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His Majesty Basil the King of Beggars

His poor majesty Basil, king of the paupers and baron of the homeless, entered a cramped tavern in the slums of the Lower City. With a sly smile, the old rogue looked around at the regulars. Everyone was familiar to him.Sitting at a table to the left of the entrance was Bernard, a sergeant in the city guard. The folded banner, which he always carried with him, stood nearby. After drinking, Bernard often began to wave it, telling how he served the old duke, and demanding to remember him with free beer. According to rumors, for the love of drinking, he flew out of the guard. Sitting at the table with him was another retired guard, Sir Bowden. Whether he was a real knight or not, no one knew, but no one called this old warrior otherwise. Unlike Bernard, he left the guard himself, not wanting to serve the new duke. And the point here is not loyalty to the late duke, and not in the suspicious circumstances of his death. The solution was easier. Sir Bowden hated ogres with all his heart and left the post when Khan Dir was elected duke. The faces of both retirees were gloomy, and the mugs were empty.

On the table a little further on was a plate of cheap mushroom stew. A delicacy of the poor. On one side of the table sat a bear cub stuffed with straw, sewn from burlap, and on the other, Pti the Moth. The leader of the homeless, who were fed by the owner of the tavern. His tousled hair hid half of his face, and a light crossbow hung behind his back. Against the background of Pti’s skinny figure, crossbow seemed like a tower gun.

In the opposite corner of the hall, two more guards were seated at a large table with a tablecloth. Both had just returned from guard duty and were now pouring booze over their day’s impressions. The big man Didier, patrolling the Shipyard, was arguing about something with the guard of the shopping arcade, Ambrose. Didier’s voice was like the sound of his staff – a bell. Stentorian and excessively loud, like all bell ringers, who gradually lose their hearing from long service. What Ambrose answered him was incomprehensible. He seemed especially tired today, which is not surprising: the inhabitants of the besieged city expressed their dissatisfaction in the simplest and most inappropriate way – pogroms.

Basil smiled wider. These were the people he was looking for. The Beggar King walked over to the guards’ table and rapped Didier’s bell with his cane. Everyone in the audience turned towards the sound. The shipyard guard stared in surprise at the idiot who dared to touch his bell, but the Beggar King was not embarrassed. He cleared his throat and began his speech.

– Friends! Neighbours! You all know me. Oh, how much beer we drank with you! I remember how we had fun and walked until the morning! What now? Everyone is just squabbling, yes, lamenting! All this because of the siege and the imperial jackals! We are all tired of this!
– Right! Here with the old duke …

– Wait, Bernard! Hear what I have to offer. Everyone in this tavern is worth three Khan Dir guards, which means a dozen damned Imperials! But what are we doing? Patrolling the streets, begging, ringing the damn bell all day!
– What did he say?

– I say we can do more, Didier! And we deserve more! We can take our own glory! Respect! – Basil looked into Pti’s eyes full of indifference. – Gold.

The indifferent expression on Moth’s face was replaced by a slight smile. Bernard jumped up and raised his banner high. He was happy to wave it at any occasion, and it only served to improve the old rogue’s speech. The others in the tavern stirred as well. Bowden stroked his mustache with an interested air. Basil turned to him.

— Sir Bowden. You are a great warrior! On the front line, you would have no equal! Will you put your grudge against the new duke above the lives of the townspeople, our friends and neighbors? – The retiree shook his head, and the king of beggars turned to Ambrose. – Aren’t you tired of catching thieves in the mall, sir? After all, these are mostly children who have nothing to eat. Don’t you want the glory of a true warrior, the savior of Vallor?

– What did he say?

– He said, to hell with the guard! Let’s go to the damned Imperials! – Ambrose was pissed off. He already had an axe in one hand, and an almost empty bottle of wine in the other. – Yes, I left the fight on the Market Square on Harvest Day without a single scratch! What are those bastards to me?!

– Onward! After me!

Following this cry, the tavern was empty. Random visitors also ran out after the regulars. Una, the owner of the tavern, spat on the floor, sighed, and ran after the others. With beer and snacks in hand, so that their fighting fuse does not fade by morning.

His Majesty Basil the King of Beggars

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