The Last Artican

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Chapter 9

Chapter 9

I smiled and wiped the gravy from my face with my sleeve. Arsan was just finishing his stew with a little more dignity, but not much. I didn’t care. I was full and warm and delighted to have a comfortable bed to rest in tonight, even if it was in a loud and disgusting place like this.

There was a tugging on my braid. I turned to find the drunk old man stroking my hair that he held in his dirty hands. I was disgusted by the way he touched my braid, almost to the point of being sick.

I stared into the man’s glazed over eyes hoping that my expression was angry enough to scare him. The man didn’t let go of my hair. He only stared back with a huge drunken grin on his face. My anger over came me, spurred on by the warmth in my veins. Strength grew in my arm. I could feel it pouring from me. When I couldn’t hold it back any longer, I let it free gladly.

My fist struck true, a blow to the drunks chin. The man wheeled backward, arms flailing in the air. He crashed into a table full of equally drunk sailors. They all went sprawling on the floor. Those who had seen my actions laughed and watched as the old man scuffled with the sailors. They looked like they had been looking for a fight all night and sprung to their feet with a sense of renewed fury. Somebody threw a bottle. It flew past my head and broke on the wall behind the bar. The barkeep started shouting to the fighters. “Take it outside!”

A shoe flew through the air and landed on the floor next to me. I was mesmerized by how many people were now participating in the fight. The original instigators had spilled out into the street but the chain reaction caused more mayhem than anticipated.

Arsan grabbed me by the shoulders and led me over to the stairs at the back of the tavern. I was still watching the fighting when he prodded me up the steps. I ducked quickly as another bottle smashed on the wall behind us. The brown liquid spilled down the wall and onto the floor. A scruffy brown dog was there to clean it up.

The hall on the upper floor was dark, only illuminated by a single lamp that sat on a table in the middle of the hall. Noise from the bar below carried up the stairs. I could still hear every word that was being said, none of it was appropriate for such ears as mine. Maybe this was the way of men? Maybe this was how they released their primal needs. No, I didn’t believe that. This was just another show of the world gone wrong. Men fighting men for the sake of a brawl. It was not as it was intended when the world was created, but it was how the world was now.

Arsan put the key into the door lock to our room and turned it. It squeaked and popped the door open. I stepped inside, glad to be away from the world of corrupt men. Arsan closed the door quickly behind us, shutting off the sounds from below. It was quiet.

The room was small but warm. Flames climbed up the fire place walls spilling warmth onto the floor and throughout the room. My body longed for the bed that was made up with a heavy down blanket and a soft looking pillow, but the bath tub that was full of steaming hot water sitting on the floor near the fire called to me more. I didn’t care at that point about the noise that quietly seeped up through the seams in the floor boards. All I wanted was to rest my weary bones.

“I think I’ll head back down stairs to inquire about a ship for tomorrow. You take a bath and crawl into bed. I’ll be back shortly.” Arsan smiled.

I shook my head. “Alright. Please be careful.”

Arsan left the room quietly, locking the door behind him. For the first time in what seemed like forever, I was alone. It was a nice feeling, relaxing in the relative quiet with only my thoughts for company.

I exhaled and took in a deep breath of the steam from the tub. It did sound nice, the warm water covering my body. I then realized how dirty I was. I stripped down to nothing but my pale skin. My fingers lingered over my cuff and then it to was taken off and placed on the top of my cloths in front of the fire place to warm.

The water heated every inch of my body as I slowly slipped under its surface. I could fall asleep there if I let myself, but it was my thoughts that kept me awake. I wondered if Delah had survived. My mind told me the answer, no. Farenan never would have left her alive after he helped me escape. My emotions got the best of me and I let them go. Tears ran down my face and melted into the water below my chin. I let it all out. Every feeling I had been holding, every sadness that haunted my thoughts. They drifted away into the water that surrounded me. There was no one to see me cry now. I could be free.

I sat in the warmth for a while letting every little tear I could squeeze out fall into the water. When the bath had cooled and nothing more dripped from my face, I pulled my tired body from the tub, dried off and got dressed back in my leathers.

How late was it? The sounds from down stairs had diminished and the light outside my small window had been put out. Arsan had told me not to wait up for him, so I crawled under the warm covers and snuggled into the pillow to sleep. The warmth of the blanket was comforting. I melted into the softness, snuggling my face into the pillow. Sleep came easily. Taking me over like a wave of rest.

I didn’t know how much time had passed. I woke from a sound sleep. All was quiet, but something had woken me. Then I heard the sound of the lock turning in the door, slowly quietly. Arsan had returned, but it was dark in the room. The lamp must have run out of oil. Still too tired to move, I lay under the covers too sleepy to open my eyes. I took a deep breath and settled back down into my pillow.

The door latched shut with a click. Footsteps lightly treaded across the wood floor toward the bed. The blanket lifted and Arsan slipped under the covers next to me. I feel back asleep easily with the comfort of his presence, not waking till the dawn had arrived.

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