I'd like to tell you how a legend began, if I may. It is an odd legend, because it involves normal people, and it is a new legend, because word has not yet spread. But it is a legend nonetheless.
It all began, strangely enough, in an inn. Trite, I know. But reality is not always epic, and sometimes, no matter how trite a tale seems, it can be true. So yes, it began in an inn...
The first pair to arrive in the evening had been two men, remarkable only in that they were so different. The first had laughing eyes in a face seemingly made of stone, his body well muscled, his voice as large as the man himself. A great blade was strapped to his back, and, worn as it was, none doubted he was proficient in its use.
The second? He was, and was not, a man. Technically, he was a man in that he was male, but not a human. He was an elf, thin even for one of his race, his face perpetually downturned, aged before his time by cynicism and anger. His voice was almost theatrical, booming, grandiose. Much more grandiose than the man himself. But what most struck me about this one was that he hailed the goblin barman in, not only its own tongue, but the dialect of its own tribe.
The laughing man seemed unsurprised by this, but another within the inn? He was shocked.
This third man was remarkable. Whipcord thin, his face was heavily scarred, and his one good eye narrowed as he hailed the elf. "Where in the nine hells did you learn Broken Tooth Cant, wizard?"
Oh? I hadn't mentioned this? Yes, the elf was a wizard, and his companion a warrior. The third was a border-walker, one of those who feel uncomfortable in crowds of people, yet happiest within the
dangerous wilds. And he was unhappy. Only prisoners and spies were meant to know the language of the Broken Tooth goblins. But the elf was unfazed. He stared at the border-walker.
"If you must know, you unwashed clod, I know the tongue because it is merely a variation of Snaggle-Beak, a clan I had encountered before."
The clatter of a suddenly overtipped chair was all the warning anyone had, as the border-walker seemed to vanish, and then suddenly appear next to the elf, a knife in his hand at the elf's throat, and his face inches away. The elf looked rather less sure of himself for a moment (did I even hear him
gulp? I cannot be sure), but returned his composure.
"Before you die, point-ears, let me know who decided to insult Jarth Onaxil, Border-Keeper of Hambleton. I'm working on a book about fools, and you fit the bill."
The elf chuckled nastily, his sneer deepening. "Best put yourself in, Jarth Dropped-Breeches, because you have insulted Alethor the Well Travelled, Master of Magic, and - By Mystra, what's that?!?"
Jarth's eyes flicked sideways, not looking backward, but it was enough. A few words in a harsh, grating tongue, a pinch of... something from a pouch on his belt, and the scarred border-walker's eyes rolled back in his head, and
he collapsed to the ground. The laughing man, seeing nothing strange in this, merely popped the chair back up with a flick of his foot, set it straight, and lifted the man into the chair. Then, taking the drinks from the startled bar-goblin, sat in a different chair at the same table, and motioned Alethor to do the same.
"You know, one of those days, that's not going to work."
Alethor continued to sneer into his drink. "Bah. Adventurers, they're all stupid, loutish fools."
"Says the man who spent four days running from the Four-Spears tribe... of kobolds?" The laughing man drained his ale, chuckling as he did so. "That was a sight to see, you-" Alethor purpled.
"-shut up! I'm still sore from those sleep-poisoned darts, thank you very much! Rain, my spellbook getting wet, kobolds... I don't know why I ever agreed to travel with you, you big oaf!"
The laughing man merely chuckled again. "That's Michel to you, Alethor the Testy. And besides, you said you wanted adventure!" He gestured around the inn "And this, my friend, is the start of something grand!"
Alethor muttered as he drank. "Alethor the Well Travelled... It's Alethor the Well Travelled..."
Michel merely grinned. Then, draining his first mug, he gestured for a second. "You never did tell this one how you really learned Broken Tooth Cant, did you?"
Alethor suddenly looked very uncomfortable. "Well, I, er... I never really had the chance to, er..."
"...Tell him that you extrapolated it from all those dreadful insults they threw at you, along with the contents of their latrines?"
And so begins the legend, as odd as it is...