The Bastard Part 2: The Pickled Pig
Three hours later Charlz sat at a table in the Pickled Pig, Flugelstone’s best local pub, nursing a pint of beer. The Pig’s fame had spread over a distance of seventy-five miles. It was a large, rambling structure of rough-hewn granite, with a slate roof, randomly placed windows, and many intriguing nooks and crannies. The Pig possessed a welcoming atmosphere, a friendly staff that provided swift , accurate service, fine music played by an ever-changing roster of local and traveling groups of all kinds, comfortable furnishings, and most importantly, excellent food and drink that was reasonably priced. The sign hanging over the entryway was distinctive. It was painted bright red, with a large black pig drinking from a foaming silver stein of beer, the letters of the name were picked out in gleaming gold. The Pig was always packed and turned a pretty daily profit.
“Why did you really do it Charlz? I know that it wasn’t for the money or the property!” His companion Bendyx asked shrewdly.
“For the sake of the children, they are the only true innocents in the entire Family, they merely copy the words and deeds of their elders.”
“You do realize that Patriarch Wilksyn is going to betray you eventually?”
Charlz held up his hand, thumb and forefinger almost, but not quite touching. “It trust him that far and no farther.” He declared.
“Just checking old man, it’s your hide he’s after.”
“I’m counting on it!” Charlz laughed harshly. “Wilksyn will have to pay a heavy price before he can nail me to his trophy wall”
“I’ll help as much as a washed-up cripple can.” Bendyx said bitterly jerking his thumb at the pinned up sleeve of his missing left arm.
“You’re neither washed-up nor a cripple!” Charlz growled. “For The Gods sakes, you can earn your own income instead of living off of charity.”
“Not everyone agrees with that assessment.” Bendyx replied.
“Then they are prejudiced fools!” Charlz flared. “Particularly that worm, Norsdeel, who begrudges the fact that he isn’t in a position to lord himself over you.”
“Thank you for that Charlz.”
“No, I thank you. You’re a true friend Bendyx.”
They sat in silence for several moments sipping their brews. “You know don’t you, that it’s all the Patriarch’s own fault? If he weren’t such a greedy, grasping bully the Family wouldn’t be in the position it is.” Bendyx said.
“Agreed, he did rather underestimate the LaMaar Family, didn’t he?”
“Arson, bribery, intimidation, murder, and treason have always worked for him in the past.”
“True. Well they sure showed him, didn’t they?!”
“That they did, that they truly did. Too bad that it cost the Family so much blood and so many bodies. To lost comrades!” He raised his shot glass of whiskey.
Charlz clinked his own glass against it. “To lost comrades!” He returned the toast. They gulped down their shots and sat in glum silence.
Ten minutes passed before a serving girl bustled over to them carrying a tray laden with their dinners. Her eyes and long, curly hair were gleaming brown. Her cheeks and lips were rosy against her milk-white complexion. She wore an outfit consisting of a knee-length red tartan skirt and a low-cut, ruffled, white cotton blouse trimmed with lace that was designed to display every bit of her lush figure. She flashed a beaming smile at the two men. “Here you are gents, two of the day’s specials. Enjoy!” She said cheerily, laying the steaming plates in front of them. Charlz handed her a pair of coppers. “Thank you very much sir!” She dropped the coins down the front of her blouse and sashayed away.
The two men watched her until she was swallowed by the crowd. “Friendly girl.” Bendyx noted.
“Very friendly.” Charlz replied. The scent of the hot food was enticing. Appetites aroused they dug into the hearty stewed pork, braised spring vegetables, and fresh bread, all chased by tall mugs of ice-cold cider. “How does Plisten get his pork so succulent?” Bendyx asked after swallowing a savory mouthful.
“He slops his pigs with the beer that doesn’t make his grade.”
Bendyx considered the information for several moments before speaking. “Well, it sure works!” He said.
“That it does!” Charlz eagerly endorsed.