Lake Merrin: Chapter Four.

Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three  | Chapter Five | Glossary

And the night I met Pela, and she was—wow! I love what happened to us. If it wasn’t for Roth, we would have never met. And Roth—not so wow …

Not much going on. Am I supposed to stand here and look at people? Maybe ask one of the veterans. Looking at all these bully boys, best bet is to choose the oldest. Assuming he’s the oldest—the one with the cauliflower ear and broken nose with a nice scar across it. He might be nice.

“Hey, I’m new with this whole bouncer thing. Could you give me a few pointers?”

He looks at me like I was some bad smell under his nose.

“Bloody Corbin! Another fish. Okay, Fishy—” Original. Usually it is arseface or my personal favourite, dung-head. “—I’ll say this only once so listen up! If you see someone grabbing the staff before they pay Corbin for their time, bash them. If you see a fight, go in and bash them. If one of these gutter trash hit one of us, we take them out back and make sure they never make that mistake again.”

Seems simple, like really simple. Bash everyone.

“Sure thing. Bash anyone who give us a wrong look. Sure, I can handle that.”

He looks at me and smiles with some pearly whites—strange to see that. “But because you are a newbie, no one will be coming to your rescue tonight until you have cracked a few skulls.”

Great, not too different than usual. “Crack skulls.” Club in hand. “Can do.”

Leaving the wonderful man alone. Can’t believe that people would pay for these ladies. Well, maybe her. Must be a quarterling. Petite thing with beautiful golden hair.

“Hey, how much is she?”

A man looks at who I am pointing to and smirks. “Twenty gold slips.”

What? Who is worth that? She might be, but still.

“She has a certain taste in clientele too.” He looks me up and down. “She doesn’t go for white-backs like you.”

Not that I could afford her. Nevertheless, that’s a little racist for someone who is a half-breed themselves.

“Might never have the money anyway. What’s her name?”

“Pela.”

Now it really feels like I’m the butt of the joke.

“You have that section over there. If there is trouble, deal with it.”

Great. Thanks, man-with-no-name. At least I have Pela to stare at. She’s waiting tables in my section—best news. She looks at me and frowns.

Just give her a charming smile! She hides a smile and maybe a giggle.

Never been in this bar before. Smells like the dives at the docks, but seems to be a bit quieter. Have no idea how Corbin makes any money—just seems to be mainly workmen. Easy job, for not being paid.

Hold the presses, is that?—No!—Yes, it is! The Bloody Sword. What is the Fellowship doing in here? Helmut, Roth, Viktor, Vali, and hangers-on. Great, it seems that the whole gang is here—my mistake, I mean Charter. How can a fallen knight become a leader of a registered Charter?

But not in my section. Veteran guy needs to make sure he doesn’t push that lot. Roth would butcher him with that cleaver of his.

“Hey!” Corbin is yelling. “Fight, idiot!”

Bloody typical. Couple of workmen fighting over most likely nothing.

“You two, cut it out!”

Ignored. Fine then! Knees and elbows. Both of them drop with little effort.

“Oi, what’d you do that for?” one of the ugly men asks me. Like I care.

“I warned you two. Leave with teeth or without. Your choice.”

They pick themselves up, limping a little. “Fine. The women are better down at the docks anyway.”

That is true. Except Pela … so swishy.

“Let’s go.” A little death stare. Good start.

What else is happening? Most of the more tough thugs are having a good laugh—at my expense, I guess. The Fellowship hasn’t noticed me. That last beating they gave me was not fun. Wait up, is Pela serving them now? I know that they could pay for her … Bloody typical Roth is going to have a go of her. I can’t watch this. There goes the eye candy. Bloody Roth. She must not like ape-men too. Lucky me that I am not one. Roth goes for the grab.

Roth, such a butcher of a man, loves his meat cleaver. I hope Pela will be alright. She seems to be a tough girl. She laughs it off and slaps his hand playfully away. Good on you, girl. I guess you need to have thick skin working in a place like this. She returns with another round and Roth pulls her onto his lap with a little grope. She stands up, turns, and slaps him across the face. Helmut and the others just laugh, but he’s standing up now.

Should I involve myself? Looking around, none of the other ‘bouncers’ are moving toward that table. With their reputation, they will get nasty soon.

“Hey, Roth!” I call over the crowd “What are you doing over here?”

He looks up and yells, “Go away, little man, this has nothing to do with you! She slapped me, so now she is going to have to make it up to me!”

I step in front of Pela. “Well, you see I’m working here now, Roth, and I can’t have you manhandling the staff. Now, be a good lad, have a drink on me, and head down to the docks later and pick up someone who wants your charms.”

“What you say to me!” He stands nose to nose with me. The spray of spittle is not pleasant. “I’m not good enough for this whore? And who are you to tell me who I can poke? Is that right, little man!”

