Shaun Gilmore and Scanlan Shorthalt – Hustling the Hustler

Today marks the start of Critical Role Relationship Week (details here). I will be attempting to post a piece of related fiction everyday as the week goes on and I’ll compile all the entries into a PDF on the last day of the event.

I’ll also be updating as usual on Friday, so don’t worry about that!

It wasn’t that the wine was bad. It was merely a little rough on his palate and, he suspected, watered down.

Shaun Gilmore sat at his table in the crowded tavern and contemplated the goblet in front of him. He had been contemplating it for the past half an hour.

Back in Emon he had had the world at his fingertips. Wines imported from distant countries, clothes from his homeland, knowledge long thought forgotten. But here, here he had nothing but his wits, his magic and his winning smile.

He tapped a finger against his lips thoughtfully, debating whether or not it would be an insult to the tavern-keeper if he magically altered the wine.

Movement in the crowd around him caught his eye and he looked up.

A feather, bobbing erratically, drifted between the tables. Only one person in Whitestone would wear a feather as large as that.

“Scanlan Shorthalt!” He called. The feather stopped and then began moving in his direction.

It was a few minutes before the gnome reached his table, bent low over something pressed to his stomach.

“Gilmore.” He said, smiling. “How are you?”

“You know me, I’m great.” A matching smile spread across Gilmore’s face as he ignored the weariness that filled his body and leaned backwards in his chair. “What do you have there, my little friend?”

Scanlan’s eyes widened and his hands tightened on the bottle he was holding tightly to his stomach.

“Just a little something special I got from Grog.” Gilmore pursed his lips and stared at the gnome for a moment, knowing the futility of ascertaining his honesty. “Do you want some?” Scanlan’s tiny hand swirled the bottle suggestively in the human wizard’s direction.

“Something special? Of course.” Gilmore grinned and shifted in his chair to lean forwards. “But only if you have some with me. It would rude to drink a friend’s gift alone.”

There was the barest hint of a pause before Scanlan nodded.

“Excellent!” Gilmore pulled over two empty glasses from earlier in the evening and muttered over them. A spark of magic danced over their surfaces and they were clean in a matter of seconds. “Pour, maestro, if you would be so kind.”

The gnome smiled again and uncorked the bottle. He was too busy pouring to see the amusement that flashed over Gilmore’s face.

The smell brought back memories of when he had first started his company. That tiny stall in the Suncut Bazaar had been home for many years and he had grown intimately acquainted with the venom of the sand-keg. It had been THE drink to have if one wanted to woo rich customers.

Scanlan pass him a glass, a finger of the acrid smelling liquor laying at the bottom of it.

“To where we’ve come from, and a future worth exploring.” He said, raising his glass in the gnome’s direction. Scanlan mirrored the gesture and the two men brought the glasses to their lips.

Gilmore followed his immediately with the last gulp of wine in his goblet. The watered alcohol did exactly what he expected it would and nullified the worst of the Marquesian drink.

Rather than the numbness and sudden onset of intoxication that he knew Scanlan would be experiencing, he revelled in the tingling feeling that spread from his fingertips to his head.

As he watched, the gnome bard swayed once, twice and then fell face first onto the table.

He laughed and raised his empty wine goblet in the air, catching the barmaid’s attention.

The wine might be rough after all, but it wasn’t bad.


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