Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mayro and the House of Jourdain Part 3 ("What's the price?")

Mayro spent a week or so resting, and hanging out in both his secure, comfortable inn and in the common rooms of the seedier inns that he used to call home. He heard rumors that of frequent closings at the House of Jourdain for the purpose of “renovations.” Business was down and they were relaxing their door policy, which as some joked, was likely to bring in more of the guests who create the need for renovations in their wake. Mayro returned to his stakeout point in a half-ruined building.

behind the door by Brayo
behind the door, a photo by Brayo on Flickr.

After a few days and nights, Mayro saw a rowdy customer being ejected by a crowd of gangsters with spears and torches. The ejected customer yelled and cursed, threw stones, and banged on the gate, but was ignored. He tried to apologize. “I didn’t mean to.” “I wasn’t going to eat her.” And was ignored some more. After some more threats and stone-throwing, he finally collapsed on the ground outside and fell asleep. In the morning, after the other customers had awakened, the ejected customer woke up. In the morning light, Mayro saw that he bore a striking resemblance to Lord Jourdain, as represented in the portraits hanging in the music room. And the man’s clothes, still distinctively “foreign” despite their ragged filthiness might be those that belonged to Lord Jourdain some 50 years ago. The man rose, wagged his head and knocked sheepishly on the door. After some 30 minutes, he was admitted inside.

Mayro watched throughout the day. Towards evening, he saw a group of gangsters and servant women leave the compound with a basket of garbage, some shovels, and what Mayro guessed to be a body, wrapped in a shroud. The servants dumped the garbage on a pile maybe 50 yards from the compound and continued on their way toward the bluffs overlooking the river. After about 30 minutes trying to dig a grave in the rubble, the gangsters ordered the women to dump the body into the river.

After the group had returned to the compound, Mayro went to investigate at the river. The body, that of a young woman, had slipped out of its shroud, and lay half-in and half-out of the water. From the top of the bluff, Mayro couldn’t guess how she had died; surely the body had been damaged in being flung down some 30 feet over hard rocks.

Without filling them in on all the details, Mayro made contact with Golfo and Nardon and they made plans to enter the House once more as customers. They agreed. They were received well at the door, their weapons were taken for safe-keeping, and they were ushered to the “Drinking Room,” the other, more expensive common room, where customers linger while choosing which woman to pursue. Madam Guto made an appearance almost immediately, promising Mayro, that there was someone very special that she wanted him to meet. “Perfect for you.” While waiting, some other women had some good fun helping the three warriors out of their armor, and trying on the various pieces. First Golfo and then Nardon went upstairs with a new friend-- but Mayro was not left alone for long.
In due time, Madam Guto presented to him Misty Valley, a beautiful woman, dressed as a bride. Mayro, thinking ahead had only carried with him enough to pay the entry fee and the 10 tael going rate for a “room upstairs.” Roughly two months’ salary for a poor mercenary guard, but clearly not enough.

But it wasn’t his money that they were after, but his prowess as a warrior. Misty Valley was promised to another man who she didn’t want to go to. Maybe Mayro would negotiate with this other man. He agreed and Madam Guto took him through the kitchen and down to the cellar. He waited in one room among half-drunk gangsters and sleeping servants while Madam Guto disappeared down a corridor behind a locked door. While he waited, Misty Valley and some of the other expensive courtesans helped him back into his armor and brought him his sword. Madam Guto returned, and brought Mayro into the corridor, then closed the door and locked him inside. “First door on your right!”

Mayro moved down a corridor lit by a lamp hanging on the wall. The first door on the right was ajar and upon pushing it open, he encountered Lord Jourdain in the cramped squalid room that seem to be his living and sleeping quarters. Not wasting any time, Mayro attacked his rival as the man rose from his bed. “Hey, that’s not what I wanted!” He made two cuts with his sword before the other seemed to understand what was happening. “Hey, you’re not a girl!” He reached for his own weapon—a great spiked club—and begin swinging at Mayro, driving him back into corridor. Having pushed Mayro out of the way, “Lord Jourdain” lumbered toward the locked door, demanding a refund. Mayro stabbed him from behind, and at last Jourdain attacked him back in earnest. Despite Mayro’s armor, the force of the man’s blows was incredible, throwing Mayro first against one wall and then the other. But Mayro’s blade was sharp and quick and he continued to slash his enemy. At last, both men, bruised, battered, and bloodied, fell to the ground. Fighting to stay conscious, Mayro called out to help. And his call was answered. Mayro had the sensation of being carried and opened his eyes long enough to see the dead body of hairy, hulking bestial man in the place where Jourdain had fallen, the gangsters engaged in chopping off its head.

When Mayro next regained consciousness, he was in a large comfortable bed with perfumed linens . . .

Golfo and Nardon came to see him in the morning. Madam Guto was grateful for his help, and promised to help him recover. Golfo and Nardon especially were reluctant to leave their friend, but as Madam Guto pointed out, moving him through the ruins in is current condition could be lethal.

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