An arrow flew towards Phenox but missed by a mile shot by the ranger skulking with the hoods through the shadows into the Whiskey Troll Tavern. The ear-shattering crack of colliding wood thundered through the smoky-thick tavern atmosphere as the hill-giant mercenary, indeed that’s what he appeared to be as he was not like his partners wearing a hood, struck with his spiked great club the blow parried by Nezor’s own hardwood great club. Thunder struck again and again as Nezor swung, was parried, swung again and again parried.
Phenox yelped when a bolt from the lead-hood’s crossbow hit him. Immediately another bolt flew from the shadows imbedding itself in Nezor’s new plate-mail armor. Cantra somersaulted to avoid two quarrels launched in her direction both of which thudded into the wall. Two of the hooded thugs went at Nezor but their short-swords were parried easily. The other leathern-hood wearing thief moved into the tavern bearing a bearded-axe and another of the hooded thugs charged and swiped at Phenox whom dodged the blow.
Thunder exploded again as the hard wood of the great clubs met once again this time clinching. The weapon-wood creaked painfully, muscles pressed and bulged, and the battle of raw brute strength took all of Nezor’s concentration as the tavern battle raged on around him. Both giants identically matched neither giving an inch each was intent on plowing through the other. Nezor kicked at the other giant’s groin but missed his mark.
Meanwhile Phenox was engaged with the bearded-axe wielding leather-hood managing to avoid every blow and Cantra got a lucky shot in with her bow and a poisoned arrow which paralyzed the hood allowing Phenox to claim the coup de grace. One of the thugs that was looking for an opening between the giants to try to stab at Nezor saw this and went after Cantra. She parried the sword-strike with the wood of her bow as she backed away. The other thug finally found the opening he sought and stabbed Nezor but only managed to score the hill-giants plate. The sound of Nezor’s teeth gritting could be heard by all.
Phenox spotted out the enemy ranger and hacked a gory wound into his neck nearly killing him. The merc-giant broke loose of the clinch and Nezor taking immediate advantage smacked him with ‘dog-smasher’ then on the backswing the mercenary clinched again with his parry. Both giants grunted as they found themselves frozen in the same strained stances. Again veins bulged, muscles creaked as loud as the weapon-wood and sweat rained on the flags and filled Nezor’s plate-mail and the merc-giant’s scale-mail.
Again the battle raged and another hood dropped with one of Cantra’s arrows in him. One of the petty human thugs close by Nezor stabbed him, again only mauling his armor so the hill-giant stomped on him. Crossbow bolts flew, the tavern was in an uproar as the drunks and tavern-goers crowded into the opposite half of the place and began chanting ‘”goodfellas” over-and-over again. Then the mercenary giant jerked unexpectedly and broke the clinch disarming Nezor of his great club in the process flinging it across the bar.
The enemy ranger dropped dead his head partially shorn from the neck by the stroke of Phenox’s paired scimitars. Two of the remaining hoods converged on Cantra their angry blades gleaming in the candlelight.
Nezor lunged at the other giant trying to grapple his enemy. He managed to get inside the reach of the spiked great club but could not find a grip on his opponent. It was his only chance to survive as he knew the merc-giant could easily kill him with a single lucky blow. The merc-giant knew this as well and tried to take a step back underestimating Nezor’s penchant for dirty fighting. Nezor kicked one of his enemy’s feet from under him tripping him and immediately stomped on his head crunching his skull. A crossbow bolt launched from an unseen assailant sailed into a chink in the triumphant giant’s armor wounding him.
Nezor took a moment to assess the situation and take in some desperately needed air. His other two companions were still fighting with both of the leather-hooded thugs and a ratling, probably the unseen archer that had put that bolt into him. The hill-giant scooped up his club and rejoined the skirmish.
Nezor missed with an initial attack on the hood with the bearded axe but struck him on the backswing wounding him. Cantra began to laugh unnervingly chilling the spines of all that could hear her as she dipped her dagger in a vile of Black Thorn Poison. The hood with the axe swung at Nezor scoring a critical strike due to Nezor’s clumsy defense forcing the hill-giant to back off in order to recover his bearings.
