the Band of the Broken Mug

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Four dwarves meet in a tavern on business, but they cannot decide on who should be in charge of the company. Calamity ensues and their choice for leader becomes obvious.

Fantasy / Humor
Age Rating:

An Unwelcome Party

“Ach! Nay! I say Nay!” Arney bellowed, swatting his great beard from the rim of his mug of ale, spraying a foam of drink down his ratty tabard. His ruddy face was turning beetlike in the din of the argument. “It should be the wealthiest that takes charge!”

“Aye! ’Tis the only fair way to decide, Lads!” another great lump of a dwarf shouted back. “Obviously the heaviest should lead the company, tradition, that.” Ogdyn pointed down at the chipped table as if to say the argument was settled, his other hand still gripping a half-eaten wedge of cheese.

“Oh, go soak yer heads both of ye!” A third dwarf chimed in, his great bushy eyebrows furrowed as he drew in a massive breath with which to rebuke the other three a second time. “The only sensible way a contract can proceed be the elder leads and the rest of ye shut yer gobblers!”

The fourth dwarf pounded his fist on the table, causing mugs to jump and then fall to their sides and cutlery to clatter to the floor of the tavern. A silence overtook the room. “Aye, Gebri, we could do that’n you’d be the one calling the shots!” the hulking dwarf shot at the ancient one angrily. “O’course we’re not alike o’ mind, an’ we can settle this this like civilized folk! We take it outside an’ the last of us on ’is feet is the best lad for the job!” Looking about the table, Dirga could tell he hadn’t convinced anyone. “…Unless yer all too yellow, wetting yer nappies at the mere thought of a fair gobstomp by the better lad…” He added quietly amid a belchy slurp into his ale.

Ogdyn crammed what was left of his cheese into his mouth and hurled his mug right at Dirga’s head, the clay vessel shattering on contact with the stout dwarf’s brow. He shouted something incomprehensible due to the wad of hard cheese spraying from his lips and falling into his beard, but the other dwarves took no notice of the lack of syllables in the bellow and all shouted a chorus of “AYE!”.

Dirga laughed heartily and leapt without warning over the table at Ogdyn, fists, feet and teeth flying with nary a care. The table was upended and platters of pickings, wooden plates, and clay mugs of ale all crashed to the floor. The tavern erupted in raucous protest and encouragement. Arney was carried backwards to the floor and Gebri was yanked into the fracas by virtue of arms reach to the grappling, battling, bearded drunken brawl only.

“Ay! AY!” Shouted One-Eyed Peter, the barman, “Take ’er outside, you lot! I’ll not ’ave me establishment in shambles, hear ye?” The dwarves only took acknowledge Peter’s ejaculation via Arney’s throwing of a rude gesture as he struggled to his knees followed by him aiming a swift kick into the pile of dwarves before being bowled into the mess of tangled beards, flying fists, and biting bastards.

Gebri tore himself away from Dirga’s grip, leaving great tufts of beard in the bellowing, bloodied dwarf’s fists. Arney cambe barreling in and jumped, both feet before him snarling and screaming, but Dirga quickly darted aside, causing Arney to kick Gebri in the chest, who slammed backward into the bay window behind him, crashing through into the shrubs as One-Eyed Peter’s howling intensified in the background. Gebri lumbered over to Arney and hurled him through an ubroken panel of the plate glass window before himself jumping through yet another unbroken panel to continue the brawl outside.

“That’s not what I meant, you lot, and you damn know it!” Peter the barman shrieked angrily, shaking his fists in the general direction of the chaos and turning to grab a broom, careened across the floor toward Ogdyn, who was now hurling stools through the window at his compatriots fighting in the planter. The barman began whacking Ogdyn over the head and backside with the broom shouting “Gerout!” at full steam. Ogdyn ceased his stool throwing and grabbed on to the broom by the handle and began to wrestle with Peter, but Peter’s considerable height compared to the dwarf’s made the effort a struggle. Ogdyn headbutted Peter in the groin, causing the barman to double over and fall to his knees, releasing the broom. Ogdyn clambered to the sill of the window and attempted to jump through, but slipped and tumbled out into the pile of his brawling brethren instead, wildly shaking and swinging the broom into whatever fleshy bits he could reach in the chaos.

The brawl carried on, with tavern-goers hooting and catcalling out the window, when a great bellowing roar sounded from the side of the building. A huge brown bear sauntered out from the alley, refuse and leftover food scraps from the bin still hanging from its mouth. It eyed the fight and stood up on its hind legs. It fur was stained and matted, and it reeked of corn mash and alcohol.

“That’s the damn bear that’s been nipping into me own brew, that!” One-Eyed Peter shouted, standing rigidly at the window.

“Oi, lads, I think he’s up for a scrap!” Dirga shouted gleefully, letting Odgen loose from a headlock and ending the brutal fish hook he was giving the fat dwarf with two of his fingers. Dirga looked to his companions, eyes bright and wild despite the swelling around them from the many kicks and punches they had caught in the intervening minutes. “Right lads, I’ll show ye how it’s done!“. He grunted and sprinted at full tilt toward the bear, fists ready to strike and epic blow.

The bear let loose a swat and a bestial roar, throwing Dirga to the dirt, motionless. “He’s kilt Dirga!” Gebri shouted, as Ogdyn let loose a primal howl and bowled at the bear. The bear let loose another swat and knocked Ogdyn into a pile of refuse. “And Ogdyn!” Gebri shouted, but the bear was enraged now and charged at Gebri, tackling him and swinging him around the ground like a ragdoll.

