A Tale from the White Liar Tavern
A Flintloque Short Story by Tony Harwood
Artwork Conceived and Created by Tony Harwood and Edward Jackson
Throughout the realms of Valon the White Liar Tavern in Broomcoat has a very special reputation for the quality of the ales sold and the tales told. During the cold winter months the landlord brings comfort to his regulars by offering hot mulled brews and spiced pies. With steam rising from their flagons it is customary for patrons to recount their stories...
..."Humpf" said the old Dwarf sitting in the corner, if you re-charge my tankard, I'll tell you a tale of high adventure and cold, evil spirits.”
The regular clients looked on with some trepidation as this particular Dwarf was already unsteady on his feet caused by the large amount of beer he had already drunk.
“OK,” said one well mannered Guildsman, “I’ll see you one more tankard – but it had better be a good story!”
The Dwarf started his tale;
“Some years ago when I was still in my prime, I was part of the famous Princess Juliana Chasseur Elite Regiment, a group of experienced brewers who were uniformed by the guild of brewers and served honourably.”
At this stage there were muffled comments from the older customers, who had differing views on how ‘honourable’ this particular regiment had been during the early Mordred Wars.
“During a quiet period I was instructed to lead a small group of Musketeers who were charged with escorting two wagons of supplies. The adventure started well and we were soon many miles into our trek. However the weather changed and due to some poor map reading and bad light we were soon lost within woods on the border of Diberia and the a strange and dark Witchlands that were it's neighbour. I decided that it was best to make camp and wait for the weather to change and the sun to rise.”
“The next morning the rain continued and, if anything, the heavy fog that now filtered through the trees was even worse than the rain of the day before. Nevertheless we decided that it was best to move forward and leave these evil woods. Within minutes there was uproar as a large group of Ogre Deserters smashed through the trees and after a short struggle took the larger of the two wagons.”
Once again from within the White Liar there were grumbling comments about how this particular regiment dealt with threats and one or two who were now openly questioning the worth of buying ale for such a poor story.
“I was conscious of my duty and had the remaining wagon checked. It was full of bedding while the stolen wagon had all the food and drink. There was no way that my small group could best a band of Ogres, but we had to try!”
“How did you manage that?” came a cursed shout from the back of the White Liar.
The haggard Dwarf took a long draft from his tankard and continued his tale.
“As the afternoon turned into early evening and the chill air began having a negative effect on my comrades, a plan was hatched. It was well known to us that the Ogres of the area were very superstitious and as the Full Moon rose I decided that we would dress in the white bed linen and impersonate evil spirits, thereby frightening off the Ogres allowing us to retrieve the food and drink.”
“We cut eye-holes in the sheets and slowly crept through the undergrowth. When we saw the Ogres, they were already drunk from drinking our Dwarf Ale and with a silent command we all charged – crying out, wailing as we ran. The Ogres took one look at us and ran as fast as they could, leaving the supplies for us to recover.”
“Since then at every Full Moon, I have found some solace in drinking myself into a drunken stupor, an action that has taken its toll on both my physical and mental health.”
“What sort of story is this – and more importantly what a waste of good ale!” were some of the more polite comments from the now frustrated customers of the White Liar. “How come you need this ale to give rest-full sleep – you recovered the wagon and survived!”
The old Dwarf lifted his head, his eyes blood shot and blank.
“Well you see, when we started out there were just seven Dwarves, but in that charge against the drunken Ogres, I counted at least twenty spectres each calling out in a wailing holler and since then on the night of a Full Moon, such as we have this evening, those ghosts once again visit me and continue their wailing, giving me no respite until the rising of the morning sun. That is why I drink so much on the night of a full moon."
In the silence of the tap room a faint noise could be heard from outside, growing steadily louder.
"Hark here they come now.” mumbled the Dwarf as he finished his drink in one and fell into unconsciousness.
The White Liar emptied faster than it had ever done before and with some prodding and a last firm push the Landlord got the old Dwarf out of the door just in time. As he pushed the door home he saw what looked like floating white sheets descending towards the Dwarf. He bolted the door shut and took a long breath, the snoring Dwarf collapsed in the gutter as the spirits descended.
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This article was originally published on Alternative Armies' content portal, Barking Irons, and is reproduced here with permission.