Tattoo Book 6 part 2.41
Posted by harmony0stars on October 18, 2010
“Welcome travelers!” The innkeeper tossed his rag onto the counter he‘d been wiping and smiled broadly at the late arrivals, revealing broken teeth. The evening was close on their heels, a few stars making themselves visible in the twilight. Some of the diners looked up from their meals, but by and large most of them ignored the travelers in favor of the food before them. “Rooms are five gold…”
“Five?” Phoenix squawked in outrage.
“…each,” said the innkeeper, his smile slipping a bit and his already florid complexion darkening dangerously. Here was a man who probably indulged in his own wares if the lattice of broken blood vessels in his nose and cheeks were any indication. “Or you can go back out and hope you find better accommodations before the dark takes you.”
“Miss,” Millet said tugging on her sleeve. “You can‘t go back out. It‘s too late.”
“Off with you, urchin,” the man said, scowling as he caught sight of the child. Milet blanched at the idea and cast a terrified glance at the door. “before your smell offends my patrons.” None of the half dozen or so men and women eating at the tables seemed at all offended by Milet’s presence. A pretty woman with dirty hands clasped in her lap tracked Glory’s movement as she walked to the bar but her expression betrayed no emotion.
Glory removed her pouch and counted out fifteen coins, slapping them onto the counter. “Rooms, for us… and the boy.”
“I have one room left,” the innkeeper said, spreading his arms wide in a helpless gesture but a suggestive smile, “with one bed.”
Glory tended to doubt it, but maybe some of his patrons had already retired. “Fine then. I’ll assume that food is included. Do you have baths?”
“Food? Of course!” he eyed his thin guests, probably assuming they could not eat so much that his exorbitant prices wouldn’t cover it. “And, yes… I am fortunate enough to have access to the hot springs which underlying all of Ilarnek. That will be five more coins… each.” The man looked at Phoenix as he emphasized the last part as if trying to goad him into another outburst.
Glory slapped another fifteen coins onto the counter with an angry finality that was lost on the jovial innkeeper. He reached out a meaty hand and shoved the girl off her stool. “Show our guests to their room and the stairs to the baths, wretch.”
The girl caught herself before falling, her gaudy parti-colored skirts swishing. She didn’t give her abuser a second glance however as she walked through the tables to the stairs. “The baths are through there,” the girl said in a voice hardly more than a croak. She gestured towards a closed door under the stairs before leading the travelers upstairs, stopping at the last door at the end of the hall “Your room,” she announced before striding away. Maybe the innkeeper hadn’t been making up his lack of rooms after all.
“A girl of few words,” Glory said with a sad shake of her head.
“That kind of girl isn’t paid for her verbal skills,” Phoenix said with an amused chuckle.
Glory smacked his shoulder, but he gestured with his chin back down the hall. A door had opened as the girl headed back to the stairs. She paused as a swarthy man in little more than stained britches regarded her thoughtfully. He had more hair on his face and chest than on his head and if not for his concession to modesty, could have been a bear rather than a man. The girl turned and headed to his door, but he happened to glance up the hall to his impromptu audience. With an embarrassed snort, he closed the door in her face. Far from being angry at the treatment, the girl turned and plodded back downstairs.
Her mouth pinched into an angry line, Glory pushed open the door to their room. It might as well have been a closet. There was a bed with coverings of dubious cleanliness though maybe she was letting her opinion of the inn’s owner cloud her opinions. If they had their own hot spring under the building, then they must be able to do their own laundry. It became more a question of inclination. How industrious was the innkeeper likely to be? For all the gold he’d extorted from them, the inn was not in very good shape. It was not a sty, but it didn‘t look as though anyone had taken a moment to do any repairs in many years. Boards were gouged and splintered. Dark stains on the floors and walls spoke of many disrespectful guests, and the innkeeper simply did not strike her as someone who would spend money on anything other than his own desires. Care of the inn was incidental. Which brought her back to the cleanliness of the sheets. They were probably at least as dirty as any Earthly motel.
At least it was warm inside.
“You can have the bed Phoenix.” She peeled back the blankets and selected one for Milet.
“You’re not going to give it to your new pet?” he asked, giving Milet a mocking glance.
“A place like this has probably got bugs and all kinds of parasites in the bedding. They’re all yours, pest.” If she had hoped to offend him however, he only snickered.
“Where will you sleep, miss?” Milet asked shyly, hugging the blanket to his chest.
“Don’t worry about me. I’ll meditate in a corner or something.” She waved at the not so distant walls. There was no lock on the door, so she didn’t feel comfortable leaving any of their things in the room, not that they had much in the way of possessions. “Let’s wash up and go eat. And both of you… feel free to eat as much as you want.” If the innkeeper had thought he was getting a bargain, he was about to find out otherwise. Between the three of them, she was pretty sure that they could surpass any competitive eater.
to Book 6, part 2, page 42