Chapter 18: Riches to Rags

Tracy had gotten a better hold of himself.

I knew better than that, his male psyche informed the others.

It would seem you didn’t, Current Tracy Riley, his female psyche laughed back, an edge to her voice.

No use crying over spilled milk, his androgyny added. The other two gave hir a psychic dirty look.

He walked over in a measured yet fast-paced gait, eager to see what was wrong. Climbing into the ring, he knelt down to the mat and placed his hand on Yenrab’s chest.

“Please be alive, Mr. Yenrab.”

He contemplated the ring and realized that the only reason Yenrab had been allowed to lay there for this long was due to this being the end of the first round of the competition. He probably didn’t have a lot more time before people would sweep the body off and out to a ditch who knows where.

“Yenrab. Hey. Get up,” Tracy said, punctuating it with a slap. “We should go.”

Yenrab’s eyes flew open and he seemed to strain.

“I can’t,” the half-orc said from his place on the ground, his head floppy with trauma.

“The one god lives, Yenrab! Jeez, you scared the crap out of me!” Tracy exclaimed in delight.

“I’m glad I’m loved,” the half-orc said with a liquid cough. There was no doubt that he was bleeding on the inside.

“Why can’t you get up, Yenrab? What’s up?” Tracy asked, his eyes shiny and his voice quavering.

“I think I’m broken,” Yenrab coughed again. “I can’t move my body.”

Bern and Carric came at a light jog, the heft of their new wealth making each step jingle and a jangle.

“Well, thank the gods, he’s alive!” Carric beamed.

“What’s wrong with Yenrab?” Bern asked. His face brightened, he had clearly expected the worst.

“He’s broken. But not dead broken. More like we-need-cleric-magic broken,” Tracy explained. The smile on his face let everyone know that everything was going to be okay.

“How broken is not dead broken?” Bern asked.

“I can’t move!” Yenrab bellowed out in anger. Seeing everyone smile at him was not putting him on his good side. Also, Yenrab had the growing realization that he was about to become the butt of a number of jokes and this thought did not make him happy one bit.

“That’s pretty broken,” Bern said, before covering up with his hand to snort and chuckle.

Carric gaped at Bern and then laughed out loud. “I’m totally writing this into a ballad.”

“Really? Really?! This is nothing to laugh about,” the paralyzed Yenrab yelled from the ground. “Guys, I need healing.”

“Yenrab, this is Gennopolis. Not some small village out in the middle of nowhere. There will be a divinely anointed priest with the power to fix you,” Carric informed him matter-of-factly.

The barker with the colored clothes strolled over to the group huddled around Yenrab still lying in the ring. “I don’t know if you are his friends or not, but I would take him to a cleric fast before he dies. Or if you aren’t his friends, I’d ask you to get him out of my ring before you loot him. We’re gonna be starting the next bout soon enough.” And, just like that, the barker left.

“Well, that was grim,” Yenrab noted. “Someone, carry me out of here.”

Tracy balked. “I don’t think any of us can carry you.”

Bern stood tall.

“We’ll figure it out,” he pronounced, starting to gather the materials for a litter.

***

As the party figured out how to build their stretcher, Carric sat down with the adventurer’s tome to see if it couldn’t help things along. Tracing his finger through the table of contents, he found a few new entries that well pertained to their situation.

“Well, I be blessed. Guys,” Carric called out to the rest, “there’s something here!”

The first entry, “Gennopolis”, itself had a lot of subtitles underneath. The book had opened itself up immensely. Carric decided to read the first entry, paging through to its number.

Gennopolis, gem of the Freeholder’s Republic and a nation that fought a long and deadly revolution to be able to accept all, of any race, regardless of creed, so long as they behaved themselves.

“Tell me something I don’t know!” he fumed aloud. His companions frowned but said nothing.

Paging through the enormous entry, he suddenly stopped. All eyes were upon him.

“Alright, guys. There’s an entry for temples.”

He cleared his throat.

Gennopolis is a place of many faiths and creeds and a great deal of people around the world flock here for its unique acceptance of all. What foreigners to the city often find suspicious, though, is that the temples here have a large number of divinely anointed priests and clerics capable of healing, since the majority of clergymen about the world do not and that they have a propensity to ask for a lot of coin to do so. Those who are suspicious have their thoughts generally confirmed when the prices are quoted.

