Hellooo, here’s the second part of this story!
“What kind of rumours?” Tia asked, before she could help herself.
“Just that recently there have been more armed robberies…some break ins…in this area and some of the other parts of the land. It wouldn’t surprised me if those two have something to do with it, or know them that do.”
Tia chewed her lip nervously. Their kingdom was normally very safe, and such criminal activity was rarely heard of.
“Here, love, are you going to get us a drink or not?”
Tia whipped her head round to find the two men looking straight at her. One of them was smiling languidly, and the other wore a slight frown. Both were leaning back in their chairs with their legs spread wide, looking as if they owned the inn. The accent was not refined, but clearly indicated the speaker was born in the kingdom, though the dialect suggested the speaker came from further south to Tia’s village.
Her heart pounding, she hitched a smile into place and walked over to the table, willing her hands not to tremble. She could feel several pairs of eyes on her, including her father’s from behind the bar, and reminded herself that she was safe. She tried not to think about the fact that most of her would-be protectors were not trained to fight.
“Sorry about that. What can I get you?” Tia asked, still smiling.
“A jug of your finest, most expensive wine,” the smiling man declared, pulling a small bag from his pocket and dropping it with a loud clunk on the table. The few patrons who had still been chatting quietened, so there was a collective hush.
“What are you all looking at?” the frowning man growled, glaring around the tavern. Conversations were hastily, stiltingly resumed, and the smiling man rested a hand on his companion’s arm. “Now, now.”
Tia’s hands, which were clasped in front of her apron, shook involuntarily once and then steadied. “Of course.”
She walked, heart still slamming against her ribs, back to the bar. Her father was already filling a copper jug from one of the barrels.
“It’s stolen coins,” Tia muttered, right under her breath, as her father placed the jug of the heady scented wine in front of her on a tray. Her fingers were drumming nervously on the edge of the bar.
“Hush,” her father said with a slight shake of the head, adding two cups to the tray. “It doesn’t matter. The sooner they’re gone, the better. Go, now.”
She took a deep breath, picked up the tray and made her way back to the newcomers.
“Here you go,” Tia smiled, bending slightly as she put the tray down on the table.
“Thanks, love,” the smiling man said, and she felt an arm encircle her waist and pull her close. Tia’s heart was not only racing now, but she felt cold beads of sweat break out on her forehead. She tried to wriggle free but was unable to – his strength was far greater than her own. “Ah, feisty – I had heard girls get bolder further North…”
“Gentlemen, please,” Tia’s father was suddenly close by, his voice firm. “My daughter is a barmaid, nothing more. We have brought you your wine, as you asked. Please let her continue with her work…”
The hush had not only returned but was now a complete silence. Every single pair of eyes was on the situation unfolding in the centre of the bar. The smiling man did not relinquish his grip, but looked up at Tia’s father in amusement.
His companion slowly got to his feet, his hand at the hilt of the blade at his waist. Tia’s father was broad shouldered and tall, but the younger man was taller, and in any case her father hadn’t been in any sort of fight for years. Also, he had no weapons. “Go back to serving, old man, for your daughter’s sake.”
“Come on, now,” Tia’s father said, his voice still firm, no trace of fear yet present within it. Tia herself was still struggling, but this only seemed to delight her captor, which set her nerves on edge more keenly than ever. He pulled her firmly down onto his lap, as her father continued, “If it’s girls you’re after, there are places even this far North that we can point you to, where you can pay and they’ll be willing. Leave my daughter be and enjoy your wine. This is an inn, nothing more.”
Tia heard the sound of a blade being unsheathed and cried out loud – but almost before the wail had left her throat, a third individual had appeared between the two standing men, his own blade drawn. It was slightly smaller than the one the thief had unsheathed, but its plain hilt was held in as capable a grip as his opponent’s. Her father took a few steps back, and the two younger men had their weapons pointed at each other.
Tia momentarily forgot her panic and her jaw dropped open. It was Theo, and his eyes were narrowed in a way she had never seen before. “Both of you, get up, and get out. Now.”
Tia felt the arm around her let go and immediately sprang up and fled to her father’s side, shaking uncontrollably now. Her father placed an arm around her to steady her.
Both the newcomers were now on their feet, and neither wore any sort of smile. She could see that they were unpleasantly surprised at the way Theo held himself, and weighing up their options.
“Didn’t you hear me?” Theo said, his voice clear and harsh. “Get out. For your own sakes’.”
The man who had originally been smiling looked around the inn and muttered something to his companion. At that, Tia looked around as well, and though nobody’s stance was as impressive as Theo’s, there were at least three men on their feet looking ready for a fight.
“You’ll be sorry,” the second man spat, but the other picked up the bag of coins, and both turned and strode towards the inn doors, leaving with a sudden gust of wind.
Many customers sprang to their feet, now, and some crowded around Tia and her father, asking if they were all right. Others crowded around Theo and thumped him on the back, congratulating him for his bravery. Tia, though still dazed, smiled through it and assured everybody she was all right, stealing glances at Theo all the while.
Her heart was calmer now, but fluttered unexpectedly each time she looked at him. Talk turned to how the local people were going to deal with this issue, but all she could think was – where did Theo learn to act like that? She made a mental note to ask him later, when his client had returned to his room…
Yes, it turned out far longer than I thought it would, and yes it could probably have gone on for longer. I eventually want to be a novelist who amongst other things writes fantasy novels and you can consider all these short stories as me trying to cultivate pastures in which to set my eventual Debut Fantasy Novel, however all this means I sometimes get far too enthusiastic and lose sight of what a ‘short story’ is actually supposed to be!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless. I know it is a somewhat clichéd scene but wanted to try my own personal hand at something like this, and where better than here?
Also, I am deliberately avoiding the use of the names of lands and cities and villages because I am undecided. I still hope the writing captures some sort of specific atmosphere that binds each of the stories in this category (click link earlier).
If not or if you have any other constructive suggestions let me know! And if you like them then you can also let me know 🙂
Also I will be doing FULL RESEARCH into the types of weapons that will be realistic etc prior to any sort of final Novel so fear not if you are embarrassed for me when you read some of the descriptions pertaining to weaponry and fighting. Am well aware this is a weak spot for me! If there are any experts out there who fancy sharing knowledge, however, I will be every grateful, do constructively comment away!
Thanks for stopping by.