By Kenneth Shumaker
Episode 016, ‘Palomino Running Mate’
Wrote, December 5, 2017
Published on Virily, January 23, 2018.
We now continue with Eren’s Challenge episode 016, ‘Palomino Running Mate’ on …
Lezmor 18 of 78
I casually sit in the Lorie’s lounge with Es, looking at a palomino gnoll. He is shorter in appearance than the average hound and slim. Frail-looking for one of the off-worlders from out of the system.
I hold Es’ hand as she cuddles next to me on the warmed plush purple fur sofa which smells like daisies.
I have to, I ask, “What bloodline are you from? You’re all somewhat bred by bloodline for your jobs, destined by clan. So, what are your clan’s work lineage?”
The young palomino smiles only slightly before he addresses me. “I’m from the Tynyuen Clan of Ambassador’s servants. We are relegated to our jobs according to our abilities by the time we are twelve. I’m assigned as an ambassadorial troubleshooter for Friend House Tower and our mutual benefactor – Angel. My patriarch assigned me to my role in servitude when I was ten terms old. Angel has taken me on and is seeing to my education and my elevation in social classes. She offers me the privilege of the rights to marriage, which I was denied as a servant. Does that answer your query satisfactorily?”
My turn to grin broadly as I watch the gnoll, knowing full well the struggle that is faced rising up through social classes. “Indeed, it does … though this brings another set of enquiries. How old are you? I don’t recall seeing you at the Arrival.”
Gesturing calmly, the gnoll answers, “I wasn’t at the Arrival … I’m sixteen terms old. I arrived last term during the Second Arrival with the second three humal star drive ships. I arrived on the Drummond III with its Captain Uhter.”
Chuckling I realize I understand the life and class struggle this gnoll is going through, so I break the question, “What is your name my palomino friend?”
Chuckling in the gnoll barking manner, he settles forward, elbows on knees, then replies, “Well, you asked … I have a servant’s name still … Angel hasn’t granted me more. My name is Tol.”
I think about this slight, looking to this obviously determined hound, I peer into his large amber eyes. Then I say casually, “Stick with us … we’ll grant you a higher name. Or we’ll die together trying to get you an elevated name – Tol … I think … Running Gor sounds good.”
Both my companions break out laughing loudly which is muffled into soft sounds in this lounge.
The ambassador’s trouble-shooter replies, “You see through me already!”
Winking once, I reply, “I do my friend … I do!”
Our Lorie pulls up to the large red dressed-stone three-story manor house, with its rose vines growing rampantly over the face of the lower two stories, nearly blocking the view of the multitude of large full-story coloured glass windows.
The black pavement sticks to our shoes from the heat as we step off the Lorie and start walking toward the open double Ebon-wood full floor high doors.
Angel had informed us we have three days here for our wedding and honeymoon.
Two servants greet us, to guide Es and I, along with Tol into the manor. They gesture to take us in to our guest rooms where we’ll stay for our time here.
I gawk with obvious wide-eyed red-faced flush as we walk through the modernized manor filled with electronic gadgetry, modern abstract paintings on the walls, speakers playing electronic Guszer music from the southern group Ircus.
Obviously, Angel tracked my choices in entertainment.
What is the golden-yellow hound up to that she is treating us to such a gift with this royal treatment? Turning to Tol, I have to ask, “Tol, what does Angel want from us?”
Bowing a little too energetically, my palomino running mate offers, “Your undying obedience and loyalty for a long-term Amber Calendar contract.”
Stopping, Es and I both turn to Tol.
Es asks our question for both of us. “How long of a term?”
Without blinking or hesitation, Tol replies, “Your lifetimes.”
Swallowing hard, I need to consider this.
I have been fighting against Angel and her organization – Friends. Fighting them for years, trying to get closer by doing odd jobs for them as a cover. Now I find that I have convinced them I’m safe so well, that they invite me into their organization and home along with setting up my marriage bond with a woman I’m attracted to.
What do I answer? Put my head in the carnivore’s mouth?
I offer my hand to the palomino ambassador, “Tol, I’d like to open negotiations with Angel regarding such.”
He shakes his massive head, “You misunderstand. There is no negotiation … either you accept, or you don’t … standard terms, Amino.”
I shudder knowing the standard terms, even in a short hire, usually mean a short life for a humal when working on Angel’s Amber Calendar. “What is this, Amino?”
Shaking my hand with his paw, easily half again larger than my large humal hand, the ambassador’s servant from Angel’s Friends replies. “Means, my friend.”
We reach a lavish guest room with purple geometric pattern carpets of varied colours, scenic wall tapestries and Ebon-wood furnishing of a double bed, small table and three padded armchairs. The room is illuminated with soft blue LED lighting.
There are pitchers of sweet-smelling wine and juice sitting on the table with crystal goblets.
In a white polished marble fireplace burns a hotly flickering medium fire.
Feeling the warmth of the room as I observe this luxury. I note the computer terminal illuminated with a message.
Reading the message, I see. ‘Welcome to Ofstich Friend’s House. Please enjoy and relax. The wedding ceremonies will commence at 9 am in the grand hall on the main floor.’
Shivers run down my spine as I pour a drink watching Tol leave with the servants and Es.
With the warmed mead, its actually not just wine as I sniff the drink, I settle in a chair.
Watching another set of servants bringing in my luggage, one addresses me. “When would you like your bath and massage Master Eren?”
Looking over at the terminal observing the time, I turn back to her. “An hour after supper, which is when?”
Bowing she replies. “At seven, in three hours.”
“I changed my mind. We can do the bath and massage now.”
She moves to turn to the room’s side door. “As you will. I’ll run the water now. As well as start to heat the towels and oils.”
Seated at the massive table which is able to accommodate thirty-six people, I marvel at the guests. A Hean high priestess seated next to a gnoll priest who sits next to Tol.
I sit across from them, along with Es and Angel as well as her two bulls, Jut and an unfamiliar one to me.
Nervous my hands twitch together slightly on my lap, wanting to take hold of Esmelda’s. But between us sits Jut munching away on a raw lower calf which I believe is from a humal adult.
As blood drips from the raw meats that the gnolls are eating, I look at the cooked prawns and scallops in the red sauce on my plate.
I take another drink of the strange off-colour milk with the bittersweet taste.
This ends this Star Grean episode written by, Kenneth Shumaker.
To be continued in the next Eren’s Challenge episode 017, ‘Iridescent Housing Beetle.’
May the words stay with you!