Andrut the Ale Mage stood at the rail atop his tower. The brasserie burning behind him, flames reaching four foot into the air, the orange of the flames reflected off the back of his red and white plaid, short sleeve shirt, the flask loops on his bracers dully reflecting bronze in the flame. Tonight, he would know if he was a true master, for tonight he would taste his apprentices first brew.
Johter started up the stairs ever so slowly a pewter mug held in each hand, filled to the brim, each with a perfect head. Each step slow and precise, as he did not want to spill a drop of his first brew, the first tasting. It was his moment, he’d stuffed the old cheddar and jatz into his cargo shorts, the perfect complement to the ale he had made.
BANG! ‘Andrut! Aaaaaandrut!’
Johter froze, bracing himself for what he did not know. Who would be so brazen as to enter the Ale Mages tower uninvited, yelling at the top of their voices? He waited, stuck. What should he do, does he continue with the ales, does he put them on the step to go see what the ruckus was about, oh what to do.
THUNK! SPLASH! CLUNK! He needn’t have worried, Kaynig charging up the stairs had knocked Johter and his first brew flying as she flew by ‘Aaaaaandrut!’
Yanked from his reverie and anticipation of realising his lifelong dream of being an Ale Master-Mage Andrut turned to see an out of breath, red in the head, Kaynig. ‘What’s wrong my child?’
‘It’s Abby-Anna, she’s gone!’ Bursting into tears, ‘The Minotaur has taken her to his maze. Please help me!’
Johter reaching the top of the stairs catching Kaynig as she fainted. Andrut quietly walked over and picked Kaynig up by the heels. The two of them silently moved her across onto the chaise lounge facing the fire. ‘Run down and get my satchel, there’s a good lad Johter.’
Alone Andrut considered what Kaynig had called out before she fainted. The Minotaur? He’d not been around for a long time, the last time he was around he wreaked havoc on the population.
Panting Johter returned to the tower-top, bag in hand.
‘Good, good.’ opening the bag Andrut started rifling through its contents, first finding a small clear bottle of red liquid with a cork stopper, then another clear bottle with a brackish liquid. ‘Here Johter have Kaynig drink this.’ Passing the brackish fluid to his apprentice.
Standing he turned and poured the red liquid into the fire. The fire died down, it did not go out it simply died down to glowing red coals.
Johter had managed to get Kaynig to drink at least half of the brackish liquid. Wiping some spilt liquid from her chin, he lay her back down on the chaise lounge. Kaynig was fast asleep.
‘Right then lad, let’s get going.’
‘Where too?’ Johter asked as he stoppered the bottle he held, watching his master disappear down the stairs into the depths of the alehouse. The thoughts of his first brew a distant memory. Running after his master he figured he’d find out soon enough.
A short-while later Andrut was rushing him out the door, ‘come, come lad, we have to go.’ when they had both exited the front door the master shut the door; pulling another flask from his satchel, this time containing black liquid and poured it over the door lock, as well as tracing a liquid X across the doormat. ‘That’ll do it. C’mon.’
Johter stood for a brief moment before again ran yelling after his master ‘What about Kaynig, will she be safe?’
‘Not only safe my boy, safe and asleep. You see the drink you gave her will keep her asleep and nourish her while we are gone, the one on the fire will keep a constant temperature no matter what the weather, even flaring up to evaporate rain before it hits her, and finally the black on the door handle and matt will turn anything evil that tries to enter the alehouse into a nice small pile of ash.’
‘Oh.’ Johter knew why he was not the master and optimistically looked forward to learning more and more from his teacher. ‘So where are we going Master.’
‘To find Jelex, now quiet boy, I need to think.’