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|A ridiculous parody of the standard Adventurers Tavern and its modern corruption.||
Frieda the innkeeper looked over her tavern with an unhappy frown. She was a plump, middle-aged woman with a smile common to her features, at least until recently. Once, her tavern had been filled to the brim with all sorts of respectable folk – farmers, dock workers… the basic blue-collar type that broke his back for an honest day’s pay. Now, dark days loomed over Frieda’s establishment. The clientele had shifted dramatically with the new "E.V.U.L. Rights" movement; her patrons consisted of vampires, lycanthropes of all kinds, dark elves, idiot magicians, assassins, serial killers, voluptuous-and-scantily-clad young slave women... ridiculous things. She was given to weep on occasion.
They broke things, and made a huge mess every night. Sometimes they’d kill each other, right there in the common room. They never actually rented a room for the night. Nobody drank anything normal – she’d stocked up on pig’s blood and vinegar (She didn’t know what went into any of those exotic drinks they tended to order, but pig’s blood and vinegar mixed in varying amounts seemed to pass itself off for all of them). The worst part was, they all paid in vast amounts of gold and platinum. It had become so bad that the economy had crashed violently, rendering the two metals utterly worthless from the flooding of the market; secretly, the trade coin had become copper and steel.
There wasn’t much she could do. Decent adventurers wouldn’t come near the place; even if they did, they wouldn’t work for gold or platinum anymore. The second-rate imbecile adventurers were themselves a part of the problem. Hells, she’d only managed to find one man who’d even come in to get rid of all the vermin and insect life her new ‘patrons’ brought in with them. He was due in sometime today, and was willing to work for almost nothing. Frieda was in a quandary most depressing.
Late in the evening, a truck rolled up outside the tavern; Frieda brightened, peering out the window and catching the truck’s sign – "Gabe’s Pest Removal Service." Then she scowled, noting that the truck pulled into the handicap spot. Even the creatures in the tavern didn’t act so disrespectfully.
The door opened, and in walked a man looking to be in his mid-thirties. He wore a gray sweatshirt and jeans, and actually stood well under six feet. The only thing dramatic about him was the black hair, but Frieda forgave him that. Black hair wasn’t abnormal, just far too generic these days. Besides, he kept it cut short in a respectable manner. He made a beeline for the bar, a rather large canister with a rubber hose and nozzle affixed to it slung over his shoulder. She smiled faintly as he drew near, drawing a draught of ale into a tidy little mug and setting it wordlessly on the bar for him.
Gabe flashed her a grin and nodded, pulling up a stool and setting the canister down on the floor. " ‘lo ma’am. Where would ya like me to start?" He took up the ale thankfully, his grin looking the most laid-back and relaxed any man in the world might accomplish. It looked like a lazy grin, but lazy in the way a cat grins. Frieda laughed lightly.
"Where would I like you to begin? Unless you can exterminate these," she waved her hand to the clientele in general, "I’d suggest the basement. Just watch out for the Grues and Bogyemen."
Gabe shrugged, looking the place over with a scrutinizing gaze as he took a swig of ale. A table of werewolves, involved in a round of Tonk, paused their game to look up at him and growl in unison. He gave them a cheery wave before turning back to Frieda.
"Alright then. I’ll need to go hit my truck real quick, though." He set the half-finished mug down on the bar and stood. Frieda smiled again, appreciatively; the man wasn’t afraid to kill bugs while surrounded by the spawn of evil. A professional to the bone. She glanced around and sighed, wishing she could find an exterminator of another kind.
Frieda crossed her arms and leaned on the bar, looking downcast. Her business would never be the same again. She winced as a non-affiliated deity clamped down on the bar and bellowed into her face in some foreign tongue; his golden curls and bright blue eyes giving him away instantly. She grumbled and turned, grabbing a pint of pig’s blood and the vinegar bottle.
"I’d like to see you try that with a real god," she muttered, the small-god still bellowing behind her.
While she was mixing the ‘Nectar of Azudburghalfron’, she blinked, noticing the sudden lack of deific bellowing. She very slowly placed the ingredients of the universal drink down and turned, looking around for her unwanted customer.
He was there, but much, much smaller. In fact, he stood at a height of maybe one inch, looking back and forth wildly. Flowing white robes and bouncing golden curls frayed out as the little god looked up, terror in its eyes. Gabe loomed over it, a spray bottle in one hand and flyswatter in the other.
A sickening splat followed almost an instant after the small god looked up into the eyes of its doom. Gabe scooped the bloody mess up with the swatter and strolled to the trash, setting the bottle of God-B-Gone onto an empty table en route. He tossed the bloody swatter into the bin and nodded to himself.
