Welcome to Tankards and Tempers, usually abbreviated as TnT. Those of you readers here whom have been to the Attic BG fanfic website or posted there might remember it. For those who haven't, TnT is about a moon-elven Bhaalspawn named Laska Leafwalker with a propensity for fighting, drinking and generally enjoying herself adventuring with her friends. This story was started over ten years ago and spans (as of the writing of this disclaimer) 231 chapters.
TnT, for me, is a labor of love. A small warning for new readers, if you come across things that seem silly, campy or downright absurd, that's working as intended. Though there are plenty of serious plotlines involved, but mostly I prescribe to the Rule of Funny (see tvtropes). If you get a laugh or a chuckle out of something I write, I will have done my job. Characters, plotlines, etc, might be a bit different than you're used to from the game.
Mature rating is for the violent and sometimes racey content. Oh, and femslash. There is also femslash.
I've always wanted to go back to the earlier chapters to clean them up, add improvements, change some things to make the characters more consistent with the later chapters. Also, the old TnT archive at the Attic hasn't been updated since 2005 due to a management change there. With the imminent release of Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition, I figured it was a good excuse to finally go through with it. It is daunting to do this with 231 chapters, but I figure that if I do one chapter a day, it should be fine.
I'm reasonably certain there might be some old Atticers here and I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to drop me a line. My postname there is Weyoun (don't ask). TnT will, of course, continue to be posted on the Attic as well, and those not familiar with the Attic, feel free to check it out. There's a lot of great well-written stories there.
In the meantime, I hope you'll enjoy reading as much as I have writing it over the past decade.
Tankards and Tempers
Chapter 1: First Impressions
Rays of light from the morning sun shone through the window, instantly brightening a small room inside the Copper Coronet. Only a few moments later, the single occupant of the room groaned in displeasure and shielded her eyes by jamming her head under her pillow.
"Somebody turn off the damn lights..." the elven female muttered, but as soon as she spoke the words, the sound of her own voice lanced stabs of immense pain through her skull, which was followed by yet another anguished groan. 'Oh, gods... What have I been drinking last night? Paint-thinner?'
Slowly opening her eyes, she noticed she was in her dingy room at the Copper Coronet. There was barely enough room for a single bed and the bathroom consisted of a mirror and a bowl of water on a small table at the foot end of the bed. The walls were so thin she could hear a snoring dwarf in the room next to her, not to mention the peddlers and shrieking children in the streets of the slums outside. Unfortunately, this room was all that she could afford right now.
'Well, at least there's nobody sleeping next to me...' she thought. Xan had insisted nothing had happened at the time, but somehow he seemed less gloomy than was normal for him for a few days after that. She slowly sat up in bed and promptly flopped back on her pillow as the sharp agonizing pain in her head returned with full force. 'After all those drinks in the past, you'd think I'd be used to it by now,' she thought wryly. At the second attempt, she rose out of bed successfully and sat on the edge, facing the floor as she rubbed her painful head with both her hands. 'What the bloody hell had happened last evening anyway?'
She vaguely remembered a fight with three young men who had called her a 'dolly-girl' and she had had a lot of drinks in her already then. After that, she remembered walking back to her table being really annoyed. There was another man that spoke to her then and she remembered him calling her "Fair lady..." just before she treated him to a fist in the face. The reason? He was there.
She shook her head: she always had a low breaking-point when she was drunk and that Helmite had driven her over the edge. Then again. she also had a low breaking-point when she was sober so she might had punched him out anyway. The rest of the evening was obscured by a terrible haze, but she was sure it was she start of a gigantic brawl. How she had ended up in her room, she did not know.
Getting up from her bed, she walked towards the small mirror in the back of the room and, after wiping away the grime on gazed upon herself. Gods, I'm a wreck... she thought to herself. Looking into the mirror she saw a tall, dark-haired elf with high cheekbones and piercing dark eyes staring back at her. Her hair, tied back in a long thick braid, was a mess, while her gray-silver moon-elven skin seemed even grayer than it usually was. Most noticeable, however, were the two tattoos under her eyes. Three jet-black tear-like streams ran from below each eye to halfway over her cheeks, and adorned her face. The tattoos adequately hid the bags underneath her eyes, however.
