The pub on the east side of Thayer Village, which was, incidentally, called East Side Thayer Pub, was just about empty that evening. This was, of course, to be expected, considering that the small town had just been conquered by Kewn’s army. Surprisingly, the owner of the pub, a lean man in his early fifties, did not seem at all concerned about his business. In fact, he was humming away to himself quite contentedly as he chucked loads of long-neglected paperwork into his smoky fireplace.
He decided then and there that he would look into increasing the damage to the fireplace in a safe manner so that it would produce more atmospheric smoke. Now that fortune was finally giving him a break, he would have the money to invest in the fireplace. His type of business always did amazingly better after Kewn had conquered. In fact, Pub owners across the land were among the few people who eagerly welcomed the invasion. After a short lag, while most folk were not brave enough to venture beyond their backyards, this place would be bustling like never before.
Despite the fact that he was deep in these happy musings, Tailen, for that was this pub owner’s name, heard the door opening to a new visitor. He turned to find the doorway filled with the large figure of Kewn himself.
Kewn was an impossible man to mistake for anyone. He was heavy beyond ‘heavy-set’ and his wide, clean shaven face was capped by a dark, well groomed, seriously balding head of hair. Tailen was only momentarily surprised to see his new emperor standing in the doorway because he had been told that Kewn regularly visited the pubs in his kingdom. In fact, Kewn’s recommendation on the quality of food, drink, or even atmosphere in a pub was a huge drawing card for the lucky pub that obtained his favor.
With this in mind, the narrow-faced, curly-haired Tailen threw the rest of his paperwork into the fire in one swoosh (which was rather a shame as he had been enjoying burning it bit by bit) and set about being welcoming and calling for the serving girl, Leara, to bring the best of whatever the good Emperor Kewn might request.
When Brandon arrived beneath the surprisingly stable and un-swinging East Side Thayer Pub sign he was shaking all over and in a cold sweat. He was so shaken up that he didn’t enter right away. Instead, he waited till Clover had disappeared into a neighboring field to wait for him. Then he hurried away from the door and sat down around the corner of the pub to catch his breath and steady his nerves.
“Remind me,” he said to himself, through big gulps of cool air, “never to ride a dragon again.” But even as he said it, he knew as sure as his stomach was tight, that he had arranged to ride the dragon home again. “No, not home. Back to that castle and it’s confounded attack.”
It took him a while to recover. Maybe ten minutes, but Brandon wasn’t wearing a watch, so he couldn’t be sure. He promised himself that in the future he would always wear his watch to bed.
Finally, he was back before the door and after only a short hesitation, he pushed it open and entered the dark, smoky interior.
He looked around for Kewn, figuring he would have beaten him there. There were a few people in the room, and Brandon then remembered that he had forgotten to ask for a description of Kewn before he left. In the pub were two unattractive ladies talking quietly on one side, a small and skinny, disreputable looking man picking his teeth near the fireplace, a tall hooded fellow in the corner and a fat man sitting over to the side and being waited on by the pretty bartender.
From the stories he’d read, Brandon could pretty safely guess that the tall, regal looking man in the shadowing corner was his man. So he gathered himself and headed straight to the corner. Brandon had never been one to let a hard task wait, and besides, his already shot nerves might not last much longer.
“Good evening,” he said to the tall, hooded man as he took a seat across from him.
The man took a slow puff on his pipe, then slowly removed it and replied, “good evening,” in a deep, mysterious voice.
Yup, thought Brandon, this is my man. Brandon did his best to sound and appear confident as he waived the bartender over and said, “So, before we both get into a full fledge war, as seems to be the unavoidable outcome of recent events, I thought we might see if there might be some more reasonable way to go about things.” Brandon paused to order a beer from the bartender. The tall man had made no response, so Brandon continued.
“Now I’m sure we are both aware that war is a rather unprofitable endeavor, at least in regards to loss of life, and expenditure of resources, et cetera.” As he spoke, the counter arguments for what he way saying ran through his mind, but he tactfully ignored them. Strange that the Kewn had not responded… maybe Brandon was talking too much—not giving the other man a change. Brandon really wanted this to be a healthy dialogue. So he paused, expectantly.
The man continued to puff on his pipe for a long minute. Then, when Brandon was about to give up and go on, he slowly removed it from his mouth and grinned.
“I think,” he said in his deep voice, “that you aught to be saying all this to him,” he pointed his pipe towards the big man across the room.
“Oh?” asked Brandon in surprise.
“That would be Lord Kewn—our new emperor.”
“Oh!” said Brandon, blushing bright red and slowly turning and standing up. It was like an awful nightmare. The big man had heard every word.
Kewn laughed out loud, causing his belly to jiggle just like Old Santa Claus. He laughed until his face was quite red.
“Tassian, Tassian,” he said through chortles. “Come take a seat,” he gestured to the chair across from him. “Leara, bring his drink here—and the best for him too. This is your past king—Tassian III, Supreme Lord and Monarch of the quickly shrinking Kingdom of Igladia.”
Brandon collapsed gratefully into the chair, his knees to weak to hold him up. The beer was indeed some of the best he had tasted and did much to steady him.
“Now Tassian,” began Kewn, once Brandon had taken a couple of sips.
“Just Brandon, thanks.”
“Ok, Brandon. You said in your letter something about communication and talking and reaching an agreement. I heard your’ talking with your friend in the corner, and I have to say that I disagree. War is a very profitable endeavor. That’s one of the main reasons I do it. I'm a businessman, you see."