When Lukus takes his Elven wife and her family into The Suds and Steer in Sweetpea to enjoy a nice supper in Chapter 40 of Stone Heart, they run into trouble…
Lukus was disappointed that the waitress did not recognize him in the least, though he clearly knew better. It merely made her like nearly everyone else on earth. Soon she was back, huffing and shuffling and sidling between tables as she brought forth the stew. She labored to breathe as she strained to set out the steaming bowls beyond the reaches of her girth without tottering. As she straightened up, Soraya lowered her hood and unbuttoned her cloak in order to eat. The elephantine serving woman stopped wide eyed and rigid, jowls a-jiggle. As a look of hatred swept across her lardy face, she furiously snapped up both bowls at once, slinging stew onto both Soraya and Lukus. “We don’t serve y’r stinkin’ kind in here!” she screeched as she wheeled away to the kitchen with their meal.
Lukus sprang up, knocking his chair flat as he started after her.
“Hey,” said Danneth, intercepting him. “Perhaps it would be wise if we just left quietly.”
“No,” said Lukus between his teeth. “Not until that sow gives me a better reason than she just did.”
“I’d say there’s a very good chance she’ll not,” said Danneth with a sigh as he stepped aside.
Lukus zigzagged between the tables, catching up to the waitress just as she put her shoulder to the swinging door to the kitchen. “Please excuse my abruptness ma’am,” he said as polite as he could manage, “but I’d truly like to know why you refused to serve my wife and me the meal we just ordered. Our money’s as good as anyone’s.”
“I’m s’prised you’ns even ‘ave the nerve t’ come in here a-flauntin’ y’selves amongst decent folks,” she huffed in a thin falsetto, as her eyes turned to hot slits in her red face. “Ye think we don’t know what you’re all about? Ha! The queen told us ‘erse’f, she did.”
“She what? So just what did the queen say about the Elves?”
“You ain’t no Elf!” she screeched.
She looked across the room at Soraya. “Why are ye traveling with an Elf?” she said defiantly. “Don’t y’ know they’re dangerous?”
“What makes them dangerous, then?”
“They’re after our land. They’re out t’ kill us all for it, too,” she said with wild piggy eyes. “Y’ best get shed o’ that Elf right now! She’ll sooner slit y’r throat as look at ye, young fool!” And with that, she shoved past him through the door with a shriek and a yank of her tray, sending the bowls skittering across the kitchen floor on the other side.
Lukus looked up from his shocked disbelief to find the entire room astir like a kicked hive, every single eye on him. Across the room Soraya and her kin bore emphatically urgent looks. Things were well on their way to getting ugly and they needed to get out.
Lukus tramped across the dining room, put the bail of one traveling basket in the crook of his arm and the other one in his left hand as he grabbed Soraya with his right, pulling her to her feet and heading for the hall to the stairs, surrounded by Neron, Danneth, Strom and Jerund.
“Just get our belongings and go?” he said, bounding up the steps.
“You mean there’s a choice?” said Neron.
“Is there a way out up here?” said Danneth.
“Everyone grab up your things!” cried Jerund as he hurried ahead. “Good job no one unpacked. I’ll go see.” As everyone raced to his respective door, Jerund reached the window at the end of the hall. “Cac! Léan air! A leithéid de chac!” he cried. Suddenly he broke out the glass and waved out the window. “Hey! Get the coach and the unicorns around front! Now!” He dashed back, by the rooms as everyone came out. “No way out We got ‘o go back the way we came in! If we’re lucky the coach will be somewhere…!”
Lukus fumbled with buckles, strapping the claymore to his back for the first time. He grabbed up the twins, put his arm around Soraya and was ready. “It’s a mercy no one chased up here after us,” he said. Down they went, plunging into the dining room full of glares, angry jeers and shaking fists. They shoved their way through the jostling and spitting, but miraculously got to the front door. Soraya, Strom and the twins got shoved outside, stumbling onto the steps before the door got slammed painfully on Danneth’s arm.
“Get ’em, Homer!” came cries all around, as a hateful face stepped forth and ran a rapier through Jerund’s shoulder.
Lukus went instantly white hot, lunging forward with a furious two handed swing. Gearr Téigh Síós rang with a sharp ping and Homer’s head rolled away across the plates on the floor with a bloody bounce under dancing feet as the crowd gasped, taken by surprise. Suddenly a rotten toothed man with a tar tail charged up with a cutlass to be impaled by Neron, who yanked out his claymore from the fellow and neatly cleaved two heads, while Lukus took off another’s arm. When the crowd hesitated, Danneth pulled Jerund outside, as Neron and Lukus backed out and slammed the door.
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps