THEN A PENGUIN WALKED IN #48
OKAMA, THE OLD STORYTELLER from Chapter Eight, woke with the dawn. He would have preferred to stay in bed, sleep the morning away, ignore the afternoon, then skip the evening all together and start fresh the next morning, but his body wouldn’t allow it. So he rose and began his day.
He didn’t need much sleep anymore, something he felt was more curse than gift depending on the time of day, which was typically in the mornings. Once the sun was down however, when he was the last to leave the tavern of the Inn of the Juggling Halibut, having endured another night of drinking and telling stories, he would often grow cranky at the thought of it all coming to an end. But his bed would call to him, and to his bed he would go.
Once in bed, of course, he couldn’t think of any other place he’d rather be. Sleep was his only true bliss, and once found, was something he did not like to give up.
But despite what the spirit might yearn for, the body often had other plans.
The Inn of the Juggling Halibut was more than just his favorite drinking spot, it was also his home. He had the best room in the house. A spacious suite with two rooms along with a small water closet. Once awake, however, he did not linger long in the room. He dressed quickly and made his way down to the tavern for breakfast.
Despite the heat, Okama wore a long coat and wide brimmed hat, both seriously out of fashion in the city of Haven. But then, Okama didn’t care much about fashion, much less the heat.
He spent most of his time in the tavern, and as usual, he was the first to arrive. Most folks were surprised when they learned that Okama had an actual room, having always believed he just simply slept in the tavern, and many of those felt pity for him. He didn’t care. Let them think of him as nothing more than an old drunkard who liked to tell stories. It’s what he was, after all.
Regardless of what the people thought, however, Okama wasn’t the first to arrive at tavern each morning, nor the last to leave. As usual, when Okama entered at sat at the bar, Jon was back in the kitchen frying the eggs and the bacon. Meg was there as well, wiping down the tables, preparing for the breakfast service.
Jon and Meg were married. They owned and ran the Inn of the Juggling Halibut, and had for the past thirty years when they purchased it from the previous owner, Hort Nef, who built the inn so that he would always have a place to showcase his one real talent.
Juggling fish, actually.
Halibut, to be more specific. Hence the name, if you needed the explanation.
Meg, the moment Okama walked in, went straight back to the kitchen and returned moments later with a plate of the aforementioned eggs and bacon, along with a steaming mug of coffee and set them on the bar in front of him.
“Ah, thank you, Meg,” he said. “You make it worth waking up in the morning.”
She snorted. “I think you’re mistaking me for the coffee.” The Inn of the Juggling Halibut was the only one in all of Haven, all of Gund for all he knew, that served coffee. He was to thank for that. After all, if his body was going to force him awake each morning, he was going to drown it in coffee.
“I do enjoy a good cup of coffee,” he said, then took a sip. He sighed. “And you do brew a heck of a cup, Meg.”
She smiled and wandered off to complete the morning preparations.
Okama, in the meantime, tucked in to his breakfast. He’d just finished the eggs and was on his second cup of coffee when a woman wearing a sword entered. Her eyes scanned the room and stopped on him. The tavern was still empty so it took just moments for her to cross the room.
“Are you the man they call Okama?” She asked, standing over him.
“I’m eating breakfast,” he replied without looking up. “I have a rule to not answer questions before breakfast.”
He’d expected an angry retort. Possibly a threat. She was wearing the uniform of the City Guard, which meant she answered to the Triumvirate. When a City Guardsman comes to see you, it’s never a good thing, and they tend to do whatever is necessary to complete whatever task had been given them. This particular Guardsman, or woman, had been sent to find him. For what, he couldn’t be certain, but he was sure it wasn’t to watch him eat. So he was more than a little surprised when she took the seat next to him.
“By all means,” she said, and then waited.
To be continued ...
Steeven R. Orr is the author of Holliday's Gold which you can get for free now by clicking on one of the following online retailers:
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