It was one of those places.
Gelekin was used to that sort of place. A place where the clientèle started off the evening vertical and ended up horizontal.
If they had the money – and the inclination – they ended their day horizontal in the rooms upstairs, usually fast asleep. As they slept, their hired companion stole every valuable from the discarded clothing then disappeared, leaving only representatives of the management for the now impoverished, hung-over and bewildered mark to complain at. It was no use complaining to them. The management hired their representatives by how close they resembled mountains: huge, wide, lofty and silent. Looking more than capable of raining down an avalanche on your throbbing head.
Others, perhaps older, definitely poorer and sometimes even wiser, preferred to stay downstairs and get horizontal the thirsty way on ales, wines and spirits. Drinks which always started out undrinkable, but became much more palatable with practice – sometimes, a great deal of practice.
Gelekin always ended up at such places. This time though he was not upstairs and impoverished, or downstairs and hungover. He was wide-awake, fresh and trying not to choke on the stale, smoke-filled air as the dawn crept around the edges of the heavy curtains.
Over in the far corner a kitchen slave, from the Far North, judging by her pale skin and red hair, was cleaning up. Or rather, she was using a bucket of filthy water and a threadbare mop to move the pools of vomit around the dirty floor. Meanwhile, last night’s unconscious patrons snored away, lying where they had collapsed.
Gelekin smiled as he saw the familiar shaggy black hair under the… thing that had once been a hat. Tredar was fast asleep in a pool of ale. At least, this time, Gelekin knew he would not have to placate unpaid whores, fight off angy fathers and cuckolded husbands to rescue his companion.
Gelekin sighed and grabbed an arm, pulling the snoring man from his seat. Tredar snorted as his head thumped against the floorboards, but did not wake.
‘Come on,’ Gelekin said to the unconscious man as he dragged him towards the door. ‘Today, we are to save the Kingdom… again.’