Thursday, July 16, 2009

Berserker Part 32

Kyle led the first of the wagons to the horse stables. Found after much blind searching, the people in the town seemed frozen to the spot, too scared even to give directions. Thankfully the stablehands must not have heard the news of their arrival, thus they went to secure unhitch the horses and take them into their care without a second glance.

Kyle jumped down from his perch and stretched happily, as did many others. A short portly man came out from behind the stables, pitchfork still in hand, by the smell it wasn’t hay he had been shoveling. He walked over to Kyle.

“How many wagon do ye have?”, he inquired.

“Not as many as we started with”, Kyle quiped miserably.

Obviously put off by this, the man assumed a more aggressive surly posture. “A large wagon train might find themselves with a few extra expenses.”, he boldly threatened.

“We’ll just find another stable then”, Kyle countered with feigned indifference. Inwardly he comitted murder countless times upon this obese, bullheaded, nitwit who stood between them and rest. It wasn’t that Kyle was afraid of the man, his pitchfork, or his smell, but the qaurtermaster, Terris was so tightfisted that he would probably make Kyle pay for the stables out of his own meager salary if the prices were too steep.

“Good luck”, the man countered with a cheesy smile. “The next stable large enough to house this caravan is a hundred leagues east of here”.

The stable owner had Kyle cornered, happily surveying the wrangler’s sad and beaten features. However, he had overlooked the man still sitting despondantly at the head wagon...until he got up that is. Jarn didn’t stand up so much as unfold from a fetal position full of self pity to a towering inferno of purpose.

Hopping down lightly from the wagon he strode over the cobbled streets growing larger in the stableowner’s eyes with each step. Till he stood in front of the narrow-minded little criminal, the man’s face level with Jarn’s stomache. His lower lip trembled as Jarn bent double to look into his eyes.

The man remembered once seeing how a horse was broken, the stallion was tethered, screaming and kicking mindlessly. As time went by the thing foamed at the mouth and its eyes bulged insanely. The giant standing before him had these same eyes. But he’s not frothing at the mouth, the man thought, he’s frothing at the mind.

“We have traveled more than five times that distance”, Jarn spoke in a low cold voice. “lost friends and family along the way, discovered a vangaurd of monsters that mankind gladly thought to be extinct, and a man in the wagon behind me is dying as we speak simply because you want to look a big man”. Finishing his chilling monologue, Jarn snatched the pitchfork from the man’s nerveless fingers with blinding speed and slammed it into the ground. Driving the rusted tines of the tool through four inches of solid cobblestone, just a gnats whisker from the stable master’s toes.

They stood there, one man trembling in fear, the other in rage, and the pitchfork because of a a slight breeze. Taking a deep breathe Jarn regained a little more civility, taking a step back he cleared his throat. “Now, how much to house these wagons?”, he asked, his voice sweet as arsenic.

After a few moments of unintelligable stammering, the man managed to speak. “Um, no charge milord. Happy to be of service”. The man hastily waddled past Jarn, suddenly very intent on doing his job.

Kyle was filled with a mix of awe at the man’s bladder control and joy at keeping his pay. He carefully approached Jarn, he seemed to have calmed down more. Nervously smiling, “I am in your debt”, he said. “If you hadn’t talked to him I would be in real debt”. Tittering nervously he caught hold of a passing stablehand. “Where can we go for a celebratory drink?”, he inquired.

“That would be the Inn of the Castaway, its down two blocks that way”, he stated, pointing down the street.

“Would you like to come?”, Kyle asked Jarn.

“S’been a while since I had a drink”, Jarn mused. “I could do with one”.

“Excellent”, Kyle said in delight. “Let’s fetch the others then.

They found the others gathering their things from the sleep wagon, from their observations of the stablemaster, none of them trusted him with their goods. Kyle grabbed his purse from his bedroll and Jarn equipped his axes and sword.

“Anyone up for a drink or two?”, Kyle asked them

Millienya looked up from her possessions. “Tyrel, Aniston, and I are taking Seryan to the apothecary-

“But the rest of us are free”, interjected Lars with the speed of a man who knew that a cool drink would disappear into the tall grass if he wesn’t quick.

“What do we do with the gnoll?”, inquired Aniston absently twirling his flowing moustache.

“Leave him with the stablemaster”, Tyrel said with a leer and chuckle.

“No, Dolt!”, Millienya admonished. “We have to take it with us to identify the poison”.

“Fair enough”, Aniston replied. He turned to adress the group anxious to leave. “We’ll meet back here tommorrow morning then”.

“Yes mother”, Lars shot back as they walked away.

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