Ch5.28 Shards

“Those ruffians completely ruined my hat. I had to make a new one,” the man known as Atheist Jack proclaims, proudly showing off his handiwork. “I don’t mind so much being knocked out and tied up. You expect that kind of thing when you’re rebelling against the status quo. But there was no reason to destroy the delicate geometry of my hat. It’s not like I can pop down to the store and buy one. It takes a lot of time and patience to get this right.”

Standing behind the counter, Kyri, the proprietress of the Copper Pot Café, struggles to come up with a comment that won’t hurt her customer’s feelings. Jack had been sitting at one of her tables, prattling on about being attacked, for what seemed like days, but was probably only a few minutes. She had lost track of time early in the conversation. Still, she liked Jack, for some reason, and didn’t want to appear rude. Even if, technically, he hadn’t been attacked at all. He had simply been nearby.

Before she can frame a suitable reply, the café door opens and a large figure enters. Knowing that a new customer will give her a break from talking about Jack’s hat, she breathes a sigh of relief. A smile spreads across her face as she recognizes the hulking shape moving towards the counter.

“My, my,” she says to him. “If it isn’t the god of all beer and ale, and in my humble café.”

“My dear lady,” Breowan replies with a large smile and something loosely reminiscent of a bow. “I have heard tales, far and wide, of the most delicious pastries in all the universe emanating from this very establishment. I thought that I might procure some of these delicacies and judge for myself if they are, indeed, the fairest in all the land.”

“So you’ve got the munchies and you want some cake,” Kyri counters, her tone making it more a statement of fact than a question.

“Yeah, that about sums it up,” Brew says with a chuckle. “I could just destroy some baked goods right about now.”

With a giggle of her own, Kyri sets a delicate piece of cake in front of the smiling beer god. “I made your favorite, chocolate, because I thought you’d be by today.” Despite Brew’s joking, he has been a regular customer for weeks. “And after all you went through defending this place, of course it’s on the house. How about something to wash that down?”

Brew quickly waves her off. “No, thank you. I can’t be seen drinking tea or anything. It’s bad for the image.”

“I think I may just have a homemade beverage that will maintain your reputation,” Kyri says with a sly wink.

“You would share your homebrew with me? I would be deeply honored.”

As Kyri leaves for the kitchen, Brew turns his attention to the cake in front of him. He quickly devours the tasty treat and is in the process of making sure that no crumbs had escaped him when Kyri emerges from the kitchen and sets a drink down in front of him. “Oh my giddy aunt!” exclaims Kyri at the empty plate in front of Brew. “That cake didn’t even touch the sides did it? I think you need something more solid as ballast. Apple pie?”

“Thank you, kind lady,” the beer god says as he picks up the glass and looks inside. He sniffs the liquid, smiling at the familiar aroma of strong alcohol. He takes a sip and gives her a small nod of approval before downing the rest of the beverage in a single gulp.

“Very nice,” Brew says approvingly. Suddenly, a curious look crosses his face. “Wow, that has a bit of a kick to it. What kind of magic did you imbue it with?”

“No magic,” the goddess replies. “It’s just ordinary moonshine.”

“That’s impossible,” the god of beer replies with a scowl. “No ordinary drink can affect an alcohol god that quickly.”

Kyri laughs as she begins to realize what must be happening. “Oh, I imagine you can thank our friend behind you for that.”

The god turns around and looks at the man at the table behind him. Turning back around to Kyri, he asks, “The guy in the funny hat?”

“The very gentleman. Don’t you remember him from the fight a few days ago? Without him we might not have won.”

“I, uh, was a little distracted at the time, what with getting punched in the face and all. He’s making me drunk?”

“Well, sort of. It’s more that he is cancelling out your supernatural tolerance.”

“What? That guy?”

“That guy has a name,” Jack grumbles from behind him.

“Sorry, Jack,” Kyri apologizes. “Brew, this is Jack. He’s an atheist.”

“He’s a what?” Brew replies, now thoroughly confused.

“An atheist. It means he doesn’t believe in gods.”

A multitude of questions cascade through the beer god’s mind. They collide with each other in an attempt to be the first words to leave the god’s mouth. When the god finally speaks, all that comes out is, “What?”

“If I may,” Jack interjects. “The fact is that I’m onto you and the rest of you alien invaders. I figured out your little mind tricks and illusions. I designed this hat to keep you out of my head. Your games won’t work on me.”

Brew looks back and forth between Kyri and Jack, his face clearly showing his lack of comprehension. Finally choosing to address Kyri, he says, “The hat is making me drunk?”

“No, no, no!” Kyri laughs. “He just thinks it does. I don’t know how, but he generates some kind of field that nullifies god powers.”

The beer god’s eyebrows knit as he thinks over what he’s hearing. “So, as long as I’m near him, I have the drinking tolerance of a mortal.” A smile starts to spread across his face as he contemplates the possibilities inherent in that statement. He moves over to the table and sits beside Jack. “My good lady,” he calls out to Kyri. “Two glasses of your finest moonshine and some apple pie for me and my friend here.”

“I’m not your friend,” Jack growls.

With a huge grin and a pat on Jack’s back, Brew simply says, “You will be.”
“Oh, my… now this will be fun!” giggles Kyri, as she wanders to the kitchen.

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