The Blood Bucket
By Scott Wilson
"I'll meet you in an hour at the Blood Bucket, and you better bring the money with you. Got that?" Karl Grumblepot grunted.
"Yeh, yeh," Sammie Singlethought said. "I know what happened last time."
The two henchmen parted company, wiping their blades clean, and headed back to their homes. They knew it would take almost an hour to clean up properly and make their way to the usual meeting place.
Almost to the hour, they both walked in to the cheapest seafood buffet/tavern, The Blood Bucket, on the northern shore. It was renowned for its cheap and tasty crustaceans, oysters and calamari. Once you dinned there, you had to come back, again and again, no matter who you were or what class you belonged to. Grumblepot picked out a table in a dark corner of the tavern while Singlethought ordered two tankards of mead to wash down their scrumptious meal.
Singlethought tossed a silver coin on the table and smiled at his partner.
"My shout," he said.
"I should think so. Last time you left your coin bag at home and we had to scrub pots and pans into the wee hours of the morning. Don't mind the taste of the seafood, but the smell of other people's leftovers in rotten."
"You can go first then, old friend," Singlethought said, taking a long pull of his mead.
Grumblepot smiled like a little kid, leapt to his feet and hurried to the buffet. Even thought the tavern owner kept the buckets of seafood full all night long, people like Grumblepot continued to pile their plates high with their favorite dish as though the food would run out before they got their money's worth. He returned to the table with five lobsters, ten crawfish, a dozen oysters and one giant snaggleblast fish.
"Your gout will flare up with that much lobster," Singlethought said.
"Aye, but the Snaggleblast will even things out some. Always seems to help keep the swelling at bay."
Singlethought header to the buckets, shaking his head and grinning. Crashing furniture and crockery behind him stopped him only a few feet from his table. He turned and saw his partner pinned to the table by four burly farmers. Before he had a chance to run to Grumblepot's aid, two humungous cauliflower hands clawed at him, pushing him to the ground and pinning him.
"Karl Grumblepot and Sammie Singlethought," a deep voice boomed. "You are under arrest by order of the Farmer's Guild of Junjun Shire, for the unlawful slaughter of Farmer Tekyo's pigs on this day, not more than two hours ago."
"What are you talking about?" Grumblepot said, "Farmers can't arrest people."
"Ah, but we can, Mr. Grumblepot," came the reply. "The Guild was given special powers by the Shire Council just this evening. The City Guard is short staffed, what with the war and all, so they are most willing to deputize any established guild to give a helping hand."
"We was given orders by the City Guard last week to kill all the livestock this side of the Forestry Forest. They are all diseased or something," Singlethought said.
"A likely story," said the deep voice, "We have reason to believe you are working for the Fishmonger's Guild to put the local animal farmers out of business, thus making the demand for seafood skyrocket as the only form of meat available."
Singlethought was just about to protest, when the burly farmers pining him crashed to the floor with harpoons sticking out of their guts. Within minutes a full on brawl started between fishmongers and farmers, pitchforks and harpoons clashed. Patrons either joined in the melee or escaped from the Blood Bucket through the nearest door, or window. The chef's and tavern staff joined in outraged at the wasted seafood from upturned buckets. In only twenty minutes no survivors stood unaided in the tavern, most would not stand again.
Singlethought and Grumblepot sat silently at their table, finishing their mead and licking their fingers, oblivious to the carnage of their surroundings.
"You know, Grumblepot," said his partner, "I reckon with the recent renovations, loss of staff and lack of competition, The Blood Bucket would probably sell for a steal."
"And we won't need that silver piece of yours," Grumblepot said, smiling at his friend, "or have to scrub the dishes to pay for the meal."
The Blood Bucket
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