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Tavern Tales

Tavern Tales Part Two

Tavern Tales (part 1)

“Oh flubbersnuffer!”

Those were the only words the little gnome could utter before he was flung clear through the canvas wall of the makeshift tavern. The force of the blow carried him another twenty feet before he impacted with the ground and slid for another five feet. Every inch of Zooti’s body ached with the impact.

“Ouch,” he crawled to his feet and dusted off his robes, the dirt ridden tabard across his chest on the verge of falling off, the monkey symbol barely identifiable given the damage to the fabric. He glanced up and surveyed his surroundings. The entrance to the tavern was now blocked with the sight of five angry Tauren and one very ticked off orc bartender in the lead, each currently looking for him.

“Show time,” Zooti spoke softly as his hand dropped into one of his tiny belt satchels. He rummaged through with the fingers on his right hand through a variety of metal objects and spinning gadgets, while with his left hand he began to move his fingers in a rehearsed pattern. His mind drifted to the spell as he channeled the energies around him into his tiny arm and focused on the Orc in the lead.

“Peto pisto pecko piggo!” He called out as the spell leapt from his fingers and the energy flew towards his target. Smoke exploded from the orc, each of the tauren stepping back abruptly in surprise. When the dust from the explosion cleared, only the sound of oinking could be heard and the figure of a plump pig could be seen where the orc once stood.

His right hand alighted upon what he was after. Quickly he wrapped his fingers around the tiny object and drew it forth, pointing it at the incoming bulls.

“Alrighty, stand back, I’ve got a Transmogriphiar giznomatic and I’m not afraid to use it!” His tiny voice rose as high as it could go, yet it seemed drowned out by the various noises the Tauren themselves were making.

“You idiot,” spoke what was now the lead Tauren whose eyes never strayed from Zooti, “that’s an unloaded net gun.”

Crap! Zooti thought to himself. So much for bluffing. Time for plan B.

“You are absolutely right about that,” he began. “And one would have to be insane if they thought they could hold off tauren with a – BLINDO BINKO!” The last words barely left his lips before the blink spell kicked in and he was suddenly teleported directly behind the tauren he had just been speaking with. “Fresto Fikleflub!” he cried with a wave of his hands. A wave of frosted energy flew from his body in a great circle. The Tauren each suddenly found their feet incased in blocks of ice.

Without skipping a beat he began to run like the whole horde was behind him. Rushing around the side of the inn he let out a piercing yell. “Mr. Habutu! We ride!”

Near a pack of riding Kodos hitched up on a small post, the light mechanical whirring of his faithful mechanostrider could be heard. The air filled with the sudden backfire of its startup process. The kodos seemed very unimpressed with the sound.

As Zooti ran, the familiar smell of Mr. Habutu’s exhaust ports tinged his nostrils. He let his blink carry him right up to the mechanized mount and grabbed on to the lowest strap. With rehearsed precision he pulled on the strap and let the spring load fling him upward onto the back of his little creation. He quickly grabbed the reigns, his fingers finding the tiny switches in the reigns themselves that allowed him to operate the mechanical strider.

“Get him!” came a shout from the Tauren in charge. The beast was now so angry the simple nova spell Zooti had used could no longer contain him.

“Fear the monkey!” came a massive shout drowning out the five Tauren. Everyone turned to the entrance of the inn in time to see a massive albino white tauren standing there, his muscular arms holding two giant kegs of ale, with a third keg resting on the ground next to him. The mighty tauren whirled around in a circle and used the momentum to fling the keg in his right arm like a shot putt hurling it at the five tauren. It impacted into the head of the lead Tauren and shattered sending ale and wood shards into the faces of the others standing near.

“Pazo! No! Stick to the plan!” Zooti called out, seeing everything going wrong, yet again.

Pazo whirled again, this time flinging the keg in his left arm at the two tauren still standing, it smashing into the snout of one and hitting the other with debris. Both tauren, along with the ones hit with the previous keg, collapsed to the ground clutching at their faces as the alcohol burned into the open cuts.

Without skipping a beat, Pazo kicked his right foot under the remaining keg and bounced it up to his arms as deftly as if it were a soccer ball. With a speed that would belie his size, the massive tauren charged over the fallen bulls and lunged into the air, landing squarely on one of the oldest Kodos tied up at the post.

