November 19, 2012
Marik - an excerpt
Book-signing tomorrow! I'll be writing a post later this week to let you know how it went. I'm hoping to have pictures to put up as well. While you wait here is the first scene in the story I am working on for Nanowrimo:
Marik strode into the dimly lit tavern and made his way to an empty table in the corner. His eyes darted this way and that as he pushed his long coat back and sat down in a chair with its back to the wall. He had spent time in worse establishments, but not many. Although the table was clean, something about the place gave an impression of grime, making him loath to touch anything. A sour-faced woman came over to the table, wiping her hands on her apron. She wore a plain brown robe of a dress that was far from flattering.
“Whaddya want?” she asked in a tone that was bored and disagreeable.
“A tankard of your finest ale, good lady,” Marik flashed her his best smile, the one legends had been written about, but this woman seemed immune. “And a loaf of your softest bread.”
“I’ll see your coin, first,” she demanded, pursing thin lips that seemed out of place in her round face.
He placed a handful of coppers on the table, wrinkling his nose when he realized as they dropped that he had just placed half of them in a small puddle of something sticky.
“Be right back,” the woman’s tone, if not her face, turned a shade more pleasant.
Marik tried to relax, but the atmosphere in the tavern made it difficult. There was a smoky haze to the air, making it difficult to see clearly, and the unpleasant scent of sulphur wafting in through the open windows made him reluctant to breathe through his nose. The tavern was set back in a small town on the very outskirts of Palla, in the foothils of the mountains on the west side of the River Temnia. A smaller river: Pello, ran down from the mountains and ended in a small lake on the northern edge of the town. From the smell of the water, Marik felt it was safe to assume that the stream originated somewhere volcanic. It was not the most pleasant place in Aelon Ere, but Marik had not arranged the meeting, and thus had no say about the location.
The woman returned with a mug and set it down on the table, sloshing a little of it over the brim. Drops of dark ale splashed Marik’s shirt and he frowned. The maroon was his favorite shirt. He rubbed at the spots with his sleeve. She set a tin plate in front of him and he stared in disbelief at the small slice of crusty bread. He could tell without even touching it that biting into it would be bad for his health.
“That’ll be twenty coppers.”
Marik’s head snapped up and his eyes widened. “For that?” he gestured at the disappointing repast in front of him.
“Twenty coppers or you can take your business elsewhere.” The woman’s face was hard, and showed no hint of humor.
“My good woman, what have I done to merit your distrust? In most other establishments twenty coppers would buy me a full meal and a room for the night... some would call your price highway robbery.”
“We’re not ‘most other establishments,’ and I don’t care what ‘some’ might say. We don’t like strangers here in Ondoma, and we’d just as soon see you leave. Twenty coppers or you can be on your way.”
“Peace, Criselda,” another man appeared, putting his hand on the woman’s shoulder. “Marik here is with me.”
The woman’s frown deepened. “Well then, ten coppers for the both of you, Arrio. But you vouch for him. If he causes any trouble, he’s your responsibility."
“He won’t, desert flower. Marik is a businessman, of high repute and standing. We’re here to agree to some terms on some work he might be doing for me. Bring me a mug of whatever he’s having, there’s a sweet lass,” he poured a handful of coins into her apron pocket.
Marik gingerly picked up five of the coppers off the sticky part of the table and took private delight in dumping them into the disagreeable woman’s pocket.
Criselda’s eyes narrowed, but she departed and the newcomer sat down.
“I was starting to think you wouldn’t make it,” Marik said.
“I got held up. I see you found the place.”
“It wasn’t hard,” Marik replied. “May I ask what prompted this choice?”
“I am well-liked here.”
“So I see.”
Marik eyed the man warily. Arrio was tall and thin, with a nose that was just slightly too big for his face. His eyes were dark, almost black, and filled with cunning. Unlike Marik, the man wore no coat, and the sleeves of his blindingly white shirt billowed out from shoulder to wrist, where they were held tightly in place with thin leather drawstrings. Like Marik, he wore dark pants and high boots, and had a sword strapped to his waist. Marik wondered if Arrio knew how to use it; many men wore swords these days, but some were just for show.
Marik pursed his lips and took a swig from his mug. He instantly regretted it. If cooled lava could be turned into liquid, he imagined this is what it might taste like. He tried to keep the expression of disgust off his face, but Arrio grinned at him knowingly. The man’s teeth were crooked, but clean. Marik winced and set his glass down.
“I’m told you have a knack for... acquiring things of value,” Arrio said, his smooth voice hushed. He seemed to understand Marik’s disdain for small talk.
“I have certain skills in that area,” Marik replied modestly.
“You’ve stolen airships before?”
Marik shrugged. “Allegedly.”
Posted by Jenelle Leanne at 9:00 AM