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Leave: An Iliya Radov Short Story

October 5, 2015

I promised some readers that I would share some short fiction about Iliya Radov from Conviction. This piece is set during Iliya’s time in the army, approximately a year before Conviction. It was originally written as a character study.

Personal note: You may have noticed my lack of being online/using social media lately. I had a concussion (undramatically acquired, and I’m okay), so I’m only slowly getting back to using computers. Luckily I had this post drafted already, so while I get back to normal and update you on what else is going on, here’s a little story for you.

Leave

The noise in there was too loud for him to have a conversation with the barmaid unless he cheated and he wasn’t that kind of guy. Iliya caught her eye and smiled. Yes, he would like to order. The barmaid’s lips moved. Iliya couldn’t hear a word, but the shapes distinctly looked like, “What can I get you, soldier?” The movement of her eyebrows suggested an emphasis on the second pronoun.
He pointed at the tall mug on the counter next to himself. Its owner was deeply involved in a shouting contest of the friendly kind with his neighbour and none of them paid any attention to the newcomer. Iliya mouthed, “Beer, please,” not bothering to speak the words.
The barmaid nodded and turned away from him to fill a mug. Next to him, the mug’s owner suddenly got up, swayed and bumped into Iliya. There was a brief and awkward moment when the man tried to convince Iliya that he had no quarrel with him and managed to insult him twice though Iliya could only hear a few of the words shouted at him. Once by saluting clumsily, the second time by trying to make out the rank on his uniform. Iliya was not going to explain it to him. If he didn’t know what he was by the grey accents and the insignia, it was fine. Iliya wasn’t here to brag. And, besides, what did he have to brag about? The drunk staggered off, presumably to relieve himself of some of all the liquid he had poured down his throat.
Iliya sighed. He caught a glimpse of his own reflection in the shiny, grotesquely disfiguring surface of a bottle behind the bar. He quickly studied his own face. It wasn’t bad. No one could tell. No one had been able to yet. He looked up again, brushing a stray lock of hair away from his forehead. The barmaid was talking to another customer now and he did not have his beer yet. Had she forgotten? Iliya leaned against the bar, uncomfortably attempting to look comfortable.
“Excuse me!” someone yelled into his ear.
Iliya’s right hand instinctively clenched and he brought it up to the other person’s face. A man with a tray full of empty mugs and bottles was standing there, clearly just trying to get past him to put the tray on he counter. Iliya looked at his own hand and brought it back down quickly before anyone noticed what was happening. He smiled at the man who had startled him, but judging from the other’s expression, it probably looked more like a sneer. What was he thinking? Oh no, that was he problem, wasn’t it? He was not thinking. He stepped back to allow the man to pass which he did, cautiously.
Iliya slowly exhaled. He was in a simple bar in a simple town where no one knew him except the handful of drunk soldiers on leave in the far corner who had not asked him to join them – which suited him rather well. No one here was out to get him. No one here was his enemy.
His hand was hurting now. He needed an outlet for the energy that he had instinctively gathered. He reached out to touch the mug on the counter. With a little luck, he would make the contents boil and no one would notice. But no. The mug was empty and the ceramic surface broke and fell apart with a loud cracking sound. Iliya quickly gave it hard push so that it crashed onto the floor. It was better to play the clumsy drunk soldier than to be considered a jumpy wizard in a uniform. The man with the tray turned around, and Iliya apologised as well as he could over the general noise.
“Your beer!” called the barmaid now.
Iliya looked at her with the first real smile that he had smiled in a while. “Thank you!” he shouted and put enough coins on the counter to pay for the broken mug as well as his own beer. He took a grateful sip of the foam on the top and then went to find a place to sit, undisturbed, cradling the mug in his hands.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2015 12:45 pm

    Yay for taverns! It’s a lovely little story, I got a great sense of the atmosphere in very few words. The feeling of paranoia and tension from Iliya was kind of sad and exciting at the same time – and let’s you know when in his timeline the story takes place thanks to the clues in Conviction. Bless him, our awkward little anti-hero. Thanks for posting this! (And hope you’re feeling better, obviously.) 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 15, 2015 2:50 pm

      Thank you very much! I’m happy to hear that you liked it. I promised a tavern and beer, after all. 🙂 Yes, I’m getting better. Going to start catching up on Underground soon, hopefully. 🙂

      Like

  2. kathjoy permalink
    October 5, 2015 3:25 pm

    It is always amazing to see how well you build mood, scene and character in so short an amount of text! It was wonderful to read!

    I hope you’re recovering well!

    Like

    • October 15, 2015 2:51 pm

      Oh, thanks so much! It’s great to know that it worked. 😀 I am, thank you, just taking a while to get back to normal completely.

      Like

  3. kathjoy permalink
    October 15, 2015 3:38 pm

    I’d love to see a short story on how Cornelius was chosen as The Keeper, his thoughts on such a heavy responsibility, whether he accepted it or was nervous or afraid or happy or sad. He’s quite a mysterious, intriguing figure – it would be great to see how he became this legendary man. You could even do a parallel story of him like with Iliya – his rise through learning magic, being interviewed and then chosen and trained and end with him hearing about Iliya and leaving to go and interogate the rogue wizard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 15, 2015 9:11 pm

      That’s an interesting idea! Loved hearing your thoughts. 🙂 Cornelius has his own story indeed. I wrote a first draft years ago (long before Iliya appeared on the scene), and I’m considering rewriting it soon.

      Like

  4. October 19, 2015 3:26 am

    Excuse me while I go follow Conviction on JukePop!
    Great little piece, and a great way to get readers interested in Conviction.

    Like

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