cells were all empty save one
Mel and back
Our rumpled yellow-haired hero has been
through plenty since he lost his motel along with everything
else but his red hooded sweatshirt in a poker game. Then,
following a harrowing series of misadventures, Mel recently finished
up a relatively tranquil thousand-year sabbatical in a tropical
paradise. Now he finds himself living in a murky future with a whole
new set of otherworldy adventures about to unfold. Here's part 42:
woke long before dawn but spent his time in the cramped attic room
doing his routines, stretching and straining until the morning light.
Then it was silent contemplation and, when at last he heard old
Capulet downstairs, he mortified himself briefly with a leather
strap. At last he heard a tinny bell ring with the opening of the
front door and he knew it was time to get dressed.
Once he put on his sturdy tunic and leggings he allowed himself
to listen to the conversation downstairs. Duncan savored the words
as he readied his boots and the straps of his cuir bouili.
and five for the bushel of Venus's herb. What more
have ye for me?"
"Fernseed, goodman," said the voice of what had to be
the tinker who loitered about lately. "Male and female."
There was a rustling of paper bags and Duncan removed his red hood
from the bindle stiff by his bed. He fastened it behind the gorget
attached to his leather armor.
"For skullduggery then. Potions of love and stealth,"
replied Capulet, who sounded bored. "Have ye aught else?"
Duncan reached under his bed and removed a wooden box, setting
it carefully on the homespun coverlet. He began to lift the lid
and was about to remove the contents when he heard the tinker reply.
"Alectorius." Old Capulet responded with a sharp intake
of breath. Duncan was interested now. Perhaps it was not his concern,
but the Alectorius was illegal to own, much less sell.
After a moment's reflection Duncan thought that he would ignore
it. He opened the lid of the box, revealing the Goggles. He continued
to listen as he gently removed them and put them on.
"Twenty-five for the fernseed and, for the stone ... five
hundred, if it be fresh and puissant."
"It is." There was a racket of clinking coins, then the
door rang its bell again as it closed. Duncan could hear Capulet
putting away the herbs and such. He waited until the old apothecary
was done before rising to the door. He swept his long back hair
behind him and secured the Goggles' wide leather band so that his
hair stayed, the lenses resting on his forehead.
Duncan grabbed his rapier and main-gauche before leaving his room,
and was downstairs in no time. Capulet had disappeared from the
cluttered front room of his workshop, though a person could practically
get lost among the stacks of books, sacks of trinkets and dangling
sheaves of herbs.
There was no need to say anything to his host, even if he were
there. Duncan went out the front door.
The fort bustled even at this early hour, and Duncan strode through
the square on his way to the gaol. He received a number of terse
nods from the goodmen he passed. That was about as much as he could
Duncan had to endure only the occasional angry stare before he
was at the imposing structure of the gaol. He leaped the stairs
and threw open the immense black gate that put pause in the boldest
of criminals when it was their turn to face it. The beginning of
another day at work.
Down the dim hallway beyond the vestibule were the cells and they
were all empty save one.
The mystery man was in there, and Duncan was going to question
him once more. So far he had said nothing and seemed to be catatonic.
There was one thing the sheriff had not yet tried, though.
He pulled the lenses of the Goggles down over his eyes as he walked
into the front of the cell.