Hamil’s pencil slipped from its original position as the train lurched forward out of the station, drawing a sharp line straight through the head of the orcish lady sitting a few rows in front of him that he had been sketching. Where there were once delicate wrinkles and proud tusks protruding from her lower jaw, there was a harsh line that divided her face into diagonal sections. Hamil supposed it would have been fine if he was drawing an arrow through her skull, but this orc was as far removed from a soldier as she could ever be. Sighing, he pulled a grey eraser from the pocket of his trousers and began to remove the blemish, taking care not to have the chestnut brown fur on his hand smudge the graphite. The orcish lady, however, remained unfazed by the sudden motion of the train coming to life, so he at least still had a reference.
As for why he was drawing this particular orc, it was a little exercise he developed a while ago; when you’re stuck in an art funk, start sketching the first interesting being or object you see. But why this old orc? he kept asking himself. The train car he currently occupied was full of other interesting travelers; from humans of every size, shape and skin color; to the telkhines, Hamil’s own creatures that resembled a mix-match of multiple base animals. Telkhines had the head of a shepherd hound put on the body of a seal, given dog-like legs, and the arms of an ape, in every hue of brown, grey, and black. Multiple broad, muscular, tusked orcs of every saturation of green dotted the crowd as well. There were a few tall, spindly, and pale elves, most with their noses in the air or in a newspaper. Some white and grey furred could unicorns could be spotted amongst the train car, one with a mug of hot coffee floating beside his head in empty space as he gazed out the window. And even a Gorta, a tall, burly, ice-haired ape-man in a top hat was casually working with a puzzle box and humming a little tune to himself.
This was the kind of menagerie every artist dreamed of, yet this middle aged orc grabbed Hamil’s attention the moment she strolled onboard at Rallen City Central. He had almost this strange, compulsive need to draw her, as if she were the most interesting being on the planet of Icarus. Before she had entered, the only thing his artist mind could produce were a few spiral doodles. It was probably just because she had grabbed his attention so quickly, and her dress, as he discovered, was quite fun to draw. That and his small size really wasn’t helping much to find competing sources of inspiration.
Interestingly enough, the old orc kept glancing over at Hamil, almost as if she could hear his pencil scratching on paper, despite the noise of rattling train car and other passengers. Eventually, she stood up out of her seat, lugging a large black suitcase in both hands and casually sauntered over to Hamil’s seat, making his pointed canine ears perk up in surprise.
“Mind if I sit down, good sir?” she asked politely while motioning towards the seat the across from Hamil, her voice soft and motherly.
Looking up from his sketchbook, a smile stretches across his long, broad snout, nodding politely before pretending to go back to his drawing. Her puffy lavender dress swishes audibly as the old orc seats herself, dragging her oversized luggage onto the empty space next to her.
Now that his subject was right in front of him, Hamil wondered if he should continue sketching her. He had learned the hard way that there were some folks who didn’t like to be drawn without permission (possibly out of fear of inadvertently ending up as a political cartoon, or just being drawn different than they envision themselves). He even had an angry unicorn mare telekinetically chuck a rock at his head, simply for sketching both her and the building she stood in front of.
Then again, this orc didn’t seem to be the type to overreact in that way. She could have simply been curious. That, or perhaps she wanted to get away from the Gorta that had been shedding his white fur all over her.
Hamil begins to sketch once more, now able to more accurately render her features in graphite. The creases of her warm and friendly face; her pale green skin whose cheeks still kept rosy; her thin, polished tusks protruding gently from her lower jaw; her bright blue eyes that glowed like fragments of polished turquoise when the light hit them; her ebony hair, streaked with grey, pulled back into a short ponytail; all of which was subject to Hamil’s pencil, and he was enjoying every second of it. The old orc even seemed to be posing for the portrait, with her back straightened and her hands folded over her knee.
After a few minutes of silence, the old orc spoke once more.
“Mind if I take a look at your sketchbook, good sir?” she asked politely. Hamil quickly tried to look elsewhere, his cheeks burning as she addressed him again. “No need to be so shy, I’ve known you’ve been drawing me for a while now.”
