Chapter 2 part 6

Often times the story of how one gets a split lip is a good one in the eyes of Clemnilshala Noblehood. This fine afternoon was no different. Taverns were havens for outcasts and exiles alike, a safe roof for those exactly like her. Rogues brooded in corners and knights sat back in chairs, paying no attention to underhanded deals happening right under their noses. She was no different, she sat upon a barstool in the morning with naught but her small clothes to cover her pride and shame. Though only real clothes could cover the embarrassment of the tattoos that coated her body.
“Little cowld in here hm?” asked a tusked fellow with a mane that stood on end, adorned in feathers and beads only accentuating his boar’s snout and appetite as he bunts his shoulder on Clemnilshala’s.
She shook her head, her long tail wrapping around the legs of her barstool as the boar headed man’s wide ear twitched freely. He raised a ringed hand to tug at her remaining horn.
“Please down’t look at me like that now. Perhaps I can help yew get some clothes tew cover up this lovely skin of yours. What pretty markings, so intricate.” His eyes traveled around her shoulders watching the way rivers of old ink twisted and weaved down her arms and across the bony surface of her sensitive hands.
“Iffin yer serious, lad, what do I have tae do? Tae return the favor eh?” she pulled her horn from his hand, he lingers and gives her flopped-over ear a tug, surveying the holes of her piercings and little nicks from age. By the wild-things these boar-folk were touchy.
“Well yew see that gentleman there? Playing by himself? his presence is mucking with my affairs in the city. Yew may not know this but that man is a shiftling and a right scoundrel tew. He has taken a precious package from me and the monks of Tewlyne. I need yew tew get the parcel from him by any means necessary.”
Clemnilshala peered over her shoulder, the gentleman didn’t seem so bad, fortunate enough to have a handsome human’s face. “and what do I get from this, lad?”
“I’ll loan yew some new robes for yew tew return home in. He leaned his snout into his hand. “And I’ll even buy yew some courage. Get your nerves up with anything from this tavern’s repertoire. Yew must be quite hungry, sleeping next tew dog scraps all night long.”
She stopped to think about the deal she’d been offered. She was mighty hungry. As he must have noticed she had lived off the scraps from a dog’s food dish and took her rest on the floor of the kitchens the night before by the good grace of the kitchen keeper. She supposed that without the mantle of a mountain scout she could certainly do as she pleased. And of course, it’s for survival. Without her bow, she was sitting target for knights and other eynnil to fire at freely.
Just retrieve a package. Like a post carrier. That’s right. A postage worker.
“Butter eggs. A big plate of butter eggs over grain and ye have yerself a deal, lad” she extended a marked hand and clean palm to shake.
A deal was struck, a meal was ordered, butter eggs were eaten with a glass of raw milk and even little cubes of iylvienbol, a sort of cake made of dehydrated sour dairy that was often good on toast. Prohibitively expensive to the mountain scout who tried to hold herself back and eat slowly. Savoring the luxurious solid as long as possible she could hardly contain her excitement. Eating down the slick wet eggs, rices, and of course the milk-cake. It coated her throat and steeled her heart. The creamy texture of iylvienbol on her tongue certainly gave her the courage to approach the shiftling with not more than a pat on her marked back.
Clemnilshala in her smallclothes, pulled up a chair to the shiftling’s game of cards that he played by his lonesome. He didn’t move his head, only flicking his eyes to peer up his flat forehead.
“Help you?” he laid down another card.
She nods her head, her flopped-over ear patting her cheek with all the energy she’d been filled with thanks to a hearty breakfast. She bucked her good horn toward the bar counter where the boar sat.
“Y’know? I was never very good at card games.” She said, “I was wonderin’ iffin ye were willin’ perhaps ye coould teach me a real fun one, maybe shuffle a couple bets around.” She tapped her fingertips on the table.
“I don’t think you have anything I want”
“Hmph, I suppose if there’s nothing I can do,” She thought to herself, by any means necessary, perhaps she could just take the package from the man.
