The Rusty Dragon Inn

Posted: October 4, 2011 in Shogar's Journal

We left our horses in the care of Hosk and his grooms, who seemed to genuinely care for the beasts. Back out on the street it had turned from duck to full night. The rain was coming down harder and little specules of ice were mixed in with it, ticking off our boots and armor. It smelled like it might snow later on.

The tavern Threse had in mind was right next door to the stables. We turned to our right and had to go no more than thirty paces to reach the front door – which suited me just fine, hobbling along as I was, forced to lean my weight on a stick to walk at all. A crossbow bolt had pierced my inner left thigh a week or so back, only a few inches below my balls. I’d bled like a stuck pig for a few minutes until Wulfsdottir did her laying on of hands thing. Unfortunately she’d been hex healing us all day long, and even she had just plain been running out of God juice.

The wound had stopped bleeding, even scabbed over a bit, but it was long way from healed. And because she’d already worked one bit of voodoo on it, the wound was ineligible for more divine healing – or arcane healing either, for that matter. I would just have to wait for it to heal naturally. And it was taking its own sweet time about it.

Luckily enough it didn’t hurt too much when I was in the saddle. But it more than made up for it when I put any weight on that keg. Thus the staff and my ungainly shuffle. The weight of my pack and saddle bags weren’t help any either. So I was right glad we didn’t have to walk too far.

We didn’t see the dragon that night. It’s up on the roof and in the dark with sleet pissing down on us we didn’t even think of looking up. All we saw was a big wide door – oak wood with bands of iron and a lock the size of Beryn’s shield holding it closed. Threse stepped up onto the little covered porch and lifted the latch.

It was like her performed a magic trick for us. One moment we were wet and cold, shivering in the freezing rain, then presto-chango, we were warm and dry with the smell of fresh beer and just-cooked meat pies in our nostrils. There was lute playing something sweet in the background and a wash of chattering voices and clattering cutlery. It all stopped dead the moment we stepped inside as everyone turned to look at us, trying to decide if we were dangerous enough to kill, or run away from.

We get that a fair bit when we go in somewhere as a group. There’s seven of us and everyone of us is armed to the teeth. Most of us look like we’d kill our mother for a cold beer. We’ve been together for a couple of years now and we’ve developed a way of entering a place that gives us the advantage. We even do it instinctively on nights like tonight when all we want is a pint and a pie and bed to sleep in.

Jard Walken goes in first. He’s younger than Threse by twenty years, but he’s the biggest of us by far – six foot three inches tall. And he glares at everyone. Mostly it’s because he’s short sighted and can’t see too well, but it’s unsettling. Threse and Beryn come in next on either side of the big lad. Beryn’s a dwarf. Not tall, but massif with black iron armor and an axe that just looks cruel. Threse isn’t as big as Walken, but he’s tall enough and he carries himself like a fighter – which is what these three are. Good ones.

Wulfsdottir and I usually come in next. In a fight we provide the arcane razzle dazzle. Right now we are both of us crippled and the others are keeping us in the middle to protect us. Behind me is Hans Cru, tall and mysterious looking with a sweeping foreign kind of blade in his belt that he picked up somewhere. And behind him is Aynia Nighe. She’s gorgeous in a tall, willowy, stacked brunette sort of way, but the long bow she carries and the tattoos on her body leave little doubt she’s no trollop.

Like I say, we can look scary when we enter a room. We do it that way out of habit. People always stop what they are doing and look at us. There’s always a moment when they consider us as an elemental threat – like a storm or a flood – and then they decide if they’re going to stay or run away. But we didn’t have our weapons drawn and we weren’t charging at anyone. So the moment of tension passed and people started breathing again.

“Shut the fucking door!” someone yelled from the back. “You’re letting all the warm air out.” It was a woman’s voice and several of the patrons looked away from us at her.

Ameiko Kaijitsu

Ameiko Kaijitsu: Proprietor of the Rusty Dragon Inn

She stood by the bar and even through the faint haze from the fire smoke I could see she was drop-dead gorgeous. Big red hair, tall, shapely, dressed in clothes that fit her and flattered her figure. Ameiko, Hosk had called her. A looker, he’d said. He hadn’t been lying.

Hans Cru closed the door behind us. Aynia had already faded to one side. I had to look hard to see her in the shadows and I knew she was there.

“Got a table for eight?” called Threse to the lovely girl.

“There’s only seven of you,” she replied. The fact that she had noted Aynia sent her up a notch in my estimation – if that were possible.

“I hoped you might join us for a drink,” said Threse in his most honeyed tones. We’d like to talk to you about accommodation.

She snorted a small laugh at his seductive tone.

“I’ll rent you some rooms. You don’t need to buy me a drink. You just need to pay in advance.”

She pointed across the room to where the floor was raised up a step or two and there were several more tables, a couple of which were empty in the back.

Rusty Dragon Inn

Rusty Dragon Inn: Ground Floor

“There’s room for you up there by the back fire place. I’ll get it lit. You can put your gear in the corner.”

She followed us up the two steps to the higher level and I noticed that it became a stage over towards the bar with enough room for a small band to play on.

“No feet on the furniture. No spitting. And no knife games. If I catch you cheating at cards or dice, I’ll slit your nostrils.

“Now, what are you drinking?”

Damn, I thought, this is my kind of woman.

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