Family ties

Late at night, a knock was heard at the front door of the Silent Stooge Inn. The innkeeper wobbled to the entrance door. “We don’t accept any more visitors!” He yelled: “Go away! Unless you can pay!”. After a moment of silence, a soft voice was heard from the other side of the door, “We will of course pay for your troubles, sir.” Thinking that it might be a trap, the innkeeper still decided that money is money, and because he needed the gold, he opened the slit on the door. He couldn’t see anything as it was too dark and it was raining.

The innkeeper had no choice and he opened the door, with one hand on the ready to reach for his hidden dagger. The heavy door opened with a creak and revealed two figures standing in front of him, a tall hooded person, around 190 cm the innkeeper guessed, a man or at least that is what he could see from the cloak. He noticed the hilt of a sword under his cloak, however, he made nothing of this as a lot of travelers carry weapons for self-defense. The other character was a short person, probably around 160 cm, once again he could not see anything from the cloak. Judging by the physique, he guessed the shorter figure could be a female. ‘They better be worth the damn gold. I don’t need any trouble. I am too old for that.’

medieval_innIndeed, the innkeeper was old, around 60 years old, chubby around the waist and with one wooden leg. Nevertheless he managed to fight off every scoundrel that has ever stepped foot in his inn, he might not look it, but he has the strength of an ox. The door closed behind the two travelers, and they looked around, searching for something. Before the innkeeper could even say a word, they headed for the fireplace to warm up, dragging mud around. “Either stay in one place or get your stinking boots off! You’re dragging mud all over my clean floor!”, the innkeeper was furious. “My apologies, sir. If you hand me a bucket and a mop, I will gladly clean our mess up.”, the short person spoke calmly with a soft soothing voice. “Sister, don’t be so kind to strangers, it will get the best of you one day.”, the tall figure spoke with a deep menacing voice. “I know brother, but we did drag in mud.”, she said this while taking her cloak off, and putting it aside on the nearest chair. “Hmph.”, the only response the tall figure could think of, he was also getting his cloak off. She walked over to the innkeeper, and handed over a small pouch. “For your troubles, sir.” The innkeeper, dazzled, opened the pouch to find three times the gold he would normally charge. “I… I… cannot accept this much money.”, he was still glaring at the gold though. “It is quite alright, we did trouble you at an unpleasant time and we will require some nourishment and lodging as well. And, we did kind of made a mess here.” The innkeeper just nodded, and put the pouch away. “I will bring some food. Make yourself comfortable.” He said that while wobbling towards the kitchen, “Bucket’s next to the counter.”

When the innkeeper wobbled back with a late night dinner, the floor was already cleaned. The two strangers were sitting at a table near the fireplace. Outside it was still raining. “Here is your dinner.” The innkeeper put down two plates filled with bread, huge lumps of cheese, two cold drumsticks and a few boiled eggs. He went over to the counter and reached for a bottle of wine under it and he also filled a mug with ale. While he was doing that, the two ate quietly. Grinning while eating. It seemed they did not have anything to eat in a long while. “Here you go, complementary drinks. On the house.”, the innkeeper put down the drinks and he sat down as well. The two did not mind him, rather it seemed that they enjoyed the company.images

“So, where do you guys come from? You don’t seem like from around here.” The innkeeper was right, both the tall man and the girl had long fair hair. However, the man fashioned a beard as well. Their faces had a stern facial appearance, a strong jaw line, muscular facial features and deep blue eyes. But, as the innkeeper took a closer look, he noticed that the man’s right eye was green and the woman’s left eye was green. He did not make anything of it, he saw a fair share of weird and unusual people walk into his inn. “Yes, we do not come from around here. We come from the far north, Ragnor was our village.”, the woman started telling their story. The man just sat there, quietly eating and drinking. “What brings you all the way here? It seems awfully  far from home.”, the innkeeper was being curious. This time the man wanted to say something but the woman was faster, she replied with a smile on her face: “We are traveling mercenaries. We journey from town to town and help where help is needed. Not by choice of course, we had an unfortunate turn of events, but, that is a story for another time.” The innkeeper regretted asking, but right from the start he knew there was something odd about them.

They continued chatting late into the night, the travelers told their stories from their adventures, and the innkeeper told stories about his youth and how times were different. Although, something was bugging him, throughout the night, he had a hunch that he had heard about a pair of blonde mercenaries. From the beginning he could not shake the feeling that they are notorious. “We are in your debt, sir, but I believe it is time for us to retire for the night.” The innkeeper showed them to their room, and as he was returning to his own chambers, it hit him. He remembered who they were, who they are, the Crimson Siblings!

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“Brother, do you think he recognized us? Maybe we should be careful how we act around him.”, “Do not worry dear sister, he has nothing to fear. We are only passing through here.”, “Yes, but does he know that? Will he alert someone. Let us hope he did not recognize us.”, “Rest easy dear sister, he seemed like a nice old man, he would not do anything to hurt himself. Good night and sleep tight.”, “Perhaps you’re right. Good night.” With that the siblings went to sleep, resting their gear right next to their beds, just in case.

Meanwhile, the innkeeper could not sleep all night and was up pondering. After twisting and turning for a while, he sat up on his bed, buried his face into his hands and sighed deeply. “Meredith, if I ever needed you to protect this old fool, it is now. Please, please if you are near, watch over me. I… I am too old for this.” With the last words spoken, he lifted his head up, looking at a framed drawing of his deceased wife. A rose was lying in front of the drawing. With a heavy heart he wobbled over to his small cupboard, opened it and looked at his old uniform. The uniform of the royal guard, they let him keep it after he retired. At the bottom was his trusty long sword. He took and unsheathed it. The blade was still in excellent condition. He took the sword, some polishing oil and a whetstone, sat down on his bed and started honing his weapon.

By Dejan Vicai

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