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The Oak Street Inn

A well renown tavern on Oak Street finds itself hosting a dangerous necromancer.

This story, although not actually referencing Magic the Gathering or containing anything from it (except maybe Oak Street itself), was heavily influenced by it. All of the main characters are based off playing cards, the main inspirational character being 'The Oak Street Innkeeper'. Hope you enjoy it!

  The evening, as it always did, brought revellers and merrymakers of all sorts to Oak Street. Locals and travelers alike could never resist experiencing the famous Oak Street Inn for themselves. Even the wealthy scions of Thursk, the great city shadowing the humble town of Sylva, managed to steal away from their uptown lives for an evening of conviviality and pleasure.

  Maylin Shadowmoon watched the carousers from the upper crown of the enormous oak tree that gave the street, and the inn, it's legendary name. She breathed deeply, filling her lungs with the fragrant summer air and enjoying the warm breeze on her skin. Her bow hung beside her on a knobby protrusion. The sleek weapon was fashioned from the wood of the very same tree from which it hung. Only those of the Shadowmoon family, by the laws of Sylva, were able to make their bows and arrows from the wood of the great oak of Oak Street. It was the Shadowmoon's, after all, who owned the tavern, the town, and most of the weald surrounding it.

  She spied her younger sister, Valindra, in her low-cut green slip of a dress and a shawl, clasped at the nape of the neck with a gold brooch, that covered her shoulders and hung to a point at her lower back. She was managing the flow of patrons in and out of the tavern with practiced ease. Maylin cracked a smile, her sister always wore that dress on busy nights.

  Valindra glanced up into the old oak, Maylin was hidden from sight up amongst the branches but her sister knew she was there. It was a good vantage point from which to watch over the inn. Valindra was the hostess, their brother Orym the barkeep and financial accountant, and she the tavern's vigilant guard. The Oak Street Inn was notable for being a place where one could feel at ease, just as they would be in their own homes, and as such there had never been any displays of muscle. There were no bouncers or guards looming in the shadows waiting to toss out the unruly. The patrons respected this, it was the kind of courtesy and understanding that governed itself, there were rarely any cases of ill-mannered behaviour.

  On the rare occasion that action was required, Maylin was all too happy to chase out the drunk and disorderly with arrows from above. But until such a time she remained a silent sentinel.

  Maylin spied a particularly extravagant dresser approach Valindra with an equally adorned date on his arm. He himself was a large, heavily muscled man with a strong chin and eyes as blue as the sky. His armour glinted in the lamplight, and emblazoned on the left breastplate, over his heart, was the insignia of Thursk's Guild of Justice. Maylin had to wonder if he was here just for the revelry.

  Valindra noticed the insignia too and approached him. Maylin grabbed her bow and, after a moment's hesitation, nimbly descended from her perch to stand in the shadows behind the oak.

  "Welcome to the Oak Street Inn, Sir. Please make yourself at home," said Valindra, offering him a warm smile.

  He returned her greeting in kind and ushered his fiery-haired date into the tavern, after which he turned back to Valindra. "Miss Shadowmoon, my name is Dresden Rodericus," he began. "Regrettably I am here on business and not for merriment. My companion," he said, indicating the tavern with a tilt of his chin, "is a mage. She specializes in divination, and as such, finding those who don't wish to be found. I am an officer in Thursk's justiciary. I regret to inform you that your establishment, at this moment, is occupied by a necromancer we've been hunting for some time. He would have used an illusion to conceal his true appearance from you."

  Maylin chose then to reveal herself, she strode up to them and regarded the officer. "You realize that any kind of display, and worse still if there were casualties, would devastate our reputation."

  Valindra put a hand on her sister's shoulder. "My sister, Maylin," she said.

  Maylin was drawing a good deal of attention. Unlike the clientele, who were well dressed, she only wore a dark leather bandeau, a fringed skirt-belt, and deerskin foot-wraps. Her attire allowed for speed and manoeuvrability up in the canopy where she spent most of her time, it was by no means proper wear for a social setting.

  "I realize that," said the officer, "we will attempt to take him without causing a scene."

  The fiery-haired mage returned. "I've found him," she said to her superior. She glanced at Maylin and offered a polite nod.

  The officer noted the bow slung across Maylin's back. "Perhaps you would like to assist us."

