“I’m being held against my will,” Ellison told Mike the bartender as he was dragged through the King’s Armpit to a booth in a back corner.
“Well, this is a problem,” said Mike. Gorehair and Rainbow Squirtle stopped shoving Ellison forward and looked at Mike, then at Hellcut.
“We’ll only be here for a little while,” Hellcut said.
“I don’t care how long you’re here,” said Mike. “But each of you better order something.”
“Oh, yeah, sure, beers all around. It’s on him.” Hellcut pointed back at Ellison.
“Well, that’s fine then,” said Mike. “Go ahead.”
“No, it’s not fine,” said Ellison. Gorehair whacked him on the back of the head and he stopped complaining.
the back corner booth had a bench seat with a high back that went around three sides of the table. Gorehair and Rainbow wedged Ellison into the center, which was uncomfortable because his arms were tied behind his back with a promotional peasant shirt.
When Hellcut brought beers back for all them, Ellison stared down at his mug. “How am I supposed to drink?”
“We’ll help you out,” said Hellcut. “I’ll drink your beer for you.”
“Hey!” said Rainbow.
“You can have his second beer,” said Hellcut.
“Why do you always have to go first?” asked Rainbow.
“Don’t fight, boys,” said Gorehair. “Plenty here for everyone.” He pulled out a pack of cards.
Gervis Gefroi showed up halfway through the second hand. The former Armforge Guild stablemaster looked nothing like his old self. Before, he’d been tall, with wiry muscles and a wispy beard. He had also switched out of his Captain Clare Lestrange look-like avatar. Now he was short and pudgy, with pink plump cheeks and a clean-shaven chin.
“Lookie here,” he said. “The gang’s all here.” He dragged a chair over and sat down.
“We’re the new Gang of Four,” Hellcut told Ellison.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” said Gervis. “You guys are still in training.”
“But we’re doing good so far, right boss?” asked Gorehair. “Look, we got the guy.” He elbowed Ellison in the side.
Gervis frowned. “Why is he tied up?”
The other three gang members looked at each other.
“It was his idea.” Hellcut pointed at Gorehair.
“Should we have hamstrung him instead?” Gorehair asked. “Whatever you need.”
“No, I just wanted to talk to him,” said Gervis. “Can one of you untie him?” He glanced at Gorehair. “And get him his own beer. It’s on me.”
Gorehair squeezed out from from the booth and walked towards the bar.
“Now, from what I understand, you occasionally work for the Armforge Guild but aren’t a particular friend of theirs,” Gervis told Ellison.
“Not a close friend, no,” said Ellison. In fact, the Armforge Guild once kidnapped Ellison and tortured him before Matilda came and freed him.
“Well, I happen to have run into a little issue with them myself,” said Gervis.
“I remember,” said Ellison. “You stole Rodge Bannister’s stuff. I caught you. He threw you in a dungeon.” Ellison looked left and right at Hellcut and Rainbow Squirtle. “But what do you guys have against the guild?”
“Rodge fired us for letting ourselves get impersonated,” said Gorehair.
“Like we had anything to do with that,” said Rainbow Squirtle. “Totally unfair. If he couldn’t tell the difference between three of his most loyal men and some impostors, that’s on him, not us.”
Hellcut returned with two more beers and put one in front of Gervis and the other in front of Ellison, then sat back down on the edge of the bench. “What did I miss?”
“I was explaining that the Armforge Guild has done us all wrong,” said Gervis. “Most recently, they asked me to do a small job for them. In return, they would free not just me, but my three associates.”
“Did that job include pretending to be a ship captain?” asked Ellison.
“So you know about that,” said Gervis. “Anyway, I carried out my work to perfection.” He kissed his fingertips. “But when I come back, what do I find out?
“The guild has decamped for parts unknown,” said Gervis. “That’s what. Best I’ve been able to find out, Trozganoth, Vaganath, and Tarantula Dave have all been moved. I haven’t been able to find out where. And Bannister himself isn’t around to answer question.”
“They all went up north to fight in some war,” said Hellcut. “Everyone knows that.”
“What do you need from me?” asked Ellison.
“I want to hire you to find our where my guys have been taken,” said Gervis. “I’ll pay you.”
“I do it,” said Ellison. “But not for money.”
“I need some information.”