While it was clear that the orc meant him no harm, Hamil was still unsure about the whole ordeal. She had taken quite an interest in him seemingly without any prompting. Perhaps it was because he was the only other passenger doing something other than sleeping, talking, or reading? In any case, there was no harm in letting her look.
With a small smile, Hamil stretched out his short arms to pass the large sketchpad over to her, nearly dropping it as the train violently bounced once again. Taking it gently from his thick hands, she began to flip through it slowly, taking care not to accidentally rip the thick paper. She stopped suddenly, her eyes scanning the page what felt like an eternity before the old orc turns the sketchpad around to show Hamil the sketch she had stopped on.
The graphite scrawls depicted a city of spires adrift within the clouds, the perspective drawn as if one was overlooking the city from its tallest spire. Sleek ships with bat-winged sails and steering fins jutting from their aft-end plied the skies like wooden fish in an ӕtheric sea. The setting sun in the distance casts the most glorious shadows about the city, making it seem to glow. Hamil had to admit, he always liked that one.
“Quite like this one, it’s a very beautiful scene,” the old orc finally spoke, her voice full of delight, “I take it you’re a fan of the Captain Ryder series, by Demnel Wodlock?”
Hamil was pleasantly surprised to hear that this elderly orc was a fan of his favorite series, something that was never evident for her looks. The story was set in a floating city, filled with high action and adventure, pirates and scoundrels, ancient eldritch beings and lost treasure. All told by the “legendary” Captain Jessica ‘Jessie’ Ryder, a young woman with plenty of snark and plenty of guts, but ultimately Karma’s punching bag, as her big mouth constantly got her into trouble. It was quite unexpected, and managed to widen Hamil’s smile and instantly brighten up his mood.
“I am, a very big fan,” the enthusiastic telkhine replied immediately, his quiet demeanor melting away. “It’s the opening scene from the first book, The Girl Who Stole the Sun, ‘I always liked watching the sun set over the city; it reminded me of a big golden orb-.”
“ ’One that I could reach up and pluck from the sky,” the old orc said with the grace of an actress, finishing Hamil’s quote of the book’s first few lines. “ ’Perhaps then my finical troubles would finally be over. Come to think of it though, that would make my life much more boring, wouldn’t it?’ I’ll admit, out of all the openings of her books, that particular one was always my favorite.”
Hamil smiled and nodded as she handed back his sketchpad, careful not to drop it as the train bounced again. It was always nice to run into a fan of Ms. Wodlock. Her style of high fantasy wasn’t that popular nowadays. No, most readers were more interested in the realms of alternate history or future scenario, thanks to the recent terrorist activity in Arthuria and Emal; plus the growing hostilities between Emal and the Empire of Kryos didn’t help matters.
Shaking those unpleasant thoughts from his mind, Hamil decided to return to the topic of Demnel Wodlock’s books. Hopefully, this could blossom into a good conversation that would help pass the several hour long train ride ahead of them.
Hamil and the old orc talked long and hard about books they enjoyed, the places they’d been, and the more humorous moments of life. It was quite relaxing, just the two of them chatting about seemingly nothing important; it almost helped to alleviate Hamil’s financial worries. Then again, nothing could truly take his mind off it anymore; it was like asking the sea to part, it just wasn’t possible.
“You are quite the charmer, you know,” the old orc complimented Hamil.
“Thanks, but I think you’re a little old for me,” he replied with a cheeky grin.
They both laugh merrily at the joke, making a few heads turn their way and shake in annoyance.
“You remind me of myself when I was younger,” the old orc reminisced with a smile, “seemingly shy and hesitant at first, yet friendly, excitable, and full of snark to boot. Strange coincidence, I once wrote a character who was much like you; even ended up being a telkhine.”
Hamil’s ears once again perked up at this, as it sounded as if the old orc was talking about Dan, Jessie Ryder’s ghost writer who kept getting dragged into her hair-brained schemes. But she talked about it as if she was… no, it couldn’t be, this was probably just a coincidence. Still, the thought wouldn’t leave his mind until he tested out his theory.
