“The Dragon’s Wing Inn has been a feature on the side of the road to the town of Crossroads for so long, many cannot recall a time when it wasn’t there. A place where weary travelers can get a cool drink, a bed to rest in, and occasionally find some work. The Inn’s three-story frame and large open common room is an inviting sight to those looking for a bit of peace in an ever more dangerous world.”
Loras Starsong - Lorekeeper
The Ministry of Truth 221 IA
Trenam looked around the common room and took a deep breath. Golden sunlight filtered in through the tall windows along the eastern facing wall, making the long brass railing on the bar shimmer in an incandescent display.
He liked getting up early, always had, and now that he was officially a tavern keeper, he really liked the thought of that. He could get up, start making a nice breakfast and not have to worry about guild charters, or fighting goblins in filthy warrens.
Nope. His adventuring days were over. He had officially turned in his guild badge and retired. They had tried to dissuade him, of course. He was the hero of Fallen Bridge, the goblinslayer.
“How can we function in the Northern region of Daenis without you?” they had whined.
“I’m sure you’ll find a way.” He had said before walking out.
Trenam smiled as he grabbed a towel and threw it over his shoulder with a flair. He turned to find a large Ogre staring at him from the door.
“Morning Chauncey.” he said with a big smile.
The ogre just grunted and made his way to the bar, ducking his head to avoid the large wooden beam.
“Need bitterleaf...now.” Chauncey grumbled as he picked up the small tin of bitterleaf, his massive hands dwarfing the spoon used to dole out the powdered bitter leaves.
Trenam ignored the ogre and used his towel to wipe down the bar. He whistled a tune as he ran his hand back and forth over the smooth madeira wood. - Should I start a fire? - he thought to himself as he took another appraising look at his new tavern. After a moment of consideration, he decided that it was warm enough in the common room and he wouldn’t want to make it too hot for any customers coming in.
Chauncey walked from behind the bar, once again ducking to avoid the beam, and took a seat on a small stool near the door. He sipped his bitterleaf from the tiny mug in his hands and sighed. As he shifted his weight and the small stool creaked, Trenam winced.
“Mimi’s not up yet?” Chauncey looked towards the staircase leading to the second floor. “Usually, she’s up and about before the sun rises.”
Trenam shook his head. “Nah, she got up a bit earlier, but wasn’t feeling well. She thinks maybe the drop-berries she put in the pies last night had gone off. I told her to sleep it off and I would handle everything.”
Chauncey cocked one large eyebrow. “You. Handle everything? You?” He sipped the bitterleaf.
“Yes, me, you lumbering oaf.” Trenam said without anger. He and Chauncey had been close friends for more years that Trenam like to remember, and they had always picked at each other. Mimi hated it, but occasionally found it amusing.
Trenam wiped the same spot on the bar with his towel and then tossed it back over his shoulder. “Can you believe it, Chauncey? I own a tavern.”
“I believe we own the tavern is what you meant to say. Don’t forget that I paid for half of this place.” Chauncey finished his bitterleaf in one last gulp and set the cup to the side. “Matter of fact, didn’t you have to borrow a thousand septons from me to come up with your share? The Ogre went silent as he did some calculations in his head. Technically, I own fifty-two percent of the tavern.”
Trenam’s whistle faded. “Of course I meant to say that we own a tavern! Good buddy o’ mine! Can I get you another cup of bitterleaf? Maybe a slice of the pie that Mimi made?” The smile on Trenam’s face had become brittle, like a smooth pane of glass.
Chauncey laughed; a sound often described as a swamp cat caught in a thunderstorm, and shook his head. “I’m okay. Has the groundskeeper shown up yet?”
Trenam shook his head and poured himself a cup of bitterleaf. he took a sip and grimaced. “I will never understand how you can drink this unsweetened.” Trenam grabbed a small leather sack from the counter and took a pinch of ciram from it, dropping it into his cup. He swirled the liquid with his finger and took another sip. He smiled with satisfaction and went to go sit at a table.
“Sweetened bitterleaf makes your body relax and can make your mind foggy.” Chauncey replied in a tone of voice that made it apparent that they had this conversation more than once. “Those attributes are the opposite of what I want. Therefore, I drink it unsweetened, so it wakes me up, and makes me feel more alert.”
Trenam waved a hand at Chauncey and drank his bitterleaf. there was no arguing with the ogre, he thought. Especially when he’s right.
