The two finally got some shut-eye. They slept for a full night and a full day. They were laying low for a bit. The two people sleeping in the room next door were laying low too, 6 Queen’s feet low. There was a phrase in Black Oak: “Some nights you sleep with Lady Luck, some nights Lady Luck stabs you in the back”.
Bruno and Matar woke up still groggy. Bruno’s stomach grumbled with discomfort. His elbows and knees ached with every movement. He just lay in the lumpy bed waiting for Matar to bother him. In a way, it was just like it was at the Palace. Bruno sometimes got away with skipping as many as two lessons just by waiting for Matar to poke and prod him.
Matar leaned up in bed. He stretched, cracked his neck, back, knuckles, and finally his hips. He donned his casual clothes. “I’ll be right back, don’t go anywhere,” was the only thing that he said to Bruno before he left. He walked a few steps outside of the inn. He furnished a rusty dagger with deep chinks and used it to cut two square strips of ruby colored cloth from his clothes. He skewered one patch of cloth and plunged the tip into the ground. On the way back into his room, he left a similar cloth kebab laying on the floor. Upon entering the room, he commanded Bruno, “Go back to sleep. We need to keep a low profile for another night. Soon we’ll meet one of my contacts, another old friend.”
Bruno didn’t complain. He was happy to lay in bed; away from the beastly men with hot tempers, away from the shifty lizard people, away from the fickle judges. Tomorrow they would give up and go back to the wondrous Palace and the juicy pork and fresh berries. He fell asleep drooling.
“How are you feeling young one?”“I’m terribly hungry, Master. I must get out and find food at once.””No.” Was all Matar said.”No??” Said Bruno incredulously.”No. I cannot allow such a thing in the current predicament. We have stirred the pot enough to brew a storm. No, the only sensible action for us now is to wait.””But Matar-”
Whap! Bruno was out cold.
Bruno woke up only moments later with a lump the size of an egg on the side of his head. He had met Black Lightning before, but this was the most formal introduction he had ever received.
“I have already warned you, several times now. You are to speak to me with respect. You may call me ‘Master’ and nothing else.”
There was a tinge of blood where the skin broke on the side of his head. Bruno was seeing red now. “Wait until I tell the Queen about this” he said menacingly.
“I said I’m leaving!” yelled Bruno again. Again he reached for the door.
“No you’re not.” Said Matar shaking his head and smiling patronizingly.
Bruno found himself on his back. He wasn’t even sure how he got there, but he assumed it had something to do with that dastardly pole.
“Please, let me go downstairs to get food. I beg of you. Master. I am so, so hungry.”
“I suspected, that is what this was about. I forgive you for today’s transactions since you are not of sound mind. But still the answer is no. We must remain unseen until my contact arrives.”
Bruno groaned pathetically. “Do you have any idea how long that will take?”
“I suspect tonight or tomorrow night. I can’t say for sure.”
“You’ll be fine. You can stand to lose a little baby fat.” said Matar poking Bruno in the gut. Bruno groaned loudly and rolled into the fetal position.
“Come. I’ll teach you my art. It will take your mind off other things. That’s how we do it in the field. We can go for 3 days cooped up like this! 3 days!”
The two danced the lethal dance. Bruno spent several hours learning the craft from a true master. When he was done, sweat dripped off of his nose. His body was soaked in sweat. He plunged into the bath bucket quickly and fell fast asleep in his bed.
Late at night, he awoke to whispering. He looked up and saw someone with a slight build whispering quietly and quickly to Matar at the table. The slight person made quick eye contact with Bruno before carrying on. Before Bruno could get dressed and ready to greet the visitor, he was already gone. Bruno noticed two daggers with red cloth stuck to them, puncturing the table.
“Who was that, Master?”
“A friend of a friend. He knows where to find the man I’m looking for, Redij. And now I do too.”
“Oh good, then we can finally get out of this wicked little town. When do we depart? Please tell me it’s soon.”
“In the morning. Go back to bed.”
Bruno grumbled at having to get undressed immediately after getting dressed. But ultimately, anything to avoid the torture of hunger would be welcome. Bruno lay in bed for a long time before sleep finally enveloped him.
The next morning, Matar bought a feast’s worth of various fresh, piping hot pies from the inn keeper using real Queen’s Mint. They started their journey to the man named Redij, who lived on the outskirts of town, on the opposite side that they were on. They ate their pies as they walked. After burning his tongue several times, Bruno finally sank his teeth into the meal. These pies were the most delicious pies Bruno had ever tasted. He was overwhelmed with euphoria. He scarfed down a pie after pie, crumbs flying and juice dribbling down his chin. And they still had pies left over! Bruno showed no signs of slowing, but Matar wisely prevented it. Soon enough, just as Matar predicted, Bruno was sick. They sat for a few minutes until Bruno’s stomach settled down.