Jacques nodded and gathered Ziel, Scarlett and Dylan to head to the inn to await further instructions. Dylan was reluctant at first, but his sister quickly convinced him to let it be for now. “Brother, help me, will you? When I recover fully, we can discuss the terms of service with sheriff.” Meanwhile the sheriff turned back to his deputy:” How is the little fellow doing? Do we need the medic team here?” The deputy shook his head, without even looking at the sheriff:” He will be fine, an hour or so, and he will be walking again. Just let me find some potions.” And with that, the deputy went searching the infirmary for certain potions.

The walk to the inn was not long; however, it seemed like an eternity for the four of them. They were all strangers and nobody looked like they were willing to start a conversation. Scarlett was still exhausted from the whole ordeal but she could walk, barely, only with the help of Dylan. “You know”, Jacques started talking “for the Crimson Siblings, I expected more. You don’t seem all that tough.” Dylan was filling up with rage; Scarlett could feel her brother becoming furious. She always could, and that is why Dylan needed her, she was the one who could calm him down before he would do something stupid. “Pardon me, but isn’t it better to never underestimate your enemy? Our state is temporary, but your ignorance could become permanent.” Scarlett said, with a smirk on her face. Jacques’ forehead vein popped out as he tightened the grip around his sword’s hilt. He did not want to admit it, but she struck a nerve. “Listen here, missy, I had enough to deal with for the past few weeks, but I am always glad to finish a pair of good-for-nothing deadbeats.” Dylan and Scarlett stopped; so did Ziel and Jacques. “Look, I really don’t want to shed more blood today. Whatever your troubles are, leave us out of it.” Dylan said calmly, even though inside his rage was burning up. “If you cannot say anything nice, then set an example for the little girl.” Ziel quickly stood in between Jacques and the siblings. “Alright! That is it! Jacques, stop being a big jerk, and you two, I have absolutely no idea who you guys are, but for now let’s focus on getting to the inn. Are we clear?” Ziel was getting madder by the minute, she never liked disputes and always hated when people were fighting. Scarlett examined Ziel, and she something that the boys probably missed by now; Ziel’s hands were on fire. “Girl… just stay calm, this is all a big misunderstanding.” Scarlett said in a calming voice. By now even Dylan and Jacques noticed that something was off. “I AM PERFECTLY CALM! I… I… am sorry I yelled. But let us please continue.” Her fire blazed for a second and vanished completely. Ziel went ahead, without knowing the way, and the rest followed without question. Jacques caught up with her quickly, so that he could show her the way. Until they reached the inn, no one spoke another word.

The doors of the inn were wide open, there were people standing around talking outside and inside as well. The little group of four went in and searched for the nearest table they could find, sat down and waited for the innkeeper, in silence. Not long after they sat down, the innkeeper wobbled over to their table, without noticing who they were. “Can I ‘elp… oh Nine Hells ablaze! What have you done now?” the old innkeeper was looking at Jacques, and now everyone at the table was glaring at him, he just cleared his throat:” William, believe it or not, I am just thirsty. So a mug of your finest ale would be perfect, and two glasses of red wine for the ladies. Oh, and some grog for the boy” Dylan just stared at Jacques, while clenching his fists. “Ale for me too.” said Dylan. He looked at Jacques, he was grinning. The innkeeper wobbled back to get their order. Ziel went red in the face; Scarlett noticed immediately and asked politely:” Is there something the matter dear? Are you feeling alright?” Ziel looked embarrassed and lost; she stared at the table and nervously crossed her fingers over and over again. “It’s just… that… I have… never… I never had any wine.” Dylan looked at her with a smile and let out a short grunt, which made Ziel blush even more. Jacques finally broke the silence. “I believe we got off at the wrong foot before. Allow me to apologize, my name is Jacques Windstrong.” At that moment the drinks arrived, the innkeeper set the mugs and glasses. “Mostian, half-dry, 10 years old.” With that, the innkeeper wobbled to take care of the rest of the guests.

“Sheriff, I think he is finally coming to.” The deputy said while observing the halfling’s vital signs to see if the medication is working or not. Two hours have passed since the group went to the inn, and the sheriff was waiting in the infirmary, patiently. “Good, you are dismissed if you believe he is well.” The deputy nodded, packed up his medical equipment and left. The sheriff walked over to the table where the halfing was resting, and waited to see what is going to happen next. Fortunately, the halfling awoke quickly. “Wh-who are you? What happened?” the halfling assumed a half-sitting position and looked around nervously. When he noticed the sheriff standing tall, he jumped off the table, tumbled backwards towards the wall, looked around, noticed the door and made a run for it. The sheriff, however, anticipated this and went immediately for the door, stood in front of it and addressed the halfling with in a calm voice: “Calm down. I will not hurt you. I am here to help you.” The sheriff extended his arm, offering his hand for a handshake, to show that he means no harm. The halfling, breathing frantically and still confused, tried to make sense what was happening. He quickly analyzed the sheriff, and assumed that he was not a foe. Nervously, he extended his arm as well, and they shook. “Excellent. Now, my name is Paul. I am the sheriff of this here little town of Old Obarren. Before I offer you anything to drink, who are you exactly, and how did you get here?” The halfling was still shaken but saw no harm in telling this man who he was; after all he had saved his life. “Well… my name is Odorf, and I do not remember where I come from.” The sheriff smirked: “Look boy, I know your kind. Your little act of innocence will not work with me. You are alive only because we helped you. Now, either start talking or I will personally make it so that you stay dehydrated permanently.” The halfling stopped shaking, and changed his stance to a more confident one, and explained what has happened to him so far. Altering the story, and telling the sheriff that he wandered off and got lost.

“For now, I will believe you. But you owe me; you owe me your life. And it just happens that I have a favor to ask of you. Nothing big, you see, but hold your end of the deal and you might just get more than an erased debt.” Odorf liked the sound of that, and if he can get a few gold coins out of the deal then it was a sure thing. “I am listening” said the little halfling.


By Dejan Vicai

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