While Revis and Matticus were both loathe to follow Drun out to get a drink, it had been a long and winding road, and a long time since they’d had something to wet their whistle, so they agreed to go to the Cantina.
The Jester and Knight marveled at the wide array of creatures, big and small, out on the desert street as they walked a short distance to the bar. The wind blown sand tore at their exposed flesh and they were thankful for the armor they wore despite the oppressive heat. Stepping into the bar, they had to wait a moment for their eyes to adjust to the darkness. A band played live music in one of the darker corners and the place hummed with the incessant chatter and clinking of glassware only found in places where people gather to share their triumphs and miseries.
“Hey Drun, what brings you in here so early?”
The bartender hailed the Knight and Jester’s captive and, as they started to push their way through the crowd, Revis elbowed Matticus.
“Doesn’t he look familiar?”
Matticus studied the bartender for a few seconds, his expression turning from confusion to recognition and then back into confusion. “It’s that Bard guy. How did he get here?”
Ignoring the question, Revis walked up to the bartender. “Is your name bardictale,” he asked.
“Yes,” bardictale responded without looking away, from, or breaking his conversation with, Drun.
Drun ordered them each something called Whyren’s Reserve. Matticus was going to ask what it was, but bardictale returned with the glasses too quickly. A loud thump echoed through the bar as the glasses were slammed down onto the bar. “Are these two with you,” the bartender, who had finally looked up at Revis and Matticus, demanded of Drun.
“Yes,” he answered, completely confused.
“Money up front,” bardictale yelled. “I don’t trust these two.”
“So you do recognize us,” the Jester stated.
“I’ve never seen you before in my life. You just look like the most untrustworthy people in the galaxy…..and that includes Hutts.”
Matticus leaned over to Drun and whispered, “What’s a Hutt?”
“Especially this one,” bardictale continued, pointing at Revis. “This one is a snake!”
Revis was about to protest his innocence when a shout from the doorway grabbed their attention. “Drun,” shouted a hairy alien with large black eyes. “I love you, man. I’ll follow you anywhere!”
“Not again,” Drun groaned. “Get away from me, Art. Leave me alone!”
“What is going on?” Matticus asked Revis and Drun.
“I have no idea,” Revis answered dryly.
“He’s one of my stalkers,” Drun responded flatly, as if having stalkers was as normal as water being blue. “I’ll get rid of him.”
Drun’s hand dropped instinctively to the funny case on his right hip, shaped similarly to the weapon he’d used to injure Matticus earlier, only to realize he was no longer carrying it. “Shi…”
“What?” Revis smiled mischievously at his brother’s discomfort. “Missing something?”
Matticus watched Drun’s eyes darken and tensed expecting the man to throw a punch at his Knight, but Art stumbled into the gathering before the confrontation could escalate.
“Drun! Why won’t you give me a new picture of you? I have some great ideas of how to mix it up and it would be hilarious? You like me, don’t you? Why won’t you give me your picture?”
Drun groaned. Matticus felt like laughing but feared that in this case he would probably be better suited to trusting Drun’s experience with the man. Art seemed harmless but Matticus sensed that his presence might get exasperating in short time.
Revis opened his mouth to tell Art to be quiet when he was mobbed by two new strange beings.
Revis flicked his eyes over to Drun, and his brother mouthed, “more stalkers.” Drun flipped something to bardictale. The Knight assumed it was the up front money because he grabbed all three of the glasses and downed them one after another.
“Are any more of your friends going to be showing up,” Revis quipped.
Drun made a hand gesture towards Revis, sticking only one of his fingers up. The Knight, having never seen this before, was confused about what that meant. He turned to ask Matticus if he knew what it meant, but Matticus was looking around the Cantina in awe.
“What is it,” Revis asked.
“This place is starting to creep me out,” the Jester answered. “Half the people aren’t people. Most of them are carrying those fire wands. And they have all of those magical lights that don’t need fire.”
“Calm down, your Jesterness.”
“I’m in a hostile environment. I’m totally unprepared. And I’m surrounded by a bunch of guys who probably want to kick my ass… it’s like being back in high school.”
“What’s high school?” Revis and Drun asked in unison.
“Never mind,” Matticus sighed, exasperated, and rolled his eyes. “Where did Art go?”
“He never stays long, thankfully,” replied Drun. “He left a couple seconds ago mumbling something about crack squirrels and comment records.”
“Oh Drun, you say the silliest things,” Alice chimed in, with Zoe nodding in agreement. “Who are your new friends?”
“They aren’t my friends.” Drun desperately tried to get bardictale’s attention to order another couple glasses of Whyren’s Reserve for himself but the man was engaged in a conversation with an old, grey-haired, man wearing a cloak. Drun thought he looked very familiar but the strong drink had already begun to impair his cognitive function and he knew his thoughts could no longer be trusted. “Besides, I’m off duty.”
“What?” Revis, Matticus, Zoe and Alice all said as one.
“Enough,” Revis roared, “we’ve placated you as long as we can. Tell us what you know of Twindaddy right now!”
“Chill out,” Alice murmured as she and Zoe took a step back.
“Who’s this Twindaddy person? Is he hot too?” Zoe asked.
Revis threw them both a look that silenced them and then sent them scurrying back into the crowd. With a satisfied nod at having successfully gotten rid of the ladies, the Knight turned back to Drun to find the man smiling.
“I’ve been trying to scare them off for ages.”
“Good,” Revis proclaimed. “Now that I’ve done you a favor, how about you do what you said you were going to do?”
“Quit your whining, douchecanoe. I said I’d take you through the portal to get to Twindaddy, and I meant it. I’m just not going to do it sober.”
Just as Matticus was about to ask what a douchecanoe was, and Revis was about to confound Drun with a witty retort, the entire bar stopped what it was doing at the sound of a man’s scream. The old man that had been talking to bardictale had just cut someone’s arm off. After seeing that nothing further was going to happen, the rest of the bar resumed their drinking.
Drun finally got new drinks from bardictale and downed them quickly. He got up and started walking to the door. “We’ve got to leave now.”
“Why,” Matticus asked.
Looking at Revis, Drun replied, “Because if we stay any longer, we’re going to see something that’s going to completely piss us off.”
Revis inquired, “Shooting first?”
“You’re right. Let’s get the hell out of here.”
The three men left the Cantina, with Matticus scratching his head, wondering what the other two were talking about. They arrived back to the portal shortly, having to stop a few times on the way so Drun could relieve himself in public.
Standing as straight as he could, Drun warned, “This place is not going to be pretty. It will chew you up and spit you out. Then, it will crush your soul…. They call it, ‘The Real World’….”