Fantasy Fiction posted May 27, 2014 Chapters:  ...12 13 -14- 15... 

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They just wanted a tankard of ale

A chapter in the book The Trining


by Jay Squires

NEW TO “THE TRINING” ADVENTURE?  There are summaries beginning with Cha. 2 and continuing to Cha. 12 (Pt. 2).  What follows is a summary of Cha. 13
Thirsty for a tankard of ale, Doctrex and Klasco enter the Tavern.  Doctrex surveys the place, seeing card players, drinkers, and the three ruffians they had encountered earlier.  The band begins to play a song and, to Doctrex’s amazement Klasco starts humming and before long stands and sings loudly.  The song is My Kabeez, very patriotic, one the tavern maid whispers to Doctrex that many people hate passionately.  Sure enough, one of the card players stalks over to Klasco, threatening him.  Klasco pulls him across the table and subdues him.  Meanwhile one of his buddies rounds the table and Doctrex cold cocks him with a sucker punch.  Now, though, he counts seven more coming toward them, one with a club and another with a knife.  Included are the three toughs from earlier.
  Chapter Fourteen
 Klasco tipped the table on its side, erecting a barricade that would take our attackers about three seconds to go around.

The one with the club tried the direct approach, throwing his weight into it while he brought his club-wielding arm over the top.  The blow ricocheted harmlessly off the meaty part of Klasco's shoulder.  The man's momentum carried him forward, allowing Klasco to ram his fist into the exposed armpit.
I didn't see what happened after that since I was about to have my hands full.

The one with the knife chose me as his target.  Coming from another angle, the thug, who apparently wanted me more, was about a pace or two ahead of the other.  I balled my fist, immediately figuring my only strategy was to lambast the first to arrive, when the ruffian suddenly stopped, spun around and in just that instant stationed himself in front of me, blocking my view of the knife wielder as well as much of the light from that part of the room.  I heard a "huff" as of air leaving the lungs followed by a delay where nothing seemed to happen, and then he slumped to his knees and fell forward.

The man stood staring at his knife, his face twisted in disbelief, but only for a moment before the other thug rammed his shoulder into the man's side, carrying him ten feet across the room where both crashed to the floor, the thug on top.  He pounded his fist into the other's face again and again.

Meanwhile, the card players had completely withdrawn.  In the confusion, I had lost sight of the other one of the three troublemakers, but now saw he was helping Klasco with the club bearer who had not been so ready to surrender as the orange-haired Klevin.

I turned my attention to the one who had been stabbed and gently rolled him to his back.  He was breathing, grimacing in pain.  I ripped open his shirt.  He was bleeding heavily, but I traced it to its source.  The knife had penetrated his pectoral muscle, just above and to the outside of his nipple.  My guess was, from the angle it went in, that it glanced off the breastbone and lodged itself in the flesh alongside his ribcage.  I examined his side.  Sure enough, there was an exit point, a slit of about a half inch, oozing blood.

I looked up to see the tavern maid standing beside us, a tablecloth trailing down from her hands.  Her eyes were closed and her body jerking with a quiet sobbing.

"He'll be okay," I told her.  "Is there a doctor staying at the Inn?"

She shook her head.  With difficulty she told me she didn't think there was, but said she would check with the innkeeper.

"While you're doing that, have someone boil some water and tear one of these into four or six smaller pieces.  Leave this one with me.  Is it clean?"

She nodded and gave it to me.  Then I remembered.  "And I'll need some alcohol. 

She gave me a quizzical smile.

"Alcohol.  Some distilled spirits?"

"Ah, spirits.  Yes.

She left.  I put the tablecloth to my nose and sniffed it.  It smelled clean.  I pressed it to the wound.  He moaned.

The thug who had been slamming his fist into the one beneath him was now standing, looking down at him and rubbing his hand.  The other's face was bloodied and one eye was already swollen shut, but his stomach was rising and falling.

"Your friend's going to be okay," I hollered to him, afraid he might once again start working over his victim.

He turned vacant eyes to me.  Then he shook his head.  "Sheleck!" he cried out, and lumbered toward us.  "He hurt you."  His eyes pleaded with me.  "He's gon' be all right."

"Yes.  I'm sure," I told him.  I folded the cloth to a dry spot and again pressed it to the wound on his chest.  "The bleeding's slowing."  Then I remembered something else.  "Can you see if you can find some blankets or coats?  Something we can cover him with?"

"You a doctor?" he asked.

"No, but if he's in shock he should be kept warm."

"I'll go.  I'll get a blanket."  He looked around.  "Where's his brother?"

