A Runaway Father's Odyssey by Xerolo44 | World Anvil Manuscripts | World Anvil

Chapter 2: A Pint of Mead's Respite

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"You suppose? Well, it's a starting point," Benedikt chuckled. "So, lad, can you tell me which godforsaken city we're in?" he asked Kennedy, curiosity in his eyes. "I believe we're in Astert currently. Perhaps the Odristans renamed the city, only the gods know what absurd name they'd give it," Kennedy replied seriously, earning a laugh from Benedikt. "Indeed, Indeed, Kennedy, at least you've got a bit of knowledge about the world, even if you're still green behind the ears."

The air in Astert was thick with the scent of spices from market stalls, and the distant murmur of street vendors mixed with the clang of blacksmiths' hammers.

Kennedy turns sharply toward Benedikt, a furrowed brow revealing his curiosity. "But why don't you know which city we're in? I beat you up here, after all." Benedikt, still chuckling, begins his descent down the stairs into the heart of the city, Kennedy trailing behind. "You know," Benedikt starts to explain, "I've traveled far and wide, and—" but before he can finish his sentence, Kennedy interjects with a cutting remark, "I suppose so, especially when you abandoned the woman you got pregnant to die alone." The weight of the accusation hangs in the air as they continue their descent.

"Well, firstly, there was a good reason I left her alone, and secondly, I didn't know she was pregnant," Benedikt explained, defending himself. Kennedy responded mockingly, "Ah, you're speaking pure shite, Benedikt." Benedikt, with a sharp tongue, warned, "Hey lad, watch out with your tongue. If you weren't my son, I would have slit that throat in the prison." Kennedy swiftly retorted, "You and your old bones should go eat your soup, old man." Laughter ensued as they walked through the bustling streets of Astert.

The narrow streets echoed with the footsteps of hurried passersby, and the aroma of sizzling street food wafted through the air. A distant melody from a street musician's instrument added to the bustling atmosphere.

Suddenly, Benedikt bumped into a person and quickly apologized, "I'm sorry, sir, that a lowly man like me bumped into you." The man reassured, "Ah, you're old, and it's nothing to worry about, you may go your way," poking Kennedy. Benedikt signaled to move faster. "You could have easily avoided him, why didn't you? I bet it was a pickpocketer," Kennedy asked Benedikt.

"You're right, Kennedy, but what can a pickpocketer steal from someone who has nothing? And now, look at what that nice man gave us," Benedikt said, holding up a sachet of coins. "Well, I guess food is on you," Kennedy chuckled. "Well said, lad. Really well said," Benedikt replied with a smile.

"So, if this is really Astert, then this city has deteriorated over the years. Oh, and lad, you didn't knock me out in Astert. It was a village in front of Astert," Benedikt clarified while navigating through alleys and dark corners. "You seem to know this city well, Benedikt," Kennedy inquired. "Well, no shite, I was born in this hellhole," Benedikt replied.

He stopped in front of a house with a tavern sign, but this tavern was concealed behind the darkest alleys, nowhere to be seen by others, giving an unsafe impression. Before Kennedy could voice his concerns, Benedikt swung the door open forcefully, the tavern door creaked as Benedikt swung it open, revealing a dimly lit room with the rich scent of aged wood. Flickering candlelight danced on the walls, casting shadows that whispered stories of years gone by.

After swinning it open Benedikt declared loudly, "Three arrows in my chest and one sword through my back. Then my vision will finally turn black."

After Benedikt recited his verse, a voice from within responded, "But then I will see my soldiers again. With that, I would be content.” "Well, no shite, one of the old ones," the same voice responded as a young man, barely older than Kennedy with blond hair, no beard and good clothing, walked in front of Benedikt and made a slight bow. "Thank you for your visit. My name is Loxias," he introduced himself.

"Oh, did the other bastards already die? Are you the new owner? My name is Benedikt," Benedikt responded to the young man known as Loxias."Sir Benedikt, you are the first to come with the poem since I entered as the tavern owner five years ago," Loxias replied.

"Well, those guys are pieces of shite, leaving me to be alone. That lad behind me is my liegeman. Treat him like me," Benedikt added with a tinge of sadness in his voice. "Well said, Sir Benedikt. I will pour two pints of mead for you. Please, go upstairs; room 5 is free. It can be used by you. Make yourself feel at home," Loxias said with a humble tone, making way for Benedikt and Kennedy.

Benedikt made his way to the stairs, with Kennedy following him. Kennedy was visibly confused by the entire situation but chose to go with the flow, opting to stay quiet rather than risk messing anything up and ending up dead. As Kennedy looked around the tavern, he noticed that there were only two other guests. How can a tavern with so few patrons survive, he found himself asking.

Shortly thereafter, Benedikt and Kennedy entered a humble chamber. The room was permeated with the musty scent of old wood, and the creaking floorboards added a symphony of age to the atmosphere. It contained merely the essentials: a closet, two beds, two nightstands, a standard desk accompanied by a chair, and a bookcase lying on its side. The room, constructed entirely from weathered wood, seemed on the verge of collapsing under its own age. Benedikt, without a word, gently shut the door, lowered himself onto the bed, and succumbed to tears.

"The bastards perished. Those wretched fuckers just crumbled away. Argh, fuck!" Benedikt's anguished cry echoed in the room as he pounded his hands into the bed, unintentionally breaking a part of it. The pain in his heart mirrored the physical toll on the already dilapidated furniture.

"Why are you crying, Benedikt?" Kennedy inquired, confusion tingeing his voice as he settled onto his bed. Benedikt sighed, his gaze lifting from the damaged bed. "Those bastards died without saying goodbye or being near me. I explicitly told them that only I can determine when they die. Who gave them the damn permission to just keel over?" He winced, realizing the state of his hand. "Damn, the bed's broken, and my hand hurts."

Benedikt looked up, his eyes reflecting the pain of losing friends. "I'll share tales about those rascals another time. They're a significant part of my past. For now, let's head downstairs and drown our mead." With those words, both men went down the stairs, closing the door to their room. The wood creaked beneath their steps, adding to the ambiance of the tavern's rustic charm. The scent of aged wood enveloped them as they approached the common area.

"Lad, are our pints ready, Loxias?" Benedikt bellowed, taking a seat at the table where the two other patrons were seated. Kennedy felt a bit uneasy, observing the older-looking guests, seemingly older than him. However, under Benedikt's stern gaze, he reluctantly joined them. Loxias arrived shortly with two pints of mead, and Benedikt inquired, "What brings you here lads?"

"Doesn't matter to you, now piss off, old men," sneered the larger of the two guests. Loxias, visibly angered, gripped a knife tied to his waist. "How dare you talk to him like that, you bastard?" he snapped, pulling his dagger from its sheath and slamming it into the table. "Dear Benedikt and his liegeman, take your pints upstairs as I deal with this disposable trash," Loxias declared. "No need, Loxias. I want to have a talk with them, they seem interesting" Benedikt interjected, retrieving the dagger from the table and giving it back to Loxias. Both men appeared visibly frightened by Loxias' reaction, questioning who they were dealing with. "So, lads, let's have a chat," Benedikt initiated their conversation.

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