"C'mon, Chimes," said Toby as they walked back toward the door, leaving a very dead dark elf on the lawn. So to speak. Again. It was practically old times! "I'll buy you a drink."Thank the gods. She'd often wondered why all the drama happened when someone had worked up a thirst. She'd even thrown a stinkbomb at him at the bar and no one. Had even. Chased her. Not even a little bit. Not even a curse. Too busy with the 'rapier' jokes. Easy mark, only five points. Low hanging fruit, as it were. HA!"First one still free?" he asked. "Yep!" She eyed him and they spoke over the top of one another. "Is that the one you're getting me?" "That's the one you're getting."She hopped up onto a stool, deciding her poison was whiskey. Toby said he knew there'd been a reason he liked her (as if there weren't a hundred!), so she told him about how she'd given up the will-o after the great chicken incident of '97, but she'd died since then.He was getting the glasses when his wife walked in, saying she'd thought he'd be right back... Or something wifely. Caught at the pub! One time a flame-winged Strife-demon had stopped at the Arms for a drink, and his wife had come to bawl him out for it, too. Acacea helpfully explained that he'd been killing a dark-ear as he poured."Something came -" he stopped and looked at the halfling. "Not. Helpful." he said under his breath, and handed her the bottle. "Just do me a favor, and if you feel like talking... take a shot first, okay?""I didn't make enough whiskey for - oops." As far as drinking games went, this one could use some work."You... he...? Did you?" his wife was stammering."Did what?"Something about she'd said she wanted him to make it stop, not what she meant, somebody's pet. This was winding up to be a long one, so she lined up another shot, only to have Zari pick it up and toss it back. Quarreling was thirsty work, apparently.Acacea looked at the place where her drink had been, and the glass reappeared, empty.Toby poured her another one while defending himself, something else about blah blah preferring someone else to him, but as she reached for it, his wife snatched that one, too. The thirsty halfling watched it go away, again, and then looked to Tobias with imploring eyes."Might be quicker if you just drank it from the bottle..." he managed with a grin, but Zarianna got his attention back with, "You believed her?""Truth..." Acacea muttered to herself."No... Yes... I don't know! This whole situation has got me so confused.""Tell me about it," Acacea said knowingly, as if anyone was listening, and reached for the bottle to take his advice just a hair after Toby himself snagged it and drank like he needed a few, himself. She blinked at the bottle when it was passed back to her, and it was removed from her disbelieving hands by his wife, as though she were merely passing it back and forth between them. She rested her head on the bar. Need. Drink. Light. Fading. Too. Much. Brainsick.“You did. You actually believed her.” Zari took a drink straight from the bottle and set it back down on the bar, and the halfling stood on her tiptoes to reach for it. It wobbled. She tipped it toward her and peered into the opening. Sadness awaited. Mere drops. Not even a message from the wide world awaited her; this bottle had never bobbed in the sea, had never sung in the wind. She stuck her tongue out as they argued above her, tipping the bottle in hopes of catching the last of it in her mouth, but Toby, seeing it raising into the air, took it as though it were being offered and drained it.“Wow. Thanks a lot.” She could agree with Zari’s sentiment, here. She stood on her tiptoes once more to look at the empty bottle, then cast her gaze heavenward, wondering, “I can’t tell if Lucinda is trying to make me quit drinking, or what. It’s like a tag team between her and Ilsare…”“Thanks? What the hells do you mean by that?”What if she didn’t exist? There was a thought. What if she really had died, and this had all been some sort of long queue to the Soul Mother… the elves could be demons in disguise. Lightly disguised. A thin veneer of disguise. Her soul, the whiskey. She climbed onto the stool in order to get over the bar, but Zari was already getting herself another bottle and Toby pulled one out and set it in front of the halfling. Two! Two bottles of whiskey. Her odds were improving. “Just like Ilsare. Can’t make up her mind!”Leringard’s fashionista picked up her newly acquired bottle and took a drink from it, which