Roundbelly's head was still throbbing from the night before. His memory was foggy, but he vaguely remembered cracking open the door to the Fool's Gold Inn, a wave of laughter, music and frolicking rushing out louder than the mighty waterfall in East Karana, and the beer taps flowing just as fast too. Roundbelly preferred staying at Weary Foot's Inn where he could actually get a good night's rest, but tonight he was in the mood to celebrate the hard-earned mastery of his new spells. Imbibing in a bottle of gnomish spirits, he was soon dancing with a gnome enchantress who kept changing illusions, now as a ogre who lifted him off his feet and swung him faster and faster, until he begged for mercy to rest - and had the bad fortune of plopping down in the seat next to Rivervale's local braggart, Mithere.
The racuous laughter and cacophony in Fool's Gold was even louder than usual, in no small part due to Mithere who was in a boasting match with a traveling band of dwarven clerics. "Tumpy's Tonic you call this?! You'd better rename this Brell's piss-water" Mithere declared, spraying out a mouthful of the dwarven drink that narrowly missed Roundbelly. "Are ye sure Bristlebane did'na put fur on yer tongues like yer foot? Ye surely have'na any taste buds" one of the dwarves retorted. "Better my feet, or even my tongue, than my women, like this fine honey here!" Mithere shot back, while reaching out to stroke the beard of one of the dwarven female clerics, which earned him a swift sock in the eye. "Nobody touches tha beard! Thar be only one way to settle this, halflings. Bartender, line up the best of Kaladim fer these two rascals here, and the best of Rivervale fer us. Last dwarf standin' be tha victor!" the leader of the dwarves gruffly shouted. Roundbelly had no idea how he got himself mixed into this, but he was now defending his hometown's honor with his new "best friend". He almost made it through to the final Tumpy's Tonic when everything faded to black.
The next morning, Roundbelly woke up on the floor with a splitting headache and famished, next to local eccentric vagabond Randytrevor. Startled but too tired to care, he was about to put his head down again, when Mithere shook him awake. "Wake up Roundbelly! You have to help me gather some rat ears for Ella Foodcrafter, or I'll lose my job. You're lucky I got you away from that female dwarf cleric who almost took you home last night. I even had to polish off your last tonic." Roundbelly replied, "Look at us Mithere! We're in no shape to go hunting now, we can barely stand up to cast a spell." But Mithere had a plan, "Don't worry, Nurrwin over there is an old buddy of mine, and he'll cast a few druid spells of protection for us. We can literally just stand there and let his protective spikes do the work."
Roundbelly was skeptical and his head hurt, but he felt obligated to his new friend for sparing him from a much more embarrassing fate last night. As the pair stumbled out looking for rats, he noticed his friend could barely stand, let alone cast any healing spells. Mithere didn't bother to check his health or mana, or rest when he was running around. Twice, he noticed his friend just sitting there with eyes glazed over while a large rat chomped on his leg, with no expression on his face - until he suddenly spun around. "This is going too slow. We have to take on one of these giant rats if I'm going to meet my quota before sundown." Without checking to notice Nurrwin's magical spikes had long faded, Mithere rushed to bash a nearby giant rat on the tail with no protection. Roundbelly barely had time to notice his companion fall quickly to only 3 bites from the giant rodent, and he was barely able to toss a heal on his friend's fallen body - the angry giant rat turned to him while he staggered back toward Rivervale with unsteady legs that felt like jelly. He almost didn't make it, were it not for a fellow halfling druid passing by, who cast a spell of healing and offered some rabbit stew to ease his headache.
Roundbelly learned an important lesson that day that he would never forget - it's important to know who you're grouping with - but it's even more important to know who you've been drinking with.