The Yoke of Eternity

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Review Chain


Logi manages to make Howl laugh. Eugene's fame prevents the them from fully relaxing in the city, so Howl starts off to a seaside village.

Chapter 25 (v.1) - The First Separation

Submitted: June 12, 2019

Reads: 18

Comments: 1

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Submitted: June 12, 2019

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Chapter Twenty Five

The First Separation

 

Logi asked, “Where is the bath at?”

Eugene answered, “Oh, they have a thing with communal baths in Bloam.”

“Shit, that’s weird,” Logi said. “I only spent one day here last time I went through, didn’t even stay the night.”

“Yes, it’s different than most other places,” Eugene conceded, “but you get used to it. It will be on the first floor. Did you see that glass door off to the right near the front desk? It’s in there. There will be soap and towels in there as well.”

Logi put his hands on his hips, perhaps thinking of an alternative. “Well. Shit. I guess I’ll head down there.”

“I’ll go with you.”

“The void you will, Eugene,” Logi said, and stopped him.

“Oh, come now, it’s not that strange,” Eugene said, “We bathed in the same streams for a month, didn’t we?”

Logi pinched between his brow. “Damn it, Eugene. Do whatever you want.”

It ended up that all three of them went down together.

The bath room was so full of steam that they could not see an arms’ length anyway. The method for cleaning in Bloam was this: you sat on a bench in the hot steam and let vapor make you sweat out the dirt. Then you covered yourself with soap and scrubbed. Then you took a wood cup and scooped cold water out of a trough and poured it over yourself until the soap was gone. It was time consuming, but perhaps that was the very purpose of it, as the travelers used the time to reflect on their journey.

It seemed that the women had a separate bath house to wash in, which infuriated Logi. He we went into a bluster claiming that separating men and women was the most illogical thing in the wide world. Eugene laughed through the whole rant, and Howl grinned as their guide worked himself into a near shouting fury. He said, what was the point of getting naked in front of a bunch of hairy, shrunk men? He said the founders of Bloam must have been real dumbasses; here they had a golden chance to view the female form anytime they wished, but they went and botched it up. Now instead of looking at tits, he’s here stuck eyeing a bunch of dicks. “Shit,” he said as they dried with the beige towels. “The bath house would be prime hunting grounds for the fairer sexes. You wouldn’t have to waste all that time having to get to know the other person before you knew what they looked like underneath. Void, if you look and you like it, you need nothing more than to politely ask to take the woman for a drink. Who cares if you’re harder than the Salt Mote City flagship? Shit, she would probably be flattered.” By now, Logi had been going on for so long that he managed to get a single laugh out of Howl. Even if Howl wouldn’t have found the conversation funny at another time, Logi had beat and broken his spirit with time. Meanwhile, Eugene had only ceased his laughter long enough to take a deep breath now and then to keep from dying.

The long monologue evolved, and as they got dressed in their newly washed clothes up in their room, Logi told them about the time he met the Mercyan ambassador, Ambassador Amshil Kyle, and how he had a habit of passing gas while totally unawares. “Everyone, even his own brothers hate him,” he said. “He’s the most hated Kyle in three thousand years.” As they came down the stairs, left the inn and walked down the street, Logi told them about one of the Histories he found in the palace library. “And what you have to understand is that the palace library is a sacred place. It’s all dark in there with ominous candles, and you can only go in after you have washed your hands and put on a special robe. And in this library are as many of the stone tablets, and old parchments that the excavators could find. So I wash my hands in the little bowl they have outside, and the guard is there to make sure I do it, and to make sure I feel bad about going into the library. And he’s just scowling at me like this.” He made a face and Eugene laughed. “So I just nod and pretend to shed a tear for not keeping the laws of Eden as well as I should be, and then I head in and wander around a little bit and sift through some of the books. And after about an hour, I just kind of reach out and grab this one book, I’ll never forget the author, Livy Sallust. Well this sick son-of-a-bitch, I open it up and halfway through, there are drawings of dicks all over the pages!”

“You lie!” Howl accused.

“Don’t call me a liar, Howl, its true as blue skies.” They came to Beer Drop, sat and ordered drinks.