Carric paused, feeling queasy.

“Well, I know where to go, but I have a feeling none of us are going to like it.”

***

“What do you mean twelve hundred gold coins to get Mat here to walk again?” Bern thundered, realizing that Yenrab had been right and that this was indeed no laughing matter.

“This is an outrage!” Bern paced to cool himself down. “There is no way that people can pay those kinds of prices. Especially for powers that you get for free! The heavens above give you the power to heal!”

“Look,” the stern-looking cleric barked, “the prices here at the temple are set without profit in mind. Everything we price, we do so with reason. Look at me. I wear simple robes with little ornamentation. I eat gruel all day and live in a simple cell with a cot and a desk. Just pay Haithos his due. Or visit one of the thousand other gods plaguing this planet, Haithos damn them.”

Carric sighed. “Alright, guys. This isn’t ideal, but you know what, we can get him fixed up now, go back to that bar and play those backwoods vermin for whatever cash they are worth.”

His companions looked surprised. This really wasn’t like him. His cheeks were red and his brow was furrowed.

“It might not be the most moral thing to do, but we’re about to lose everything we won and well, those idiots are the ones that caused it,” he continued.

“Yenrab, what do you think?” Tracy asked, his fingers lighting through his hair as he did so.

“Yeah. You know. I agree. Let’s go back to the Weeping Widow and take those hooligans for what they are worth.”

Yenrab took a moment to reflect, taking it all in as he realized that those settlers that he helped for free weren’t about to return the favor.

“Yeah, for sure, let’s do it. Just get me walking again. And, ya know, do you think they could look at my bladder while they are at it? My pee killed a crab.”

***

Everyone in the party wore a sour face as they poured their coins out upon the stone table in the center of the room. They tried not to gag on the stench of the place, the air was stagnant and smelled of infection and disease. On one side sat blood-encrusted slabs, filthy white and tall. A gaggle of priestly acolytes swarmed in and passed them, bees to the queen, working with diligence as they counted the value in an impossibly short length of time. Nodding to the cleric, they scooped the coins back into various sacks, sorting them by denomination.

“It would seem you are more or less in possession of the required amount. Set your friend upon the treatment slab behind you so that he may be healed,” the priest of Haithos stated clinically.

The party was still ornery, having watched all of their money go to the treatment of Yenrab. Bern looked especially upset. He was on the brink of protest, but settled back and said nothing.

The air changed in quality. The smell of dandelions and itchweed filled the air as Haithos, god of childhood plants, pulsed his vitality into the room. The cleric before them raised his hands.

Tracy pulled an imaginary daisy from the ground and smelling it before shoving it under the nose of Bern Sandros. Bern irritably waved him off.

“Haithos, I love thee, I love thee not.”

With wizened and brittle fingers, the old man raised a daisy and plucked its petals as he continued the chant.

“Love thee, Love thee not, Love thee . . .”

Bern looked troubled again.

“What’s wrong, friend?” Tracy asked in a whisper, somehow having figured out the seriousness of the event and acting accordingly.

“I know this chant. Back when I was a kid, Becky Linder used to taunt us boys with it. She would give us a kiss if we ended up right. The problem is that it was never right.”

“Could she, perhaps, have counted the petals beforehand?”

Bern suddenly looked embarrassed.

Power blasted into the room as the cleric finished. It swarmed through the room and spun like a tornado, slamming into the old man. He rubbed eyes that now pulsed red and green with frantically swirling mist and transferred that power into his hands, laying them down upon Yenrab’s shattered back. They sparkled and sparked. The faint sound of kids laughing and playing spread forth, with the smell of country and then it faded. Its absence left a small quiver of sorrow in all of them.

Then, with a sudden blast of Grandma’s cookies, the spell was done. The aroma, though, lingered.

Yenrab rolled off of the hard surface, gritty with the blood of those before him, looking fresh. He reached down and grabbed his crotch. “Oh Haithos,” he praised the ceiling, “I feel wonderful. The burning, it’s gone!”.

The old cleric turned and gave a brittle bow.

“Am I such a monster now?” he inquired, a small smile on his face and a childish glint in his eye. “And don’t forget to visit the gift shop!”

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Published by Damien Lee Hanson

I am the founder of Damien Hanson Books. Come check out awesome authors right here at my website!

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