In one of the great Sessile Oaks, near the first branch up, nestled into the bark was Inchmeal Inn. A delicately crafted wooden door stood at six inches high, opening up into the carefully crafted interior, home to the most popular tavern in the woods. Rounded tables surrounded by benches provided ample areas to sit and feast at, with plates delivered packed with all sorts of treats from the forest. Tiny wicker lanterns held glowing orbs of magic, illuminating the rooms safely.
Behind the bar stood Assat, the bearded and bellied fairy proprietor of the Inn. Welcoming all in with a boisterious grin and a carefully crafted mug of the finest brew, there were an elite few who would always draw the full attention of him and the other staff. And one such person was coming to visit.
Scampering up the trunk came a red squirrel, clad in bark armour and ridden by similarly clad fairy. Reaching the first branch, he dismounted with ease and fondly patted the flank of his steed, handing his reins to the steward for feeding. Adjusting the flint sword strapped to his side, he headed in.
“Tenel!” Assat boomed, arms wide open in a welcoming gesture. He was already filling up a mug with honeybrew as the fairy knight took a seat. Tenel stood fairly tall for his kind at five inches, with black hair tied up carefully and tucked away under the wooden breastplate that had been carefully polished and smoothed down. A cape, carefully woven of long grasses and sustained by his innate magic covered his wings.
“Assat, looking well as always.” He smiled, offering a hand to shake as the other gratefully took the mug for a long sip of the sweet, fiery liquid.
“I feel well. How does some lunch sound? An Acorn Knight needs to be well fed after all.”
“Lunch sounds great.” Tenel replied, his stomach rumbling. “I’ve got to get back out on patrol soon, the King is still concerned about these attacks coming from the fields.”To be fair, he was as well. Some of the outlying areas had been raided, with food stolen and property damaged.
“Think it might be the Yew Tree Bandits again? Or maybe the Thorns?” Assat asked, before poking his head through the serving hatch to bellow some orders into the kitchen.
“It’s possible, yes. I can’t say for sure.”
“It’s not the Thorns.” A growl came from the doorway.
Spinning round, Temel narrowed his eyes at the figure who had just walked in. Drant, one of the enforcers of the Thorns, stood with his bramblestick drawn. The weapon was a cruel looking one, a short handle followed by a wickedly barbed shaft. His armour was of a light leaf design, smaller spines jutting out from the ridges.
“Drant, what are you doing here?” He snarled, drawing his sword in response. The chatter that had been going on in the Inn cut out as the two faced off against each other. Assat looked on nervously, a hand straying under the bar counter for his trusty cudgel.
“As much as I hate this,” Drant grumbled, “I need your help. My gang’s been kidnapped. I was only just able to get away.”
“You expect me to believe you?”
“No.” Drant sighed, putting his bramblestick away. The blonde fairy held his arms out, hands together. “But I’ll go before the King and Queen, in binds, to plead my case.” Staring at Temel, he dropped to his knees. “This is serious. Whatever these things are, they came and took the gang out with ease. Do you think I’d come and do this for no good reason?”
Temel chewed his bottom lip as he thought the situation over. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he glanced back to the innkeeper.
“Assat? I’m going to need lunch to go.”