“Oh, so you’re a writer?” he asks with enthusiasm, hoping she would take the bait.
“Indeed,” the old orc answers with a nod, “I’ve made quite the name for myself over the years; in fact, you could say I’ve ‘caught that big glowing orb.'”
While it took a minute for Hamil’s mind to put the pieces together, when it did, his jaw practically hit the floor. It seemed almost too good to be true, his favorite author was sitting right across him and even liked his artwork. However, Demnel Wodlock was known to be a bit of a recluse, and not many people knew what she was supposed to look like.
“You’re Demnel Wodlock?” Hamil asked the old orc, both excitement and skepticism seeping into his voice. “Author of not only Captain Ryder, but Dawn of the Storm, Nix Creek, The Pyrae Principle, and In the King’s Name?”
She gave a confident nod before replying, “Don’t forget Of Hounds and Sorcery, The Gift, Ansures’ Key, Hangman’s Eulogy, and, one of my personal favorites, The Dreamer. I can see why you’d be skeptical though, dearie, I’ve never been one for the adoration of the public. Still, it’s always a pleasure to see people inspired by my work, and this drawing of yours is quite lovely too.”
A squeak of pure joy escaped Hamil’s lips as his muzzle spread open into a massive grin and his emerald eyes filled with stars. He had so many questions to ask, so many details to clarify, but his mouth decided to defy his brain and blurt onto the first thing it could.
“Where are you headed?” he asked with the enthusiasm of a child shortly before his face sank at the realization of his inane question. Yes, of all the questions he could have asked, knowing where Demnel was headed was the one he chose to ask. His hand came slamming down to his forehead, both in embarrassment and in the vague hope that it would knock some sense into his mind.
Fortunately, Demnel either didn’t notice or chose to ignore his shame, as Hamil looked up a moment later to catch her answering his question.
“Well, I myself am headed up to my brother Jorgan’s place in Tashtur,” she answered happily. “His birthday is in a week and I plan on surprising him. Glad I didn’t forget my passport this time, Emal’s been cracking down on immigration lately. I swear, it’s practically to the point that if a single letter or number on your papers is out of place, then it’s off to talk to the nice men with guns; it’s even worse if you’re Kryosan.”
Demnel paused for a moment to let out a heavy sigh and pinch the bridge of her nose, but quickly resumed speaking with her cheery demeanor firmly in place.
“Bah, can’t be helped,” she said with a casual wave of her hand, “besides, I hear Emal’s quite lovely this time of the year. The zukafruit trees in particular grow the most beautiful yellow blossoms I’ve ever seen, and I always like to collect a few before they begin to bear that nasty fruit of theirs. Hm, ‘bear’ and ‘their’ rhyme; perhaps I am a poet after all, take that Mr. Anderson.”
They both burst out laughing at that, causing a few heads to turn before going back to their previous activities. The mirth between the artist and the writer lasted for a full minute before they both managed to settle down, still with smiles on their faces and chuckles in their voices.
“Talented writer and a comedian as well,” Hamil finally spoke, resting his snout on his fist, “and to think, I never expected to run into you on the train of all places.”
“I’ll admit, I never expected to have my portrait drawn on a train,” Demnel replied with a chuckle, “much less by a telkhine who turns out to be a big fan of mine. Speaking of, where are you headed to, dearie? I don’t think I’ve asked that one yet, have I?”
“Qewl. I’ve sold a few of my pieces to a gallery up there and I need to finalize the details. I’m hoping to see if I can convince them to buy a few more as well, I could really use the money right now.”
The smile fades from Hamil’s features as the reality of his train ride comes rushing back to him. It was indeed true that his trip to Emal’s Capital was one of business, in which the prospect of whether or not he’d be able to pay this month’s rent was on the table. It was hard for an artist to catch a break these days, with nearly all the focus being on science, technology and magic. People didn’t have time to visit art galleries anymore, they were more interested in science expositions and technology demonstrations. Buildings full of artistic architecture were outnumbered when compared to the hoard of standard, by-the-book rectangular blocks that were most modern structures. And the glorious age of statue-lined streets had finally run its course, with most sidewalks taken up by newsstands, benches, and lampposts. It was especially true in Emal, the magic capital of all Icarus; the attention and praise heaped upon the Mage Corps and the Academy was proof enough of that.
“I take it things aren’t particularly going so well for you?” Demnel asked once she noticed the defeated look on the telkhine’s face before a look of realization dawns on hers. “Oh yes, what was your name again? I’m deeply sorry, my dear, I can be a bit scatterbrained about that.”
“Hamil, and it’s alright,” he replied, a slight smile briefly flashing across his face. “My art has never really sold that well, it’s nothing new to me. I’m at least glad I’ll be able to get something out of this. This train ticket, the one going home, and whatever inn I happen to stay at have stolen away the last of my savings, save for the few copper dhurrecks kicking about in my pocket.”
“To think that a talented artist such as yourself would not be able to sell their work simply pains me,” she said with a sharp shake of her head and a definite frustrated edge to her voice. “Why, I feel you’ve done a better job illustrating my work than that snobbish hack I hired to do my cover art. ‘Went to art school’ my tusks, I’ve seen children’s drawings better than his ‘masterpieces’.”
“Agreed, I never did like the covers for your books,” Hamil replied with a confident nod. “Been considering redrawing them myself, but never had the free time to do so.”
“I can imagine; it’s not always easy being a creative,” she answered with a distant, forlorn look in her eye. “You’ll find yourself scraping by a lot, especially in the world we live in now. But if keep working at it, you’ll catch a break one day; I didn’t even mention how spectacular that portrait of mine was, plus that sketch of Magus Stormwall was quite excellent too. You’ll do fine, just keep your chin up, your pencil moving, and your mind full.”
Hamil’s smile returned as Demnel complimented his work, his dreary mood disappearing as he processed what she said.
“Thank you,” he replied with a friendly smile, “it’s nice to know someone has been in your shoes and can give some advice. I’m sure things will work out; besides, I’ve got another gallery down in Forge that’s at least considering.”
But as he turned back to Demnel, something was… different about her. She was quite deep in thought, her brow furrowed, her hand resting on her chin, and gears clearly turning behind her eyes. However, what came out her mouth next seemed like something out of Hamil’s wildest fantasies.
“You know, I’ve been looking for a new artist for a while now,” the orc’s motherly voice flowed through Hamil’s ears like honey, “and I would hate to see skill and talent like yours go to waste; plus, I would finally be able to kick that elven prick to the curb. What do you say, Hamil, interested?”
Hamil had to fight a strong impulse to pinch himself, lest he wake up from such a fanciful dream. However, after a particularly hard smack of his leg to the seat (plus subsequent whimpering and swearing), he confirmed that this was indeed reality. He had not only met his favorite author on a train to Emal, but she was now offering him a job. It seemed almost too good to be true, and for that, he once again checked to ensure no dreaming was to be had here.
“I would be honored!” he practically shouted with unbridled glee, his excited grin washing away any trace of sadness about his features. Once again, a few heads whipped towards the pair before turning back, and the mumbling of “Bloody loud pup,” in a heavy Tungstun accent was heard by Hamil over his excited demeanor.
“Calm down, there’s still a lot to do beforehand,” Demnel responds politely, “there’s the contract to be drawn up, payment methods to be accounted for, and Gintaki will most definitely try to trap me in a net of contractual jargon and loopholes. But, if all goes well, I could see the possibility of having you as an illustrator. Mind if I borrow your pencil and sketchpad, dearie?”
After passing the articles to her, Demnel wrote down something at the bottom of the page of Hamil’s sketchbook that her portrait had been drawn on. She gently hands both items back to him, careful not to drop them as the train, once again, bounced violently. On it was an address and a phone number, both written in lovely cursive script.
“The address of my brother’s place,” Demnel explains, “I shall be there until Monday; feel free to stop by once you’ve concluded your business in Qewl.”
A moment later, the train began to slow, and the conductor’s cry of “Tashtur station” echoed throughout the cabin.
