He stepped back in time to that glorious day that he felt certain would remain with him for all time. He recalled looking at the man who’d trespassed against him, and who stood at the doorway before him with his arm draped over the shoulder of a boy at his side.
“Master Mugger,” he had said to him, with a bow, “I learned of your move here. I thought I would stop by to pay my respects.”
Mugger, in his usual style, tottered, a consequence of his chewing bibulous nut—notwithstanding the earliness of the hour.
“Ahhh . . . it’s you—my favorite student of all time!” He grinned, maliciously, showing off his red-stained teeth, compliments of his drug of choice. “I just returned from a journey that I set out on earlier today to retrieve my newest student.”
He pulled the boy closer, a lecherous look in his eye. “I’ve hit the big time. This one,” he leaned in and whispered, “is a descendant of the Hazarik. His mother has placed him in my care. I’m to teach him the basics of reading and writing.” Putting his hands on the boy’s shoulders, he leered down at him.
Oddly, the child wore a half grin. His brow rose as his eyes ran down the form of his new master’s visitor.
“I see,” the man said, recognizing a sense of camaraderie with the boy. Although not more than five, possibly six, years of age, his physique already held the promise of great strength to come. “Well, my congratulations to you, master.”
Stumbling, Mugger slumped into a chair. Waving his hand toward the boy, he demanded that he fill a pitcher from a keg sitting on the counter. When the youth, following his master’s command, grabbed the vessel, cockroaches scattered out from beneath it. He flinched at the sight of them, then did as his master bid him.
He returned with the ale, along with two earthenware cups, and set them on the table.
Mugger’s guest gestured toward a nearby chair, a question in his eyes.
“Of course, have a seat,” Mugger said before coughing up and then spitting out a mouthful of phlegm that left a dark red spot on the floor where it landed.
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