"Right, then." He turned to face the room in general, as Frieda remained almost frozen in place. She’d never seen anything like that before, not even from a Moder. Granted, it was a small god.. but he made it a small god. That was scary in and of itself, but now he seemed to be stalking towards a gathering of vampires. Vampires, while the trendy replacement for the poofy hair of the 80’s, were still a bit spookier, especially when one of them had any sense of what power really was. There were five of them in this case, one of them a vampire princess threatening suicide and sobbing uncontrollably, as she’d been doing for the past three days straight.
Without preamble, Gabe halted before the gathering, raised a fist and backhanded the sobbing creature from her chair. The other four looked up in shock, staring. He wasted no time, leaning across the table to grab the dazed vampire princess by the collar of her skimpy shirt, far too small to conceal her vast cleavage, and hauled her up.
One of them shook itself out of its daze and stood, eyes blazing with a brilliant red fury. Ruby light flickered all over the room in the best tradition of anime-villianry, and the creature hissed menacingly. Gabe, in a single fluid motion with his free hand, grabbed a garlic sausage from one of his pouches and shoved it into the things hissing mouth.
The sobbing vampiress screamed as her fellows head exploded in a shower of gore, spraying them in a fine patter of thick, sweet red. With a casual haste, Gabe shoved another sausage into her mouth, with the same results; she would sob no more, for suicide was now unnecessary. He turned to the other three, who had leapt to their feet, hissing and looming menacingly.
Two things about Tavern Vampires: 1) They tend to be weak, wretched things who enjoy posing evilly and scaring folk, rather than actually enter a real combat, and 2) They are invariably stupid.
The world was soon short three more tavern vampires.
Frieda was amazed. Astounded. Awe-inspired. She watched in wonderment as the Pest Control man picked off the various groups of dark denizens one by one, using the Common Law to his advantage (Common Law – until someone messes with you, ignore whatever else is going on). He never used anything exotic or unconventional, until the table of werewolves. A Saturday night special, silver bullets and quick shot between the eyes finished them off well enough. The table of dark Wookies went down faster then she would’ve thought; he peppered a raw steak with gunpowder, lit the hairy things on fire and herded them outside via a cattle prod. The various and sundry magic-wielding folk were even simpler – he passed out Shake-Me snow globes, then clocked each over the head with a frying pan as they pored over the things, seeking far-distant worlds in the dandruff reminiscent snowflakes. All told, he took maybe an hour to clear out the common room, basement and few rooms infested with Drow shrines and giant spiders. Those, for obvious reasons, were the most swiftly dealt with.
Gabe tromped down the stairs from the second floor with the last of the squirming Drow bodies. A quick thump over its head rendered the thing unconcious; he dragged the body outside and tossed it on the heap with the rest. A few creatures groaned; one, a pixie, fluttered its wings pathetically and mewled. He gave it a kick to the chest, cracking its ribcage and paralyzing it.
Frieda watched through the window as Gabe walked to his truck and threw open the rear; he uncoled a net and dragged it out, whistling cheerfully as he worked it over the pile of dazed and deceased Denizens. Another trip back to the truck found him in posession of a tank of gasoline, which he used to douse the heap. Frieda held her breath, thinking this a dream too good to be true, even as Gabe fished out a pack of cigarettes, walking back inside the establishment.
"That’ll be fifty coppers, ma’am," Gabe said, gathering up his canister from where he’d left it. He cinched it around his back and lit a cigarette with a battered, but quite functional, zippo. Frieda nodded frantically, beaming as she fished around the cash-box for the required fee; Gabe just lounged against the bar, taking the occasional laid-back drag from his smoke as she did so.
"Thank you, thank you.. I’ll have to recommend you to all my friends and colleagues," Frieda sputtered joyously, handing him a clinking pouch. Gabe just winked and turned, making his way through the door. "Just doing my job, ma’am," was all he said, stepping outside. Frieda leaned on the bar and sighed appreciatively – her lifestyle was hers again, her trade returned. Only, what to do with the bodies?
That question so swiftly answered as Gabe nonchalantly strolled past the writhing heap, now mostly awake and groaning. He climbed into his truck and started the gas; as if an afterthought, he leaned out the window and waved, before flicking the butt with unerring accuracy at the gas-drenched pile.
Frieda grinned and wondered if there were any marshmallows left as Gabe drove off into the sunset, the fires of righteousness blazing behind him. She also wondered if he’d ever return…
But, ah. He never did get rid of the insects, did he?
|Netmares & Doscapes.. er, Chapter 1.||Pain|
|A (Brief) Bedtime Story||
The Nanobots of Nevada (or Jack and the Jump-Gate)
|Bold, Unsung||The Night Fisher|