Author’s note: Here’s the first part of a fantasy short story I started last week. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish it up next week. Happy Friday!
The Apocalypse of Blythe
The smell of vomit hardly bothered Blythe any more. Neither did having to clean the gooey half dried mead and ale from the rickety tables after all the drinkers had gone. She could ignore the majority of the lewd shouting and coarse language. She didn’t mind ending every night smelling like the customers’ pipe smoke and sweat. The only thing Blythe really hated about working in her father’s tavern was Garron, and tonight she’d had enough of the lecherous dog.
Blythe dumped the ale in his lap and slammed the mug on the table.
Garron scrambled with both hands, trying in vain to brush the liquid from his lap.
His friends broke out in one of their boisterous laughs. They’d probably never seen Garron treated this way, especially by a tavern wench.
Garron’s nostrils flared and he looked up at the raven haired beauty that had embarrassed him.
Blythe didn’t wait for the pig’s response. Her hand leaped up and slapped him full across the face.
Garron was too shocked to do anything. The fool wasn’t used to women putting up any real struggle. He usually had his way with anyone.
His fat friends, of course, laughed all the harder.
A wave of satisfaction rolled through Blythe’s body. Serves him right. She spun around, stormed back across the tavern floor, and stepped behind the bar.
Her father grabbed her arm and leaned in to her ear. “What are you thinking? His family could have us crushed.”
She jerked her arm free. “He needs someone to teach him a lesson.”
It dug at her heart. Not even her own father cared enough to protect her from a brigand like Garron. Just because his family’s rich. She set back off to her work, never looking directly at her father or Garron’s table.
That must have just made Garron all the more furious.
Every time she passed by with drinks for another table, he’d make a scene.
â€œHey, wench!â€ Garron would pound his empty mug on the table. â€œMore ale! Another round!â€
Blythe would just clench her jaw and walk on by.
Garron was a bully and a pig, even when compared to the rough and rude group that worked in the pit. On her the fifth trip by him, Garron tried something new.
He reached out and slapped her butt. “Ale! My friends are dying of thirst!”
Blythe felt the anger well up inside of her. What friends? You don’t have friends, just people that lower themselves to be around you in the hope you’ll spend your dirty money on them. She desperately wanted to slap him again. Slap that stupid, lecherous grin right off his face. She didn’t try, though. She knew by now the pig would have thought up some kind of response for a slap other than sit there and look like a shocked fool. So she did her best to ignore it, walk on by, and deliver the drinks she was carrying.
On her way back, she tried to brace herself for another smack.
It never came, though.
Instead, Garron’s hand shot out and grabbed her wrist.
Blythe’s stomach dropped. She tugged back, but it was no use. His grip was strong for someone who never did any work.
Garron smirked up at her. â€œI’m tired of you acting like you’re better than me. Apologize now.â€
Blythe shook. What’s he going to do? Her heart pounded and her lungs refused to draw in a deep breath. She had pushed the animal too far, and now she feared the consequence.
She opened up her mouth and stammered a “Sorry.”
Garron’s eyes widened and he dropped her wrist. “I don’t believe it. But you will be sorry.”
Freed from his grasp, she spun around and tried to lose herself in the commotion of the tavern.
A few minutes later she glanced back at Garron’s table. He wasn’t there.
Could it be that he left? No, she wasn’t that lucky. Not by a long shot. A quick look around revealed where he had gone.
He was standing at the far end of the counter talking to her father. Her father was nodding and Garron handed over several coins.
A knot twisted in her stomach. This is trouble.
Garron turned and made his way to the door.
Blythe’s imagination went wild. What did he just pay for? That was too many coins for his drinks tonight. He’s going to try something. I just know it.
Garron opened the door, looked back with a nasty smirk, and winked at her.
Her nostrils flared and she sucked in an unsteady breath. A shiver crawled up her spine.
He stepped out into the night.
The door closed, and Blythe went back to work. She cleaned more vomit, served more drinks, and did her best to keep the rowdy customers happy. She was almost able to forget the feeling of dread Garron had given her.
A few minutes later, her father came over. â€œGarron ordered a small cask to be delivered to his family’s house. He paid extra to have it delivered tonight.â€
Blythe put her hands on her hips. â€œSo go deliver it.â€
â€œYou know I can’t leave while the tavern is so full. I need you to deliver it. Now.â€
He turned away and started pouring drinks again.
That was it, he had spoken, and her father’s word was final. It was true, if he left the tavern, goods would be stolen and almost certainly a fight would start. That’s what happened every time he left the room. The other serving girl was practically worthless, and couldn’t be trusted with the responsibility of a night time delivery. Blythe was the only one that could deliver it. Still, it would be nice for him to act like he might be considering my feelings every once in a while.
Her shoulders dropped and she shuffled into the storage room.
The room smelled like old dust and ale. There was no lantern in the storage room, so the only light that entered was let in by the ragged open door. Blythe had to stand in the doorway for a minute before her eyes accustomed to the dimness. It was stacked floor to ceiling with casks of varying size.
Blythe found a small rope and tied up her long black hair.
The carrying strap was hung on its nail. She tied it to the ends of a smaller cask and grunted as she slung it on her back.
On her way through the tavern she had to endure a round of “Isn’t that too heavy for a scrawny little girl?”s and “A pretty thing like you shouldn’t have to work so hard.”s. Still, not one of the patrons offered to help carry the load or even get the door for her. Blythe suspected they never would. She was just another work animal to them.
The night air was cool and refreshing. A slight breeze blew for a moment and washed away the stench of the pit workers’ bodies.
Blythe marched down the street. It didn’t take long before the din of the tavern was nothing more than a whisper around a corner.
Normally the silence of the streets was a welcome relief. This time it just made her nervous. She knew Garron was up to something and it frightened her not to know what.b She began to imagine horrible things in the shadows. The echo of her footsteps on the road stones sounded like a pursuer.
Blythe had left the tavern with neither lantern nor sword. She was unprotected, alone, and afraid. There was nothing to distract her form it. Only her imagination to make it worse. Every time she passed an alley she was certain Garron or something worse would tear into her defenseless body.
The walk wasn’t too long, but the cask was heavy and the darkness seemed alive. Blythe could feel her heartbeat all the way down in her arms.
By the time she reached the house of Garron’s family, she was exhausted.
Blythe slipped off the straps and lowered the cask to the ground. It felt good to stretch her back. At least now she could run if she had to.
The look Garron had given her as he left the tavern was not a pleasant one. It had been full of anger, and full of malice.
Blythe shuddered to consider what he was planning. She stared at the thick wooden door for several minutes. She did her best to build up some courage. I’ll just step way back, and as soon as the door opens, I can run. It’ll be fine, I hope. She raised her trembling hand to knock. I hope.