In Shadowed Silence Ch. 03byBrasstacks©
In Shadowed Silence: Chapter 3
Aulric settled at a table in The Water's Edge, a tavern and inn wedged between the docks proper and the nearby markets. The place was always crowded in the mornings and after dark, but in the late afternoon, there was hardly a soul but the staff. He had done some odd jobs now and again for Retik, the publican and owner of the inn; light maintenance, dishes and scrubbing, mostly. He was diligent and thorough; rare qualities in most of the shiftless scoundrels and shirkers in the docks. His work ethic had earned him some favor amongst the staff and management. When his luck was off, he could almost always get a crust of bread or bowl of stew here.
The Waterside was typical of the inns here in the docks. It had a dirt floor, strewn with hay and sawdust, thick beams supporting the ceiling and dark, rough wood everywhere. The bar ran the length of the back wall, where the serious drinkers would gather and scowl at one another. The room was barely lit by a handful of oil lamps hanging from hooks over every third table and a single simple wooden wheel with candles moored at the ends of its six spokes, a chandelier hardly worthy of the name. Two small, shuttered windows provided the rest of the room's scant lighting.
A narrow staircase led to the second storey, where the Waterside's six rooms were located, validating its claim to be an inn, running from near the front of the house to the back , arching over the bar at its landing. Nine heavy tables and their sturdy chairs and benches spread around the small taproom would cater to the more social of those with coin burning holes in their pockets. One of these tables was nestled under the heavy planks of the staircase, where Aulric was seated. The place was a dive, but it was the closest thing to a home the thief had.
There was an empty plate before him that had held the crusty leftovers of a roast and a half mug of stale mead before him. Jenna, one of Retik's serving girls, had brought it to him unbidden. The roast had been a bit on the tough side, but Aulric had eaten far worse in his days. The mead, on the other hand, as good as it was, only brought the memory of Amburgey's silver decanter and its heavenly sweet aroma back to his mind. It was heady and he could almost imagine the fields of wildflowers and clover where the bees had harvested the nectar. This mead, however, was no more than that sensation's decaying corpse. The scent alone had spoiled him! But, complaining was ill luck, and free was free. He had only come for a safe place to look at the note. All the rest was good fortune.
The place was indeed as safe as anywhere Aulric could find in Loria, with fewer questions asked nowhere else. It was there that he examined the note the girl had pushed upon him. Sloppy columns of numbers were scraped over one side of the sheet, with runs and smudges abounding. Probably a ledger or some such. The other side held clean-lined, flourishing calligraphy. It was beautiful and elegant, without a single smudge or scratch on the parchment.
"The note explains everything, does it?" He muttered wryly to the parchment. "Nice of you to assume I can read worth a damn."
Aulric wasn't completely illiterate, but the dressing of 'speech' in the note was unfamiliar. For his part, the young thief was clever and had more grasp of language than most of his peers, but he had never had access to formal education, past what the hedge wizard, Elton Fend, had beaten into his skull. Add to his lack of schooling that the characters of the more academic, erudite calligraphy were unrecognizable to him, and he would be forced to see that venerable and slightly unbalanced mystic for a translation.
He had depended only upon himself for so long, that not being able to accomplish a goal on his own set his teeth to grinding. Aulric rose from his seat, pushing away the plate. He slipped the note once again in his pocket, and finished off the mead.
Jenna lounged near the bar, propped on one of the thirteen stools. She was staring at Aulric, a small, impish smile playing across her rose-petal lips. He had always wondered if those lips were as soft as they looked. As he brought his eyes to bear on her, the serving girl slowly turned away, one hand idly toying with her long, chestnut hair. Aulric furrowed his brow. This wasn't the first time that very thing had happened, and it confused him every time. Her eyes flashed at him once more, from under her lashes, a quick, sidelong glance. The eye contact went on for an uncomfortably warm second, and she looked away again.
