“The Lone Wolf”-Chapter 4 (Excerpt #2)

Let’s see where Caladin ends up in looking for employment.


Chapter 4-“A New Town. A New Opportunity.”…

Caladin, shortly thereafter, entered an inn in the Mid-Line district of the city. It was a small establishment a block off the main thoroughfare. He secured a room and a meal for the night. He quickly made friends with the innkeeper, pouring on the charm. The man pointed him in the direction of the gainful employment he so wished he could avoid. But he and Quinn needed money, and all the charm in the world wasn’t going to get them another night at the inn, no matter how much the owner liked him. Plus, they had other “necessities,” and those required coin as well. So, it was off to find work, that dreaded word that he hated.

No. Not the word. The act. That is what I despise. But the word seems to lead to the act. They are inextricably intertwined and cannot be undone from one another. So, yes, I still abhor that word, Caladin thought as he walked.

Caladin had no problem following the innkeeper’s directions to the run-down establishment that he hoped would secure him and his cousin the coin they needed. It was in the shadier part of town, and the innkeeper had advised him against going there, even if he was looking for a job.

Normally, Caladin would have heeded that advice, not out of fear, but because he hated being in the seedier parts of town, as it usually meant ruining his outfit in some way or another. But he and Quinn were desperate. So, there he found himself, right where his new innkeeper friend had warned him not to go.

The words “The Golden Dragon” hung on the worn shingle outside the tavern door. They looked like they had been painted over several times. Below the letters, if one looked closely, was a faded yellow dragon with chipped paint on several parts of the dragon’s body. “Probably going to get my wardrobe dirty here,” Caladin said to himself, stepping through the door into the common room.

The door creaked loudly. It was dark for the middle of the day, and he crinkled his nose as the smell of must wafted up his nostrils. He surveyed the room. The furniture was old and dilapidated, and the floor was packed dirt. This gainful employer does not appear to be making a grand killing on these orc hunts, Caladin thought. Especially if he is stationed out of this squalor. The only thing golden about this place is it should not cost any amount close to a gold to purchase anything from here. He removed his wide-brimmed hat and patted the dirt off his pantaloons.

“Hey! Hey! What’cha think yer doing, getting my place all dirty?!” hollered a crusty voice from behind the bar. It came from an older man who was wearing a grease-stained apron. The man looked like the shingle hanging outside the tavern, as if he was worn and beaten and had lasted much longer than he should have. “Do that outside, will ya?”

“Oh. I am terribly sorry, good sir,” Caladin replied. “It is, just, I did not see”—glanced around the tavern—“much difference between the inside of your fine establishment and the outside. Well, except that you have chairs and tables in here.”

The old man glared at Caladin through a furrowed brow and narrowed eyes, uncertain if he had been insulted or not. “What ya havin’?” he grumbled. The barkeep’s eyes shifted up and down with his stare transfixed on Caladin. He wore the look of a man who was taking in the smell of fresh dung.

Caladin saw the puzzlement behind his eyes and had the feeling that his foppish dress wasn’t the style around the lower town. He guessed it probably wasn’t the choice of most lords and ladies of Ironwood, a town built out in the wastelands.

“Are you contemplating a new ensemble, my good man?” he asked the barkeep.

“Eh? No. Hell no! Wouldn’t be caught dead wearin’ no tights.”

“You do not find them becoming? They are all the rage in the city of Lundenburn.”

“Let the ladies of Lundenburn wear ’em then. What’cha havin’?”

Caladin chuckled. “Your finest elven wine, good sir,” he answered, knowing full well that this place did not carry anything fine, let alone wine, elven or not.

“Ain’t got no elven wine. Ain’t even got wine.”

“Hmm… A Corell’ian ale then,” jested Caladin to amuse himself.

“I got Iron ale or Iron beer. My establishment don’t import nothin’,” the old man replied with vitriol.

“My, my. Quite the selection,” said Caladin.

The barkeep looked at him deadpan, waiting for him to make a choice.

Seeing that the barkeep was not going to engage in the banter, Caladin said, “Well, since it appears I have little choice in the matter, I shall try a homemade brew.”

“Whichin’ you want?” The barkeep’s response became more relaxed as they were getting down to brass tacks—buying his drink.

“I shall partake of your Iron ale, as it be.”

While Caladin waited for the barkeep to pour his ale, he turned his back to the counter, planting his elbows on it, and surveyed the room.

The old man placed the ale next to Caladin on the bar. Caladin scooped it up. “Thank you, good sir, you are a life saver.”

He sipped it, smacking his lips together to get a taste of the ale. He then took a deeper draw and smiled. He found the ale was better than he had anticipated. Of course, it was no elven wine. But what can one do when he finds himself at the world’s end? I should be thankful for a half decent beverage. Those weeks on the road left me wanting. Something is better than nothing I suppose. Or is it?

He was taken away from his contemplations by the old barkeep, “Two copper, that’ll be.”

“Oh, my dear, what a generous price.” He tossed four copper on the countertop. “Where might I find the gentleman hiring for the orc slaying job? “

The barkeep, eyeing him in his high polished black boots, baby blue pantaloons, baldric, puffy, colorful, silk shirt, leather gloves, fancy cape, and black wide-brimmed hat with a bright red feather in it, gave him a perplexed look as he asked, “You applyin’ for someone else, mister?”

“Well, yes, and for myself.”

“Mister, ya don’t look like yer capable of handling that type o’ work.  And I doubt anyone who runs in yer circle could, either. They go out inta’ the wild for a week at a time. Huntin’ orc and goblin. Ya gotta be able to handle yerself. It’s dangerous work. Now, I know ya got yer thin little sword there, and that might intimidate a few farm folk, but these are monsters we’re talkin’ about,” the barkeep warned.

“I thank you for your concern,” Caladin responded. “Normally, I would not deign to do that type of wor… I mean, I would commonly not seek this type of employment, but you see, my cousin and I are in quite a bind. We ended up here, at the Gate,” gibed Caladin as he looked around with his arms out, “and without a bag of gold to our names. So, it appears we must relegate ourselves to the circumstances aforementioned by yourself.”

The barkeep scrunched up his face in confusion, then glared at him through narrowed eyes, as if he didn’t comprehend all the words Caladin used, but getting the gist, he said, “Well, don’t do it for no fame or fortune. Ya won’t find neither in that line o’ work. At any rate, Asi is through there.” He pointed to an entrance toward the rear of the bar. “In the back room with his men. But even if ya wanted the job, I think the docket is all full’d up.”

“Thank you…?” Caladin paused to get his name.

“Uh… Jents… Jents Lare, son. Owner and operator of the Golden Dragon here.” He beamed with pride.

“Well Jents, it was a pleasure to meet you.” Caladin downed his drink, placed the empty wooden cup on the bar, and walked away.

“That’s a mighty nice-lookin’ feather you have there in your hat, son.”

Caladin stopped, turned around, smiled, and tipped his hat at Jents. “Again, thank you.” Then, he strode into the backroom.


Will Caladin get the job.  Look for chapter 6 to see if he does. And if so, how?  Next chapter out is Chapter 5-to Remence and his village and what the village scouts discover.  Let me know what you think by visiting my website: johndpepeauthor.com, emailing me at johndpepeauthor@gmail.com, or commenting here at godamonggeeks316.com.  The Lone Wolf should be out sometime next month, first as a pre-order.


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