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Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories

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The Tactical Importance of Soup

“That’s Roganvarth Penterestsson? So called hero of Whitewall? That shabby wreck of a man?” The speaker was a big man dressed in black leather and cuirboilli. He had more than enough weapons and a sufficiently poor personality to be extremely dangerous. His twelve followers were dressed in a similar fashion down to the bad attitudes and callous disregard for the welfare of others. “You’d hardly expect me to mislead you after your friend kneed my waiter in the danglies do you?” The speaker was a middle aged man in a dirty apron. “That is indeed the wreckage of Roganvarth Penterestsson. Some say he was never the same after Whitewall.” The object of their scrutiny was a hunched figure with a few wisps of hair clinging to his mostly naked scalp. He stood hunched over a cauldron hung over the fire. He had obviously once been a large burly man but he stared down into the soup he was stirring as if trapped in memories. He hadn’t looked up when the group entered the inn and taken defensive positions around the inn. Not even when the leader had asked for him and one of his followers had kneed the server in the bawbag. He just muttered to himself and stirred and stirred. Occasionally he would speak up and say, “Soup is good” before returning to his muttering.

The leader shook his head in disgust. “Pathetic. Whatever. The Lunars are still offering a nice bounty on him and his bitch.” He looked around. “Where is she? This,” he looked down at a sheet of parchment in his hand, “Rana Riverlocks. Is she off licking the outhouse clean?” A fleeting look of anger crossed the innkeeper’s face before he replied. “No, she has gone out on an errand. She should be back soon.” The leader grunted in satisfaction. “Good, we will wait for her so we can collect the whole bounty. Bring my men some food. No beer or wine mind you. We wouldn’t want to risk losing our Orlanthi heroes would we.” He and his men relaxed somewhat and ate the food the serving staff brought. One of them took up position beside Roganvarth and tried to engage him in conversation. “So you’re the mighty hero of Heler who rode the stone wave that repelled the Obsidian Phalanx at Whitewall, eh?” Roganvarth just kept stirring and muttering quietly to himself, occasionally uttering, “Soup is good!” “Leave the wretch alone and keep your wits about you, numbskull” the bored leader eventually called.

The door to the inn opened and everyone tensed. But it was only an old woman in the robes of a Deezola mendicant looking for alms. She tottered slowly around the room holding her bare hand out for donations. None of the bandits gave her any money. The leader quickly looked her over as she came to him but lost interest when he saw her scarred scalp. He looked down again at his parchment but the description was of a beautiful woman who bound water spirits into her hair. This old woman couldn’t be Rana Riverlocks. She stood stubbornly holding her hand out and the leader half raised his hand to strike her but thought better of hitting a holy woman. Jokingly he held his beer stein out to her and he was surprised when she took it from him and took a big drink from it.

“Hey look the old baggage is a drunk” he began. But then the “old baggage” straightened up and spat her mouthful of beer in his face speaking something in a sibilant tongue. He leapt to his feet and began drawing his sword but stopped and clutched his throat instead as the beer forced itself down his throat choking him. His men were momentarily stunned but quickly recovered. The one guarding Roganvarth started drawing his sword and turned towards him. He saw a figure that was no longer hunched over and stood distressingly tall. There was an evil twinkle in his eye and he grabbed the cauldron and dumped the contents over the bandit. “Soup is good. And hot.” The bandit fell screaming to the floor. Roganvarth grabbed his sword and mercifully silenced his screams. Rana moved over beside Roganvarth and the bandits started closing on the pair. Except for the one who had been stabbed by the innkeeper and the pair brained by servers. Rana spoke the strange language again and the hot soup rose off of the floor and moved over to the nearest bandit. She grabbed another sword and the pair, the soup and the inn’s staff quickly and efficiently finished off the rest of the bandits. With a wave of her hand Rana returned the soup to its normal condition.

Once they were all dead. Roganvarth and Rana embraced and checked each other for damage. Roganvarth stroked her scarred head and said,”We survived again my love.” He turned to the innkeeper. “Our apologies to you for this trouble we brought down on you.” The innkeeper shrugged and cleaned the blood off of his knife. “Trouble is everywhere these days. I doubt anyone will be coming looking for this lot. We’ll bury them in the woods and I’ll say some words over them to pacify their spirits.” He shook his head. “None of us were the same after Whitewall.” He looked sad and Roganvarth cuffed him on the shoulder. “Don’t mourn the past, old friend.” The innkeeper shook his head, “It’s not that. I was just really looking forward to that soup.” Peals of laughter rang out of the inn into the night. 

Last updated October 07, 2016

Glorantha is a trademark of Chaosium, Inc. Gloranthan material on this page is copyright ©1997-2016 by Oliver D. Bernuetz or by the author specifically mentioned on an individual page. Glorantha is the creation of Greg Stafford, and is used with his permission.

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