“Then again, a game or two can’t hurt. Provided I can ask a favor from you, in turn, should I win” hid eyebrows flashed away from amber eyes. He didn’t give the eynnil across from him the time to accept or deny as he moved to gather his cards and produce a great cup of dice. “Judging by your accenture, you should know this game quite well, a dwarf taught it to me in my youth.” He shuffled the cards and sequentially drew seven and set them face down on the table.
“Och! I know this game!” her face brightens as she smacks her hand on the table. “If I can guess four out of seven right then I want yer hat, lad” she puffed her chest up with pride.
“I thought you might, very well then, if I get six of seven you need to do a favor for me and deliver a package” hands were shaken and the game began.
The game was simple, take seven cards and lay them face down in front of you without looking at them. Then each subject rolls a set of seven dice and attempts to guess the number on the card by placing dice atop them. The more cards you get right the more points you get. A great game to play when fresh out of pocket change and in need of drinks or a hot meal after fifteen long days upon the mountain. Clemnilshala eyed the man as he rolled his dice, he moved his human face around as he stacked dice over cards and took his turn. He was so confident that he stacked three ‘fours’ atop one card.
“Yer pretty confident in that one there” she cupped the dice and rolled. Taking her turn before they were allowed to reveal their cards. The shiftling had guessed correctly on all seven cards.
“hmph, yoo swindle” Clemnilshala’s tail thumped on the floor, sulking a moment. “Alright what’s yer favor lad,”
“Aww don’t be a sore loser, girl. From the looks of it you’re marked up, something you’d like to cover up, I want you to hire me as your personal guard and allow me to escort you back to your home territory”
“what’s in it for yoo then?”
“Well I come to this city and move cargo, being your escort will usher both you and me out of the city undetected. Could work in your favor to be away from those blasted guards yes?”
“Another round, lad, I’ll let ye walk with me iffin ye win. If ye lose I want yer jacket and all its contents” Clemnilshala put her hand out to shake. The man gave a breathy laugh, removing his hat and putting it atop her head. It fit well between her horns.
“You drive a hard bargain, my dear”
Cards were shuffled and another round began. A bead of sweat rolled down Clemnilshala’s brow pushing dice around. If she were wrong, the bent corners of these cards would surely haunt her forever for having to set aside her pride and pay up on a bet. She squeezed her eyes closed and began to flip over playing cards. Five, five cards of seven were correct! The man took his turn and only guessed two. His face flashes with fury.
“Impossible!” he shouts.
She cackles, clapping her hands, and stamping her hooves on the floor.
“Nae nae nae, doon’t be a sore loser nae lad” she chortled, standing to take the jacket from him. So close to earning long sleeves and plush fur lining.
“One more round girl! Best two of three!” he closes his coat, squeezing the clasps in his hand.
“Nae nae, I believe in quitting while I’m ahead. Gimme.” She opened and closed her hand, the strange head of a snake ready to strike.
Something happened that Clemnilshala could scarcely remember later on. The man put his palm over the front of her face and shoved her to the floor.
“I said gimme the jacket, I’m done askin’ nicely” she shouted as he tried to jump over her. He turned back and showed her the face of a bear. The strength of a bear. He almost escaped, only being caught by the loop on the back of his shoe by one exiled eynnil rolling about on the floor. He stumbled, she scrambled to her feet. He went for the door, she pounced on his back. The door burst open, coming off its hinges and clattering into a table outside in a bazaar. They tumbled on the ground into the streets. He threw a punch, connecting with her jaw, splitting her lip.
There was fire, after a crack of thunder the straw and hay lining the road ignited, and just as quickly it was extinguished by a brief torrential rain.
The jacket tore as Clemnilshala took the moment of confusion to stand and rip it from the man’s body. Contents and all. She was taken by the wrist by a diminutive eynnil with such clean skin. With her was that lad, that Earthenboot lad! He jumped over the bearish man who pounded the cobblestone. Bested by an exile.
Clemnilshala squirmed and pulled in the grip of the other eynnil. “Lass, lass don’t do this! I was on my way out of the city.” She says being dragged through the street into the alley beside another, unrelated tavern. She looked around, how many taverns did this city even have? Did the beacon of propriety, the Lanh, spur these businesses of questionable morals?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s