Friday, July 31, 2015

The King's Challenge #3


The boy who brought my meal last night sits on the step outside as I leave the inn. He grins at me, which is a marked change from his previous reaction. I ask if he knows how to get to the lower city.

“Why do you want to go there?” he asks. “Folk get killed there.”

He eyes my pack, which I have slung forward to hang from my shoulders against my stomach. The traveller I met on the road suggested I do so. Safer, he said. Pickpockets will clean you out from the back. It is a decent pack, of quality leather and shiny clasps. My brother made it and suggested I use it. Weatherproof, he said, and strong enough to handle any travel. Clearly the boy sees it has value and obviously he now wonders why I need to enter the lower city. I seem to have coin, in his mind; why leave this inn unless I am to take to my travels again.

“I am looking for someone,” I tell him.

The boy nods as if he is life’s greatest sage. “I can take you,” he says. “A silver for my troubles.”

The phrase sounds like something he heard someone else use, for it is too adult. I smile at him. “Two bronze. One now and one when we arrive.”

He squints against the grey light. “Fine.” He holds his hand out.

I find a bronze and hand it over. “What is your name?”

“Attis,” he mumbles as he gets to his feet.

He is scruffy in the sense that his clothes need mending, but he is clean and well fed. Working at an inn has its advantages, I assume. Perhaps he is the son of the owner.

“Let’s go,” he says and steps into the cobbled street. I follow.

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