His face red with exertion, Dave struggled to keep up with the little group of Tim and the alchemists. No matter how hard he tried, his armor and stubby dwarven legs ensured he was never quite able to keep up with the rest of the group. This meant he was always going to take rear guard.
Tim was darting around the cluster of potion brewers, alternately keeping an eye out on the front and flanks. Pickpockets were his main concern, but even a careless NPC blundering into them could cause them to drop and break a fragile potion bottle. No doubt Mordred had drawn up a table detailing any number of horrible outcomes that would occur in that eventuality. Looking back, he saw Dave leaning against a fence, panting. “Haul ass, Dave! We're almost to the market square!” Dave didn't appear to hear him, and put his face up against the fence. Tim trotted back to see what had caught Dave's attention.
Dave motioned Tim to come closer. “Oh man, check this out! Someone drilled a hole in this fence here and-look, just check it out!” Music and laughter wafted from over the top of the fence.
Tim looked into the hole Dave vacated and saw a tableau that would have made Hieronymus Bosch hand in his paints and take up heavy drinking. A garden with fruit trees, flowers, fountains, and a shallow pool. Naked females of every fantasy race Tim had seen and a few he could only guess at were lounging around the pool and splashing each other. A wizened man in a purple silk robe sat in a chaise lounge under an umbrella. An elf and a gnome woman in their birthday suits seemed to be giving him a pedicure. A persistent tugging on his shirt sleeve that seemed to increase in urgency...
“C'mon, Tim, quit hogging the view!”, Dave whined, finally opting to use his superior dwarf mass to push Tim aside and replace him at the peephole. “Don't you need to be guarding the potion peddlers or something?”
“No more than you, dickweed”, said Tim. “Change of plans: we need to crash that fossil's party, and damn the consequences.” Reaching into his backpack, he pulled out a length of silk rope with a halfling-sized grappling hook at the end.
“I don't remember you buying that”, said Dave.
“Me either”, said Tim. “I don't even recall seeing it in the pack, but I guess if you have Thieve's Tools, it's just assumed you have whatever you need to do rogue stuff. Just another fucked-up way this world works. Thanks, Mordred.” Content that the grappling hook was secure, he handed the rope to Dave. “Ladies first.”
Had they been in their real-world bodies, the fence would have been a minor challenge at best. At half their height, though, it was a major obstacle. Dave's first attempt was to take a running start and try to run up the side of the fence. After skidding back down, Tim tried to give him a boost up. All this succeeded in doing was Tim getting Dave's hobnailed boot in his face. Finally, Tim got on his hands and knees and let Dave run up, then jump off his back. This got Dave two-thirds of the way up, letting him apply the strength in those stubby dwarven legs to power him up to the top of the fence. Dave wavered at the top of the fence for a moment, then managed to throw the rope back to Tim before doing a Karl Wallenda over the other side. Judging from the rustling and muffled cursing that immediately followed, Tim deduced the landing had lived up to Dave's usual grace.
Much lighter on his feet than Dave, Tim was able to scramble up the side and perch on top of the fence. He grinned down at Dave, who was still trying to extricate himself from a rose bush with inch-long thorns. “Now, don't you wish you'd put a point or two in the Climb skill?”
Dave finally managed to pull himself free of the bush's grasp and fall on his back, panting. His armor had deflected most of the thorns, but his face and arms were peppered with tiny oozing holes. After wiping the blood from his face with his leopard-furred forearm, he covered his face with one hand and muttered, “I heal me.” His body shuddered with something like a piss shiver as one by one, the holes stopped bleeding and new skin grew over them. “That feels so good, it's almost worth getting chewed up by a plant. Now let's go catch an eyeful of skin before they kick us out.”
Making their way around the perimeter of the fence and taking care to avoid the prickly hedge, Tim and Dave made their way towards a tiny grape arbor. “It's a small miracle nobody saw or heard you flop over the fence”, whispered Tim, “but I don't want to take any more risks than we have to. We'll hide out here and spy out just what the hell's going on here.”
Using the hedge as cover, Tim and Dave watched the elderly man drift in and out of consciousness as he received a shoulder massage from the elf maiden. So intent were they on getting a glimpse of pert elf boob, neither of them noticed the grapevines slowly unfurling and reaching down towards them...
After swapping out the last full piss barrel at the tanner's, Cooper swung a leg up to take shotgun on the cart's bench. “Nuh uh, big guy”, said Tony. “You're still wearing about a gallon of orc perfume there. In the back you go.”
“You wouldn't do this if I was Rosa Parks,” sulked Cooper.
“Feel free to sing 'We Shall Overcome' if you want, but your reek is making me gag,” said Tony. As if to punctuate his statement, one of the mules lifted its tail and farted.
“You don't wanna challenge me in that department, mule!”, Cooper said. Nestled among the barrels, he lifted one leg to release a prolonged bass fart that ended in a wet gurgle. Not to be outdone, the mule released another pile of turds as Tony twitched the reins and the cart started back towards the Whore's Head.
“Have you ever thought-and I realize that where you're concerned, I'm using that verb in its loosest possible meaning,” asked Tony, “that maybe changing your diet could help you in that department? I mean, if you weren't blotto twelve hours a day, you might not have constant beer shits?”
“Have you ever considered-and understand, I'm saying this as one of her most loyal customers, that if your mom charged more than a dime for head, she could have retired by now?” Yawning, Cooper stretched out. “Let me know when we go by Lord Hefnus's estate. I want to check out that peephole I drilled in his fence."