Deadfire Part 10: The Arrival of Milt Jenkins
She blinked and walked back inside the bothy. I did as well just as the sky returned to black again.
I saw on the floor that she had broken a vial. Some sort of healing potion she had used. The place now smelled like a wet dog and roses.
There was a wicker chair near the old fireplace and some sort of shield, a bronze one fit for a knight. In the common tongue it had written on it “His Lordship’s High Adventurers and Patrollers Deem This Bothy Safe for Men and Other Natural Creatures.”
Alexis knocked the shield to the floor where it clattered and sent up motes of dust slowly into the air. “I hate them. Patrollers. Scum.”
“You shouldn’t do that and you should respect property rights, bitch. This ain’t Russia.” I muttered.
She sat down on the wicker chair only to have it fall apart on her. She crashed to the ground and rolled over and I couldn’t stop laughing.
“Nice going, fat ass.” I snickered, despite the fact that she was, indeed, not a fat ass. She was a thin blonde with sharp blue eyes and as a man did I want to get up in all that-
“Go to the seven hells.” She yelled back and I just gave her a look.
“How much longer shall we hang out here, hey, I’m talking here…“ My voice dropped off as I saw she wasn’t paying me any attention.
She stared out the open window and said nothing for a few moments, contemplating something.
“Your horse is gone.” She said.
“Meh. I can get an extra horse. I mean, it’s his fault, not mine. I found him. I have no idea where that horse came from. He didn’t even let me ride him.”
Alexis shook her head and sat down on the floor of the bothy. She started after a few moments to toss the pieces of the wicker chair into the fireplace and then, taking a long wooden match that was located in a box on the floor, she managed to start a fire. After several moments we had a pretty good blaze going. It was nice and bright and felt good to our cold and tired bones.
I sat down next to her, thinking of what to do next.
“This place stinks.” I mentioned to her. She said nothing.
“I said this place stinks.” I whispered.
“You ever have been in the Trade Lands?” Alexis said as the fire started up and began to crackle. The smoke smelled of mesquite and I began to think about a place long ago, before this odd and long adventure had started, in a small room overlooking the Mojave.
“Nah. First time. I got, uh, an job of sorts and was supposed to be dumped off at Whale’s Heart up the coast but I sort of screwed the Captain’s young wife and he tied me to a stake on some beach before we got there.”
She stared, with an empty look on her face.
“Yeah, that’s what happened. And then I met that horse bastard and well, he’s gone now and that’s that.”
Alexis turned her head and stared into the fireplace, contemplating what I suppose would be her next sentence.
“It’s a haunted land. There are crypts here, vampires, werewolves, things of the unnatural realm. It is a desolate place full of wonder and savage beings. No living and thinking thing has been here for years, the place being cursed by the ten masked priests of Xultha once their subjects rose against them many moons ago. The Lord Proprietor, with his royal writ, moved in with an army of low-born men to exploit the wealth of this place. He used slaves, patrollers, men without honor or merit, to take back this land where the cursed appear when the gods command it, whenever that maybe. You’ve seen it yourself here, wanderer. Hence, this bothy, hence our need to be careful in such a terrible place while still in the open.”
“Huh.” I turned to look into the fire. “I sort of know this already.”
“There’s holy men here now, under the Lord Proprietor, who do his bidding, clearing and making the land livable for the living. Where we are is still under the curse, but more and more acres are being cleared as time goes on. Paladins have come here to restore the lost lands, under the guide of the Trade, the men under the Proprietor, and his patrollers. We will come to such good and safe places soon, such as Cold Run Run and the Bridge of Graves. Bards like us are rare in these parts and we can make some coinage if we can survive getting around from place to place. You know, perhaps we should partner together.”
I yawned. “Sure. Sounds cool, like I didn’t know this already…. Hey listen, if I’m not being to upfront with you, I know that you haven’t had a chance to take a bath or anything, but would you mind us making love by the fireplace? I’m really, really, bored. And we’re bards. That’s what we do. It’s fun. What bards do.”
If looks could kill she would have vaporized me where I sat.
“Fine.” I grumbled
THE NEXT morning after falling asleep with my back against the stone floor of the bothy, I noticed that she was gone. Long gone.
“Oh man, I pissed her off.”
I heard the birds chirping outside and felt the bright but cool sun against my face. The fire was dead and the door to the outside world was wide open, with cold dry air blowing in. I stepped out, feeling the cold against my face and began to walk out onto the Ugly Road. That horse that I had thought to be long gone was there,
munching on some bush which I’m sure would hurt its digestion and make it hard for it to shit.
“Still alive, you? Ain’t you interesting, sir.” I said to the horse.
He spooked and ran. I ran after him, my gear clinking and clanking against me before I found him again munching on some other damn brown bush that was long dead. I grabbed him by the reigns and we began to walk forward, me whistling, him snuffling at odd moments. We came upon an old sign saying “Cold Run Run” next to the road, that was also next to a crucified skeleton of what may have been an Orc at one point in life.
I took a drink from my canteen that had only a little bit of stale water left before I saw the image of Milt Jenkins, his sloppy and obese form appearing before me like a marshmallow ghost encased by an AC/DC t-shirt.
“How are you doing, Mr. Farson Windhoek? What’s your next move, buddy?”
I pulled out my lute and started to play it in protest.
He snickered, his double chin bobbing up and down as he did so.
“Not talking to me still? Not begging me still? You won’t apologize?”
I started to sing:
“You want an apology and that’s fine,
but I won’t do that because I’m still fine,
I’m still fine, I’m still fine, I hope I get out of this one and get all that’s mine, one daaaay,
Screw you ya nerdy bastard and once I get out, I’ll kill you one daaaay….”
Milt Jenkins frowned. “Whatever, bro. If you need my help, give me a shout. I’m here to help you, you dick. You never learn despite what’s happened. I’m your best buddy right now in the entire universe. Un-iv-erse.”” Milt said, a bag of Doritos appearing in his hands. He started to have a few as I walked with that horse but then he disappeared back into the ether.
“One day, man. I’ll get you. One day. You’re gonna get it and you won’t even know when you’re gonna get it but you’ll get it. You ain’t nevah gonna forget that there day.” I said to the air itself and not the horse. But Milt Jenkins was apparently still around.
Milt Jenkins voice cried out after a moment. “Whatever, broseph. You got one friend left in this strange universe and that’s me. You know that. I’m here to guide you in these terrible days. ”