A tingle went through Aulric that made his breath catch and his step falter. He stood up straight, tilting his head to regard Jenna properly, who only speared him with another sidelong glance. All the while, she twirled that lock of hair. He looked at Retik, who held his face in a wry smirk, leaning against a keg behind the bar. Aulric furrowed his brow in confusion.
Retik chuckled at Aulric, shaking his head, and glanced at Jenna. She spread her arms in a helpless gesture and looked, flabbergasted, at the publican for some reason.
The young thief felt he was missing something of some import as he shook his head and went for the door. He heard Retik laugh once more.
"Don't take it so hard, Jenna," Aulric heard him say. "He'll figure it out soon enough. It may not look like it now, but he's a bright kid."
The young thief walked out of the dimness of The Waterside into the bright, slanting rays of late afternoon, blinking, that feeling that he had missed something worrying his brain like a dog with a bone. He trudged along, wondering, until it hit him. His steps slowed to a standstill on the boardwalk.
Was she flirting with me? He bounced the heel of his palm off his forehead in exasperation.
He turned, looking back at the facade of the inn. Retik was leaning out of the doorway, drying his hands on his towel, smiling a knowing smile. He met Aulric's eyes and chuckled.
"Now he gets it," he called out, loud enough for Aulric to hear.
This was not by design, and no advantage would be gained from it. Aulric, he groused to himself, you are an idiot, you know that? "And now," he said aloud, "Jenna knows it, too. Well done, simp."
Thoughts of Jenna and her soft lips, generous cleavage and impish smiles filled his mind on his way to Elton Fend's cottage near the Markets. His mind conjured images her well-formed calves wrapped around his waist and her long brown hair spread over a pillow. He wondered if she would sigh or moan when he eased himself into her warm moistness; how she would clench and shiver when she came. The conjurer in his head continued to torture him with visions of her body gleaming in firelight under a sheen of sweat, her nails scratching out red trails down his back.
But, because he was stupid, Aulric was sure, he'd never get the chance to find out. Hell, mostly, if he needed release, he'd paid for it. It was a business proposition, like anything else; something to have done and overwith, so he could concentrate on his next job. He wasn't used to being looked at like that by anyone; but now that he considered it, the cruel wizard began weaving images in his mind's eye of several women having looked at him just like that. Truth be told, Jenna hadn't really been all that subtle about it. And he'd missed it.
She'd not do it again, not after he was so thick about it. His half-mast cock seemed to still hold out hope. Ever the optimist, eh?
Elton Fend's home was nestled in a gully of sorts at the end of one of Loria's parks, which separated the bustling markets from the residences of the city's working middle class. To Aulric, the place gave the illusion of being far from civilization, which, honestly, is probably where the crazy old hedge wizard belonged, but alas... The yard was littered with oddly shaped stones of all sizes and implements and tools for gardening. The herb garden was around the north side of the house, against the back of the cottage. Just outside the copse of evergreens and young oaks was a hand cart filled with shiny steel milk urns and racks of glass bottles.
As he approached Fend's cottage door, the sounds he heard stopped him in his tracks. A woman was moaning loudly and panting. What?! This had to be some kind of trick. Aulric looked around the small copse of trees, trying to figure out from where the sound was actually coming; how sound was deceiving him.
Aulric moved to one side of the closed door, then the other, but the sound still seemed to be emanating from the cottage. To Aulric's right was an open window, it's porthole shutter hinged at the trestle, propped up with a bit of stick.
What's a suspicious thief to do? He peeped.
And immediately wished he hadn't.
There in the old hedge wizard's one-room cottage, on the table nearest this window was the appreciated sight of a pretty milkmaid bent over the kitchen table, her skirts flung up over her back, and the rather disturbing sight of the wizard's pale, scrawny, naked ass pistoning away behind her. The milkmaid's blonde head was thrown back, her young, freckled face ecstatic. Elton's face was, well, even more ecstatic yet. There was a manic grin on his face and an unholy energy to his thrusts which belied his decades. His fringe of wild, white hair swayed wispily around his head, his wrinkly body red with exertion. Each thrust flashed the thief a view of the old man's surprisingly thick, veined dick and his sagging balls swinging obscenely.
