There isn’t that much left to tell.

I wandered for another couple of years, not having any purpose or goal.  I did have a run-in with a cult near Phandalin, which resulted in me spending a few days locked in a cell deep in an ancient mine.  I was rescued by a party of adventurers – an elf, a dwarf, two tieflings, who seemed to spend more time fighting with each other than with any monsters, and a bird-like creature.

I miss that bird.  I wonder what happened to it.

Sometime after that incident, I made my way back to Red Larch.  I remember it clearly.

The night was well and truly falling when I reached the small town.  I was planning to stay at the Swinging Sword inn, but first I would have a meal at the Helm at Highsun.

I entered the tavern to an awful noise I had ever heard.  The tavern’s patrons were shouting, holding their hands over their ears, throwing food, it was mayhem.  I quickly found the source of the noise.

It was Siebun.

He was different.  He was dressed in a garish purple, blue and red outfit that glistened in the light.  On his head, he wore a similarly gaudy cap with a feather in it. In his hands… I had to look twice to confirm what it was.  It looked like he had taken his great axe and hammered wires into it to make a lyre. He was strumming it and singing. The sound was awful.

I shouted above the din, “Siebun?”

Siebun stopped.  When he saw me, he roared with delight.  “Talon! My friend!” He came forward and slapped me on the back, nearly knocking me over.

“What happened to you?” I asked.

Siebun smiled his great toothy smile.  “After you rescued me, I started to wonder if being a gladiator was all there was.  You inspired me with your actions. I wanted to tell other people about you. So I decided to become a bard.”

I could scarcely believe my ears.  I’d never heard of such a thing. “How’s that working out for you?” I managed to say.

Siebun shrugged.  “It has its ups and downs.  Sometimes they love it. Most of the time, they hate it.  But I enjoy it.” A bottle flew through the air and collided with the side of his head.  He wasn’t fazed in the slightest. “This is the best part,” he said grinning. With that, he turned and slammed his fist into the face of the one who had thrown the bottle.  Within moments, a full-on brawl had broken out. I shook my head and retreated to a corner of the tavern.

There was a table with a solitary occupant, who was similarly staying out of the fight.  He was a gnome. His legs dangled over the ground. Slung on his back was a strange device – like a long pipe or tube with a wide opening and lots of knobs and levers.  His hair was the most striking thing about him – it was an explosion of bright colours. My eyes almost hurt looking at it.

He saw me staring and motioned towards the brawl, Siebun at the centre laughing with glee.  “Friend of yours?” he asked.

I shrugged.  “Kind of.” I motioned towards the empty seat.  He nodded, and I sat down.

“It’s some entertainment at least,” the gnome said.  He turned to me. “So, you in town for long?”

I shook my head.  “I just got here. I’ll be moving on soon.”

The gnome stretched his back, the sound of clicking barely reaching my ears. “Me too,” he said, “I’ve heard about some trouble down south.  There’s a reward for investigating and bringing back information.” He looked at me quizzically. “What do you say? Want to team up?”

I thought about it.  Thought about all the reasons I wanted to be alone.  “Sure, why not,” I said.

The gnome smiled and offered me his hand.  “My name’s Fenthwick Fizzlebang.”

“Talon,” I replied, shaking his hand, “Talon Shadowkin.”

The End…?

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