James mounted his horse and rode to the Puking Peasant Inn. A stable hand led his mount to a feed bin. The snow from the other day’s storm was nearly a memory. Winter weather could be fickle.
He was surly and frustrated by the turn of events. His father had instigated the death of two men today. James was accustomed to death and killing, but had no taste for it.
Walking into the puke, he noticed mercenaries eyeing him. Ignoring them, he walked up to the bar, and ordered a mug of apple cider and rolls and sat on a stool.
He sipped his drink and stewed.
Two men sat next to him and boasted to his fellow.
“I tricked that native girl and stuffed her in a sack … dime a dozen … done it before
..easy sale. “
They laughed and continued on.
” slaving is good money if you know how its done…. Fetch a fine price.”
James had enough. He was short tempered and irritable. Memory of the things his father had done to the weak and vulnerable filled his mind.
” will you stain sniffing slavers shut up? I am trying to enjoy my cider.”
“Sure, my apologies,” the slaver said.
The slaver continued anyway.
“Funniest part is when they ask about where their children are.”
From where he was sitting, James kicked the stools over the two were sitting on knocking them over. ” I said shut up!” The closest one stood up and laughed. “Oh, James, I did not recognize you.
Did you get in a fight with daddy today?” So the word was out then. James was embarrassed and angry.
He looked at the man, eyes deadly. “Didn’t you have a bag tied on your head by the Heron?”
The man’s partner took the opportunity to look for the loo.
He knew of James. He was large, fit , armoured and angry.
” I may have, James, but I have a question for you. Why does everyone know who their mother is but you?”
James swung with a hard right and missed. The slaver was nimble. His flurry of angry blows failed to connect, and insults continued.
“I guess I can call you the son of a motherless goat!”
The slaver was cocky. He had brawled on ships, docks, and taverns. He was adept at capturing the unsuspecting. He toyed with James.
He pointed a finger at his armour.
” is that your… “
James grabbed his arm and slammed the slaver into bar knocking the wind out of him. James pushed him to the floor and finished his cider.
A mercenary spoke. You looking for work lad?
James turned and looked at the speaker who was thick with muscle and swarthy.
“I might be.”
He looked at the two handed montante sword he carried. ” is your sword for sale?”
A wry grin covered his face. ” a weapon is a tool and they are disposable, like men. It is with pleasure I call myself a sellsword.” 500 La Longi Notes.
James was no salesman, but knew that was no bargain. “The sword is worth no more than 250 notes.”
Ah, but I have one and you do not. ” this sword may be worth whatever your life is to you.”
James could see he was not in a good position. He was alone, trying to purchase a weapon from a handful of sellswords. He had just revealed he was a potential mark for easy coin unarmed as he was.
“Fine, 275 and a round of Screaming Peaches for your men.”
The mercenary rose from his chair as if to shake hands. He was heavily armoured and attired for war.
With swiftness, the two handed sword was pointed at James.
” It would be my utmost desire that you hand me your possessions without me shedding your blood in this fine establishment.”
James looked at the man with contempt. “Now, I can pay only a fraction for it.”
The sellsword was wary.
“What are you talking about?”
” why just a few seconds ago it was a two handed montante of excellent quality. Now it is a half sword.”
James grasped the blade with both hands and shoved hard. The pommel hit his sternum and knocked him into his men.
James knew the importance of maintaining the upper hand. These were veterans of war as evidenced by the wear on their armour.
“Is anyone here feeling disposable today? I am no murderer and no thief. To fight me would be suicide. To hasten your death would be murder.
He placed 300 notes on the table.
” thank you for the sale and the practice.”