Aulric gaped. I am not seeing this, he thought. Even the old man gets laid?! Well, fuck. Apparently so.
The old man suddenly slowed his pace, lifting his bony hips and angling his cock to impressive effect: the milkmaid's breath caught and she began trembling, a low moan rising into a shuddering, wordless cry, as her orgasm took her. The old guy really knew what he was doing, Aulric certainly could give him that. Elton's breathing was harsh and ragged, his face flushed, and his knees wobbled a bit as he ever so slowly worked his member in and out through her climax. His eyes fluttered closed and his cock sank in to the hilt. His body stiffened and he exhaled heavily, the blood darkening Fend's lined face with his own orgasm.
Spent, the hedge wizard fell out of her, literally, and crumpled to the wood floor, gasping. Aulric thought that the old fool must have done himself in, but Fend started cackling crazily, wheezing and pounding the floor.
"It worked," he crowed in his raspy voice. "It worked!"
Aulric smirked. Been a long time since, hasn't it, you dirty old bastard? In spite of himself he grinned.
The milkmaid panted and stared into space, a dumbfounded look on her pretty, lightly freckled face. "Yeah," she stammered in wonder, "It certainly did, didn't it?"
Fend wobbled unsteadily to his feet, still laughing gleefully. "Never dare a wizard, skirt," he blustered. "Ye'll not underestimate one again. Now don't move," he croaked abruptly.
She looked confused but stayed where she was, her pussy dripping with their combined juices. Elton staggered to a shelf and collected a pair of phials, and then back to where the girl was bent over his table. He collected as much of the sloppy mess as he could into the glassware, humming happily to himself as he did. The young woman looked over her shoulder at the hedge wizard with a look that spoke of doubt of the old man's sanity.
Aulric shook himself and ducked away from the window, retreating from the house into the tree line. Once out of direct sight, he crouched and waited for the girl to leave. No sense in embarrassing her, though, who would believe that she had just had a go with quite possibly the oldest man in Loria?
Soon enough, she exited the cottage, weaving her way back toward her cart. Her large blue eyes were heavy-lidded and her expression slackly satisfied. There was a hitch in her stride, and she was slightly bent at the waist.
Ah, the vaunted 'freshly fucked' walk, Aulric thought with amusement.
His amusement soured almost immediately. After all, if he hadn't been so dense, he might have had a go with Jenna and walked funny all the way here. Flashes of Jenna's skin, her hair played in his mind's eye, but haunted green eyes stared from the shadows under her bangs. She lay on bloody, rich carpeting at the foot board of a huge bed, graven with images of Fae cavorting with men and elves...
Aulric blinked. Where the hell did that come from?
The vision faded as quickly as it had come, Aulric screwing his focus down tight.
Unaware of the thief hidden in the trees scant feet away, the milkmaid stood for a moment more, leaning on the hand cart for support, catching her breath. She cast a wondering gaze in the direction of the cottage.
"Damn, old man, I've not been fucked like that since..." She reconsidered. "No. I've never been fucked like that," she breathed. She shook her head and grinned to herself. Taking up the handle of the cart, she muscled the heavy thing around and began to push it back into the city proper, the wooden wheels creaking up the twin trails worn into the grass of the clearing. Her hips swayed enticingly and she smelled distinctly of sex. Aulric became keenly aware of how long it had been since he had been laid.
He looked down at the bulge in his pants. "You're kidding, right?" It seemed his cock was willing to point in any direction the wind blew, like some sort of demented weathervane for pussy.
He'd never been this keyed up in his nineteen years. Business had always taken priority. Even sex had just been business. He recalled a whore he visited telling him at one point, that he was not normal. Was she right? And, if this was normal, was being abnormal necessarily a bad thing? Normalcy was distracting as hell, and Aulric couldn't afford these damned distractions.
He sighed as he headed for Fend's door, "What in the hells is wrong with me?"