only aggravated Toby more. Acacea, too. “Stop your drinking!” complained her husband, and took a shot from the other bottle. “You stop yours!”She looked between them. At both bottles. She mused aloud, “Why is this my life?”Somebody wasn’t supposed to be drinking when they were mad, but they weren’t mad, blah blah, she nodded thoughtfully at each comment, now. “So much for your trust!” Yes, profound! She must consider this. “Tell her, Acacea!” Wait what. She tried to remember what they were arguing about as he set the bottle down in front of her so he could lean into the bar with both hands.She eyed it. “Definitely not mad. Very happy.” Her hand creeped toward the whiskey while she spoke, and his bloody wife that never laughed at her jokes struck again to drink from it. “Varg YVV!” she swore in a common pit tongue. Cantankerous harpy! Toby took the other back as if in retaliation. “If you drink, I’ll drink!” Nancing applechaser!Her ears were melting. She was quite sure of it. She was watching Zari wave around the bottle as she talked, but the words had gone all wah wah wah. No. This was an elusive beast. It called for stealth, and dedication. Crouching down in front of the bar, she listened for the sound of heavy glass clunking down, and when it came she made her move! Leap! Grab! Dash! Sour, burning oblivion awaited!She hopped up into a stool far away from the bickering couple, hugging her prize to herself. Both elves looked at her quizzically for an instant before returning to their argument. And she… she needed five of these. Five of… she held it upside down over her head and squinted disappointedly up into the opening.“She was soul-bound. Damn our luck.”The halfling clanked the empty bottle onto the bar grimly and stood. Brushed herself off with wounded dignity. “You drink all that, that quickly?” Toby asked, as his wife looked over and added, “Ilsare’s panties, Chimes. Slow down.”“If she opens her mouth again, it’d better not be about you or she’ll be taking another trip,” Toby was saying, and he absently slid a bottle down towards Acacea as his wife swung her legs over the bar. Trotting up gamely, she saw, before her very eyes, the bottle struck a glancing blow by elven legs, wobbling, tumbling… !Toby was fast, but lives were at stake, and he couldn’t have expected her to dive for it with no regard for obstacles or, indeed, her safety. She snagged it from the air on her way by and barreled into a few stools, but still folded into a protective somersault and came up with bottle safely in hand, world saved once more!“Oh… thanks,” she heard, as Zari bent down to take it from her in her moment of triumph. “Would’ve been a waste. Good catch.”She sat. Chin in hands. Elbows on knees. This was Dead Man’s Pass, and she was the last Diamoniar. Struck down by unexpected parties from behind. She pondered the world as the bottle was set back down on the counter, and then picked herself off the floor and onto her feet. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!”The married couple turned in surprise at the shout. “Both brainsick. YOU!” she leveled a finger at Toby to single him out. “Are only mad ‘cause you love her! Isn’t that a ridiculous place to be in when you consider that! You!” she whirled to Zari, stabbing her finger at the air. “Likewise!” Why did tall people always make things so complicated? Not all of them, she conceded to herself. The mermaid had appreciated her playing-card analogy. She could always pull that one from her sleeve if it proved necessary. The pretty one - the woman, that is - was definitely the shiny deck, in this case.Toby leaned slightly to one side to stage whisper, “I think she drank too much.”“Both of you! Kiss! Immediately!” She crossed her arms demandingly, and Zarianna stage-whispered back to her husband, “I think we better do what she says…”He nodded sagely at her wisdom, then turned to his wife to kiss her. He leaned into it as she returned it, then scooped her up into his arms. Acacea grabbed the bottle as they were occupied and made a break for it. “'KAY, YOU CAN STOP NOW!” she called behind her, fleeing down the hall. No crazy Pit critters were going to eat her soul, no sir.
