“The Lone Wolf” -Chapter 6 (Excerpt)

Caladin has gone off to find work at The Golden Dragon.  Will he and Quinn get the job?  Let’s see.

Chapter 6- “Finding Wor…Employment”

When Caladin entered the backroom of the bar, he noticed it was no different than the tap room. The wooden walls had old paint peeling off, the floor was made of packed dirt, and it lacked any fine furnishings. How it differed was that it was much livelier, at least during this part of the day. Several men sat about a table, talking, laughing, smoking, and drinking. Caladin stepped further into the room, going completely unnoticed since the men were quite boisterous.

He swatted the smoke away and attempted to get the men’s attention with a loud clearing of his throat. Still, the men failed to acknowledge his presence. He did it again. This time, very loudly. All in the room stopped their chatting and shot looks of angry curiosity his way.

“Yes. Pardon the interruption. I wish to speak with the man who organizes and employs others for the orc hunting expeditions?”

“What for?” questioned a barrel-chested, balding fellow who looked ten years Caladin’s senior, somewhere in his late thirties.

“I seek employment.”

The room burst out in laughter. The man waited for the laughter to die down then asked, “What, as my court fool?” The comment garnered even more laughter from the group of men.

When the laughter died down, Caladin continued, undaunted. “You are quite the joculator, good sir. It would appear that you might have some words of wisdom to impart, as I can see you have great faculty for comedy. I certainly could not have stirred the passions of humor in the manner that you did, especially not in a room full of imbeciles. Have you experience in the court? I mean, as it pertains to wearing those oversized bell-ridden shoes, motley-colored outfit, and making dolts laugh?”

The room went silent. The man, who Caladin had figured was Asi, took a big swig from his tankard. As he wiped the trail of beer from his mouth and beard the man said, “Ain’t no room. And even if there were, don’t need no fool who play acts with a poker,” his words filled with great irritation, as he pointed at Caladin’s rapier.

Caladin stood with a relaxed, self-assured stance, hands resting on the hilts of his rapier and main-gauche and said nothing.

Asi continued by placing his arms on the table, leaning forward, and looking directly at Caladin. “We’re killin’ orcs and goblins, not pretendin’ to be part of the court.”

Caladin still refused to speak, and the silence grew deafening.

Caladin knew he had gotten to the man when Asi blurted out with impatience and anger infused in his words, “The docket is full. There ain’t no more room no how, Fop.”

Finally, after letting a few more moments pass, Caladin responded, “I know. How about you take a person or two off your docket and let me and my cousin replace them. It would be worth your while.”

“You ain’t fit for fightin’, Fop, especially not out in the wild. I’d lose money on ya.”

“Let me show you my worth, beyond that of a jester. I will fight your best person. If I win, my cousin and I replace him. Or her.”

Asi gave him an odd look for the “Or her” comment. Gathering himself after a moment he said, “And if you lose?”

“You get to gloat. Send me packing.”

“Why? I could send you packin’ now. I’m a businessman. I don’t care about braggin’ rights. I care about my purse and how full it is.”

“Then let us bet, Asi. You do not mind if I call you Asi, do you?’

“How’d you know my name?”

“Irrelevant. I beat your best man, and I and my cousin take his stead. I lose, and you can have anything I have to offer. And the bragging rights as well.”

Asi cocked his head, then looked at him with askance curiosity. His lips then curled up into a slight grin, and he asked, “Anythin’ you got?”

“Yes.”

Asi stroked the hair on his chin and inquired further, “Any man of my choosin’?”

“Yes.”

Asi chuckled. “All right. I’ll take your bet, stranger. If my man wins, I want your poker.” Asi leaned in further, squinting, “With the jewel that is attached. The one in your poker’s hilt, Fop.” He leaned back and with some confidence in his voice mewed, “That jewel should fetch a fine price, and the poker’ll be for the braggin’ rights.” Asi leaned back in his chair and placed his hands behind his head. “You in accord?”

“What can I say but ‘yes?’”

“To death or surrender?”

“I’d rather not like killing when it is not necessitated.”

“Sound a bit scared, fella.”

Caladin squared his shoulders and, with an ominous tone that let Asi know that he was no longer joking, looked him directly in the eye and promised, “Make it to the death and you will lose your best man irrevocably.” He maintained eye contact with Asi for a few more seconds, making sure he understood that he was not afraid, and killing was no joking matter.

