The Blood Oath Bard
by M. D. Flyn
Groomnen woke with a grunt as he crashed to the ground. Iymbryl smirked down at him, foot perched on the overturned stool. He tucked his hair behind his pointed ears and stepped back.
Groomnen growled at him, struggling to get up. He winced as he put his hand down on the rough wood of the floor. He picked dirty straw off his clothes The pounding in his head made it difficult to move.
“Got a little overexcited last night, did you?” Iymbryl righted the stool and sat gracefully in his own chair.
Groomnen put his cushion back and climbed up onto his stool. “I dunno. I don’t remember.” Groomnen groaned as he tried to hold in his brains, which were trying to seep out his ears.
Iymbryl waved two fingers at the serving wench across the room. “You didn’t do anything stupid. Not again.” The wench dropped off two ales and sped back to her other customers. Groomnen hunched over his ale while Iymbryl took a sip.
“Maybe.” Groomnen held up his hand to show the deep cut on his palm.
Iymbryl choked on his ale. “Groomnen Flatarm! You didn’t. You wouldn’t. Not again.”
“Maybe not. But the palm doesn’t lie.” Groomnen resumed holding his brains in through his forehead.
Iymbryl gestured around the room. “No, no. After last time there’s no telling what you swore to. We warned you, you got too much drink in you. We had to buy off that whole village to leave. I thought the party would kick you out then, but you got lucky. Unless there’s gold on the other end of that cut, you’re out.”
“I have no idea what happened. Can’t remember a thing. I was having a fine evening, entertaining the crowd. They were a great crowd, they liked the dirtier songs. The ale kept coming, and I kept singing. My throat’s sore now, on top of the pain in my head and the fire in my belly.” Groomnen cautiously sipped his ale and turned a light shade of green.
“We can figure it out. Head it off before the others find out. Who else was here? Was that wench working?” Iymbryl waved at the girl again. She scowled before detouring back to their table.
“What would you like today?” she asked the pair. “Did you want to wait for your friends?”
“Our friends will be along. Meanwhile, we wanted to know who my friend spent time with last night. It seems promises were made that he might regret now.” Iymbryl gestured at the groaning Groomnen.
She swiped at the table with a dirty rag as she talked. “He was keeping the crowd happy. They loved him and bought him a lot of drink. When his voice got a little sore he begged off. He was still enjoying the company of a couple of rough characters until most left. Just the orc and him, last I saw before I went to bed.”
Iymbryl gripped the edge of the table with white fingers, “Did you catch the orc’s name?”
“Verlgu, I think it was.”
Groomnen leaned over and heaved into the straw on the floor. “Thank you. You’ve been very helpful,” he said as he straightened back up.
She sneered as she stepped back from him, walking away.
“Do you feel better now?”
“My stomach, immensely. The rest of me, not so much. What do you think I promised Verlgu? He’ll rip me in two as likely as sneeze at me. I’m done for. He already hated me. Now I’m doomed.” Groomnen banged his head on the table.
“What could he want from you? Besides to rip you in two. You annoy him. You have nothing he values, you don’t even have a good dagger.” Iymbryl shook his head as he glanced around the room, hoping someone familiar might have a clue.
The wench returned with a pail to scoop up the soiled hay. As she turned away she said, “I do recall before I left I saw you hand him one of those scarves, like the one you have on your arm. Red with a hawk in white. He was mighty happy to take it.”
Groomnen clapped a hand over his mouth to cover another horrible noise.
“That’s it, you’re dead.” Iymbryl banged on the table. “If Verlgu doesn’t rip you in two, then the team will. What would possess you to give him one of our scarves? Like those adventurers would allow an orc to tag along. It’s hard enough to tolerate you, but at least you can sing. An orc will just tear around and smash things until he gets a new weapon. Then he’ll smash some more. He’s all brawn and no brains, and he smells. I want no part of it.”
“I have no desire to get dead today. Maybe he lost the scarf and forgot. He must have had plenty to drink, same as me. Maybe we can bolt before he shows. Maybe we can let him tag along and then lose him real quick. We better think of something.” Groomnen sipped his ale. He waited a moment, then took another sip.
Iymbryl crossed his arm and planted his feet. “You took a blood oath. You’re done for. My worry is if your oath applies to the whole party…if you had the power to make that oath for all of us. I don’t want the bad juju if it does and we dump him.”
Groomnen winced as the front door opened and bright morning light streamed into the pub. As the door closed it revealed Verlgu, standing in the doorway with a Hawk scarf tied on his huge bicep and a toothy, hungry grin on his face.
The tables and tankards shook a little as Verlgu stomped over to the table. “Hey, Groomnen, me come with you now.”
Groomnen winced all the way up to Verlgu’s head, almost brushing the ceiling. “About that, chum. I don’t remember what promises I last night. I’m sure any oath can’t be held up to the light of day. You understand how it is.”
Verlgu thumped the bottom of his club on the floor and held up his palm so they could see the cut there.
“You swore blood oath. Me join Hawks now.”
“That sounds like a good deal, but you see I’m not so sure the team will go for it. Now I have clarity and all.”
“You make sure team goes for it. Me join Hawks. Me marry Amelot. You swore. Blood oath witch-bound. Oath done.”
“WHAT?!” Iymbryl leapt up, his eyes wild as he checked the room for Amelot.
“I wouldn’t,” Groomnen said as he rose from his stool.
“Oath done,” Verlgu thumped his club again for emphasis.
Again light poured into the pub, this time revealing the remaining members of the party. Amelot led the way, the crowd parting for her glare.
She focused on Groomnen and stalked across the room. The anger rolled off of her. “Hello, boys, did you get into any trouble while I was gone?”
This story brought to you by prompts from Terrible Minds, I got “Unbalanced dwarf bard from a tiny village who drunkenly swore a blood oath and forgot what for.”