XVI – A Reunion Of Sorts
The inn was bustling with life and now that the sun had set, the many lanterns which hung up on the ceilings, as well as the ones hanging outside, hanging on wire lines that run under the roof and on poles, which were surrounded by insects flying clockwise and counter clockwise round, as well as a couple of bonfires which seemed to light up the entire Mu.
It seemed as if every traveller who had stopped by this Mu for the night had gathered inside the inn and the locals too had all gathered to join these strangers in their Mu, inside this small establishment.
Many had moved outside to dance, sing and drink in the cool night air around the couple of bonfires but inside was still hectic and noisy, with waitresses running back and forth, balancing large plates on their heads or a large number of tankards in their arms as the orders came rushing in. The tables inside were full of people playing card and board games, conversating loudly between one another or digging into piping hot juicy food. Manny was squashed against the counter of the pub when several barrels from the back had to be rolled inside by a freckled ginger haired girl as even the reserves where running out.
He slammed another Lemmy gold piece, the currency of Lemekia and the strongest currency in the entire province, onto the wooden table and the gold braided hair girl with dimples once again came to take his order.
“What will it be this time sir?” she said in that tone of hers that made Manny feel crazy inside and she batted her long eyebrows at him and he pushed his chest up.
“Please darling…call me Manniro and I’ll have the same as before” he said pointing behind her at the highest shelf filled with bottles. She nodded and she climbed up onto the barstool, reaching up with some difficulty to the top shelf, the white tight apron she had on, sliding up her smooth bare legs and Manny had to snap out of it when she bounced back down with the bottle in her hands.
“Are you sure you can handle another one?” said the girl as she started to pour the drink into his tankard and he saw her swerve back and forth across the room. Or was it him that was swerving? He felt as if the room was closing in on him and he heard voices lower in pitch around her and distort and he couldn’t help but grin stupidly.
“Bah, I’ll be fine” said Manny holding the tankard in his hand, swinging it about and spilling a bit onto the counter and his shirt “But now that I’ve told you my name honey, how about you do me the pleasure of telling me your…and I’ve lost her” he said as she completely ignored him and run to take a man’s orders with more beard than face.
Manny sighed and leaned back on the counter for support, looking about at the people in the inn.
It had been easier back in Lemekia, where the inns even at their busiest hours, where a library compared to this war zone. And the heat.
That’s what did it in for him. He felt as if he had dived into the moats around the Red Dome a dozen times, he kept wiping his face and brow and the stench of all the people filled his nostrils, the smells and aromas of all sorts of people.
And everywhere he turned, it seemed as if people from every province in Aludin were inside this small inn.
He recognised the curly hair and darker skin of the people of the north of Morrsupel-Heim, Heim meaning city, though he forgot what that the first part of it meant. A group of them were talking to a couple of Celians, pale skinned people with light features such as blue hairs and white, silver or blonde hair, such as the girl behind the counter, with the most unique and exotic voices in Aludin.
And he recognised the long robes and garments of the Sumai, people living in the peninsula down south and the loudest of them all had to be the Lyceans of course, drunk out of their minds and shouting, yelling and singing in their strange dialects, which had hints of Aludinian but otherwise was completely alien to his ears.
He had always heard of the sea faring life of the Lyecans and had been tempted many times to journey south with them whenever an envoy of their merchants passed by Lemekia, dreaming of leaving that city behind to live carefree, going wherever you wanted whenever you wanted too.
He never realised though until now, how at home he had felt at Lemekia. He had gotten used to the city, knew every back alley and street and whenever he went for a drink, he would recognise every one of the same faces that could be found inside the Needle & Pen and The Sow ‘n’ Lamb.
He took a sip of his drink, wondering if he would ever be able to drink inside their walls again.
He noticed there were no Omicornians about, he would be able to recognise a fellow brother or sister from Omion, it was something within his nature it was said, sort of like a sixth sense or something. He overheard a group of Urokians, with their posh accents and heavy pronunciation on their vowels, conversating in hushed towns about what had happened earlier that night and he drowned them about by chugging slowly his drink.
From what he had overheard, they had escorted Hekriam to a small underground dungeon were he was being held for the night until the following morning. They would then execute the Law Of The Lands, which would probably end up with the Knights Of Alluanda escorting him to the nearest Scales and then his fate would be in their hands.
He had seen Daygon leap up from the table as Hekriam had been taken out of the inn and he had been pretty certain at that moment he was going to punch Dakar’s smug face right there and then, maybe swing his sword about but, disappointingly, he had stormed out of the inn and Manny hadn’t seen him since.
Indeed he hadn’t joined them since then and had kept far out of their sight, only every so often glancing into the corner where the group were sat alongside the Knights when one of the women from before, the giant one, had passed by him and he practised the art of disappearing into a crowd, not looking back into that direction for nearly an hour.
He stood here now with a fresh bag of coins in his pants pockets and amongst all these travellers, he was certain to find one who would take him with them towards any city or village in Aludin and he could start a whole new life, this time with some money in his pocket and a better understanding of how this crazy world worked.
All he had to do, was remember not to ask the very person who he had stolen the pouch from, otherwise that would be rather stupid of him and put an early stop to his plans.
