Early Short Tails, p.1Barry Rachin
Early Short Tales
Copyright 2017 Joshua Johns
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Awareness washed over Jacob long before his eyes opened to the new day. The drilling in his skull was replaced by a dull canyon of emptiness. Memory reverberated between his eyes. He was no longer sure how many days he had been here as the sheets twisted around his body revealing half of his form. The pungent musk of his sweat touched his nose. Maybe three? Possibly four days? The room was dark. A trickle of weak sunlight was damned from one small window by a torn rag of a curtain. The rooms of the Nine Ring's tavern were small compared to most. Though it only cost him a few silver coins. Jacob's green eyes closed and opened several more times before he found the strength to stay awake. Exhaustion came in waves that were replaced with nothingness. He searched his own well of motivation and came up lacking. His arms were granite and his legs heavy tree trunks. The sunlight faded into darkness and returned slowly. Another day gone. Another day gone and so was the craving. How many nights did he scream for rum? How much of the old craving soaked the linen as he perspired?
It was at this point he heard the breathing. At first he mistaken it for his own because of his clouded senses but this sound was softer. His eyes, cleared of sleep and run and finally adjusted to the lack of illumination. Against the far wall from him, a little more than an arm's length away from his bed, a young woman slumbered sitting up. She wore nothing but her shift. Her own sweat made the material cling to her skin. Her chest rose and fell steadily with each breath. Her un-kept blond hair fell in front of her face and down her near bare shoulders. Her fingers touched a glass resting on the floor. It was half empty with rum.
He groaned as he sat up. Annoyance seemed to fuel any fire he needed for motivation at the moment. He ran his fingers through his long greasy dark hair as he swung his legs over the side of the bed. He was suddenly aware that his small clothes were missing. It took him awhile before he was able to find his voice.
"Wake up Lynn."
The girl stirred awake at about the same rate he did. The tendrils of sleep seemed to be strong in this room. He looked to the glass. The ache to cloud his mind with the dark liquid never came. Though he was sure the memories where waiting to flood now that the dam was gone.
"Lynn wake up now."
The girl's bright green eyes opened and looked with his. For someone touched by exhaustion and intoxication he was taken aback by the look on her face. He often wondered if mother's taught their daughters those expressions meant to kill a man. How could one look sad and angry at the same time?
"You drank too much Lynn," he said, attempting to hide his annoyance.
"Coming from you, that is rich Gaiden" she said without giving an ounce of what she thought.
She used his title in attempt to make him angry. He ground his teeth and suppressed a growl. It was working. He has not considered himself a Gaiden in nearly two decades. The Holy members of the Gaiden Order were not men who were hooked on the bottle and brothels. He considered himself one of those men. Or at least, was.
"Besides, it was the only way to keep the bottles safe from you" she said finishing the rest from the glass.
"What are you doing here girl?"
"Careful Lord Gaiden, I am still the Lady-Heir of this city."
"And the Lady-Heir is still a girl. What are you doing here?"
"You need to save him Jacob." Any sign of stubbornness drained from her face and was refilled with desperation.
"Why should I?"
"He needs you."
"He doesn't need saving girl. Not a man like that. I need to kill him."
Her expression cracked from pain. It lingered and she didn't spare the energy to find her strength to hide it.
"Killing him and saving him could be the same thing. If we leave him there he might become?"
"I know what he might become Lynn." Some where he found the gentleness to say that with ease.
"I know you do Jacob," her voice broke, "I don't need the drunk in you. I need the man you were before. The man who killed monsters."
Jacob said nothing for a long while. He just stared at the empty glass in her hand. A few days ago he would have drowned himself in the drink before considering to do all this again. To fight the same kind of monsters in this place.
"Try to save him Jacob. But if you can't?if you can't?"
"I know. Where is my sword?"
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