Greater Stakes

The usual patrons at the Roaring Albatross are about their usual business in the small, family-owned tavern just off one of the docks in facing Lake Kieltron. Matron Florette serves the best fried liver and onions around this part of town; the hearty meal a favorite of the local sailors who know of this hidden watering hole.

A tanned fellow is seated at the counter with a single companion, a stocky bulk of a half-elf with a rough shaved head. The latter is focused on eating the tavern's special. He is not interested in engaging his Captain in small-talk since the tanned fellow himself appears to be staring with a lackluster sheen to his eyes at the wall behind the counter. Once the First Mate is finished with his meal and the scrapped plate is placed onto the top of the counter, Jaris turns to the Captain, a little annoyed, his deep voice taking on a choleric edge.

"The Radiant Rose sails tonight." The First-Mate begins speaking as he reaches for a slim wooden pick to clean his teeth. "We have a couple of paying passengers and Belstren have collected half the fees. Three men and a woman. All bound along the same route."

He cocks one good eye at his captain and just allows one minute for the rather distracted Aranvar to absorb the information. Maybe he should speak with Yaeger before they sail and find out what happened on the Capricious Nymph at the docks a few nights ago.

Outside of the establishment, two voices are slightly raised in a hurried discussion. An argument, though nothing overly concerning just yet, can be overheard just barely through a window near the entrance.

Moments later, a large man yanks open the door and moves his sturdy frame through the entrance. There is a cautious movement to his steps as he favors an unseen injury in his side and a large bruise mars the right side of his otherwise handsome face. Throwing himself into a seat and dragging a palm down his face to clear away his dark mood, he lifts his hand to catch the attention of a barmaid.

"Evening Nikolas," She addresses him familiarly, a slightly knowing grin purses her lips. Clearly his black eye has not deterred her appreciation. "Hungry tonight?" The suggestive tone brings a fresh scowl to his features though his eyes do skim over her figure before answering her shortly.

"Later… perhaps. Just a pint for now." With a shrug, the barmaid saunters off to fetch his drink. Nikolas watches her departing figure lazily before his glance slants toward the door he just came in from, his expression turning to that of a petulant child again.

The barmaid stops by the counter to remove the gravy stained plate from the one-eyed First-Mate. She leans with one elbow nocked against the worn wood and attempts another round of flirty flattery at Jaris. It is a slow night and nevertheless, she is still keen to earn more than what Florette pays her. Her coquettish exertions are dismissed right away and the First-Mate places his emptied flagon on top of the plate, waving her along.

Jaris angles his head back just barely, looking at the large man seated behind them, the latter obviously in a poor mood. The First-Mate jangles a couple of coins in a pocket, placing a couple on top the counter as Florette comes by. The man looks familiar and Jaris tries to recall where he has seen this chap before.

"We sail tonight?" Aranvar surprisingly snaps out of his preoccupation, twisting on his stool to face Jaris. "Seems a little too soon. There's still some more things I need to do." He mutters barely under his breath though enough for the astute First-Mate to sense his Captain is definitely not in the right state of mind.

"Passengers already paid." Jaris reminds acutely, his good eye trailing backwards to look at the large man once more before he admonishes his captain. "You need to keep the service in good faith and …"

The First-Mate's words are cut off as the tavern's door slams open, a tall, gangly half-elf with dark brown hair steps in, accompanied by two armed guards stepped in, their presence taking the lot by surprise.

"Fancy." The apparent leader of the trio chuckles loudly, his words clear, his tone brazen and he turns a naked rapier towards the seated Aranvar. "Fancy. I know of your plan, Mithendair. All that posturing and hiding behind your grandmother… you… you are as weak as I remembered, needing your sister in law to bail you out." The rapier stays horizontal, the tip still aimed at the tanned fellow, the gangly one's insipid watery blue eyes narrowing, his voice turning hoarse. "And I know what your grandmother knows and I will find it first, not you."

"Shut up, Valen!" Somehow, a bout of energy seems to broil within the tanned fellow as he slips from the stool, planting both feet on the ground, his face livid while his eyes scan around the tavern's main room quickly, unsure of who is listening to the crazed (yet true) spouting. "We'll settle this outside."

The tanned fellow takes few steps to cross and close the distance between him and Ashkera's son, a inflamed look spreading over his own features, that expression soon overtaken by steeled suppression.

An incredulous look crosses Nikolas' features as the scene unfolds before him in the small tavern. What on earth was with this races love for arguing and trying to kill each other in bars? It would be difficult for anyone not to notice their exchange. Having every intention of ignoring their personal grievances the tall human leans back in his seat, the wooden slacks creaking at the pressure. His elbow props on the tabletop and rests his cheek against his hand, turning his features away

Then suddenly the names being spoken began to register and Nikolas was no longer indifferent. Mithendair? That was a name worth paying attention. Immediately, he became intensely curious how this particular argument was going to play out. His back and shoulders visibly tense and release as he forces himself to relax, not appearing to be taking note of anything other than the hurried drop of his drink in front of him.

