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Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories

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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
wrap. "What the…?" The burly man turned. His throat was marked by a similar silver line. Pointing at the line he said, "That's where my youngest wife's jealous lover slit my throat one night as I lay drunk. In my very own bed." He shook his head. "I don't know what's come over these young people today. So impatient." He returned to his
sanding. The warrior stared at him in disbelief. "I can't be dead. If I were dead I'd be in Orlanth's longhouse with my ancestors, drinking and fighting." The burly man snorted. "Do not talk to me about bloody Orlanth. It is because of him that I am stuck here sanding these scorched spots out of the flooring." The warrior was stunned. "What did you just say?" The burly man sighed, "I said, bloody Orlanth had too much mead to drink and got ornery and started throwing lightning bolts around. So they had to kick him out. Again." The warrior's jaw dropped and he stared stunned at the burly man. Gathering himself the warrior said, "Didn't you say this was a bathhouse?" "No, I said this was The Bathhouse. The place where gods, spirits and saints come to relax and unwind." The warrior
shook his head in disbelief. "I've never heard of such a place! It can't exist." The burly man sighed, "I had never heard of this place either but I seem to be here and I seem to be doing shit work nonetheless." He sanded harder and more irritably. "Despite its non-existence I have cleaned up the vomit after Saint Xemela, Rufelza, Cronisper and Vinga had a drinking party." He held up a hand to forestall the warrior's protests. "Do not bother complaining. This whole place is an objection. It defies everything everyone in Glorantha believes in and is utterly impossible. Despite all that," he sighed, "I still seem to be working hard." He sanded some more in silence.

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.

1 Obviously I've watched Spirited Away once too often. Inspired by that and Callahan's Crosstime Saloon...)

This page last modified January 09, 2004

Last updated September 25, 2016

Glorantha is a trademark of Chaosium, Inc. Gloranthan material on this page is copyright ©1997-2016 by Oliver D. Bernuetz or by the author specifically mentioned on an individual page. Glorantha is the creation of Greg Stafford, and is used with his permission.

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