Why Gahaziel Gave Up Saging
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)
sage Gahaziel smacked down the tankard on the rough wooden table, and wiped his
drooping grey moustache with the back of his hand. "More wine!"† he bellowed.
"More wine, by the horns of Beelzebub!"
serving wench dressed in a rough brown smock scurried over with a tall earthen
pitcher. As she poured the dark red fluid into the tankard, the ex-sage
focussed his bleary eyes on her nearest dangling breast, and finally made a
grab for it. But his coordination was off, and the serving wench had already
skipped smartly back by the time he raised his hand, so he ended up pawing the
air. Everyone sniggered.
improve Gahazielís temper any. His heavy eyebrows crunched down over his
bloodshot eyes, and his nostrils flared alarmingly. We who knew him well were
aware that he had just attained the Second Highest Level of Drunken Rage. When
his flowing beard began to bristle, that was Top Level, and time for bystanders
to prepare to abandon ship.
funny?" he rumbled, the words bouncing around inside his immense frame. "Whatís
the goddamn joke?"
wine, Gahaziel?" we asked, trying to head off his blowing his top. "Is it good?
Should we order more?" Several bronze coins rattled on the filthy table,
competing for the honour of buying Gahaziel more wine. It didnít calm him down,
but did seem to put a lid on his fury.
muttering something under his breath, he took a mouthful of the wine and
swallowed. It was really terrible stuff even by inn standards, but Gahaziel was
far past the point of being able to taste anything. Glaring around the table,
he took off his peaked cap and swatted at a fly with it.
should burn this place down," he announced grandly. "In fact, someone should
burn down the whole blasted world. Iíll probably do it today if I feel like
relaxed with an audible sigh. When Gahaziel began threatening ruin and
destruction, it meant he was not going to actually attempt any, so we
wouldnít have violence on our hands. I glanced over my shoulder at the inn
door. The pair of huge men who had appeared there earlier, probably summoned by
the innkeeper, apparently picked up our relief. One even leaned against the
wall, laying down his staff on the floor at his side.
have told them that their muscles and staffs wouldnít have stood a chance
against Gahaziel in full flow. In all the years Iíve known him, I have yet to
see anything which could.
back at Gahaziel. He was gazing into the depths of his tankard with a puzzled
look, as though wondering where the wine had gone. Suddenly he jerked his head
up and glared into my eyes. "Holes!" he yelled.
back, as much out of shock as to evade the cloud of wine-smelling spittle.
what I said, didnít I?" Gahaziel was leaning across the table, screaming into
my face. "Are you bloody deaf?"
deaf at this rate if he didnít pipe down. "What holes, Gahaziel? Tell me about
holes?" Gahaziel said, sitting back and crossing his heavily tattooed arms on
his chest. "Holes here and holes there, holes, holes everywhere. But whatís the
point of telling you lot. You wouldnít know a hole if you fell into it."
see," one of us said, "youíre a sage, and weíre just nobody. So of course youíd
know better about these things than we would."
"Iím not a
sage," Gahaziel grumbled. "Iím an ex-sage, and donít you forget it." He
looked speculatively at the window, outside which the rain fell in a freezing
downpour. Riding through the muddy tracks in that would be no fun at all, what
with the night coming on, as even he must have realised. "And itís all because
of those holes to hell."
at each other, wondering if the alcohol had driven Gahaziel suddenly senile.
"Um Ė Gahaziel? Did you say holes to hell?"
like weíre stuck here till the damned rain stops." Gahaziel belched mightily
and reached for another tankard. "You might as well listen, then," he said.†
[ Continue to page 2 ]