Camille, otherwise known as Meow Meow, hasn’t shown any signs of poisoning from the snow globe fluid so far.
My April sucked ass. I am just going to come out and say it. Highly unprofessional, but I don’t care. Between broken computers, renovations, smashed snow globes, infections in both eyes, and other various bullshit, I am looking forward to May. And I found another scorpion in the bathroom. We called Orkin this time. So far, no bugs or arachnids.
Okay, now that this part out of the way, we shall return to normal professional broadcasting.
We have secured an artist for the interior illustrations of whatever its name is, Sweep some thing. What was the name? Sweep of the Heart. She is absolutely fantastic so you will likely get to see the Sovereign and the Dushegubs. We are all excited about that.
We are working on the next Innkeeper installment for you, which we will hopefully post either before Friday or you may just get a much longer chunk on Friday. But today I’m going to throw at you another short snippet. We gave you one earlier with the swordsman in the catacombs. This is from the same story.
Finally the streets ended abruptly, and the Bull Gate rose ahead, the empty space in front of it lit by torches, their light playing on the massive bronze gates shut tight. High above, the city guard prowled the wall.
I turned, so the gate was to my left. A row of tall buildings greeted me, three stories high and built without any spaces between them. The entire street was like the bottom of a stone canyon. It was meant to channel the flood of invaders into a narrow kill space if the gates were breached.
I counted off the houses on the side of the street facing me, staring with the closest to the gate. One, two, three, four. The house with the blue door.
The huge city gates opened.
It was after hours. Only someone in a very high position could force the guards to let them in.
Three riders entered the city. All three rode Andikan warhorses, big, quick footed, mean, with grullo coats that looked like grey smoke. The leading rider’s horse had a bald face, a white marking that covered the entire front of his head. It looked like a horse wore another horse’s skull as a helmet.
Everard. The Sleepless Duke, the Bloody Sword of the West, the Shield of Ledonia, riding Ghost, his war stallion. They called him the Sleepless because he ruled over a vast stretch of territory on the Western border and that territory was continuously raided by the tribes from the north and the Empire from the South. Verard Duchy was always at war. Everard picked up a sword at the age of three and never put it down, just as his father and mother before him. He was a violent war monger, who responded to threats with overwhelming force.
There was no place to hide. I flattened myself against the nearest house and looked down.
The riders rode down the street, their dark cloaks swallowing the light as if they had cut pieces of midnight sky and wrapped them around themselves.
Don’t notice me. Don’t see me.
Ghost reached me. The size of this horse was truly shocking. I raised my head a fraction of an inch. The stallion glared at me with a bright blue eye, and I caught a glimpse of the rider, broad shoulders stretching his cloak, his hood hiding everything except for his clean-shaven square jaw.
I held my breath.
The riders passed me. The hoof steps scattered down the street, receding.
That was entirely too much excitement.
I took a deep breath and knocked on the blue door.
I knocked louder.
A small window slid open in the door. The person on the other side stayed in the shadow.
“Sabastian said you rent your rooms,” I said. Sabastian ran the stables at the White Stag. This house was owned by the widow of his nephew.
“I have someone coming in tomorrow,” a woman said.
“I just need it for tonight. The place I was supposed to stay was sold out from under me.”
“It’s a den per night.”
I passed two dens through the window. “For your inconvenience. I need some food. Whatever you have. I’m not picky.”
Metal clung. The door swung open. A woman stood inside. She was about thirty, with pale skin and a coil of golden hair that rested on her head like a crown. Three months from now, a poor young noble would ride through the Bull Gate and rent a room here. He would fall in love with the widow, but he was impulsive and foolish, and a year later she would die in his arms, trying to keep him from being run through with a sword. They would kill him anyway.
The widow gave me a grim look. Behind her, a little girl in a plain white nightgown, not more than four or five, peeked at me from the stair landing. She would die after the men who killed her mother would set the house on fire.
“Come in,” the widow said.
I came inside, and she closed the door and bolted it shut.
The woman glanced up at the landing. Her eyebrows came together, and the little girl scurried off. The widow turned left, into the kitchen, pulled a loaf of dense black bread from the basket, cut a thick slab, took a block of white cheese from an ice box, cut a slab of that, and handed me the giant cheese sandwich.
I forced myself to not snatch it out of her hands and took it slowly. “Thank you.”
“Third floor,” she said. “The door has a bar on both sides. I’m going to lock you in.”
“Fine by me.”
I went up the stairs, trying to ignore the food in my hands. My mouth watered. We climbed to the third floor, to a sturdy wooden door with a thick bar across it. The widow unbarred the door and pushed it open, revealing a small room with a bed and a window by it, with cheap, murky glass. A second door, flimsy and narrow, stood open in the wall on the right, leading to a tiny bathroom with a wooden toilet.
“In you go. Remember, you have to be out in the morning.”
I stepped in. She shut the door, and I heard the bar slide into place.
I sat on the floor and attacked my food.