Short Story: Ploughing A Furrow

The band was plinking out something approximating a traditional folk reel while the customers bent over their drinks and tried to ignore them. It was a fairly typical evening, truth be told. The bartender was holding court in his deeply impenetrable accent with a small entourage of regulars. The pub dog had annexed the best sofa, and was busy snoozing and farting in front of the open fire.

Revelsond knocked his pint back and wiped the froth from his mustache with the back of his gauntlet. Then he belched for good measure and laughed. He looked round, as if hoping to catch someone disapproving. Beside him, Arno tutted under his breath, and sipped the last of his wine.

The table before them was just as much an indicator of the differences between them. Revelsond’s platter was covered in the debris of disarticulated bones, while Arno seemed to have barely picked over his salad. This wasn’t a comment on the food’s quality, but more on the elf’s rarefied palette.

“We should get more beer!” Revelsond grumbled, but Arno was watching the wait staff closely, and ignored him. The burly human clicked his fingers at the nearest waitress and she scurried over, consternation on her face.

“Is everything alright Mr Revelsond? Can I get you anything? There aren’t any problems are there?” She smiled, but there was a brittleness to it that didn’t reach her eyes. She bobbed in a kind of half curtsey. Revelsond glared at her.

“My glass is empty, what kind of establishment are you running here?” His voice carried over the sound of the band, and everyone tried to ignore him. They also tried to listen in of course, leading to an even more strained atmosphere. Arno frowned and waved the waitress away, and she retreated gratefully. “Why’d you do that?”

“Because we’re leaving. We’ve a deadline and the meal is done.”

“You’ve not even touched yours.”

“The cuisine appreciation is your arena. I was watching the staff.”

As they left, the landlord sidled up to Arno and thanked him. “How was it Sai Arno?”

“You’ll have to read it in the paper tomorrow like everyone else.” Arno replied, urging his partner towards the door. “Deadlines wait for no one, but I’m sure you’ll get a lot of interest soon enough.”

And with that, Revelsond and Arno, gastronomes and food critics for the Lanhark Chronicle stepped into the night.

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