“Oh, my stop,” Demnel said before swiftly standing up, hauling her black case from off the seat and offering her free hand to Hamil. “It was a pleasure to meet you Hamil, and I hope we have the opportunity to work together in the future.”
Clasping his thick hairy hand to her thin and boney one, Hamil vigorously shook her hand before speaking.
“It was a pleasure to meet you too, Miss Wodlock,” he replied energetically with a large smile plastered across his face.
“Oh please, dearie, call me Demnel,” the orc flushes with embarrassment before beginning to walk away. “May the Titans be with you on your travels, dear Hamil.”
And with that, she was gone, off on the platform before the train lurched into motion once more, the orc flashing a friendly wave before walking away. Looking out towards the scenery, Hamil never noticed how late it was, as the last rays of sunlight disappeared over the horizon. Knowing that he had a while before the train reached Qewl, Hamil closed his eyes and let himself through the gates of slumber. For the first time in months, his sleep was peaceful and filled with positive dreams of the future. However, he had no idea how much trouble was truly ahead of him.
Nearly a week had passed since that fateful train ride, and Hamil once again found himself at the cozy little Emallan town known as Tashtur. He had to be honest, even though the buildings still shared the blocky, carved from stone, flat roofed, and red-shingled architecture of Emal, the wide, open roads were a welcome change from the crowded, tightly packed streets of Qewl. It was even worth going through customs again. Hamil swore, whatever weedy little pencil pushers the Emallan Government had manning the station checkpoints always talked as slowly as possible, even when folks said they were in a hurry.
Hamil sighed heavily, realizing it couldn’t be helped and shouldn’t dwell on it. Reaching into the pocket of his grey cotton vest, Hamil pulled out the address of Demnel’s brother’s place, of which he had torn carefully off the portrait page some time ago for convenience sake. If he was reading the street signs right, Jorgan’s house wasn’t that far from the station; hopefully he wouldn’t get lost this time, like what happened in the capital. After a brief moment of thought, Hamil came to the conclusion that his time in Qewl was quite terrible overall.
Thankfully, Hamil hadn’t gotten turned around, and was able to find the house rather quickly. It was a nice little place, with a coat of lime green paint, some flower pots hanging off the windowsill, a garden full of seedlings, and what looked like a fox skull balancing on a wooden rod overlooking the garden. If Hamil remembered correctly, a predator’s skull overlooking a field was an orcish good luck charm to protect crops. Though a slight eerie chill crept up his spine all the same.
Even though a bronze knocker had been bolted on the door, Hamil was far too short to reach it, and just ended up pounding on the wood. Not long after, an elderly male orc opened the door, confusedly looking around for a minute before glancing down. Like most male orcs, the tusks protruding out his lower jaw were quite big, although heavily worn down with age, and his face was covered in scars. He was quite tall, with the tops of Hamil’s ears only coming up to his belt, making it so he had to crane neck to see the rest of the elderly orc.
“Can I help you?” The orc asked Hamil, his wrinkly eyebrows raised in confusion and his turquoise eyes studying every square inch of him.
This orc was old, bent over on a walking cane, and had lost most of his hair, but he still scared the shit out of Hamil. His posture practically screamed, “I may be old, but I could probably still beat you to death with my cane,” and those scars more than likely weren’t from a life of pushing papers behind a desk. He was pretty sure he’d gotten the right address, but decided to check anyway, not matter how much this ancient orc terrified him.
“Um, Jorgan? Jorgan Wodlock?” Hamil asked hesitantly, his voice cracking several times.
“Yeah,” Jorgan answered, his look of curiosity turning to suspicion in an instant.
“Um, well, you see sir-.”
“Spit it out, kid, I don’t have all day.”
Swallowing his apprehension with an audible gulp, Hamil took a steadying breath, then started again.
“Is Demnel still here?” he asked calmly. “My name is Hamil, I met her on the train a week ago, and she asked me to stop by your place, while she was still here.”
“Hey, Demi,” Jorgan called back into the house, “there’s some telkhine at the door. Says he met you on the train.”
