Thanks to all my reviewers! Where would I be without you all? Lost, that is. lol! You guys encourage me SO much. I love to hear about what you like and don't like so I can hopefully improve the next chapters to follow.
To new readers, thank you for taking the time (and effort!) to read my work! I'd love to hear any feedback on this . . . and words/phrases with a * on either side is meant to be in italics. Bold/italics/underline is still not working! Help!
Anyway, thanks for getting this far and hope you enjoy this chapter!
~ Nadia (naughty little munchkin)
Chapter 4: Sir Drunk
The time I spent waiting for Thieryn, or really just someone to return to explain what on *earth* was going on, made me realise what an angry, bitter and sarcastic person I actually am. As far as I'm concerned, this experience has done nothing but wonders for my swearword vocabulary. I'm never going to have trouble coming up with insults ever again. And Thieryn is really the only person I have to thank - she inspired most of them.
But at least I wasn't in the temple anymore, thank god! I don't think I could have handled it for another second. Instead I was standing right in front of its entrance, staring up at the structure with a sneer curling my lip. These people just couldn't be serious. It didn't even look like a holy temple - more like a pile of rubble. If it weren't for the four white pillars standing in front of the cliff face, I would honestly have thought that someone had stuck the tall wooden doors there as a joke! Honestly, you'd think that this almighty *Moon* Goddess would at least house her servants better. And besides, who on earth has ever heard of an underground temple anyway? That was the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of before in my entire stuffed up life.
Oh, but that's right, I'd completely forgotten. I'm in another world. Maybe all the temples here are supposed to look like terrorists had decided to play with them. Maybe all priestesses haunt underground caverns, muttering over magic waters. And maybe all of this is classified here as being normal! Oh my god. If I stay in this place another minute I'll end up becoming the crazy person that I've always said I was! That's right. A whacked up person doing a whacked up quest.
And that was another thing. How the HELL am I supposed to find this priestess person? Good old Thieryn didn't tell me anything. Basically all she said was 'Alright, put these clothes on and go find her' like I was some sort of *dog*. I had almost expected her to throw the word 'Fetch!' in there somewhere. I narrowed my eyes. That woman SO has it coming.
I looked down at myself. The priestesses had taken my dirty (but normal) clothes away and had given me this rough brown garbage instead.
"You'll be more noticeable if you don't wear these," Thieryn had replied sharply when I tried to protest. She tossed the new clothes at me. "The Kravhn might recognise you as a being from your world and capture you. All would be lost if that happened. You are our only hope."
Yeah, I feel really important. But at this moment, I really didn't care in the slightest if they caught me or not. I was dressed in *potato sacks* for crying out loud! They itched, were loose, and reeked of mould and mothballs. All right, they weren't *exactly* burlap bags, but they still itched and I suspected that they were leaving ugly red rashes all over my skin. But perhaps I could use the little money they had given me to buy something a little more comfortable than these cheap clothes. Not to mention doing something about the boots, which were full of holes, that they had given to replace my runners.
The money was very strange looking. There were no banknotes, but instead rather large bronze, silver and gold coins with weird pictures on them. I didn't even know their value. I shook my head in disgust. Already this was proving to be a fruitless task.
But then again, I hadn't even moved from the entrance to the temple. Maybe *that* had something to do with getting nowhere. There was a well-trodden path leading from the temple down the hill and so, having no other clue as to where to go, I decided to follow it.
As I walked, I began to see subtle differences between this world and mine. The grass was still green and all, but the sky seemed tinged with a faint purple shade and the sun glowed with red and orange fire. The birds I saw were nothing like I had ever seen before, being of a more exotic colouring like parrots than the boring feathered coats of magpies and sparrows back home. Even their calls sounded different, like the ringing of tiny silver bells. The air I breathed somehow seemed 'richer' than usual, as if it was over-oxygenated.
I soon found that it wasn't long until the nearest town. The path led straight up to the entrance, across the bridge that stood over a fast moving moat. There was a pair of guards wearing shiny silver helmets stationed at the entrance. I felt a twinge of unease as I approached, but my worries were for nothing when I realised how bored and tired they looked. They waved me past without even a second glance.
It was more of a very small village than a town or city. A really boring and small, sleepy village. There weren't many people around either. A few wrinkled old women dressed in rough brown clothing, not entirely dissimilar to my own, shuffled past, both clutching baskets of food or clothing. A few kids in rags also skipped down the street, shouting to one another at the top of their lungs over the barking of stray dogs. All in all, there wasn't really much to see.
I squirmed uncomfortably in my clothes, unintentionally grimacing at the passing women who gave me a startled look before shuffling more quickly down the road away from me. I couldn't stand it any longer. I had to buy some new clothes. The idea of scratching my skin raw to bone didn't really appeal to me, after all.