"Not - in MY tavern!"

The matron heaves a heavy iron skillet from the stove, slamming it down on the counter, her baleful brown eyes taking in the racket that is starting in the dining area as she issues a fierce warning. It is obvious she does not care about for dangerous weapons and bickering house lords.

"You heard what the boy said, all of you take it outside." Florette glowers, her calloused fingers gripping her skillet with as much force as she would fry potatoes.

"Who are YOU to order me around, you old woman?" Valen spits with a hiss, his face reddening now that his rapier is aimed at Florette. The rapier is swept across in an arc to point back at Aranvar, the metal tip trembling as Valen shouts angrily :

"This baboon here wants to be Speaker, you hear? Speaker for us all, proud Elohai - how can he, a half-bred of an imported bitch from some foreign country, speak for us?"

The brown-haired youth draws in breath, his insults beefing up newfound courage.

"I will become Speaker instead, and there will be no place for a mongrel like you, Mithendair."

"Shut up!"

With blindsided fury, Aranvar launches an enraged punch towards Valen Sylvanis' face, followed by an infuriated shout to silence the latter's mockery of his birthright and his mother. His fist finds its mark on the brown-haired youth's face, the force of the punch shoving Valen backwards and onto the floor, while the edge of his rapier sliced a thin and deep wound along Aranvar's inner arm.

The weapon clatters to the ground, the tanned fellow's blood streaking down its blade and spattering in minute drops on the tavern's floor.

The screeching of chair legs sound as they scrape hastily across the wooden floor. Nikolas grabs his flagon and immediately stands as a brawl becomes imminent despite the skillet wielding matron's warnings. Giving a quick glance toward the older woman, he fully intends to be out of the way when she starts swinging that thing.

"Considering you're all essentially 'half-breeds' wouldn't that be a requirement for such a position?" He asks casually, giving understanding to how he might have received his black eye. Lifting his cup to his mouth and watching as the man spewing anger is knocked on his backside, he merely shrugs.

Arms flailing, the brown-haired youth skids back on his posterior to crash into furniture and half-drank beer mugs. A plate of stew topples onto Valen's head, the brown goo dribbling down his hair and face. He swipes at the liquid covering his eyes, turning his sight onto the man.

"How dare you insult the Elohai!" He spits sauce from his mouth as he struggles to get up, his boots scrabbling on the wet floor, his eyes glaring murderous intent upon Nikolas, "You will take that back, human!"

"The man is essentially correct, you know, Lord Sylvanis." Jaris interrupts calmly, his voice hinged with a heavy warning as now a callused hand goes up to restrain an angry Aranvar by the shoulder. The rapier wound was deep but clean-cut, probably did avoid a major blood vessel or two. "I would suggest we all step away from each other and go along our merry way." He continues, with a slight emphasis on the "go along" part while jerking his chin towards an obviously fuming Matron Florette.

The two guards together with Valen scramble to help their young master, one retrieving the bloodstained rapier while the other attempts to wipe as much stew as he can from the youth's face and hair.

"This is not the last time you will face me, Mithendair." The youth hisses, snatching his rapier from the guard as he backs off. "Once we find Amalia Vydien's child, I'll become Speaker and you and your family will be banished from Eldestra."

Still restrained by his First Mate, Aranvar could do naught but stare as Valen departs in a triumphant flurry of beer and sauce.

"Who… is Amalia Vydien's child?" The tanned fellow murmurs, his shoulders sinking as he draws in a ragged breath.

Nikolas sets his glass upon the table beside him, the liquid sloshing from his careless movements, and crosses his arms while Valen yells angrily. In no physical position to be thrown into another altercation, he merely shrugs noncommittally, dark eyes glittering at the young man in amusement. Before he has a chance to respond however, the growing tension in the room quickly goes slack from the First Mate's subtle warning to move it long.

Releasing his arms, Nikolas takes one last draw upon his drink before finishing up for the night. As he moves to drop a few coins beside the empty mug, his body stills momentarily as he overhears Valen's departing words. Two eyebrows raise up as he turns to stare, just as Aranvar was, at the departing Elohai. This just proved to be a potentially large payday for Nikolas after all.

After a moment, Nik finally turns his gaze to Aranvar. He scans over his bloodied arm, the sunken shoulders, and his obvious disadvantage in the supposed race for Amalia's child. Clearly the man just needed to catch a break. Shifting his stance to face the tanned Elohai, a brief moment of charity comes over him and he offers him one small boon.

"Clearly, your friend has more information than you do. Let me even things up for you a little bit. Amalia Vydien's child is a lot closer than you might think." With a pause, he appears to smile and wince at the same time before he continues. "I assure you, /she/ is no child and has a terrible temper. Check the hunting grounds just outside of Eldestra."

With that, Nikolas dips his chin in departure and makes his way casually to the door. Placing his palm against the wood, he glances back to the wide eyed barmaid and gives her a wink before pushing it open. She would find him later but for now, he had some business to take care of.

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