Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories
In the Bathhouse1
Awareness returns to the sound of someone sanding wood. "Uhh, where am I?"
The warrior sat up and found himself inside a torch lit wooden room. Across the room an
older but still burly gray haired man, who was naked save for a cloth wrapped around his
loins was busy sanding some scorched spots out of the flooring. The walls of the room were
circled by benches. In a voice strangely lacking any identifiable accent he answered the
warrior's question. "You are in The Bathhouse." The warrior sat up, groaning.
"What? How can I be in a bathhouse? The last thing I remember is we were attacking a
Lunar patrol. I had just jumped out of a tree to surprise a lion man." The warrior
thought some. "He must have heard me because he turned, ducked my spear thrust and
"Killed you?" "Killed me? No, no, I seem to remember him slashing me across
the gut but
" The warrior looked down in disbelief at his stomach which was
marked by four parallel silver lines. He too was dressed in a simple cloth
The warrior fought hard to hold himself together. After a struggle he seemed to come to a decision. "Okay, so I'm dead. And I'm in a bathhouse." "No, The Bathhouse, always remember the capitals." "Okay, The Bathhouse, But how did I get here?" The burly man shook his head, "I do not know. All anyone who works here has ever been able to figure out is that when a vacancy opens among the staff someone new appears." "Why did a vacancy appear in the staff?" the warrior asked uneasily. "You are sitting in the grease spot where the poor unlucky bastard was standing when Orlanth blasted him last night." The warrior scuttled hastily away from the spot. "The new person always appears exactly where the last person was destroyed." The warrior pondered this news. "And what if I refuse to work?" The burly man shrugged. "Then sooner or later you will be thrown out. If you do not work you cannot stay here." "So what happens if I'm kicked out, do I then go to Orlanth's longhouse?" The burly man shrugged and pointed towards a shuttered window that the warrior hadn't seen before. "Have a look." The warrior stood and walked over to the window marvelling at the total absence of any aches and pains. He opened the shutters and looked outside. The shutters weren't open for more than a heartbeat when he hastily slammed them shut. He stood shaking for a moment before asking. "What is that?" The burly man shrugged his shoulders again, "No one knows. We call it the Void. We do not think that it is Chaos but no one can be sure. We suspect that we are a long way from anywhere familiar so if you think you can find your way to Orlanth's longhouse through that feel free to shirk work." The warrior hastened over, snatching up a sanding block and started sanding a burnt spot. "Good decision friend. They call me Archon." He offered a forearm to the warrior who hastily clasped it. The warrior said, "My name is err, my name is I can't remember." Archon shook his head. "No one can. You can remember things about your life but they tend to be patchy. I remember being a hazar back in Carmania and I remember being married and getting killed but that is about all." The warrior stiffened. "A Carmanian? But that means we are enemies." Archon shook his head, "There is no point in dragging old hostilities out. Here we are all equal. Even the gods behave here and act like friends. If you think you are better than they you will soon find yourself out there." He pointed at the window. "There seems to be plenty more to replace you should the need arise." The warrior thought about this. "Then I guess the need shouldn't arise, should it?" Archon nodded, "Very wise decision." Suddenly the door opened and a beautiful dark skinned woman wearing nothing but a loin cloth and a breast wrap entered carrying two steaming bowls. "Archon," she nodded, she turned towards the warrior and looked him up and down before smiling at him "Who's the newcomer?" Archon looked over at the warrior, "That's right, since I discovered you I get to name you. Hmm, his name is, is.." he smiled impishly suddenly, "Sandy." The warrior shrugged and nodded. "Right, Sandy." He stood and held out his arm. "Candycakes," replied the woman handing one of the bowls to Archon and clasping Sandy's forearm with surprising strength. She frowned wistfully at Sandy's reaction to her name. "You could do a lot worse than Sandy," Archon snorted, "Like Shithead, or Hey You Over There?" Candycakes and Sandy both laughed. Then smiling warmly at him she handed him the bowl of food. She winked at him and left the room. Her walk made Sandy feel more alive than he had since he had regained consciousness. Archon leered at him, "Oh yes there are some advantages to being here. That there are. But first we eat and then we work." Sandy thoughtfully ate his meal and then returned to his work with gusto.
Last updated September 25, 2016
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