"Welcome to the Fairy Grotto." I greeted the new patrons entering my pub. "Happy Wintersday to you all."
"Yeah, same to you," one of them muttered as they pushed into the bar, tearing the edge of one of my wings as they passed.
It had been a quiet night so far. The only customers were a group of ten elves sitting in the back corner. They'd been here since I'd opened up. They were nice and polite and they'd ordered just about everything on the menu. Elves held their liquor well however, so they wouldn't be a problem. This new group, though… well they looked like trouble.
Squaring my shoulders I walked up to their table.
"What can I get you this fine Wintersday Eve?" I plastered a smile onto my face, despite wishing they'd gone elsewhere.
"I'll have an Apple Stardust," a female human said. She flicked her long blond hair back over her shoulder and turned back to her friends, having probably forgotten me already. Typical human, so self-centered.
"The nectar of the gods. I'll have an ale," a stout dwarf boomed, banging his fist on the table. "'Tis the only drink worth having."
"I'd like something to boost my constitution. No hard liquor though," rumbled the third creature at the table. "I like those umbrella drinks too." I looked up, and then further up, meeting the gaze of a fully grown giant.
"That would be a River Crusher," I said.
"Hmm, done." The giant nodded.
Thankfully he didn't copy the dwarf and thump the table, or I'd currently be picking up splintered wood. Why had these three picked tonight to include the Fairy Grotto in their pub crawl? I shook my head slightly.
"And this round's on me." The dwarf thumped his chest. Peering around the dark room, he stood up. "A round for everyone on me," he said loudly, catching the attention of the elves.
Great. There went my profit for the night. Dwarves were notoriously stingy, so the tip would be non-existent. I'd also never met these three before. As an alchemist I had no fighting skills. If they decided to leave without paying, I wouldn't be able to stop them. I sighed quietly as I flew back to the bar.
I took a quick swig of a healing potion to mend the edge of my wing. That took care of the throbbing.
Pulling up the recipe for the River Crusher, I grabbed the ingredients. Two small rocks, finely ground. A bottle of Cherry Thrill and a dash of Electric Tempest to give him the constitution boost he asked for. I got mixing. Two minutes later, I poured a pink, frothy concoction into a giant-sized glass and added a little white umbrella.
I created the Apple Stardust that would give the human the charisma boost she was obviously after, and finally I poured out a stein of our best ale.
The elves in the corner of the room were in a heated discussion as I put the three drinks onto a tray and made my way over to the newcomers.
Suddenly, all ten elves shot to their feet and darted for the door.
"No," I yelled. "You haven't paid."
I couldn't believe it. My worst thoughts were playing out in front of me. I half placed and half threw the tray of drinks onto the center table and shot toward the door. With luck I'd get there before them and they'd have to stop.
Without warning, the human jumped to her feet and tackled the closest elf. They landed on the floor with a thud, fists flying.
"Fortitudo Mobus invocabo," the dwarf chanted, as his fist began to glow an electric blue.
The giant surged to his feet. Somehow the chair survived the movement. With two steps he was at the door and blocking the exit, knocking the elves over with a sweep of one arm.
I put my head in my hands. My furniture was all going to be crushed.
A loud crash echoed through the bar.
I should have listened to my friends. They told me not to open on Wintersday Eve.
A scream accompanied the noise of something breaking.
I'd just wanted to be part of the festivities. Instead, my pub was going to end up closed. Why did I always have to do things my way?
"Nooo..." A high pitched scream ripped through the noise and something heavy careened into me, pinning me to the floor.
Silence descended on the place.
I opened my eyes and failed to push a heavy body off me.
"Help," I squeaked.
Suddenly, the weight was lifted and I drew in a ragged breath. The giant was holding a very pale looking human in his arms.
I ran to the bar and grabbed the best healing potion I owned. Popping the cork out, I rushed over and poured it down the human's throat.
A few tense seconds later she coughed, the color returning to her cheeks. I couldn't believe it. A human had put herself between me and a spell from one of the elves.
I glanced around the room. Instead of the decimated disaster I expected, every table and chair was in one piece and exactly where I'd put it that morning.
All ten elves were surrounded by glowing blue ropes and neatly stacked up in the middle of the room.
"You wouldn't have been trying to get away without paying, now would ya?" The dwarf stood over them, his hand still glowing blue.
I quickly grabbed their tab from behind the bar and flew back to land next to the dwarf.
"Your total comes to three hundred and thirty seven coin," I said, sticking out my hand to the closest one.
"We don't have it," the elf said.
"Well I can't take back the food and drink you've already consumed." I put my hands on my hips.
"Still don't have it." He shrugged.
"Now look here, it's Midwinter's Eve. With that large of a tab, the owner has probably been looking after you all day. So hand over what coin you do have." The dwarf glared down at them.
After some muttering and fumbling, twenty seven coin sat in the small pile on the floor. That didn't even cover the cost of the food. I shouldn't have opened today.
"Never you fear," the dwarf very carefully patted the top of my head with one of his fingers. "No one should have to go through that over Wintersday."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out five hundred coin.
"There, that should cover the rest of their bill, ours and a nice tip for being open all day. Happy Wintersday. I'll make sure to tell all my friends about the Fairy Grotto. I think we've just found the perfect pub."
"You are a bartender working a night shift when a group of people come in on a holiday pub crawl."