Friday, June 3, 2011

The Flower of Ramkahen

Halfway across the room, Carl and the radiant couple are intercepted by a Night Elf in a fine suit. His violet hair is neatly trimmed to hide the scars on his face. Even so, several peek out here and there, hinting at a rougher side belied by the otherwise immaculate appearance.  The Elf's demeanor screams "underground," and the smile he flashes seems tremulous at best.

"Valentis," he says in a low voice, grasping the Gilnean's hand and pulling him close.  Carl and the man's date stop nearby.  "We read five times that you were killed, in five different places."

"As you can see, t'was true every single time," Valentis replies.

"There are two seats at my table..." the man gestures.

Valentis shakes his head, still grasping the man's hand.  "No.  Ta though.  It seems we have already been claimed."

The man glances toward where the Goblin sits with the expectant Captain Renault.  "A word of advice," he whispers, "do not trust the good Captain.  He bows to the Schnottzies just like everyone else in this joint."

Valentis nods but otherwise says nothing.  The handshake is broken and Carl resumes leading them toward their table.  His date raises a questioning eyebrow, but only receives a shaken head in reply.

At the table Renault runs a hand over his thin mustache and stands.  "Good evening.  I am Captain Renault and my guest here is Major Strasser of the Schnottz Empire.  We are pleased that you could join us, Valentis.  Though we spoke on the eve before last, at that time I did not know you were accompanied by such a beauty."  He turned to the woman.  "Does this flower have a name?"

"Decedereful," Valentis answers with a poorly concealed scowl.

"Dece, please," Decedereful amends.

Renault inclines his head, scooping up her hand and lightly pressing his lips to it.  "My dear, I was informed that you were the most beautiful woman ever to visit Ramkahen.  That was a gross understatement.  It is a pleasure."

Had Decedereful been capable, she would have blushed.  "You're very kind."

"Carl, please, a bottle of your best champagne," the Captain orders.  "And put it on my bill."

"Very well, sir."

Valentis shakes his head as he pushes the seat in behind Decedereful.  "Captain, we couldn't..."

"Oh, please, monsieur."  Renault waves him off.  "It is a little game we play.  They put it on the bill.  I tear up the bill.  It is very convenient."

All except for the Goblin share a laugh as Valentis eases his way into the remaining seat.  Then, Dece speaks up.  "Who is Harrison?"

Renault replies, "Mamoiselle, you are in Harrison's!  And Harrison is..."

"Who is he?" the lady presses.

"Well, Harrison is the kind of man that..." Renault fumbles.  "Well, if I were a woman, and I were not around, I should be in love with Harrison."  He busts out with a hearty laugh.  "But what a fool I am, talking to a beautiful woman about another man."

Their drinks arrive, and silence reigns over the table for a moment, threatened only by the sound of piano that drifts through the air, the low murmur of the clientele, and, of course, that bubbly sound of champagne meeting glass.  After Carl finishes and departs, sips are shared as the new guests settle in.  Finally, Renault leans forward with a more serious look on his face.

"Last night, Valentis, you evinced an interest in a certain Rogue."

"Yes."

"I believe you have a message for him?"

Valentis waves a hand.  "Nowt important, but might I speak with him now?"

For the first time, the Goblin speaks up.  "You vould find zhe conwersation a trifle one-sided.  Zhe Rogue is dead."

Decedereful gasps.  "Oh."

Renault casually takes a sip before replying.  "I am making out the report now.  We haven't quite decided yet whether he committed suicide or died trying to escape."

Narrowed lids guard suspicious eyes as Carl returns for refills.

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