The Elori – Part I

A crack. A split. The discordant sound of chairs splintering and toppling over onto one another, and the cacophony of raucous laughter emanating from a passel of carousing drunkards. The chinking of stein against stein, the leers and malicious expressions upon the alcoholics’ faces.

Kilgalan was in trouble again.

It wasn’t like he tried to precipitate himself into these sort of situations; it just… happened. It was an inexplicable occurrence; one moment, he was talking animatedly with the patrons of the tavern. The next, he had been laid flat by a sound box to his ear and was mixed up in a conflict. He could not recall, under any circumstances, what he had said that incited such an attack, and found that, though he pained himself to try to recollect the cause, he could never succeed. He expected that he had said something hateful or incendiary, and that such affronts were, most likely, the causes of his conflicts; but with drunkards, you could never know. They were unpredictable at best, with the unwavering inclination to bludgeon someone across the face when they felt like it.

The particular patron (the one with whom he had had a provocative altercation) advanced on him and said, with a drawl and slur, “You… You best be careful ’round me, boy. Words like them… Words like them, they lead folks to do things they later regret. Don’t make me regret myself, boy.”

Kilgalan, in a crab walk on the floor, retreated as his adversary approached him. “What words, sir?” he said, trying to be as polite and tranquil as possible, so as to extinguish the flame of conflict that had been lit in the drunkard’s mind.

In truth, this proved to be the worst thing to say. The inebriate, inflamed, ran to Kilgalan, lifted him off the ground by the collar, and said, “Don’t play games with me, boy!”

“No, really! I don’t remember…”

“Trying to evade me? Think that you can weasel your way out of this with your words? It isn’t happenin’, boy. Fight me like a man.”

The drunkard dropped Kilgalan and landed a punch on the bridge of his nose. Kilgalan reeled and fell back into a cluster of chairs, wiping the blood from his nostrils and staggering to his feet. The drunkard, looking immensely satisfied, said with a malicious grin, “Had enough already, boy?”

Kilgalan was panting. He knew it was a sign of weakness to his foe, but couldn’t help it. He wasn’t used to being struck in such a manner, and he was stunned and in partial shock. His eyes wandered around the room, searching desperately for an exit whereby he could escape, but found that the other drunkards had blocked the entrances. He looked to the bar, hoping that the proprietor would offer him some assistance, but all he could see was the tip of the man’s bald head quivering just above the top of the counter.

The drunkard, as if able to read the boy’s thoughts, said, “I took care that the exits are blocked, and the proprietor’s an old, decrepit man who’d faint at the sight of me!”

A thump was heard behind the bar. The brute grunted his approval, and the rest laughed.

Kilgalan was frightened. He had gotten into fights before, but never one from which he couldn’t escape. It was like a nightmare, and the man before him was a terrible specter, haunting him and threatening to bring about his death. He grew weak; his limbs wouldn’t move, his eyelids grew heavy. He felt like dropping to the floor and sleeping. The world was naught but a cloud, a vague blur wherein naught could be discerned. His adversary approached him and unsheathed a dagger, saying, though his voice sounded quite distant, “I’m gonna teach you a lesson you won’t soon forget, boy…”

Then the dream was over. The door to the tavern burst open, and a man adorned in a fine cloak, a dark tunic with forest green highlights and a silver brooch entered, a gleaming sword in his hand. The tavern was silent as the man surveyed the scene arrayed before him. He spoke simply. “Enough.”

“You talking to me?” the drunkard stammered,  barely able to speak with his stupor. He advanced towards the intruder, swaying as he went.

The cloaked man held up a hand and said, “Stop.”

“What you gonna do about it if I don’t, huh?”

In a flash, the man’s hilt met the drunkard’s skull with a sickening crack, and the latter fell to the floor with a smash. The intruder, after gazing intently upon the inanimate form of his unconscious enemy, turned his head towards Kilgalan and said, “Move quickly, Kilgalan. We dare not tarry here for long.”

“It’s just a tavern, friend; why the haste?”

“Just a tavern? It is in places such as these that the most terrible of events transpire. You’ve seemed to find your way into trouble quite nicely tonight. Out. Now.”

Kilgalan, seeing the severe look in the man’s eyes, obeyed him, and exited the tavern. Seconds later, shouts of revelry issued forth from the bar, and upon receipt of them, the man said, “Never return to that place, Kilgalan. Man seeks solace in the dregs of a beer mug, but finds more anguish there than he intends to relieve.”



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