《The Butcher of Gadobhra》Chapter 26: Night at the tavern


Jorges waited until Billy walked away before gathering folks together. "You heard the man. He wants a road, and he put me in charge. We're going to build a road from here back to Sedgewick and none of this 'detour' and 'curve' crap. Proper roads go straight."

"Dexter, take a crew of 5 people. I want a 60' tall pole put up with a mirror pointed in this direction, and a lit lantern. On this end I need a platform that's 3' square at the top and 20' high. You, get a few thousand feet of twine and some bright cloth to make marker flags. Start on those trees over there. Once the pole is up, I'll take a direct sighting and lay out the path. We're clearing down at four feet into the sod, and taking out all the stumps."

"I want the masons cutting stone slabs with a 6" thickness. Lumberjacks on the trees and stumps, everyone else is digging roadbed. Dirt in piles separate from stone. Except you two, I need two wagons so we can start hauling gravel from a couple of the river banks."

Jorges could see the road in his mind. It cut straight through this section of forest and then through the meadows. Past the barn by about 30' and right to the main road of the town. Maybe when this was done Billy would let him build another straight to Rowan Keep.

They kept working until hours after sunset. Finally, Jorges called it a night. The towers had gone up and shown him where to place the flags marking a path straight as an arrow. Trees had been cut and cleared and most of the stumps removed. They'd be back at it by dawn. But for now, the crew headed to the tavern and the promised food and drink.


Ozzy and Rolly kept working until they saw the rest of the crew heading to the tavern. Ozzy had explained as much as he could of what went on the night before. He wanted to ask about the strange system message he got about the agreement with Ferdinand, but decided not to. What happened at the corral, stayed at the corral. But he did mention the two herd leaders wandering over and getting hurt, and suggested it might be better to keep them a couple of pastures away from the barn.

With no one around to look, Ozzy got in an occasional caber throw. He also showed Rolly how he was working on the tool repair skill. Rolly immediately made a half dozen shepherd's crooks and broke them to work on later. Rolly had been snacking all day on slightly roasted sedgebeast but was still up for food and drink at the tavern. They headed over to find a full house and a bit of trouble just getting started.

The ACME crew were in the far end of the tavern, near the kitchen entrance, sharing five of the tables. Around the bar and the remaining three tables were eight players - eight very drunk players. Two of them were hitting on Suzette, who alternated between flirting and taking their money for more beer, and ignoring them. Ozzy was not in the least worried about Suzette.


But the other bunch seemed to be a bit more belligerent and were giving the ACME crew a hard time. "I'm a bit insulted by you lots’ attitude. We came in here and wanted to get to know folks. But you don't want to play cards with us, and don't want to arm wrestle, and you just keep to yourselves. The rest of us have been playing games and buying beers. Not joining in means the rest of us pay more. That's pretty stingy of you."

Lyle stood up. "Right, well if you feel that way, best we be heading back and getting some shut eye. Mr. Billy wants us up early. Night Fellas."

One of the players stood up. "Well, that's fair. You guys just head on back. But I'm sure the ladies are happy to stay. Aren't you ladies?" Bettie, Althea and Miriam said nothing but tried to leave with the rest. Three of the players blocked the way, hands on weapons.

"Nope. I think you'll be staying." Several of the men were allowed to move past, they stood at the exit not quite knowing what to do. But the women were penned in and forced to take their seats again.

"There, isn't that better? Tell you what boys, why don't you take a turn at arm wrestling. The bet's a silver piece. For each one of you that wins, we'll let one of the ladies head home early." Much laughter from the players at this.

Suzette brought over food for Rolly and Ozzy, and a mug of ale for each. She smiled slyly at Ozzy. "You should give it a go Ozzy, you're pretty strong. Finish that beer and go arm wrestle him."

Ozzy had two questions: Why was she smiling the ‘I'm starting trouble’ smile, and second, what was in this ale; it tasted funny, sort of medicinal.

"Yeah, come on over Fozzy Bear, show us what those muscles can do."

Ozzy downed his beer and stepped over to the table. The player was obviously a warrior, so he'd have a high STR. 5? 8? Ozzy wasn't up on how Players leveled their stats but knew it was tough to get to 10. With his STR of 8 he should be able to hold his own at least.

Luther VonHack, the player across from Ozzy, looked forward to taking another bumpkins money. He knew a lot of them were strong, but that didn't mean everything in arm wrestling. What mattered was the grip you had on the other guy, and he had an edge in that. He'd taken a perk called Strongarm that increased his damage in combat by 5 points and made it difficult to knock his weapon out of his hand. What he'd been delighted to find out was it also made it easy to get the right grip on his wrestling opponents, and grind their bones against each other. Really tough to use your full strength when the small bones in your hand bend in ways they shouldn't.


