Episode 14 - Waymeet and "Wee Master Dingle"
The rest of the journey to Waymeet went quickly. The wagon made excellent time down hill and we found ourselves within the city before the week was out. Waymeet was different than I expected. The city walls were made of wood and the inside was much more open. Buildings were spread out, some wood, some stone, some tents of canvas, silk or fur. Horsemen seemed the rule, rather than the exception here, everybody mounted. There were horses hitched up outside buildings everywhere, big, hairy ones from the north, little, dainty ones Finn told me were from the west and everything in between from everywhere in between, I guess. And centaurs! And orcs! And a few big dog looking things that talked in growls and that Riordan told me to stay away from.
Actually, Riordan told me to stay away from everything and everybody. The wagon went straight to its warehouse destination as soon as we entered town, and I spent a few hours helping Havard and Finn unload. We got our travel deposit back and said some fond farewells - Havard assured me that if I was ever looking for work, I'd be welcome with their outfit, which made me feel kind of good. Then we found went and found an inn suited to Riordan's tastes - one that would supply hot water for baths even in the wintertime. I was skeptical - baths in the wintertime are how people catch colds and die - but Riordan was insistent. When he explained to me that it would doubtless make time spent in my company more tolerable for Minerva, I had to give in. I will admit I was a little upset when I got out of the bath and found my clothes were missing. The bathroom attendant guy assured me that it would be okay to return to my room in the robe, so I did, but I wasn't at all pleased. I was sitting by the fireplace in the little robe trying to dry out completely so I wouldn't catch pneumonia when Minerva came in, wearing a new cloak.
"Oh! Osgun. I didn't see you there." She turned away quickly, as did I, but not before I saw her hide a smile. "How was your bath?"
"Uh." I was mortified back into one-syllable remarks. Hunching in front of the fire to make myself smaller - as if! - I willed my hair to dry faster so I could at least crawl under some blankets.
"Riordan mentioned the two of you would be continuing west. I told him I had decided to return home also and would act as a guide, to which he agreed. So while you were unloading the wagon, we made several purchases for the journey, which should be delivered shortly. Do these breeches meet with your approval?" I glanced over my shoulder as she swept her cloak aside to reveal some soft, close hugging leather breeches, like wealthy merchants wore. She wore a soft woolen tunic under a close-fitting leather jerkin with a number of small pouches on it. I couldn't see much of her cleavage, but every curve of her hips and legs was there to be seen. I didn't think I had ever seen a woman wearing pants before.
"Many women here wear breeches instead of a dress, I've noticed. Some fierce looking women they are, as well. Quite inspiring. They will serve well under the abas I have ordered. That is the over robe of my people. East meets west, yes?"
The door opened and Riordan walked in, his arms full of towels. He was also dressed, goddammit. "Ozzie! You look like a drowned rat! A really big, really ugly drowned rat."
"Where are my clothes, Riordan." It was really less a question than an implication. Someone was gearing up to be picking his teeth out the crack of his ass.
"Had to send your old stuff over to the tailor so he could size the new stuff to fit you. He promised they'd be ready first thing in the morning. In the mean time… Minerva, would you be a dear and step outside for just a moment? If I'm ever going to find a suitable marriage for Ozzie, his virtue needs to be above reproach and the way that robe gaps open, I fear the worst."
Covering a smile with her hand, Minerva gave a quiet, "Of course," and slipped out the door.
As soon as she was out, I turned on Riordan, growling, "I got your virtue hanging, you little…"
"Look! Comfort for our crotches!" That statement was completely unexpected, so much so that it probably saved his life. I stopped in mid-lunge to stare at the items he was holding out to me. They looked like fine chain mesh and I couldn't see how they could possibly have anything to do with that region of the body, let alone provide comfort. Seeing my confusion, he smiled broadly and flipped one of them over. "See? Soft suede and coin slots for against your skin or undershirt, chain on the outside to provide light armor and protection against cutpurses. You strap them to your chest and back. Twenty-five coins each. No more jingle on wee Master Dingle, if you get what I mean."
I gave him an extremely dark look as I snatched my …what would you call them? Body purses? …away from him. There wasn't any 'wee master' nothing on my body, thank you very much. And I was still exceptionally displeased about the whole lack of clothing thing. But now that he mentioned it, this was going to be quite a relief. I vowed it would be the only thing 'wee Master Dingle' would ever be grateful to Riordan for.
"Go on, big guy, put em on. Don't want the lady out in the hall all night." They fit comfortably enough. I had almost forgotten how pissed off I was at Riordan when he opened the door before I had the robe the whole way on. Fortunately my back was to the rest of the room so nothing was exposed but my sense of vulnerability.
"Oh. Pardon." Minerva tactfully looked the other way while returning to her bed, then gasped and spun as I knocked Riordan on his ass. "Osgun!"
"Sorry, Minerva. Sometimes he doesn't know when to quit." I tugged my robe about me and stomped over to the sofa I had claimed.
"I think I'm learning, though," Riordan supplied in a feeble voice.