Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 23

Welcome back! Here’s the next chapter of my 2012 NaNoWriMo winning novel Master of the Drunken Fist. If you’ve missed any of it, check out the Table of Contents to catch up.

Chapter 23

Mike stayed with the Russians for what felt like forever. He hadn’t spent so much time there consecutively as he had at this point. He was there so long that he started to think it was his real life and the life he lived back in that boring, small midwestern town was the fake. It became a distant memory to him as he was more and more involved in the daily activities of the Russian life.

Victor took them on a long winding trip around the city where they were going. At first, Mike didn’t see the need to stay so far away from a warm, soft bed. It took him a day or so to figure out his plan. Apparently, he felt they were being followed by some of the locals, and not to share recipes. He had received warning ahead of time that they were not ready to bow to the king. They were ready to take out his “special envoy” as Victor was called by them. It surprised Mike to think that the king would only send four men to subdue an entire region, and this city, when a squad of his soldiers couldn’t hold it.

One evening, the night before they were to sneak in to the city and do what needed to be done, Victor received a visitor from the city. She was a fine woman with long curly hair. It had been so long since Mike had seen a woman in this side of the void that it surprised him at first.

“My lovely Anya! It’s so good to see you. How did you know I was here?”

“Come Victor, you are easy to spot. When the townsmen start scurrying about in silence, gathering some of the best hunters, then something tells me you had come back. They want you dead you know? They have a bounty on your head. For all of you, but most of all you Victor.”

He smiled. It was a warm smile. She was beautiful. “My dear, they can’t take me alive. I’m too good for that. Besides, we have might Mikhael with us, not even a bear let alone some farmers with pitchforks can take us in.”

“Victor, that’s sort of the plan. They don’t care if you are alive or not. As long as they present your head, then they get the bounty. A rather large sum too.” And Anya looked at him salaciously, as though she had thought to collect it herself.

“But that is not why I’m here. You know I pledged to assist you for what you did for me so long ago. I’m not a woman to take those things lightly. I came here to help you get inside. There is a growing number of townsfolk ready for your arrival. They are anxious to be under the kings command rather than that of these warlords. They keep the people under harsh rules. They are ruthless in their justice. The things they do are…despicable. You have a force inside ready to back you.”

“Good, good Anya. What you say brings me great joy. I had hoped to have someone on the inside helping us. How many do you think you have loyal to the crown?”

“I’d say a good forty to fifty, maybe more. For a city of this size, that is more than enough of a force to bring about a change. They await your direction. But you must be careful getting inside. That’s why I sought you out. I have a way for you to get inside. Hurry, I have some clothes hidden over there in that thicket,” she pointed off to the right. They followed her to find four brown monks cloaks laying in a heap under some leaves.

“Here,” she said to the men. “Put these on over your clothes. You will look natural enough. If we wait till the sun goes down, there are fewer guards and with me trying to, um, distract them, you should be able to slip by the gate without a problem. Once inside, I can send out a messenger to gather the men. Within a day, we will have you in place.”

“How efficient of you Anya. You do have your ways about you, don’t you?” Victor replied to her. “Just do as I say, and you will get in the city without a problem.”

The men dressed in the woolen, brown monks robes with a large rope cord around the waist to keep it tight. Looking at the other men, Mike could hardly tell they carried packs on their backs and lethal weapons under those robes. They were just large enough to cover everything but not too large to really raise suspicion.

Until that point, the other three men were silent. They followed the directions of Anya just as Victor had. Apparently she was a close ally of some sort. Mike could only guess as to what kind of things Victor did to get her in his debt like this. It was that or maybe she couldn’t live under the harsh conditions she alluded to any longer and saw Victor as her only way to a better life. Or maybe both. In truth, he didn’t care. He saw this as an opportunity for the hero inside of him to be released once again. If he could really liberate this city, he would be a hero to thousands. He enjoyed that thought. He was ready. He felt the courage building up inside of him.

“Victor, do you trust this woman?” Sergei whispered as they began their way towards the city gate. “I mean, she could be leading us to our death. How much do you know about her?”

“Trust me, she is no angel of death. She has no malice within her. I took care of her the last time I was here, and she is indebted to me. Besides that, she believes in the cause of the king. The men leading this city are tyrants. They are worse than the king could ever be, and that says a lot. She does this out of love of her people. No Sergei, she doesn’t lead us to death.”

They carefully walked in the snow making their way to the gate. Finally they approached two guards at the small gate. This was not the main gate to the city, but a smaller one used by the clergy to enter and leave as their faith took them.

“Stop, who are you?” Anya answered for the men. “They are monks from Moscow, making their long way here as a pilgrimage to the shrine at the church.”

“They are huh, how do we know that?”

“Do you honestly think I’d lie about something like that?” Anya sounded a bit put off by their questions, no doubt a ploy to get them to let them pass.

Just then, Victor walked past Anya and with the swift movements of a stealthy cat going after it’s prey, he reached out with both hands and stabbed the two guards right in their throats. The sudden move startled them, and the placement of the knives was spot on as the two men fell instantly silent. They clutched at their throats, but Sergei and Alexsander knocked both to the ground while stabbing them repeatedly until life left their bodies.

“Victor! I said I had this under control! You didn’t have to kill them, they were good boys doing their job!” Anya really looked upset by what he did. As much as she talked about having to change the leadership, she didn’t seem too ready to take it to the extremes that Victor was willing to.

“They were asking too many questions. Besides, two less men we will fight later on. Come, take us where we need to go.” All niceness and pleasantry left Victor’s voice then. He was here on business. They walked a few blocks down the street and came upon a small inn. Mike couldn’t read the sign outside telling the name, one of the only few drawbacks being in the void had. They opened the door and stepped in.

When Mike set foot on the floor inside, he found there as no footing and he began falling fast. “No!” he yelled as he began spinning quickly. His speed built up as the spinning grew more and more furious. He fell farther and farther down, until finally he hit the bottom. Opening his eyes, he laid on the floor of his kitchen, staring at the linoleum floor in a growing pool of drool and piss. He was home.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the story. Feel free to leave comments below. Come back tomorrow for the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist.

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