Chapter Eight: Wherein I am reminded of one of the more obvious problems in a friendship with Ellwood Cyrene.
I ate my breakfast, which was very tasty indeed. It was a traditional Antriadorian breakfast: two eggs, white pudding, three large sausage links, two strips of bacon, fried potatoes with onions, beans, kippers, mustard greens with olive oil, and of course a ham steak. I know what you are thinking. You are thinking “What? No flapjacks?” In fact, Ellwood had brought a stack of four very nice looking flapjacks along with some disconsolateberry syrup, but conscious as I am of keeping fit and trim, I had only ten or twelve bites. And I also did not eat the mustard greens.
After I got up and washed my face, I must say that I felt great, which is to say not at all like someone who was turned into a toad. I did find that as I walked across the room, there was more bounce in my step than was typical, but by the time I had gone down two flights of stairs, the bounce was gone, and I was walking in a far less toadly and a far more manly way.
It was mid-day and the taproom at The Reclining Dog was full. You may remark on the fact that as I tell my tale, I mention that I go into this establishment and the room is full, or I go into that establishment and the room is full. All I can say is: that’s Antriador! It is a party town. I have been to big cities and small cities, to villages, to hamlets and to towns of all sizes— industry towns, farm towns, and college towns, but to my mind, none of them has so many taverns, pubs, and saloons as Antriador. Not only that, as I mentioned already, they are usually full, which is to say a lot of people are in them.
Though the room was full, it was not difficult to spot Ellwood Cyrene, who had a table to himself right in the center. I had just reached his table, when someone called out “where is Ellwood Cyrene? I want to buy him a drink!” Naturally, I called back “I am right here!” It was then that I spied eight warriors moving through the crowd toward our table. I drew my sword as the first approached. His attention was completely on Ellwood Cyrene and not on me, and he continued to not notice me as I smacked him across the face with the flat of my blade. He went down with blood spewing from his nose.
Two of the other warriors were quickly upon me. Meanwhile, pandemonium broke out in the bar. People ducked under tables and headed for the exits. Both my new opponents swung their swords at me. In an incredible feat of dexterity and agility, I dodged both, while at the same time slicing into the middle of the first and kicking the second. Then whipping around, I ran through the one that I had kicked, all the while tossing a pair of throwing stars from my sleeve, hitting two more across the room. The first warrior, which is to say the one that I had hit in the nose, lunged for me. I grabbed him by his leather jerkin and swung him around to use as a shield as two daggers flew at me from two of his friends. I tossed his body aside as the remaining three warriors all attacked at once, and in what could only be described as the greatest demonstration of swordsmanship that the world has ever seen, I dispatched the three of them without so much as a cut on my finger.
I immediately sat down and began to write some notes, while Ellwood Cyrene climbed out from beneath the table where he had been hiding.
“What are you doing?” said he.
“I’m taking some notes for when I write the story of how Eaglethorpe Buxton defeated ten swordsmen while Ellwood Cyrene hid beneath the table.”
“I counted only six swordsmen.”
“Oh, there were ten.”
“Are you sure?”
“Oh yes. Don’t worry. This is going to be a very accurate account.”
“It will be accurate, will it?”
“Then you are going to explain how someone called out “where is Ellwood Cyrene? I want to buy him a drink!” and you called back “I am right here!” causing the warriors to mistake you for me? Are you then going to describe how the Eaglethorpe Buxton fighting the swordsmen was actually Ellwood Cyrene and the Ellwood Cyrene hiding under the table was actually Eaglethorpe Buxton?”
“I don’t really think that’s important to the story,” I explained. “What is important is that one of us fought twelve warriors and defeated them single-handed, not which of us did it.”
“I see your point,” said Ellwood.
“And it’s on your head,” he muttered.
“I’ll tell you what,” said I. “I will write the story your way, if you tell me why people are always trying to kill you.”
“Write it however you wish,” said he.