“And you know I’m still halfway indoctrinated at this point,” Logi continued, “so I’m standing there, staring at these pages, and amongst the elegant pen strokes and beautiful poetry, and the wisdom of the words of Eden the immortal, Livy god damn Sallust decides to draw dicks all over the place. And I’m so infatuated with all the stories that all I can think about is, what does this mean? As if they were some sort of code or something.” Howl grinned and nodded to Eugene, finding some similarity. Eugene spat his beer back into his mug. “God damn it,” Logi mused as he took a gulp of his ale. “God damn Livy Sallust. He sits in the chamber of the queen, who is believed to be the most perfect woman to ever exist, and all he can think about it dicks.”

The music in the tavern was upbeat as one man patted on his drum, and the other whistled into his piccolo. “God’s brother,” Logi commented. “Who in the void ever thought of putting a flute and drum in a duo? There must have been no one left to pair up with.” Logi wiped his nose.

Eugene asked, “What happened to the book?”

“That one? Oh, you know they confiscated it. Probably took it to some other secret library, or maybe even burnt it. At the time I was pretty confused, but now I look back on it and it’s hysterical. They were so scared of Livy Sallust that they took him away. That is a guy I wouldn’t mind having a drink with. Shit, I would even buy him a one.”

Howl drank his sweet amber rum. It was called Well Rust and had a bit more of a red tint to it than the previous one he drank in Smithdale. It tasted of cinnamon and oranges. Logi said to him, “I don’t know why you’re over there grinning, Howl. You probably never done a crazy thing once in your life. Four hundred years old or not.”

He is challenging me, Howl thought. After four tumbles of the strong liquor, and his recent decision to spite his father, he rose to it. He grinned and spun his glass as he talked. “One of my brothers used to be rather unpleasant,” he began. “He would never put in any effort for his tasks, and yet he boasted that he could do all things better than me. One night, in front of everyone during our gathering feast, I challenged him to a drinking contest. So with everyone huddled around us and watching, I went and retrieved two bottles from my house. One bottle was a regular mead, but the other was one that I was experimenting with. I made it from a rare honey I found, collected by bees who take pollen from a certain flower with hallucinatory effects.” Logi put his hand over his mouth. “Well, I thought there was no better time to test the effects of the mead. I wasn’t going to test it out on myself, because I was worried the effects might be too strong, or poisonous even. I poured myself a glass from the regular bottle and gave my brother the other. We started with one drink, then two, then three. And all this time I didn’t know what was going to happen, if anything. Well, halfway through the bottle, he became wide eyed, and started staring out in all different directions.” Eugene laughed. “As it turns out, one glass has a mild, calming effect, two glasses will have you seeing colors more vividly. Three will cause auditory and visual hallucinations, and here he had finished a whole bottle by himself.

“After an hour, it took the whole village to chase him down; he was running through the village in only his under-wraps shouting, “I have to get out of the pages! I am stuck in the pages!” The villagers chased this man, nearly naked, until he was finally tackled, and it took six of us to hold him down. We had to take turns sitting on him for the next eight hours until the effects wore off.”

Logi and Eugene laughed. “God’s brother, that’s funny. I guess I was wrong about you,” Logi said and raised his drink. “How does this go again? May we live for a thousand years.” They tapped their drinks and drank.

Howl added, “He was so traumatized that he didn’t speak to me for six years. He never really was the same after that.”

A young woman with a sharp nose and yellow hair came and put her slender hand on Eugene’s shoulder. Her dress was probably the finest at the tavern. “Eugene Inesco?” she asked.

He turned and smiled. “My lady?”

She blushed at the sound of his voice. “I thought that was you. I’m Lilly, Nissy’s younger sister.” She waited for a moment. “You took dance with her when you were a boy. You came over one night, and I was only six at the time, but I wore a little pink dress for you.”

He just stared at her with a disingenuous smile. An uncomfortable quiet followed, and Eguene didn’t even pretend to recognize her. She shifted her eyes and slid her hand off his shoulder. “Well, it is good to see you. You should come over again. Nissy is married and moved out now, but I just know my father and mother would love to see you again. You should come by tomorrow night.”

“Sure,” he said.

Her eyes sparkled. “Well I will see you then, do you remember the house? On Dunboro Road. Seventh house on the right after Dripping Street.”

“All right, m’lady, I will see you then,” Eugene replied.

She smiled and walked out the door. Eugene turned back to the bar and drank his beer. Logi opened his hands, mouth agape. “What in the void was that? She gave you an invitation make love to her, and you completely disregarded her.”

Eugene waved his hand. “What do you know about it? Women love it when a man ignores them. It makes them want you more.”