Klasco and the third miscreant who I assumed, now, was Sheleck's brother, had finished binding the hands of the two fallen combatants with what looked like strips of a tablecloth and turned toward me.  From the look on his face, this was his first discovery that his brother had fallen.  In his haste to get to us he collided with a chair and flung it, clattering to the side.  "Sheleck!"

"He'll be all right, Giln," the other said.  "Doctor, said he's all right.  I need to get some blankets, right, doctor?"

"I'm not a doctor," I explained again.  "But, please get that blanket."

"Zurn," the brother said, "Go get the blanket."  His voice was deep, a bit raspy.

"Yes, I need to get a blanket.  Or coats, right, doctor?"

"One or the other," I said, pressing another fresh part of the table cloth to the wound.

"Don't forget what you're going for, Zurn." Giln warned.

"I won't.  I'll get a blanket, or ... or a coat."  He left.

"He's a little dim," Giln said, under his breath.
Klasco looked at me with concern.  "Are you okay, Brother?"

"A little shaken." I gave a tilt of my head to Sheleck. "He took the knife for me, you know."

Giln shook his head.  "Not for you, friend.  He didn't know he was going to be stabbed."  He got down on his knees and bent over his brother, kissing him on the forehead.  Then he laid his cheek gently where his lips had been.  "He didn't know."

"But, he did it just the same.  And he did it while standing in front of me."

"He's not a hero.  He thought he could take him.  He'd tell you that himself."

I had a hunch it was time to retire the speculation.

"He's tough, though.  He'll be okay."

I agreed with him.  "The tip didn't get through the rib cage -- went off to the side."

"Yeah, Sheleck's a tough one."   In the silence that followed, though, I knew he was worried.

"You know," I said, "I couldn't help but think the three of you were joining forces with the others against us."

Klasco laughed. "After all, we didn't have a very cordial introduction at the door, as you were leaving and we were coming in."

"Ah, that," Giln said.  "We just enlisted and I guess we were feeling the need for a little action before the real thing."  He was silent a moment and a little reflective.  "I'll take that introduction now if you've a mind to.  He thrust out a hand that matched Klasco's in size. Klasco took it in his and introduced himself.  Giln turned to me.  "Don't bother, you've got your hands full.  My name's Giln Profue."

I introduced myself.

"And your surname?"

"Just Doctrex."

He looked suspiciously at me and then at Klasco.  "Just Doctrex?"

"That's it."

"Hmmm.  You know we'll never convince Zurn now that you're not a doctor."

We had a good laugh over that and then Klasco asked: "So, what made you decide to come to our aid after all?"

"You beat us to the punch.  Who do you think convinced the band to play My Kabeez?  It's not exactly what you'd call Tavern music, now is it?"

"Now that you mention it," Klasco chuckled.

"The three of us planned to sing it at first, but we had a fit of laughter, and by the time we got ourselves together we heard you singing it.  Loudly … and with love."  He sniffed. "We also love our Kabeez.  We had no idea there would be a knife or a club involved, but before they went after you, our plan had been to draw them to us by our singing. Then, since you were outnumbered, and we were the ones who started the whole thing ... and we were looking for action anyway, it was a natural."

"You said you enlisted," Klasco said.

"Yes, my brother and I don't have families -- no wives."  He cast a glance at Sheleck again, then back to Klasco.  "We have no one who depends on us and we would rather fight the Far Northern Province on their soil than on ours.  We planned it for over a quardo' D, building strength in our bodies, wrestling, fist fighting.  It was difficult because, over time, we had lost our fitness, and with it our confidence.  Gradually we got it all back and more."

"And Zurn?"

"Zurn is like our brother.  To us he is our brother.  He has no mother or father.  The people in our township liked him the way you would a dog or cat.  He wasn't lacking for food or the other necessities.  But they just didn't respect him.  And, a man's got to have respect.  He got that from my brother."

Klasco nodded, reflectively.

“Sheleck befriended him and, with my parents blessing, we ended up inviting him to live with us.  When we trained for the enlistment, he trained right along with us."

Klasco drew in his brows.  "How did you get him enlisted?"

"You mean …  No … well, we—he didn't get enlisted.  The Council representative argued that he didn't have the mind to follow instructions and others could die because of his lacking in sense."

I looked over at Klasco.  He said, "And, do you think they are wrong?"

Giln cleared his throat.  "Now's probably not the best time to answer that.  Where is Zurn?"

I noticed he was a little red-faced.

"Well …" said Klasco.  Their decision must have been difficult.  I hear they've been having trouble getting volunteers and have had to resort to conscripting boys as young as three D.  Perhaps they weren't aware of yours and Sheleck's closeness to him—that the three of you would be together, looking out for each other."

