Chapter 2: An Orc Enters the Tavern
This story is based on the Wizards of the Coast published adventure Waterdeep: The Dungeon of the Mad Mage. There will be spoilers.
Hours go by and the bar fills up with adventurers returning from the dungeon. Some carry sacs full of treasure. Their voices full of glee as they order rounds of food and drink in celebration. Others exit with gloom and sorrow weighing them down. Bloodied, carrying on them broken armor and thick coats of dirt. Some exit the bar without making a sound, others sulk silently in a corner, deep in thought. Some emerge in tears. They denounce adventuring and through their swords into the fire before they rent the next horse out of this god forsaken town.
It is this mixture of success and sorrow that create the dynamic atmosphere at the yawning portal and tonight is no exception. Ale is poured, food is brought out. The drunken bards start to play songs and the adventurers regale tales of what they’ve seen and defeated. The bar is filled with singing, chanting, and the clanking of mugs as the floor becomes sticky with ale.
Dilrajus continues to work at her journal. She studies the crowd of drunkards and takes notes diligently. Occasionally she will take a sip of the ale that grows warm at her side or take a bite from the stew that grows cold. No approaches. Diljaris continues to wait patiently. She flips through books, orders more drink and continues to watch the beautiful chaos brought by adventuring.
A female orc walks into the Yawning Portal. The sword at her side bounces with each step. Her mail armor is dirty, worn and a size too big. Bits of her dark green skin peer through the layers of soot and grime. Her boots are well travelled, caked in dried mud. She has long black dreadlocks that come down to the small of her back. She looks around as people start to notice her. Murmers start to circulate and suddenly the all attention is on this lone orc woman.
She makes her way through a crowd that seems to grow more agitated by her presence. Hands move to weapons, yes follow her closely, yet she continues to move through the bar confidently. She walks up to the bar, the barkeep has been watching her the whole time. Before the orc can say anything the barkeep greets her aggressively “This is a place of business, don’t go startin trouble”
The ork shakes her head, lifting her hands to show the room her empty hands before responding “You won’t get any trouble from me. I just want food, drink and a place to stay”
“Food and drink is 2 silver. You want a place to stay? Look elsewhere. We’re all full for the night.”
There’s a moment of silence. The orc begins to shake slightly. “I am not some green horn adventurer you can dick around. What is the real price?” Upon hearing the aggression in her reply, the adventurers around her begin to reach for their weapons and move in closer.
“The price is the price. You want it or not” he says as he pulls out a crossbow from under the bar.
Her shaking becomes more visible. She grinds at her teeth before yelling “Listen” as she slams her fist on the bar. “I didn’t start this! I’ve done nothing wrong, Are you gunna serve me or not?.” Weapons are drawn. People start throwing insults at the orc.
Get out of here filthy green skin
She is overcome by rage. She reaches for her sword, the room is ready to pounce on her. As she grabs for the hilt, but instead of the familiar worn leather of the hilt she feels cold scales.
“I think we’ve all gotten a bit carried away” Diljaris’ voice comes from behind the Orc “Let’s settle down. The girl just wants to eat. There’s no need to be unreasonable.” The orc turns around swiftly and defensively only to be greeted by a smiling blue Dragonborn. Diljaris continues “I like your style. You should come join me for a little chat. I want to talk to you about a very lucrative opportunity that might interest you”
“No thanks” the orc says, turning around and taking a step towards the exit. Diljaris grabs the Orc by the hand and pulls at it gently. The orc stops and attempts to break away but can’t. The Orc looks angry, confused and distressed by the situation.
Diljaris, still holding the Orc’s hand, continues “We can do it over dinner. My treat. Just hear me out. There’s no harm in talking”
The orcs stomach growls. Diljaris laughs at the sound. The Orc becomes more visibly distressed and unsure of what to do. She finally lets out a sigh as her shoulders relax a bit. She turns to Diljaris, who is still smiling, and responds “Fine, but I’m not promising anything just because you’re feeding me”
Diljaris lets go of the orcs hand and claps as she lets out a gleeful giggle. “Perfect!” She turns to the barkeep and in a serious and stern tone she says” You can bring us her order. Put it on my tab but I expect the normal rate.” She grabs the Orc woman by the hand and starts leading her through a crowd of people who eye the odd couple suspiciously. “Come, we’re over here”
“We?” the orc asks sounding a bit distressed. There is no response as they continue through the bar. The table is neatly organized with books and journals spread out. The orc eyes pages filled with strange draconic symbols. “You just leave your stuff out like this”
“Oh” Diljaris says thinking for a moment “Well everyone was busy looking at you, I didn’t think they would come take it. Please, sit!” The orc places her small leather bag, sword and shield on the long bench and sits beside them. Diljaris still smiling, studies the Orc woman and quickly jots down notes on a new page. She writes for a moment before saying “How rude of me” she puts down her pen “My name is Diljaris Eshis. I am a wizard if you can’t tell. I am putting a team together to go down into the dungeon and you my friend, seem like a very strong candidate. I do have a few questions before we can talk about you joining the team. What is your name?”