Logi opened his mouth, then shut it. He nodded as if he found some truth in there. “So are you going to see her tomorrow?”

“Absolutely not,” Eugene replied

“Then why did you say that you would?” Logi raised his voice.

“So she would leave me alone.”

Logi rubbed his face. “God’s brother, Eugene. A pretty, well off girl like that? You’re demented! Why wouldn’t you want to spend the night with her?”

“She’s not my type.”

Logi looked at Howl for support.

“A twenty-year-old human,” Howl said, “is merely a child to a four-hundred-year-old Lig’Shaddin.”

Logi drew back in horror. “Both of you are mad,” he said. “There is something wrong with the two of you. Shit.”

Throughout the night, more and more people came to Eugene. They marveled at him, and adored him, and word spread so that many crowds gathered. The three travelers could no longer hold a conversation because everyone was seeking Eugene’s attention. They asked for his signature, and they told him how much they loved his work. They flooded the tavern, and eventually Logi became so angry that he just got up and left. Howl followed him, and Eugene came a little behind, squeezing through the masses.

Some followed them all the way to the inn, even though it was dark and late. The crowd left for the night, but the next morning, there was a gathering outside waiting to see him. Howl paced back and forth in the inn room. He looked down through the window, and the crowd persisted. “I cannot stay here like this,” he said, pulling at his shirt. “Why won’t they just go away?”

Logi lay in an armchair, slouched, his boots half-laced on his feet. “Apparently Eugene the dumbass is what’s wrong with them; oh, forgive me, Lord Eugene the dumbass. He didn’t bother telling us how popular he was in his hometown.”

“It’s not my fault. I didn’t realize my fame had grown to heroic proportions since I have been gone. Nobody liked me this much before I was famous.”

Logi asked, “Well what are we supposed to do? Howl is right, we can’t just stay in here for the next few days.”

Eugene thought for a moment. “Well, as much as you two hate it, I’m going to stay here. There’s something I have to do. But, let’s see. Why not go visit West Village at the coast? It’s only a day away. I have been there on many occasions, and it’s rather relaxing.”

“To the void with that,” Logi said, dropping his head. “I’m not doing any more traveling if I don’t have to. I’ll just sneak out of here at some point and go do my own thing for a few days. It’s you they are after, not me.”

Eugene shrugged. “What about you, Howl?”

Howl weighed the idea. “I don’t mind the travel. I will go to West Village for a day or two if you recommend it.”

Eugene nodded. “All right. The road to West Village is wide and even labeled along the way. Just go to the end of the street, take a right, and then your next left should lead you out of the city. Let’s meet back here on the third day, then. Here, I will split up the remaining silver. That is two dinare for each of you. I will go to the bank and get a loan for the rest of the trip, and on the third or fourth day, we’ll get the rest of the supplies we need.”

Howl nodded in approval. “That is a good plan.” Then he questioned himself. “Since when are you good at making plans, Eugene Inesco?” Eugene just smiled and shrugged. Howl shook his head. “I will be back before evening on the third day. If it takes that long to get to West Village, I should go now.” Howl felt inside of his pockets and found the letter of permission. “I suppose I’ll give this to you, Logi. I haven’t seen the Assassin at all, but I would wager we are being watched by her. She knows not to kill you, so perhaps if she disapproves of this separation, then she’ll only have a word with you or Eugene. I don’t believe she would go so far as to kill you.”

Logi rolled his eyes. “That’s comforting. Give that to me.” He snatched the letter. “Now get out of here. Whatever can happen, will happen.”

Howl ensured he had his two dinare, that Heartless was secure and hidden at his side, and that his sandals were in decent condition. “I will return soon,” he said. “Take care of yourselves.” He put his hood up and went out the door, which led immediately to the dusty stairwell. He went down the loud wooden steps, and came into the main room, passed through unnoticed, and left the building. The crowd outside was more docile than earlier; their attention no longer focused on the door, and they held light conversation with each other. Howl gently pushed past them and went around to the stable where he found Loner finishing his pile of grass.

Howl saddled him and unbarred the gate, then led him out to the street. He swung his body up to the seat and patted Loner on the neck. “Let’s see if we can find the ocean, friend,” he said, and galloped down the road.

 

“O, the things that can be done

With Maiden Blade

I speak a word, and they come

 I return men to that from which they were made”

  • Book of Starlight



© Copyright 2019 C. S. Spence. All rights reserved.

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