“Geroff me Uncle!” Arney shouted at the bear, taking a broken bit of stool and stabbing at the bear’s snout, hitting him squarely in the eye, lodging the pointed bit of wood firmly in the socket. The bear howled in rage and pain, but did not relent. Instead, he rounded on Arney, who took one swipe to the shoulder and tumbled through the dirt like it were nothing at all.

“...And Arney! Poor gods damned dim-witted Arney!” Gebri shouted from his fetal position in the dirt. The bear turned back to Gebri and began savaging him further, shaking him and biting at his thick travel garments without mercy.

“Geroff the ol’ man!” a voice rang out, and a crack rang out followed by a splash of sweet, stinging liquid pouring down on Gebri, soaking into his fresh wounds. The bear bellowed and turned to stare at the source of the sudden dousing, and locked eyes with Ogdyn, who was now hefting another barrel to throw at the bear. The bear roared again, but didn’t charge. He began licking his fur, and then snuffling about the broken chunks of barrel, lapping up puddles of the stuff wherever he could find them.

“Not my rum, you damn fairy sods!” Peter shouted from the window, bright red with a vein bulging above his eye. Despite the threat to his stock, he made no move to come outside on account of the bear.

“Aha! Old wooly brute were just thirsty!” Arney laughed aloud, sitting up from where he had been knocked into the dirt. “That’s some good thinking Ogdyn! I reckon we’d be pining for the fjords’f not fer that well-timed rum.” he called out, beaming brightly and revealing a tooth dangling from its socket amid a bloody smile. “Ain’t that right, Dirga?” there was no response. “...Dirga?” Dirga didn’t move.

“Right, so obviously we have a problem then, lads. Fight’s over, and no dwarf was left standing.” Ogdyn said. “It only tracks that we go back ter the first place and make the heaviest the leader!” Arney shouted, uncorking the barrel of ale and letting it slop down his beard as he took a huge swig from the stream.

“Hol on a minute now, boy! I say it be the eldest dwarf!” Gebri shouted, still bleeding on the ground.

“An’ I say it be the richest dwarf!” Arney shouted back, walking past the bear, still lapping up the muddy rum and pushing his way to hold his head under the stream of black rum sloshing from the barrel on Ogdyn’s shoulder.

“An’ I say ye knee-high knuckledraggers is gonna pay for them barrels of rum, me window, and me place settings!” Peter called through the window at the dwarves. The lookers-on were starting to filter back to their tables, no longer interested now that things had died down.

“Oi lad! Were I not half way t’ the state o’ Dirga there, oi’d have ‘alf a mind t’ knock the rest o’ yer skull trew yer teeth!” Gebri shouted at Ogdyn, throwing a threatening gesture at him from his place in the sodden dirt.

Ogdyn marched over to Gebri and hefted the barrel down on top of the old dwarf’s battered ribs, rum sloshed into the dwarf’s face and wounds. “Ye’ll do wat now?” Ogdyn sneered above him, laughing heartily.

The bear took notice of the pouring rum and began lapping at Gebri’s face.

“Ach! Beastie, we’re thirsty enough without yer nonsense!” Ogdyn shouted at the bear, and tried to motion it away. The bear let loose a violent, threatening roar and went back to his drink.

“Get ’him off! I ain’t gonna go out et by any drunk hairy bastard that ain’t family!” Gebri shouted between sputters and coughs as the rum rolled over his mouth and nose in uneven spurts.

“Now see here!” Peter started, he had come out of the tavern and crossed the yard, just absolutely seething with rage at the scene on his lawn. He reached down and picked up the barrel of rum, stopping its pour and in the process shoving Ogdyn back to the ground.

The bear reared up angrily and bellowed at the barman before swatting him squarely in the temple. He bounced off the ground and laid flat, head lolling at an unnatural angle.

The bear rounded on Ogdyn and roared again. Ogdyn scooted backward, in the process kicking over the half-empty barrel. It landed with a thud on Gebri’s ribs, knocking the wind out of him with a pathetic, wheezing sob. The black rum began to pour out onto his face and shoulder again, and the bear settled himself back down to lick the rum out of Gebri’s hair and beard.

“I SAID GET THIS GORRAM BEASTIE OFFA MEEEEE!” Gebri squealed, sobbing from pain and rage.

“...What if we make the bear our leader, lads?” Arney pondered aloud.

“Did that blow soften yer skull, boy?” Orney shouted back at the younger dwarf, still scooting backward away from the animal.

“Oi mean, we agreed to fight fer it, dinnae?” Arney replied, tugging at his beard.

“Aye, an’ this beastie interrupted fair contest!” Gebri shouted, struggling to get out from under the bear, but the bear merely put a heavy paw onto Gebri to hold him still.

“Aye. But Dirga were the best scrapper I’d ever seen, an’ this great hairy lout killed ’im in one great thump.” Arney reasoned.

“Now you mention it, we could do with another member of our quartet nowat Dirga’s no more.” Orney said quietly. “An’ I kin respect his taste fer the drink.” he added quietly, standing up.

Gebri fought loose of the bear’s paw, and hefted the barrel, throwing it back in through the window of the tavern. “Geroff me ya stinking drunken shit!” he called out as he threw the barrel.

The bear whined, roared at Gebri, and barreled through the broken bay window of the tavern, after the barrel. The other patrons screamed and began fleeing as the bear wrecked the place trying to get at the keg.

“...Right, I like ’im. He’s a good lad.” Orney said, watching the chaotic scene unfold.

“Come t’ think of it, the bear were more affectionate with me than ol’ Dirga ever were.” Gebri said to the two remaining dwarve.

“Are we agreed to follow Honeybottom?” Arney asked the others.

“Honeybottom?” Gebri responded?

“Well he gotta have a name, don’ he?” Arney responded.

“Aye.” The other two said in unison.

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