Chapter 12: "Booze to die for and loose ends to tie.."

The music was absolutely beautiful. Despite the fact he had a nagmachine sitting next to him, Mabatsekker was in a complete trance. He couldn't even turn to look what was the source of this imprisoning tune. Something awfully familiar kept knocking his darkest, deepest memories..

Maba was finally snapped out of this trance as the music stopped and Zoliphian tapped him on his left shoulder. "Heeeey.. you lischtening or are you just gonna chit there for the rest of the night watching your chuice to warm up?", the rather tanked up female asked.

"Yeah...", Maba answered as if *he* were in a tired, drunken state himself. His curiosity was in it's peak right now, and he turned to look where the music came from. The corner?

Yes. He had arrived just after Maba had sat down on the barstool to enjoy his midnight snack. There he was, the seemingly middle-aged man in his somewhat oriental-seeming clothing. It reminded Mabatsekker of a traveller's outfit, but it had a hint of serious wear in it, which he then deduced to be a result of continual violence. ("Must have been a target of brigands aswell. Can't even make a living as a minstrel these days,") Maba thought.

The man, homever, kept silently handling the balalaika with his eyes closed, drifting far off in the dimension of tunes and calm rhythm, as he started the melody of another song...

"CRASH!", went the pint of AA*-class cider as it hit the bard in the back of his skull. He cringed in pain and grasped the spot.

"Will you STOP raping the kittensh and let paying customersh listen to their own thoughts??", Zoliphian raged at the now-recovering musician. She snorted and turned back to the bartender, ordering another pint. Maba was about to get up and slap Zoliphian squarely on her cheek, but this was interrupted as the bard started to close in on the two.

"I'm terribly sorry, she's had a few drinks too m..", Maba attempted, but he was faced with a rough "Aside. Now." from the seemingly tall minstrel. ("Can't argue with this guy.. he's almost as big as Gar.. and that sword of his.. *gulp* but Zoliphian.."), thought Maba, as he noticed the Zweihander next to the bard's table.

"Excuse me, miss..?" The man tapped on Zoliphian's shoulder. "Whaddya wan..*KABONG!*", went Zoliphian as the instrument came crashing on her forehead, causing the woman to fall down from her chair unconscious. The man coughed, and turned to Mabatsekker, slowly. Maba was completely paralyzed.

"I'm sorry for the treatment of your girlfriend, but there *are* manners in this world, forget them and be pwned. I am know as Igatona. As for you, you are..?", the tall man went, starting to polish his balalaika. "M-m-m.. Mabatsekker, mister Igatona.. and that wasn't my girlfriend.. just a.. f-friend. I don't mind." mumbled Maba in a controversial state of fear and surprisal.

"Ach. *Just* a friend, eh? Mabatsekker.. ah! So you're the guy who captured those brigands? I see..", Igatona replied, sizing the man up. "That would be me, yes. My other companions are resting at the moment, and they had their part in the job aswell. Too bad, one of us was wounded.. and now, another has a bad headache," Maba snickered as he started to pick Zoliphian up.

"Ahh, so you're with the catgirl and the drow?"

"Y-yes." Maba answered a bit suspiciously. How did he know about the bandits *and* Tiria if he wasn't there before they were? He didn't have time to ponder that, as he got a shrapnel to his right temple as the door broke right next to his side.

"Awright!" went a loud female voice. "Where's Dermin and his little cohort?!" Maba signalled the bartender to run away, but he already was fleeing the scene in terror.

"Who's asking?", went Igatona.

"The name's Peord Tan'nein, and that's the last of you, if you're the punk I'm after!", went the voice again, and now, both Maba and Igatona could see the figure who was speaking to them.

"Are you an angel of death or something, or is it just my sense of the world going haywire?", Maba asked, as the winged form of a slighly elvish-seeming female stepped in on the remains of the front door of the inn. She was elvishly pale, but the dark, not-too revealing robe flowing in the wind combined with her scythe nearly made Maba run away in terror, but Igatona stood fast.

"Why are you after this 'Mabatsekker'?" Igatona asked the figure. "Bold, asking questions when your life is nearly forfeit in my presence!", Tan'Nein replied with a strong hint of arrogance in her voice as she brandished her scythe. "Pfft, to me you're just another pointy-eared fool!" Igatona countered, and proceeded to lifting his Zweihander from the ground with a single hand as if it were a stick. Flabbergasted, Maba proceeded to drawing his own blade from its sheath.

"Tsk tsk tsk.. hopefully, you know how to use.. *that*", Tan'nein commented on Maba's effort to impress her. Maba blushed and tried not to smirk. Igatona, on the other hand, gave a hearty laughter and took an Igaijutsu stance with his sword. The winged figure caught some wind and flapped it against the men and withdrew them. "It's been a long time I've had two opponents at once..", Tan'nein gave a murderous look and positioned to a stance of her own. Igatona recognized it, but Maba was betrayed by his inexperience and mistook it as a taunt. He raised his sword and waited for an opening as Igatona started to close in...

Chapter 13