“Hi Ho Sancho! Away!” And with that, Pazo kicked with his heals and the kodo, while still tied up, pulled backward, uprooting the hitching post, and began to ride south of the tavern. The remaining three kodos still tied to the hitching post opted to not fight the movement and ran with Sancho as quickly as they could keep up.

With a deep sigh, Zooti shrugged and looked longingly at the kegs that had been broken over his adversaries’ heads. He turned in the direction Pazo had bolted off in and kicked Mr. Habutu into gear chasing after him.

The campfire was nice and warm. Whatever his annoyance with Pazo, Zooti had to admit the tauren could build a fire, and the boy could cook. He took another bite out of his “Naga Nibbler,” a collection of herbs and spices rolled into a peacebloom leaf and served tempura style. The little gnome was hardly a vegetarian, but these were just so tasty.

“So,” Zooti began, his eyes fixed on Pazo who was cheerfully humming to himself as he rolled his own food in the tempura batter. “Today we got lucky and got a whole third of what we had set out for. Pazo, how many times do I have to tell you, the cargo is not a weapon?”

“Hee hee. Zooti make with funnies but Pazo make with save of the ings,” the deep voice of the tauren was often a massive headache for anyone he spoke to. Zooti was always amazed at how none of Pazo’s words ever slurred, they were just horribly misused. He did have a slightly southern accent, but it was hardly enough to mingle translations.

“I appreciate you saving me, but next time remember that I can take care of myself.”

Pazo leaned forward and poked Zooti’s tabard with a thick finger, pointing out the nearly fully decimated monkey logo on it. “Hee hee. Pazo notice with grins that Zooti make with tabard of messy doom.” He then pointed at his own tabard, a nearly flawless match of Zooti’s, with the exception that it looked almost brand new. “One keg good. Three keg better. Good mean live. Better mean dead.”

Zooti shrugged. Pazo had come a long way from the relentless killing machine he had been when the two of them had first met in the dungeons of Ironforge. The poor creature was chained to a wall with no recollection of why he was there or what he had done. He only thought that whatever it was was bad enough to be there and so he was willing to take the punishment. Zooti knew full well that Bronzebeard had nearly an entire army of bounty hunters after his companion, and after himself as well.

But that was in the past. The poor tauren was now a humble barkeep knees deep in his sister’s smuggling operation. His memory of the Eastern Kingdoms and of Ironforge had been cleansed from his mind. He was now free of his burden, and lived life in a state of joy that only a shattered mind could bring.

Zooti, on the other hand, was always in this tauren’s debt, whether Pazo saw it this way or not. Normally the gnome was not big on debts or paying them off, but the kindness that this tauren has shown him time and again was enough to keep him around. No one else would have him anyway.

“So, lets see what we got.” Zooti strolled over to the keg, it was sitting on the ground next to Sancho and the other three kodos that seemed to be enjoying their new friend. The beasts were massive next to Zooti, their musky odor almost overpowering. Sancho in particular loved to simply stand there and drool, secreting odor that could slay a dragon. Like Pazo, the creature was content with simply being.

His hand reached out to the keg and brushed off the dust covering the label. Dwarven runes chiseled into a piece of sheet metal slapped on the cover of this barrel gave it what few identifying marks could be seen. “Barleyblast Lager,” he read. “Huh, never heard of Barleyblast. But its Dwarven so it should make that orcish crap you have been serving lately taste like Ogre bile.”

“Pazo now call Allyhead Ale!” The tauren cheered as he stepped up behind Zooti and patted the keg.

“Nice name Pazo, but it’s a lager. There might be some that know the difference.”

Pazo just stared at Zooti with vacant red eyes.

“Or you could name it Allyhead Ale and to hell with the consequences.”

“Woot and joy!” the tauren grinned from ear to ear and started doing his “happy dance,” a series of movements that could be lethal to non-attentive short people such as Zooti. The gnome backed away very quickly as the Tauren flung his feet around in the dance, far more grace allotted to the warrior than one would normally give such a simpleton credit for.

“Get some rest big guy, got a long day ahead of us tomorrow.”

The barrens always felt so dry and hot. Harsh winds blew across the fields of tall brown grass and sparse plantlife. He always hated it. Zooti had grown up in the belly of the mountains of Dun Morough. There the chillwind was a comfort that he sorely missed next to this arid wasteland.

