There was a clattering sound as the heavy oak door was swung open violently and the silent tavern sprang to life, the bartender looked up; suddenly lively. The men held their drinks and stared in the direction of the newcomer with shock; the previous quiet was interrupted by the sounds of curious shuffling.
“Aaron!” one of the men called out to the visitor.
The newcomer collapsed onto the wooden floors with a thud, his back was a mass of burned flesh although his front appeared for the most part unscathed. As the men clambered over to Aaron, the bartender efficiently darted about behind the bar grabbing a pitcher of water and some cloth as well as a pair of tongs and a bottle of whiskey that was half empty.
“Aaron! What happened?” another one of the men inquired.
“Don’t crowd him Gregory, he’s hurt, back away, let him breathe a moment!” the third said, pulling Gregory back.
The Bartender approached the crowd and addressed all of the men, “Seamus, fetch me a knife from the kitchen. Paul, get me a needle and some thread from the upstairs room. And Gregory I need you here.”
Seamus and Paul nodded, and ran off in the directions of their tasks.
Gregory turned to the bartender, “Maro, what happened to him?”
Maro shook his head as the bar-hand scurried about shutting the drapes over the windows and making a clear spot on one of the larger tables. Aaron stank of brimstone and burning flesh, blood was dried to his skin; his wounds had been sealed shut.
Maro spoke softly under his breath, “Damn, they’ve come too soon”
Seamus and Paul entered the room carrying the objects of their tasks as Gregory turned to Maro and sternly asked, “Who’ve come too soon?”
Maro looked gravely at Gregory, and once again the tavern grew silent.