Chapter 14 (Cleanup)
Jekor gaped at Kkaj until the stairwell door clicked shut. Why does he keep calling me a woman? Jekor took a deep breath then strode over to Iiffar. He placed a hand on her shoulder. “Are you alright?” And what did Kkaj mean by second cousin? Are you a rich bastard, too? He bit into his lower-lip and helped Iiffar stand.
The books Kkaj and his group took from the shelves lay in a scattered mess across two tables. Iiffar’s stack had fallen over, and a few of her books were wobbling on the edge of the table. The stink of piss polluted. Had Iiffar peed on herself? Or had it been Kkaj?
For several moments longer than necessary, Jekor stared at Iiffar’s crotch. Kkaj. He patted her on the back and smiled. “We sure showed him, huh?”
Iiffar blinked. “What? Oh. Yeah. Sure.”
“That’s just how rich people are.”
Iiffar shook her head. “I’ve never met anyone who would just offer themselves up like that to a stranger. Even when they know they did something wrong.”
A sigh escaped Jekor’s chest. So, she’s not one of the spoiled bastards. “Mabe he is just looking for a way to die?”
She shook her head again. “He was so determined and commanding until —” Her mouth snapped shut, and she swallowed.
“I’m sure we could talk to him about whatever the issue is.”
“That would be nice, but I doubt he’d just give up the Empty Bottle Cult’s secrets. Though, if I could get my hands on Lucidity, I’m sure I could make him tell the truth.”
Lucidity … . His mouth began to water. Lucidity, the liquor that allowed a Drunkzard to remain in control no matter how much he drank, was the only primary liquor that he hadn’t added to the catalogue. What did it taste like? Did it have a sweet smell? How about the burn on the way down?
“Hello? Jekor? Did you hear anything I just said?”
“Not a word.”
“What made you zone off this time?”
“The thought of adding Lucidity to my catalogue.” He walked over to the closest table and began to straighten the books.
“You love your books way too much.”
“And you don’t?”
“Books are good and all … .”
“But they only tell half the story.” Iiffar brushed her fingers through her seared black hair and helped straighten up Kkaj’s mess. “The rich write the histories and erase what they don’t approve of from the poor. It’s why Kkaj has to live. For now.”
Does she really intend on torturing information out of Kkaj? “You may have missed your chance.”
“Do you know who he is?”
“Kkaj, the vice-chairman of the Empty Bottle Cult.”
“He’s also Kkaj, the unbreakable Penta. An unbeaten arena fighter whose power with liquor is unmatched.”
Iiffar scoffed. “He can’t be —”
“He is.” Jekor swallowed. “If I hadn’t known he was hungover, I would have never tried anything against him.”
She arched an eyebrow.
“Several years ago, when I still worked in the palace —” A grimace crossed his face. “— I saw him fight. It was … unreal. Whatever you do, don’t confront him head on.”
A smirk tugged at the edges of her mouth for a brief moment before she nodded. “I’ll take that into consideration.”
After Jekor cleaned up Kkaj’s mess, he helped Iiffar put up her small stack of books. “If we’re going to chase after Kkaj, we’ll need to get you some new clothes first.”
Iiffar pouted her lips. “B-b-but he’s been gone for a while. If we don’t leave soon —”
“He said he was going to drink. And for someone of his status, there is only one bar in JimKar that he’d go to.” Jekor grinned. “We have enough time to go shopping, get some dinner and listen to a story or two before he is ready to leave.”
“Yep.” Jekor took Iiffar by the hand and led her down the stairs. I hope she knows how to follow someone without letting them know we’re there. “Shall we?”
Iiffar felt at her pockets. “Well … .”
“I’ll cover your clothes since I can write the expense off as part of my research.”
“We’re going after the peaceful liquor! This is the final key to making me famous.” Jekor pushed the front doors open and pulled Iiffar out into the afternoon light then locked the library’s front door.
Next: Chapter 15