Author’s Note: This is all you need to know. El Scorcho is a gaming character that grew a little big for his leather britches. All stories involving El Scorcho are closely based on original RPG events and situations.
The four travelers stared at the massive clock above the inn’s bar, disinterested in the mishmash of gears and weights, springs and sprockets. An hour waiting for the new barbarian to show. That interested them.
Patrons and adventurers filled every corner of the smoky, dim inn…because they always did. But the new quest smell had worn off the four travelers as the clock ticked on, and they grew sullen and snippy.
A wizard, a paladin, a ranger, and a thief sat around a square table. Only the thief seemed relatively at ease, his boots propped on the table, twitching to a melody being played off-key on a piano at the back of the inn.
The wizard leaned forward and smacked the thief’s foot sharply. “You told him three?” The wizard asked.
“I did,” the thief said and lifted his dark eyebrows. Then he smiled. “At least I think I did.”
The wizard lurched forward out of his seat. “You think you—“
The paladin put out a hand and gently pushed the wizard back into his chair. “Easy, brother. He is teasing you. Hardly a good idea.” The paladin, taller than the rest by almost a foot and wearing his usual stoic frown, cast his disapproving eyes at the thief.
The thief sighed. “He’s a little late. He’s a barbarian. I don’t even know if he knows what a clock’s for, much less read it. He said he’d be here.”
The ranger downed his mug of beer, leaving a frothy ring of dirt at the bottom of their glass. “I miss Arthur.”
The wizard nodded. “As do I.”
Now the devil-may-care calmness fell off the thief’s face. He yanked his feet down and leaned forward, pointing a narrow stiletto at the ranger. “Your precious Arthur was insufferable. I’d rather have an ogre with hemorrhoids tagging along than Arthur.”
No one said anything, because there wasn’t a defense. Arthur had been insufferable, a cleric healer who spoke with his eyes lightly closed, as though he were lecturing a roomful of freshmen rather than his fellow adventurers. A healer who would let you bleed out in a fight if he felt slighted. A healer who never paid for food, rarely wore deodorant and once got caught picking his nose and wiping it under a chair.
“It’s a pretty sorry state of affairs when we’re lamenting the loss of that booger-painting prick. El Scorcho said he’ll be here,” the thief said. “I trust him. Sort of.”
Above them, the inn’s roof creaked painfully, a massive oak beam bending and splintering. The four adventurers looked up, stood and then backed away from the table. The wood groaned again. A muffled, angry voice curse loudly on the roof above them.
A fist busted through the roof in a cloud of dust and splinters. The fist was the size of a ham hock and wore thick black leather gloves. Blood was smeared across the knuckles like strawberry jam.
The wizard put out a hand and a glowing, orange fireball filled it. The ranger nocked an arrow into his short bow, raising it to his chest and pulling the string back. The paladin drew his heavy steel war hammer and waited anxiously.
Only the thief didn’t seem anxious. He took a couple extra steps back, leaning against a support pillar and watching the ceiling. He leaned over and plucked a hunk of chicken from a nearby plate with his stiletto, then chewed on it thoughtfully.
Again and again the first came through the bowed ceiling, letting in streams of light.
Then there was a roar so long and loud that glass mugs jittered and jumped across the tables and onto the ground.
“OH, you BIT me, you little bastard,” the voice said. “That’s some nasty shit right there. If you’re hungry, tell me how THIS tastes!”
This time it wasn’t a fist but the face of a bloodied goblin that smashed through the ceiling. One eye was swollen shut, but the other rolled wildly, looking down at the faces off the inn’s patrons. It garbled something, and the confetti of its broken teeth sprinkled onto the table. It was probably a curse. Everything in goblin sounded like a curse anyway.
Before the head could disappear the section of ceiling gave one final groan and then collapsed into the inn. Two bodies, one long and green-brown and snarling, the other like a marble mountain brought to life, fell into the square table. It snapped in half, and the bodies fell hard onto the floor, amidst hunks of shingles and roof planks.
The goblin jumped up, drawing a rusted iron sword and lunged for a nearby barmaid, his single open eye red-rimmed and murderous. The barmaid screamed but before the goblin could get a step away, the gloved hand shot out from the broken table and dragged it back by its foot.
“Where do you think you’re going, Poindexter?” the massive man growled.
The goblin raised his sword again…and that was as far as he got. The massive man rose out of the roof flotsam, planted his back right foot and then swung out with his fist, connecting squarely on the goblin’s jaw. The punch was so precise it could have been diagrammed.
The goblin didn’t collapse or even budge. At least, its body didn’t. Its jaw, however, flew across the room like a meaty boomerang and splatted against the wall.
A chorus of voices groaned and moaned.
The goblin swayed, blinking, and raised a dirty hand to the twitching tendons and muscles that once made up the lower third of his face. When his fingers found his lolling tongue instead of skin and bone, its eyes rolled back and it fell face first into the dust and lumber.
The large man didn’t waste anytime. He jumped over its body, across the room and then motioned to the bartender. “Whiskey,” he said. He clutched one arm tightly. When the bartender handed him a glass of whiskey, the large man pushed it aside and snatched the bottle from his hand, upending the pungent, smoky alcohol over his punctured arm.
He hissed and poured then twisted his arm to open the wound a little and poured some more. When they bottle was empty he flexed his fingers and snatched a clean rag from behind the bar, wrapping it around his arm.
“Nasty little booger,” he said.
Only now did he look around. Now that everyone got a good look, they saw it wasn’t just a large man. Arms like tree trunks, deep, blue eyes, red hair and shoulders wider than a ox yoke. A barbarian. The biggest damn barbarian they had ever seen.
The barbarian smiled and shrugged, nodding at the dead goblin. “Goblin,” he said, as though that explained everything. “He had very poor manners.”
Then his eyes fell on the thief. “Oh, hey. Sorry about that. Goblin.”
The thief nodded, then turned to the wizard, paladin and ranger, who were blinking in disbelief at the monstrous mass that had just come crashing through the ceiling.
“Fellas,” the thief said, “THIS is El Scorcho.”
After appeasing the innkeeper with a handful of gold, El Scorcho brushed aside the offered mug of beer from the young barmaid.
“Any milk?” He asked. “Colder the better.”
The barmaid nodded and scampered away.
“Not a huge drinker,” El Scorcho said. “Not a teetotaler though. Mostly I’d rather have a glass of cold milk. I’ve got a theory that two things in life make up for everything: sex and a cold glass of milk. These make a life of toil worthwhile.”
Only the thief laughed. The other three sat silent in their chairs around the new table.
The barmaid returned and handed El Scorcho a stein of milk. Before she could leave he said, “Wait.” He sniffed it, shrugged and downed the entire mug in three gulps. He pulled the mug away with a deep gasp, a line of foamy milk above his lip.
He handed the mug back. “Damn delicious. Could you do that two more times, pretty please?”
She nodded and left again.
El Scorcho smiled pleasantly and stared at the other three, his blue eyes falling from each to each. Then his smile flickered a little, and he looked at the thief.
“Are they stupid or something?” the barbarian asked.
“Uh, no,” the thief said and rapped his knuckles on the table. “Gentlemen, you’re being rude to our new friend. Our new, seven-foot-tall, four-hundred pound friend.”
The wizard sputtered. “You’re lecturing us about manners?”
El Scorcho raised a hand. “Hold on, let me explain. I tracked our little decomposing goblin friend and his buddy five miles away from here. They were tracking a family of halflings, which they had just been about to rob and, most likely, murder. I chased both of them here. If I hadn’t done that, those halflings, including three children, would be lying dead in a ditch right now.”