From: Michael Cule (
Date: Sat 01 Feb 1997 - 23:39:54 EET


These monologues, intended to be in awed imitation of the Seleric
Verses, are supposed to be material concering Argrath,
that the writer of the COMPOSITE HISTORY OF DRAGON PASS could not use.
The first, THE SCHOOLMASTER is on the Archive somewhere. If I get around to
writing them there should be two or three more.

2: The Inn Keeper

(The speaker is a still attractive, lower-class woman of A Certain Age.)

Sit yourself down, dearie. Sit yourself down.
Let Lilina pour you a drop of her Special.
Good for the tubes, good for the bowels,
Good for what ails you.

(Be a good boy, Belvo
See we ain't disturbed.
And no more credit for that Yelmie:
Make him show you his gold.)

Well, when I heard you was coming,
I said, he'll be here.

When he's finished poking round the scrolls
Amd the council chambers,
When he's finished with the priests and khans,
He'll be round.

They all come here,
Even those who only come,
To sniff and sneer
And head for Gimpy's.

We ain't so posh as some places,
But we ain't the dregs neither.
Hot food, clean straw, no fleas and no trolls.
Oh and booze that'll curl your hair.
That's what they tell you about Lilina's.

Course, it wasn't called that then.
Not the night he came in first.
It was called....
Great Gods, what was it called?

THE BLACK RHINO, that was it!
Oh, but I can remember....
Old Ma Verdig behind the bar,
Ugly as Sin and twice as old.
Her Man was the bouncer,
Bald and cross-eyed.
I suppose she looked good to him.

The place was full of nomads then,
Drunk and missing their tribes,
Their herds and their women.
Always had a tale about how they
Lost everything and they were going
Back someday, you'll see....

Just wait and see.

(We've moved up-market since.
We could hardly have moved down.)

It was Abriga who had it next
She called the place THE GOLDEN BOSOM
And I haven't taken her sign down yet.
But most folks call it after me.

Anyway, you'll want to know about the time
He came here. Don't woryy, I'm getting there.
Have another sip? Well, I think I will.

It was a Windsday I think.
I could be wrong but I seem to remember
The roar of the worshippers
The flash of the lightning
And the start of unseasonal rain
As I passed by Orlanth's temple
Scuttling back from market.

I was lovely then....
(No, no, now don't say that.....Flatterer.)
Fresh and lovely, then.
Barely a year in the Trade,
Barely a year from the farm
That Father couldn't keep.

I lived with Mother in Farmerside.
She pretended she didn't know
How bread and fish and occasional meat
Got onto our table.

I'd just settled meself behind the bar
When he came in: wet and shivering.
That Windsday squall had caught him
Full blast and blown him our way.

He looked like a drowned rat.
A drowned *baby* rat that hadn't eaten
In a week of Windsdays.

He had just a leather jerkin and trews
Some sandles that had seen better days
And a knife at his belt.

He wanted feeding so when he slapped down
A copper for the stew and bread
A copper for the watered ale
I gave him a little extra and
A good look as I bent over to serve it
At what it was I was selling
Beside the stew and the ale.

That was it, just another farmer's son
Come to the Big City
To learn or to starve
To sleep in alleyways
And steal coppers,
If I'm any judge.

He ate the stew like there was no more food
Left in the world. I would have given him
Seconds but Old Ma had her eye on me.

He sat there, quiet in a corner, close by the fire
Making a single ale last an evening.
His eyes were as hungry as his belly
Gulping down the comers and goers
The clients and the....workers.

He watched me especially, I recall
As I wandered to the back with
Bison or Rhino, Sable or Llama.
(Those days, I was lucky to get
Trade that didn't smell of rancid fat.)
But he never made a move in my direction.
I don't think he ever had....
Or perhaps he just didn't have the money.

Well, the night grew old and even his ale
Came to an end and we were about to close.
Me to go home to Mother
Him to sleep the Gods know where,
When in comes Thaller.

Now I've said we're not the worst now
Nor were we then. The Life is hard.
No need to make it harder.
The worst was men like Thaller.

What gods they follow, what spirits lend them
Cruelty and strength, I've never known,
Nor want to. Humakt and Uleria
Shield poor girls from such men and their gods.

Nor coin nor food is yours
Working for his kind.
Nor soul nor pride.
Flesh and spirit,
Mind and strength,
Broken and beaten.

You'll see such girls in Pavis today.
I think of Thaller as I pass them,
Smiling with fear on the streetcorners.

To cut it short, Thaller wanted me.
He knew good merchandise.
He knew talent.
He knew how to tame
And bleed it dry too.

He'd bided his time and
Come just when things
Were quietest.
The bouncer tired,
The place deserted.

Ma's Man was down in a second,
Struck from behind, his eyes uncrossed by the blow.
Ma pushed down the cellar steps,
The trap door closed, all in a twinkling.
He knew his business.

I was just coming out of my crib
Hand in hand with my last of the day,
Who ran, the rat, the Rubble-Runner-on-two-legs,
Soon as Thaller croaked "Scarper".

He come towards me grinning,
I can see him now,
Grinning like a snake that's
Cornered a very juicy mouse.
Sure of himself, sure of me.

And then there was a shrieking,
A crashing and a shattering,
Of pots and plates and
Benches overturned.

My farmer's boy,
My drowned rat,
Had wrapped himself around
Thaller's head,
Screaming and crying.
(Crying what? Well I never knew.
But 'no, no' and 'not again'
Were in there, I'm sure.)

Thaller threw him off
Shrugged and threw him off,
Turning away from me
As if to step on a bug.

But the bny hadn't fallen
Had bounced and rolled,
Metal rasped on leather.

Thaller gasped
And gave a sigh
Like 'Mother'
And fell his full length
The boy's knife
Neatly splitting his heart.

The boy just stared
Stared at blood on his hands
Where it had never been before.

(Oh, yes, sir. I am sure.
The first, but not the last.)

And then he looked at me
And at the skies
As if he thought someone
Or something would mark the moment.

But no, down here, we do not
Expect comets and thunderbolts
To mark each death, each sin.
The gods seldom concern themselves
With us.

We are free down here, you see.

Well, I got Ma out of the cellar.
And brought her Man around
To introduce him to his new assistant.

The body we got rid of: don't ask how
And as for my water-rat. Well let us say
Despite Mother's protests
He didn't sleep in a cold alley that night.

And together we marked
(If I'm not mistaken)
Another first for that night.

Some more? Yes cheers!
Good health to you, sir. Long life. Some love.

Michael Cule

Actor And Genius
AKA Theophilus Prince Archbishop Of The Far Isles Medieval Society
Arms Purpure An Open Book Proper: On the Dexter Page an Alpha Or
On the Sinister an Omega Or. Motto Nulla Spes Sit in Resistendo
(Resistance is Useless). Ask me about the Far Isles:
Better Living through Pan-Medieval Anachronisms.


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