Tuc-Kal Inn: The Drowning Mermaid
The Drowning Mermaid
Tuc-Kal's only Inn and Tavern stands atop a bit of dry land near the center of town. The establishment has rooms for hire, serves food (mostly various preparations of alligator, some even cooked) and drink.
Above the door is a sign in common, and also pictograph for the illiterate. "No Eating the Patrons" A copy hangs above the bar, with a well-worn corner where it has been repeatedly tapped by the tavern keeper.
The Mermaid was a little busier than usual, considering how early the hour was. A group of four Glare Orcs occupied a central table and were either starting early or continuing the previous night's celebration. Considering the number of battered tankards, discarded bones, playing cards, and general detritus, the latter seemed more likely.
The celebrants were attended by a Green Orcan barmaid of impressive endowments and attentiveness born of the generous tips the jewel-bedecked greyskins were tossing her way.
A surly-looking pair of Green Orcs sat at a corner table, holding hushed (for orcs) conference and shooting furtive glances at the loud central party.
Blackwing and Crew
From: The Docks
As they walked along the ramshackle catwalks and causeways of the swampy town, the denizens of the Saghane settlement were starting about their daily business. Occasionally a hulking greenskin would pass by, the rickety boards shaking beneath their bulk. More shapes and shadows could be seen lurking in the mist amid the huts of the town. There were frequent expanses of turgid water where large and small figures stopped, farming different types of aquatic plant, tending pools of aquaculture creatures, or performing more inscrutable tasks.
The path from the docks to the Inn was sometimes elevated causeway, sometimes muddy path, and more-often-than-not rather precariously placed planks over putrid pits of sludge.
There were enough Orcs, plus the usual hobgoblin or two, going about their business, that a few tracking shadowy figures in the mist, or furtive glances and mutters about these newcome soft skins, would likely go unnoticed.
Upon reaching the Mermaid, Blackwing and Josiah headed to the bar to speak with the tavern keeper while the other two took a seat at a table with a clear view of the door and nothing but wall behind.
From: The Docks
"Oh, not this place." The Elfmaid moaned under her breath, as she caught sight of the Inn. As with the docks, Faan had unpleasant memories of The Drowning Mermaid.
She was sorely tempted to don one of her defensive garments before entering the Mermaid. The last time she had been here, even wearing two at a time (and sweating profusely under them) had barely availed her. However, the Magicks of her couture were not unlimited, and Mister White had said not to antagonize the citizens of Tuk-Cal.
Orcs, with the exception of White Orcs, tended to label any kind of Magick to be antagonistic, so Faan simply tucked her work gloves into her sash, took a fortifying breath, and followed the crew into the tavern.
Inside, she angled for a seat between the largest members of the pirate crew and tried not to draw any attention to herself.
The Orcan barmaid was having a great morning. The handsome devils from out-of-town had coins coming out of their ears. More when she rested her gods-given endowments on their table (which creaked warningly under the weight) to ask them about ordering refills in her most appealing voice (that might easily be mistaken for the sound of a scrap wagon rattling over particularly bumpy cobblestones.)
Of course, there was still the matter of attending the cheap green sons-of-xhrrks at then corner table, but this she did only often enough to keep their growled complaints and murderous glances from becoming actual murder.
She glanced up as a group of clearly-lost non-orcan tourists wandered in. "Pfheh." Rolling her eyes, and her gait, she attended the newcomers before the tavern keeper started yelling about it.
"Whatcher want?" She asked in a voice like a barrel of surley stones rolling down a hill. None of these skinny foreigners looked like they'd be interested in tipping for extra service. Heck, most of the shrimpy soft skins barely even looked when she gave them a little shake of her massive
To be fair to her, Faan wasn't doing a bad job of covering her fear. But despite her efforts, to Pioloss’s enhanced senses it was still as clear as day (or night?). Indeed, he could literally smell the anxiety rolling off of her, prompting him to wonder if she had previously had some bad experiences among the Orcs.
He was about to ask her just this, when a buxom Barmaid with biceps bigger than most men's thighs, and tusks that could disembowel a man with a single shake of her head growled "Whatcher want?" At them with open hostility.
Now… Pioloss might not know much about Orcs, but he had spent enough time among the warrior clans of the Skylds to know that with people such as these, the last thing to do would be to show weakness of any kind.
He slammed a fist down on the table just hard enough to make the wood groan before growling back at her. "A round of ale! And none of that watered down swill neither, you hear? Yew bring us the good stuff!" To punctuate his point he flipped a gold coin up at her which should, depending on the Inns prices be enough to pay for the drinks and leave the promise of a generous tip should the Barmaid actually do as she'd been bade.
Whale King Crew
The two crewmen’s estimation of Pioloss jumped just like the gold coin he tossed the Orcan tavern wench. “That’s th’ spirit, me bucko!” One grinned.
“Aye!” Agreed the other sailor.
