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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Keita brushed away Turgis’s concern without a glance towards the young man rejoining the table.

“No, old man, I will tell you precisely how I intend to retake my people’s holy lands. I will gather an army of my people’s finest warriors, wherever they may be scattered across the plains. I will tell them that this supposed kingdom of justice has stolen our lands and defiled our sacred rituals when our backs were turned. And with them, I will raze this village and it’s people to ashes, and sanctify the lands with their blood.” She scowled at the older man until a heavy hand shook table, breaking the uneasy silence. Lucien loomed over the table.

“Do you mean to tell me that you will kill my citizens for settling a new location under my father’s orders?” His voice was a low growl that rumbled in the unnatural hush of the tavern. A few curious heads had began to turn towards the angry youth in the back corner. Turgis nodded to them and most turned back to their conversations and the music which had begun to play again, but some were still watching when the woman with the dark cloak quickly stood herself with another heavy thunk, staring down the blonde man. Only Turgis saw the glint of her hunting knife, buried in the oak table.

“Yes, boy prince, I mean precisely that.” She hissed back at him. Turgis stood quickly himself, laying one hand atop Keita’s, the knife pinned to the table below, and the other on Lucien’s shoulder.

“Whoa, let’s rein this in a bit, you two. Surely you don’t mean to start a fight in-”

“Shut up, Turgis.” Lucien snapped, not taking his eyes off Keita, “You are not my mentor anymore.” Keita merely glowered at Turgis, conveying the same message in her body language before returning the stare at Lucien. Turgis rolled his eyes and after a quick twist with his wrist, walked away towards the bar, pocketing the small hunting knife and leaving the two youths to glower at each other.

“That looks like it’s about to turn ugly.” The barkeep said as Turgis walked up close to the bar.

“Any moment now.” Turgis replied quietly, as a loud crash boomed behind him. Without looking back, he pulled a handful of gold coins out of his pocket and placed them on the counter. “I assume this is enough to tell the Wardens this was a barfight between two drunk locals.” The barkeep’s eyes glittered at the gold, it was more than he’d make in a month. His eyes flicked back to the two fighters behind the grizzled veteran, trying not to look too eager.

“Only if you can clear them out before the Wardens arrive themselves. And I cannot speak for the patrons.” Turgis nodded.

“That’ll do.” He flicked the small knife behind the counter, adding an extra coin to the pile. “For the mug.” He said with a wink, grabbing one of the bar patron’s mug of ale off the counter beside him. The patron was too engrossed with the spectacle at the back of the tavern to notice.

He walked back towards the two fighters, assessing the damage. The table was on it’s side, pushed to the side of the clearing the other patrons had made around the two fighters. Keita crouched in the back corner, taking in everyone at a glance. As he watched, one of the tavern patrons inched closer to her, jostled by encroaching crowd, only to retreat as she hissed fiercely at him. There was a small smear of blood near her mouth.

Lucien by contrast appeared deadly calm. His back to the crowd, his hands up and feet firmly planted, Turgis felt a moment of pride before he brought the mug crashing into Lucien’s temple. The boy crumbled to the floor in a heap. Keita lunged forward towards him, only to be intercepted by Turgis grappling her to the floor. The two grappled, Keita struggling violently against the older man, but eventually his greater strength and size won out, leaving her pinned firmly to the floor.

“Stop struggling.” He instructed. Lucien came to with a groan, struggling to bring himself upright. “And you boy, keep your ass on the ground or so help me, I will let this hellcat kill you and report it as a victory.” Lucien sat heavily on the ground, dimly probing his throbbing temple. “Now then,” Turgis whispered to the barbarian he had pinned beneath him, “I’m assuming you don’t know much about Cetrius, being from out of town and all. Let me assure you, the druids don’t take very kindly to out-of-towners bringing the war into their town. If you would like any chance at getting out of here alive and reclaiming your ancestral grounds, you will get up and follow me out of here without a fight. Agreed?” The girl’s grey eyes blazed with a hidden anger.

“Agreed.” Turgis rose to his feet smoothly, walking over to pull the dazed boy to his feet. He draped Lucien’s arm over his shoulders and half dragged him to the door as Keita dusted herself off and followed behind, pulling up her hood as soon as they stepped out into the drizzling rain.

“Where is your coachman, Luc?” Turgis asked once the tavern was well behind them.

“Probably at Trita’s Palace still.” He muttered, still dazed. “Did you have to hit me so hard?”

“I was hoping to knock some sense into your thick skull.” He replied affably as they approached the seedy location. The coachman stood beneath a small awning, pipe in hand as they approached. “Ho, Curt!” He called out, “The prince seems a little down in the cups tonight. I think it’s time to head back to Avesta tonight.”

As Curt climbed to the front of the coach, he tipped his hat towards Turgis. “You’re a good man, Turgis. Shame we had to lose you to the enemy.”

“I promised his father I’d watch out for him.” Turgis said of the boy. “And I am a man of my word.” He waved as the two drove off into the night, then turned to the sulking girl. “As for you, I’d like to help you achieve your destiny.” The girl broke out of her sulk abruptly.

“Would that not break your promise?” She asked, eyes flashing with suspicion. Turgis shrugged.

“My oath to my King supersedes that promise. But here, I fear the Druid’s law more than the King’s wrath.” He smiled smugly, “And I made no promise to watch out for the prince’s citizens.”

To be continued…


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