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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 12: Beam 44
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 11: Kondor 156
As he bravely ate his food, Beam noted that he might have made a mistake by not inviting Bob to the dinner. It occurred to him, dimly in the back of his mind, that the brains and eyeballs and other body parts being served to them were delicacies offered in honor of their visit, but he had scavenged more appealing meals from trashcans when he was homeless. Still, he had eaten worse, and he could manage to extend the façade of gratitude for their intended kindness.
It was Sophia who was having trouble. Beam tried not to appear to notice, so as not to call attention to the fact that she was barely even picking at the food. However, Laban was attentive to his guests.
“Is the food not to your liking?” he asked her.
At least she had the sense to lie. “Oh! No, it’s really very good. I think I’m not well from our trip. Besides, a girl has to watch her figure--I wouldn’t want to get fat.”
“No danger of that,” the Amir smiled and perhaps chuckled.
“Oh, you’d be surprised.”
Bron was eating, not exactly wolfing down the food but approaching it as a new experience, nodding and sometimes smiling (but sometimes grimacing) with each bite. He kept at it like a trooper, and Beam mused that there had probably been some lean years back in the village when a person ate whatever he could find, even if he was a reasonably well-to-do blacksmith.
Wanting to distract the Amir, Beam decided to ask, “Is there more of this? Our companion Bob doesn’t eat many things, but he is particularly fond of brain. I think he prefers it raw, but this might be a new experience for him.”
“Oh, indeed,” the Amir replied. “I shall have the kitchen prepare a bowl for him and deliver it to his room.” He snapped his fingers, and a waiter stepped over to hear murmured instructions apparently on that point.
“So, he is an unusual companion. Where is he from?”
“You know, I never asked. I found him and Dawn in a prison overrun with monsters from which I was escaping, and we escaped together and have been together since. He has some very useful skills, and has kept us alive more than once.”
“Oh? How so?”
“For one thing, he knows when something is about to attack, and can warn us. He saved us from a dragon once doing that, and more than once from other attackers.”
“That is very interesting. He sees the future?”
“Oh, that would be useful. No, he reads intentions. If someone here were thinking about drawing a knife and stabbing me in the back, and Bob were here, he would know the man’s thoughts and warn me. You know, that’s probably better than seeing the future--if he could see the future, about all he could say is, you’re about to be stabbed, and then it would happen. This way he says, that man wants to stab you, and I have the chance to thwart his effort.”
“Ah, I see. Prophetic determinism: once the prophet speaks, his words will come to pass, so be careful what you ask or you might get answers you would rather were not so.”
“Yeah, maybe. I’ve never known a prophet, so I don’t know how it works, but that sounds right to me. Can I get some more beer?”
At least they had beer. It was warm, but it was strong, and they weren’t stingy with it. They also had wine, which was also rather good, but he liked the beer better with meals, and would have the wine later. He had not yet managed to discover whether they had anything stronger, but was guessing not; the technology he had seen suggested that distillation was yet to be discovered, at least as applied to beverages.
As they left the dining room, Beam said to Sophia, “I hope we brought plenty of food.”
“Yes,” she answered, “but not as much as I remembered packing. It seems that some things from the top of the cart didn’t come with us.”
“Hmm…I’ll have to check with Dawn, as to whether she had the same problem. First, though, I think it’s time for a nap.”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #323: Verser Crises. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: