The Man with the Pipe

I’ve been wanting to put up some sort of story, but I’m a bit paranoid about spoiling anything in my actual novel. Most of my stories aren’t so goofy, but it’s two in the morning and I spent a good bit of the day reminiscing over ridiculous adventures with old friends. So, let us delve into our first…

Tales from the Tabletop

The Mock Book Cover for the first short story in my Tales from the Tabletop series.

Smoking Good Time

So, here we are, enjoying a visit to the McTavern’s. Our talking voice in the sky isn’t so fond of wasting time naming places that will either be ignored or destroyed in a who-knows-what type of scenario. McTavern’s all over the place lately. Great ale with free refills and a new way of cutting potatoes. Into little strips, you believe that?

But the one thing you could definitely find at a McTavern’s was a fight. No better place for having a good brawl when you’ve got kids. They go on the slide while you work out your aggressions. I didn’t have kids at the time but I had plenty of demons to work out. That being the case, I found myself in loads of situations like the one I was in that day.

Namely, one of those good ol’ McTavern’s throw-downs  I was speaking of. I wasn’t handling it too well either. My face repeatedly found itself making the acquaintance of the bar with some dwarf fellow to thank for the introductions. In a McTavern’s, this meant he also had me flat on my stomach on account of  the bar being kiddie/dwarf height. And no, me getting my ass handed to me by a dwarf who was sitting at his own bar don’t mean I was the one to start this mess.

My person-friend, we’ll call him Heath, sounds like thief, had been rifling through this dwarf’s pockets. All well and good in my book, so long as you don’t get caught. But Heath did get caught. He only made matters worse when the dwarf turned ’round shouting, “What are ye doin’ in my pockets?!”

Heath looked him straight in the eyes, on account of being on his knees, and said, “I was looking for the rest of you.”

So, here I am, getting what little I’ve got left of my brains knocked out of me. All because I wouldn’t let anyone take a swing at Heath. Oh, and don’t go thinking I’m a wuss because I’m getting wrung out by a little fellow! This wasn’t one of those person-dwarves. He was a dwarf-giant and I promise you that ain’t a wrong name. Now, had I been fighting a dwarf-person, I’d like to think I’d be doing alright. One of these dwarf-giants though, sure they’re short. They’re also heftier than your every day man-person.  More than a good bit of that heft is muscle, too. So, don’t go saying I’m any sort of wuss.

He had a hold of me so tight, I couldn’t look anywhere but that red bar. I hadn’t remembered it being red when this started. Looked like fresh paint too. We got to a point, him hitting me against that bar, where the bar couldn’t take more. It broke, and while the dwarf fellow looked for something else to paint, I made my move. I grabbed up one of them kiddie stools and took a swing at his face. It was just about then that my other person-friend, we’ll call him Ram, jumped in. Ram was one of them non-violent types. Didn’t use weapons, preferred better to talk with his words than his fists.

I wasn’t overly fond of talking with either. My language was the swinging of blunt instruments, and when Ram got between me and the dwarf, he got the ass end of my stool. Ram went flying and crashed into a not so nearby post with a sound that made me throw up a little.

He made a fine projectile, took out a few folk on his way there. By the time he was a heap on the ground, the whole place had joined in the fighting. I swear, most of those folk just started beating on whoever they came with. It was utter chaos, but that was just the start.

I hate to admit I was worried about if Ram was dead or not, but I was. I liked him well enough, and a lot of good that liking did me. Ram had me so distracted, that dwarf had me hoisted over his head before I could blink. Then I was sailing across the bar. I flapped my arms like I could fly, but it didn’t get me anywhere. I’d only ever heard of one half-orc that had managed to fly, and he wasn’t me.

I wish he had been me. Then maybe we wouldn’t ever of had to deal with that old fellow. He was sitting in a corner minding his own business, smoking his pipe. You can call him The Man with the Pipe. That’s what we took to calling him.

Next thing both of us knew, we were tangled up in a knot that made looking at each other a bit uncomfortable, especially with his piercing blue eyes. What matters from that entanglement though, The Man with the Pipe’s pipe was on the floor across the room.

I had never seen a fire go up that fast. It’s like our voice in the sky was angry at us for wasting several hours in a McTavern’s when we were supposed to be following some guy with a ring or something or other. Those bar fights may seem like seconds, but I promise you, check the time after and you’ll find most of your night pissed away!

Anyways, the place was up in flames and I was putting my knot tying skills to the test trying to get out of an awkward old man hug. About this time, our mage yelled out, “Thanks for turning up the heat, Dav!” That’s me. I’m Dav. And even in the middle of summer she constantly whined about the cold. I suppose this was on account of her being, by her claims, a half-demon.

You can call her Red. What Red’s other half was, I couldn’t tell you. I was bent toward believing it was demon as well because of all the demons I ever met, she was the nastiest. She just kept laughing while everyone there was doing their best to keep from ending up like those poor little chickens McTavern’s loved to serve up. Those little chickens were a guilty pleasure of mine, but who’s the bad guy? Me? Or the establishment that drops them in grease and feeds them to people?

Again, anyways, while she kept on with her laughing and the people around us kept on with doing their best to keep from burning, Me and Heath picked up Ram and tried to head out the front door. It damn near collapsed on top of us. That option out, we headed toward the back to find it locked up tight.

Heath yelled, “Use Ram!”

Ram was so named because his shiny bald head was hard as bricks from all of his weird training. He’d gotten us out of some situations before, but that’s a different story. We figured, were he awake, he would want us to use his head to ram through a reinforced oak door. He was the only one of us that made a point of keeping morals after all. Saving us would mean a lot to him.

It took a few swings, but we were through that door before the place came down. It even waited for Red to step through the flames, still honking worse than a goose. The whole of McTavern’s fell in a burning heap behind her. She was lucky, but it was a stroke of Luck that should of kept its hands to itself.

All of us alive, Ram still breathing, we decided to get out of town. People were usually pretty quick to say that our group needed jailing. Especially whenever something bad happened. Now, I don’t think it’s right to go throwing words on us. Words like “monsters” and “evil”. But if I were evil, I’d have to say I was at least on some sort of middle ground. Maybe neutrally evil would be a good way to describe it. I wasn’t all bad.

Heath and Red though, if their evil had a word for describing it, that word would be something like chaotic.

I had seen Heath make a point of stealing from the rich, giving to the poor, then stealing it back and giving it to himself. Money laundering he called it. He tried explaining it to me, but I was never quite able to keep up with his ideas.

I don’t know much of what Red did before running with us. Just what she ended up doing to us.

Ram on the other hand, I never did understand why he ran with us. He had all sorts of morals. He probably just didn’t have anything better to do with his Friday nights.

Well, that’s my group of friends and the start of a story that lasted a whole summer. A chain of fires across the countryside that put McTavern’s out of business. The first of many times we’d see The Man with the Pipe.

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