It was the time of night when the Sleeping Giant taphouse became a quiet establishment. Most of its patrons were passed out from a combination of excessive drinking or the concussive force of barstools being hit over their head. Grista Alefist liked this time of night. It allowed her an opportunity to go about the process of clearing her customer’s tabs without trouble. They would wake up in the midday not realising that their coin purses were considerably lighter. Really it was a win-win situation: Grista got her pay and the patrons never had to pay her. The system worked.
Phandalin was entering into the time of year when the late evenings and early mornings were obscured by a thick mist; the kind that was very common in harbour towns but seldom seen in places as inland as Phandalin. Despite the ominous feeling of dread that it instilled in the town, Grista enjoyed the mist. It encouraged her patrons to stay at the taphouse rather than return to their loving families. The mist was good for business and business had been a little slow of late. Over the last couple of weeks several of the town drunks had been turning up dead on the outskirts of town, the victims of wild animal; wolves, most likely. No one thought it overly strange, wild animal attacks were synonymous with living in a frontier town. But seeing as the rest of their kin had wound up disembowelled and partially digested, many of the other drunkards had taken up relative sobriety in the interest of self-preservation. The mongrels.
As she was clearing the drinks from the corner table, Grista jumped, dropping her tray of steins to the ground, as the hand of the man sitting there gripped her own.
“Not quite finished, my dear” said the man in a Dwarvish accent.
“oh, right…. Very well then. Can I top you off, Mr……?”
“Khaine, Lukkan Khaine. Yes, please. Wishkey” the man replied.
Grista returned to the bar, all the while eyeing off this Mr Lukkan. He wore a heavy black trench coat and a wide brimmed hat. The heavy brow, greyish skin and protruding canines seemed to suggest that he was a Half-Orc, although she had never heard one speak with such elocution, or charm. His piercing yellow eyes shone out from beneath his hat, looking at her the way Old Fat Fred looked at a plate of ribs. As she returned and handed him the scotch, she noticed that the hand which he had extended to take the glass was heavily scarred and missing his ring finger.
“Hunting acshident” he said.
“Oh” Grista replied, not realising that she had been staring, “How long have you been in town, Mr Khaine?”
“I’ve been here for a few weeksh, I shushpect I’ll be here for a few more, at least until the bloodening” he replied.
“Oh, right. Shame you arrived right in the middle of this horrid mist” said Grista, not quite knowing where this conversation was going.
“Yesh, I musht apologishe for that. I believe I have brought the misht with me”.
Grista laughed hesitantly until she realised that the man did not seem to be joking.
“Well then, will you need a room for the rest of your stay?" said Grista, who was subconsciously backing away to the bar.
“I don’t think that will be neshesshary” said Lukkan, who was now standing up and walking towards Grista. “I prefer to rough it in the wilderness, beshidesh, the bloodening could occur at any time and I musht be ready. Tell me, ish there a butcher in town?”
Grista’s heart was pumping now and she had backed up all the way to the bar.
“Ah, yes, that would be Mr Appleby next to the blacksmith. Now if you don’t mind me it were about time that I was closing. WAKE UP, WAKE UP. I DON’T CARE WHERE YOU GO BUT YOU CAN’T SLEEP HERE” Grista yelled in a panicked voice as she started to ring the bell which hung on the wall.
In a few groggy minutes the Sleeping Giant taphouse patrons, including Mr Lukkan, had emptied. Grista slepted with her battleaxe next to her that night, waking up throughout the night in a cold sweat.
The next morning, two more of Grista’s customers were found behind the stables. What was left of them.