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The Adventures of Snake and Sai - Not a rock, I'm just Ruth
All Me, no apologies
just_ruth
just_ruth
The Adventures of Snake and Sai
One Night at the Fifth Post Inn
by Ruth

"It was the time before the Emperor -- a dark time of warlords battling for supremacy across the lands.

And with the seven islands of Doryuu in chaos, the Taijin Empire looked across the Asaake Straits with hungry eyes.

There was danger from within and from without. In this time many heroes arose -- sometimes from the most unlikely of places."
*******

Snake yawned as he leaned on the bar. The Fifth Post Inn was crowded, so all he could see of his partner was his backside as he crouched among the dice players. Not that Snake minded, he could look at Sai's backside all night if he wanted to; and he usually did. The Post Inns were Warlord Uchida's idea. There were twelve of them around the coast of the island and it meant that Uchida could get a message to his retainers within a day. All Post Inns had to keep three horses ready at all time. Things had been quiet lately and the three horses were getting fat from lack of exercise.

Snake felt he was getting fat from lack of exercise. The Master of the Inn was a former army surgeon and was adamant on Sai staying longer. The pair had encountered bandits on their way here and Sai had taken a bad sword wound. So, they had moved in as bouncer and resident dice-shark. Snake hadn't had to even glare at anyone in days. The farmers knew him, the serving girls were not afraid of him and there were fewer strangers since the bandits had been mopped up.

He was abruptly aware of someone staring. He whipped around. Miss Friday, the Innkeeper's fourth daughter was smirking at him. How long had she been standing there? Worse, had she said something? Master Jiko would have smacked him on the back of the head for being so oblivious.

"Like what you see?" she asked. Snake felt his face turning red.

"What's it to you?" he shot back.

She just laughed and handed him a cup of tea. She was a plain girl in a brown and buff kimono, who had greeted him when they met with the obvious pun; "yes, at the Fifth Post Inn everything gets done by Friday."

It was true though, she ran the Inn with great efficiency, leaving her father free to be the village doctor and her mother, a frail, faded woman who was often sick, the time to rest. Her three sisters had married comfortably and her brother was a scholar far away on the Great Island. She'd proved a ready ally against the bandits and thinking about the way she handled a kitchen chopper still gave Snake goosebumps.
"Hoy!" came a shout from the door. Three men in thick cloaks stomped in. "Where's the Innkeeper? We want sake!"

"My father is busy, may I help you?" asked Miss Friday politely.

The tallest of the three leered at her. "Get me enough sake and I'll forget how ugly you are, /then/ you can help me, sweetie."

Snake left his tea on the bar and stepped behind her. His father had been a stranger from the mainland who'd been shipwrecked on the islands. Snake inherited his height, which meant the average man only came up to his chin. The top of the tall stranger's head was level with his nose. The stranger glared at Snake, who glared back at him, baring his teeth slightly in a smile of anticipation. He wasn't bored anymore.

"Do you want rooms or not?" shot back Miss Friday. She'd tucked one hand into her sleeve. Snake didn't want to know what she planned on pulling out of it. The blind ex-ninja who'd been the last bouncer had taught her entirely too many tricks.

"Quiet, Nishi," snapped one of the others; his cloak was more finely woven than the others and had a gilded clasp. "Yes, we want rooms. Two rooms. With locks, you do have locks?"

"This is a Post Inn, sir, of course we have locks," Miss Friday's voice was cold. "Seven silvers for both, ten if you want stable room. Will you be having a meal?"

"No, just sake," spoke up Nishi.

"Two rooms only," the leader counted the silver coins into Miss Friday's hand. "Goyo, bring in the merchandise, it can't hurt to have it inside for the night."

The third man nodded and went back out. The other two went for seats in the common room. Nishi "accidently" bumped Snake with his shoulder. Snake "accidently" hooked his ankle and made him stumble. They apologized to each other in false tones. Snake knew by the end of the night he was going to be smashing Nishi's face into the floor. He liked the thought.

Then Goyo came back into the room, dragging the "merchandise" on a long leash.

It was a boy on the end of that leash in a cruel leather collar. He hadn't come to puberty yet. His skin was milky white and his hair a bleached ivory shade. He was shivering in only a pair of dark, coarse short pants. His eyes met Snake's. Snake felt his scalp crawl. The boy's eyes were the same milky green of the jade hair pin Master Jiko claimed to have stolen from the hair of the Dragon King's favorite concubine in the middle of the Dragon Prince's ascension ceremony. They were just as lifeless as the jade.

"See here!" cried Miss Friday. "This is a Post Inn! Slavery is illegal on Lord Uchida's island!"

"Slavery," said the leader, "is the trafficking of humans." He lifted the boy's long ivory hair to reveal pointed ears. "This thing isn't human."

Snake knew he was going to kill somebody.

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Comments
ginalin From: ginalin Date: February 5th, 2005 04:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I was so hoping you'd write more Snake and Sai.

*waits for more*

You're an amazing storyteller. This reminds me a lot of writers like Barbara Hambly or Ursula LeGuin.
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: February 5th, 2005 08:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Funny you should say that, Barbara Hambly and Ursula LeGuin are two of my favorite authors. I'm flattered you think I'm anything like them.

I've joined the community "writing days" so I'm going to be trying to write something every day for the next twenty-five days and see what happens.

Btw, did you see the mess the SciFi channel made of "A Wizard of Earthsea?"
ginalin From: ginalin Date: February 5th, 2005 09:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, Sarah and I watched most of it.

I remember reading that LeGuin was pretty pissed about the series, it changed most of the premises of the series.

Typical television executive stupidity, they take something beloved by millions and decide no one will like it the way it is as a movie.
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: February 6th, 2005 12:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I suppose they thought someone might be "offended" by the spiritual concepts.
ginalin From: ginalin Date: February 6th, 2005 01:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I wondered about that too, because there are some people *cough* who seem to object to all sorts of terribly innocuous ideas that have been around practically forever.

ginalin From: ginalin Date: February 5th, 2005 09:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Barbara Hambly and Ursula LeGuin are my two favorite fantasy authors, I think.

just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: February 6th, 2005 12:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I love Hambly, her characters are so human. Take "Dragonsbane" my favorite, Lord John Aversin is first seen as this frustrated scholar wearing glasses and muddy plaids, discussing pig-breeding. He's about ten years older than most fantasy heroes and his witch/lover Jenny Waynest has had two children and is not married to the Lord, although, they do seem to be living "happily ever after" until the idiot Prince Gareth bungles into their lives.

I'm trying to make Snake and Sai human heroes.
ginalin From: ginalin Date: February 6th, 2005 01:08 am (UTC) (Link)
They're very likeable, but far from perfect.
Her heroes often are plain people wearing glasses or kind of frumpy. I like that message.

Or they're out and out scalawags like in the SunWolf series, where the mage is an ex mercenary. Hey, that's who Snake and Sai remind me of. Those kind of characters.
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: February 6th, 2005 02:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, of course they are rogues, what else would you expect from a pair of orphans raised by a nine-tailed fox? I must finish their "pre-quel" - The King of Foxes and the Drop of Immortality"
ginalin From: ginalin Date: February 6th, 2005 08:28 am (UTC) (Link)
When you get it all done, you need to put it all together in some sort of chronological order, although I know that sometimes you just have to write something as it comes to you.

As an original fantasy novel, this could be as good as anything commercial I've ever read.
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