H A R W A A H M E S T E P | Q A D I R
The sun beat down hard on the dry hills where the Twaran hinterlands met the sands of the Manudhe Desert. The air was thick and still, without a breeze to stir the fronds of the dusty palms. It was the kind of heat that sent man and beast a like in search of shade. But in a town such as Qadir, shade was a sought after commodity, especially for those who could ill afford it.
This close to the Manudhe it was known that on days such as these, that to spend to long exposed to the Lhat of the Sarin, was to invite death upon one's head. The only people who would willingly sit out beneath the open sky for any extended period of time in such conditions were those who had no other choice, or one who's sense and reason had deserted them.
Harwa Ahmestep wondered which one he was.
The old man sat cross legged, his white haired head and thick armoured body covered with a thin dun coloured sand cloak in a vain attempt to block out the noon inferno. His axe lay beside him, its blade wrapped in bandages to make it appear little more than a bundle atop a stick. Obscured so, there was little to differentiate him from the other beggars and street dwellers of Qadir. Save for the fact he was broader than any beggar had a right to be.
He was perched upon his open bed roll, placed along the edge of one of the thoroughfare's that led through the city up to the Imit's palace. His wooden begging bowl was placed in front him, for that was the prime purpose of choosing such a god forsaken spot such as this.
Of course there were other places that were populated and well trafficked enough to warrant pan handling that were also in possession of shade. But those were either kept clear by the guards, or currently occupied by other beggars. Harwa knew he could send either of those running if he revealed his blade and made a few choice cuts, but he had no heart for it. The guards were only doing as they were ordered, and the beggars were just as deserving of the merciful blessing of the shade as he was... Perhaps more so.
And so Harwa sat beneath the sun, half hidden under his cloak, bowl outstretched the other unfortunates that braved the noon-day sun.
"Alms for the poor? Take pity upon a old sinner." He croaked out in a low and husky voice to the shadows that passed over him, their very indifferent presence providing a moment of respite from the relentless heat. A few coins had rattled in his bowl over the last few hours, but none for a while, and so he had hoped for another copper when two of these shadows paused above him.
"Hedes, friends! Spare a coin for a lowly beggar?"
A swift and sharp kick to his lowered head was the only response.
Harwa bent himself lower and tasted a mouthful of dust, mixed with the faint copper tang of his own blood, his ringing head pressed to the dirt. A spurt of rage, hotter than the sun above, seared his insides. For a moment he thought of how easy it would be for him to unwrap his axe and paint the street red with the blood of these two bastard fools. It was what he would have done once if provoked so, the inclinations of a man better left buried in the past.
He breathed deeply, and suppressed the urge.
"Clear the street, by order of the Imit. Find some other corner to stink up, old man." Barked one of the pair of guards who had just kicked him in the face.
"But of course, of course, fine sirs. Sahnat a wenbet besu!"
All the while he prayed for them, that the Arhanphast would forgive them for the damages they unknowingly did to their everlasting soul.
When they had gone he looked up and gathered his now scattered belongings, including the coins that they had spilled from his little bowl. It wasn't as much as he had hoped for, but it was enough for something to eat from a market stall... and maybe a swift drink. In fact, Harwa thought that the drink might serve him better than the food at this point.
There was a taverna near by that was friendly enough to his kind. He took a quick swing from his waterskin and began to head in its direction.
The shaded interior of the taverna was mercifully cool compared to the world outside. It's arched doors were covered with beaded curtains through which the sun's baleful rays furtively tried to creep they way inside. Harwa did not do likewise, he strode in, bold as brass, his voice booming as he called out to the bar keeper.
"Hedes, my good friend! Do you perchance have a free drink for one of your best customers?"
It was not a practically busy bar, but there were some other patrons. Some merchants and market traders, a family with young children, and a hulking Ayiralite of stone and earth who appeared to be playing with a child, with broken glass of all things. Strange.
"Harwa, you are neither one of my best customers, nor my friend. Unless you have coin, Pah hret!" Came the answer from the other side of the serving hatch. Harwa reacted with mock surprise and feigned outrage.
"You wouldn't deprive a feeble old man of his last few coins simply because he needed to quench an unbearable thirst?"
Perhaps there was someone here who would buy a drink for him?