House of Halik -
A young man and his large, muscular friend exited the Public House laughing at a joke only they had heard. The young man wore a short, trimmed beard but his hair had been allowed to go a bit wild. The larger fellow, his hair was trimmed and his beard was taken care of but longer, denoting his age.
After exiting the establishment they found another man lying on the curb, obviously too intoxicated to even get up and go home.
“Would you lookee here, Dostin. If mine eyes are right, I spy Jon Halik, lying on the ground insensible.” He said, then gave a loud laugh.
“He does resemble Mister Halik, sir.” The large man said. “Perhaps we should help him go home before it gets too late.”
“No.” The young man said, “If'n he wants to sleep out under the stars and get pissed on, then he has that right, Dostin.”
Dostin closed his eyes in resignation as the younger man began unfastening the buttons on the front of his pants. “The House of Halik has fallen on hard times, let us not deprive them of the full experience of this poverty.”
Dostin looked away, disgusted. His hand dropped to the hilt of the sword at his waist as he scanned for any enemy that might attack his master. But it was dark outside and most everyone was already at home sleeping.
“The bum doesn't even react.” The young man, rearing a leg back and delivering a kick to the prone man's stomach, eliciting a groan. “That's better. The Halik lives, Dostin, you are my witness.”
“Master Avnar, let us get back to the House before the brawgs show up.” Dostin said, the pack of wild brawgs would likely attack anyone caught outside.
“Jon Halik will be fine, the brawgs won't attack one of their own kind.” Master Avnar said, laughing at his own wit. The old boast by a younger Jon Halik that he could fight like a brawg was just bragging, besides he lost more fights than he had ever won.
“We shouldn't leave him here.” Dostin said, but the public house was closing.
Master Avnar waved a hand in the air and sighed. “Look, we'll just get the wallman Diggs to fetch him home.”
“Very good, master.” The big man said as they walked toward the middle of the walled village where a tower stood at the intersection of the four great houses. The wallman came out and looked down at them from his perch.
“What are you doing out here? Do not you know what time it be?” The stout older man with a gray-streaked beard to the top of his stomach called to them.
“It is I, Dostin, man of his Master Avnar of House Avnar.” Dostin responded. “Jon Halik lays inebriated in front of the public house near the east wall. You would be a credit to the order of the wall if you would fetch him home.”
As annoyed as wallman Diggs was, it was his job. He had his post at the center of the village specifically to guard and assist the great houses. Halik was no longer quite so great but it had been in recent memory. Diggs climbed down from the tower and proceeded to do as told.
“If the brawgs come over the wall while I am carrying him, I will let them have him and escape.” The old man told himself with a laugh. When he found the drunken Jon Halik, he adjusted the strap on his weapon, slinging it to his back. Then he picked up Halik as if he weighed what a small child would.
“You smell like a latrine.” The wallman told the unconscious form as he carried him. “What is your father going to think about this? You have a child, man. You aren't a young prawn any longer. Pull it together.”
Diggs found the formerly majestic front gate of the House of Halik where only one torch was burning instead of the customary eight of the old days. Once upon a time this House would have fielded its own army of guards, now the gate was unguarded.
Diggs lowered the man to the ground and then pulled the cord that would ring a bell inside. He waited for any kind of sign that they had heard. He was only going to do this one more time, and then get back to his tower. He reached his hand toward the cord for another yank when one side of the great double-door opened.
“What is it?” A feminine voice inquired.
“Jon Halik, he's passed out and all.” Diggs said. The gate opened a bit more and a small girl rushed to the man on the ground. Her hair was in a long tail behind her and she was wearing a thick white bed gown to her ankles. Diggs didn't remember her name.
“Father!” She said, “Spending all day getting drunk again, I see.”
“Shall I ferry him to his bed?” Diggs asked.
“No.” The girl answered, “We'll handle it from here.”
Diggs turned to leave but stopped and looked back. “Just get him inside before any brawgs show up.”
“Yes.” The girl said. Diggs slowly shook his head and walked back to his watch tower. One upon a time Jon Halik looked like a sure thing to become a Baron. Winning that title would have saved his family from their present misfortune. Now they lived in a large house, full of history and grandeur that the people alive there could not live up to.
After returning to his tower he pulled his weapon and checked the settings. Yes, if the brawgs somehow got past the outer wall and showed up he could get some of them. His energy weapon was good for a couple hundred yards, and it had a quarter charge.
