“Better stay out of the common area, Iric,” Bjorki said. “Sarge is in one of his moods.”
Iric nodded to the older watchman in acknowledgement and continued recklessly into the main room. A normal person would heed the warning and not poke the bear, but Iric’s relationship with Sergeant Vott was anything but normal.
Vott had become a sort of surrogate uncle for the young man, whose family consisted of only his widowed mother and a newly acquired cat. Iric had been without a strong male role model for the latter half of his life. Vott suggested this had made him tender—the word being used in a rather derogatory way. And anyways, Sarge was always moody.
“What’s bugging you Sarge?” Iric asked. He sat down across from Vott, at the meal table that took up most of the space on one end of the room. The man was staring at his food as if it had done him wrong.
“Why do I need to be bugged to be grumpy?” the big man replied. “My tea is weak and cold, my breakfast overcooked…I have plenty to be in a sour mood about.”
Iric’s ears picked up on the breakfast comment. Vott usually ate breakfast at home with his wife. Had something happened? Time to poke the bear.
“Why are you eating here? Something happen at home?”
“Who are you to ask me such a thing, Private?” Vott said, shoving some crunchy bits of sausage into his mouth. “And what would you know about married life anyways?”
So it had something to do with Vott’s wife. Women were a weak subject for Iric, having never been romantically involved with one before. He had always had other priorities. Though, he was starting to notice the looks the apothecary’s young apprentice Runa was giving him. Uncovering Vott’s secret could be a good training opportunity; he learned a lot about life from the older man. He just had to be careful in his approach, or he might end up cleaning the privies again.
“I just wanted to help. I worry about you, you know. We need out sergeant focused, when we hit the street.”
“Ha!” Vott bellowed. “You worry about everything Tender-heart. But if you must know, my wife and I had a fight this morning, so I had to hightail it early. Sometimes women just get filled with Odessian-fire and there’s nothing to do about it but run.”
“There has to be a reason.”
“Yeah, there was.” Vott said, accusation in his eyes.
“What? What could I do to bother your wife?”
“It was your little escapade in the fire that made my wife think we should be saving the street critters, too. So she brought home a stray dog. The mutt hates my guts, growling and taking nips at me. But she refuses to let me throw it out.”
“She refuses? Aren’t you the man of the house?”
“Oh what little you know, my boy.”
This was a new perspective for Iric; his mother was tough, but she didn’t have a man to rely on so she had to be. He hadn’t expect to hear such an idea from the large, scarred veteran. Iric wondered if Runa would be the same for him. Married life seemed quite different than what he had assumed.
“Well, I can’t help with your woman problems,” Iric said. “But I can give you some ideas on how to deal with the dog.”
Previous volumes of “The Adventures of Iric” can be found here: