“Well, what are ya sayin’ then?” the old innkeeper asked, placing another drink in front of Molag.
The upstart took the small glass from the bar, downing its brown contents in one gulp. After wiping the wetness from his cracked lips, he stared hard at the man.
The inn was more crowded than it had been when the three entered. As the evening progressed, they knew more than a few would make their way to the inn for drink and food alike. Molag glanced around at the raucous crowd, motioning for another strong drink.
“I am saying what too many are thinking that are afraid to speak.”
The older man next to him just shook his head of dirty white hair, looking at Molag unconvinced. “Urdan has always been an upstandin’ fella here in Yarah. I’ve known ‘im nearly more years than ya been livin’. Why would I think he would have nothin’ but the best in mind for our village?”
The innkeeper leaned in closer on his one good arm to hear the conversation over the growing noise of the crowd. “Kraster makes a good point. Urdan is one of the best I know. What makes ya think he has turned his back on his own kind?”
“Look around you,” the upstart said, sweeping his arms about the room.
The men looked at each other with confusion and then back at Molag.
“Good innkeeper, what is missing from your goodly establishment?” he asked with a raised brow. “What element has been forever removed that once put coin into your pockets? Surely you miss the sound of the coins dropped at your feet nightly for the slaves you offered to comfort men not only from Yarah, but the surrounding villages as well.”
The innkeeper had to nod at the mention of that. Not only did he no longer have slaves to be purchased for pleasure, but those who worked in the inn as well. Molag had made his point, pulling the scab from a wound only beginning to mend.
“That’s true enough.” Kraster was quick to say. “But that was not Urdan’s doin’. That order came from the Zaxson.”
“So, the honorable Benoist can keep slaves from providing our pleasure, yet he can have one of his own?”
Brax laughed aloud, spitting liquor from his mouth and nose.
“I believe that one is his wife.” He laughed again. “She is a pretty one, though. I’d pay good coin for a ride on top of that one!”
Molag shook his head, pointing at the man. “He can keep his filthy human. This is yet another insult. He would bond himself to a human and weaken our blood. Those sons of his are savages. How long do you think it will take until one of those abominations is sitting in the seat of the Zaxson?”
He stared at each of the men seated around him, awaiting their response. He did well to hide the wicked smirk building inside of him when he noticed their expressions change.
“No savage has rule of me,” Kraster insisted. “But Urdan makes no such claim. His blood is pure as is that of his line. He only enforces the laws put forth by the Zaxson. It was no different with Draizeyn and Naughton before him.”
“No difference?” Molag exclaimed, knowingly drawing the attention of many in the crowd. “Never did the Vereuxs turn their back on the Four, our gods! Never did they raise a human up before those of their blood!”
Words of encouragement began to erupt from the seated patrons. Molag stood, speaking in an orotund voice.
“These men of Nazil have joined with the witches of the wood. We have all seen the demon beasts that were sent to destroy not only our home, but also our very lives! No, never would the honorable Draizeyn or Daracus have done this.
“These once honorable men cast aside our ways and our gods for the darkness. You only need to look at those who stand at their side to recognize what dwells in their hearts. The Zaxson and Nakshij have taken human wives. Human!”
With that proclamation, louder shouts erupted as men stood from their seats in agreement.
A man yelled from a corner of the room: “That First Chosen he selected over honorable Nazilians is a former slave, I hear!”
Another man called out: “And the wife of the Nakshij was a slave whore in the citadel!”
Molag pointed at the men, nodding. “All true! Not only that, my friends, there are more egregious crimes being perpetrated by these once honorable men of Nazil. There is an abomination now over the temple of Nazil. He believes not in the Four, and will have no worship of them in the white city.”
Screams of protest rang out as more men leapt to their feet. Arguments broke out when some defended the Zaxson. It started as simple shouting and shoving, but it did not take long before a punch was thrown and fists began to fly.
Aronin and his friend watched it all from a darkened corner of the inn’s common room. They continued to drink, noting who was saying what.
“It would appear that Urdan has reason for concern,” Eithrig commented quietly. “Molag will not be easily silenced. He looks for allies.”
“He looks to sow discord and take position over the village. If this continues, he will find the support he needs. These drunks in their cups will follow him to the very steps of the citadel,” Aronin said, shaking his head. “Molag is a dangerous man, not only to Urdan, but to the peace of these lands.”
“What are you to do, Aronin? You see how he manipulates these men.”
“We watch and learn, my friend. Soon, I will pay visit to my cousin. Pentanimir must know what he is facing. This is no passing threat, Molag means to incite a war.”
“Have you heard an orator so skilled and determined that did not use his words to cause harm? Molag inspires hatred as well as the Vereuxs themselves. He will not be sated with only causing minor turmoil. The thorn in Urdan’s side has become much more; it would seem.”
“Indeed,” Eithrig agreed, ducking a wooden stool flying over his head. “It is time to take our leave.”