The Sun Door Part 13
by Joe Solmo
With the tension broke, everyone fell back into line and we marched towards the town the brothers had told us about. Even though we all were weary from the trip, I did notice Skrat and the rest of the brothers whispering back and forth for a while after we started moving. Were they discussing their homecoming or talking about what he saw through his now broken magical lens? I couldn’t get close enough to find out. I did notice that the big guy, Moose, never took his eyes off the back of Drejnin as the large man and the Dontu talked and caught up on what had been going on since we lost Serius.
True to their word, as the sun began to set in front of us, buildings could be seen in the distance, we were less than an hour from a small town nestled on the banks of a slow lazy river flowing off to the Northeast. Farms stretched out to the east of the town for a few miles. Would a farming life be so bad? I bet they didn’t have to fight supernatural monsters with a naked dwarf. That life sounded good to me for a few moments as my brain let me romanticize the easy life, then I remembered growing up and the harsh winters with no food because the crops didn’t come in even after all the hard work. Yeah, I will take the mercenary life over that anytime, even if I had to see an anatomically correct dwarf once every few years.
As we passed the first farm houses I thought I should catch up with Sreg to ask about the town ahead, he seemed the friendliest and most laid back of the brothers. When I approached, I overheard him and his brothers laughing about a flying squirrel. I laughed as I approached them.
“What are you laughing at?” Sreg asked me with a puzzled look on his face.
“Those crazy flying squirrels,” I said which made all the brothers break out in a roar of laughter which brought our march to a halt. It was obvious I had no idea what they were talking about and they were laughing at me. Oh well, I tried.
Skrat looked around and let out a breath I didn’t know he was holding. He nodded to his brothers and then pointed into the town on the river.
“About half a mile down on the left is an Inn called The Velvet Pouch. We will meet you there in an hour we have some business to take care of quick,” Zeeg said to me with a serious look on his face.
“What about the flying squirrel?” I asked. “I want to hear the story.”
“I promise. When we catch up,” Sreg said with a snicker and slapped Zeeg on the back, probably hurting his hand on his brother’s plate armor. Drejnin was looking at me, as if deferring to me. I nodded to him and explained where the Inn was. Hall and Myder hefted the passed-out Dead-Eye as the dwarf waddled behind us into the town of Hylure.
The inn wasn’t hard to find at all. It had a large sign hanging about the door showing a velvet coin purse hanging from a drunk’s waist. Serius said the name was misleading, but I didn’t understand what he meant. It must have been something from their past, I assumed and pulled open the door to the building. Then the dontu’s comment hit me, the dirty bastard.
The inside was relatively clean, at least as far as roadside inns go. A dozen tables filled the common room with various chairs sitting around them like an engaged audience. Twin fireplaces, worn from years of use sat in opposite walls East and West from each other, bathing the room in a warm glow. At the far end of the room was a bar with a half dozen stools at it.
There were about ten people in the room, a few at the bar, two tables had people in it and a wench going from the tables through a double door in the back wall leading presumably to the kitchens, if I know my inn building plans. I should I spent enough time in them with Dead-Eye on our never-ending quest for the perfect brew.
“Can I help you sirs?” said a large balding man from behind the bar. He wore the telltale apron that marked him as Innkeeper. You could walk into a hundred inns or bars on any continent and the one thing they would all have in common is the filthy apron worn by the owner as he tried to earn a living. I wondered briefly why most innkeepers were bald? Was it a side effect from being around too much alcohol? I looked at Dead-Eye and his full head of hair. No, that wasn’t it.
“We seek rooms, and a meal,” Drejnin said in his deep booming voice. “For us and four others,” he finished.
“Well that’s quite a lot, there is eleven of you?” he asked.
“Ten and a half,” I said pointing to Weebly, who turned on me with fire in his eyes. I guess I took it a little too far this time, but I couldn’t help it.
“We will round up,” Hall said trying to make peace between me and the four foot bearded ball of fury glaring a hole in me, a little more than belly high.
“I guess I will be the bigger man,” I said pausing for comedic affect, to no avail. I sighed and then continued “I apologize Weebly. Once again my mouth is running me into trouble.” Sudden pain in my shin let me know my apology was accepted with a high kick and we all turned our attention back to the innkeeper whom was waiting patiently for us to finish our banter with a similar look on his face my mother used to give me and my brothers when we were doing something wrong. I instantly disliked him.
“Very well let me check on the rooms, meanwhile have a seat I will send Sandy out to get you drinks shortly,” the innkeeper said and headed to the back of the building. Drejnin shot me a look that spoke volumes about the way he feels about my antics today. I decided I would turn over a new leaf immediately, at least until after we had a warm meal in us and he wasn’t staring holes into my soul.
The brothers showed up just as we were finishing our meal of roasted pork and vegetables. They ordered their food and sat down at my table. The rest of the crew decided to grab some sleep while they could upstairs and soon I was alone with the brothers drinking while they ate their supper.
“So, tell me about the flying squirrel now,” I said to Sreg who sat across from me stuffing his face full of meat.
“Zeeg tells it better,” he grinned and stuffed more food into his face.
“Ha! Should let moose explain it,” The oldest brother said as he pushed his plate away from him.
Skrat turned towards Zeeg, “Just tell him, brother,” he said picking at his meal only half interested in its contents.
“Someone tell me damn it!” I said getting inpatient. Moose just ate in silence, he didn’t even look up from his meal at my outburst.
“Ok, it started right here in the inn, about five years ago, we were staying here for a week before taking Skrat to school and Moose took fancy to one of the towns girls for hire.” Zeeg started.
“A whore?” I asked.
“Don’t call her that!” Moose said giving me the coldest stare I have ever seen. Chills ran up me as the mountain of a man glared through me. Man, I must really be some kind of asshole to get these looks all day. I need to take some time to examine my social interactions.
“I am sorry Moose, I was just trying to understand, of course she wasn’t a whore,” I said as I realized I haven’t taken a breath in quite a few seconds and quickly had to learn the art all over again.
“Anyway,” Zeeg continued, “This woman was a working girl, and Moose liked her a lot, he became her regular, in fact I would say he was her only, as she was just north of three hundred pounds. This woman had eyes for ‘ol Sreg the ladies’ man, though. She would come calling to Sreg who would pass her off on Moose, whom was so taken with her he didn’t see what was happening at all.”
“What does this have to do with a squirrel?” I asked.
“Patience, Marsh,” Zeeg said with a grin. “It is about to get good. So, one day the woman comes around asking for Sreg and over hears him tell the innkeeper he wouldn’t have anything to do with that cow, or some such words, real mean, and she ran outta the inn crying. We went after her but couldn’t find her so we returned here to the inn. Meanwhile she had run to a local wizard’s house on the edge of town, it was his job to scout the youth for potential students for the Magi school, since he was a terrible Magi. She told him what had happened and he sympathized with her, being a large man and decided to help her.”
“He told her he could use magic to make her skinny so that my brother would like her and she agreed to his terms. Soon the Magi cast his spell on her and told her when she woke she would be the epitome of beautiful, but like I said he wasn’t a very good magi. When the woman awoke, she had lost all the weight the Magi promised, but she still had all the original skin still there, like an empty wineskin. She ran to the wizard’s house to complain but during the night he had taken off to who knows where,” Zeeg said.
“When she came to the inn to find Sreg, sheran into Moose first, who questioned her about what had happened. She decided she would track down the Magi but needed coin so one last time she charged Moose and they went upstairs. A few minutes later we were looking for Moose and opened the door to our rooms to find him on his back, with her on top, his hands grasping these large flaps of loose skin,” he said chuckling.
“Ha! A flying squirrel!” I said finally getting the joke.
“It’s not nice to call her that, Zeeg,” Moose said putting down his fork. “Tell him the rest,” he finished.
“Well after we all had a good laugh, well most of us anyway, Moose took off and we followed him. It’s hard to keep pace with him when he is determined and he would speak a word and tell us where he was going. After three days, we arrived at this small house in the middle of nowhere and Moose walked up and pounded down the door, walked inside and found the Magi asleep in his bed. Moose picked him up without a word and crushed him. I mean he just started balling the man up, bones cracked, skin tore, it was the most brutal, primal thing I had ever witnessed. There wasn’t even a scream as the Magi died, just the sounds of his body breaking. This entire time Moose had a blank expression on his face, until the deed was done, then tears streaked his cheeks. It seems the woman also had some magical ability and charmed Moose into revenge for her. After that we never came back here, well until today,” Zeeg finished.
“Damn! Is the woman still here?” I asked.
“She was,” Skrat said looking around the common room for eavesdroppers.
“Marsh that was where we went when we first got here, to take care of some unfinished business,” Sreg said.
“You killed her?” I asked in a hushed tone, glancing from brother to brother.
“We had too. You heard what she did to our brother, she used him for her own ends. How many other men did she take advantage of in the same way over the years?” Zeeg said.
“Besides the rest of the town might want to have some nuts for the winter as well,” Skrat said and the brothers started to laugh, except Moose.
“You were okay with this Moose?” I asked.
“He understands why she had to die,” Zeeg said. “Right my brothers? Right Moose?”
“I guess Zeeg. She did us wrong, we couldn’t have that,” the big man said reluctantly. “She was evil.”
“That’s right. What would our other brothers think if they knew,” Sreg spoke to the large man.
Holy shit what did I get myself into, I thought.
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