Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Day Six-Hundred-Eight: A Worrying Trend

When I woke up this morning, I found my party scattered. I expected as much, given the amount of drinking and cavorting last night. I also expected that at least one of them (Grylock) would get in trouble with the locals, and have to be yanked out of a drunk tank. I reserved no less than fifty gold for the purpose of bail.

I did not expect the person I was bailing out to be Jeffrey. Nor did I expect him to be facing such a steep charge.

I didn't sleep well last night, as I was ill-suited to my bed (do they put turnips in their mattresses in this blasted country?), so my body forced me to sleep late once I did sucumb to fatigue. I consequently awoke at 12 pm, one of my latest risings in recent history, and found my room empty. No son, no wife, no sleepy musician too cheap and too poor to pay for his own room.

Edmund was, nevertheless, the first person I encountered as I left the tavern. He was singing to a group of nobles, and his pot was already full of coins. Sweet voice, that bard, and well worth some gold.

I waited for Ed to finish his ballad, something sweet and long and quite perverse at times, then waved. "Hey hey, morning. Dream away that booze, did you?"

Though he'd held up admirably during the song, Ed clutched his skull as the crowd dispersed. "'tis a rough night indeed / That's spent in bed with mead."

"I wouldn't know." Though I had an idea. I've seen plenty of hangovers. "Where is everyone? Out gettin' breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Hope not dinner."

Ed laughed, though grimly. "Thou hast slept long, o Dragomir fine. / I fear thou hast missed a most grisly crime."

'Crime' swept away my lingering sleepiness. "Uh oh. Explain."

He did, though the explanation was short and lacking in detail. Someone in the tavern had spotted Jeffrey as he was getting up to use the toilet, taken exception to his appearance, and run off to fetch the soldiers. Within twenty minutes Jeffrey was under arrest, hauled off to a jail cell for a mystery crime.

Edmund pointed the way to the barracks (though he wouldn't come with - he said he's spent enough time in Imperium jails, and given that the last time he visited one he was with Kierkegaard I don't blame him) and I made haste. I found a few other members of my crew there, waiting anxiously outside and talking.

"Libby!" I called from down the street, nearly killing myself on a patch of snow as I approached. "They really need to shovel more often. What's goin' on? Why's Jeffrey in there?"

"You tell me." Libby pointed angrily to a guard by the entrance to the barracks. "He says Jeffrey can only have one visitor. Them's the rules. Jeffrey wants you, so none of us've been able to go in."

"Oh." I was flattered. "Guess I... better not leave him waiting."

"Here, dad, give him an apple." Fynn handed me a juicy golden delicious. "I don't think he ate breakfast this morning. Before the arrest 'n all."

I ruffled my boy's hair. "Thanks, son. Bet he'll appreciate that."

He didn't. "Sorry, I'm allergic to apples."

"You're kidding. I swear I've seen you eat one before."

"No, really. Allergic. I, uh, break out in apple... hives. Yeah. Big, red hives."

"You can just say you don't wanna dribble juice down into your eyes, y'know. You don't have to give me such a dumb lie."

"Oh. Yeah, I guess you're right. But I didn't wanna be rude. Plus I think the blood rushing to my head is making me stupid."

I wouldn't have thought Jeffrey would be worried about rudeness. The Imperium guards had locked him in a set of restraints remarkably similar to (though a fair bit rustier than) the set built by Libby when he arrived in Pubton. Difference was, they'd also twirled him upside-down, so his skull was mere inches from the cold, stone floor of his cell.

Despite the chill assaulting my joints I sat on the floor beside him, trying to make the most of my ten minutes of visiting time. "I don't get it, Jeff. What'd you do? Shank a farmer? Molest a cow? Eat someone's sacred animal?"

"I don't know!" Jeffrey tried to wail, but he was too woozy from his position to sound anything but dopey. "I woke up, I went to the washroom, I came out, and some guy screamed at me. Then the guards came, and now I'm here, and I really need to pee again, but I don't want to because it'll dribble down me. I don't want pee in my mouth, Dragomir, that's just gross."

"Yeah, it really is." I've known Grylock for too long. "Did you do anything last night you remember? Anything that might've gotten you in trouble?"

"Probably," muttered the guard standing outside the cell. "e's known 'round here. Infamous, ya'd say."

I rose to my feet. "Would ya, now. And why's that? Jeffrey's only been in town for a few days. Same with the rest of us."

"Likely story." The guard wiped a globular booger from his nose, flicked it at Jeffrey, and sniffed loudly. "We all know 'im. The fabulous Mr. L, one half of the most notorious thieves 'round these parts. We got 'im now, and we ain't ever lettin' him go."

"I'm not a thief!" Jeffrey groaned. "I can't steal anything! I tried to pickpocket my mother once, just for fun, and she caught me straight away! She was blind and deaf! I'm awful at it!"

The guard shrugged. "No reason ta trust a thief. You're like ta spend a long time in here, bud, count on it. 'n we'll catch your bosom buddy Ms. N and toss her in with ya, soon as not."

Mr. L. Ms. N. "Classy names. You, uh, got a wanted poster for 'em, at least? I'd like to mark the resemblance."

"Sure. This way."

"Please bring me a chamber pot," Jeffrey moaned. I fear to think what he's endured since then.

The guard led me away from the cells and into the warmer barracks interior. Near the entrance was a processing station for the ill-mannered scum of Trademore, and the wall behind the processing desk was covered in wanted posters. Each bore a bounty ranging from lacklustre to substantial.

The guard pointed at a pair of pictures hanging on their own. "There. Them's the vagabonds. Good thing we caught 'im like this - we'll all get a little cut, 'stead of some bounty hunter scum gettin' the whole pot."

On one piece of parchment was a woman I didn't recognize, presumably Ms. N. On the other piece... oh, boy, did I ever recognize that picture in a hurry.

Logan sure looks like his dad these days.


Dragomir the Wanderer


  1. 12 am would be midnight, so that'd be really late rising. It's weird how they switch it at 12 instead of one.