"The essence of humanity is in it's free form boozing. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the bars and taverns of a city. There you are more likely to find philosophers, Teachers, business men and heavy drinkers, all mingling in the maelstrom of drink!" - Voracious the Fifth, First and Last earl of Locklear, proud drinker, lonely Thinker and soccer dad.
Chapter 1: Fallow awakes
The ringed hand stretched out to the drowning man. As Fallow reached for the hand, it pulled back into the swirling mists until it was lost, he sank into the water kicking and screaming.
Fallow slept on fitfully.
He had the dream three more times. He dreamed last of the hand closing in on his face, restricting his breath, holding his mouth. His lungs collapsed, his breathing stopped and his eyes bulged out of their sockets. He grasped with his hands for purchase but found none. He swam his way up to the surface of consciousness, relieved that he was only dreaming. He opened his bloodshot eyes a crack to see an ugly grizzled shape in front of him.
“I’m going to start charging you rent.” The large grizzled shape said. It formed slowly into a large grizzled face attached at the neck to a large grizzled body that housed the girthy being known as Eustace Madrigal. If this where a children’s Summer camp, Eustace would not be considered a happy camper.
Eustace stepped back to survey his ruined bar. He was angry at the dirt, he was angry at the debris, and he was angry that he couldn't see the floor because the debris. He was highly angry that one of the ornamental kegs that usually adorned the wall was now missing from said wall, even though it had never had a drop of beer in it. Mostly, he was irritated that Fallow’s presence in his ruined bar required him to get up early on a Stareday.
Usually the grizzled Eustace did as his father told him long ago, and kept holy the traditions and the ancient rituals of Stareday. Usually he stared at the wall for at least an hour or three every weekend; especially after drinking so much the night before. Probably because he spent most evenings being forced to deal with the miscreants and ne’er-do-wells that haunted his bar in their nocturnal ritual of doing a whole lot of nothing.
As full time owner of the Horny Dragon Pumphouse, Bed and Breakfast, an early morning wakeup was often necessary though. Raganorok would be here before Eustace would let any drunkard wake up alone in his bar with the firm belief that they had died and gone straight to a heaven where all of the kegs were full of beer and that heaven was a place with no bartender but themselves.
The ugly rumpled shape of Fallow stirred in his misery and let out a groan. "Rent?"
Fallow sat up feeling his jaw; it still hurt from an unremembered blow received the night before.
“…At least then,” he replied finally, “I would finally get my money’s worth out of this place."
He spat out a cigarette butt that was lodged in his throat, “My head is killing me from that watered down summer reserve you hand out in place of real beer, Eustace.”
A grunt was the reply; everyone in the tri-borough area knew that his ale was the finest drink around. Water? Nothin’. Milk? No chance. Even honeyade that was only drank at special occasions, and imported from Chermanny, or some place equally as distant and tasted of, well, honey, had nothing on the beer at Eustace's bar.
Insults to Eustace’s mighty brew were generally seen as an appropriate compliment to give; no one wanted Eustace to get a big head and raise his prices now did they? Far better was a drunken: “This slop isn’t fit for pigs!” The proof was in the empty kegs and smashed remains of tankards and pottery that littered the bar. The crockery that was destroyed in the name of revelry and a wee bit o’ debauchery was a much more fitting compliment to the Horny Dragon Pumphouse’s pumpings.