20 March 2014

A News-bringer's Tale


When I got to the famous Lake-folk Bocado, the owner Rychuck seemed less than keen to facilitate a news-tale for folk in other parts. He didn't quite seem to understand the importance of the Newsbringer and their role in modern Folk society.

'Can I ask you a few questions, fill in a tale to take with me?'
'No,' said Rychuck, he hadn't even come the other side of the bar.
'It could help trade in these parts,' I said.
'Why?'
'Many people will hear my tale, I am greatly sought after. I also meet and trade with other Newsbringers. If the Tale is good enough, it may travel the length and breadth of the Dark.'

Behind us was a new sound.

'Tinka tinka tinka tinka....REPENT! REPENT!'
'The time has come for you all to repent!'

Rychuck vaulted the bar in one movement and was gone past me in a moment.

'RE-PENT! You Fools...RE...urgh...'
'If you don't get out and take all of your stinking Tinkrala loonies with you, I swear by all the Lake-gods I'll skin you and wear you as a hat.'

Rychuck seemed to do a good line in menace. There was a loud crash as someone exited the doors. Then a noise of surprise and disgruntlement from outside as the leaving person must have collided with someone on the outside.

'Tourists.' said Rychuck.
'So about the Tale,' I said.
'Wait a click,' said Rychuck and turned to talk you a young female who had been drifting in and out since I'd been there. Obviously working bar.
'Ry? There are some River-folk in the corner and I caught one of them dealing this,' she plonked something fist-sized on the table with a flump.
'Well?' Rychuck said.
'What do you want me to do about it?'
'Grind it up, put it in whatever he's drinking and if he survives to the next round? Bar him.'

She stomped off.

'Sorry, you were saying?' said Rychuck.
'My tale?' I said.
'Ah yes,' he said. 'Wait...'

He slammed a clicker-beetle on the bar.

'You've got 300 clicks. No more. Go.'
'Er...'
clickclickclickclickclickclickcclickclick
'Trace!' Rychuck yelled across the bar and the young bartender and proto-poisoner returned, harrassed.
'What?'
'Trace, can you get us some drinks? This young Folk here has travelled all the way from...where did you say you were from again?'
'...'
click click click click click click click click
'Doesn't matter, anyway, he's from the other side of the Dark, Trace, and he's come all this way to tell our tale.'
'Mm...kay,' she said and plodded off.
'Oh and some of those nice weed-wrap things that the kitchen have been sending out. Some of them too. Sorry, you were saying?
'...'
click click click click click click click click
'Hey what was the deal with those Tinky- whatsits?' I said, on the backfoot.
'Tinkrala's? Pain in the ass. Repent this, repent that, I dunno.'
'You not religious then?'
'Me not so much, but I'm not bothered what anyone else believes or not. Them, however, with their 'end of the world is nigh' act.' He sighed, 'Bad for business. Don't mind what kind of world they preach as long as they keep it until closing time.'
click click click click click click click click

Trace returned and sullenly bashed two metal pots on the end of the bar. I picked mine up. Foam was running down the handle. It tasted dry and acidic. Gods knew what was in it, but it tasted good.

click click click click click click click click

'So, go on, your tale,' said Rychuck,' what were you going to ask me?'

I still had my mouth full of beer.

'Sorry, you finish your mouthful first.'

I gulped. Whatever made it fizz burned on the back of my throat.

'What do you think? Of the beer?'
'Good...' I gasped.
'New brew, just started it. Little old fella out the back of the lake makes it. Seems to sell well enough. Kinda nutty. I like that.'

click click click click click click click click

'Right, the tale...'
'Yes the tale.'

Rychuck had drifted off into some kind of contemplative silence, tricky to do in the hubub of the bar, but he was clearly listening for something above the din.

'Wait a mo,' he said leaning under the table. He seemed by the noises of rustle and struggle to be removing one of his boots.
'That's better,' he said, 'now.' There was a whip of an arm, a flaping flight of something (the boot?) then a massive crash of plates, mugs and foodstuffs as the footwear impacted on a table at the far side of the bar. Rychuck stood up.

'IF YOU'RE GONNA START ON KILLING EACH OTHER, DO IT *OUTSIDE* MY BAR!'

Silence then, throughout the bar, except for the noise of the clicker beetle.

'NO? GOOD. THEN BEHAVE!'
'...'
'Sorry 'bout that.'
'But they weren't fighting?' Or at least as far as I could hear they weren't.
'No, but they were about to. Guy nearest the door, from the dockside. Gang there permanently at war with the lot from the upside of the throng. Guy on the other side of the table? He's from there. They're arguing over the same mate. God's knows what she thinks about it all, she's not even in. Better off shut of either of them if you ask me.'
'So the...'
'Hey! Can I have my boot back now please?'

One of the Folk from the trashed table sheepishly scuttled over. There was a thud as the boot was placed in front of Rychuck.

'Thank you. Bye now. Right, you were saying?'
'Yes. I was. Saying. Er...'

click click click

'So...err...the... The Bocado! This place. How did you start it?'
'I didn't, I won it in a bar fight.'

'TIME, FOLKS PLEASE! Can you finish your drinks?' Trace's voice boomed over the bar.

I sighed and put my stylus back in my bag.

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