Tastier sat in the cold and the dark, waiting. It was still early in the evening, and though it hadn’t been dark for long, it got dark early this time of year. Even with a fire lit and a pot of stew simmering, the chill remained. He drained his cup. It was sweet red from the vineyards along the western shore of the continent, more apt for cooking than drinking. He adjusted his cap and continued to wait.
Some time later he heard the back door creak… “So, you’ve come.” There was no reply. He sat facing away from the door not turning to look. He knew what he would find there. The sound of footstep crossed the room, slowly, methodically. The chair behind his creaked. There they sat back to back, adjacent yet not together. “Should I ask, or …”, Tastier said. “Oh, Ye of little faith. Are you willing to pay the price? It matters not. It’s beyond your-”
Suddenly there was a loud rap at the front door. This time Tastier turned to look at the door. “Did you bring friends?”, he said quietly.
“I was never here.”
Tastier nodded curtly at that, still averting his gaze from his present guest. There was another faint creak and he exhaled. Another volley of knocking ensued. “Coming” he said loudly. When he got to door he found Big Wig Johnson. Wig was the coach of his team, The Johnnys’ Quest. Unlike most of the civilized coaches he wasn’t high born, but he was earnest. He had the kind of charisma that inspired his players to make plays, and that’s what counted on the pitch. “Ah, Wig, what can I do for you? Care for some stew?”
“Oh, that does smell good m’lord. Uh, but no m’lord. The missus is preparing dinner as we speak. If it please you I shouldn’t be here long.” said Wig.
“Then, to business. What brings you to cabin this night? Are we prepared for the match with the Sabres?”
“Yes m’lord. I believe I have worked out a gameplan that will defeat the humans in dramatic fashion. But that not why I’m here. I’ve noticed some things, I’m not sure exactly what it all means. Maybe it’s nothing but Bloomberg has been acting… strangely. I know treefolk are always a bit strange and then there was the incident with the vampire, but this is something else, I reckon. It’s hard to put my finger on. And then there’s Ms. Jumpy…”
“Oh, Is that so? I hope you haven’t shared this with anyone else. We wouldn’t want the Spike Magazine to start spreading rumors.”
“Oh, no m’lord, I know when to keep my mouth shut.”
“Well, keep an I eye out. At the same time, let’s not create problems where none exist. The next I hear of this I want something more substantial.”
“As you say.”
“Tell your wife that I’d love to come to the Hearth Warming day dinner. Oh, and before you leave, would mind fetching me some firewood from out back? I’m afraid these old bones don’t move as well as they used to.
“It’s a cold one tonight m’lord. I’ll be back right quick.”
Wig shuffled out the back door. The wind whipped in through the door in the brief moment when it was opened and the fire flickered. It snapped back to life and then in another instant, winked out.
Jah Na’vi sat on the deck and bit down firmly on wedge of lime. She formed a sour scowl, the green rind visible from between her lips. The fruit was more than just a pleasure, it was a necessity. It had been more than a fortnight since her departure shortly after the match against the Vampires and elves are more vulnerable to scurvy than men. She’d have preferred the with a ginger beer and some ice but both were luxuries here, so far south of her homeland.
Jah Na’vi reached into her pocket and plucked out an envelope and held it up to the sunlight. Still she couldn’t make out the characters. Tastier had given it to her, claiming to have exclusive knowledge of certain secrets. He’d promised her and adventure and forbidden her from opening until she reached Hexoatl, a Lizardman bastion on the shore of the southern ocean. “Once you arrive you may open the envelope, but not before.” It seemed like a queer sort of command to her. Why would place matter? She cleared her mind and grabbed another wedge.
“Oi, Na’vi, whaddaya have there?” Pigskin exclaimed.
Pigskin was a member of the crew- the human crew of the Astrea. Pigskin wasn’t the name his mother gave him of course, that was Gerald Somersauce. The line was that he wasn’t named after the ball of the same name, but rather that his father was a pig, hence pig’s kin.
“Oh, nothing important”, Jah Na’vi said. “Just wondering what’s in store for me when we get there”
“Wondering what the reptiles have in store for you, eh? You should be practicing your snaketongue with Hipotle. No one does it better than him.”
“I am practissssssing” she said in her best reptilian. She thought for a second and returned to the common tongue not knowing how to say what she wanted “Hey, do you want to come with me when we get to Hexoatl? I’ve coin enough to for us to stay at an Inn until the Astrea returns to port. I can’t rightly say what we’ll be doing, but it’ll be more lighter with a friend.”
“Now that’s a strange thing to say missy, uh, I mean miss Jah Na’vi.” He trailed off. She watched as he considered her proposition. “You certainly could do with a better translator and that’s a fact. I’m not born to it as Hipotle is, but I know the important things at least. Let me just ask the captain.”
“Alright, Mr. Somersauce. Elves may be known for their patience, but it’s not polite to keep a lady waiting” Jah Na’vi taunted. They smirked at each other for an instant and then she nimbly dropped down to the main deck and slipped back into her cabin.