Jaffe sat opposite the big man, signaled a barmaid for two drinks, and stared at the face of the savage. The man’s hair had been in his face much of the short amount of time Jaffe had known the man. Without the sea breeze, Jaffe could now make out the dark-complexioned face of his companion. He also noticed a long scar which ran down the man’s cheek from eye to chin.
Jaffe leaned across the table, so to not be overheard by the other patrons. Information was a valuable commodity in Letarkkan and someone would pay valuable coin to learn about this strange man.
“No one has ever been released from the Sultan’s dungeons,” Jaffe said in a voice just above a whisper.
The barmaid approached the two men with two steins of ale. Jaffe accepted one and the Plainsman took the other. “Bring us another,” he said before even tasting the first. Jaffe guessed the man was no stranger to strong drink.
Once the barmaid had scurried back to fetch the next round, the Plainsman turned his attention back to Jaffe. “I was not released.”
Jaffe laughed despite his efforts to hold it in. “No one has ever escaped the dungeons. It is said, giant serpents guard the depths of the dungeon and dozens of armed guards patrol the keep.”
“It is patrolled by hundreds of armed guards,” the savage corrected his new friend.
“Then how did you do it?” Jaffe asked, his excitement showing.
“In the darkest depths of the keep is an underground river. If you have the courage of a hundred men, you can find your way in the dark down to it. The river flows under the desert and surfaces in a small village just outside the Sultan’s opulent city,” the savage explained.
“What of the giant serpents?” Jaffe asked, enthralled by the man’s tale.
“I believed them to be a myth, so I feared them not as I felt the dark stone walls and made my way ever deeper into the earth.”
“So, they are a myth?” Jaffe asked.
“Quite the opposite,” the Plainsman admitted. “As I descended the tunnels, blind to the world around me, I felt something move in the dark. I felt the cold, muscular, scaly flesh of a gigantic serpent. I couldn’t see it, but I knew it was there. It coiled itself around my legs and I fell to the ground. It constricted itself, but fortune smiled on me that day and I was able to keep my arms free of the monster’s coils. As it squeezed my legs, I managed to locate its head. The beast bit down on my forearm – its fangs tore my flesh, but it was without venom. I fought with all my might and used my free hand to loosen its grip on my arm. As I pulled its lower jaw free from my arm, I heard a sound and knew it was the crunching of bone. Before I knew it, the beast had released my legs and slithered into the dark, leaving me with part of its jaw in my hands. I had somehow managed to rip the beast’s jaw apart.”
Jaffe sat back and stared at his companion with a look of doubt on his face. “You’re having a laugh at my expense, aren’t you?”
-From “Dreams of Gold” by Jeffrey L. Blehar
Find out becomes of Jaffe and the Plainsman in Fierce Tales: Savage Lands
Get yours here: Fierce Tales: Savage Lands