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   Chapter 8 No.8

The Book of Deacon By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5759

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:03

The seat she chose was at the counter where the drinks were served. The odd plate and knife scattered about the bar assured her that she would be allowed to take her meal there as well. It was not the most luxurious of chairs, but with a handful of empty seats between herself and the nearest denizen of the bar to ease her nerves in such a rowdy place, it would do well enough. She sat and awaited the tavern keeper's service.

Several minutes passed, punctuated by stomach rumblings reminding her of the fact she had yet to be served. A glance down the bar revealed the keeper to be in a very spirited conversation with a gruff customer he shared more than a casual resemblance to. She decided that they must be brothers, and chose not to interrupt their conversation. Surely he would take her order soon. As this thought passed through her mind, a particularly thick cloud of pipe smoke wafted past her face. It was all she could do to keep from gagging. She turned a watering eye to the source of the offending fumes.

Behind her, an old man with a patch over his right eye let out a long, raking sound somewhere between a cough and a laugh. The outburst lasted for a disturbingly long time, shaking his body as it progressed. The long, thin pipe he gnawed on was lodged securely between two of the only teeth left in his mouth. The half-rotten things had been used to clutch the stalk of the pipe so often they had parted to make room for it. She winced as a second, far more powerful outburst spread his lips far enough to confirm the solitary standing of the pipe-holding teeth. Another man sat at the table with him, staring intently at her. He looked as though he had not slept in days. On his shoulder was a scragg

her nose up at it. For the sake of harmony, she took another swallow. At any rate, it was a darn sight better than the leathery rain water she had been living off of from her flask day in and day out, and she did not look forward to the flavor of the contents of the soldier's flask either.

The plate of food was set before her: a slice of rather overcooked goat meat accompanied by a mound of boiled cabbage. A knife clattered to rest beside her plate. She carved a piece of the charred meat, speared it with the knife tip, and tasted it. The morsel required more than its share of chewing to render it fit to swallow. She followed the meat with a mouthful of the typically bland cabbage. Cabbage seemed to be the only vegetable that existed these days, and the flavor was always the same. Absent.

Myranda's jaw ached by the time she had done away with the shoe leather of a main course. It was barely the equal of the disturbingly old provisions that were even now growing older in her pack, but it was thankfully enough to satisfy her appetite. When she pushed the pitted metal plate aside, she was greeted quite swiftly by the innkeeper.

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