremony was definitely buildin’ up to the end, judging by all the ruckus the orcs were makin’. I was desperate to try and stop whatever was going on, so I got my longbow ready and pulled out a silver-head arrow, hopin’ that even if I couldn’t hit anything from this far, I could maybe distract ‘em with the arrow, or maybe some light shinin’ off the silver. I pulled back and let it fly, and nobody noticed – it hit one of the buildings, but nobody even heard with all the noise. In the meantime, the shaman punches into a prisoner’s chest and pulls his heart out.”
“I felt like I was drenched in sweat by the time I had another arrow notched, and when I let loose it was a really bad shot, not even getting close to reaching the orcs nearest to us. That bastard shaman ripped out another heart from the next poor soul and held it high. We knew whatever flamin’ spell this ritual was starting was about to go off.”
“’We’re runnin’ out of prisoners,’ I growled as I tried to wipe my fingers dry. As I drew another arrow, I told Anya, ‘Anything you can think of that could help out…’ ‘Aim straight, shoot true’ was all she said. I drew back to my cheek and released.”
“Nearest I could tell, it slammed into the shaman square in the chest. At least, all that damn noise stopped. The last thing I think I saw was him falling, then I had dropped the bow and we were running hard as we could outta there. It wasn’t long before we heard the roars of their battle rage building up behind us.”
“For awhile, we thought we might make it, but one of their flamin’ patrols spotted us; a dozen armed riders. Anya asked what I wanted to do, and I said we should try and take one off his horse, then hop on and try to ride outta there. I set my halberd for the charge, and Anya guarded my back, but it was no good. They came in too fast, and a weapon cut into me about the same time that I got a good kick from one of their warhorses. My halberd didn’t come near to any of ’em.”
“I got up with a groan as their horses started to wheel around for another charge. I looked down to see how bad I was bleedin’, and I realized we weren’t likely to live through another pass. That’s when Anya gave me a good shove and yelled ‘Get back to them!’ at me. I knew what she was doin’, but my legs were moving before I could think to stop her, let alone realize that I couldn’t. She had raised her string of orc ears high and was shoutin’ battle cries at them at the top of her lungs. I ducked my head into the tall grass and ran like hell. I heard the sounds of Anya’s last stand behind me as I ran, trying to stay out of sight.”
“I managed to get back to the others unseen, along the way sucking down some of the healing juice that preacher Mazlor had given me to stop the bleeding. When I got to them, and they asked me where she was, All I could make myself say was, ’Anya’s gone’. Mazlor and I found the body later, everything but the head.”
“So here’s to ya, Anya,” Dargellon says, raising his glass in toast, “I hardly knew her, but she gave her life to save mine, even after I swore…” He trails off, a look of pain twisting his face, then drains his glass. Staring off at nothing, he begins again, speaking softly at first, but building in intensity: “Well, it’s a helluva way to go. Gotta hand it to her. Hit your enemies one last time, and save somebody to live to fight another day… Of course, we can’t all be as lucky as old Colgash, to walk out with a flamin’ army straight onto an open field and SIT RIGHT DOWN ON SOME DAMNED ZOMBIES…!”
He throws his empty glass at the far wall with all the force he can muster, shattering it. Ignoring the bellows of the barkeep, he slumps back down into his chair. “All over now. No goin’ back. It.. shoulda been.. me…”
His eyes roll back, and he passes out face-first on the table.