Virgulle’s Vestral 8

Friday 27th May 2011

Of liquid refreshment and a new arrival

OVER the next few hours Martin became more affable, no doubt as a result of his eagerness for the contents of an item of furniture known as the ‘drinks cabinet’. Indeed, he went directly to this small warehouse as soon as we had acknowledged each other’s names.

“Tuck Healer, Back Hardy, Brand E…”

I hesitated, wishing neither to offend him nor to choose something unpalatable.

“…Bay Lees, Sweet Martin E, Dry Martin E, Pills…”

At which point I indicated that I wished to try one of the bottles of his own wine. He poured some of the darker fluid into a glass, which he handed to me. I perceived a slight aroma of wormwood, cautioning me not to imbibe large quantities and causing me to wonder if the inclusion of the insect-repelling herb in the recipe for this liquor afforded Martin additional protection against attack by the giant drones.

Before I could taste the infusion, however, there was a ritual to follow, which Martin insisted upon repeating whenever he drank from his collection. He tapped his glass gently against mine.

“Chairs.”

After I repeated the word, he held his own glass up in the air, as though signalling to a person in the distance, while intoning the chant…

“Hears two, the Jack Pot. The Jack Pot.”

…which I also repeated, whereupon we each took a sip of our beverages.

An alarm then sounded and Martin left the room, returning almost immediately with a pink-faced, grey-eyed man with no facial and only sparse cranial hair. The newcomer immediately grasped my right hand in his, moving it up and down, an action that surprised me a little, but which I assumed was a way of appraising my physical condition.

“Gary, Virgulle… Virgulle, Gary,” insisted Martin, with a chuckle.

Although this Gary wore the tether and wristband of a serf, he was by no means undernourished, for the sag of his belly proudly proclaimed such a fondness for puddings that he appeared to have also swallowed the mixing bowl.

“Please tum eat you,” he said.

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