High above in the ancient skies of Glenvernorgo, flew the omen that made men shake and seek a double dose of their poppy juice, the werebird. Made of pure light, when Deux’s anvil was struck by his mighty hammer, it flew on high warning men of dire times.
Mikaelos entered the tavern and swaggered up to the counter, where a pretty red-haired girl was drawing beer for some other customers. He’d been traveling since the break of dawn, now the sun was setting.
He was tired, his long, brown hair, grayed with road dust. His blue eyes fixed the maid’s green in his steady, weary stare. She squirmed prettily a little discomforted and shyly smiled.
“What do you need, stranger?”
“A bath, some food and a bed, but I’ll be happy for some of that beer too.” He spoke in a low-pitched but clear voice which usually got the attention he wanted. He’d been born with the “voice”, once heard, most people were willing to do whatever he wanted them to do, within limits of course.
She presented him with his beer and said she’d see about the room and bath.
Drinking slowly, Mikaelos looked around the tavern. It was dim, smokey and everything one could imagine a port tavern would be. He saw two persons sitting closely conversing at one of the tables in the darker corners of the room.
“Ok sir. Do you want to eat first or have a bath? You have a private room that looks out onto the port.” she seemed to think this might be important to him, “I’ve got to know if you want the bath first so I can draw the water for you.”
“I’ll have the bath first. And tell me fair lady, will you help me wash my back by chance?”
Blushing she replied: “Oh, um, no. I’ve got to work you see, but I might tuck you into bed tonight.”
“Now that would be just lovely milady.”
“Finish your beer while I have your bath drawn.”
He continued the inspection of the common room. Outside of the two cloaked characters, there seemed to be the same run of the mill clientele; sailors, shopkeepers and a few travelers like himself.
“Jozef will take you to the bathes. If you need anything, he will help you. I’ll get your table ready in the meantime. Will you be wanting meat or fish?”
“I’ll have the meat.” he answered as he followed the lad out of the back door into the bathing area.
After soaking for nearly half an hour, his bath was getting a little cold, so he asked the boy to add some more hot water. Then he finished washing himself and the grabbed the towel that was sitting beside the large pool-like tub. Opening his saddle bag, which he’d carried in with him, he pulled out his change of clothes.
“Can these be cleaned and dried before tomorrow evening?” he asked Jozef indicating his travel-worn cloak, britches and shirt.
“Yes milord, I’ll start on them right off.”
Mikaelos returned to the common room, ate his dinner in avid silence and then set back to smoke his pipe sipping from his mug of beer. He realized that the cloaked couple were no longer in the room, in fact, there was only one other person in the room, besides the barmaid. A man, in his early 40s perhaps, with a long beard and dressed in a druid’s cloak. Mikaelos noticed that the man was also looking at him, and so nodded.
The man rose and came over to Mikaelos’ table, sitting down without being invited.
“I’m Frakos from Spearn and you, my dear lad, must be Mikaelos from Giostral.”
“You have the advantage on me. How is it you know my name?”
“I was advised of your coming by common friends. I would have known you anyway, since your reputation has preceded you. There are few now days that possess the “voice”, and yours I’ve seen would woo a unicorn. You couldn’t have guessed that yon maid, actually prefers other maidens in her bed, yet she made an appointment with you!”
“Really! And you dear druid Frakos, do you have the “ear” that you heard my conversation so easily?”
The druid with hearty guffaw said: “Alas, no, I read lips and body language.” he added, “Finish your beer. We’ll take a walk along the pier where we can speak privately. And I must warn you, I’m not the only one who recognized you.”
Mikaelos finished his beer and they walked out into the night.
(To be continued….maybe.)
Words included: Unicorn, anvil, poppy, pier