Coffee Break Read – Frustration

Avilon curbed his frustration and was about to try again, when the heavy awning at the end of the wagon was thrown back and a man stepped in dressed in the same peculiar style Avilon had seen the youngster he had attacked wearing, even down to the pistol and whip. However this man’s clothing was if anything more garish, and far from being shaven, his hair hung in a thick red braid reaching just below his shoulders. He was not as young as the boy Avilon had encountered before, probably a decade or so older. Hard bodied and hard faced, with no sign of any humour or humanity.
As soon as he came in the old woman began wailing and grovelling at his feet, but he ignored her completely and moved to stand at the end of Avilon’s crude bed. His face seemed completely inexpressive and he jabbered something in the outlandish language. Avilon shifted position slightly to raise his head.
“I can’t understand what you are saying,” he said carefully, keeping his tone even and his own expression friendly. “Do you speak Standard?”
The man frowned and spoke again with slow deliberation, as if he were addressing a child or an imbecile. Avilon shrugged and smiled.
“Sorry, but even if you spell it out letter by letter I still won’t understand. I need someone who can speak Coalition Standard, it is the only language I know.”
The man turned and snapped something at the old woman, who promptly scraped and grovelled her way out of the wagon, then he crouched down beside the pallet bed and probed the wound on Avilon’s head with ungentle fingers. That hurt, but Avilon remained unmoving, his face schooled to unthreatening neutrality. He wanted to convince these people that he was not in need of any more of their drug.
Then the man pulled back the blanket and examined the various scars that marred his naked torso and limbs, prodding at them. Avilon flinched and resisted the impulse to object to this humiliating treatment. There was nothing personal in it. It was as though the other man was testing the quality of a piece of technology – or a piece of meat. Since it was presumably a part of some primitive health check, which if he passed, might well see an end to the drug regime, and possibly release from restraint, Avilon endured it without protest.

From The Fated Sky part one of Fortune’s Fools Transgressor Trilogy by E.M. Swift-Hook

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