The Adventurers

The Barkeep's Tale

Agrippa thought she ought to be happy. The Snake and Pony had never done better. There didn’t seem to be a time, day or night, that the pub wasn’t full of adventurers-for-hire and those who would hire them. That was the whole point of opening the place, wasn’t it? The adventurers would have a place that didn’t treat them like mud, the clients would have a place where they felt like they weren’t going to get held up, and the goodwill of both parties would mean generous tips.

But, Agrippa thought to herself, her success probably was directly in proportion to the suffering of others. Adventurers aren’t needed in times of peace and prosperity. Oh, sure, there’ll always be something needing to be done, ancient relics to be sought, clan wars to either inflame or put down. The way of mortals was that of Kord, and Bane and Gruumush. Their blood-song would always be present in the background of the world, and the world would always need those who could sing it better than anyone else.

That said, there hadn’t been a down time in weeks. The Lord’s Guards were stretched thin, and couldn’t recruit fast enough. Guards who had only patrolled the maze-like warrens of Shard, chasing down petty criminals, were suddenly being transferred out to the western plains and facing real combat. The new recruits were green and motivated mostly by the signing bonuses, and it was whispered that the gangs of Shard had planted quite a few members into the Guards’ ranks as standards were lowered. The end result was that crime had been steadily rising. The lack of patrols on the trade routes leading out of Shard only made it worse, as bandits operated on roads that previously had been safe as houses. The rumor mill even said that the Guards were considering conscription, something that hadn’t been seen in Shard in over 80 years.

And that didn’t even take into account why the Guards were being transferred out to the west – the goblins. Oh, out on the western fringes there had been the occasional goblin raid of an isolated homestead now and again. But this was different. The goblins were coming en masse, with purpose and a plan. These weren’t isolated attacks. They were probing the defenses of Shard, and with each victory – of which the goblins had many in recent weeks – each raid became bolder and bloodier. There had been more Guards killed in the last month than the entire year prior. The rumor mill (it never stopped turning in Shard) said that the goblin tribes had united under a single banner. Most scoffed at the idea, at least publicly. The goblin tribes had been waging skirmishes against each other for almost a millennium out in the Wastes, since their ancient kingdom had been shattered. The idea that they could suddenly unite under one banner was ludicrous…wasn’t it?

So adventurers were needed more than ever. And so business was better than ever. Agrippa mused that she could cry into her cash box, for all the sympathy she deserved. Still, things were getting worse, and if they got bad enough it wouldn’t matter how full her till was. The inferno burns everything whether common or dear. The old Dragonborn looked at her greatsword hanging above the bar. Shiskatta had been nearly as famous as she many years ago and many miles far from here. But it was still sharp, and so was Agrippa. If the time came, both Shiskatta and Agrippa would no longer be museum pieces. They would both remind the world that and old warrior was still a warrior, if it was needed.

Agrippa hoped that it would not be, and yet, she found no comfort in that hope.

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JamesOuroboros

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