The commonroom of the Shattered Skull smelled of fragrant pipe smoke, as always, and the murmur of conversation was a soothing sound after the din of battle. This day, however, Quimius Alderin brought his own mirth into the tavern. He quickly scanned the room until he found the table where the other Fellows were gathered. One of the younger Fellows, a lass name Intari, spied him making his way over and greeted him cordially. "Hail Quimius! What news?" "Hi Intari. I just returned from Zento," Quimius said, the laughter still in his eyes and a smirk on his face. "I was there on Royal Guard buisiness." Many of the Fellows leaned in to hear the news, though they were already hopeful by the expression on his face. "It sounds like you have good news," Intari pointed out. Quimius nodded as he took a seeat. "Well, good enough news. Someone get me an ale and a bowl of stew and I'll tell you the whole story." When his ale had been gotten and his meal finished, he sat back and began his tale. * * * * * The summons had come and we were waiting there a good spell, like always. Galahad, Ifalna, and I were chosen as the guild's embassadors on this particular outing. Finally, a moongate opened and out stepped Clainin. He already seemed a bit grumpy and was displeased with the horseplay of many of the Guard who were there. There was some ruckus about a guardsman named Ryan, but I am completely baffled what the issue was about. Clainin didn't seem particularly inclined to deal with it and his curt words quickly quieted the crowd. He then began to speak of our mission. Clainin had been informed of a scholar named Inu who could decipher the journal he had obtained in the last great battle. If I'm not mistaken, this was the battle which freed Cove. This scholar was a bit of a hermit, a wise woman located in a hut in the desert north of Zento. Now Clainin admonished the Royal Britannian Guard to be on their best behavior, to respect the culture of this Tokuno woman. Thus the Royal Britannian Guard set off to escort Clainin there and protect him from any of the dangers of the desert. The journey across the desert was uneventful with only a few deathhatch beetles and skeletons causing problems, but they were quickly dispatched. Upon arriving at the hut, the guard was greeted with a crotchety old crone who berated the Royal Guards who did not remove their shoes or who tried to bring their mounts indoors. Clainin himself seemed quite offended by this woman's sharp tongue. Clainin demanded that the woman lead him to the wise woman, Inu. The old crone, with many an insult hurled at Clainin, informed him that she was indeed Inu. I was aghast at Clainin's bad manners. Here he had warned us to be courteous, yet he himself had offended the scholar. <center></center> Clainin seemed a tad put out, yet he quickly turned to business, asking if Inu could decipher the journal. Inu eyes him speculatively, finally stating that it would require a favor in return for her services. Clainin bemoaned the fact that nobody seemed to render services out of the goodness of their heart, then he asked what favor she wanted. With a sly grin, Inu suggested that Clainin could warm her bed for her. The Royal Britannian Guards present errupted, hooting and hollaring. Indeed, I turned to my guildmates, Galahad and Ifalna to find their eyes wide, their laughter ringing at this proposal. Clainin himself seemed to turn a deep shade of crimson that could rival the brightest red bank sitters. Stammering and stuttering, he roared his objection. The sour look on his face made evident his distaste for the wrinkled old woman. This didn't seem to trouble Inu one bit as she continued making lewd suggestions, to which Clainin could only stutter halting responses. "This would be your first time!" Inu declared, eying him shrewdly. Claining coughed and his gaze fell quickly to the floor, but it was obvious to everyone present that she had struck the truth. There were many jests made at poor Clainin's expense, but he did his best to ignore them, insisting he could not accomodate Inu's request, yet imploring her to translate the journal. "Well, then how about a kiss?" Inu asked, yet Clainin balked at that. "Have some courage man!" I declared heartily, smirking . "Make this sacrifice for Lord Dupre! He would do it if your places were exchanged." Clainin would not be moved, however. Thus Inu finally sighed and said, "Very well, but I demand three favors first." Clainin sighed, but leaped at the chance. "Is there a Harrower you'd like us to kill?" he queried. Inu shook her head. "My three nephews, they were slain but their spirits are not at rest. I have a rune here which will take you to them. Go and free their spirits." Clainin snatched the rune thankfully and let the still raucus crowd from the hut. Outside he nearly gagged as he deplored the woman's suggestions and her looks. Claining then cast a gate spell and the Royal Britannian Guard spilled through, finding themselves at the Fan Dancer's Dojo. They charged in, battling the denizens along the way as they sought the tormented spirits. They found the forlorn shades within and several attempted to heal the spirits, but the creatures were revivied as terrible beasts which roared their misery and laid into the guards. Spells were cast and swords were swung as the Royal Guards attempted to destroy the abomination. After much sacrifice of blood, sweat, and tears, the tormented creature was cut down, it's body still sizzling from the spells. The Royal Guards descended further into the depths, braving succubi, fan dancers, and Balrons as they destroyed the other two tormented souls. There were many casualties, yet the Royal Britannian Guard emerged victorious and Clainin took them back to Inu's hut. Inu's second task was the destruction of a daemon who was causing much grief to the land. Again, Clainin was given a rune and again he trasported the Royal Britannian Guard there. The daemon was dispatched, but I was not there to see it. I had been waylaid by ronin and ninjas and so was unable to aid the efforts against the Daemon. Ifalna, had likewise, battled the ronin and ninja. It was not long before we noticed the Guardsmen clearing out so we followed and returned to the hut. Inu was nodding happily at having these two tasks completed. I wondered what the third would be and Clainin did as well, I imagine. He stood, tight lipped, glowering as he waited on her words. "My think favor," she began slowly, almost as if she were savoring it. "Is a kiss from you," she finally blurted to Clainin. His eyes went wide with outrage. "I already said no," he protested. She shrugged. "That is my demand. Otherwise, you will have to find someone else to translate." "You should have kissed her and been done with it earlier, Clainin," someone pointed out, which most likely raised his ire even more. Finally he bellowed, "Alright! I will do it, but NO TONGUE!" Inu agreed and Clainin leaned in to kiss the old woman, his face wrinkled up as if he were biting into a lemon. Inu grabbed him and kissed him zestfully. She didn't keep her promise and several guards pointed it out saying, "I see tongue! I see tongue!" <center></center> <center></center> Clainin finally broke free of her grasp, yet the smile on the old woman's face was fixed. "Very well, I'll translate this, but it will take time." I thought Clainin would be sick as he turned a shade of green at those words. "I look forward to our next meeting," Inu murmured. Clainin seemed to turn a shade greener. He quickly left the hut, all the while spitting and wiping his lips. "Gah! She just had onions and garlic!" he complained. Several members of the Royal Guard clapped him on the back and the jests contniued to flow. "Next time, Kalis can come!" were Clainin's last words, then he opened a gate and vanished within. * * * * * Quimius sat back, but then gazed around surprised to find his audience had broadened to include most of the commonroom. There was even applause at his tale, which he accepted with many a thanks and a bow. When he finally sat again, Intari grabbed his arm, a mischievous gleam in her eye. "If this story spreads, Clainin will be most wroth with you," she warned, though she was laughing before she finished her sentence. Quimius shrugged, his eyes gleaming equally mischievously. "If he is wroth with me, I'll enlist Inu to smooth things over."