Thraxas Under Siege / Траксас под обсада: Четеринадесета глава

Английски оригинал Перевод на български

Chapter Fourteen



It's a chaotic evening at the Avenging Axe. Dandelion and Makri are both serving behind the bar, which means there's no waitress service, which in turn leads to a long queue of thirsty drinkers all competing for service. Mercenaries and dockers become impatient. They're not used to waiting so long for their tankards of ale, and they're not shy about complaining. The food is being prepared by some temporary cook whose name I don't even know. She seems to be taking a long time about it, which leads to more impatience. There are more than a few angry words and sharp exchanges as Makri and Dandelion struggle to cope. It's a bad situation, and a less experienced drinker than myself might be inclined to panic.



Fortunately I've had a great deal of practice and I've got a lot of weight on my side. I lever some mercenaries out of the way, force back a sailmaker, and slide up to the bar without too much trouble.



"Happy Guildsman, Makri," I say, holding out my extra-large tankard for a refill.



Makri looks at me balefully.



"Have you considered helping out?"



"Helping out? Why?"



"Because we need help," she says, logically enough. Logical or not, I brush it aside.



"I'm not employed here. I'm a paying customer."



Even Dandelion is slightly harassed as Barbarian mercenaries compete for her attention.



"It really would be nice if you were to help, Thraxas," she says.



"Afraid I can't do that."



Makri hands a tankard of ale over to a customer, then pauses.



"Then you're not being served," she says.



I gape at her.



"What do you mean?"



"If you won't help, I'm banning you from the tavern."



Only the crush of bodies prevents me from reeling backwards in shock. I'm not used to being banned from taverns. Or rather, I am used to being banned from taverns, but not the one I reside in.



"Don't be ridiculous. You can't ban me. I live here."



"I don't care," says Makri. "You're not getting any drinks. Either help out or step aside. There are people waiting."



"You dog!" I roar, and reach for my sword. "This time you've gone too far!"



I start heaving my way through the press of bodies to the hatch in the bar, intent on getting behind it and skewering Makri at the first opportunity. Makri grabs the axe she keeps for emergencies and waits for me to arrive.



"No one refuses beer to Thraxas!" I yell, still struggling through the crowd. I find my way blocked by a Barbarian mercenary who stands about seven feet tall and almost as wide. It takes me a while to work my way round him and it doesn't calm my temper. Meanwhile I'm yelling insults at Makri and she's yelling insults back at me. By the time I make it behind the bar, fifty or so assorted mercenaries, dockers and other Twelve Seas lowlifes are looking on with some amusement. I ignore them.



"Pour me a beer or I'll run you through like a dog."



Makri raises her axe.



"Get out from behind the bar or I'll chop your head off, you cusux."



Even in the company of mercenaries and dock workers, not the most refined of people, Makri's use of an Orcish insult causes a few raised eyebrows. I take a step forward. Dandelion suddenly leaps in front of me.



"Stop this at once," she says. "With everyone sick we all have to work together."



I eye her with loathing.



"Dandelion, have I ever told you how much I despise you?"



"Don't pick on her, you fat oaf," shouts Makri. "Dandelion, get out the way so I can chop his head off."



Dandelion turns to face Makri.



"You have to stop it as well. We shouldn't be fighting among ourselves."



"Goddamn you, you ignorant zutha bitch," roars Makri, giving vent to another of her favourite foul Orcish insults. "Get out the way or I'll chop you in half."


Dandelion takes a step backwards, intimidated. She turns to me, and then back to Makri. And then, quite abruptly, she bursts into tears.


"I was only trying to help," she wails, then runs off into the back room, leaving me and Makri staring at each other with weapons raised, feeling a little foolish.


"Well there was no need to make the girl cry," says one of the loudest voices in Turai. It's Viriggax, who's standing at the bar with a look of disapproval in his eye.


"Poor little soul," says Parax the shoemaker, agreeing with him. "Always tries to do her best."


"I never like to see a young woman bullied," growls Viriggax. "Goes against the grain."


"Oh come on," I protest. "We weren't bullying her. Everyone knows Dandelion is an idiot."


Another mercenary at the bar, a man with a scar running from his ear to his chin, clucks in disapproval.


"Always thought she was a helpful young wench. Don't see any reason for threatening her with swords and axes."


There are mutters of agreement from all over the tavern.


"I wasn't really going to attack her," protests Makri.


"You insulted her in Orcish," says the mercenary, and looks at her suspiciously.


"Are we ever going to get a drink?" demands another large mercenary, and bangs his fist on the bar. Realising that the mob is against us, and remembering that Gurd's last words were to look after his tavern, I sigh, and sheathe my sword. If these people don't get drinks soon there will probably be a riot. I pick up an empty tankard, and place it under the beer tap. I can't believe it. Thraxas, once Senior Investigator at the Imperial Palace, now reduced to serving beer.


"I'll get you for this," I mutter to Makri.


She puts her axe away and picks up an empty tankard.


"You started it," she mutters back.