Mr. Habutu was running low on coolant again. The machine gears seemed to pump out more heat than even the air around him could produce. If the cogs continued to heat up he might have to shut down his strider, disassemble it, and ride one of those horrible kodos.

“Zooti?” Pazo asked from the back of Sancho who he rode along side the gnome.

“What’s up Pazo?”

“Why steal keg?”

“Because we can’t afford to buy more at this point. Your sister hasn’t gotten back with our latest shipment yet and you are trying to run a tavern in the middle of nowhere.”

“Why steal keg from tauren?”

“The keg wasn’t theirs. None of the kegs were theirs. They had stolen it themselves from a Steamwheedle shipment out of Ratchet.”

“Wheedleheads hunt Pazo and Zooti?”

“No. The goblins couldn’t care about us at the moment as long as they don’t catch on to what we are doing with the DMB. Your sister is a clever one. Got Steamwheedle to think we were a legitimate trade guild sponsored by both Horde and Alliance. Now if only we had the ships to back it up we could really be in business.”

“Pazo like bar.”

“Yes Pazo, I know.” Zooti always had this problem with Pazo. A twinge of guilt for using the tauren to hijack or steal anything. He was a good and proud bull, and one whose shattered mind left him wanting only the very basic of necessities. But those of us in the real world need to live somehow, he would always justify to himself. The justifying was becoming a full time job.

But who else was going to do this? Taurog, Pazo’s elder brother, had founded a tavern out in the middle of the Barrens in an effort to escape the world he had come to dread. He crawled into a bottle, pipe near at hand, and never came back out. The self-proclaimed Innkeeper was little more than a founder. Leza, Pazo’s ambitious little sister, was currently in the Eastern Kingdoms picking up merchandise in an effort to keep the tavern in business. With the chokehold the Steamwheedle Cartel had over overseas trade, it was almost impossible to acquire goods from over there.

Leza was always one to fight the system though. Her brothers were not really surprised when she decided to start the Drunken Monkey Brewery to be a cover for a smuggling operation she was trying to construct. They knew she was never happy with a “quiet” life that they were after. In Zooti’s opinion, she was the best chance Taurog and Pazo had at keeping their pub open. Well, her and her allies that is.

“Homie homie home home home,” chanted Pazo. Zooti looked up, pulling his mind back from his deep thoughts. There, sure enough, was the ever-familiar mountain jutting out in the middle of the plains. Along one side of the mountain was a sheer rockface. Cliffs were almost unheard of in the Barrens, the land being shaped with very round features. This however was a flat dropoff almost as if some giant had taken an axe to the mountain.

And there, at the base of the cliff, was the Tavern of the Drunken Monkey. A single totem pole, ten feet in diameter, rose out from the center of the tauren style canvas like a single mast. The tip of what was once a mighty tree bore the rudimentary carving of a monkey face, the same symbol that could barely be seen on Zooti’s tabard. The inn seemed to almost emerge from the cliff itself, with its canvas walls extending out in tent form a good sixty feet.

A single entrance in the front could be seen, its opening very dark in contrast to the bright savannah of the Barrens. Near the entrance was a hitching post with a variety of animals tied off at the post. Pazo quickly rode Sancho and the other kodos up to the post. Each of the kodos, except Sancho, were rather reluctant to be tied up next to the two raptors, dire wolf, and nightsaber all tied up to the post and drooling at the new herbivores.

Zooti on the other hand had no problem parking Mr. Habutu near the post, but not within biting reach. He personally was less than a mouthful for most of those carnivorous mounts, and though he had fought in battle alongside some of them and their riders, he still did not trust their animal instincts driven by the added annoyance of such mid day heat.

He walked over to where Pazo was removing the keg from Sancho and hoisting it over his shoulder. The two turned and took a step through the canvas door of the tavern.

The interior was a black abyss compared to the daylight from a moment ago. The heated smell of various dried, spilled alcohol, mixers, spoiled fruit, vomit, and a plethora of other odors was like a brick to the face. Tables were strewn about the tavern, with the giant totem set up in the center, hollowed out and built to be a circular bar from which Pazo would nightly serve various drinks to customers. Carved into the cliff face was a stage, dark and unlit at the moment. To the left of the stage was an empty cage, crafted for dancers of roughly human size. To the right of the stage was a large bolted crafted of rich metals and jewels, standing in front of which was a dwarf that Zooti to this day could not remember ever having moved from his post. Adjacent to that was a series of booths set up for a variety of services one could not normally acquire in the deep desert like this.

