Friday, October 5, 2012

Day Three Hundred: Let's get the hell outta here

We are on our way! My parents are staying here! An attractive woman is coming with us! As Prince Logan would say if he were still alive which I sincerely hope he IS, woot!

(What the hell does that mean, anyway? All I know is it's good. Gotta be more to it that that, though.)

Robert strolled into Villeinville an hour before lunch, which, he claimed, was strategic. "Gotta be in time for the lunch rush, y'know - can't leave the customers hanging," is what he told me. I think he's stuffed full of wishful thinking, 'cause the ONLY people who came to his Beefiary wanted to partake of Bora's booze. And company. And though nobody said anything, I'm pretty sure the farmers wanted to avoid the 'ingredient' Robert had culled from his hunting expedition.

"Dragomir!" he yelled, rushing away from the gates of the palisade to give me a bear hug. "By the gods, you made it outta that shithole! Great to be free, eh? GREAT to be free. Come to taste my world-renowned Seaweed Surprise? It ain't world-renowned yet, I'll grant ya, but it WILL be in a few minutes! Just wait 'n watch!"

Robert rushed past me before I could ask where in the hell he'd procured seaweed. One of his followers - whom I recognized as a trumpeter and bannerman from the 'ol castle, 'cause a lot of the peasants and servants and whatnot followed Robert here, for lack of a better destination - told me that they'd been HUNTING seaweed. On the plains! Apparently big clouds of the stuff have been drifting southward for days! Didn't know water-born plants could migrate. What a wonderful world be this.

That same trumpeter also made an appeal on behalf of the whole group:

"Please, by the gods, free us from that idiot's tyranny."

Robert is a wizard in the kitchen, and he knows how to order around his subordinates. There's a very good reason why he kept his position as head chef after leading a strike in our old home, not to mention a few months of veiled insurrection thereafter. Dude knows his food, and a king would be mad to boot Robert.

But… his leadership OUTSIDE the kitchen… not so great. (I suspect Driscol the Count helped Robert in guiding his strike more than even Robert anticipated. It was way too successful to be a Robert-only plan.)

Here's what's happened since Robert and his twenty-something 'assistants'  left the castle, in short form:

- Travelled the plains, heading home
- Got lost because Robert insisted they head south, not west as they should have
- Nearly got eaten by a pack of wildebeests when Robert realized he'd never tasted wildebeest before, and tried to capture a calf by stuffing it in his knapsack
- A few days later one poor bastard DID get eaten, when Robert accidentally knocked him into a pit of snakes - gotta watch out for those roaming pits, they'll getcha every time
- Lost their supplies when Robert traded everything away for a shipment of shark extract (I was assured that the resulting pie tasted delicious)
- Were sold into slavery for the better part of a month until Robert bartered for everyone's freedom by offering up their souls as collateral - and when that didn't work because a soul does not represent a credible monetary unit, the slaves simply rushed their jailors and ran off into the night
- Disguised themselves as part of a convoy headed to the Imperium, pretending to be the servants of a blind nobleman who knew no better
- Eventually made it to Villeinville, whereupon Robert confiscated everyone's remaining goods and sold them off so he could start his restaurant
- Now everybody who follows Robert is forced to eat stew and leftover bread while all the good food goes to the few customers Robert gets

Terrible. Just terrible. That's what you get when you give the lead to a guy like Robert, though - he's a specialist to the end, and everything that doesn't involve food won't turn out to his liking. Shrug?

The story told, I patted each and every one of Robert's followers on the back - and greeted 'em, 'cause I knew them all at least a teensy bit - and followed Robert to his Beefiary. A party was already in full swing, the farmers congregating for a drink under Bora's watchful eye.

Bypassing a drunken crowd of farmers embroiled in a card game - including my dad, who always loses because he has to drop his cards with his single hand, simultaneously flashing what he's got left to the rest of the table - I waded into the kitchen, waving at Bora as I passed. She smirked, twirling a piece of seaweed on her finger.

Robert hunched over a giant iron cauldron at the rear of the kitchen, reaching into a bag at his side and slapping handfuls of seaweed into the water. With each new lump of seaweed he stirred a dozen times using a giant brass ladle.

"Hey, bro," I said from across the kitchen, waving. Dunno why - I knew he wouldn't turn around.

He waved back, over his head. "Dragomir! C'mere. Got somethin' delicious for ya to try. Won't be done for a couple more minutes, but I betcha it'll turn heads even at this early stage. Hoo boy, I'm gonna be freaking RICH with this recipe!"

Rolling my eyes, I pulled up beside him. Robert grabbed a spoon from a nearby pot and invited me to take a taste. I did, tentatively, dipping into the murky green waters and plunging the spoon in my mouth. Couldn't be THAT bad…

… and it wasn't. Decent. I've had better, I've had a hell of a lot worse. It wasn't a game-breaking meal, and Robert knew my answer to his unasked question from the expression on my face.

He scowled. "Ah, bugger ya. This lot out there'll understand me better. They GET me here, y'know."

"Look, Robert, I don't care about your dish. I'm -"

"Out!" He shoved me out of his kitchen, using his ladle to beat me back into the dining hall. "You'll see! You'll all see!"

