Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day Five-Fifty-Four: Such a nice man

I had no lasting relationship with Lord Cannonbottom as a child.

Growing up, I was often warned to stay away from Cannonbottom's tower. It was off-limits until I was a teenager, and even then, my mom told me not to get too close. She didn't trust Cannonbottom's trigger finger, and fully expected him to blow himself up one day, given all the gunpowder packed into the walls.

(She's probably not wrong, either. One accident, and… boom. Hopefully we're long gone before it happens.)

I felt no great urge to disobey my mom's wishes. When Rob and I were only a few years old, we watched Cannonbottom blow up a cow in the next field over. It was a total accident, and Cannonbottom paid for the beast after the fact, but… nevertheless… it's a hell of a thing to see an animal explode. We respected the power contained in the tower, and though we were often bored, the tower was off the docket as far as pranks were concerned.

Today, I went to visit Lord Cannonbottom in his home. It's not the first time, but I certainly hope it's the last.

The inside of Cannonbottom's tower is, as I mentioned, unremarkable. There are stairs, a few age-old and boring decorations, supplies on the bottom two floors, a shitload of loaded cannons, and stone walls. The only thing worth noting is the omnipresent smell of rotten eggs. It's not so strong in Cannonbottom's small meeting room and apartment on the top floor, but it's still there nevertheless.

Cannonbottom welcomed me in with his usual paranoid courtesy. He offered me a cold drink and a sandwich (no flames allowed in the tower), and I sat before his old, wooden throne upon a pile of pillows. Cannonbottom himself always has a sword hanging at his hip, and he's no slouch in using it, so he didn't bother with guards.

"Dragomir, right?" Cannonbottom stroked his beard. He reminds me a lot of Pagan. "Yep, Dragomir. You lot've been here a while. Makes an old man nervous, it does. Almost ready to leave?"

I munched on my sandwich. Cold fish, still boned. Ew. "Yeah. Tomorrow. I think we've rested long enough."

"Wonderful. 'n where're you headed again?"

"The Imperium. We've got a long trip ahead of us. Way over to the western seaboard, I'm told."

"Ahhh, ahhh." Cannonbottom shrugged. He rolled a cannonball from one hand to the other. "Excellent. Far away. Very good. Helluva machine you've got out there, by the way, helluva machine. Couldn't spare any more cannons, could you…?"

I shook my head. Cannonbottom's been trying to steal cannons off of us for our entire stay. We bartered one away in exchange for one of his older models and some food; he's been obsessed with it ever since. "Sorry. We need the rest. Dangerous territory, you know."

"Yes, yes, of course." More beard stroking. "Dangerous radicals over there. Liberals, I hear. Have to keep your guard up 'round liberals. Vacuous fools."

I nodded, inwardly rolling my eyes. Couldn't tell you what a liberal is, even if I did play the politician for almost a year. "We will, don't worry. I mainly just wanted to say goodbye, 'n thank you for letting us come in here…"

"Mmmmm, any time, any time, so long as it's not right now, or for a long while."

"… and, uh, I guess I wanted to ask you a question."

Tapping the cannonball lightly against his throne, Cannonbottom fidgeted. "A question? What kind of question? Nothing 'bout liberals, is it? Deserve a ball in their eye, do those liberals."

"I'm sure." I shook my head. "No, not liberals. I, ah, was wondering if you… remember… me. When I was a kid."

He cocked his head. "You? You was Oswald's brat, right?"

"Yeah." I pressed forward. "You were at our house a fair bunch, 'n I came here a few times. You must remember… something… about me. Anything?"

Cannonbottom's face scrunched into a thoughtful scowl. "Well… hell, why would I have to remember any of that shit? I've been lord 'o this place for years. People come, people go, 'n as I recall, you went off to some cushy guardin' job. S'about all I remember of you."

Yeah, because I mentioned it a few days ago. "Please, m'lord. It's… important. Anything about me. Was I strong? Smart? Stupid? Did… did I have different hair?"

"What, you think I don't have anythin' better to do than to pay attention to your fuckin' do, son?" Cannonbottom sniffed. "I'm a lord! Lord of a town, 'n a damned fine one! And as the lord of this damned fine town, I'm outright sayin' that you should be on your merry way 'fore I bust out my cannons!"

Taking in a deep breath, holding back my irritation, I nodded and rose. I remember why I never liked Cannonbottom. "Tomorrow, we'll be outta your hair for good. Sorry to waste your time."

Cannonbottom grunted. I turned, and walked down the stairs, and left. The last I heard from Cannonbottom was something about telling my dad to stay gone. Guess ol' Oswald tried to mutiny on Cannonbottom a few times, too.

That's that. Dissatisfied as I am, we're leaving tomorrow. I know it's a mistake, to take off without concrete answers about all this… because I know Villeinville has something important in it… but we're leaving.


Maybe I can come back some day and figure this all out.


Dragomir the Wanderer