"We put our best argument forward, but the council representative—"

"Describe him."

Giln looked momentarily confused.  "Tall man, sun-reddened—"

"No hair."

"You know him?" Giln asked.

"Yes, he screens complaints and requests to find what is worthwhile for the Council to discuss.  Sometimes he is, um, shortsighted."  He rubbed his jaw.  It produced a sandpapery sound.  "Zurn must recognize his role as warrior.  I'm guessing he doesnt have any leadership ambitions?  He can take simple orders without being on the planning end of things, right?"

As though right on cue, the door opened, and Zurn entered with a blanket thrown over his shoulder.  A man was with him, carrying a bag.  "Another doctor," Zurn said.  "I had to wait for him to dress.  They woke him on account of Sheleck."

"Oh, there he is," said the doctor, a short, older man with a prominent belly.  He addressed me, sticking out his hand.  "Doctor Murger," he said.  "The young man told me you were here but lacked medical supplies."

"Yes, well, I'm afraid he might have misled you.  I'm not a doctor.  I'm only guessing about what to do."

"I see," the doctor said, moving in close and getting onto one knee with some difficulty.  I gave up control of the tablecloth and he lifted it from the wound.  "Ah, it appears just a flesh wound.  No coughing of blood, correct?  No issue from the mouth?"  He didn't wait for an answer.  Looking, as I had, at the rib cage just below the armpit, he announced, "Yes, the exit."  Turning to Zurn, he said, "We need the blankets, son."

"Yes, I brought the blankets, see Giln?  I remembered."  He held them out to the doctor who spread them over Sheleck's body; then he stepped back, watching the doctor with an expression of wonder.

"You did an admirable job, son," the doctor told me.  "Just an even direct pressure on the wound.  And the miss—the tavern maid said you had them boil some water, cut some cloths and get a bottle of spirits.  Very good.  We'll need to clean and bandage the wound.  I have something to prevent infection."  He reached into his bag.

"I'll see what's keeping the water, cloths and spirits" I told him.

"The water and cloths," he said.  Then he winked at me.  "The spirits we'll finish later.

Klasco and Giln laughed.  Zurn watched them, with a slight tilt of his head.  I knew he wanted to join in.

It saddened me a little.
*     *     *
  • Doctrex:  The name Axtilla gave to the man who woke up on the shoure of an alien land without memory or identity.
  • Axtilla:  The young lady who discovered the ailing man on the shore, brought him to health and then held him captive, certain he is Pondria.
  • Pondria:  According to the Tablets of Kyre, he is the one who comes from the sea, to infiltrate the people of the Encloy, deceiving them with his language, setting them up to be destroyed by the Trining.
  • Pomnots:  (Pom = Dark not = Force)  Formerly on the plane below, these ancestors of the people of the Encloy were drawn up to the Kojutake during the Bining's 30 days of darkness.  Fierce, living for their appetites, they are not above killing each other to satisfy their insatiable hunger.
  • Glnot Rhuether:  According to Axtilla, the name of the dark entity who is destined to empower the lodging [the Trining] on their plane.
  • Klasco Braanz: Husband to Metra and father to Sarisa and Klea.
  • Metra Braanz: Wife to Klasco and mother to Sarisa and Klea
  • Sarisa Braanz: Klasco's and Metra's youngest daughter.
  • Klea Braanz: Klasco's and Metra's eldest daughter
  • Giln Profue: One of the three who helped Doctrex & Klasco in the Tavern Brawl.
  • Sheleck Profue: One of the three who helped Doctrex & Klasco in the Tavern Brawl & was stabbed.
  • Zurn: Intellectually challenged, Giln and Sheleck are watching out for him.
  • Kyreans:  According to Kabeezan Myth, a people who lived 5,000 years ago (1,000 D’s) who were ultimately destroyed by Glnot Rhuether and the Dark Force
  • Crossans: They are similar to horses, but broader in the chest and sloping down to smaller haunches than horses.
  • Trining: A code word used by the enemies in the Far Northern Province marking the beginning of the all-out assault by Glnot Rhuether on the other provinces.
  • Kunsin: The magic that Pondria possessed.
  • Kojutake: In the provinces it is the afterlife.
  • Prevaluate: In the provinces, it is where you go just after you die, where you measure yourself to find out whether you will go to Kojutake


NOTE: Reluctantly, but at the request of many Fanstorians, I am including a Glossary of Characters and Terms. I trust the reader who measures his/her interest by the length of the "scanning bar" will keep in mind the space that list takes up.
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