Finding Gratitude, Part 7

The Green Witch

            My cloak was gone. My staff was with it, along with as much protections as I could lay on it. They rested hidden behind a refuse pile, with a solemn oath to find the nearest launder when I could afford it. My new costume, one may ask?

An apron. My weapon of choice was a rag and a bucket of suds. I attacked the latest foe, a particularly smelly beer stain that had been left by the last person to fall on hard times at Merryl’s.

Merryl herself was an elf. Her yellow skin burnished in the torchlight she kept above the bar. She was dressed in a loose-fit shirt and pants, rubbing down her own mess to clean up as most of the regulars stumbled away. Her green eyes caught every stain, and every now and again a bit of water would be splashed in my direction, to remind me where I missed a spot.

The light reflected off of her counter and danced on the tables, showing just how empty the place was in the late hours of the night. Besides a passed out troll, and a gang of what I could only describe as half-golems drinking whiskey and blood, we were alone.

Merryl most likely could run the place by herself. Even looking at her, I knew she was capable. Why she even let me in the back door was beyond me.

This was not how I planned on spending my first night in Gratitude. If I had even an inch of pride left, or two coins to rub together, I wouldn’t be here. I was supposed to be spending this part of the evening finding those predators who stalked the night, bringing them to justice. Not cowering in the shadows, scared for my life.

Corrupt policemen. Why didn’t I ever consider corrupt policemen? It was fun and heroic to defend the town from even them. But I couldn’t fight back, couldn’t even defend myself if one of them decided I needed to go. All I could do was run.

But I had nowhere to run. No money to buy a place to stay, even for a time. And sleeping seemed to only invite danger. So I walked to the first place that seemed clean and not trying to con me. I found Merryl, and she found a girl to scrub down the tables.

Merryl gave a soft whistle. I perked up, and she pointed back behind the bar. I didn’t ask any questions, just dove under the counter. A second later, the door banged open.

I peeked around the corner. An ogre had walked in. Dressed in fine clothes that bulged over his gut, everything was grossly immaculate. From his dress, to his ivory polished tusks, to the fat jowls of his pale face, and his bloodshot black eyes blinking around the place. But what I noticed most was the shiny sheriff’s badge, tucked neatly over his lapel.

“Sheriff Trill,” Merryl muttered. The bar went silent, all looking back at the ogre.

“Merryl,” Sheriff Trill looked around the place. “Busy, busy, I see.”

“It’s four in the morning,” she said. “So can I pour you a beer, or a coffee?”

“Coffee would be…marvelous.” He sat down at one of the chairs.

Merryl turned her back to him, and me, and started to pour the coffee.

“And you could tell me where my damn money is.”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder