Part 3 (a little longer than the other two parts.. sorry)
It had been sometime since she left , the tavern began to pick up again. He had to assist with getting tables ready as they were several barmaids short. He felt something crack against his head and he fell to the floor.
Delmar came to reality slowly, greeted by a dull throbbing in the back of his head. He rubbed it gently feeling for a knot. Trying to remember what happened that lead to his now prone position when he tried to get up when he felt a boot planted squarely in the middle of his back holding him down.
“Welcome to the land of the living.” a lightly accented female voice said above and behind him.
He heard a heavy sighed from the bar counter and knew it was Tekr.
“Be glad he didn’t show up himself. “
“Get up.” The bounty hunter said gruffly behind him
He managed to slowly, trying to make a sly move to see his assailant only to be met with a sword point.
“I doubt Marritt’ll want him scarred.”
“He was going to pay double for him dead, but I’ll let him take care of that himself.”
He was led out onto the street with the sword still at his back. The sun was disappearing behind the mountains that both protected and separated GoldenCity from the rest of Akra.
The woman kept the blade as his back throughout their journey, leading him down the steep worn path towards the docks and the tavern. The worn wood of the docks creaked nosily beneath their feet.
Pushing open the door he was greeted by a massive grinning pirate who was every bit of the width of the bar he was standing behind. His gold tooth caught the lamplight of the tavern and glinted.
“Well, well, well. Good to see ya Delmar. I see ya’ve met my bounty hunter.”
The bounty hunter took a seat to Delmar’s left and pulled a small pouch out from under the counter pushing it across the counter. The bounty hunter caught it and opened it counting the coins, seemingly satisfied closed the pouch and tucked it underneath his cloak. Pushing the hood back revealing a face that been haunting his dreams.
His jaw dropped.
A scowl came across her face, hardening her appearance, “How did you know my name?”
The bounty hunter glanced at the owner of the tavern who shrugged his gigantic shoulders.
“Think ya might’ve hit him too hard.”
“If you wanted him dead that can still be arranged.” She offered
“Not ‘til he pays his debt. What say be ya punishment?”
“Barnacle duty?” she suggested idly, sliding off the barstool.
“Aye. That’s a good one. But I’m a bit short on barmaids tonight. How ‘bout ya be a barmaid for the night and earn the 100 gold ya owe.”
“In one night?” he said in disbelief before he could stop himself.
“Aye. Unless ya prefer a watery grave.” His features turned dark and serious.
“N-no, that’s fine. ”
“Good, now git to work.”
The tavern was crowded with bodies and smells assaulted his nose.
At one point he had so many plates piled on the tray that he lost his footing and accidentally spilled ale on a blonde haired pirate.
She immediately got to her feet with her sword drawn,”Ya spilled ale on me!”
“That shirt was already stained.”
One of her pirate buddies pulled her back, ”Jenika, ya know getting into a fight with a bounty hunter ain’t gonna be fair.”
“No honor among thieves an’ mercenaries are worse’n us.” Another one of her cronies piped in.
“Ya better listen to ‘em.” Kiera cautioned, hand on the hilt of her sword, eyes sparkled dangerously.
The blonde woman baked down.
At the end of the night Delmar approached Marritt presenting him with the gold he had made, knowing it was short by at least twenty pieces.
The large man waved away his gold,”Ya debt’s ‘ve been paid. Could offer ya a spot here if ya want it.”
“Allright then, git outta my sight.”
Delmar obeyed slipped out into the cool crisp air of the autumn evening. He stumbled a few times trying to find the path back up to the city mercifully, the clouds moved and the full moon illuminated it for him.
Pushing the doors open he found the tavern nearly empty and oddly still. The hairs stood up on the back of his neck, something was terribly wrong.
“Where is she?”
“Gone child.” A teary eyed Celea said between sobs.
“She never came back from the market.”
“I’ve got to find her.”
He leaves to town center it’s dimly lit curses himself for not remembering his training. He bent down to trying to read the tracks, but he gave up a few moments later. Standing up quickly he and nearly smacked into a cloaked figure.
“Watch it.” An annoyed voice said.
“What are you doing here?”
“I was leaving.”
“Can you help me?”
“If you didn’t have enough gold to pay Marritt, I doubt you can afford me.”
“I will pay you back.”
There was hesitation in her features, then it changed, “What is it?”
“I’m looking for a friend, she disappeared at the market today. Can you read those tracks?”
She glanced at the ground, pushing some of the gravel out of the way with her boot.
“Looks like there was a fight, a blonde woman and…” she frowned sniffing the air,”krisna?”
“Signess minions, they are mindless servants to his will. “
“I don’t believe in magic.”
“Your disbelief will not shelter you from Him, it will only make you more vulnerable. One from them will cause writings to appear on your arm and you will be cursed to become one of them.”
He shivered despite himself.
She didn’t seem to notice, following the trail.
“They left the city and headed east.”
They walked as far they could
Daybreak was upon them he was hungry and tired. She had dried meat gave him a small portion .
“You didn’t come prepared?”
“I didn’t expect to leave the city.”
“Let’s make came here. We’re no used to anyone as tired as we are.”
She took off her cloak revealing a shirt, seeing a mark on her upper arm.
It was then that he noticed the mark on her upper right arm.
“What is that?”
“The brand of the H’enigh.”
She sighed,” Are you truly that oblivious to things not under your nose? They are a tribe from Monora.”
“You’re a native?”
“You don’t look like one.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“I thought none of them spoke common.”
It was then that he noticed a scar that looked familiar to him.
“Where did you get that?”
She frowned looking at it,”Why do you ask so many questions?”
“I gave you that scar.”
“I highly doubt it.”
“Why did you pay my debt?” he asked changing the subject.
She shrugged,”Marrit was in a rare mood. Figured I would help you rather than see more bloodshed. Why are you so concerned about this woman anyways? Seems to me Signess has other plans for her and I would leave her alone.”
“I don’t–“he began to protest, but she cut him off curtly.
“Your disbelief won’t save her. “
“That’s why I hired you. “
“Do I look like a mage?”
“Then why would I want to fight against magic?”
“Do whatever that is in your power track her down.”
“What’s so special about this friend of yours? “
“She’s the heiress to the throne.”
“Well that explains it, rescuing her will get you out of the tavern and into the good life. “
Delmar stared at her in disbelief, “You don’t remember do you? “
“Remember what? “
“What did the H’enigh do to you?”
“What do you mean? “ she frowned
“You’re Kiera Sunstar, heiress to the kingdom of Nyma. “
She laughed,” I must’ve hit you too hard. There’s nothing left of Nyma but ruins everyone knows that. “
“No, I was a knight in training the night Nyma was destroyed. I was the one who gave you that scar.”He stepped closer to her, tracing the outline of the scar,”the sword entered here and cut through the tendon. You couldn’t do much with your right hand for a while and forced yourself to learn how to wield with your left. Which is why you still use your left against weaker opponents but your killing blow is dealt with your right. “
“How do you?” she asked confused as he traced the scar along her arm with his finger.
There was something familiar in his touch it stirred a memory that her conscious mind could not grasp confusion crossed her face then anger as she snatched her arm away from him.
“Don’t ever touch me again. You had me for a moment but then when you started talking about Nyma I knew you had lost it. Whatever fantasy you believe in, leave me out of it. “
She awoke that morning with a start, her heart racing as she tried to sort through the images that were still floating in her head from her dream. Turning she saw Delmar was laying facing away from her on the opposite side of the now dead fire.
She got to her feet unsheathing her sword it was time to put an end to his mind games.