9A Chapter by Lowesy
I turned out from the alley and onto the main street, the commotion sounded like it was coming from the East. Following the cheers I began walking.
‘The King’s Inn’ stood cramped between two shabby buildings. It wasn’t a pretty sight itself but sturdy enough to withstand a history of bar fights and the riots of sixty years before. The riots were because taxes were on the rise, which meant so were prices of stock. The people couldn’t live like that. Riots were inevitable when the rich sat in their silk and dined on steak. A battered sign displaying the emblem of a stoutly looking king riding a white horse and pointing a thin sword into the air swung against the breeze, creaking as it did so.
A few men stood outside, bracing the cold wind for a few moments of fresh air before allowing another wave of liquor to blur their vision further.
“Hey,” one said to me pointing whilst steadying himself against the wall. “Hey, don’t you remember me?” A laugh gargled into a cough.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know you.” I dipped my head as I walked past him.
I stopped dead. I didn’t even look up to acknowledge this man. The smoke poured out of the Inn, the sound of cheering and shouting must have drowned him out. I heard him wrong, I was sure of it.
I heard the drunk stumbling over to me.
I hadn’t misheard. There were only a handful of people in Seren who knew me by that name. One was my brother, the other was Jak, lastly was whoever was left in the battalion that attacked Ragstaffe.
A hand fumbled for my shoulder. I jumped back, my fists up and ready. One of my hands brushed past my belt, my mind just remembering my punch and dagger were in the hands of that b*****d Jűr.
I instantly recognised the man. Temur Manning, a stocky man, a little shorter than me, square jaw and square head. He was a bald man, dark skinned and dark eyed amongst the bloodshot whites. He kept a heavy beard which hid the little neck he had. Temur was good man, and he was a friend from the army. Was.
“You got the wrong man.” I made another attempt to leave but he caught my arm.
I looked into his eyes; they were dead set on mine. He was serious now, a moment of fixation from his drunken haze.
“I know it’s you, Eli. Don’t worry, what name d’you go by these days.”
I considered for a moment, he had made me, no doubt about that. I was recognised either way. Two ways I could play this. One, I could leave, run away and take the chance that Temur would go blabbing. Two, we could talk.
Sighing, I made up my mind. “Cal.” I turned to face him square on, “name’s Cal.”
Temur held out a hand which I shook, his rough palms grated against mine. “Pleased to meet you, Cal.” He held open the door for me to enter, the noise doubling in volume.
We walked past the threshold. Smoke lingered, dancing across the ceiling. Smoke from cigars, cigarettes and pipes, each with an interesting and different smell which had its hold owner and with each owner comes with their own story. Men of different styles, different shades of grey and brown and black talked and mingled across the tavern floor. Some stood, some sat, and one even lay on the floor laughing insanely about the room spinning. Men of different sizes and shapes, large and burly from a lifetime of fighting or lifting, some were slimmer and smarter with sharp eyes peering into every nook and cranny of people’s moves and conversations. For me, a man without a blade on his body, I needed to be all of these characteristics rolled into one.
Temur showed me to a little booth in a corner. On the way he ordered two glasses and a bottle of brown liquor. He sat opposite me and poured me a glass. The oak table in front of us had a dark surface, slightly sticky to the touch. Markings and carvings were left from other customers.
I gulped it down in one. It burned the back of my throat as it slid its way past my tongue.
“So, you one of these guys now, huh?” Temur nodded to the population of the Tavern before downing his glass and pouring two more.
“Yeah, had to. You?”
Temur shook his head. “No, I decided to go for an honest life.” He chuckled.
“That supposed to mean something?” I stared at him.
“No, just saying. You’re living an easy life doing s**t; I’m struggling to get by being good. Hardly right, is it?”
He looked at me, dark eyes staring into my own. I knew he could probably take me, sober that is, hopefully I could beat him while he couldn’t stand straight. The air was quiet between us, around us however the party was in full swing. Another cheer added to the noise as two men pitted their ability to drink against each other.
“Let’s move on, shall we?” Temur gave a smile; his eyes were still serious though.
“Let’s.” I took another drink. My eyes began to lose focus, my shoulders became more relaxed.
“What happened when you left? Your head wasn’t all there.”
“Ragstaffe was it. Done. Had enough. Walked away after seeing those bodies burning.”
Temur nodded, agreeing to the memory being too much, the smell of burning hair, of blood thick in the air as the black smoke rose.
“Couldn’t do it again.”
“Another Ragstaffe, another massacre.”
“They had it coming.” Temur shook his head.
“Nobody deserved that, Temur, no one. What we did wasn’t human.”
“They burned down the Eastern Port.”
“And we killed burned farmers and their families.” I stared at Temur, resentment from seven years of memories in my eyes. “Not soldiers, Temur, farmers.” I looked at the table and sighed, the tension had grown further between us. Finally I said, “what about you? What are you doing now?”
He waited before he answered, clearly wary about my attitude. “I left two years ago now, been working as a smithy on Plinth.”
“You good at it?”
Temur chuckled again, the tension eased. “I’m ok.”
We sat in silence for a few more moments; Temur blew out a breath and stared at his refilled drink. I thought back to Ragstaffe, how we both pulled through without ending up in the gutters or dead. The thought of fire made my stomach churn, of the people that were strewn about across the grass and footpaths. Their empty eyes staring up at me. I thought of the house at the end of the path, of the captain sat atop his horse, ordering me to enter and kill the occupants. I thought of opening the small brown door of a short, squat, white house. The people inside screamed, a small family, two little girls with their mother’s arms clutching them close, they still screamed, and cried, and begged for their lives. I remember standing there, in the doorway, sword drawn and staring at them. My heart pounding, my legs quivering.
A man jumped from the side, he appeared to come from nowhere. We bundled to the ground, and he landed on my sword. Realisation hit me there and then. Sat opposite Temur in the tavern. I searched my pockets and pulled out the photograph Lowri had found in Little Rich’s flat. The man from my memory was the man standing next to Little Rich, the same man who I saw in the Netherworld and in the alley. A tear came to my eye. I killed him. I can still hear the screaming, even amongst the heavy atmosphere of the tavern.
“Cal?” Temur tried to coax me out of my nightmare, his voice sounding like a distant echo. “Cal?”
I put the photograph on the table and pushed it over to him. I watched him pick it up, mull it over and then put it back on the oak table.
“See him?” I pointed to the tall, thin man. “I killed him in Ragstaffe.” I pulled the bottle of liquor to me and took a long swig.
I sighed, “you know anything about a diary? Or a Vladimir Fűdd?”
“No, what of them?”
“Nothing,” I stood up, swaying a little more than I felt I would. I dropped a few coins on the table for the drinks. “See you around.” I made a move to walk away, “Temur?”
“You really think it was worth it?”
“An eye for an eye, right?”
I left the Tavern feeling as if a weight had been lifted. The distant memory of this man had been discovered. For that I was happy. All those years I was blocking out memories, if I hadn’t been blocking them out I would have remembered. S**t.
I headed for Lowri’s.
© 2012 Lowesy
Added on March 20, 2012
Last Updated on March 24, 2012
Abouthttp://www.youtube.com/user/TheFailedMusicians?feature=mhee www.twitter.com/authorlowes I'm back with avengance! Read, Review.....something else that begins with 'R' RR's are on for now but .. more..
People who liked this story also liked..