Chapter 3: Tac – No Use Crying Over Spilt Ale
By Geoff Bee on 25th October 2017
Tac was angry.
Tac had come to this place to get a drink and he had been given it. And now this human female had knocked it out of his hand all over his face and clothes! Tac did what he always did whenever something or someone made him angry. He roared.
The girl began whimpering. That was good. That was what Tac wanted to see. The girl backed away and fled to the exit. That was also good. Tac wanted people to know that he was the strongest.
But he now had no drink and he was angry.
“Don’t worry about it, big guy,” The man behind the bar said, “I’ll get you another one. You’ll have to pay extra though.”
Tac opened his mouth to roar again but then thought of all the ale he would be able to buy with the gold he would get and he smiled to himself. The job was easy. Some man had told him to bring a gold cup. He had even told Tac where to find it. Bring the cup and Tac would get gold. Lots of gold. Simple. Tac liked simple. He hated questions. Questions led to problems and problems led to no gold and no ale.
The bartender placed a fresh tankard of ale onto the bar and Tac grudgingly handed over a couple of gold coins. He raised the tankard to his lips, enjoying the oaky smell of the contents. He was just about to down the contents when someone crashed into his arm, once again spilling his ale everywhere. Tac turned to the man who had ruined his drink yet again and bared his fangs.
The man looked up at him, his eyes red from too much ale. “You! We don’t like your kind here! I don’t like your kind!” he said aggressively in a slurred voice.
Tac bared his teeth at the drunk. “You have problem?”
The man could barely stand up straight. “We-we don’t like beastmen here! They stink the place up. Make it all… what’s the word… dirty.” As he spoke he seemed to find some strength and his words became clearer. “That’s right! We don’t like you beastmen dirtying up our town” he said in a confident voice.
Tac snorted at him. Other, sober people would have taken the opportunity to remove themselves, much as the human girl had done a short time ago. This man had long since stopped being sober. He drew himself up to his full height – the effect was somewhat unimpressive given Tac’s own stature. He opened his mouth.
“Your kind should go back to the woods you crawled out of!” he yelled into Tac’s face.
Tac saw red. He roared at the man, even louder than he had roared at the girl. The drunkard swung his arm at Tac’s head. Tac blocked it easily and, before the man could react or even register what was happening, Tac headbutted him. The man fell backwards, blood streaming from his nose, and landed on a table, knocking over the tankards there. The table’s occupants – all big burly men – rose and advanced on Tac.
Tac grinned a toothy bestial grin.
The bartender huddled under his bar, holding a wooden clubs tightly as bottles and tankards flew through the air. He heard the unmistakable sound of wood breaking and knew that his stools were being used as weapons. A scream followed by a crash – somewhere near the door by the sound of it – made him start calculating the cost of the damage. He risked peeking his head above the bar.
Tac was holding a bar stool in each hand, swinging them as if they were swords. He seemed to have the support of the Wild Ones who were there and they fought the humans – punching them, biting them, clawing at them – while the humans retaliated with clubs, bottles, one particularly large person was even using a table. As the bartender watched three men tried to attack Tac from the rear, only for him to swing an arm around, knocking them off their feet. The clubs they were holding flew in all directions and the bartender ducked back down as one narrowly missed his head.
Tac was enjoying himself. For the past few days he had wanted to just bash someone’s head in, and now he had his wish. An observer would have noticed something rather strange. For all Tac’s brutishness, he was surprisingly precise in his movements. Every punch, swing, block and parry was carefully aimed to cause maximum effect. Tac didn’t really notice any of this, he just knew that he loved fighting and he was good at it. He turned and swung one of the bar stools he was holding to block two iron maces, pushing their holders back and following up with some swift blows to the head. They fell to the ground, concussed, as Tac turned his attention to another direction.
Eventually the attacks thinned and the bodies piled up until finally Tac was the only one left standing. He looked around him in satisfaction. Every table and every stool was in pieces. Bottles lay broken, their contents seeping onto the ground. Men and Wild Ones alike lay unconscious, some with bruises, some with deep cuts or broken bones, none in a position to threaten him.
It had been a good fight.
The bartender slowly rose up from behind the bar, his club held loosely in his shaking hands, his face pale as if drained of blood. He surveyed the destruction.
“Who-who’s going to pay for all this?” He asked, his voice on the edge of hysteria.
Tac shrugged. “When I get gold I will pay you,” he said as if it meant nothing to him.
Tac walked over the debris to the door, now hanging from one hinge, walked through and slammed it behind him. The vibration made a shelf behind the bartender fall to the ground with a crash. The bartender flinched at the noise.
Outside, Tac opened his arms wide and bellowed at the night sky. That had been better than all the ale this place had to offer. He needed no sleep, not now. He knew where he had to go and he was as ready as he ever would be. With the moon lighting his way, he started to walk to the edge of town, towards the ruins wherein lay the gold cup he was searching for, all the time thinking of the reward which would soon be his.
Tac felt good.