Dungeons in Dragons
Echoes of the Past
Body aching enough to put the priests of Ilmater to shame, Derrin drags himself over to the bar thoroughly exhausted. The effects of a rebounded spell are more severe than he had previously imagined and the numbing buzz of ale is a quick fix to both his mental and physical strife. Adrieth’s companions seem to have turned in for the night which suits him fine, his mind is cluttered with the events of today and need sorting. Derrin barely registers the friendly tavern keeper’s greeting. A tankard of ale is placed before his hands at some point in time later and Derrin vaguely registers the look of concern on the old woman’s face before she heads to her next patron.
His thoughts linger on the young paladin and he feels a slight flush across his face, though, nowhere near as intense as before.
Perhaps the hag is not the only fae out in force in this town. He cannot recall the last time he had such a visceral response to another… not since.
He shakes his head. No need to dwell on that now.
The young paladin has him worried. Her dangerous notions could cost her, her own life or that of her companions. A younger him might have ignored such a case, believing she will come to her resolution but the older and wiser him knows better.
“Well, I never! Has a girl finally turned you to drink?” I chipper voice calls out behind him, causing Derrin to jump in surprise, splashes of ale spill over the side of his tankard.
Tani leans on the counter, grinning from ear-to-ear. “Now, now, you old goat. It’s only me.”
“Good evening, Tani.” Derrin sighs, relinquishing his hopes for a quiet evening. “I’ll have you know I could drink you under the table back in the day and I can do it now.” He manages a small smirk before taking a drink.
Tani pulls out the chair next to Derrin and makes herself comfortable, ordering herself a strong concoction that no sane man would drink.
“What’s it been now? Five years? Breaks my heart you didn’t write.”
“It’s hard to write to one without a permanent address, wouldn’t you agree?” He chuckles. “It is good to see you, Tani. I take it you’ve heard word from Jamila as well?”
“Yep, old Kwethrith finally bit it and we’re still no closer to finding the thing that did it.” She grimaces. “Apparently, the captain of the guard didn’t take the full story too well and nearly had her executed. Knowing Jamila, she probably rubbed her the wrong way and the captain used treason as an excuse.” She chuckles and pauses to accept her drink from the tavern keeper offering a hearty thanks. Derrin waits for her to take a large swig and can’t help smiling to himself. Neither of them had changed much in the past half-decade, which caused him to wonder how Jamila and the others fared.
“She was kind enough to send me some help for my newest expedition. The gnome’s a riot! She’ll make the journey bearable. The half-orc fellow isn’t bad either, easy to please. The tiefling and genasi are two peas in a bitter pod, though.” Her eyes light up, there’s a mischievous glint to them and Derrin knows what’s coming. “But enough about my life, how are you doing, handsome? Break any more hearts?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” His smile is aloof and he takes another sip of his drink. “A man of the cloth would never seek to lead on another.”
“Aaargh. Your piousness both infuriates and turns me on.” Tani falls back into her chair with over-exaggerated anguish.
A grin creeps up Derrin’s face. Tani’s company and the ale has put him at ease.
“Ok, ok. Surely there’s someone? I mean, I know you had a wife waaaaayyy back but that was, what? Twenty, thirty years ago? You deserve to be happy.” She clears her throat. “A certain redheaded paladin, perhaps?” Derrin nearly spits out his drink and Tani’s grin widens. “I saw you two heading up the stairs, rather scandalous for a man of the cloth, wouldn’t you say?”
Her sharp gaze is relentless and Derrin feels the tips of his ears heat up.
“There’s nothing to speak of.” He says finally. “But I am worried about her. The path she’s on now could destroy her and those around her.”
His companion scoffs loudly. “Yeah, well as a fire genasi she should be good at burning those bridges.”
Derrin is taken aback by the venom in her voice. “You don’t approve of her? Well now, that’s rare for you not to at least try and get along with someone.” He leans in, eyebrow raised.
It’s Tani’s turn to be flustered. Her brow furrows and she runs her fingers through her hair with more force than necessary. “Sh-she rubs me the wrong way is all.”
Skepticism lifts Derrin’s eyebrow higher. Hotheaded as she may be, he has never known Tani to be shallow.
Tani scoffs again. “Fine. I tried to be friendly and give her the benefit of the doubt, that she was different to the other fire genasi of my homeland. But she’s just as arrogant and stuck up as the others, acting like she’s the gods-damned king of the castle.”
“Well, it is her duty as a paladin to protect those around her, after all. I’m sure it was just a misunderstanding, Tani.” Derrin’s brow furrows. “Do you think perhaps you said something that invoked mistrust?”
There are a few moments of silence and the Calimshan woman drops her gaze. “I… was angry about my wheels being stolen, they’re a custom make and could rack me up over a hundred gold in repairs since the axles were busted, too. I overreacted, I guess.” A flash of anger ignites in her eyes. “But who in the Nine Hells would honestly think a person would hurt a child over some gods-damned wheels!? Sure, I’m from fuckin’ Calimshan but she of all people should know you shouldn’t judge a person on first appearance!” By the time Tani has finished her outburst, her voice has risen several octaves and several people nearby look their way in concern.
“Tani,” Derrin begins carefully, “we both know of your tendency to… overreact. Maybe you should be the bigger person and apologise so you can start afresh?”
The sound of wood slamming on wood echoes through the tavern, as Tani slams her tankard on the counter. “Sorry, priest, but she’s gonna have to earn my trust now. You can be preachy and spread your message of peace and honesty, but I’m not ready to commit to forgiveness and you’re gonna have to deal with that.”
Derrin’s patience has run thin. Too tired to respond in the proper way to Tani’s outburst, he snaps back. “Very well, then. It saddens me to see that you haven’t grown up one iota since we parted ways. But there is a child’s life at stake and if you don’t pull that stick wedged so far up your ass you could put this whole town in danger.” His features have molded into a frown, an expression he not often wears and the strain in uncomfortable but he bears it to convey his point.
There is a stunned silence from Tani as she sits flabbergasted before her friend. Derrin notices the tavern keeper eyeing them both with enraptured interest in the corner of his eye and makes an effort to lower his voice.
“Well?” He snaps again. “What do you have to say?”
After a very uncomfortable few moments, Tani looks at him sheepishly before lowering her eyes. “Fine.” She grumbles. “I’ll be nice.”
Leaning back in his chair, Derrin sighs in relief. “Good.” He responds curtly. “Now, You should go to bed, you’ll be needing your rest if you’re to be our last defense against the fae in town.”
“What?!” Tani sputters, half in disbelief and half in rage. “You’re kidding me?”
“I’m dead serious, Tani. I know you could duel circles around the four of them but if we don’t make it we’ll need someone to protect the townsfolk.”
“Shouldn’t that be your job, priest?” She snarls.
“There are plenty enough clerics in the town to attend to the towns folk but not nearly enough of them are trained for battle.”
Tani lets out a long, and needlessly loud groan. “Alright, alright. I’ll do it.” She concedes finally but there’s a small smile on her face, now. “Gods, I suppose I should be ashamed right now that you lecturing me is another turn on?”
“Tani.” Derrin responds, tone flat.
Grinning widely, whilst wiggling her eyebrows, the young merchant stands up from her seat. “Well, I have a long hard day of doing nothing ahead of me, so as you say, I best be prepared. Good night, old friend.”
“Goodnight, Tani.” Derrin replies, his voice soft again.
As she is about to exit the tavern, she turns on her heels to shout back to the cleric. “And you better not die, you hear me? We still have a shit-tonne of adventuring to do before we cark it!”
“I won’t.” He calls back, a small smile on his lips.
Tani nods her head in approval then vanishes into the night beyond.