Finding himself an unwilling participant in a bar bet, Iriador learns a valuable lesson: when and when not to keep his mouth shut.
Author: CJ Briggs
Summary: Finding himself an unwilling participant in a bar bet, Iriador learns a valuable lesson: when and when not to keep his mouth shut.
Notes: Just a story involving two relatively new characters of mine. It amused a friend of mine, so I decided to post it. ^^
Hazel eyes remained focused on the gray, steel mug before them. The ale inside had seemed welcome enough minutes ago, but now that the Elf had gained a serving for himself, it wasn't all that appealing. He still had much traveling to do, after all, and being half drunk would only impede his progress. As if it could possibly go any slower, he thought bitterly.
He quickly, lightly, reprimanded himself: He had come to this inn for a night of relaxation, and thinking about Demons was countering that objective.
He let the liquid slosh around in the container and settle again before taking a tentative sip. His face immediately screwed up into a look of disgust. "Good gods, what is this stuff?"
"Should have gotten the sweetened kind," a voice sang from behind him. "The one you've got is far too bitter to be enjoyed by a novice."
A heavy hand clamped down on his shoulder, making him nearly jump out of his skin. Another Elf flashed him a smile as he took a seat at the table, mischief gleaming in his eyes. Iriador scowled at him without a second thought. What kind of person just invaded one's personal space like that?
"I meant a novice drinker!/" the stranger was saying. "If it tastes that bad to you, you've obviously not had it before... You build up a resistance to the flavor. And anyway, if you can't hold your liquor, you /definitely can't drink /that./"
And who can't hold their liquor? "I can hold my liquor just fine, thanks."
"Oh really?" The tall Elf laughed, toying with his dark hair. "I'll bet you can't. You don't strike me as the type that drinks much."
"Who are you to be making assumptions about me? You don't know me."
"That I don't. But I know you can't drink!"
That arrogant ass-!
Relax, Iri. That was the whole point to coming here.
That cocky grin was still there, and Iriador found himself wishing he could rip it off the other's face. Forget relaxation. I'm going to shut him down. That'll show him. "Why don't you put your money where your mouth is?"
"Why should I? It's an easy win."
The dark-haired Elf's eyes rose to the ceiling. "Sorry."
The words had flown out of Iriador's mouth before his brain could signal his hands to cover it. Crap. Say no, say no!
He had just checked his monetary situation this very morning. Twenty pieces of silver, exactly. He couldn't afford this bet, not if he planned on sleeping in a bed and eating a cooked meal in the morning.
Unfortunately for him, the newcomer gave him the smile of a winner. "You don't know when to give up, do you? Twenty silvers... You know, you don't look rich, either."
"Having twenty silvers hardly makes one rich."
"It's a hell of a long way from being poor! You'll see. I'm about to clean you out, anyway."
Iriador's heart sank. I'm doomed.
The other went to get drinks, and from that moment to the moment he got back with two pitchers and glasses, Iriador considered running. His walking stick was within his reach, and escape from this situation certainly wasn't impossible.
His pride kept him rooted to the spot.
"You could back out, you know. I'm sure I don't need the money as much as you do."
Whoever this guy was, it seemed he knew precisely how to push the right buttons. "I don't need it!" Iri blurted out. Once again, he admonished himself. Idiot, shut up!
"Oh please!" That smug, I-know-it-all laughter. "I saw the panicked look on your face. You realized at that exact second that once you lose this bet, you'll have no money left, didn't you? Don't you think it's a bit petty to waste your money over pride?"
"Shut up and drink," Iriador growled.
"No problem! I promise I'll leave that staff of yours by your bedside when I carry you to your room later." The unnamed Elf reached up, untied his long hair, and refastened it after shaking it out a bit. "Whoever finishes their pitcher first, without passing out, wins our little game."
By this time, they had amassed a crowd of spectators. Well, there's no turning back now, Iriador thought. What a fine mess you've gotten yourself into this time, Iri...
"You can use the glass if you want. I'll drink from my pitcher; I can handle it. And may the best brunette win!"
Iriador shot his opponent a nasty glare before seizing his pitcher. "I'll show you to call me petty!"
All else was a blur of bitter ale, wild cheering from the crowd, and, occasionally, a glance, wink, or smirk from across the table.
Only five minutes in, Iriador's head was beginning to swim, as was his vision. Whatever made the brew so distasteful on his tongue did wonders in making the effects of the ale stronger. He had consumed his fair share of ales and wines, but none were this potent...
Mere feet away from him, the other Elf was more than halfway through his pitcher, and showed no signs of slowing down. "Sure you still don't want to quit?" he taunted. "I can let you forego this little wager, you know! I'm a nice guy."
Iriador wasn't sure if the rest of that sentence was delivered. He fell out of his chair and hit the floor, unable to keep himself upright. He could only stay conscious long enough to hear a few last words from his adversary.
"Hate to say I told you so..."
Iriador woke up in a cold sweat: The nightmares had plagued his sleep again like they had since the Demon attack. He found himself in a bed, tangled in sheets, a dull pain in his right leg. When did I get here?
He reached over, switching on the oil lamp beside the bed, and found a note folded on the small table.
Congratulations. You've just been outfoxed. My pitcher was full of ale... but not as full of that as it was water. So, unlike you, I'm coherent enough to write.
Thanks for losing so fabulously! But, since I'm such a nice guy, I've left you ten silvers. Like I said before, I don't need the money as much as you do. Have a nice life! Don't forget me!
Realization dawned over him, making the dull hangover headache ten times worse. That stupid-He tricked me!
I hope I see him again... I'm going to give him a piece of my mind after I rip all that hair out of his head...
Still, his mind told him, he left ten silvers...
-=Earlier in the night...=-
The barkeep turned to his left. "So, Ronyo, I guess this makes victim number one-hundred?"
"Yep," came the response. "It's on to a new inn for me. Hopefully I'll find one as nice as you are. Letting me scam people in your establishment like this... The fact that you've let me do something so dishonorable here is really amazing. You're a better guy than I am."
"Think nothin' of it. I've had to pay Aira off, too-I know you needed the money. And sometimes you have to tip the scales in your favor to get what you want."
Ronyo shrugged, smiling slightly as he tied his hair up.
"What about that kid?"
"Huh? What about him? He's in his room."
"You only took half his money. I heard his pouch jingle when you put it back on his belt."
"And you figured out it was half the money he had just from the jingling? Could it be that you Humans have better hearing than Elves?" Ronyo laughed. "I figure I'll leave it for him. I just didn't want to steal all of it... not from him."
"You know him or somethin'?"
"Sort of." His eyes went to a nearby window, where they stayed, until he shrugged again and pulled on his cloak. "I'd better get out of here before he wakes up. He can't drink, but it'll be just my luck if he's quick to rise from a hangover."
His friend nodded. "Should I tell him where you've gone?"
"Are you kidding, Iram? No way. He'll be just like Aira, chasing me to the ends of Carnelia, even with that leg of his. Just, do me a favor. Give him a free breakfast. Let him keep what little money he's got."
"You're certainly bein' nice to him."
Ronyo stopped at the door, giving the barkeep a sad smile. "Yeah, well... people like him, Iram, you only meet once in a lifetime. And seeing as my lifetime's going to be pretty long... I have to hold onto him."