Looking past Jorgan’s legs, Hamil spots Demnel sitting at a large dining table sipping what was probably coffee (judging by the general smell of the house) out of a colorful ceramic mug. She hadn’t changed much since the last time Hamil saw her, save for the fact that her dress was a sky blue instead of lavender. She looked towards the door when her brother called out to her, spotting Hamil and immediately gaining an excited grin.
“Hamil! How good to see you!” Demnel called out with a friendly wave. “Oh, let him in, you big galoot, he’s harmless.”
Jorgan merely shrugged nonchalantly and stepped aside, allowing Hamil into his house.
Jorgan’s house was bigger than it looked on the outside, with plenty of cozy leather furniture, a fireplace with a smooth stone mantel, and a large window overlooking the town. It was also covered with the elderly orc’s memorabilia: from several heavily decorated weapons, such as bows, axes, and knives, lining the walls; to the animal pelts draped over the soft furnishings; and the large amount of animal skulls found practically everywhere, including a huge boar’s skull resting on the mantelpiece. It was quite unsettling, making Hamil wonder what exactly Jorgan did for a living before retiring.
Hamil didn’t let it bother him too much though. To each his own after all. He was here for Demnel, and to hopefully gain some fare for the ticket home. He approached the dining table, sketching a gentlemanly bow towards her, before speaking.
“Pleasure to see you again, m’lady,” Hamil greeted her in a slightly silly way, hoping to hear that great laugh of hers again.
“Oh, don’t be so modest, dearie,” Demnel replied in-between chortles, gesturing to the chair opposite of her. “Come and have a seat. Don’t mind my brother, he can be a bit overprotective of me at times. Would you like some coffee?”
Hoisting himself into the tall seat, Hamil noded politely, requesting three sugars in his.
“Gintaki! Be a dear and bring our new guest some coffee! Three sugars, please!” Demnel called back towards the kitchen, in which the sounds of a hissing teapot and the clink of ceramic against ceramic could be heard.
“Hate to have a guest making the coffee,” Demnel pointed out, “but he insisted on making his own. Something about ‘tasteless Emallan brew.’”
A moment later, a rather short elf, a little shorter than Demnel, sauntered out of the kitchen, clutching two mugs full of coffee. Like most elves, his hair was a pale blond and cut to a length that draped around his shoulders, framing his long thin face. The tops of his pointed ears stretched to well behind his head, almost making them appear to be something like shark fins. His almond shaped eyes were a rather dull unimpressive brown, but had a kind of sparkle to them. He looked quite young, yet his eyes were ringed with bags that made him appear much older. The jacket he wore was splattered with paint, and his pockets seemed to be stuffed with brushes and rags. He carried himself with an air of haughtiness, not uncommon among elves (especially those from Ira Kansu), and a slightly annoyed look plastered on his face. It didn’t take Hamil long to conclude that this was the Gintaki (aka “that elven prick”) that Demnel spoke of on the train.
Gintaki took a long, hard look at Hamil, a million emotions playing across his face before settling on inquisitive. Hamil didn’t even know he’d be here, figuring Demnel would simply contact him by mail saying that she had commissioned another artist.
“Who doggy?” The elf asks in broken Arthurian, another sign that he was more than likely from the elven homeland.
“Gintaki, this is Hamil,” Demnel introduces him with a smile, before her face gains a more sullen demeanor, “Do have a seat, there are some things we need to discuss.”
Reluctantly, Gintaki took a seat, brushing it off with a rag from his pocket before doing so. He indulged in his coffee, taking a long sip before passing the other mug Hamil’s way, giving him a suspicious look all the while.
After a long moment of silence, Demnel speaks, her voice steady and professional.
“Gintaki, dear, I’m sure you’re quite aware that I didn’t ask you here for a friendly visit,” she stated calmly, “I’m afraid I no longer require you skills as an artist.”
The elf nearly choked on his coffee, having a few drops spill down the front of his white shirt before Gintaki regains himself.
“What?! Why you do this?!” He responded loudly, greatly offended.
“I am sorry, I know you’re upset, but I’ve found someone who is… more qualified for the position.”
