|Copyright ©2016 M.Kelly.|
The inn of the First and Last sat nestled a cart's width away from the northern wall, home to the main gate that led all travellers in and out of the heart of Sellat.
The Inn's sagging support beams gave it an air of a very tired giant, the muddy glass panels of its grubby windows glowed a warm, fiery light from within, pushing back the deepening darkness that settled across the city. The rattle of carts hurrying to the safety of warehouse, the cry of pedlars eager to sell the last of their wares and the lazy drift of woodsmoke from freshly lit hearths signaled the end of another cold day in Sellat's trade district, and the last hours of safety before the denizens of the night took to the streets and made them their own.
"Bloody cold out there!" announced the tall, cowled figure by way of greeting as the door to the dark outside shut behind them.
The barkeep smirked, "The usual?"
Pulling down his hood the newcomer nodded, his grey-streaked beard waggling enthusiastically. "Go sit by the fire, I'll have one of the girls fetch it over along with some warm broth."
"You, Verrik, are a gentleman beyond words. My aching bones thank you."
"Dirk, a word," Verrik leaned over the ale-stained bar, face implying importance.
Dirk cast a longing eye to his usual table by the hearth, sighed and strode toward his barkeep friend of many years. "If it's about my tab..."
Yarrik raised a hand. "You have a couple of hot bloods waiting to see you. It seems they are interested in your offer of work."
"Really?" answered Dirk, slowly scanning the surrounding bar and its various patrons. "Care to point them out to me, Verrik?"
"The two opposite your usual table near the hearth." The barkeep nodded over his right shoulder. "The one with the mop of hair - a right cocky lad - has been charming the daylights out of my girls. Careful of that one, he's got a silvered tongue, got my gals all a fluster. An' the one wearing all the armour has an attitude that screams nobility."
"Do they have names?" asked Dirk, careful not to draw attention to himself as he observed the two young men.
"Aye, the cocky git calls himself 'Tarl', an' Lord Snooty calls himself 'Axel'. All piss 'n' vinegar, if you ask me."
Dirk smiled. "It's all about perspectives, my old friend." Then a thought occurred to him, "Are they spending?"
"Nothing I'd wet my pants over," grumbled Verrik. "Been nursing those tankards for the last hour. Just be careful, you hear. The likes of them will get you, or someone, killed."
Dirk eased his large frame away from his friend and the bar, adjusting his robe and belt, and smoothed out his beard as he began to move.
"Oh, and about that tab of yours..." But Verrik's words fell on deaf ears as his old friend focused all of his attention of the two young applicants he now approached.