“You won’t survive a day down there princess. Why do you wanna go down there anyways?”
Diljaris is shocked by the reply “I will have you know that I am a very capable person. Now please don’t be rude, what is your name?”
The orc sighs. “You can call me Roakala”
“Fair enough. Why do you think you should be able to join my crew”
“You are the one who asked me here. You should be trying to convince me” Roakala says, sounding a bit annoyed.
“Answer the questions please, you will have time to ask your own questions at the end. What skills will you be bringing to the group”
Roakala begins to gather he belongings silently, Diljaris watches before a server finally arrives with a bowl of hot stew and a mug of ale. Roakala looks down at the bowl of stew. The scent fills her nose, making her take a long audible gulp. “Could you be so kind to bring us a pitcher of ale” Diljaris asks, still smilling “We are going to be a while”
Roakala stares at Diljaris and seems to be in deep thought. She looks down at the food and the ale and remains silence as she seems to contemplate a complicated decision. Roakala returns her equipment to the bench and sits down, bringing the bowl of stew to her. She begins to eat the soup before replying “I’m good in a fight. My stuff might be old, but I know how to use it”
“And what are your goals for coming here?”
Roakala keeps eating hungrily. Slurping loudly. Diljaris watches and takes note. Roakala responds “I’m here to make money, so if you hiring, I think we should speak terms”
“We will speak terms if you qualify. To be clear, I am not looking for employees. I am looking for a group I can trust and can handle themselves down there”
“Does it pay?”
“Of course, you get a share of the loot. Indulge me for a bit longer” Diljaris says as her pen moves quickly, leaving behind it clean calculated calligraphy. “Tell me what you know about the dungeon”
Roakala washes down the stew with big gulps from the mug. Bits of foam and ale spill from the corner of her mouth. They move down her chin, leaving a shimmering trail. Small drops fall on her chain mail leaving behind dark circles. She slams the mug down letting out a loud resonating belch before finally replying “I hear there’s treasure down there that no one’s claimed. I’m here to collect it so I never have to work again”
“But you are here to work correct?” Diljaris looks up, a bit of concern in her eyes.
“Well I have to get to the treasure somehow.” Roakala continues scooping up the stew in her mouth. Seeing that the bowl is nearly empty, Diljaris pushes her untouched bowl of stew gently towards Roakala. Roakala surprised by the gesture, stops eating. She studies the bowl of stew. Smells it. Looks at the strange dragonborn who continues to stare at her, continues to smile, and insists on having conversation.
Roakala puts down the spoon. “What are you trying at?”
“Trying? I don’t understand”
“You saved me from a mob and you then feed me. If you’re looking for a servant, look elsewhere. I don’t serve no one”
“You misunderstand, If you are selected join, there won’t be any ranks and we all get an equal share”
Roakala continues to watch her suspiciously but picks up her food. She begins to work on the second bowl. “Can I ask questions now?”
“Just one last thing. What is your favorite part about adventuring?”
Roakala continues to eat. She doesn’t answer right away but continues to eat away at her bowl of stew. “I’m in it for the money” she finally replies, standing up to take a breath of air. She takes the pitcher of ale and fills it with the murky golden liquid.
“Do you need more to eat?”
“Do I gotta pay it back?”
“Oh no, it’s my treat. You look hungry”
“Then I’ll take 2 more of these” Roakala replies, lifting the side of the bowl to show that it was empty. Diljaris orders another tree bowls of stew and a pitcher of ale. She gives the waitress 1 silver and thanks her.
“Thank you for your time, you are a very intriguing candidate, but I will need to review all of the candidates before I can make a decision” Diljaris says as she closes the journal and takes a sip from her mug.
Roakala searches the room as she picks at her teeth before saying “There ain’t nobody else is there?”
Diljaris laughs loudly and responds “There are a few, but they aren’t here yet.”