He dared to glance over at the table and spotted the others, they were smiling and conversating with the Knights and others joined at their table but he could read a couple of their faces and he could see how uncomfortable they looked, all except Dakar, talking loudly and standing up at the table. Manny wondered how those three had ever become friends with such a pompous self centred a…
‘Oh, oh’ he thought to himself, feeling a whirlpool in his stomach and he took a deep breath. Keeping a cool head, he started making his way out of the inn, trying to avoid getting pushed or nudged and he breathed out a sigh of relief once the cold air hit his face. He started picking up his pace as he passed those dancing on the tables and around the bonfires and he pushed aside a flute player who jumped in his face, shoving the bloody instrument into his eye.
He stumbled on, his head spinning and he felt as if the desert had frozen over, he felt cold as he stumbled out the small square around the inn and started walking amongst the houses, trying to get away from the eyes of anybody present.
He kept walking until the sounds grew fainter and there were less people about him, when the strong smell of dung and hay filled his nose and he turned round to see he was standing besides the stables when he felt his stomach somersaulting inside of him.
He struggled to hold it off any further but kept his cool as a tall olive skinned man wearing a feathered cap and long plain robes stumbled past him, heading even further out the Mu. He heard a snort to his left and turned to see Wulf’s figure in the darkness. The giant beast had been put into a pen all to itself and he see it moving about as if agitated by something, when he couldn’t hold it in any longer.
‘Gods Manny’ he thought to himself as he wiped his mouth with the back of his palm and took slow deep breaths. He lift his head up to see a couple of crows perched up on the roof of the stables, peering down at him, their yellow eyes almost seemed to light up in the dark.
He held onto the wall for support as he drew himself up and he felt better now that he had got it out of his system when he heard the creaking of a gate being opened around the bend in the street. He walked ahead and turned round, watching in silence as he saw the stables gates slowly being opened and a small figure emerge from within the stables, looking up and down the road and, seemingly having not noticed him, walked back inside and he saw Wulf being pulled on a line of rope as the figure took him out.
“Hey” said Manny walking forward when he saw the figure clearer and realised it was…
“Daygon, what are you doing?” said Manny as he approached the boy in red struggle to keep control of Wulf, who was jumping up and down and calling out loudly.
“Stay out of this” said Daygon as he tried to turn his back on him and he was dragging on the rope but he was unable to move the Titan Warthog for Wulf had planted his hooves deep into the sand and was snorting at him.
“Daygon, whatever you’re planning, don’t do it” said Manny “It’s not worth it, look, none of us knew that Dakar was going to tell on Hekriam…”
“You didn’t help him though did you? None of you defended him, none of you spoke up for him. All he’s trying to do is help us. I said go Manny” said Daygon turning onto Manny who was unsure what to say to that.
“Calm down” said Daygon turning back to Wulf “What’s wrong? Boy, it’s me, come on, stop it now” as he tired to calm him, rubbing it’s huge head but the Titan wasn’t having it. He bellowed louder than ever now as he thrashed his body about and Daygon himself had to leap out the way to avoid the his tusks.
Suddenly, Manny felt his whole body go cold and a bad sense filled his entire being. The last time Wulf had been so agitated, it had been back at the Sanctuary…
“Daygon” said Manny loudly as he turned about, looking around him into the darkness and as soon as he heard it, he knew it was too late.
It was a sound unlike any other he had ever heard before, a clicking sound that seemed to shake his very bones and he turned round to Daygon, and he didn’t have to say anything., just read one another. They both knew.
“They’re here, aren’t they?” said Manny, his voice shaking and he kept looking about him, he knew they were out there, somewhere but he had no clue how close or how far from him they were.
Daygon reached for his sword and unsheathed it, it seemed to pulsate a bright blue which shone in the darkness and he closed his eyes for a couple of seconds before opening them.
“They’ve got this entire village surrounded” said Daygon looking, north, west, east and south as he raised his sword and Wulf was wining as he rotated his large head around.
‘He can sense them too, he knows they’re out there’ said Manny who had heard of tales of animals being able to sense things most humans couldn’t.
“S..surrounded? How…are you sure?” said Manny. He felt as if dozens of eyes where on him “What in name of all the Gods, are we going to do?”
“I have to warn the others, I’m the only one who can hold them back long enough” said Daygon as he leaped up into the air and landed on top of Wulf.
“Long enough for what?” he cried out to the boy in red.
“Manny” he said looking down “You have to free Hekriam, he’s the only other one who can help us. I need him, we all need him. He’s stronger, he’s been doing this longer, he knows what to do.”
“But they’ve got him locked up who knows where” exclaimed Manny.
“I followed them before when they took his to the dungeon. Head down this road and it’s the building at the end of the street to the right, you can’t miss it. Go, now, before it’s too late” he said as he kicked Wulf’s sides, who reared up onto his feet and they charged back towards the inn as Manny put his hands into his hair, watching the pair of them disappear in the darkness.
‘How’s this possible? Why are they here? How? How? And what can we do?’ he cried out to himself when he heard a sound come from behind and he leaped into the air, spinning round to see the tall man with the cap swaying towards him.
‘Thank the Gods, just a drunk. I should probably warn him though to get back to the inn’ he thought to himself and he approached the man.
“Hey, you should get back to the inn. I don’t want to alarm you or anything but it’s safer if you do so” said Manny and the man turned to him, his expression blank.
He threw his arms out wide to his side and it was then that Manny saw them, horrific figures leaping out from the darkness towards him and their eyes shone in the darkness as they let out howls as they were close to their prey.