Dragons’ Roost — Part 1

by Joe AuBuchon

 

The bartender’s short gray hair was an anomaly in this part of the world though he’d never thought about how it showed he was different. Most of his customers this noontime were from Fysal’s caravan, either teamsters or guards. There were few local customers any longer.

Jenn, Manzl’s younger daughter, flashed him a hurried smile as she brought out another tray piled high with bowls of her mother’s meaty stew and fresh-baked dark bread. Burnise, a daughter of one of the town’s alderman, carried a half-dozen tankards of ale to the group of mixed locals and teamsters dicing in the back corner. With a demanding glare she held out her hand to the newest arrival who looked up at her with a quizzical frown.

“Blarr, no weapons at dicing. ‘Tis Konna’s rule. Fysal backs him,” whispered the man who held the bones.

Burnise took Blarr’s offered dagger by the hilt and bestowed a smile on the man as she rose. She swept the inn’s tavern with her eyes to see if anyone else was looking for service and saw a merchant holding up an empty wineglass. Nodding, she took the knife to a shelf behind the bar and exchanged it for a pitcher of red.

For the first time in a long while, Konna felt old. Not physically old, as he was in good health and still able to do a full day’s work at the bar or the forge, but he was world weary. The village had grown into a town, and the town was changing.

It was not, he thought, changing for the better. The new people were bringing new ideas–intolerant ideas. Their new god was not as accommodating as those of old.

He had moved here half a mortal lifetime ago, he and his wife–Asyra of the green eyes and dazzling smile that still called to him across the gulf of years. Together, they had taken over a decaying smithy and transformed it into a thriving one and added a stable and, eventually, an inn.

The next two decades had brought them children, a girl and a boy. The girl had been as pretty and hard working as her mother and married a cousin of Fysal. Her young man lost his life too soon after the birth of their daughter to an avalanche in the mountains.

Losyra and her daughter left the caravan on the far side of those mountains, and she’d taken a job as a live-in housekeeper and foster mother to a widowed provincial governor and his son. A year later she married him. He had adopted her infant daughter, and she had given him another son.

Her letters proclaimed her happiness, though on the anniversary she cried for her lost youth. Still, as Konna read the thoughts between the words and lines, he saw her smile and knew that what she wrote was true.

Konna’s boy had had the wanderlust and so had been apprenticed to a trader at the age of eight. He and his caravan had stopped at the Roost three years previous, a successful trader with a wagon, wife and newborn child of his own. Though disappointed at her passing, he would stop at his mother’s resting place on the road north, tell her his story and introduce his wife and her grandson.

Their smithy and inn, the Dragons’ Roost, had attracted the caravans that crisscrossed this parched land. The town and market had grown around him, and now, it wanted him gone. Yes, it’s time to go, he mused. It’s time to move on.

He had decided Fysal’s caravan would be the last he would service. He would leave with it in the pre-dawn light on the morrow–if Fysal would have him.

“So, my friend,” said Fysal as he sipped his date-sweetened wine, “they wish you gone. The ungrateful fools, it was you and Asyra who built this town around yourselves. The only reasons we, and the others, have been stopping here these many years have been you and the services you offer, those, your hospitality and your honesty.

“Konna, no one here can afford to pay you an honest price for the Roost. What will you do?”

“I will sell the inn for a token and travel with you, Fysal. No, hear me out; I have not lost my mind,” he said.

“I have two good wagons on which to carry the goods I wish to keep, including a portable forge and tools. I have eight dray horses and two good riding ones. I have kegs of beer, barrels of wine, fodder and traveling food and animals with which to purchase my passage.

“Manzl and Corrin and their children have stood with me even as the others have turned against me. I will sell the Roost to them for a single gold taler. They worship the new god and will be able to make a go of the business. I have made sufficient profit over the years to see me through.”

“I’ve seen your cellars, Konna,” said Fysal. “My caravan could neither afford nor carry a third of what you have stocked at this time of the year.”

“Fysal, send your sons and partners around this afternoon to load what they can. I will need help in loading what I want to take and a driver for my second wagon. Tonight, bring your families, and we will feast and dance in farewell.

“It will be the last celebration at the Dragons’ Roost as Manzl will soon be forced to change its name. When we leave in the morning, I will publicly sign over the deed to him and, once again, be free to travel the world.”

to be continued

Health Warning!

Subject: WARNING: Don’t wash your hair in the shower. (Baths are also a problem.)

It’s so good to finally get a health warning that is useful!!!

It involves the shampoo that runs down your body when you shower with it. A warning to us all!

I don’t know WHY I didn’t figure this out sooner! I use shampoo in the shower!

When I wash my hair, the shampoo runs down my whole body, and printed very clearly on the shampoo label is this warning: “FOR EXTRA BODY AND VOLUME.”

No wonder I have been gaining weight!!

Well! I have gotten rid of that shampoo and I am going to start showering with Dawn dish soap instead.

Dawn’s label reads: “DISSOLVES FAT THAT IS OTHERWISE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE.”

Growin’ Old

A 91-year-old man was requested by his Doctor for a sperm count as part of his physical exam. The doctor gave the man a jar and said, “Take this jar home and bring back a semen sample tomorrow.”

The next day the 91-year-old man reappeared at the doctor’s office and gave him the jar, which was as clean and empty as on the previous day.

The doctor asked what happened and the man explained, “Well, doc, it’s like this — first I tried with my right hand, but nothing. Then I tried with my left hand, but still nothing.”

