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Tales of Orgonia: Chapter 6 - The Nabe

The Town was an augmented version of the Fallows, a lank feeling of desperation hung on every corner.

Rowan consulted his map and cross referenced it with his location in relation to his journey thus far and if his bearings served him correctly then he was stood, more or less, where the words stretched across the parchment ‘T h e N a b e’.

Rowan felt a connection to the monotony of life that was evident here, yet as he progressed into the town everything seemed a little more amplified to that of The Fallows. The people had marginally darker skin, carried a little extra weight around the middle and to a degree appeared to have an improved measure of health.

The Nabe was much denser in population and although, superficially, the people here looked notably similar to Rowans neighbours back home there was more that connected them here then simply proximity.

Rowan passed by a number of strange buildings that’s uses were difficult for him to determine. The first was a small room guarded by an elderly woman sat poised at the front desk. Within, sparsely dotted around, there were rows of shelves holding stacks of parchment scored neatly around the edges and bound tightly togehter on one side, a pile of which the lady in charge was processing by the front door.

The adjacent structure was more of a shell than a building. It had three stygian-stone walls and a rounded roof with a tall flute extending from the top. The man inside was large, black and very wet, towering over a raised pit of raucous flame heinous with fury. Rowan witnessed with bewilderment as the smith poured molten metal into iron casts of bowl and hammer and blade formations. The brute looked up momentarily to wipe the drench from his brow, a titan coloured constellation dancing in the air around him, but Rowan quickly dashed away before their eyes could meet. He wondered later if the man was hairless through choice or occupation.

A visceral turn lead Rowan to a simple structure filled with simple intent. The sound of merriment chimed through the swinging doors, inviting passers by to take their weight off for as long or as little as they liked.

As the doors slowed to a close behind him the merriment too came to a stop in perfect syncopation, as a candle flame is starved of breath until only a dark stillness remains.

It took Rowan seven severely uncomfortable steps to reach the unmistakable owner of the undertaking.

“Drink?” blurted the bearded woman behind the wooden shelf, one rag resting over her shoulder and another in her hand, polishing a tankard she’d previously spat in to.

Rowan wasn’t sure if it was a question or an instruction and instinctively smiled, nodded and involuntarily giggled.

The bartender thrust a gill of liquid in front of him, frothing over the sides.

“Right, and what is it?” Rowan inquired.

“A gift chap” the woman replied, squinting with one eye and leaning in a little closer to whisper “from the Gods.”

The woman’s malodorous breath penetrated Rowans eyes like acid rain but he politely covered his desperate need to cough, sneeze and vomit all at once with an appreciative smile. He took the drink by the handle and, surprised at either the weight of the drink or the frailty of his bicep - or both, quickly found an empty table to sit at.

He scanned the room, avoiding eye contact whenever possible, as the atmosphere restored to the state of revelry he’d broken with his too-enthusiastic entrance. He looked down at the murky liquid and wasn’t quite sure what to do with or make of it. A quick glance about briefed Rowan to drink it in large gulps with one elbow pressed firmly on the table and the other arm extended round, shoulder facing the Gods.

His body language was compelling, anybody who had doubted Rowans authenticity once before would look at him now and find no need for a second take. On the other hand, his execution of consuming the ale had, to give an accurate measurement, room for improvement by the barrel-load. He couldn’t quite place what was wrong with it. Was it the temperature? Was he not expecting it to be so thick and bitter? Regardless, the liquid didn’t reach the bottom of his throat, it did however reach the other end of the table.

“Happy birthday!” a voice chirped from behind him coupled with a keen slap on his back.

“Sorry?” Rowan replied habitualy.

“Many happy returns, love!” The figure said raising a fistful of ale skyward.

“It’s just that, it’s actually not my birthday, not today anyway” Rowan turned round in search of context.

“But it must be poppet? Reacting to a swallow of malt like that, you can’t have been born any later than this morning.” The voice announced as a matter of fact.

“Oh, right, no, i’m actually quite a lot older than that.” Rowan said, cheeks turning orchid at the sight of his acquaintance.

“Mind if I join you my dear?” The voice insisted, cupping Rowans shoulder and giving it a jig.

“Be my-” The guest was already pulling out a chair, coat tails floating over the wooden spine.

“Beatrice” She announced, offering a gobful of phlegm in her slender hand “Beatrice Beknown, but you can call me Trix.”

Beatrice was an assault on the senses, a slap round the face and a tickle of the rocks, accosting all emotions before they’d even begun to express towards the limbs.

Rowan offered back his hand of kindness “Rowan Graysinn.” he announced proudly.

Offended, Trix dropped her brilliant white smile and withdrew her offer, holding eye contact with Rowan and gesturing towards his hand with brows raised high above her captive eyes and a suggestive tilt of her head. It took him a second but he eventually caught on and brought his hand up to his mouth to produce a pygmy amount of saliva neatly pooled in the palm of his hand.

