A set of short stories told by a tavern keeper.
The Tavern Tales
My name is Jarreth Melsomin. I am the owner, proprietor, manager, and slave to the Burning Beard. A tavern and inn that I inherited from my father and he, from his father before him and so on since it was built.
The Burning Beard was built by my great, great, great, however many greats, grandfather and his brother. Legend has it that it got its name just after construction was completed. The two brothers spent the night celebrating by being the first to get absolutely drunk in the new tavern. The legend is not clear on which of the two brothers decided to try lighting his pipe while drunk, but it ended with his entire beard being burned down to a hair. The Tavern has been in my family ever since.
The Burning Beard is also said to be cursed. Every one of my forefathers that has owned it, has died because of it somehow. The deaths all seem so innocent, until you look at them together. One grandfather died falling in the inns well and drowned. Another died when the mounted elks head that hangs behind the bar fell and crushed him. Yet another was killed falling out of a window. My father died tripping down the stairs to the basement. So many other deaths caused by the inn. It's only a matter of time till this pace claims me and my son, Alex, takes over.
Running a tavern and inn has its pros and cons. The best thing is the stories I hear from the patrons. So many wonderful and strange tales. I have decided to compile the stories that have been told into a book. You know, before I trip and impale myself with a spoon or something. Maybe it will even become a family tradition that my son will carry on.
The Hunters Mistake
I guess I will start light. This was a story that I heard from one of the hunters that come down from Mount Dortmund. The strange single mountain that resides a little to the east of here. It was a tale of how he came to have a new respect for caution. This hunter, whose name I believe was Eldorth, or something like this had just come in out of a rather nasty storm and was sitting at my bar just covered in burn marks and singed clothing. After i asked him what in the Green Gale had happened, this is what he told me.
"It was just so stupid. One the dumbest and simplest mistakes i have ever made. I was just trekking through the woods at the base of Mount Dortmund, and I saw the tracks of a few deer. Now i knew that bagging a big old buck would make this trip worth it. I followed the tracks deeper into the woods, dreaming about the coin i was about to make, and the mead i would buy with it. Deeper into the woods and higher up the mountain I went.
The trees started turning from small silver maples to towering ancient trees that had been alive since only the gods know when. HIgher the mountain I climbed, following the hoof prints and deer scat that was my trail. After a few hours of some of the best tracking this side of the Gale, i finally saw the small herd of deer. And sure enough. In the center of the herd was a massive, majestic buck.
His hide was a glorious shade of tan. He stood at least a full two hand taller than any other deer into the field, but it was his gigantic, many pronged rack that most intrigued me. It was the largest i had ever seen. The base of the antler had to be size of my wrist and it just branched out to a span wider than i had ever seen. I knew right, that set of antlers would hang above my fireplace and be the pride of my home ((you know, until they fall and kill a family member!))
I drew an arrow out my quiver and knocked it so very carefully and silently. Ever so slowly, i drew the bow string to my check, being careful not to move to fast and alert the deer to my presence. I took aim, sighted the deer, and with a twang, I released the arrow.
I watched as the arrow flew. Sure it would hit his target. I am a fairly decent shot after all. Closer and closer to the magnificent buck the arrow flew, until at the very last minute, as if the cursed deer knew, he just laid down. The arrow flew right through the spot just a moment ago, was going to be a few weeks of ale for me and a trophy for my home.
The arrow continued only a few spans further before connecting with something. I stared in awe as that something stood up, turned, and stared right at me. I had not even seen the storm elemental, until I accidentally shot it in the ass.
It had to be a remnant of the wizards tower at the peak of Mount Dortmund. It may have been wandering the mountain for centuries before i found it with an arrow. It. Was. Pissed. The glare it gave me froze me to the spot as the deer herd scattered to the winds. It raised a blu glowing arm towards me and screamed. I never even saw the bolt. I just flew a fair distance backwards from the force. It hurt like you wouldn't believe. Still not sure how I survived. But I got up, and just ran as fast as my now tingly feet would carry me. Of course, the elemental followed, screaming and flinging bolts of lightning at me. Elementals are slow, thank the gods, so was able to outrun him. But his anger would not dissipate. This stolen on this night, is from me pissed off storm elemental with an arrow in his rear"
I remember the storm that night. It was awful. Loud and windy, rained the whole night. That poor elemental was so very angry.