“What took you two so long?” came a raspy voice from the shadows. A figure stumbled into the light, its flesh barely clinging to its bone, the jaw horribly dislocated and no tongue to be seen in the maw of the undead human. “I thought we had a business here. Waiting on both the bartender and the booze is hardly a business.”

Zooti was always thrown by how thick Tehd’s accent could be. Tehd Shumaker was what was known as a Forsaken, the “reformed” undead legions of the Scourge that failed to wipe out humanity a few years ago. Tehd however, was far from what could be referred to as a “good guy.”

“We ran into complications,” Zooti began.

“Hush,” Tehd replied abruptly. “I don’t like hearing from my food. Now Pazo, what happened?”

The large minotaur chuckled. “Tehdface most with funny. How speak without tongue?”

“Pazo, focus.” Tehd responded in a reserved fashion. He had apparently grown used to Pazo’s pokes and prods.

“The shipment was stolen before we could get to it, so we tracked it to the new band of thieves that had it and swiped it from them.” Zooti was annoyed at Tehd’s constant threats to eat him. For all his talk, Zooti knew that the undead warlock was far from that malicious, plus he would loose out on the vast amounts of money Zooti brought in with his talents.

“Well, whatever,” Tehd responded, obviously put out by being dismissed so easily. “While you were away we got word from Leza, sort of.”

Pazo’s ears picked up. “Leza?”

“Yes, that halfwit sister of yours. She got word to us that one of the deals she was working went south and she has had to run to ground.”

“If she ran aground, how did she get a message to you so quickly?” Zooti asked. If Leza really was on the other continent and hiding, the time it would take any form of communication to reach them would be measured in months.

“Let’s just say a little bird told me,” Tehd scoffed back. His eyes had long ago rotted away and his undeath state had replaced them with two glowing yellow orbs which now conveyed more annoyance with Zooti than any living eyes could.

A green winged macaw with bright, well kept feathers, flew up on Tehd’s shoulder at that point and looked at Pazo and Zooti. “Wraak,” it squacked. “Leza’s in trouble, wraak!”

“Mr. Sneed!” Pazo cheered. “Most with back and grins!” Pazo lunged a Tehd’s shoulder and grabbed the bird with both of his massive tauren hands. The macaw attempted to struggle but it was obvious Pazo was more adept at clinging to the bird.

“He flew all the way from the Eastern Kingdoms?” Zooti asked. He knew Mr. Sneed was no ordinary bird, but that seemed far-fetched even for the twisted nature of this particular macaw.

“So he says. I suspect he hopped a boat or something that was inbound for here. For a macaw, the thing is pretty cocky. Hee hee.” Tehd’s chuckled was painful sometimes. The undead creature found a lot of humor in his little puns that made most cringe.

“Ormnos!” Tehd called out, clapping his hands together. From behind the bar came the deep blue, gaseous, jinn like voidwalker that was Ormnos. Rising six feet high, the creature was almost entirely upper torso muscle, no facial features save only two glowing eyes, and a lower torso composed completely of a gaseous plume on the ground. He was naked save only the shackles he wore upon each wrist that bore runes of binding upon them.

The voidwalker stepped up to Tehd’s side.

“Take the keg in back and get it ready for this evening,” the forsaken warlock commanded. Zooti was always disturbed at the non-chalante attitude Tehd would take to his demonic servants. “We have a lot of business coming in tonight. Hukari says his little scrying powers were telling him that a caravan is moving through this part of the Barrens and should be here tonight.”

“What about Leza?” Pazo asked, very concerned.

“We’ll get details tomorrow Pazo,” Zooti responded. “And then I can probably dig up one of my old runes and pop open a portal for us to the Eastern Kingdoms. It’s a difficult spell, but it might be worth it.”

Pazo grinned reluctantly. He was an impulsive creature. If his sister was in trouble he was the type who would storm the gates of Ironforge alone in a heartbeat before confirming where in the place she was. But Zooti was more cautious and smelled a trap. Tomorrow would be better, and they may need some help from the other employees of the tavern. For a bar located in a wasteland, their tavern had some of the most dangerous and hunted individuals on the continent either working for them or doing business there every night. And most of them owed a hefty bar tab to the Stonehoof family. If Leza was in trouble, they had the means to get her out.

[Part Two], [Top]

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