The Land of Teuhyo
(Inspired by Dungeons and Dragons)
Chapter 4: Momma’s got a Gator Problem
Slowly, Nedjem stepped between Bedivere and Tom, his hands outstretched. “Calm down, you two.” He turned back to Tom. “Do you have any money at all?”
“What’s it look like?” Tom scoffed. “If I had any money, I’d be spending it on this place here. Damn thing is bleeding me dry even with John’s money.”
“How much do you owe…?” Iah asked softly.
Tom hesitated, pulled his hat off, scratched the top of his head, took a breath and put his hat back on. “…50.”
“Fifty what?” Aeron asked.
Bedivere gasped and Vulcan slumped into his chair, his pink face nearly white. Nedjem and Aeron exchanged glances.
“I can see yer dilemma, mister.” Aeron coughed. “You’re right broke, it ain’t fair makin’ you pay a tax on top of that…”
“But he still owes John-” Iah squeaked, though she broke off mid sentence upon meeting Tom’s icy gaze.
“How about this…” Nedjem turned to face Tom fully. “Why don’t we help you with some of the repairs?”
Tom looked up at Nedjem with shock in his eyes. “You…what?”
“If we fix this place up, maybe you’ll be able to attract some more customers, put some of that money towards paying the loan off instead of-”
On cue, a bit of the drywall ceiling peeled off and fell to the floor.
“…Well, instead of that.”
Tom nodded, almost smiling in response. “I…yeah. Yeah! That’d help a good lot! I…” He turned around and tapped five times on the wall. “Hey! Finn! Some drinks!” From the back, they could hear the sound of the tap flowing. A portly gentleman with a bushy black mustache came out with two mugs, one in each hand. “Ladies first?”
Nedjem gestured to Iah, and Bedivere pushed past Aeron and swiped at the other mug. “Don’t mind if I do~”
Iah took hold of the remaining cup, sipping it slowly, though she didn’t grimace at the taste. From a curtained off area on the other side, Hana came out with another three mugs, sliding them across the table to the gentlemen.
“Well since we’re going to be here a while…” Nedjem set his mug down on the table. “Will we be receiving accommodations?”
“Accom…you mean free rooms?”
“Free rooms fer free labor.” Aeron shrugged.
“I…alright, I guess it’s fair.” He turned to Hana. “Get the keys for…201, 202 and 203.”
Hana nodded and disappeared.
“Okay, you girls.” He pointed to Iah and Bedivere. “You girls are gonna be in room 203.”
“Both of us…?” Iah looked at Bedivere anxiously. “Is it, like, a half room or-”
“No. There’s one room and you both have to share.” He grabbed a key from Hana and tossed it to Iah, who almost dropped it.
“Okay, one of you three is going to get a single.” Tom took another key, tossing it up and down in his fist. “Well?”
The men all exchanged glances. “How about you and me?” Nedjem pointed at Vulcan.
Vulcan shrugged. “As long as I don’t have to pay.”
“Big boy gets the single then?” Tom tossed Aeron the key and handed the remaining one to Nedjem. “Well, I’ll see if I can get Finn or Derek to help you guys in the morning. Might wanna start with the roof.”
Another bit of drywall peeled off, landing behind the bar.
“Um…” He sighed. “When you’re done with your drinks you can just leave ‘em.”
Vulcan stood up and shoved his beer mug across the table. “You guys have water?”
Tom glared at him. “You serious, boy?”
He looked at Hana. Hana stomped to the back and came back with a glass of water, slamming it down in front of him with enough force to shake the table.
Nedjem grabbed his mug, but never lifted the liquid to his lips, watching as Aeron gulped his down with a slight smile. Iah placed her empty mug on the table gently and sat down, yawning a bit.
“Y’all look tired.” Tom said.
“We’ve been journeying a long way.” Nedjem remarked.
Bedivere pushed open the door to room 203. “Not as nice as Gabriota but the locals are friendlier.”
Iah nodded absentmindedly as she looked around the room. There was a small bookshelf in the corner and in front of the bed, a large desk.
In front of the bed.
The only bed.
Iah’s hands went to her chest, gripping her cloak around her as Bedivere put down her bag. “You’re okay sharing a bed, right?”
Iah’s mind was racing. Her mouth was dry but she managed to choke out “Yeah, sure.” She closed the door behind her and stood there, watching as Bedivere stripped down to her undershirt.
“Aren’t you gonna change?”
Iah shook her head. “I’m cold.”
“It’s 90 degrees outside.”
“Yes…” Iah bit her lip, trying her hardest to steady her voice. “But we’re inside!”
Bedivere shrugged. “Whatever.” She crawled into bed. “Remind me tomorrow to test a sample of that alcohol. Tasted pretty funny.”
Iah nodded, crawling into bed with all her clothes and her cloak still pulled tightly around her. While her heart was still racing, she found that the second her head hit the pillow, she was already drifting off to sleep.
Nedjem pushed the door open with his shoulder, hauling the supplies inside while Vulcan trailed behind him, drinking water through a straw. “Only one bed?”
Nedjem nodded. “I can sleep on the floor if you want, or-”
“Thanks.” Vulcan dropped his glass on the table and hopped onto the bed, spreading his arms and propping his feet up on the footboard. “Wake me when it’s noon.”
Nedjem sighed and stepped out into the adjacent room, 201. “Aeron?”
“Uh, yeh?” The half-Orc pulled her shirt off and looked up at Nedjem.
“Uh…nah, I’m good right…” He yawned, “right here. Well, I do need a good nap I suppose.”