Ten minutes later, I did see. Robert paraded out of the kitchen with a dozen steaming bowls of soup, on the house, for the gathered farmers. Half of them slurped up the meal without comment; three openly wretched and asked what the hell Robert thought he was on about; our dad chucked his bowl out the window, accidentally throwing his cards as well.

"Fuck me, I had a good hand," he muttered. "Robert, this's more 'o that hoighty-toighty noble shit, ain't it? I keep tellin' ya, we don't want yer crap! Make us a plate 'o beans or somethin'. C'mon, chop chop. M'bowels are itchin' for a fart-fest."

The farmers laughed. Dad bowed and apologized insincerely to Bora, who didn't look at all offended. Then dad took a swig of beer and asked to see her boobs, and all was once again par for the course.

Robert stormed into his kitchen. I followed. He complained. I listened.

"Fuck me!" He upturned a stack of wooden bowls across the floor. "Fuck me, Dragomir, but I miss home! I miss that asshat Jeffrey! 'least I got to make more refined slop every now 'n then! These country-fried retards want the same shit every day, 'n that's when they want anythin' at all! M'talents are wasted, here, you hear me?!"

"Innit 'countryfied'?"

"Shut it, ya damned wordsmith!" He bonked me lightly on the head with his ladle, tossed it across the room, and slumped. "I figured I could start up somethin' grand out here, Drago. Why'd I bother? What brought me back to this shithole?!"

"Free room 'n board?"

Robert scratched his chin, then nodded. "Yeah… yeah, that's it… livin' at home is pretty sweet, even if I did have bigger quarters back at the castle… hey, y'think King Jeffrey would give me my old job back?"

"I doubt it, Rob. I'm pretty sure he's dead. Whole castle got destroyed. Long story."

"Ah? Well shit." Robert snapped his fingers. "Gotta find me a new patron. Buncha nobles who'll let me explore my cooking potential. Er…  got any ideas, Drago?"

I did.

We set out an hour later. Robert sold his restaurant back to Lord Cannonbottom in exchange for four covered wagons and horses to pull 'em. Robert's FORMER followers agreed to come along and help build the settlement - on the condition that Robert not be allowed to lead anything other than a kitchen. Robert, who never wanted to be much more than a master cook, happily agreed to that condition. And Bora, who's QUITE smitten with Robert, decided to come with us! So that's pretty cool.

Which left just one thing: my parents. OUR parents.

Mom wanted to come. She was loathe to let her little boys leave her again, and figured we wouldn't be able to get a settlement up and running. Dad was on the fence about coming, though he happily implied that having a guard such as me keeping watch would doom any community to absolute ruin.

That's when Libby stepped in.

"Dragomir's not going to be guard," she said as she passed by, Grayson in one arm and a sack of clothes in the other. "He's going to be mayor. And he'll do just fine as mayor."

My mother squealed with delight and hugged me. Dad… dad laughed his ass off, having finally learned my little secret. Said we were DEFINITELY screwed with me at the helm. Told me to quit while I was ahead, 'n not doom everyone else to a stupidity-laden death. He would've said a whole lot more, too…

… had Libby not cut him off. To everyone's surprise, she punched him in the arm. Real fucking hard. "Shut up, old man."

My dad rubbed his shoulder, too shocked to scowl. "Wh…"

"Dragomir's smart," Libby began, her voice level. "Real smart. Sure, he can be pretty dumb, but I know he'll lead us right. He'll be a fine mayor. He's got me, 'n his son, 'n his friends, 'n a buncha twits who know all the paperwork crap we don't care to learn. We'll build a home that's a thousand times better 'n anything you could do, you fucking drunk."

My mother can stand up to my dad. She's the only person. 'least that's what I thought before today.

"Leave your boy alone. He ain't the strongest man, nor the fiercest, but he's done shit that'd turn you white. He died for me, 'n my son, 'n he even came back for us. So you shut your goddamned mouth."

My dad stammered. His eyes didn't know what to focus on, so they bopped between my shrugging mother, Robert and I, the sky, the palisade wall, a cluster of farmers who'd taken refuge behind a wagon, and Libby as she walked towards the front gates of Villeinville, our son smiling over her shoulder.

I thought it was over. Libby, though, had one more thing to say:

"Before I forget, Martha, dearest mother-in-law, I'm not a whore. Ain't never been a whore, won't ever be a whore. So don't you insinuate I'm a whore. Whore."

I'm never inviting my parents to our new town.


Dragomir the Mayor


  1. And that's why I love Libby. Woot!

  2. "Please, by the gods, free us from that idiot's tyranny." because it makes me think of that peasant in the beginning of 'Quest for the Holy Grail' when they're debating the politics of the kingdom XD "HELP, HELP! I'M BEING REPRESSED!"

    1. You WOULD like that line, o ye bannerman, you.

    2. Aye, tis be a line close to my soul. A sorrowful cry of anguish and desolation, let loose upon a virtuous filled sigh of truth upon the lips of literature itself!

      and...other...poetic sounding crap...XD