'Tattoo's, that's a point!' she thought. It seemed as if she had slept in the same clothes she had been wearing the previous evening and removed them to inspect her slightly muscular frame. She was tall for an elf, and thus had much room for tattoos, room she intended to fill up. Right now, she checked to see if she had obtained any new ones... There were five tattoos over her body at the moment. She remembered going asleep really drunk at the Nashkel Inn after celebrating the victory over Mulahey and had woken up with a large tattooed dragon on her lower back. It was a blue dragon, wings spread and its long tail running down her upper leg. Finding the tattoo incredibly beautiful she had decided to have more applied later. The two under her eyes followed shortly and the elven symbol of longevity, tattooed just above her navel, was to cover up a rather nasty magical scar she'd obtained from her battle with Sarevok. Then there was a ornate webbing, looking much like a fisher's man net, running from her upper right shoulder across her shoulder-blade she had no idea where or why she had gotten that one. Lastly, a serpent, immortalized in a striking-pose, was wrapped around her left knee. That last one she had discovered when awakening in the Three Kegs Inns at Baldur's Gate after a particularly nasty binge. But right now, there didn't seem to be any new ones.
Taking another look in the mirror, she sighed and cursed herself... Why had she had so much to drink last night? To get rid of the memories of her months of torture? To forget about the death of her good friend Dynaheir? To repress the thoughts about Imoen's theft?
How did things turn sour for her so quickly? One moment, she and her friends were traveling the roads, the next thing she knew was that she woke up in a dungeon. A dungeons she had been for months without so much of a memory it. She was in a strange city without so much as a copper to her name. Viconia missing, Dynaheir dead, and Imoen... the human girl she called little sister.
'Imoen,' she thought back how her little sister had always scolded her after drink-fests like last nights. According to Imoen, she was irresponsible, childish, petty, borderline insane, hot-tempered... but also her friendly, loving, humorous, open-minded and a hero... but right now, she merely felt like a failure.
"You're no hero," she told her reflection. "Real heroes would have ripped this sodding city apart right now. Would have cut their way through those cowled freaks. Would have found and rescued Imoen by now! Real heroes would not sit in a bar getting drunk and starting petty fights!"
She took one last look in the mirror. 'You're a loser, Laska,' she thought wryly and smashed her fist into her own visage. As pieces of shattered glass landed on the floor of the room, Laska inspected her now bloodied knuckles. "And I am NOT hot-tempered!" she shouted at the broken mirror.
"Great," Laska sighed. Now you're a penniless loser with a bloody hand. Nice going."
After a deep sigh, she walked to the chair where her clothes, chain-mail and swords were waiting for her. After sliding into her pants and wrapping her vest over her chest, she wrapped a rag around her bleeding hand and sped out her room and slammed the door shut with great force.
"Ah! Be still my heart! Most beauteous creature! A woman who must have been shaped by the very gods themselves!" Salvanas cried as he saw a goddess of a woman descending from the stairs. Of course, Salvanas saw every woman as a goddess.
The next thing the frisky elf knew, he was flying through the air and rolled over the floor as he landed.
"Not tonight, honey," Laska muttered with a smile, "I have a headache."
The Copper Coronet was not very busy in the morning, and the spacious hall was barely populated. The signs of the fight were still there; broken chairs, upturned tables, spilled mugs, some blood splatters and the occasional broken tooth.
"Are you starting again, miss?" a portly man called Bernard asked her from behind the bar with a hint of nervousness. "We've barely cleaned up from last night!"
Laska turned around, showing sheepishness in her expression. "Were there many damages?" she asked.
"Well, this happens at least once a week in here, so we usually buy cheap furniture..." Bernard said. "So a hundred gold should cover it... And most people don't even remember what happened. I haven't seen that Helmite again, however. I think you broke his nose."
Laska reached for her money pouch and handed him his price with an apologetic half-smile, before realizing it was empty.
"Can I put it on the slate?" Laska sighed. "Or do you have some dishes to wash? Some rats to kill? Some goblins to chase out of the wine cellar?"
Bernard smiled for a bit. "Tell you what. You seem like a good sort. There's plenty of work for an adventurer like you in this city. You can owe me until you get paid for your first job," he said.
"Thank you," said Laska.
"Anything else I can do for you?"
"Hair-of-the-dog?" Laska asked hopefully while rubbing her head.
"Not with the stuff you've been drinking," Bernard snorted. "You'll end up as dead as a troll in a Paladin's bedchambers. But I have something else," Bernard walked to the counter and pick-up a glass of murky liquid. "Old family recipe! Down the hatch in one go!" Bernard said cheerfully as he offered her the glass.
