Work had been rather busy, but this piece by Jonas De Ro washed the real world away as Jerus Dragonfriend–at a later stage of life–popped into my head. I’m not so sure of him as a main character, but he definitely has all the qualities of being a story’s catalyst.
Aduk snatched the halved silver coin from Xul and sized up the rotund drunk face down at the nearest table. Stone asleep, the codger had a death grip on what remained of a turkey leg. His loud snores came in spats and he reeked of soured wine. Aduk shook his head and stashed the coin.
“Hey!” Xul whispered, “That’s mine. Give it to him and ask.”
Aduk shook his head. “That guy wouldn’t know that turkey bone in his hand from his own pecker.”
“That is The Great Bard Jerus. I’d give him the fee, but he knows me and hates my order.
Aduk brandished the half-coin at Xul. “If he pukes on me, you bleed.”
Xul nodded. “More than fair.”
“Witch tits.” Regarding his companion, Aduk stood. “You talk me into dumber shit…” He sat next to the mess of a man. The oder made the fine dinner of venison and rice almost rise. Aduk swallowed hard to keep it down. “Jerus, here’s pay. Tell me of the Taumil Dragon Slayers.”
The snoring stopped. Jerus’s plump hand released the turkey leg and rotated palm up.
Taken aback, Aduk dropped the coin in the center of the fat hand.
Jerus closed his hand. He slurred, “Ssso, The Taumil, hmmm?” Forehead still on the table, he rotated his head to face Aduk. His words became amazingly crisp. “Their last run was against Flamesage the Red.” He opened his hand again. A full gold coin with the perfect edges the Taumil were famed to make sat on the doughy flesh.
Aduk licked his lips. To the right buyer, that coin–that relic–would fetch a lord’s ransom.
Jerus cleared his throat. “You can either hear about the Dragon Slayers or take this coin.”
Aduk rubbed his chin. He and Xul already had a map that led to the Slayers treasure hoard. The only need a Taumil coin to judge distance.
Xul would be pissed, but Aduk made his decision. He said, “Give me the coin, old man.”
“Take it then.” Jerus rested his cheek back on the table. He slurred. “Be gone and let an old man shleep.”
Aduk snatched it and rushed back to show Xul. “Look.”
Xul hung his head. “You dolt.”
“What?” Aduk turned the mint gold coin over in his hand. He checked around for thieves only to find Jerus sleeping and the tavern man peeling potatoes. He still chose to keep his voice low. “It’s an Taumil coin. Exactly what we need.”
Xul thumped his worn leather map case on the table. “Don’t let me stop you.”
Without a word, Aduk snatched it up and rushed from the tavern.
Xul hurried across the room to slip out the back. It wouldn’t be long before Aduk stopped and opened the case to compare the coin to the map. The dullard would be doubly pissed to find that he had an empty case and the same half silver Xul had given to him.
Minding his path on the loose cobblestone roads of Lomka, Xul wondered how’d he missed Jerus casting the illusion; hell, the man had barely moved.
© Ezekiel James Boston
I was a little surprised that Xul (from here and here) made an appearance. Puzzle pieces are coming together as well as a timeline. This is Jerus as an old man while the other piece had him as a young man heading out from home. And, this would be just before Xul met up with Carmen and company.