Vee and Vallace
--Vallace the Whipmaster listened to Keykold’s tales and anecdotes, and roared with laughter, while somehow still tearing at a fried duck leg, swigging red wine, and pinching and kissing the two slatterns tableside. Quite impressed with Keykold’s tales, the Whipmaster went into a few of his own, and though these mostly involved his stories of his own uncanny whipwork, carnie tales or his bedroom antics with willing farmer’s daughters, they proved none the less entertaining. Vee liked this unabashed, lusty, and boisterous showman.
Before long, one of the woman, then both, began casting and dropping their watery, kohl-smeared eyes in Vee’s direction. Vallace paid little mind to the flirtation, drunk as he was, and kept right on talking and laughing. From all of the silly tales the carnival Whipmaster and “Liontamer” laid on Vee in the next few hours, two things stood out for Keykold, one particular bit of “minor” information, Vee found especially mesmerizing.
The first was Vallace’s wholehearted and generous offer to train Vee to truly “master” the whip. The giant, purple-pantaloon-wearing, clean-shaven carnie took a liking to the charismatic Keykold in turn, inundating the rogue with the “history of the whip”, all the advantages of the seemingly humble weapon, and techniques and feats that he, Vallace would be able to teach a willing, clever student.
Secondly, and vastly more important to Vee, though like a truly trained thief, he did not betray any emotion on his face when Vallace’s words made the hairs on his neck stand on end, was what the Whipmaster mentioned in passing. Those words, each one, were gold coins to Vee’s ears.
It seemed in one of his stories, Vallace mentioned meeting a strange “explorer” by the name of “Professor” Agaroy Zelmundt. “A strange but clever man”, Vallace casually described him, who had passed the carnival merely three weeks ago, heading north to some village and “forlorn tower” somewhere among the dreaded cliffs of the Great Escarpment, a few weeks north of here. He had mentioned a hidden library there, where supposedly a font of forgotten knowledge could be had for the enterprising souls who dared find it.
The tale was apropos of nothing, as Vallace merely mentioned that he shared a drink with the “Professor” one fine night.
To most, this name would mean little. To Vee however, well, it made the rogue’s heart skip several beats.
Professor Agaroy Zelmundt was an erstwhile scholar and rebellious sage of Nimz. It was Zelmundt who unearthed the first K’tonian instrument excavated in the last ten years, an Aluminum Windfan, if Vee recalled correctly. That was before he was ostracized for his radical theories, and left Nimz, vowing not to return, until he could “make fools” of his peers and colleagues. He was a trailblazer, a genius, and a kindred spirit, Vee thought, but had an undeniable and indefatigable character trait. Agaroy Zelmundt managed to rub everyone he had ever come across, the wrong way. He even scared off his own pupils and disciples, stalking off to find the secrets of the antediluvians alone.
An archaeologist, a mountain climber, a scholar in the truest sense of the word, and a tomb-raider non-pareil, yes, Vee thought, a kindred spirit, as he pretended to listen to the new tale Laughing Vallace was now spinning.
Suddenly Vee felt something soft bump his foot under the table. Looking below for the first time, Vee could swear a third vixen was hunched underneath the table. Had she lost something in Vallace’s lap? Keykold smirked.