I hope folks are enjoying this developing book. Remember this is raw first draft material here. It will go to my editor before we actually publish it.
The bar’s patronage increased in their time in the storeroom. Alchemy, Gavin, and Staghorn walked over to an empty table near the bar. Staghorn motioned for the bartender.
“Everything okay?” the grizzled ursa asked.
“Fine,” Staghorn replied. “Bring us another round, and how about some of those spicy Manticore kabobs.”
The bartender nodded and went back to the kitchen.
“Manticore kabobs?” Alchemy asked. “I thought the meat on manticores was poisonous.”
Staghorn laughed. “Only the tail meat, the rest of them is extremely edible. There’s a big colony of them out near that one watering hole. Some goblins have been bringing in some from time to time. Griz likes to make it into a spicey stew, and his valley-famous kabobs.”
“They’re great,” Gavin added with a smile at Staghorn. “Buck brought me here right after we connected. Griz is an awesome cook. I was thinking about trying to get some of his recipes for Yvette back at the Tiny Hinnie. She’s always looking for ways to improve her menu.”
“You say goblins are bringing in the manticores?” Alchemy asked, ignoring his friend.
“Yeah, started last year,” Staghorn replied running a stubby paw-like hand through the thick brown fur of his head. “There are three of them. If I had to say, I think they’re brothers. But you know sometimes all goblins look alike.”
Three goblins, Alchemy reached for his new drink. “I wonder if there are only two of them now?”
“You think that goblin carriage driver might have been one?” Gavin asked.
The wizard nodded. “Yeah, seems ironic that you’ve got three goblins that are bringing in manticore meat at the same time I’m attacked by a goblin, who kills himself with manticore venom.”
A small commotion erupted on the dance floor just past the bar. Griz launched himself easily over the bar and waded into the fray. At the center of the chaos, a large troll had hold of a goblin woman with a small box.
“I said no!” the troll shouted.
“But it is a remembrance of your trip to Buteamore,” the goblin objected.
The troll shoved the goblin into the bartender’s arms. “I live here you stupid goblin! Now get out of my face before I remove yours!”
Griz carried the squirming woman toward the door. Alchemy thought she looked familiar.
“Wait a minute Griz!” Gavin called out as the ursa passed their table.
“What?” the bartender growled.
“I think I’ve seen her around before,” the warrior replied.
The goblin’s green skin paled as the ursa carried her over to the table. Gavin reached for the goblin’s box. “Let me see that.”
“No,” the goblin tried to twist out of his way, but the bartender’s hold was too strong and her arms were too short. Gavin snatched the box away from her.
He looked at the box before he handed it to Alchemy. A series of small gears ran down the middle of the sides. A large piece of glass occupied the front, and hinges and a hasp indicated that the back was a door of some sort.
“So why do you seem to be everywhere right now, recording images with this box?” Gavin asked roughly.
“Tourist pay good money for memories,” the goblin replied defiantly.
“So that’s why you’re here in a bar that mostly tends to locals?” the warrior glanced at Alchemy.
The wizard opened the back of the box. A small series of cylinders with paper pulled between them and attached to more gears dominated the back of the box. Alchemy pulled at the paper, and it pulled out of the box. Several images fell onto the table.
Staghorn grabbed the small pieces of paper. “These look like us.” He glared at the goblin in Griz’s grasp. “Why are you making images of us?”
The goblin’s green skin was nearly the color of snow covered leaves. “You won’t stop Doctor Gnome,” she hissed. She bit down on something in her mouth. Her head rocked back against Griz’s chest. Blood foamed from her mouth.
“Shit!” Griz dropped the goblin. He shook his hand where some of the frothing blood struck. The fur there burned away.
Gavin grabbed the towel from the bartender’s belt and wiped the blood away before it further damaged the ursa.
Alchemy looked down at the goblin woman on the floor as her head dissolved just like the carriage driver’s had. “Why are they more afraid of this Doctor Gnome than they are of us?”
“I don’t know, but now we at least have a name.” Gavin said dropping the towel on the floor to cover the rapidly dissolving green face. All the dancing and partying in the bar stopped as everyone watched what was going on at their table.
“Get that off my floor, before it eats through the boards.” Griz roared.
“We should probably head out. See you back at your room.” Gavin told Alchemy as Staghorn easily lifted the goblin up by her legs to carry her out the door. As her dangling hands that didn’t even touch the floor swung past her ears, the blood from her head left little sizzling drops on the boards. “Keep the image box. It might be useful.”
Alchemy nodded and followed the other two out.