But, in an effort to show that it's not all awful, I'm sharing a scene from about mid-book with Gilby and Otlee. Since Dubric, Dien and Lars are insanely busy with bigger problems, Dien has sent the boys to bring in a known drunk (Crith) supposedly for a minor offense, but actually because Dubric has been haunted by Crith's wife's ghost for a couple of days. There's been no time to investigate her murder because things in Faldorrah are a bit nuts to say the least, and Dien assumed it would be an easy and safe task to delegate.
Easy and safe in a tambo book? Um... no.
Anyway, the scene's below the cut. Hopefully it'll last through revisions because I really like Gilby. ;)
Gilby struggled off his horse and didn't want to look at their destination. He'd heard whispers that Crith hadn't just beat his wife, he'd killed her. Days ago. And that the place was starting to stink. Feet on the ground, he wrapped the reins around his hand and wished he could climb back up. Still early morning, it was sweltering hot and sweat trickled between his shoulder blades, making his back itch. Grimacing, he swatted at a fly that had decided his ear looked tasty.
"What's wrong with you?" Otlee asked as he tied his gelding. "We're just bringing in a drunk. Lars does it all the time."
Lars has a stronger stomach. "Yeah, I know." Gilby detected a low heavy stink on the breeze. Rot. Death. And pig shit. His gut did a slow roll and he swatted another fly. Beside him, the horse shied and backed up a step.
Otlee rolled his eyes. "You do realize there's more to this job than sitting in the outer office watching people come and go?"
"It's the job, Bug," Otlee said. "If you don't have the balls to arrest a common drunk, you'd better grow some." He glanced at Gilby from the corner of his eye, "Assuming Dien lets you."
No reason to get snotty. Gilby gave Otlee a hard and humorless smile then limped up the steps to the Perr's tenement, one of three vermin-ridden flats above the slaughterhouse. The stench of animal feces and fear was enormous and Gilby wondered how any sane person would even consider renting a room right above all of that squealing, death, and blood. A walkway of spongy wood decking led from the stairs to the flats, and a moldy rail on the right was all that kept folks from tumbling to the road below. Gilby put a hand on the rail to help his balance and it creaked outward, its supports rotted and weak. Grimacing, he stepped closer to the solid wall.
The door before the Perr's flat stood wide open, possibly to let in the putrid, cooling breeze. An old woman - Glayd? No, something like that though - lay on the floor, snoring, without a stitch of clothes on. Flies landed on her privates and buzzed around before flitting off just to land again.
"Quit staring at her snatch," Otlee said. "We're not allowed to look at stuff like that. It's not professional."
Gilby blushed and looked out to the road. "Someone should cover her."
"Not part of the job," Otlee said. They reached Crith's door and Otlee knocked. "Mister Perr? It's pages Otlee Arc and Gilby Talmil, from the castle. Can we talk to you for a moment, please?"
Gilby heard nothing but a cart rattling past and some poor pig squealing its last breath below.
Otlee knocked again, louder. "Crith? Are you there?"
"Peggin' asswipe sumbitches!" Crith screamed from inside and the door flung open. He stood there, tottering, barefoot and covered with drying puke, wearing nothing more than stained undershorts and a ripped unbuttoned shirt. The gassy dead reek that billowed out made Gilby cough, and Jennit lay just inside the door, sprawled over a busted chair and her face a mass of flies and maggots.
Goddess damn, she's really dead!
Crith bellowed a hitching wail and swung a jagged hunk of wood that looked like it might have once been part of a bedpost.
It whooshed past Otlee's head, leaving a waft of old urine and ale behind. The boy squawked and dodged aside as Crith pulled back for another swing. Otlee scrambled to the rail overlooking the road and hunkered down, but he was cornered, nowhere else to go.
"Hey!" Gilby said, swinging his arms in the hope that he'd draw Crith's attention. He might not be able to move fast, but at least he had the whole line of decking and the stairs to escape to, not to mention the sleeping old woman's flat.
"I didn't mean to!" Crith screamed, swinging at Otlee again. The makeshift club hit the railing, shattering the creaky old wood. "Why can't you bastards understand? I love her!"
"Calm down," Gilby said, reaching for Crith. The club whizzed toward his face in a wild, round swing and he ducked, nearly stumbling as his bad hip twinged under the sudden strain.
But Crith had focused on Otlee and the club snapped another shard off the railing. "Peggin' castle nobles don't know shit!" he screamed, slamming down a third time. "Quit drinkin'!" Slam! "Quit fightin'!" Slam! "You think I don't love her?" Slam! "Peggin' bastard sumbitchin' nobles! She's dead!" Slam! "But that ain't enough for you, is it? Friggin' bastards!" Slam! "Quit peggin' with my life!"
A huge hunk of railing snapped off and tumbled to the ground where it shattered like old glass. A crowd had gathered below, gawking. Several stepped back to avoid the shrapnel.
Otlee cowered, arms over his head, his remaining cover gone.
Gilby tried again. "Hey, over here! Let's talk about why you're so upset--"
"Get the peg away from me." Crith elbowed Gilby in the gut, knocking him on his ass.
Crith tottered and passed gas, then took a bleary, stumbling step after Gilby. "Peggin' asswipe nobles!" he screamed, swinging.
Gilby protected his head with his arm. The pain from the blow was enormous, a huge vicious beast erupting from fire. Crith pulled back for another swing and Gilby kicked out with his good leg, hoping to knock Crith back.
Gilby's foot slammed Crith's knee, hard. The drunk squawked his surprise, arms cart-wheeling, and he stumbled against Otlee. The boy was still hunkered down, balled up to protect his vitals, and Crith kept going, momentum carrying him over the boy and off the edge of the decking.
He screamed his descent, but the thud silenced him.
Panting and in pain, Gilby crept to the edge and peered over to the see the man sprawled below and a bloody stain spreading out from behind his head.
Otlee peered out from beneath his arms. "What happened?"
Gilby hung his head then sighed before dragging himself to his feet. "Dien sent us to bring Crith in and what do I do? I kill the guy." He held out a hand to help Otlee stand and wondered why he always pegged up the simplest tasks.