“More qualified? I am qualified! I am good artist! I am espe-, excep-, evcept-, I am great artist! Studied long and hard at University, top of class, full scholarship, and you want to hire doggy?!”
While Hamil hadn’t expected Gintaki to react in the way that he did, he did find it kind of humorous to watch the angry elf stumble over the word “exceptional” before giving up. Combining that with his childish overreaction, it brought a brief smile flashing across Hamil’s face before Demnel continued.
“Again, I am deeply sorry, Gintaki, but I’ve found another artist to commission,” Demnel address him sternly, “look, perhaps I can arrange a deal. What if the both of you work together on my pieces, and split the profits between the two of you?”
Something seemed to snap behind Gintaki’s eyes, and he became even angrier at the mere mention of cooperation with Hamil.
“Work with him,” Gintaki angrily replies, his eyes burning with fury, “he cannot even compete with me! He doggy, he telkhine, he mutt! His people crawl around tunnels and dig in dirt! I kas, I elf, I noble and proud! My people make great art, build cities dedicated to it! Doggy probably cannot draw his own butt if he wanted! I superior to him in every way!”
Hamil couldn’t believe his ears; he knew most elves hailing from Ira Kansu had a superiority complex, but this took the cake. He wanted to punch Gintaki square in the jaw, break every tooth in his mouth, just to stick it to him. It would be hard to call him “mutt” when his unpleasant, racist gob was gushing blood.
But, thankfully, his sense of reason kept him in check, though Demnel didn’t quite share Hamil’s restraint. Demnel’s knuckles audibly popped as her fists clenched and her tusks became slightly more prominent as her lips peeled away. No matter their base nature, no matter how motherly they may be, you never want to be the one to anger an orc.
“I will not have you insulting Hamil that way!” She practically screamed. “If you’re going to be uncooperative and unpleasant, then you can take your prejudice and leave!”
“I am not leaving!” Gintaki responds by slamming a fist down on the table.“We have deal, we have contract, you cannot do this to me you green-skinned--.”
Before he could continue though, he was lifted out of his seat by the shirt collar, coming face to face with a very pissed off Jorgan a moment later.
“You heard her, pointy ears, get out my house before I chuck you through the nearest window!” Jorgan growled in his face before unceremoniously dropping Gintaki on his rear.
Picking himself up, the elf stormed out of the house, slamming the door behind him and making a few of the skulls rattle as if terrified, or laughing with glee at his departure.
Hamil hears Jorgan mutter, “good riddance,” before coming to sit down in the seat Gintaki once occupied. Hamil was glad he was gone, and could see why Demnel had talked about him so distastefully on the train. Speaking of, Demnel collects herself before addressing him, a small, friendly smile once again on her face.
“I am deeply sorry you had to bear witness to that, Hamil,” she apologizes, “I thought having him here would seem a bit less impersonal and heartless; now I can see how much of a mistake that was.”
“It’s alright,” Hamil responds with a friendly smile and wave of his hand, “I’m just glad he’s gone now.”
In reality though, Hamil wished he could have at least kicked Gintaki in the shins. He had never met anyone that unpleasant, even his time in Qewl was looking slightly better in comparison. He prayed to Thrag in hopes that he never had to see that childish elven prick again.
After a minute, Demnel breathed a sigh of relief, her face gaining a calm demeanor before continuing on.
“Well, I guess that settles that,” she said confidently, “congratulations, Hamil, although I do wish things hadn’t turned out the way they did. Oh well, onto business then! I have the most wonderful idea for the cover of my newest omnibus!”
Smiling appreciatively, Hamil pulled his sketchbook and a pencil from his shoulder bag, sketching ideas as Demnel voiced her thoughts to him. The sound of her soothing voice, the scratch of pencil on paper, plus the occasional comment from either him or Jorgan, continued well on into the night, filling almost an entire sketchbook. The vast imagination of Demnel reminded him why he liked her work in the first place. As Hamil worked amongst his friends, he thought to himself that things were finally starting to turn around for him, and, even better, in the most unexpected of ways. Emal truly was beautiful this time of year, and full of surprises to boot.