She hadn’t made it up the stairs yet, having paused in the hall to blink at the floor. She’d just had the strangest thought. If people echoing from the ‘lels were perceived as incorporeal, and the same went for objects, which obviously didn’t happen as much, what happened to food and drink? Could they be consumed at all? Was this where stories of ghost and fairy food originated from? What if -Toby swiped the bottle from her as he trotted by, calling behind him, “You really should stop drinking…”She looked down at her empty hands. And then in the direction that the elf had gone, gathering her wandering thoughts. She narrowed her eyes. “There will be a reckoning.”But for now. The inn was hers. More importantly. The bar. Was hers. She stalked back. She tried to stalk back. Bells and keys did not lend themselves to stalking, and she was wearing the boots she’d gotten at the auction, which had been advertised specifically as stalking boots, but she’d not worn footwear with any kind of regularity for something like two centuries. She looked over the selection of drinks and then tipped her head back to shout at the gods. “WHY! ARE WE OUT OF WHISKEY! RAAAAAA!”“I need a drink. Want anything?” came Steel’s voice from the hall, approaching.“No!” she answered, without waiting to see who the visitor was. “They don’t. We are out. Of everything. No drink to be had.” Steel, by now reaching the bar and glancing with his own eyes behind her, wanted to know how they could possibly be out of everything when he’d only been gone for two weeks, but. Well. “Because,” was her most clever answer. “People are crazy!” she threw up her arms, as if that was the only possible explanation for the world.“Ah, well,” came his reply. “Whiskey it is, then. Here.” He produced a few bottles and tossed Acacea one, who caught it deftly out of the air and stared at it, then back at him. Then back at the bottle. Rejoice! Salvation came with horns! Those other pit critters were amateurs. This changed everything. It was a new day!She stood on her most tippiest toes and held her hands up, bouncing a little. “Lift me over!” she askedbeggeddemanded, and he put out his arm over the bar and told her to grab on. When she complied, giggling already, he curled and shoulder pressed her over the bar casually, and she laughed the whole way. “Weeeeee!”“Now,” he said, after her feet were back on the ground, “apparently I have some talking to do with the elf over there who reeks of blood.” The halfling turned to look, and then squinted at the dark armor. She smelled more like a lawn to Acacea, but what did she know about anything. The elf, recently lawned or not, looked back at her. “Somewhere private,” she said. Oh yeah, that was her. Toby had called her voice butch. They had the strangest insults.“Ever been to my office?” the giant blue tiefer asked. Wait… were those… UNDERTONES? Egads. Admittedly, she was rather poor with non-musical tones, but honestly, it wouldn’t be the first dark-ear he’d hit on. He’d even kissed Entropic Pantheon and called her Silver Hair. Some people. What a day.“Oh, you,” she said flippantly, waving her hand as if encouragingly shooing off a would-be charmer.“Most private place in Leringard,” Steel responded to the elf’s affirmation. AAAAHHH! Her and her whiskey were outta here. She made a snerking sound as they walked, and then breezed by the elf. Whiskey was used to clean wounds in a pinch, maybe it could scour her brain clean. And then she face-planted on the floor in a spreading pool of alcohol, the armored elf walking by as if nothing had happened, as if no obstacle had suddenly presented itself in the path of a halfling. What a completely random coincidence.She decided to just lay there for a little bit, thinking about what exactly had gone wrong in her life to put her here, in this place, on this day, without anything to strong and possibly poisonous to drink. Steel stood over, just looking down at her and asking about nap times until she pushed herself into a sitting position and looked down at everything. She craned her head back to look up at him morosely. “Today. Is not a good day.”“Always a good day when I’m here,” he told her, drawing a smile from her face, and handed her another bottle. “Now clean up the mess.”Her jaw dropped, expression backpedaling from cheer to stunned disbelief. “ME?!” she called to his retreating backside.“You were holding the bottle when it spilled!” he answered back.“She tripped me!!” she yelled back at him, and the last she saw of him before he rounded the corner was his raised-eyebrowed expression, as if asking what she’d expected. She shattered the bottle against the wall and stomped back the way she came.“I!” she announced loudly to the empty common room at four in the morning. “Am giving up drinking!”