The town seemed small enough so I didn't bother trying to ask anyone where I could find somewhere to buy new clothes. I could just wander around pointlessly until I stumbled across something. Somehow I didn't think I was going to find a Just Jeans store around here anytime soon. But luck proved to be with me (finally) when I soon came across a small market. Here there was a bit more action as chickens squawked, the sound of metal upon metal clanged from the blacksmiths' tents, fruits and vegetables were displayed and a good many shoppers wandered about examining the stock, coin frequently exchanging hands. It wasn't long before I came across a clothes- seller, or whatever they were called. I didn't care; I just wanted something even remotely wearable!
Inside the tent there wasn't really much of a variety, and it was all pretty drab and plain. But the material felt okay when I rubbed it between my fingers so I gathered up a few long-sleeved shirts, a weird pair of pants, a pair of queer-looking boots, and something that looked a lot like a coat. The vendor guy was wearing a weird moss-coloured cap with a long white feather stuck in the top, which kept drooping down into his face making him sneeze. His cheeks seemed permanently flushed a deep red and his eyes were small and watery. He looked at me closely as I hesitantly wandered over.
"How can I help you, madam?"
"Um, yeah. I'd like to buy these," I muttered, thrusting all the clothes at him.
He sorted briefly through the pile. "Very well. That will be two silver mavrins."
I rummaged briefly through my bag's contents for the leather coin pouch, feeling somewhat relieved that he had said the word 'silver' so I knew which type of coin he meant. I handed it quickly to him, picked up my bundle and hurried off to find somewhere to change.
I was walking down the road, looking for a hotel or inn or pub or whatever they called it, when a door was violently flung open and out did stumble an extremely large man - who promptly fell over and lay on his back in the middle of the street.
"Now get out and stay out!" a second man with lots of black bushy hair roared, shaking his curled fist in the drunk's direction. "I don't want to see your sorry face for at least another week!" And with that, he slammed the door shut.
I stood there in the middle of the road, holding my bundle of clothes, looking around me uncertainly. Looking everywhere *but* at the drunken sot. The man did not move and finally, I hesitantly moved closer.
He appeared to be singing to himself in drunken tones, slurring the words beyond recognition. He had obviously drunk himself senseless.
"Um, hello?" I ventured slowly, with sceptically raised eyebrows. "Er, do you need some help?" I pronounced every word slowly and clearly so hopefully to make him understand me.
He opened his bleary, red-rimmed eyes halfway and stared at me for a moment. "He'o, wazzu wan'?"
I blinked at him. "Sorry?" I tried again. "Do - you - speak - English?"
"Gohsumore ale onnu? Aye wudden mine 'nother wun."
"Ah, no, sorry," I said, not having a clue as to what he was talking about. I stopped and frowned. Why was I bothering with this guy anyway? I looked down at him again. His head had dropped back down onto the ground and he was now mumbling something incoherently to himself.
I shook my head in disgust and began to move on past when he suddenly said, "Wossore name?"
I looked back. His eyes were shut, but he seemed to be waiting for some sort of response.
"Nadia," I replied slowly then paused. "Er, what's yours?"
"M' nam's Zher Bhaltair."
I stared at him. "I'm sorry. Boltare, did you say?"
"*Zher* Bhaltair," he repeated loudly, still with his eyes closed.
I stared at him in silence. Never had the fact that I was in a world primitive to my own escape my notice for a single moment - almost like I had gone back in time. From what limited knowledge I had picked up from history class, people with a 'sir' in front of their name usually meant -
"Um, excuse me, but are you a *knight*?" I asked incredulously, eyeing his drunken form in confused disbelief. I leaned in a little closer as I peered into his shaggy face.
"Dass roigh. An' a bleenkin' goo 'un too. Zher Bhaltair a yore zervice, ma'am. I yam bess there's. Carn geh bettah tha' me."
I shook my head slowly, feeling a surge of pity wash over me. He didn't seem so bad, and I couldn't just leave him here in the middle of the road. And he was a knight too.
Yes - a knight with a really bad drinking problem.
I stood up from where I had crouched and looked around me again. It was obvious that I needed to get this guy to an inn or something, to sleep off all the booze it looked like he had consumed. A sudden loud snore from down below, however, told me that he was already in the process of doing so. I rolled my eyes. This sure was going to make things a whole lot easier.
My eye then came to a stop on the door the man had been thrown out of. It must have been a bar or tavern, judging from the knight's current state. Perhaps they doubled as an inn or something.
