Today we have a fun and entertaining story by Melissa Janda. Enjoy.
I want to extend a very heartfelt thank you to Charles Yallowitz for allowing me to guest post on his blog. This is my first ever guest post so he didn’t know what to expect when he agreed to do this. Hopefully he is pleased with the result.
This was a tremendous amount of fun for me and I hope that my love for the characters in his books shine through with the following story.
“To write is human, to edit is divine.” I spoke the words aloud in an attempt to convince myself of its truth. Like hell it is, Stephen King. To write is divine, to edit is Misery. You should know, you wrote the book on it.
It was early afternoon but I’d had enough editing for one day. I pushed back my chair, exhaled deeply, and announced to the empty room, “I need a drink.”
A half hour later I was struggling to open the massive oak door to my favorite pub. When did they install this monstrosity? Bar fight, most likely, I thought to myself.
It was dark inside and my vision was slow to adjust. The flame from a striking match caught my eye and it was then I noticed the odor of cigarettes wafting through the air. What happened to the non- smoking ordinance? People haven’t been allowed to smoke in Austin bars in, what, almost a decade?
The patron holding the match lit a cigarette and the glow from the flame illuminated his face. Was he wearing a hoodie? Really dude. It’s July. In Texas. I shook my head. As my vision improved I realized it wasn’t a hoodie after all but a cloak with coordinating leather trousers and suede boots that laced up to the knees. Is that a sword strapped to his side? Okay…I’m pretty sure that doesn’t qualify as a concealed handgun under Texas law. I glanced around the room; the other patrons were similarly dressed. Yep, I’ve walked into a meeting of the local Dungeons and Dragons club.
I shrugged it off as I recalled the city’s slogan: Keep Austin Weird.
I sauntered up to the bar where I was greeted by an old man with flowing robes and a long grey beard which didn’t seem very practical considering his occupation. Ah, another member of the D&D club. I wondered how he could possibly manage to keep his beard from falling into the mixed drinks and decided I would order a beer instead.
“Good afternoon, fair maiden. What will be your poison on this fine day?”
Apparently we’re role playing too. The accent is a nice touch. I chuckled to myself and said, “How about a Shiner Blonde?” The bar grew silent and I glanced over my shoulder to see what had halted the conversations only to see every eye directed at me. I turned back to the bartender. “Did I say something wrong?”
“We only serve dwarven and elven ale here.”
“Oh. I see.” Apparently we’re taking this role play to a whole new level. “Well then, how about that one?” I pointed to a bottle labeled Lucky Ewe, Fritz Malt Liquor.
He pulled the bottle from a large wooden barrel filled with ice and said, “You’d be well advised to read the warning on that one first, my lady.”
“Oh, okay.” I held the bottle up to the light and squinted.
BE WARNED: According to Durag, the sun god, maidens should not partake of this dwarven ale in the presence of Fritz Warrenberg. It may be hazardous to your reputation.
“And who would this ‘Fritz Warrenberg’ be?” I asked.
“Seated in the corner, the one petting the sheep.”
“Uh-huh. Warning duly noted. How about the blue and gold one? What does that say? Fosters?”
“That would be Foresters.” He handed me the bottle to inspect.
Underneath the name, in smaller print, I read the words, “Bravery Tonic. Unleash Your Inner Hero.” Hmmm. “Tell me about this one.”
“It’s a delicate balance of the finest malts, aromatic hops, and staples of the diet of Windemere’s most famous forest tracker. Berries and nuts are slow roasted over a fire made from the magical wood of Visindor Forest to add a woodsy aroma and nutty flavor.”
“Woodsy and nutty, huh? Not really what I was looking for. What about that one with the sun on the label?”
“Ah, that’s Aedyn’s Pale Ale, a fine elven ale.” He picked it up and read the label. “This one here’s been kissed by the sun god resulting in a hazy golden color and is known to have the same allure as a bright summer day.”
“Sounds good, but now that I think about it I’d prefer something stout. Been one of those days, you know. Do you have a dark lager?”
He raised a brow. “Fancy something dark, do you? This is our darkest brew by far.”
I took the black bottle and examined it. There was a skull on the label with eyes that glowed red like hot coals. It seemed to originate from the contents of the bottle. I twirled it slowly in my hands but the glowing orbs remained in place.