Phenox moved in and struck the other leather-hooded thug wounding him. The axe wielding hood moved after and struck at Nezor clinching with him when the giant attempted to parry the blow. Nezor then realized that this thug was as strong and about as large as a half-giant. More arrows and bolts flew from the shadows at Cantra whom barely avoided them. Nezor forced the half-giant to his knees with some effort. The half-giant tried to force his way back up but could find neither the leverage nor the strength to do so.
Phenox was in a duel with the other leather-hood and more arrows flew at Cantra. Nezor broke the clinch and swung on the half-giant who lunged to his feet parrying the club with his bearded-axe. Splinters flew everywhere but the axe remained intact to clinch Nezor’s club yet again. Nezor using all of his might tried to force the hood down to his knees again but the hood was barely able to hold his stance and tried to use his newfound leverage to break free but Nezor easily kept the axe bound up.
Phenox finally gained the upper hand in his duel with the other leather-hood and cut him down, the body instantly teleporting away in a flash of light from the magic hood. Cantra ducked under a table for cover and downed a healing potion. The half-giant and Nezor continued to struggle strength opposing strength the half-giant ever at a disadvantage but Nezor severely wounded. Cantra and the ratling suddenly disappeared from sight undoubtedly both playing at a very deadly shadow game. The half-giant suddenly broke the clinch with a sudden spot of luck.
Nezor in utter panic power-attacked putting all of his supernatural strength behind the blow in an all-or-nothing bid for victory and life the concussion of the killing blow stunned the crowd and the half-giant’s corpse was gone in a magic flash just as was his companion.
Phenox and Nezor looked about and saw no other enemies nor did they see Cantra though Phenox detected the ratling squeak as if it had been hit. Nezor was distracted when he saw the faun bartender and the trollish barmaids looting the merc-giant’s corpse.
Nezor (thrusting forth a stern finger): “Hey YOO! I impounded that criminal’s stuff! Tha’s the LAW’s property!”
After a few minutes it became evident that the ratling had escaped when Cantra finally emerged from a dark corner. The looting of the corpses that were left behind commenced. The take was disappointing though Nezor took delight in pegging up the spiked great club and giant suit of scale-mail as trophies on the wall behind his table. Phenox and Cantra retreated to her villa to recuperate. Nezor left to get a free healing at the local White Star house of healing due to his status as a city guard then returned to pass the rest of the night eating and drinking as usual.
The next day was for the most part a quiet one. The air was heavy and it was muggy, dense cotton-clouds hung in the stark blue sky. It felt like a heat wave was picking up. Throughout the day the usual patrons came and went. The rat-trappers, those with coats of patchwork rat-skins and an embroidered patch of a rat impaled on a dagger on their backs, sat and drank with Nezor eventually paying for their own drinks in rat-tails cut from the vermin that had infested that very establishment. The Black-Skull pirates also filed in around noon and filled the place with rowdy laughter and salty language. A fish-monger wandered in with his cart trying to peddle fish-stew but was chased out by the Troll’s owner. Phenox on his way in bought a jack of stew as the monger was leaving. Cantra wandered in shortly thereafter.
The trio enjoyed some drinks until sundown when the Black Skulls stumbled back to their ship. Phenox and Cantra left as they were meeting someone for something. Nezor wasn’t paying attention he was mulling over an idea. Shortly after they left he decided to put his idea into action and gathered up some random guards and friendly toughs in the streets and led a mob rousting the local pimps along the way. Nezor ended the night at the Troll as usual though 30 silver pieces, 100 coppers, 100 gold pieces, and 1 gold medallion richer.
Later that night, the hill-giant was awoken by a foul stench on the air. He saw the large hunched figure of a troll lurch into the tavern bearing a very large barrel. The tavern owner came out and talked for a bit with the creature, some coin exchanged hands, and the troll wandered out leaving the barrel which the publican had some hefty servants drag into the back. The giant rolled over and commenced to snore.
To Be Continued…