The bar at the inn was so small, the six slightly inebriated members of the Order Of The Stick took up almost the entire room. Needless to say, they’d long ago run out of alcohol, and the barman had been giving them funny looks for the better part of an hour. They’d run out of bad jokes, which weren’t really that funny if you were only sort of drunk. After a half hour of trying, really trying to laugh at Elan’s jokes, Roy and Durkon gave up, deciding to just go to bed rather than ask, “Who’s there?” one more time.
Haley was the only one laughing at all, mostly because she’d drunk Elan’s beer. Vaarsuvius sat back, lips pursed, scowling. V had been the only one who had made the decision to abstain from drinking. Much to Redcloak’s dismay.
“DRINK! DRINK, Goddammit, drink!”
“They can’t hear you, shouting at the crystal ball has no effect,” said Tsukiko lazily flipping the pages of a magazine.
“Shut up,” he said tersely, “I have been planning this for months, and I will not allow this plan to be ruined by some teetotaler elf.”
“Well, I don’t see what you can do about it from here. Short of holding her down and pouring it down her throat, I don’t think you could do anything about it there, either.”
Redcloak opted out of responding, mostly because Tsukiko was correct. Instead, he stared intently at the goblin barman, who looked around nervously, and slipped out of the room. “Ah. Here we go. Showtime,” said Redcloak. Curiously, Tsukiko set her magazine down to watch the crystal ball. A few moments later, it seemed like the screen exploded.
There wasn’t time to think, only time to react. “V! Hurry!” Elan grabbed Vaarsuvius’ hand and ran, pulling V behind him as they fled. They burst out of the inn and into the chill night only a few seconds before the inn collapsed.
“… Was… Was anyone still in there?” Elan asked fearfully. He started towards the fiery mass of timbers, but V pulled him back.
“Elan… I do not know. But there is nothing more either of the two of us can do.”
“Yes there is! We can find people! We… We… We have to.” His voice broke as he said the last part, and he was sobbing. V stiffened, unsure of what to do. Hesitantly, V pulled Elan closer, and awkwardly put their arms around him, trying, and failing, to emulate the hugs their Other Parent would give after a bad day.
Elan returned the embrace, and cried until he couldn’t cry anymore. “We have to get out of here,” V said quietly, “Whomever lit the inn on fire will, in all likelihood, be here soon to ensure no one escaped.” Elan nodded, sniffling. The two crept off together into the forest. It wasn’t until much later either of them noticed they’d never dropped hands.