Nedjem smiled. “We all do. “I’m just going to check on Iah.”
“I already did.” Aeron said as he yanked his boots off. “Knocked right out, both she and Miss Bedivere. Must’ve been a hell of a walk on her lil’ legs.”
“I see.” Nedjem waved. “Well, sleep easy.”
The night dragged on slowly. The inn had settled into a deep malaise, as though time was being run through a water filter. The air smelled of thick molasses as Bedivere opened her eyes and immediately gagged. She turned over, hoping to return to sleep, but her stomach lurched and she suddenly realized she needed to get to a toilet immediately. Gagging, she sprang out of bed and reached for the nearest bucket-shaped object (in this case a wastebasket) and hurled into it. Her vomit was black, sticky and smelled strangely herbal.
“Holy blazin’ guns…” She spat into the trash. “What did I eat…?”
In the sudden silence, she heard footsteps down the hall. Spitting again, the acidic taste still lingering in her mouth, she reached for her hand axe tucked neatly beside her boots.
The door opened, and in the darkness Bedivere could see four, great shadows. Four men, armored in leather and wielding maces, stepped inside the room.
“…You’re not supposed to be awake” The man in front said. As Bedivere’s eyes adjusted, she recognized a few of the people. They’d been sitting downstairs, watching her and Tom argue.
“I’m so sorry, but the sign on the door said ‘do not disturb.’” Bedivere chuckled at her own joke.
The man in front crept towards her. “Put down the axe; you’re coming with us.”
“I’ll put it down when you explain where you’re taking me.”
“We’re not explaining anything.”
“Well then I’m not putting my axe down.”
The four men raised their maces, and the man in front pointed to Iah. “Grab her. I’ll get the small one.”
Bedivere did what any small, naked woman surrounded by four armed men would do. She slammed her fist into the wall three times and screamed “SOMEBODY HELP ME!”
“Fucking bitch!” The man behind the first one rushed past his friend and tried to grab at Bedivere, but she slid under his legs and yanked a red vial from her bag. He doubled back around, but as he did, the vial of searing hot liquid landed at his feet. Only the man in back was able to stumble away while his four friends got seared.
Bedivere grabbed Iah’s arm. “Iah come on, we-” She tugged and felt nothing but dead weight. “Iah?”
Not only was Iah dead asleep, she didn’t respond when Bedivere shook her. Bedivere pressed her fingers to her lips, looking at the black liquid on her fingers.
“Iah! Wake up!” Bedivere jumped up and shook the taller woman as hard as she could, practically throwing her down against the pillows. She drew her hand back and slapped Iah hard across the face, and the girl finally jolted awake, her eyes fluttering open and close like they were weighed down.
“Iah get up! We need to run!”
“Run…?” Iah’s eyes finally focused on Bedivere. Her head was throbbing and her stomach felt heavy and nauseous, but over all of that she felt an intense rush of fear as the man behind Bedivere brought his mace down towards her head.
Nedjem jolted awake at the sound of banging on the wall. He leapt to his feet, holding still for just a moment, listening for any more sounds. Faint talking, then an explosion.
He ran over to Vulcan. “Vulcan wake up.”
“No.” The teenager growled and turned over.
“There’s a disturbance outside.”
“Tell them to shut up.” He pulled the covers over his head.
“I would, but they sound as though they have weapons.”
“Go get Aeron then!” He whined. “He’s big, he’ll protect you.”
“You know…” Nedjem sighed as he stood up. “I may just do that.”
As he opened the door to the hall he found he didn’t have to. Aeron burst out into the hallway, wielding his warhammer and wearing nothing but his boxers, screaming in his half-asleep state “MOMMA WE GOT ANOTHER GATOR!”
Nedjem looked away from the half-Orc and looked down the hall. Four men stood at Iah and Bedivere’s room, three of whom were on fire. He sprinted down toward them, wearing only his undershirt, and lifted his hand like a torch. Colorful light surged down his tattoos and collected in his palm, which he then shot like a bullet at one of the men. It hit him point blank, blinding him judging from how he grabbed at his eyes and bumbled into the wall.
A hand axe whizzed by Nedjem’s face, and he looked back at Aeron. His friend looked delirious, swaying a bit, but the axe had hit it’s mark, sticking in the other man’s left shoulder. He screamed, ripping it out, but it had done it’s damage.
“Momma I’m sorry…” Aeron muttered, and Nedjem turned back to help his friend, but a sharp pain hit him in the arm. He froze, grimacing.
The man behind him growled. “You’re in my way.”
Bedivere stumbled away from the bed, the blow from the awe slamming into the wall. She almost slid down, but by some miracle, her little legs kept standing. A gaping wound had formed in her temple, darkness staring at Iah from the hole in her head.
Iah screamed as the other man rushed at her. She raised her hands, trying to draw a warding sigil in the air, but the man raised his arm and slammed his mace into the side of her head. She sprawled against the covers, then curled up and pulled the covers over her, sobbing loudly.
The man dropped his axe and lunged at her, trying to simultaneously pull the covers off and tried to grab at her arms while she struggled. She shoved him off and clapped her hands; a loud boom echoed throughout the room, knocking the man back as iah tried to stumble off the bed. Tangled in her bedsheets, she tripped and fell prone in front of him.
The man in front of Bedivere raised his mace again. “You should have just come quietly.”
Then Bedivere looked up, her eyes glinting as blood dribbled down her forehead. “Well, you should have told me where we were going.”