Halik, he still had some respect for the name after all.
The girl ran through the dark corridors of House Halik after hearing the voice of her grandfather, and found him sitting up in bed. He was looking far older than his years and his silver beard was unkempt.
“Where is my son?” The old man demanded.
“He is sleeping, he was not feeling well, grandfather.” The girl said, meekly.
“My son needs to be at my side when word from Brevick has been received.” The man said with some finality.
“Yes, grandfather. But there are no ships from Brevick waiting for port.” the girl said.
“There will be. The message will come soon enough.” The Halik patriarch boomed, “I will need my son here with me.”
Seri was a filial granddaughter. It was impossible for her to argue with the men of the house, even her own father. She mentally kicked herself for thinking like that. With everyone else looking down on him and thinking him a failure, she very well should not.
“Yes, grandfather.” She responded. “He shall.”
With that she took her leave. Outside of the door she leaned against a wall and took deep breaths, it had gone better than expected. It was thought that grandfather Halik was senile and that he did not truly understand the present misfortunes of House Halik. That he was still living the glory days of years past.
If grandfather said there would be a message from Brevick, then there would be. Possibly he had the timing misjudged but that message would arrive eventually. He had the sight. His visions had been more precise and timely when he was younger, but always he had the sight.
Seri's father had not inherited the sight. This had been quite shocking to grandfather. As shocking as losing two other sons in their infancy had been. The House Halik was hanging by a thread and there were no sons of Jon Halik to make things right. Her father had tried to produce a son, he had spread his seed to no avail. Seri had quite a few half-sisters out there somewhere.
“What could possibly be so important from Brevick?” She muttered as she navigated the tight, dark labyrinth of the House. Why was grandfather so worked up over it? If he had told them anything more they wouldn't be so anxious about it.
Once upon a time House Halik had owned properties on Brevick, but those had been lost along with everything else. Instead of a great House receiving treasure and goods from other worlds, today they could hardly afford enough torches for the night. Instead of a small army of guards and their own starships, they had fallen to this. Seri kept a blade strapped to her leg in her own house.
Upon entering her suite she locked the door and threw off the bedclothes she wore. It was itchy and stifling hot. Seri would rather it be winter where she could at least be comfortable under a pile of blankets. The House once had a cooling system but hadn't worked since Seri could remember, the house was two centuries old after all.
It was nearly noon before Master Avnar woke up, washed up and gone downstairs for his first meal of the day. Dostin was waiting in the corridor outside the bedroom and followed him as a loyal bodygiard should.
“Good morning Master Avnar.” Dostin said pleasantly.
The young man stopped and looked at his servant with an appalled look on his face. “Can you say that again without the sunny disposition? It was so sweet I won't need honey in my tea.”
Dostin nodded and in a deep growl, as if grief would overtake him he said, “Good morning, Master Avnar.”
“Appropriately funereal.” The younger man said, satisfied, as they started their quest for the dining room once more. “The worst part of it, is that it's not noon yet. I hate mornings.”
“Yes sir.” Dostin said, in a deep gravelly voice to play along.
Finally they found the kitchen empty. The young man crossed his arms. “Who is going to make breakfast since the cook seems to have gone missing?”
“Shall I?” Dostin offered.
Again the young man waved a hand. “No, no. I shall do this myself.”
Dostin feigned shock.
Master Avnar sliced two pieces of bread and laid them on a metal platter. Then he laid three strips of raw bacon nearby, finally he cracked an egg right in the center. He picked up the platter and carried it to the table as Dostin followed, rolling his eyes.
When the metal platter hit the table, the bread was toasted, the egg was fried and the bacon was cooked nicely. Master Avnar liked to show off his power like this, even if Dostin was the only audience.
“I forgot the coffee.” Master Avnar said, and quickly there was water and crushed coffee beans in front of him. Dostin had seen this coming. It was a regular routine for his master after all.
“Have you eaten, Dostin?” Master Avnar asked absently as he spooned some eggs into his mouth.
“Hours ago, sir.”
“Any news? Please tell me that it's no longer morning.”
“A few minutes of morning still remain, sir.” Dostin informed him. “As for news, there was a crippled ship that made port this morning. Seems as if most of its systems were out and there were signs of battle damage.”
“Battle damage?” Mater Avnar asked, perking up. “Where did this ship originate?”
Avnar nodded. “I shall have to inquire of this further.”