  "What would you need me to do?"

  He paused in thought. "The necromancer might try to escape out the back when he notices us, you can be there to stop him."

  "I can do that," said Maylin.

  "Excellent," he said. And to the mage, "Are you ready Lorraine?"

  "Yes sir," she replied.

  Maylin made for the grounds behind the tavern while Valindra remained out front to keep up appearances. This was certainly an interesting turn of events and would probably make for the most interesting night she'd had in awhile. What concerned her was how casually they spoke of the necromancer. Necromancers wielded dark powers that were feared across the province, they weren't to be taken lightly. But what did she know?

  These two seemed fairly unconcerned, they were the experts after all.

  She climbed up to the lower branches of a tree and nocked an arrow. For a time she was just crouched on the branch, waiting. Then, all of a sudden and breaking her from her reverie, the back door of the tavern opened and a man in voluminous dark robes stepped out. One of his eyes was hazy and scarred, suggesting partial blindness, and his nose was crooked. His black hair was tied back in a low ponytail that fell to his shoulder blades. He didn't look like a man that was shy to combat. Maylin wasn't sure whether or not to break her cover, so instead, she trained her arrow on him and watched.

  He hadn't gotten halfway across the lawn before the door opened again and Dresden stepped out with Lorraine in tow. "Stop where you are, Severin," said Dresden.

  The necromancer spun to face them. "So the chancellor only sent two of his lackeys to detain me? The fool."

  "Watch your tongue," warned Lorraine. "Come with us quietly and you won't be harmed. Resist and we'll have to use force."

  Maylin gasped, she recognized the necromancer's name: Severin. This man was responsible for razing entire towns in the east, it was rumoured that he led a cult of neophyte necromancers and a legion of the dead hidden somewhere below Thursk. If this was the same man, then everyone in the inn, including she and Valindra, were in serious danger. She replaced the arrow in her quiver and slung the bow over her shoulders, this had become a matter of survival now rather than an arrest. What were these two thinking? Did Dresden really think he could subdue Severin with just the two of them?

  It was suicide.

  Maylin descended in silence and crept into the darkness at the edges of the light cast by the lamps. Behind her she heard the three of them talking, Dresden was growing angry by the sound of it.

  Valindra was exactly where she'd left her. "We have to get everyone out," she said to her sister, "now! The necromancer is Severin."

  "Sev-?" Maylin saw her sisters expression turn from confusion, to shock, and finally to dread in the span of a few heartbeats. "But our-"

  An inhuman shriek had them throwing their hands up over their ears. The agonized scream that followed was definitely human, Lorraine most likely, and it made Maylin's skin crawl. Lorraine cried out a second time but it was cut short by another chilling wail that had the clientele outside the tavern screaming and running for the streets. Valindra made for the tavern. Maylin grabbed her arm and pulled her back, a bit rougher than she intended but given the situation, she didn't care. Shouts and terrified screams erupted in the inn. Those closest to the door managed to make it out but the others weren't as lucky. They could only listen helplessly as those still trapped inside fell victim to the horrors that Severin had unleashed. Valindra sobbed, holding her hands tight against her ears in an attempt to drown out the discordant cacophony of demons within.

  "We need to get out of here!" Maylin shouted over the din of the inn's dying customers. Valindra, her sister's otherwise pretty features wet with tears and contorted by grief, reluctantly allowed herself to be led into the woods. When they were a safe distance away Maylin turned back to the inn, now ablaze. Hovering above the flames was a nightmarish creature wearing tattered, mouldering rags and carrying a cleaver dripping with blood. Its face was somewhat recognizable as human, except that most of its putrefying flesh had been stripped away, leaving its jawbone exposed in a hideous grin. Severin stood below it, scanning the area for survivors.

  He held Dresden's severed head by the hair.

  She turned and ran, half dragging Valindra behind her. They heard the creature shriek again but didn't turn back. Maylin ignored the protesting muscles in her legs, she didn't stop until they had reached the edge of town.

  Valindra collapsed onto the ground weeping. Maylin tried to comfort her but she wasn't doing so well herself. Their brother, Orym, hadn't been among those who'd made it out.

  Maylin tried to make sense of it all. In less than an hour their lives had been turned upside down. It was all she could do to keep her composure.

  The Oak Street Inn, their home, was gone.

 

 

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