In a dark corner of a smoky tavern, a stranger wearing a black cloak sat at an oak table. His eyes were fixed on the tavern bartender as he drank from a tall bronze mug filled with red honey ale. An elven sword hung from a leather strap on his belt and was neatly concealed beneath the folds of his cloak.
In another corner of the tavern by a large fireplace stood a man with a great black beard. He was dressed in rough leather armor, and he carried a jagged knife tucked under his belt. He was accompanied by three other men who were dressed in the same fashion. He had several times already glanced in the stranger’s direction, but now he stepped away from the fireplace with his three companions and led them to the stranger on the dark side of the tavern.
The stranger lowered the hood of his cloak over his eyes as the four men approached the table. They halted at the table, two on either side of him.
“My friend and I have made a wager,” said the bearded man. “He has insisted that you are not what I believe you are. He has offered me three silver coins if I can prove that you are what I think you are.”
The stranger turned slowly, his face veiled in shadow. The bearded man grinned, but the stranger made no expression under his hood. “What is that?” he asked, his voice tinged with a soft accent.
“That stinking elf thief,” said the bearded man.
“You’re wrong,” said the stranger, in the same soft accent. He turned away and reached for his ale, but the bearded man reached down and swiped it off the table. The stranger reached for the sword hanging from his belt and wrapped his fingers around its short leather handle.
The bearded man grabbed the stranger’s hood and pulled it back from his head, revealing a tuft of short black hair, two long pointed ears, and narrow blue-green eyes. “Well, well,” he said. “Trik, isn’t it?”
The elf released the sword from its sheath and held it with its polished blade pressed against the inseam of the bearded man’s leather pants. His blue-green eyes shined fiercely at him. “Buzz off, Brudolf,” he said.
The bearded man looked down at the short elven blade pressed against his crotch and cringed. “Perhaps,” he said, “I was mistaken.”
The elf nodded slowly, his blue-green eyes fixed on Brudolf.
Brudolf placed the mug on the table in front of the elf and backed slowly away, and the others followed him.
The men had not gotten far when Brudolf suddenly turned to his companions and shouted, “Get him.” They rushed forward and grabbed the elf from the table and dragged him across the tavern and out of the doorway into the darkness.