"I haven’t seen the groundskeeper, but I expect he will be here anytime to introduce himself. I noticed that he had organized the wood pile this morning, and the garden looked as if it’s already been weeded. Guess this guy gets up pretty early to get his work done.” Trenam looked out the large window that faced east. This was his favorite spot in the tavern.
“You said that he worked for Parvil when he owned this place?”
“Yeah, apparently he’s been with the tavern for so long it’s written into the deed that he’s part of the whole deal. Can’t fire him, can’t get rid of him.” Trenam shrugged. “The property looks amazing, and I don’t want to do the work, so I’m fine with it.”
It was an hour later when the knock came at the door. Trenam was just finishing the dishes when he heard it. He nearly dropped the plate he was holding when a horrible screech came from the common room. A high-pitched yell that made Trenam’s ears hurt and his teeth ache.
As he dashed into the common room to find out what was going on, he located the source of the screaming. Chauncey was standing on his stool, pointing at the door and making an awful racket.
Standing in the doorway, wearing a pair of overalls and holding a shovel, was a goblin.
“I is Greeble” the goblin repeated for the fifth time. I’s da groundskeeper.”
Trenam had finally managed to get Chauncey off the stool, and had ushered the ogre into his room to recover. He was now sitting in a chair staring at the diminutive creature in front of him. Trenam’s eyes were glassy, and his mouth was slightly ajar. “But... you’re a goblin.”
The Goblin nodded once again at this very well-established fact. “Yess. I is groundskeeper,
“But you’re a Goblin.”
The wide green eyes of the goblin, somehow glowing even though it was daylight, blinked slowly. “Yess.” It said. The small creature’s voice, a high-pitched whisper more suited for living in tight spaces underground where goblins lived.
Before Trenam could say “But you’re a goblin.” for the fourth time he heard Mimi come walking down the steps. He turned, a look of apology mixed with horror on his face. “Morning, sweetheart.”
Mimi yawned and stretched. Trenam had fallen in love with that stretch. She walked towards Trenam who was moving to try to block her view. “Mornin’, what was all that racket about?”
Trenam kept smiling. If he kept smiling, everything would be okay. “Groundskeeper showed up. Chauncey had a bad reaction.”
“To a groundskeeper?” She kissed Trenam lightly. “Why would he have a bad reaction to...” she stopped as she looked past Trenam and saw the goblin standing there holding his shovel. “Oh.”
She looked back at Trenam and whispered. “That’s a goblin.”
“Pleasse sir, no call I an ‘it’ I is Greeble, and I is a ‘he’.” The goblin’s voice was louder this time.
Trenam turned to face the Goblin. “Greeble... We... umm... we won’t be... needing your services after all.”
Greeble cocked his large oval head to one side. “I has been groundskeeper at the Wing for almost hundred years. I do good job, and I live in the small woodshed. I no take up space, and I eat the harmful bugs, and other pests that are danger to garden.” He looked at Trenam who was still stammering about not need his services. “Okay, so I be out in the shed. I has most work done for today, I will work on clearing the clutter from cellar in morning time.”
Without another word, Greeble marched out of the front of the tavern and disappeared.
Trenam stared as the goblin walked out. He turned to Mimi who had walked over to the pot of bitterleaf and poured herself a cup. “What. just. happened?”
Mimi took a sip of her bitterleaf and made a face. She poured it out in the basin and came to sit next to Trenam who had collapsed into a chair.
“I think, dearest, that we have a goblin for a groundskeeper.” She picked the bread that was left on the table from Trenam and Chauncey’s breakfast.
“We can’t have a goblin for a groundkeeper!” He sputtered. It isn’t right!”
Mimi looked at him with one of her thin red eyebrows cocked. He hated that look. That look meant she was going to say something insightful. “Why can’t you have a goblin for a groundskeeper?”
“Because goblins are little monsters that live in the dark and destroy everything they touch!” Trenam shuddered as the memories of fighting underground returned and made his scars ache.
Mimi, with her eyebrow still cocked, just looked at him with her deep green eyes.
“And ogres are all brutish thugs who do nothing but kill and eat humans.” She glanced towards Chauncey’s bedroom.
Trenam followed her line of sight and then looked back to Mimi. “That’s not the same thing at all!”
“Chauncey was born different than his kin, he learned how to read and write and...” Trenam paused as his argument lost all of its’ fuel.
“How are we going to tell Chauncey?” Trenam asked after a second.
“Very carefully.” Mimi replied.