Thursday, April 29, 2021

Durest: The Rewards of Service

Durest rolled over and shook his head. Whatever he was lying on, it was cold. Cold, and very, very hard. like bein' back in th' mines, he thought, except... Not everything he was lying on was cold. He tried to look around, but his throat was dry and his head was pounding and he could barely see; the light hurt his eyes. 

What had he been doing...? Oh, aye, right, the worship service. An' the afterparty... He remembered breaking out the store of al'cul, and sharing it around; he remembered the divine chaos that had ensued. He remembered that one bugbear that had fallen to her knees in praise of Indra, and stayed there; he remember the minotaur twins that had had pulled him aside. Lovely women, both of them, and those shoulders... broad enough to make a blacksmith cry. 

Durest managed to sit up, and someone handed him a flask. "Good party, old man." It was a woman's voice, one he didn't recognize.

He took it, sipped, then drank deeply: it was ale, exactly what he needed to recover. He wiped his eyes, shook his head, then poured the rest of the flask down his throat and said, "Praise Indra for his mercies, and my thanks to you." 

It was at that moment he realized that he was speaking in Dwarvish to another Dwarf, and that he should be surprised by this. 

But the voice just laughed as a rough hand took the flask away and handed him another. "So you're the strongest of Indra's chosen among our kind, are ye?" There was a distinct challenge in the tone. "Let's see what you can do." 

"Are ye drinkin' wi'me?" asked Durest, "or are ye a coward?"

"Oh, I'll go flask for flask, unless ye think ye need to rest first," answered the voice. Durest squinted, and made out a stoutly feminine form in front of the crude wooden table that had served as last night's altar. "Are ye up to a challenge, old man?" 

Durest was pretty sure that he was in no condition for a challenge, but the temptation was irresistible. "I'll drink whatever ye match, lass, and still be standin'."

There was a smile in the woman's voice when she answered: "I'd tell you to show me what ye've got, but since yer sittin' there bare-assed on the stones between a couple of besotted minotaurs I think I've seen it all already."

Durest shrugged. "Drink yer flask, then, and I'll drink mine, and we'll see who stands when we're done. I hold you honor-bound to drink every bit what I do."

"Agreed," answered the woman. "Let's hope it only gets harder from here."

"One way or another," answered Durest, "I'm sure it will."

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