A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


The previous bit
Angry Dragons
Part I

Sammi was at full attention. Normally, watching the front entrance to the Lazy Dragon Inn was a more relaxed activity, but after the attack the day before, everyone was on edge. With Melian in a state of steaming anger, the entire staff was working with renewed vigor and diligence to avoid being singled out for Melian’s ire. Sammi hadn’t been there when Mel had grilled Antonio or Glunk, the day watchmen, but he had never seen an ogre’s skin such a pale shade of green before, and Antonio’s eyes were trying to look everywhere at once so fast, Sammi wondered if his fellow minotaur was getting dizzy inside his head. And that had been several hours after Mel talked to them—when Sammi and Srkkzy had arrived for their evening shift.

So now Samanto Ringhorn, youngest of a litter of five minotaurs from Local #4, and an adventurer at heart to have traveled all the way to the City, found himself peering at everyone passing the Lazy Dragon Inn with suspicion. Was that cyclop paying just a little too much attention to the second story windows of the Inn, or was he just impressed with the massive wood structure of the building, so different from the stone construction of his native lands? Did that wizard just make a furtive ward against evil, or was he just flapping his heavy robes, necessary in the cold regions of Borlais the wizards favored, but far too warm in the more temperate climes of Ninevah. A glint off a sword made Sammi swing to his left, hands tight on his double headed axe, but it was only the city watch patrolling the streets. They too seemed on edge. News of a fight inside The Lazy Dragon Inn had no doubt reached the ears of the authorities quickly.

Settle down, Sammi told himself. The guy the assassins were after left, so there’s no chance of a repeat. But this thought brought little comfort to the veteran bouncer as he continued to wonder how the killers had gotten past Antonio and Glunk as well as all the Inn's magical wards. Antonio, also a minotaur, had helped get Sammi his job, and his keen eyes and sharp nose had probably found more secreted weapons on patrons trying to get an edge up on the other Inn patrons than the rest of the door crew put together. Glunk was a slab of an ogre, bigger by far than most of his brethren, but despite his size, he moved, and thought, faster than most of his kind. Together they formed a formidable team, as many a would-be circumventers of the Inn’s no weapons policy had discovered over the years. Sometimes quite painfully.

Sammi jerked himself back to attention as S’mon, a trader from the swamps of Eeko-Yah-Ap, ambled toward the front door of the Inn in the swaying manner typical of someone used to walking on shifting, slippery ground. The grubby man shifted awkwardly to a halt as Sammi stepped between him and the front door, the minotaur’s axe held at the ready.

“Waz ‘is?” the man asked, staring blankly at the axe.

“Sorry, S’mon,” Sammi said. He could feel Srkkzy, his basilisk partner, shifting to the side of S’mon. “We have to search you. House rules.”

The trader’s eyes flicked to his right, where Skrrzy stood ready to pounce, then he peered up at the intimidating, bullheaded visage of Sammi. “S’wen?”

“Since always,” Sammi replied, trying to be polite while still keeping the razor sharp edge of his axe prominent in the conversation. “We’ve been a little too easy on the regulars, lately. Melian wants that to end. Too much tension in the city these days, so we’re not taking any chances. All patrons get frisked before entry in addition to passing through the magical wards. Sorry.”

S’mon considered the axe for a moment, then shrugged. He set down his large leather bag, and held his hands out. “S’ok. Like ‘is?”

“Like that, yes.” Sammi patted down the tattered leather tunic of the trader while simultaneously sniffing for the tell-tale scent of sharpened steel. As expected, there was nothing. Sammi signaled to Srkkzy, and the basilisk shifted to watch S’mon while Sammi did a quick check of the bag's contents. Mostly herbs and medicines unique to the swamplands of S’mon’s home. A few trinkets carved from the spongewood trees that grew there as well. With a slight grimace of distaste as the smell of a particularly bitter bit of leaf assaulted his nose, Sammi pulled the bag shut and handed it back to S’mon. “Thanks for understanding, S’mon.”

The trader nodded briefly, and slung his bag back over his shoulder. “S’no pobelm.” He shuffled past Srkkzy, who shifted to let him by. The elaborate carvings around the door to the Inn glowed briefly green as the magical wards confirmed Sammi’s conclusion that S’mon carried no weapons.

Before the door could close behind the hunched form of the trader, a mighty force threw it back open, banging it into the wall of the Inn. Sammi jumped back, axe at the ready, and Srkkzy’s ridge of neck scales stood to full alert as a hiss escaped his beak. Both doormen quickly made way as the angry form of Melian stormed through the doorway, her long dark hair flowing behind her. The force of her momentum seemed to clear people out of her way, and the deep crimson dress she wore seemed to radiate anger and contempt. Within moments of bursting through the front door of the Lazy Dragon Inn, the intimidating form of an angry Melian was lost in the maze of streets that formed the heart of Ninevah.

Sammi looked down at his companion. “Was it just my imagination or was that red streak in her hair actually ON fire?”

The basilisk nodded in affirmation. “Yesss. We guardsss well today.”

“I hear that,” Sammi said, nodding, while all the while his eyes weighed the myriad of people and creatures that called the mighty city of Ninevah their home.



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