The elven seamstress was not often shy about ordering spirits, wine, or ale when she had the chance. This, however, could be counted among one of those times.
"Um… do yew have eggs?" She ventured. She was hungry, having foregone any repast since early yesterday. "Uh, what food do yew serve?" She amended, since she did not recall seeing (non-uman) chickens on the walk into town.
Her face lit up in a horrifying grin as she deftly caught the krowne in her ham fist. This was the Drowning Mermaid, not The Seven Oaks Inn. A full krowne paid for drinks, meals, and a (common) room for the night for the entire table. It had been so long since the Mermaid had seen any softskins--as clientele at least--that she had forgotten the little foreigners tended to pay in coin and not bartered skins, teeth, or scalps.
As to that toothpick of an Elf’s question; they had alligator eggs by the pound and the owner was forever hassling her to push them. "Yup." Replied the tavern wench before sighing heavily and grinding her way, in common, through the Mermaid's menu.
"Gator." Thick yellowed fingernails dug into scaley green skin as she tried to recall the common words for the other creatures. "Snake. Swamp rat."
She looked like she was thinking of saying more, but some folks were finicky about eating the flesh or marrow of their own kind, so she didn't mention the soup of the day.
"Yew kin even 'ave cooked, if yew wants." She rumbled, generously.
“Uh… gator with eggs then? Yes, cooked please.” The Elfmaid requested. “Thank you for paying.” She said to Pioloss.
Even though she might not have ordered ale for breakfast, herself, she was glad at the prospect of the drink coming. This would not be the first rough day that Faan had tried to smooth by starting the day out with a drink.
The Orc waited for any additional special requests from the others at the table, the nodded and sashayed over to the bar, relaying the foreigner’s orders. She made the rounds to the other two tables, before picking up the ordered drinks and food and delivering them to the Uman and Elvy types. “Here.”
The tankards of ale were orc-sized and kinda orc-flavored as well. Likewise, the portion of gator and gator eggs was similarly sized. The mountain of scorched flesh and runny fishy-tasting eggs smoked, bubbled, and simmered. The kitchen help was good at riding, racing, catching, wrestling, killing, skinning, gutting, and chopping gator. Cooking, not so much.
Rigel sat quietly among the others and waited until the drinks were delivered. He picked up the large tankard and poured it down consuming the oversized drink in one long pull. He belched loudly and let out a satisfied "AAAh" followed by the Orcan High compliment "Ang Gijak-Ishi" Roughly translated it meant "Iron in the blood" Rigel never understood the nature of Orcish compliments but it meant something to them and that was what mattered. That was one of the few Orcish phrases Rigel had ever learned and he hoped now he had gotten it right and not offended anyone.
“No problem.” Pioloss said to Faan as he delved into the plate of "food" in front of him. It looked bad, smelled awful, and tasted even worse. Like someone had drowned a chicken in slime. But eating is what normal people did, and so he ate. A few moments later, as much from a need to give himself a break from the unusual tastes and textures he was forcing down his gullet as from actual concern, he leaned over towards the Elvish Maid and whispered low enough that only she would hear “Are you alright?”
At least the ale was good though, going at least part way to quenching the thirst that deep down he already knew would only be slaked by one thing, and one thing alone. In the short time that he had known Rigel, he had come to the conclusion that the man was much better versed in social niceties than he was, so when he noticed the large man belch loudly (Notice? How could he have not? The whole table shook!) and proclaim something in Orcish after downing his own ale, Pioloss eagerly followed suit.
“Angle Jack- Fishy!” He proclaimed after letting loose a belch of his own.
The attention of the party of four grey-skinned orcs shifted to the newcomers shortly after their arrival. Speaking loudly in orcish, they elbowed one another and pointed, their unnerving black-eyed gazes directed at the Umans and Elf. After a moment or two of this, they seemed to come to some sort of agreement.
The largest of the group, a hefty fellow with a broken tusk, stood and made his way over to the pirate’s table. Ignoring the two pirates, Rigel and Pioloss, he leaned over the table and growled at the Elfmaid in somewhat-intelligible common: “We have bet. Yew luk like Terajin Elf. Terajin Elf up stuck. No toast Orc.” He pointed back to his table, where the three other Glares bared their teeth in encouragement. “Friend say yew up stuck Elf. I bet yew not.” He rumbled. “I win, he buy round of that for all.” He pointed to a cask sitting on the top shelf behind the bar.
From the looks of the dead barnacles and dried weeds on the container, the cask had been floating in seawater for quite some time, before--long ago--making its way to the Mermaid. What remained of a rusty nameplate indicated it might be Tenaran Scotch. Or perhaps Toilet Scour.
“Tha luks expensive.” One sailor remarked.
“G’wan then, tell ‘im yer no stuck-up Elf, lass.” Encouraged the other, having pulled down half his ale. “Give us all a taste uv the gud stuff!”