It was one of those calm nights at the pub in Skiff-in-Loch, the island's only inn. Old lady Darnton, the owner, sat on a chair next to the open fireplace and tried to stay awake. Since Skiff-in-Loch lacked any sorts of trees, all fuel for the fire needed to be imported from Ketch-in-Loch, the nearest settlement, which at times could be very expensive. This led to the unofficial tradition of "fuel fee"; each and every one that wanted to enjoy the warmth of the pub, must pay a fee of at least one piece of wood at the fireplace.
Billobi sat by a small window, slowly emptying his tall, dark glass of Horsehead's Stout. His eyes and head felt weary, and he longed for the rented room on the second floor. Sipping the cold beverage had a pleasant effect on his nerves, like the voice of his mother singing to him when he was but a young boy in the now lost childhood days of Badgerbrough. He missed those days and he missed them.
Looking out over the pub, he was almost alone. Almost.
"Say lad, have I told you about OAREATERS?" old Badsey said and emptied his glass. "Nasty critters, one would believe they only eat oars, but no, no. They'll eat anything - ANYTHING - I tell you. One time I dropped my bottle of fine Ogrebelly whiskey into the waters, and the bloody thing swallowed it whole! Mistook it for a small oar, I tell you! Nasty critters, yes, yes."
Badsey got up with his empty glass and walked over to the bar. He served himself a new glass of amber whiskey from Ogrebelly, walked over to lady Darnton by the fireplace with some coins, and finally sat down again next to Billobi.
"Slow night, ey?" Badsey said with a grin and raised his glass towards the fireplace. "Cheers, ms Darnton!"
The old lady answered with a snore, much to their enjoyment.
"Say lad, have I ever told you about..."
"How you lost your eye?" Billobi filled in quickly and laughed.
"Oy, no need to make fun of the less fortunate! It's not my fault a sinker caught it!"
"You're sure it wasn't an ogrefish...?"
"I swear on me mother's hair! But since you seem so cheerful, let me tell you about a strange place I once stumbled upon in my youth... Have you ever heard about Leasspell?"
Billobi shook his head.
"No, I didn't think you'd have, no. You're much too young, I was but a wee lad at the time, yes. Stranger place I'd never seen the likes of again, no. They had this tall tower in the middle of everything, a mile long! Yes, at least, one mile, if not two. Anyway, tall is it was and small as I was, I naturally had to ask about this abomination of a construction."
"What did they say?"
"'What tower?' Can you believe that? 'What tower, young boy?' Either that, or they'd just stare right past me, or start talking about something else. One lass even started laughing hysterically!"
Billobi took another sip from his glass, and asked: "Didn't they see the tower? How can one miss a tower that high?"
"I bet they were CURSED, crazed people! I even walked up to the base of the tower and slapped the stone so hard my hand turned red, screaming 'THIS TOWER! LOOK! HERE!'. But they just went on like before, yes."
Old Badsey filled his mouth with whiskey, noticeably upset by the memory. He slammed the glass so hard against the table that lady Darnton woke up.
"Cursed, crazed people, I tell you, lad. And then, the guards took me and kicked me out."
"What? For what?"
"Yep, I guess the curse got 'em too, poor bastards. All I did was push one of them into side of the tower! Not very hard, no. Bloody weaklings, if you ask me. And yet they didn't see it, no, cursed, crazed, blind, bloody people."
They sat silent for the rest of the evening, listening to the hard wind outside and the crackling sound of the fireplace - and the snoring of old lady Darnton.
The 2016 Cartographic Review!
1 hour ago