Monday, March 23, 2015

Day Eight-Thirty-Six: Oh, right, that main character and his family are still a thing

Knock, knock, knock.

“I’ll get it!”

“No, please, sweetie, don’t, you’re gonna - “

“Too late!”

In his enthusiasm to see who’d come to visit, Traveller ripped the door from the hinges. Again. Surprisingly, the old man standing on the other side, waiting on the front porch, barely even flinched at this display of jovial violence.

“Hello, Traveller,” Pagan said, raising one eyebrow. “I thought you’d been banned from opening the door.”

“I did it anyway!” Traveller proclaimed, beaming. He stepped aside to let Pagan in. “You’re really old, did ya know?”

“Yes,” Pagan replied dryly, shaking his head. “A little bit older than the last time I saw you, even. That tends to happen to people.”

Traveller’s eyes goggled at the information, yet they goggled a little less with every second that it took to process what Pagan was saying. It sometimes took his brain a while to remember that it possessed common tidbits of knowledge such as the passage of time. In this case, it was long enough for Pagan to knock the dirt off of his greaves and enter the house.

Martha the Farmer was waiting for him in the living room, a tray of fresh breaded treats already making the descent to the table. Oswald was strapped to the couch, and his spindly wooden arms snaked out to grab at the treats without pause. Martha’s attempts to push them away did not dissuade the burly torso, and soon he’d stuffed two rolls in his mouth - and left a splinter blazing in his cheek.

“Hello, Lord Pagan,” Martha said in greeting, bowing cordially. “What brings you ‘long today?”

“Oh, just a visit between campaign stops,” Pagan said, nodding his own greeting. “And just Pagan will do, Martha. We’ve seen each other often enough by now.”

Martha shook her head. “Nope. Nobles get the noble treatment s’long as they deserve it, and anybody who runs a gosh-darned rebellion deserves it. Have a seat. Would y’like some tea?”

“Please. And a smidge of honey, if you don’t mind. I feel a little under the weather.”

“Well, you are pretty fuckin’ old,” Oswald grunted, though he smiled. It faded as he scowled at Traveller, who’d just entered the room with the front door still clutched in one hand. “Y’damned idiot, will you put that back already? How many times y’gonna break the fuckin’ thing?”

“Probably a bunch more!” Traveller admitted. He wandered away to re-affix the door to its hinges, a practice that he’d quickly grown to enjoy.

“‘least he’s honest.” Oswald sighed, stuffing another bun in his mouth. “Ah fink ‘e’s pwetty wetawded up tawp, though. Mmm, tasty shit.”

Pagan tutted at the spray of bread crumbs from Oswald’s mouth. “You could be twins.”

“They do look alike, don’t they?” Martha reentered, a steaming cup of tea in her hands. She handed it to Pagan, laughing. “I swear, that boy’s just like Dragomir was when he was young. Stronger, give ‘im that, but every bit as charming.”

Dropping into a chair, Pagan peered down the hallway. Traveller was busy shifting the door back into place, hands clumsily reattaching the hinges. Pagan was surprised that the hinges were still capable of being reattached. “Yes. Charming. Sure. I thought you were going to find him a new place to live? Dragomir seemed rather put out by your, ah, ‘adoption’ of him.”

“He’s good ‘round the house,” Oswald said, brushing crumbs from his beard with little success. “Well, outside it, anyway. Good fer tendin’ the field if ya need to uproot a rock or somethin’. Can’t do that so much myself anymore. Keeps the goblins out, too, which is a blessin’. Little bastards keep tryin’ to steal my squid.”

Pagan bristled. He hated the taste of calamari. “Lovely. Still, Dragomir…?”

“Oh, he’s a fusspot,” Martha said, sitting beside her stump of a husband. She sipped from her own mug of tea. “Ever since he came home he’s been so moody. I know he has a lot on his mind, what with his war and all, but you think he might be more polite to his parents. We’ve barely seen him since you got back a few days ago. I bet you’ve seen more of ‘im than us.”

“We have a lot of late night planning sessions, which is probably why I’m feeling rather foul,” Pagan admitted. He coughed and stirred his tea, watching the glob of honey in it slowly dissolve and wondering how thick it must have been in the first place. “He’s a newcomer to military strategy. I’m trying to teach him the basics while I attend to the details, but he’s not grasping it all that well. I think that’s frustrating him.”

“That ’n not gettin’ laid, I bet,” Oswald grunted, chortling. “Make any guy testy.”

“Os! Hush!” Martha swatted him with a pillow. It bounced uselessly off of his head. “But, ah, he doesn’t… talk about Libby, does he…?”

“She attends the meetings, too.” Pagan watched Traveller enter the room and plop, cross-legged, onto the floor. “There’s tension. But they still share a bed, as far as I know. I’m sure they get into plenty of arguments over Fynn.”

“Not Eve, though, I bet,” Oswald said. “Always liked her better. More my style.”

“Eve has nice boobies,” Traveller interjected. “Why do I feel gross saying that, anyway? Anybody know?”

Conversation continued, hopping from one banal subject to another, and Pagan quickly realized that he’d come here completely without purpose beyond idle chitchat. Give his itinerary these days, that was an extreme oddity: if he wasn’t consulting with Dragomir, or trying to teach him the intricacies of maintaining a fledgling military, he was usually dealing with The Baron or the leaders of the factions that made up said military. It was exhausting work, and left little time for niceties such as visiting friends.

When Martha decided that Pagan ‘simply must’ stay for dinner, Pagan decided that, yes, these folks were friends. Even if he was having second thoughts about their son.

The second knock on the door did not come until Martha was sweeping the first round of emptied plates off of the table, and, as always, Traveller was the first to dash for the intercept. His gleeful charge into the hallway took a small chunk out of the left wall, and the lurch of the door - as well as the scream of metal - hinted at more lasting damage than normal.

“Trav, you fuckin’ oaf!” Oswald yelled, slamming his wooden fist on the table somewhat impotently. Apparently annoyed by the resulting clatter, he satisfied himself by headbutting the table instead, which was much louder. “Watch the door! Or buy us a new one!”

Traveller shouted an apology, but he was not the first person to enter the dining room. They were instead greeted by a surly, gap-toothed expression, plastered onto a wide face that Pagan knew all too well. He spent so much time in its company that he was quite sick of it by now.

“Hello, Dragomir,” Pagan said, raising a hand in greeting nevertheless. “Fancy seeing you here.”

No comments:

Post a Comment