"So, you need a mercenary eh?"
"Oh yes, I was robbed by bandits and they took my wife's wedding ring, it's all I have left of her after she died,"
It was a cold night and the Sleeping Giant Inn was full to bursting with travelers, wenches and locals just enjoying a pint at the only tavern in Woodhaven, a small village that lay on the main road to the Capitol City. At a corner table, by the bar, two men sat, one was Woodhaven's guard captain, the other was an elderly gentleman who hailed from one of the forest towns. He'd come to ask for help capturing some bandits, but the guards could do nothing since it lay out of their jurisdiction. But a sell-sword, they'd do anything for a gold piece.
"Well, you're in luck, quite a few of them are here tonight," the captain smiled, obviously indulging in too much mead on his night off. The elderly man smiled back nervously, quite unused to such dealings. "Over there with the twin wenches is Argis the Brave," the captain pointed to a burly man with impressive scars, bald head and hairy chest. He was impressing the wenches by lifting them over his head, making them giggle and beg to be put down. The traveler winced.
"No, I don't think so," he shook his head slowly.
"Alright, he's a bit of an idiot anyway. If you want someone more sneaky, there's Cyril or that Orc in the corner," the gentleman paled at the thought of dealing with an Orc and Cyril looked like he'd rob you blind just like any bandit.
"Are there any others here tonight who will get the job done honorably?" he didn't have much in the way of payment but had heard of some mercenaries who would do jobs for the thrill of it.
The captain rubbed his chin and his dark eyes darted to the bar, "There is one," he leaned towards the man and lowered his voice, "I heard from the innkeeper that Avicci is staying here tonight."
"Temas Avicci?" the traveler whispered in awe, even a forest dweller like him had heard of the infamous bounty hunter.
"Yep, that's him, right there," the guard pointed down the bar at the only person in the tavern who was alone and not enjoying any music, food or wenches.
Even sitting down, it was obvious the man was huge, close to seven feet tall at least and broad with muscle. His hair was black as midnight and fell down past his shoulder blades, loose rather than the common style of a braid. He was handsome, but obviously not from around this area, given his cinnamon colored skin and Eastern style clothing, an embroidered red shirt, blue sash around his waist and loose black pants tucked into pointed black boots. Then the traveler noticed his ears, they were pointed and stuck out from under his hair rather obviously. He was an elf? He'd never seen one that size! They were supposed to be small and slender. But at least it explained the skin and clothes, he must be a Wood Elf from the Eastern Forests just past their country's borders.
"See the earrings? They say he gets a new one for every dozen successful jobs and a gem represents fifty,"
The man looked closer and saw at least five silver hoops and studs from tip to lobe of each ear. A ruby stud pierced his right lobe while a sapphire teardrop dangled from his left. Over a hundred missions?
"Impressive, he's perfect except..." both men's eyes dropped to look at the elf's right arm. Or they would have if he had one. From the shoulder down, the mercenary had a perfectly normal arm...until it stopped at the elbow. He made no attempts to hide his deformity, just rested it on the bar along with his left arm which held his glass of wine.
"How could he have done so many jobs with only one arm?" the traveler asked aloud, not knowing whether to be amazed or pity the bounty hunter.
"Dunno, it's a shame, he'd be very handsome otherwise," the captain went to take another swig of ale when he suddenly spluttered as it hit him in the face like a tidal wave. He coughed and wiped his face off, instantly meeting the intense glare of Avicci. The elf lowered his right arm, eyes still glowing with the magic he'd just used.
"I'm sorry gentleman, I wish I could help you," he spoke evenly, his voice as warm and smooth as fire smoke, "But I have a strict non-bastard policy," Avicci finished off his wine before standing and flawlessly maneuvering through the crowd until he disappeared up the stairs to his room.