Ozzy and Luther got settled, and someone yelled "1, 2, 3, go." Luther started pushing at two. He was a bit surprised as Ozzy didn't budge. After a minute of pushing hard and neither moving, Ozzy said "Sorry, did you want to start at some point? I thought we were arm wrestling." Players laughed; Luther turned red. He gripped Ozzy's hand and bore down, only to find his own hand being crushed. There was a distinct snap and Luther grimaced as something broke. Ozzy figured it was time to finish things. Really, this guy thought he was strong? This was no challenge at all.

Ozzy slammed Luther's hand to the table. The table cracked. So did Luther's arm bones, both main bones broken and sticking through the skin. Luther held his arm and backed away. He screamed at the other players. "Kick that cheatin' sumbitches ass and send him to respawn. Then we slaughter the rest of these assholes."

DapperDan moved forward and tossed a punch at Ozzy. Ozzy blocked it with an arm and threw a punch to his nose. Ozzy's fist didn't stop at the nose. He punched through the bone and into the center of Dan's head, blood and brains went flying. Everyone was silent for a second.

The rest of the players drew weapons and started to surge forward. And at this point, everything seemed to happen at once.

Suzette jammed a dart through one of the player's hands, pinning him to the bar. Within a few seconds he slumped forward unconscious. Ozzie grabbed the table behind him and easily threw it towards two more, knocking them unconscious and breaking the table.

The workers at the door and in the back of the room surged forward. Rolly casual stepped into the middle of the scrum. Within about 10 seconds, it was all over. Dapperdan was down with a crushed skull; two players knocked out by the table; Luther whimpering in a corner. Of the other four, one was passed out at the bar, two had been pummeled unconscious by the workers and one had died when Rolly punched him in the chest twice. Lyle looked from the corpse with the bloody chest to Rolly. Rolly just shrugged and said ‘Shepherd Powers.’

Ozzie looked at Luther. "I suggest you go elsewhere. Sedgewick is a nice sort of town and you just aren't welcome." As they left, Ozzie shut the door behind them. One of the hinges broke and the door hung sideways.

"Suzie, what the hell was in that ale you gave me?"

Suzette smiled sheepishly. "Just something to give you an edge. It was a STR potion with a bit of a side effect. But uh, maybe you should sit down now. And you do have more than 200 health, don't you?" Ozzy collapsed in a chair as he took the heavy hit of damage, but Rolly was there to heal him up.

Everyone pitched in to clean up the tavern. Then most went to bed. Rolly and Ozzy were seated at the bar when Ben came in. He'd heard about the fight and was devastated he'd missed the fun, especially on hearing what 'The strength of Samson' had done. The four talked late into the night, comparing notes and catching up.


Luther whined so much about his arm hurting that the other three mercenaries killed him and sent him to respawn at Rowan Keep. It was dark, but the road was easy to keep to. They'd make it back before the others respawned.

They all agreed Luther's plan sucked. They'd been told that some of the ‘workers’ were really players in disguise with some nasty abilities. His plan of 'be annoying until they show themselves' had worked for the most part. It was getting their asses kicked that no one had expected. The big one was a walking catastrophe!

Luther was STR 7 and he'd been handled like a child. And the casual way he killed Dan with one punch was monstrous. He must be some sort of STR build monk/assassin. Then the bartender took out one of them with poison, and that little guy killed Vanar with two punches to the chest. One of them had seen the knives strapped to his forearms. He came ready to murder people!

"So, causing trouble and assaulting women folk. I think we agree with the good people of Sedgewick, you aren't welcome around here. Gives the place a bad name." The voice came out of the darkness, surprising them, followed by a volley of arrows and cross-bow bolts. Two of the mercenaries dropped dead. One limped up the road with an arrow in his shoulder. "Leave that one for the goblins; no need to be greedy."

The next day dawned with eight of Momco's mercenaries holding their heads and discussing why death penalties suck. Things got worse when their boss rode into the keep with a dozen horsemen. Timmy wanted an immediate debriefing on what had happened and had no sympathy for their suffering. He'd have to head up to Sedgewick himself and have a look around - a much more subtle look around. Hopefully the spy they'd placed in Billy's crew would have some helpful information on what he'd found. Grandma was giving him a chance to show what he could do and he was damn well going to succeed.

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