Souls' Rebellion: Part 7

Mistress Abigail, a stout woman of middle years, ran the Spotted Ocelot Inn with an iron hand. She greeted him with a friendly enough smile. “I’ve got a fresh, thick stew jus’ ready, and some o’ tha’ crusty bread ya like.”

“Thank you, Abby, that sounds wonderful. And a tankard, if you please.”

Rik’s thoughts returned to Kaya as he ate slowly. She had always been a bit cautious with people, and impatient with being told what to do. She certainly did not like any implication that she was weak. But she was different, lately, more mercurial than usual. He had actually seen her eyes well up when he was teasing her the other day. And their sparring sessions! She hadn’t ever held back but, lately, she had been almost vicious. He’d had to hold her down more than once to keep her from killing him. Without weapons!

She had left the Drow barrow more than three years ago. Maybe she was actually getting homesick. He wasn’t sure if that was possible, but maybe something like it. She was keeping more to the night, again. His thoughts came back to her rampage this morning. She never scared him, but he was wary of her moods. He considered that only wisdom!

And she was definitely more...sensual! He felt the heat rise to his face as his thoughts returned to this morning’s intimacy. He quickly finished his ale and rose to go outside.

A’berton was sprawling but quiet. The people didn’t like to live “on top of each other.” The streets were wide, and there was so much space around the buildings that anyone with a mind to could build another fair sized building in between, with plenty of yard to go with it. He planned to buy traveling supplies today so that he could sleep most of the day tomorrow; he could anticipate night travel for a while. He needed to see the grinder to pick up their weapons, and the potioner for some simple charms. He thought he would start by checking in with the blacksmith.

As he entered the shop, he could hear voices coming from the shoeing yard out back. He started toward the voices, and was just going to call out when something caught his attention.

“...dark ways, skulkin’ around at night an’ all. Up to no good, I tells ya.”

“She says she was just gettin’ a breath. Maybe tha’s all i’tis.”

He recognized the second voice as the sheriff’s. But the first voice was new, whiny, and he took an instant dislike to the weaselly sounding man.

“Well, I don’ truck with no Drow witch i’ my midst. Won’ take no chances, if y' know w’at I mean.”

“Now, Holin, I’ve met ‘er. Got their horses ‘ere. A'most done shoein’ ‘em, too. She seems right enou’. Little flighty, but there’s no malice in ‘er. An ‘er gentleman’s a good feller.” This was the blacksmith, of course. Petrik smiled.

But then the stranger hissed. “She’ll turn on ya, one way or t’other. Don’ leave yer chil’en alone. My advice are to run ‘em out ‘fore it be too late.”

Petrik was just able to duck inside one of the stalls before the little man came stalking into the shop and out the front doors; he didn’t get a good look at the man. Then he heard the sheriff speaking again.

“He’s not th’ only ‘un who feels tha’ way about ’er, Garth. I’m afraid they’s gonna be some trouble. She’s mor’n a bit flighty. I met up with ‘er this mornin’. Su’gested she stay in at night. Implied it was for ‘er safety from bogies. Should’a seen ‘er fumin’. I swear tha’ dark skin o’ her’n turned three shades darker. Truth is, I worry she’ll do sumpin’ we’ll all r’gret.”

“An if she don’,” agreed Garth, “som’on else is sure to...”

Petrik had heard enough. He stepped to the center of the shop and called. “Is anyone here?”

Garth answered “Come on back.”

As Petrik emerged from the shop the two men seemed to shift uncomfortably. Petrik supposed he understood. “Good afternoon, gentlemen. I’ve come to check on the horses. My lady tells me they will be ready by tomorrow evening. We’ve had a change of plans and will leave as soon as they are shod.”

Garth’s chuckle sounded a bit forced. “They’ll be ready sooner ‘n that if’n I c’n manage it, Sir. I had som’at other work fall through.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Garth, but it’s good news for me.” Petrik smiled. “Kaya’s not been herself lately, and feels ready for a change of scenery.”

The sheriff harrumphed a bit. “I’m ‘fraid I put ‘er off this mornin’, Sir.”

“Yes, she was in a mood when I saw her afterward. But don’t let it worry you overmuch.”

Garth chuckled “well, a woman’s seldom easy, if yeh ask me, Sir. When ‘ould ye like ter pick up the ‘orses?”

“Will they be ready this evening?”

“Right ‘roun’ supper!”

“Thank you. Good day, gentlemen.” He walked back through the shop into the street.

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