Friday, December 22, 2006

Man Of The Worlds, Part VI

After dunking the fowl in yet another of his many concoctions, the Blue Man whispered to the chicken and sent it on its way, scrambling and cackling to the west. They all waited.

"Don't the rest of you have something better to do with your time?" asked the Journeyman Exterminator.

An old woman in a tattered frock said, "Harvest was over days ago and the animals've all been fed. 'Sides you're the only thing around here worth interest till next spring. We gotta have somethin' to talk on, don't we?"

"Say, am I gonna get my chicken back?" asked the farmer.

"Bill it to Soot." He sighed and sat down on the hard ground, studying the door to the cellar.

An hour passed and still he sat. A few spectators had wandered off and the Blue Man was hopeful that the crowd would disperse, until they returned with food and drink for the others who were now sitting comfortably.

"Disappear already!" one boy yelled. The group mumbled its support.

The Blue Man yelled back, "Look, it usually doesn't take this long. If I had a dove, rather than that scrawny hen, I would have been gone long ago. The bloody thing has to get over the horizon. And anyway, who asked-"

He disappeared, missing the smattering of applause that followed his departure.

"-you to stay . . . " His sentence trailed off as he noticed the change in surroundings. He was in a cave, or rather a bubble of space deep within a world of rock, for there was no visible exit. A low voice welcomed him from a phlegm filled throat.

"It is pleasant to see you once again, World Walker. Please rise. I have summoned a bed for you."

He made out the figure of Ithcyer against the far wall. Even through the magic of the mask which enhanced the light of the glowing wall lichen, he doubted that he would be able to tell his friend from any other Anamather without prior knowledge of his destination.

"Thank you for welcoming me into your home, Ithcyer," he said in his host's tongue. "I was not sure you would respond to my message considering its form." He sat on the low slab covered with fat-filled mattresses that made up an Anamather bed.

As his eyes adjusted to the light, the World Walker was able to study his host. The only major physical differences between Ithcyer and the younger thing in the cellar were their sizes (Ithcyer wouldn't have been able to fit in the cellar), and their legs. Ithcyer had no legs, as they fall off during the early stages of adulthood.

"Yes," Ithcyer remarked, "I found it strange but I believe it will digest just as well. Please drink with me as we discuss your business. I have called for some of your native wine."

"Once more, I thank you, Ithcyer." A chalice appeared at his feet as another appeared in the hand of his host. "To get right to the point, one of your young has been discovered on my master's world. I request permission to return it if it is lost or slay it if it is not."

Ithcyer bobbed its left arm slowly. It was the Anamather equivalent of a nod. "They are absolutely beastly at that age. It must amaze your people that we're part of the same race."

(To Be Continued)

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