Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Excerpt from In the World of Hyboria, Grim Determination


A Sticky Wicket

A stench of urine filled the dusty air. The reek of animal dung assaulted the average passerby like a mallet to the nose. But that was not the worst; there was a sticky, acrid taste that coated one’s tongue as well.
Defensive walls, mud-brick buildings, raw sewage, and the din of thousands selling, buying, and chiding one another filled the narrow streets. A monkey on a chain jumped out and held up a small brass cup.
“Be gone, wretched creature,” Benhargan commanded as he stepped over it.
The end of his scabbard struck the monkey on the head. It let out a wail and ran to its master, who wisely kept his mouth shut.
Benhargan’s shoulders sailed above the heads of the Khemi residents. They looked upon him as a freak, a strange anomaly of creation too large to fully comprehend.
Shiyet was a dangerous town. Everywhere he went was dangerous. But, as dangerous a city or town was, it was only half as dangerous as he.
Stopping at a dark doorway he reached for the wooden latch, flipped it up and opened the door.
Inside a cacophony of voices blasted his ears. Men shouted while throwing dice, and argued bitterly. A woman screamed, then laughed with bawdy guffaws. Sweat, stale beer, and blood saturated the very atmosphere of the place.
There was little room to move as each man stood shoulder to shoulder. Benhargan cut through the gathered like a ship’s prow through blue waters. Angry words from grim men followed him, but none so foul as to demand his attention.
A swarthy fellow, like most in the tavern, waved Benhargan over. In his hand was a bundle of brown linen containing something. The man found a table and two chairs.
“Come, come!” he said.
Benhargan pushed his way through the throng and stopped at the narrow rough-fashioned table.
“What is it?” he demanded.
“Oh, great warrior, it is something you’ve been asking for.”
Benhargan frowned. “If you want to see my brass, you’d better be quick about it.”
The man looked around nervously, then unwrapped the item and set it on the table. Dirt flaked off all around it. Along the sides, etched in red ochre, were images of men with spears and shields.
The man dusted it off and smiled a toothless grin.
“You see, it is the thing I told you of.”

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