I dumped my pile of clothes beside the knight and then jogged over to the door, intent on finding out. After a moment's hesitation I finally rapped sharply upon the wooden surface.
"BHALTAIR!" I jumped halfway out of my skin in fright as a man's voice roared from the inside.
The door was flung open, making me stumble clumsily backwards in my attempt to avoid head butting the wooden surface. The bushy, black-haired giant of a man, who had thrown the knight out before, filled the doorway in front of me. His dark eyes were snapping with anger and his face was flushed a deep scarlet. I eyed his tightly clenched fists nervously.
"BHALTAIR! YOU LOUSY DRUNKEN BARFLY! IF YOU - " the man abruptly broke off, realising then that no one was there. I almost turned and fled when his wild and crazy-looking eyes suddenly looked down and landed on me.
I stared at him with my mouth open. "I - I - I - "
"Who are you?" the man barked gruffly in more normal tones, eyeing me curiously.
"Well, I - I mean my name's - "
"Good lord," the giant suddenly exclaimed. I looked up, startled, to see him staring past me incredulously.
I looked behind me and realised dryly that he had caught sight of Bhaltair lying motionlessly upon the ground.
"Ah, for the love of the Mother," he said, shaking his head disgustedly. "He needs a keeper, that one."
"Ah, yeah. I mean, that's why I'm here," I said as earnestly as I could. "Er, is this an inn?"
"An *inn*, girl?" he growled, making my heart speed up with increasing nervousness.
"Um, yeah. Is this an inn?" I repeated oh so intelligently. Inwardly I groaned. God, my wit impresses me.
"This is not just an inn, but the *finest* inn this side of the River Banksia!" he said, as if he could not believe his ears, staring at me with something a lot like horror. Suddenly I had to stifle the urge to giggle. The expression on his face was almost comical.
"Oh, oh, most definitely, kind sir," I said, nodding vigorously. "Of course. I was merely - wondering - if this was the great inn that everyone had been talking about."
I crossed my eyes and stuck out my tongue - mentally - at this very sad, pathetic attempt at sucking up. Not one of my finest moments, I have to admit.
But to my surprise, a great smile then spread across the giant's face and he drew himself up to his full (and impressive) height. Obviously - and thankfully - the people of this world were not used to the manipulative 'subtleties' of the 21st century.
"Why, indeed it is, lass," the giant said proudly. "And do you desire a room for the night?"
"Well, actually . . ." I let my voice trail off and looked pointedly back to where Bhaltair lay.
"Ah," he said with a nod. His expression grew grim. "Forgive me, lass, for I know that 'tis not my place to say, but he is . . . a little old for you."
"WHAT?" I screeched in horror. I stared at him in shock; my mouth open and closing speechlessly like a floundering fish. "You - you - you think that he and I . . ." I gestured between the drunk knight and myself feebly. The giant looked at me with raised eyebrows. Oh my god. That is just sick. Sick, sick, SICK!
"Oh, for Christ's sake, I've only just met the guy," I said disgustedly instead. "I mean, look at him. Really, it might surprise you to know that I have a little *more* dignity than that."
"Ah," the giant merely said, looking completely unabashed at my words. I glared at him fiercely. That was just so gross!
"Anyway," I began, still giving him a hard look, "I can't just leave the guy out here in the middle of the road. I was *hoping* to rent a room so I could put him there out of harm's way for the night, so he can sleep off whatever he's been drinking." But suddenly, remembering what had passed between the giant and Bhaltair, an idea struck me. I beckoned him closer, as if in confidentiality. "Between you and me, he might alarm the people of the village if left out here. See?" I pointed back to him. "Not exactly a pretty sight, eh? And I'm sure that you offer the best hospitality - er, this side of the River Banksia!"
The giant smiled broadly, completely transforming his bushy face. I tried not to stare. "Well, of course I do! My inn is famous, after all." He looked back over to where the knight lay snoring. An expression of distaste spread across his face, but I was relieved to see that it was not as harsh as before. "Ah, alright then. Can't have that lousy excuse for a man alarming the villagers now, can we?" He frowned. "But I'll need some help to carry him. He's not exactly as light as a feather."
"Sure," I said quickly. "I'll help. And I'll pay you for your troubles too."
The giant waved his hand at me airily. "Ah, don't worry about that. As long as you have enough coin to pay for both you and him I'm happy."
I shook the coin purse, jingling the strange coins inside. "Is this enough?" I asked innocently, smiling inwardly at the man's face lit up.
"More than enough, lass," he said, beaming. "More than enough. Well, we'd best begin moving him then."
And so together, the giant of a man and myself lifted the snoring knight, (with some difficulty), and slowly began carrying him back into the inn.