The label said simply: The Lich. The Darkest Black Lager and below the brand was the tagline: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Drink Up Fortuitous One. The word “don’t” was hastily crossed out in red ink. I turned the bottle around, looking for a warning. The following words appeared in small font: Drink with Caution. Brewed with Pure Caster Swamp Water. Emits fog when opened.
I shrugged. “How harmful can it be?” I popped the top and was immediately engulfed in fog. I coughed, waved my hand to clear the air, and took a gulp. “Yuck!” I spewed the contents onto the floor of the bar. “Tastes like licorice. I hate licorice!”
“That one is an acquired taste, my lady.” He tapped his fingers on his lips as he surveyed the remaining bottles. “Hmmm…I wonder. Here, try this one instead.”
“Another black lager?”
“It might have a bit of a kick to it. The effect can never be certain and differs per patron.”
The black bottle had a simple label where the brand name and tagline were surrounded by flames. I read, “Demon’s Brew. Hell knows no fire like a demon scorned.” I hesitated a minute and then said, “Hell, I’ll drink anything to get the taste of licorice out of my mouth.” I saluted the bartender and said, “Bottoms up!”
He watched me cautiously for a few seconds, holding his breath. He started to relax and then I screamed, “Oh my God! My mouth is on fire!”
“Oh! I’m very sorry! It appears you are more virtuous than I had anticipated.”
“Ah! What does that mean?” I fanned my mouth, hoping to alleviate the burning sensation in my mouth.
“If your true nature is to reject evil, the demon will be enflamed, so to speak.”
“It’s getting worse! Give me something, quick!”
A tiny bottle was pushed into my hand. “Seriously! This is kind of small, don’t you think?”
“My apologies. That one only comes in a half pint.”
I quickly emptied the contents. “Ick! It takes like sawdust!”
“Aye, that would be on account of the carpenter.”
I held up my hand and shook my head. “I don’t even want to know.”
“Here, chase it with this.”
I looked at the green bottle with two red arrows forming a cross on the label and smirked. “Dos Arrows? Please tell me it tastes better than sawdust.”
“You’ll like it.”
I took a sip from the bottle. “What did you say? Are you telling me what to do, because I’ll kick your ass, little man?” I covered my mouth, embarrassed by my outburst. “I’m so sorry. I-I don’t know what came over me.”
“Oh, right. I forgot about that. It’s one of the unfortunate side effects. We’ve dubbed it the Selenial Slip.”
“Okay, we’re O for what, seven, now? Please tell me you have something to quench what is now an insatiable thirst.”
“Ah yes, the unquenchable thirst. When all else fails, and it rarely does, I turn to this one. It’s a special reserve.” He reached under his tunic and removed a gold chain from around his neck. There, suspended on the chain, was an ornate golden key. “Excuse me for a moment.”
He returned with a bottle swaddled in cloth, held protectively to his chest. He delicately placed it in my hands. “Be careful. We serve one of these maybe once a century.” I raised my eyebrows in shock when I realized the bottle in my hands was ancient. I was almost afraid to unwrap it. “Go ahead,” he urged.
“Are you sure?”
“Quite, and don’t worry, this one chooses it imbiber, so now you must partake.”
I took a shaky breath and placed it on the bar. I removed the cloth and gasped. I was holding a dragon shaped, purple iridescent bottle that shimmered in the light. An unusual multi-colored stone, that must’ve been incredibly rare, was encrusted in the eyes. “It’s too pretty to open.”
“But open you must. Like I said, this one chooses you.”
“There’s no label.”
“Legends don’t need labels. Their stories are passed down through the ages. I can tell you this: It will appeal to the most fickle of taste buds and emits a rainbow haze when opened that has been known to cause hallucinations.”
“Can you open it? I’m too nervous.”
“Unfortunately I cannot. Like I said, it chooses–”
“Right, right. It chose me.” I drew a deep breath and twisted the top. It popped like a champagne bottle and a rainbow haze filled the air. I gently placed the mouth of the bottle to my lips and took a sip. An explosion of the most delicious flavors tickled my taste buds and relieved my thirst immediately. The flavors simmered until a solitary flavor, which happened to be my favorite, lingered on my tongue. It was the bittersweet tartness of a green apple and then it was gone. I turned to the bartender with a grin on my face and said, “It fizzles.”
He nodded his head and smiled. “Exactly.”
Thanks again Charles. Now, for the credits: The inspiration for this post came from the post, How Do Fantasy Characters Stay So Thin and I must credit S.K. Nicholls for the flavor of the Lich’s beer. Cheers everyone!