Once upon a time, in a land forgotten by history, there was a town like no other town has ever been or ever will be. For this town was brought into existence by the nefarious forces of Magic, and these forces bound it to remain standing until such a time as Magic itself would perish. That such a time should come to pass was as unfathomable to Ser Horsiwald as a rat with the head of an owl, as Tommy would have everyone believe. But alas, such time will come when Magic will give way to something else.
The merry men in Ser Horsiwald’s party, all ten heads of them, warriors and peasants alike, were siting at a very large table, laden with food and drink of different varieties: there was venison, pork, and pheasant, assorted vegetables, wine and beer. The party was listening to Tommy’s tale of likely false bravery. Ser Horsiwald was about to punch Tommy in the face; but seeing as the lad was situated across the table, and others were showing signs of distaste towards the young buck, Ser Horsiwald reconsidered, and secretly hoped that someone else would beat him to the punch, as it were. Content with his decision for the time being, he leaned back in his chair - the best chair in the tavern, complete with cushion, arm and back rests - and pretended to listen.
“By my word, gents,” said Tommy, who was now standing, “not sooner than I had drawn my sword, the rat started to grow, and grow he did, about to yee high.” Tommy showed with his hands what was an enormous length for a rat, even an owl-headed one.
“By the Bee, you rascal, that’s no rat. That’s a proper beast,” said a red-bearded dwarf.
“You ought to have seen it, master Ingress. The unholiest of beasts, if there ever were-”
“Shut up, lad,” a voice thundered from one end of the table. Everyone turned their heads at the old man who spoke. He was called Greybeard, and he chugged his beer mug, emptied it, and then threw it on the table. “There’s no such thing as a giant growing rat, and if you don’t go finish with this pisspot of a tale, so help me—“
“Shut up old man. It was a rat all right, and it had the head of an owl and the shriek of a—wait!”
Tommy didn’t get to finish his thought; he saw Greybeard get up, and then the lad saw a chair flying at his head. He ducked just in time, but the old man would not be appeased. He started for the lad, who sat down in his chair and started crying for mercy. Ser Horsiwald couldn’t stand it — he never begged of anything in his life — but it won’t do to have his page slapped around by another man, so he rose.
“Now now, Greybeard. Relax that muscle, and sit back in your chair,” said Ser Horsiwald.
“You would defend the fool?” thundered Greybeard.
The others tensed up, but no one interfered.
“I would,” said Horsiwald. “The lad is in my service, as are all of you pretty faces. Now, make nice, and then go fetch the barmaid. I need more ale.”
Greybeard walked away from the table. Tommy lifted his head and looked at Ser Horsiwald with a frown. “Thanks, I guess,” said Tommy. “Although I’ll have you know, I was ready for a quick getaway.”
“Good. We’re leaving soon.”
“Where are we going?”
“I see we’re cultivatin’ the nerve to ask questions now.”
“After all we’ve been through these past few days, I think I’ve earned myself a bit of credit.”
“What you’ve earned are the Lady Leander’s good graces. I’d wager my swords and my armour against you crawling up her spine again.”
“Doomed shall be the fate of non-believers,” recited Tommy.
“Cut the scripture and feed the horses,” said Horsiwald. “There’s a lot of ground between us and where we ought to be.”
“Yessir,” said Tommy and left quickly, altogether too quick for comfort. Ser Horsiwald scanned the room and found it peculiar that the barmaid was nowhere to be seen. In but a moment, there she was, exiting hurriedly on the same door that Tommy used, with a shy smirk on her redded lips.
“Farash,” said Horsiwald.
“Yes, sire,” said one of the peasant lads at the table.
“Will you take kindly to my askin’ you to care for the horses?”
“Then see about doin’ that.”