Chapter 19: Monks in a Brothel

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“Isn’t that his costume for Hrede?” Iain asked as he peered out from between the legs of a tall, almost nude, mostly broken statue of a woman that adorned the top of the old brothel.

“His flamboyantly gay character that he accidentally gave a girl’s name?” Ailbhe asked.

“That’s the one,” he said.

The paladin groaned. “Tell me he’s not going in as one of his own characters?”

“I think he is. If it makes you feel any better, Hrede is actually one of his better characters.” The ‘serk rolled onto his side to look at her.

“I don’t care if he could fool Richard Simmons, it’s not going to work. Clerics can spot a lie,” she said.

“Wait, Richard who?”

“Never mind. The point is we need to decide right now is we’re going to go save him or pretend like we don’t know him,” she said. She hadn’t taken her eyes off of the door Seamus had disappeared into, though there had been no sign of him since.

Iain flipped onto his back, presumably to look at the sky. He found himself face to face with a very different sight. “Oh gods, they made this thing anatomically correct. Why would they do that?!”

“Some people have a fetish.” Ailbhe shrugged.

“I can see what STD’s she has…”

The paladin frowned. “Wait, how do you know what STDs look like on a girl?”

“Ciardhe,” he said without turning.

“Ooooh, I am SO sorry,” she said. “Maybe we should change the subject.”

“Can’t look away…” he said in a strangled voice. “Want to, but can’t.” His hands slowly started moving towards his face.

That’s when she realized he was serious. Before he could do anything rash, Ailbhe grabbed him by the belt and yanked him out from under the statue. When the crazed look in his eyes didn’t immediately die, she sat on his stomach and pinned his arms above his head. For a moment it seemed he didn’t recognize her. All he saw were boobs. The berserker transformation started to take hold, his eyes reddened and there was a warning crackle from his bones.

“Iain!” Ailbhe shrieked, forgetting she was supposed to be quiet.

The panic in her voice touched the last of his sanity and he blinked at her. “Ailbhe?” he said slowly.

“Thank god. Yes, it’s me. Look at my face and focus on what I am saying. We need to go save Seamus, so you are not going to ‘serk out and you are certainly not going to pull a Fandango. Is that clear?”

He snarled at her. Just as she started to consider letting go he struck. She was on her back before she knew what had happened, one of his hands closed tightly around her throat. Wide eyed, she watched as he leaned down.

“Don’t do that again,” he growled. Then he was off of her.

For several long moments, all she could do was lay there and cough. Eventually she rolled onto her side and willed herself to breathe normally.

Iain nudged her back. “Okay?”

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak before she cast a healing spell on herself. A laying on hands spell made it significantly easier to breathe. Iain pulled her to her feet and steadied her before she even thought about asking for a hand up.

“Sorry,” she mumbled. “Was just trying to help.”

He grunted and pulled her towards the trap door that led down into one of the brothel’s back rooms. He jumped through the opening, ignoring the mostly rotten ladder and turned back to help the paladin down the same way. Luckily the place didn’t have high ceilings. Once Ailbhe was down, he pulled her towards one of the rooms.

“What are you doing?” she hissed. “We need to get out of here and save Seamus.”

“Lie down,” he replied, moving her toward a bed.

“I’m fine, Iain,” she said, trying to pull away. He had an irony grip on her, though. “I healed myself. I don’t need to lie down, I promise.”

He shoved her down onto the bed and climbed in on top of her, arranging them into a somewhat compromising position.

“Iain, what are you doing?” she asked as he leaned down.

“Quiet,” he growled.

She was. For several moments all was quiet except their breathing, then the door slammed open and monks poured into the room. More would have pressed in except those in the lead came to a sudden, horrified stop.

“Lady Paladin, are you alright?” the monk in charge asked, his hand moving to the sword at his side.

So that was his game. Ailbhe put her arms around her berserker protectively. “Thank you for your concern, but everything is fine. Poor Iain gets like this when he’s coming down off a berserkgang. He got all worked up when he saw a child strike a cat. I just barely managed to drag him in here before he went off.” She felt Iain stiffen against her with her story of the cat and tightened her hold on him.

The monks were nodding, though, as if they were wise to the ways of cuddly ‘serks. Their leader motioned for them to go, as they were filing out, he turned back to look at Ailbhe and Iain again. “We will leave you, then, so your companion might recover. If you are ever in need of anything, Lady Paladin, please let us know; we are here to serve.” With that he turned to follow his men out the door.

They listened to the monks leave the brothel. They were quiet several minutes more before Ailbhe final spoke. “You can get off me, now.”

Iain rolled to the side, but kept an arm around her, presumably in case anyone decided to come check on them again.

“And just so I’m clear about this, are you or are you not recovering from a mini-berserkgang?” she asked.

“No,” he said, then paused. “Maybe little bit?”

“But still functional enough to talk. Mostly.”

He grunted and rolled away from her.

Now free, she sat up. “I just thought of something. We have an open invitation into the monk’s camp. I just have to think of a suitable excuse.” She glanced at the ‘serk beside her. “If you think you’re up for it.”

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