Gnarshm’s Dream (part 2) [The Skeleton Head]

Gnarshm approached the entrance to the Skeleton Head. The seedy dive emanated a vibe of filth and evil. As the gnoll reached the doors to the questionable establishment, Gnarshm second thought his choice to visit the tavern, but ultimately decided to enter the place. It must be done. He must seek out the Seer, and the gnoll’s only link to the sage is through this wretched and cursed residence.

The gnoll pushed open the doors to the Skeleton Head. Inside a wide assortment of vile and disgusting creatures lurked about drinking brew and partaking in other various sorts of self destructive behavior. Yet a familiar face and voice seemed to shine a beacon of light throughout this filth ridden bar. That blasted kobold Iscreem. Somehow Gnarshm didn’t find seeing the kobold here in this place to be of anything out of the ordinary. In fact the kobold seemed to fit into this place rather miraculously.

Gnarshm crept quietly through the tavern but it was of no use. The gnoll had been spotted. Iscreem’s eyes widened and the kobold spewed words out of his mouth in a slurred drunken speech. “Where the hell! have you been? Gnoll!” the kobold shouted.

“Your drunk again! Keep your voice down, kobold. I’m not here wanting to attract attention.” the gnoll warned. A group of rowdy gamblers sit at a table nearby wheeling and dealing in their game of cards. A particularly seedy looking character lifts its wretched head and stares in Gnarshm’s direction.

The kobold spins his barchair around to face Gnarshm. “OH! Gone aLL high n’ mighty on mee have ya! {hic} I remember you when you’wr NOTHING! You wr NOTHING without ME! the kobold slurred venomously. “I’m the one who killed the Time Lord! ME! {hic} ME!” How many times did I bring your ROTTING CORPSE back to the temple!?” Iscreem shouted.

Denizens of the seedy skeleton head start to take notice of the commotion. Two large and hulkish hobgoblin bouncers appear, making their way through a crowd of patrons towards the kobold and gnoll. At the far end of the bar, a reptilian creature swills from a mug while keeping watch over Gnarshm and the increasingly belligerent kobold.

The larger of the hobgoblin pair approaches Gnarshm. “What’s the problem? Nomok no like problems! Nomok make problems disappear.” the hobgoblin threatened. The second hobgoblin bouncer held a spiked club in his hand and looked on rather menacingly.

“No problems. There are no problems here. My friend and I were just taking a booth.” Gnarshm said as he grabbed Iscreem by the tunic and backed away from the bar and the two hulking hobgoblins. Gnarshm shoved the kobold down into a partially secluded booth. “Sit down and shut up.” the gnoll muttered to Iscreem, while motioning to a barmaid to bring a round of ale for the two. The hobgoblins stood and watched them for a bit longer until they were distracted by the card playing group of patrons who had overturned their table and gotten into a fistfight over assumptions of one of the gamblers cheating at their game.

With the heat of the bouncers taken elsewhere, Gnarshm breathed a sigh of relief. The gnoll relaxed a bit in his seat. A few moments later a beautiful blonde barmaid brought two towering mugs of ale and set them down onto their table. The kobold instantly reached for his mug and drank from it greedily.

“Where’s Crumm?” Gnarshm asked the kobold.

Iscreem lifted his mug higher and higher as he swiftly gulped down the ale. The messy kobold couldn’t get his aim right as some of the ale dripped from his mouth and spilled onto his tunic. When the kobold finished his drink, he slammed the empty mug down onto their booth’s wooden table and proceeded to order yet another round from the barmaid.

“Crumm? Where’s Crumm you say? That brainless oaf said he gots bored. {hic} He gots some job working for harbormaster on some boat. Don’t know why. I says what mores could he possibly want? He gots monies! He gots monies for ale! {hic}…

The blonde barmaid brought another round of ale for the kobold.

“He gots monies for women too!” Iscreem winked at the blonde barmaid, who in turn gave the kobold a disgusted look and roller her eyes, as she returned to the bar to serve other patrons.

“AND! … And!…”, the kobold takes a swill from the new mug the barmaid brought before continuing his speech.

“…and he’s got monies for ALE too! so you can sees {hic} why I have no idea why Crumm left.”  the kobold lifted his mug one last time, finished off the remaining ale, and passed out onto the table, leaving Gnarshm alone to deal with the now unconscious kobold.

“I think I’m beginning to understand why Crumm left.” Gnarshm muttered to himself as he checked the kobold’s pulse to make sure he was still alive. The gnoll remained at the booth a bit longer to finish his brew, then made sure to leave sufficient funds to cover Iscreem’s tab, giving a heft tip to the barmaid to ensure the kobold’s safe return to the castle’s inn.

Gnarshm eyed the reptilian creature at the other end of the bar who had seemingly been watching the gnoll’s every move since Gnarshm entered the skeleton head. A disturbing and unsettling feeling swept over the gnoll as he walked towards the reptile, but the gnoll continued onwards and took a seat next to the reptilian.

“You are the one called Sliver, am I right?” Gnarshm asked the reptile. The reptilian nodded positively.

“I seek the advise of the Seer and was told that you could bring me to him. Can you help me?” the gnoll asked of the reptile.

The reptilian made no discernible reaction.

Gnarshm decided to try again with some incentive. He reached into his pocket, grabbed a handful of gold coins and placed them onto the table in front of the lizard. “Can you bring me to the Seer?” Gnarshm asked.

The reptile took the coins placed before him, stood up and walked towards a skeleton head employee entrance only room and turned to motion the gnoll to follow him. Gnarshm looked about to see if anyone else would follow. No one else seemed to care, or at least it didn’t appear that way. Gnarshm followed the reptile into one of the taverns back rooms. The reptile led the gnoll down a long dark corridor, opened a trap door from the floor and brought Gnarshm into a cellar and onwards to a back exit which lead into a rat infested alleyway and straight to a steel door. The reptile knocked the door twice, then once, and then twice again. A few moments later, movement could be heard from beyond the steel door. After a sound of sliding metal and a loud clang from the other side of the door, someone opened the door from the inside, allowing entrance of both the reptilian creature and the gnoll Gnarshm. From beyond the door, an aged and mystical looking fellow with crystal eyes peered into Gnarshm’s soul.

 

 

 

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