Saturday, June 4, 2011

Part 31

Rudolph entered the inn far after the dark blue stain of night had coated the sky. He was wearing a sweat-stained tunic, rough slacks that were too hot for the weather, and his worn-out boots. He plopped down into the nearest chair and for the first time looked around.
The Inn was called the Drinking Bear, and on the front the name hung from a sign that bore a painted bear guzzling a mug of beer.
There were only two other people in the inn- both men, and both burly and drinking beer whilst talking in the lowest of voices. It sounded like buzzing to Rudolph's tired ears, so when a large woman with callused hands tapped him hard on the shoulder and said, "Hey son, interested in a room or occupying seats my customers could sit in." Rudolph cleared his head enough to understand her. He decided not to point out the fact that there were three people in the room and at least ten chairs to go with the small oak-wood tables.
"A room, please ma'am. And some food as well, if there is any left at this hour." Rudolph automatically thumbed the bottom of his tunic, where he had sewn 10 gold coins into the hem.
"Alright, then. Follow me please, sir, and as soon as you are settled in I'll have my husband bring you up some soup and bread."
"That would be really nice, ma'am, I'm starved, you see..." Rudolph, who had been stranded in a dragon's clutches with one other girl for company was eager for conversation. However, the woman began walking up the wooden stairs to the rooms, a sign that she was utterly uninterested by his words.
Rudolph's room was small and square, with a wash-bin in one corner (1 coin for enough heated water to bathe, the woman told him), and a low bed on the opposite side, with a heavy quilt laid out on top of it. The woman explained to him that the privy was outside and there was a candle near the wash-bin so that if he needed to relieve himself in the middle of the night he could find his way. She also collected five gold coins from him (Rudolph turned to rip them each from his shirt as she was pointing out form the sole window where the privy was located): one for heated bath water, one for the bread and soup he was to receive, and three for the room for one night. Because the inn was far from the capital and the only one for miles, the innkeepers were able to keep the prices high and satisfying. Rudolph was sure others had argued the costs down to something more agreeable, but he was in no condition to argue. He was tired and hungry, and the guilt of leaving Alisen alone in the cave was beginning to press down on him. For what if the dragon decided to kill her before he was able to get back to her?

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