Laska complied and let the murky liquid slide down her esophagus. As soon the liquid hit her stomach, she wretched and was barely able to keep herself from hurling it all over the floor.
"This... this is vile!" Laska cried. "What is this?!"
"Six raw eggs." Bernard smiled. "Should take care of your headache, as well as your haze."
Upon seeing Laska's blank stare, Bernard smiled and told her he would bring her some roasted bread on the house. Laska sat down at the nearest table and leaned back into the chair. She'd have to go look for work today. If she wanted to find Imoen, she would somehow have to raise twenty thousand gold coins. So far she was already one hundred gold in the negative.
Moments later the only real friend in the world she had right now descended from the stairs. 'Correction,' she smiled to herself. 'Make that two real friends.'
"A good morning to you, from Minsc and Boo!" the large ranger shouted enthusiastically and put the small hamster on the table. Laska smiled, and fed the happy hamster some of her bread.
"Good morning, Minsc." Laska replied, slightly surly. "Ready for another day of useless wandering about looking for work?"
"Boo notices friend Laska is not is a good mood." Indeed, Laska noticed Boo was looking at her in a funny way, whiskers twitching. "Every day is a good day to wipe the floor with the dusty buttocks of evil!"
"Oh, please," Laska groaned. "Kill one evil bloke and there are five others waiting to take his place. It never ends and it's always the same. People in danger, friends killed and sisters... taken away."
"But Laska..." Minsc continued. "It is what we do! Evil must be meet the fury of sword and hamster!"
"Ah, it's like Xan used to say..." Laska snarled. "What was it...? 'Life is just a never-ending string of terrible humiliating defeats'. Sometimes it's just better to quit while you're ahead. There's a good chance we'll never see Imoen again."
Minsc said nothing and just stared at her. Then without saying a word, he got up from his chair and circled around the table, leaving Laska to wonder what the hell he was up to. Suddenly without warning, Laska felt her chair being pulled from under her. Her normally apt dexterity was dulled by her hangover and could not save her this time as she tumbled down to the floor. Following that, she suddenly felt a sharp pain in her rear-end. Disbelief crossed her face as she realized what Minsc had done.
"Mi... You... You kicked me in..." she stammered.
"'Tis but a mild kick, Laska, not like the ones I normally reserve for the Butts of Evil!" Minsc said. "Boo felt it was something you needed right now. You cannot give up. You owe it to Dynaheir and little Imoen! And friends that are missing and new friends we have yet to meet!"
For a moment it seemed Laska would jump and attack the large ranger, and the few patrons of the Coronet scrambled away from the pair of battle-hardened adventurers, as tension seemed to rise. Then, Laska's snarl made way for a look of sadness.
"Ah, Minsc and Boo and Laska had a lot of fun in last night's fight, haven't we Boo?" Minsc asked his hamster, who returned an excited squeak. "A flurry of punches and cries! But then Laska fell asleep and we had to bring her to bed to rest!"
"You?" Laska asked with a smile. "You brought me to my room last night?"
"Boo thought is was better to let you sleep in your own bed, rather than having you slumped over a table all night." Minsc replied.
Laska simply smiled. It was a simple act of kindness, but it meant a lot to her nonetheless.
"AYE," A gruff, yet cheerful voice greeted the elf from the other side of the room. "Thar be the lass that be stirrin' all that trouble the night afor'!"
Laska turned around and was faced with a burly dwarven fighter. "Do I know you?" she replied with a hint of suspicion.
"Aye, lass. We've met briefly last night, while we was both introducing the same Talosian to our fists," the Dwarf laughed, which sounded much like a deep roar. "The name be Korgan, Korgan Bloodaxe. And I cannay say I 'ave e'er met one of those pointy-eared treehuggin' lily-lovin' pansies who could throw a punch in such a bonnie way as ye. Or keep so many drinks down as ye did."
"Why thank you, I guess." Laska replied. "My name is Laska Leafwalker and this is Minsc..."
"And Boo..." she added quickly as she noticed the hamster staring at her angrily.
"Aye, well met..." Korgan said with a hearty smile. "I 'ave a proposal for ye, If ye might be interested."
"Little Laska," whispered Minsc. "Is he a new friend?"
"He can fight, he swears like a dockworker and he has a job for us," Laska nodded. He's definitely a friend.
The three adventurers shared the table to discuss the particulars. Taking one last look at Minsc, who was eying the dwarf with interest, Laska smiled to herself. The ranger had filled her with hope again. 'Hold on, Imoen,' she thought to herself. 'I am coming for you.'