“Roth, my friend, I didn’t mean that you are not an upstanding citizen with amazing hygiene but—”

That is how far I got with conversation. A left hook straight to the jaw. That hurt! As I flew back into another patron, I could see my mistake.

“Come on, lads, let’s drag this good for nothing outside and beat the living shit out of him!”

Now I have made Roth an enemy—great! Just need one more thug to try to kill me to make this a perfect day. Well, I gave my word to work here for the next two days, and this is part of the job. Can’t fight in here, it might turn into an all-out brawl.

“Okay, Roth, let’s go outside. But do you really need these others to help your ‘manhood’ stay straight or can you do it with your own hands—I mean, take it into your own hands!”

Score one for the dead man! As Roth’s face turns purple, Helmut stands up and in is insanely quiet voice says, “Roth, be a man. Fight one on one. It’s the honourable thing to do.”

Corbin walks over with a massive club. “Clear a space. We’ll have it in here.” He looks around and laughs. “Looks like we got a show tonight, boys!”

Now, with my luck of late, was this a set-up or am I just that lucky? Oh well.

Corbin yells, “As I am now running this contest, will be with fists. No weapons! I don’t want to explain to the Watch why Roth killed someone in my saloon!”

A good laugh from the crowd. Great, everyone thinks I’ve already lost! Well, I can give as good as I get. Well … maybe. Too late now. At least there is a gorgeous face … What! Pela is nowhere to be seen! Great, my luck is now proving itself to be against me.

I need to put some of this crowd on my side. “Come on, people!” Turning to Roth now. “I’m going to crack your head with my fist! Yeah, I will punch you so hard that … you will hurt bad!”

The crowd laughs at this; snickers throughout the place. Roth chuckles. “See the puddle? He is already pissing himself!”

Looking down, someone has spilt a drink between my legs—most likely Vali, that sneaky bastard! Now it is outright mockery. Steel yourself and just fight! Sarge always said, ‘If a fight is dirty, take any advantage you can.’

Good, he is distracted insulting me to the crowd. Throwing all my weight behind it, I punch Roth in the small of his back! Then again—and again! Was that a crack?

Wasn’t going to wait for him to be ready.

What? It had no effect? Roth turns, looks at me, roars, and charges. Bracing. Need to make this count! Sidestep him. Aim for the side of his neck. Hitting his shoulder, not the best plan. Damn it, that really hurt. Hand isn’t broken, I hope.

Looking up, where is Roth? He is on the floor, not moving. Did I kill him with that shoulder shot? Or my … Oh wait, no. He slipped on that puddle Vali made. Trinity is smiling upon me! Just have to finish this now—no one will miss him.

Is that a shadow?

 

 

Waking up in a strange bed! What? I am in a room, in bed. The air smells like freshly-cut flowers. Now officially weirded out.

Looking around, hang on, I’m naked! Why am I naked? Screw that, why the Abyssus am I naked? Where are my clothes?

There they are, folded neatly beside my armour and sword. There is my nearly empty wallet too. Starting to freak out! But laying in this bed is so comfortable, and it smells nice. Like a beautiful woman. Okay, okay, the person who put me in here, and got me undressed, I hope was a woman. Please, Trinity, be a woman. Don’t really care if she is good-looking, just don’t want a man handling my junk.

As the door opens, Pela walks in—jackpot!

“Oh, you are awake. I thought you’d be sleeping. How are you feeling? When that fight started, I went and got the Watch. I saw you on the ground being kicked and punched by Helmut and his goons.”

She starts to cry, have no idea why. Women are strange.

“You came and protected me … Thank you. I brought you to my place and made Corbin pay for a healer—that will teach him!”

Dumbstruck! A beautiful woman saved me, took me to her place, got a healer, and then got me naked. Best morning ever—except for nearly dying for the second time in one day!

“Thank you, Pela. I would have been a dead man. And you are welcome as well. I would think anyone else would’ve done the same thing. If you don’t mind passing my pants, I’ll get out of your way.”

She blushes and turns to me. “You don’t have to go. You could … stay.”

Now, I’m not a cynic but a beautiful woman asking me to stay—yeah, right. As my past always shows me, I’m not that lucky.

“No, I think it would be better for me to go. I don’t have too much money. Sorry, but thank you for everything. My pants?”

Pela walks up and punches me in the face, growling at me, “Get your own pants! If you are still here when I get back—” A small knife appears in her hand. “—I take your balls, you Truth-spawn!” She turns and walks out, slamming the door behind her.

“Who you calling a Truth-spawn? We’re both half-breeds!”

Suggesting she was a lady of the night was my stuff up—foot mouth. My nose is bleeding. Oh well. Get dressed and see if I can get my stuff back.

That courier should have delivered my package to Malik by now. Just nip down to that hole called Anvil and Musket.

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