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Into the Fire (our original guild charter)

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As the roar of laughter quieted down, the old dwarf leaned forward, and lowered his voice a bit.

"So what'll we be callin' this outfit lads," asked Grody, raising an eyebrow at his friends.

He took another swig of the gorgeous brown ale.

"Oi'm fer killin' and not much fer namin' if ye follow me," he confessed.

Ashin surveyed his friends as they sat contemplative, tucked away in their favorite corner of the Backalley Brewhouse. The lights were dim but warm, and the crackling fireplace could barely be heard amidst the din of the night's crowd. Next to him, as always, sat Xsentric.

Across the table, Golgi looked up with a blink of his large ebon eyes. Whether it was curiosity or scheming, Ashin could never be certain. Beside him was his partner in crime, the little trickster Zee, and their iksar friend Glyff, who licked his scaley lips as he eyed the barmaid. Ashin was not entirely convinced it was ale the iksar was after, but decided not to dwell on it. Zee, just a tiny ratonga himself, shuddered.

In the corner sat Zyco, whose massive frame could barely be accomodated by the meager table, but who nonetheless seemed comfortable. In fact, the dark-skinned barbarian was unusually calm that night. For a while, the taste of strong ale and the company of old friends had quenched his thirst for battle.

As he leaned back, blocking his friend's view of the barmaid, the light of the candles beneath carved an ominous visage of his war-painted face. Then, after a while, he said deliberately,

"South of Heaven."

Grody paused mid-gulp to look up, the froth of ale still covering his lips and beard.

"What's that supposssed to mean," replied Glyff, irritated with the obstruction.

"Hells," said Golgi calmly. His cohort Zee nodded in agreement.

"Aye, tha's where we be lads, sher enuff."

Xsentric looked away quietly. Ashin could see painful memories emerge in their faces. It was just the sort of thing that could ruin a fine night at the pub, he thought. He placed a comforting hand on his twin's shoulder.

"Not just Hell, friends."

Ashin waited to make sure he had their attention.

"This world is also just south of heaven, wouldn't you say? Perhaps we're not as far off as we think," he said, smirking mischievously.

"Ye got yer head up in tha' clouds again lad," said Grody laughing. "Oi know fer certain me heart's gone straight fer tha' coals!"

"Well then," said Zyco with an enlightened grin, "Which one of you fools is willing to stick your hands into the fire to get it back?"

And with that, he raised his mug. One by one, more mugs were raised, until at last they came crashing together over the center of the table with an indignant thud. The candle flame barely survived the splash of ale that spilled over from the sloppy toast, but the memory of that night would live for many years to come.

Edited by Ashin

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