Asi shuddered as he stammered, “Aha…to…to surrender will suffice.”

“To terms then?” offered Caladin casually, letting Asi know that he agreed with his decision.

“Yes to…to terms,” Asi stuttered hesitantly.

Caladin could see Asi still seemed a bit uneasy with him. “Well, call upon your man,” bade Caladin. “Who shall it be of these stalwart-looking gentlemen here?” queried Caladin as he looked around the room.

When no man came forward, Caladin turned back to Asi. He saw Asi sitting erect and his chest puffed out. It was apparent to Caladin that the man Asi had in mind was not present, and that his choice in champion had filled Asi with confidence once again.

Asi smiled. “My man. My best man ain’t here. I’ll have Ponen go get him.” He jerked his head in the direction of a back door, and Ponen hurried off.

Caladin walked over to Asi’s table, sat on it, and murmured, “I certainly hope this man of yours is not too far from here. I am due to be at a prior engagement in about a half a movement of the sun.”

Asi looked at him with complete and utter displeasure.

“Since my cousin and I will be employed with you on the morrow, we certainly do not want to be unacquainted, seeing that we will have an employer-employee relationship. I feel that it would be improper. I am Caladin.” He tipped his wide-brimmed hat toward Asi. “Are we going out to hunt orc tomorrow?” Caladin continued, not waiting for a response. “You see, the reason I am asking is that my cousin and I currently find ourselves in a dramatic state of penury, and we fancy getting a start as soon as possible. We are in desperate need of coin.”

Ponen walked through the door, saving Asi the ear-bending. The man that followed had to duck to enter through the door. He was stout, young, and broad-shouldered. His frame busted through his clothing. His exposed forearms bulged with muscle and dwarfed the size of the average man.

The massive man walked up and addressed Asi. “Who do you need me to get ridda, boss?”

“This man here, Gigantor.” Asi stood up from the table and pushed his chair back with his leg, grinning all the while. “He wants your spot on the hunt tomorrow, and I told him if he could beat you, he could have it. Now, you ain’t gonna let that happen, are ya?”

“No, boss. I ain’t gonna let it happen,” Gigantor responded. He threw a big gap-toothed smile Caladin’s way as he walked over to size him up.

“Well, Mr. Caladin, meet Gigantor,” announced Asi as he approached with his champion.

Caladin looked up at Gigantor. “Oh my, you do resemble your name.” Caladin turned to regard the men watching as he stepped back to prepare for the combat. “Quite the brute.”

Asi spoke to Gigantor in a hushed tone. “I’m willin’ to give ya an extra two gold if ya dispatch the fop quickly.” His eyes lingered on the gem in Caladin’s rapier at his waist.

Gigantor guffawed and said loudly, “You just lost two gold, boss. I’m gonna crush this fancy-pants.” He looked at Caladin and his eyes went wide. “I’m afraid I’m gonna have hurt you, fancy-pants, ’cause I’m wantin’ an extra two gold. I would say sorry, but, I ain’t.” He again showed Caladin his gap-toothed smile.

Asi walked in between the two combatants and recited the rules. “This ain’t to the death. This goes until someone gives in, gets knocked out, or can’t fight no longer.” He looked at Gigantor, who by now had pulled a flange-less mace off his back and was tapping it in his hand. “You understand?”

“Yep,” answered Gigantor, who moved back and forth on his toes, chomping at the bit to get to Caladin and earn his two gold.

Asi looked at Caladin. “You understand?”

“But of course. I do speak the common tongue,” Caladin mocked with a poised demeanor, as both his hands rested casually on the hilts of his weapons.

Asi abruptly yelled, “Fight!”

One more entry to go. Find out the conclusion to the fight between Gigantor and Caladin. Will Strength and size beat…Caladin? Let me know what you think by visiting my website at johndpepeauthor.com, emailing me at johndpepeauthor@gmail.com, or simply posting a comment here at godamonggeeks316.com.  You can pre-order ebook ($0.99/Free on Kindle Unlimited) on Amazon now! Hurry the price will go up to $2.99 on June 15th.  You can also purchase the Paperback for $14.99 on June 15th. Both will be out for release by the next and final post.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. gpavants says:

    Hi John,

    As always loved the exchanges between Caladin and the average joe. He does talk his way in and out of everything. Enjoying the read even more.

    Thanks,

    Gary

    Like

  2. jdpepe says:

    Thanks GA.,Glad you him. He’s my favorite.

    Like

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