My Father’s Moustache Inn and Alehouse
It was hard for Ariea to comprehend that as she walked into the famous My Father’s Moustache Inn and Alehouse, she was about to compete in the legendary contest, Taryn’s Bane. She peeked inside and saw the tables set and the staff hustling around. She waited on the doorsteps impatiently for admittance. Her and the other “urchins” as Canton had called them, were about to do what yesterday they would only have dreamed of, and there was a really good chance they would die right afterwards. But this is why one came to Far Realm. It was a gamble. All of it was.
She giggled as she crossed the famous threshold and felt a large bushy moustache spread over her upper lip. This was followed by a grand beard that sprouted from her chin.
“What in the name of Borindin’s,” muttered Andril, whose own grey “longhairs” as Celns called them, sprung from his face.
Morn explained, smiling through a tangle of his own hairs, “No doubt you have never been here as well, magician. Nor have I. Although I’ve always wished to come of course. My Father’s Moustache is a place for gentlemen, not folk like we, nobles especially, to discuss private matters you see.”
“How can anyone discuss anything with this tangle upon their face, I’ll never know!” Laughed Inara, “Ok, fellow urchins of Far Realm, game moustaches on!” She pointed to a very sullen and sweaty red bearded dwarf, his own handle bar moustaches curled high. He wore a gold and green badge upon his chest and he was leaning over a table explaining something to an elf. The elf was busy and looking through various scrolls. He looked confused and then pointed back at all of them. The dwarf turned to look at them all, frowned so hard it was clear through the beard and marched over to where they were standing.
“And what in the blasted night do ye think ye are?” He snarled. “The contest is closed to entry nor would I even consider given your obvious…” But he was interrupted by a page carrying a letter with an official seal from Canton’s office. The dwarf frowned again, looked as if he was about to kick the page, pointed to the last empty table, and stormed off.
“That’s the best welcome I’ve had in years,” snarled Thrak. “If this keeps up, I may stay awhile.” They smiled and took a seat. Each sat slowly, as if waiting for the chair to disappear. But it was very real. They were here!
‘That’s Edward, Edward Rooney. Contest Judge,” spoke a silky and elegant voice from behind them. Turning around, Morn smiled as a man dressed entirely in deep red grinned. He even wore a red hat complete with an enormous cockatrice feather that fluttered proudly above his hat. Next to him were six other men, or maybe women, or a mixture of both. It was hard to tell which was which as they all had long dark locks of curly hair, and their faces were of course hidden by their beards. Each was dressed entirely in only one color. There was orange, green and blue, black and one in white. And finally a brown, who was clad in all skins of some beast. Morn couldn’t help himself, the shock was too much, and their looks just too serious. He chuckled a bit and asked, “And are you the official Contest Fruitbowl?”
Andril coughed loudly. He cast a minor cantrip which sounded like a plate dropping in the kitchen, But the man in red was not fooled, and his curt smile, through the beard began to straighten.
“Mon nom is Lazlo. Lazlo Burgundy.”
“I know you!” Cried Ariea. “You won the contest last year. They sell your doll in the shop down in the Merchant’s Emporium.”
“Well, I see you know at least one thing. Yes, my little cabbage, I won last year, and the one before that, and before that as well.” Burgundy smiled. “Good luck with the contests my little friendly competitors, I hope you can hold your ale.” He turned and as if on cue his fellows followed him like a flight of multi-colored birds. However, one of them twisted too far towards Thrak and his feather brushed the lizardman’s nose. On instinct, Thrak’s snout snapped out bit the tip of the feather off. The man hurried after the others, minus his feather, and they took their seats a few tables away. Lazlo raised his stein and he toasted his fellows, “All for rum, for rum for ale!” He said. Thrak noticed then that a large frog was sitting in the center of each table, with a pair of dice and what looked like a bowl of flies wings!
“That’s our competition?” Whispered Madeline.
“I thought they were the entertainment,” giggled Ariea and she picked up the tankard just served to her. “Dying God Ale! Well, my friends, if we wind up Inquisitioned we’re going out in style! To our sponsor’s health!”
“Perfect, a snack,” Thrak garbled, who downed his ale and was about to reach for the bowl of flies wings.
Nuni brushed his claws away. “Those are for the game my reptilian friend.” And she added, “To our health, and our constitutions!” She nudged Madeline, “And by the way, I think the entertainment just walked in.” She motioned her tankard towards Humbolt who was pacing the room having small talk with the other contestants; he was followed by his daughters, all of whom were looking down at their feet. As he came by their table, he deliberately avoided their gaze but made a point to bump into Andril. Alexandra passed but she couldn’t help herself and she looked up at the mage and smiled. Humbolt turned back as if he could sense her eyes on him, and she immediately looked down.
A loud voice brought them back from their fun. “The Contest Judge is here!” Announced the barkeep. Edward Rooney entered the gilded hall and stood in front of a grand tapestry featuring Borindin slaying the dragon Gulgol.
“Welcome Contestants to Taryn’s Bane! As you all know, there are only three rules.” Laughs and cheers erupted from the crowd which took every conceivable space in the pub. As he spoke the rules he held a finger aloft, as did the whole crowd, and in unison they all shouted, “One: Hold your liquor! Two: Hold your cheats and your tongues! And three: Hold your time!” Many a patron down their drinks then, and Edward Rooney finished.
“Let the games begin!”