Ye Olde Inn
Kazmir shot from his bed and into a roll. Before standing he already darted towards the window. Carefully he reached out, his little finger parting the curtains only enough to gander the silent road below Ye Olde Inne. He could not see them, and they not he. Turning abruptly he silently marched to the door and pressed his head to the thin wood. Murmurs. They were waiting. Had he been drugged? Where was this place? And why did they wait?
“Cas...” Glancing to the head board of the straw mattress bed, Kazmir's eyes shot open. They took her! Blackguard Tyrant abominations! He would make them pay! He would sever their throats and drink their silent screams like ambrosial wines! He would make them suffer! He would make it slow... He needed a weapon though, and the room was near barren save for the rough straw bed, a small storage chest and a three legged stool and a bucket. It would do. It would have to.
He could not let them know he had woken. Stealth would be his survival. Grabbing the stool by its leg, he tossed it upon the mattress before turning it unto its side. With great care he pressed it weight upon one of the legs, enough to bend it but not force its breaking. The leg became loose. Another moment an slowly the club was separated from the stool. Kamir's eyes shot to the door s his ears erupted. Movement!
Darting to the threshold he pressed his ear against the wood... A guard, no doubt, was whistling. 'Johnny's Big Wife'. Bawdy and humorous. The man, he assumed, on the other side of the door made slow steps. They were staggered, though not drastically. He was intoxicated, though not blind drunk. Surely they would not be foolish enough to over indulge when they were on guard. Unless they had the numbers to defend themselves. The confidence was misplaced. The Legion would come. They would be lead by a Raskithecal woman and she would be angry. She would slaughter the abductors to a man. They had taken what was hers.
Kazmir turned from the door as the guard passed by. His eye caught the bed roll and bags of travel supplies at the foot of the bed. They left his belongings! The fools! Creeping over Kazmir knelt and rummaged through his gear. He nearly laughed when he saw the knife. A small hunting blade, meant for skinning and little more. It would do. Taking the stool from the bed the warrior began the work of carefully prying nails from their sockets. One by one he laid them out. He needed a flat board...
For nearly a break he worked in silence, his eyes darting constantly to the door and window. He could not remember the skirmish. Had he been on patrol? Was he knocked unconscious? Taken prisoner? It must be so, as that was all that could explain his circumstance. What fools they were though! They were not military, they could not be. Leaving his belongings... they must be rebels... he was to be traded. A prisoners exchange. “Yes...” Kazmir muttered weakly. That was it. The Empire did not negotiate. And nor would Paladin give that option. Taking the slide away lid from his box of tinder, he drove a half dozen nails through the thin wood. A strand of rope later, and a crude spiked cestus was crafted. It would not last to many strong blows.
Pressing his ear to the door yet again Kazmir listened. The only sound was that of a heartbeat and his own ragged breath. One... He did not have time to kill. He would maim and run. Two. Keep his back to the wall lest he be surrounded. Get a horse. Watch for archers. “Three.”
Maddy yawned. She hated the late work. Or at least the late shifts on slow nights. The tavern was dead, her only customers the hand full of sleeping tenants and a trio of men playing a dreadfully quite game of cards. Sliding her hand through her straw blonde hair she groaned loudly at the ceiling.
“Bored?” one of the card players asked.
“Oh my yes.” the girl replied.
“You could join us. The stakes aren't high.”
Maddy shrugged. “I would, but we get scolded for gambling with the customers.”
“To bad. We could use a woman touch in this game.” the man gave Maddy a flirty wink before turning slightly in his seat.
Maddy blushed softly. Two could play this game. “Looks from here you prefer the mans touch.” she giggled from her post behind the bar. “Maybe I will. Boss isn't here so I can't get yelled at huh? 'side. Its these slow nights are so boring.”
“Careful girly,” one of the older card players said as he looked up from his hand, “Don't tempt the Fates.”
A woman. Two men. A guard that passed by. And, perhaps, a third or fourth card player. Five. Maybe six. Kazmir rounded to ten, at least. Ten men. It was a quiet night though, so said the camp girl... a whore? They did not expect retaliation. Fools. They were using this inn as a base of operation, perhaps, the center of their little resistance. It was never meant to be a jail. This stood in Kazmir's advantage. He doubted the area was fortified. Horses would be in the back paddock to the side or behind the building. Peering around the corner Kazmir sunk into a crouch on the steps. It was a wealthy establishment, one he did not recognize. Where was he?
Three men. All three combat able, though lacking weapons. And none in armor. The girl was at the bar, sipping idly at a stein. It made no sense. These jailers were unarmed. Why did they not carry weapons? Were they so confidant that none could escape? So sure of their own abili... “Mages.” Kazmir whispered. They were arcanists. One and all. Worshipers of Sinstra? It must be. Webspinners of that manipulative bitch. How dare she take one of Raskalarn's soldiers! There would be hell to pay when the Legion came for their Dacadrion. The girl looked and Kazmir whipped his curly head back behind the stairwell.
“Did you see that?” Maddy asked.
“Hey! Who's lurking there?”
Breath flooded the warlords lungs, torrential winds battering the warm wood beside him in every more viscous gales. It was now. Kazmir would die here today. But he would not be the only one. Stepping from hiding Kazmir faced his doom in the faces of the four mages.
Maddy watched as the floppy haired man darted from hiding, armed with makeshift weapons and sport a look of bewildered violence. She had seen it before. The eyes of a killer. The half hinged sanity bent on annihilation at all costs. But, in the twenty trials she had known this man, she had never thought to see such a monstrous expression on his face.
“He's armed!” on of the gamblers barked as the three men stood from their table. Each ready to charge and subdue the patron.
“Paladin?” Maddy squeaked from behind the bar.
“Paladin... why do you have weapons.” The girl stood slowly, and carefully made her way around the bar.
“Stay back Maddy.”
“It's okay Shorn. He's one of our renters...” With the care of a fearful cat the girl approach slowly. “Paladin. What happened? Are you okay? Why are you armed?”
“I... where am....”
]“Your at Ye Olde Inne.” The girls pretty hazel eyes studied the confused man. “In Andaris.”
“Where is that?”
The crud club fell to the floor with a small thud. Paladin had left the Legion. Slew his father. Met a god. And swore an oath. He fled. