The Wind howls through the streets of Oaken Heart. The fires of the evening’s festivities have long since guttered and died, an most of the revellers have gone to bed. The streets are littered in refuse, and some of the buildings look damaged. An yet, the town has been celebrating a victory. They celebrate the chance to be safe again, and a thankyou to the travelling heroes that saved their village. In a small inn, a man sits hunched at the bar, taking his time drinking a mug of ale the size of his head. The fire gutters low, an short of a few folk sleeping in the common room, no one else stirs in the small building. As the man sits and stairs into his mug, his brow furrowed deep in concentration, a small hooded figure descends the stairs. Not a noise came from the stairs, nor was a sound heard on her approach. The figure coughs lightly as she sits at the bar. The man doesn’t react, nor seem to care. He simply continues to sit, staring into the mug.
The small figure, a girl of some 20 years of age, gestures to the hammer beside the man. Still, he doesn’t move, so she speaks.
“So you’re Baldrin of the Hammer eh. I’ve heard tell of you from a dozen folks in the Yeomanry, and as many or more from the Druids of the forest. Bards sing both condemnation for you, and praise. They tell of the insane young man that spurns magic even as he travels in the company of a mage. The tales they tell of this man describe feats no ordinary person is capable of. Though, the tales they tell of your companions are just as enthralling to be honest. Still, how does a man that’s so full of life come to be staring into his mug of ale as if he hasn’t slept.”, the young girl leans back onto her stool, stretching her back and shaking the cloak she wears loose.
She draws down the hood, revealing long dark hair. Every now and then, the fire hits it in such a way as to seem like its flaming red, but then it drops back into darkness. If you were to look at the two of them from behind, you may be forgiven for thinking them related. Both have hair of midnight black, with red tinges throughout. Both have long hair. However, where the man sits slumped and still towers over the girl, her figure is small, less imposing and slimmer. Still, from the front it is abundantly clear the two are not related. The man, though his face is furrowed and riddled with scars, is only young. Younger even than the woman he sits next too. Whereas he is of dark skin, with black eyes, the young woman has skin so white you’d think it never saw the light of day and bright green eyes. Her face is just a little angular, with a tinge of exotic on the edges, whereas his is square and rough. Her eyes are more angled, clearer even than his, slowly scanning the area around her where the man simply stares. From the front, it is clear these two are nothing alike.
“because he ‘asnt slept” responds Baldrin.
The young woman wasn’t even sure he’d heard her; he’d taken that long to respond. “Why is Ptrisah’s lass up an about like she intends to leave before ee’s awake. The lads rich, an I don’t get the impression you’re going somewhere important”.
“an what would you know of me, Baldrin of the so called Hammer. What I do is no business of yours, nor of Ptrisah.” The young woman stands up at this, circles around the bar and pours herself a drink. “I have a proposition for you Baldrin. Assuming you can pull your head out of that mug for five seconds an open your ears”.
“Lovely way to end that sentence”, Even as Baldrin lets slip the witticism, he sits up a little straighter. “What would you ave from me aye?”
“It’s not what I’ll have from you. It’s what you can have from me”, with this the young woman raises one of her eyebrows quizzically.
“I ain’t interested in that”, Baldrin punctuates the end of his sentence with a snort and a gulp of his drink.
“Don’t be crude. I’m not offering that, I give it where I choose. No, I’m offering to follow your folk here around for you. You seem to care about them, and they are an interesting bunch. All I ask is that at the end of this mess, I can take that hammer.” As she speaks the last sentence, the young woman leans forward onto the counter.
“This thing be cursed, you don’t want it. It brings death with it wherever it goes.” Baldrin leans into the words he speaks, until he’s not an inch from the Young woman’s nose “An even if I gave it to ya, you’d never be able to lift the bastard thing. You’re too small Xin Li”.
“So. I’m offering my services to protect your family. At the end, when you’re done, and they’re done. I want the hammer. I don’t want to keep it. I want to drop it into the deepest ocean I can find an have done with it. Its very existence offends me. It needs to go, and I don’t particularly want to try taking it off you. An if you are gonna see this done, you need to wash your teeth. Your breathe wreaks something awful”, and with that Xin Li moves back away from the counter, over to her seat in the corner of the inn. She takes up a violin siting there and begins to play. Baldrin simply watches and listens. The rest of Inn sleeps on, never aware of what happened that evening. At the end of the song, Baldrin gets up and goes to bed. He says nothing, but as he walks past the bard in the corner, he flicks a coin in her direction. Even as she grabs the coin and retreats to her own room, she thinks on the deal she’s just struck.