Then I asked my wife for help. She tried with her right hand, then with her left, still nothing. She tried with her mouth, still nothing.

We even called up Carol, the lady next door and she tried too, first with both hands, and she even tried squeezin’ it between her knees, but still nothing.

The doctor was shocked! “You asked your neighbor?”

The old man replied, “Yep, none of us could get the jar open.”

Sad to grow old . . .

Health Update

Health, Wealth and Wisdom — Well, one out of three ain’t bad.

Breathing:

Hey, I still can. No breathing problems at all; I still use the Advair inhaler twice a day but haven’t had to use the emergency inhaler at all.

Skin:

Had a melanoma removed from my lower right back in late March; no problems since.

Eyes:

Got new glasses; slight increase in reading magnification.

Colon:

Cologuard result was positive so I had a colonoscopy. Made an appointment with the doctor I was referred to on April 11 for June 19 (earliest opening). The office called on April 29 and said there was an opening on May 3 two hours after I was scheduled for an untrasound/electrocardiogram; I took it. Saw the doctor and scheduled the procedure for May 7 @ 8:45 am.

Charlie called the home care service and got a carer for the morning; Mike took me over and brought me back and later brought us to Charlie’s afternoon medical appointment. No problems either with the prep or with the procedure itself which took 22 minutes and 49 seconds, according to the printout I received — with color pictures (none of which I shall enlarge and frame).

A few polyps were found and removed. I received a phone call from the office this morning and was told that all were benign. Next procedure in three years.

Heart:

The ultrasound showed that my heart is still beating, although some of my former students might find that hard to believe as they didn’t think I had a heart, at least one that wasn’t made of stone. There’s a bit of leakage, but nothing serious and the aneurysm isn’t large enough for surgery (yet). The doctor has thought about prescribing a beta-blocker but that could compromise my breathing.

Also, beta-blockers lower the heart rate. As my heart rate is usually in the 50s — 60s he didn’t want to lower it any further as that could increase the leakage. I’ll see him again in late September and must schedule another CT scan the week before. (Vitals were taken when I arrived for my appointment — BP: 119/69 and HR: 54.) And, of course, he wants me to monitor and record my BP at home so I need to get a blood pressure monitor.

Teeth:

Had three below-the-gum-line cavities filled.

911:

Received a notice from the HB Paramedics on Saturday; they want verification of insurance. The bill was for $1,300+ and my being in the HB Fire Med program with insurance will pay for it. If I didn’t have insurance I’d only get a 20% discount on the bill. Filled out the form and sent requested copies of my insurance and Medicare (with my new, non-SS, number) card.

Hmmmmm . . . March 1st 911 call — May 11 request for info, ahhh ain’t efficiency grand.


Meow:

Meow
Meow

The Mueller Report – A Few Thoughts on Volume II of II

As I began my previous post: The long-awaited, or dreaded, Mueller Report: Volume II is out.

This work concentrates not on Russian interference in the 2016 election and any connections with the Trump campaign, but on whether or not Trump (et al) obstructed or attempted to obstruct the government’s investigation of that interference. As such, it was more difficult reading and there was a great deal of legalize with which to deal.

Impressions

  • Mr. Trump and, many, if not most, of the people around him have no respect for the truth. In fact, I have my doubts that some of them even have a concept of “truth.” If the statement helped Mr. Trump it was good; if the statement harmed Mr. Trump it was bad. Whether the statement was true or not had/has no place in the discussion.
  • It is interesting that some of the people surrounding Mr. Trump (whether in government positions or not) refused to follow his instructions, sometimes repeatedly.
  • Questions of (Constitutional) law are complicated — especially, involving the separation of powers.
  • We are lucky in that we have a system of checks and balances which limits both the powers of Congress and the President.

A charge of Obstruction of Justice needs three elements:

  1. An obstructive act —

    Obstruction-of-justice law “reaches all corrupt conduct capable of producing an effect that prevents justice from being duly administered, regardless of the means employed.”

  2. Nexus (a connection) to a pending or contemplated official proceeding;

  3. Corruptly (intent) —

    The word “corruptly” provides the intent element for obstruction of justice and means acting “knowingly and dishonestly” or “with an improper motive.”

In other words: Did Mr. Trump (or others at his direction) corruptly obstruct, or attempt to obstruct, the investigations by the FBI or Special Counsel.

The Mueller Report goes into a great deal of detail to explain the above, the conduct of Mr. Trump and his associates in regards to it and the constitutional ramifications of various actions and charges.

I found the Report to be damning.

I also found the lack of people willing to come forward and honestly tell their stories disturbing. There are no real “good guys” connected with the White House. Everyone, even those who refused to carry out Mr. Trump’s instructions, seemed/seems to be concerned with only themselves — no one puts America first.

It took me two days to read through Volume II. While the language was no more difficult than Volume I, the content density of the material was greater and frequently required re-reading of sections.

Following the investigative material and its conclusions is the Appendix:

AAAAAA. The order establishing the Special Counsel;

AAAAAB. A Glossary of names and brief descriptions of individuals and entities referenced in the two volumes of the report;

AAAAAC. Questions submitted to Mr. Trump for written replies (and the reasoning behind this) and Mr. Trump’s replies;

AAAAAD. The matters transferred or referred by the Special Counsel’s Office, as well as cases prosecuted by the Office that are now completed.

 

To get the full impact of the Mueller Report you must actually read it. No media summary and commentary is sufficient. However, the following may give you a hint of its effect.

Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”