Ebullience gushed back into Trix’s face as she clapped an enthusiastic hand against Rowan’s giving it a liberal tug before pulling him in towards her chest and purring into his ear, “Pleasure.” She returned his head back to where she’d found it, clasping his chin between her thumb and index finger, investigating which side of Rowans face she might prefer.

“I’m looking for my wife.” Rowan squeaked, somewhat reminding himself.

“I know you are my dear” Trix replied with conviction, pulling on a silver chain to produce a smoking pipe and commencing to light it “And exactly how far behind her do you believe yourself to be?”

“I, um, don’t really know really, nearly two and a half weeks now I suppose, maybe three” Rowan said trying to simultaneously think and deliver an answer.

“That’ll be her then deary, oh yes, that’ll be her I saw, no question. Passed through here no more than a week at most, at most deary. Oh yes, I knew you wouldn’t be far behind her love, I could feel it, COULDN’T I GEORGE” Trix belted across the room. George bowed his head, raised his hand and continued to drink.

Trix said, “Thank you George deary. Hum yes, you’re a very lucky man indeed aren’t you Mr Graysinn. I’d never forget a face like hers passing through the Nabe, wonderfully pale skin almost translucent, modest figure to match too hum?”

“That’s her, that’s our Ornella!” Rowan jittered like an excited puppy.

Trix crossed her legs and arched her back, resting an arm on the spine of the chair, “She did look tired though my dear, and hungry too.” She added, remorsefully, expelling a flute of smoke.

It struck Rowan how distant he’d become from his wife since leaving the Fallows. He’d been wading his way through such a web of obstruction and obstacle that he’d barely had time to think about how she might be now, nearly a month outside of their marital home-life.

“Can you swim my dear?” Trix appeared suddenly behind Rowan.

“Maybe, i’ve never tried before” Rowan answered.

“Fight?”

“I didn’t think so but I might surprise you.”

“Hunt?”

“Now that, I am actually getting quite good at.”

“Out run a Mapinguari?”

“Out run a-? I don’t see how that’s got much to do with finding my wife?” Rowan tried to buy himself a second to think.

Trix jumped into Rowans lap, draping a long arm around his neck, emanating aromas of lemony hops and blackcurrant tobacco “Because my dear, it would be an awful shame to lead you all but three quatres of the way to your beloved wife, only to find that you’ve got a disturbingly terrible balance and thus no way of crossing the raw-bone bridge, leading us all the way back to the Nabe only then to take a route that we could have taken two weeks earlier where in which alternate scenario the three of us could have been feasting on roasted boar, fresh berries and dark ale in just a matter of days. So do you see darling, at this point all matters are a matter of locating your Ornella?”

Trix pulled on another chain to reveal an undersized pocket watch. Rowan wondered if Trix was a God of some sort, or an alien that had been somehow sent from the future to aid him on his quest. She clearly wasn’t from the Nabe, that much was evident from a simple glance around the room, and Rowan’s isolated upbringing meant that he knew of only two places that existed in all-Orgonia; the Fallows in the very south and the Metropolis in the very north and although his journey forth was making him greatly aware of an entire bible of places stretched out between the two, he was sure that this woman in front of him of such cognition and savoir faire must be the product of the land that rubs cheeks with the Heartwood.

“Right, yes, sorry.” Rowan replied politely.

“No apology needed deary” Trix replied “Now then, there’ll be plenty of time for more questions along the way, but Amaterasu doesn’t bless us with eternal sunshine so we’d best be getting on hum?”

Trix placed a graceful finger under Rowans chin and commanded him to stand, “There is just one thing we need to get squared deary, before we leave I mean.”

“There is?” Rowan replied a little intimidated.

“Payment.” Trix whispered with a simper.

“Oh, right, of course. Well, urm, I really don’t have much” Rowan said patting down his pockets, “I’ve only a few bits and bobs with me is all, and-oh, well there is this.”

Rowan observed his mothers ring and twisted it around on his finger nervously.

“It’s just that it doesn’t really belong to me actually, it’s my Pa’s and i’m kind of only really borrowing it.”

Trix’s eyes flashed at the sight of it and appreciated what a wonderful addition it would make to her already extensive collection. “Oh deary no, I could never suggest such a tragic severance, it clearly means too much to you.”

“Well, i’m afraid that’s all i’ve got to offer.” Rowan replied disheartened.

“Humm” Trix pondered “There must be something else, surely..”

Rowan’s simple mind was besting him.

“Tell you what deary, let’s not think so materialistic hum?” Trix narrowed her eyes and somewhat pursed her lips, “It so pains me to see a fellow human being suffering the way you do, so lets keep things simple shall we? How about a favour?”

“A favour?” Rowan said elated. “A favour I believe I can manage.”

With a happy customer in toe, Trix settled the bill at the bar and lead Rowan back out into the village.

Swept up by the wonderful turn of events and a little tipsy from the ale too, Rowan was keen to press on and so completely forgot to double check that he had everything he arrived with, including his map, before shooting off to finally be reunited with his wife.

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Joeski
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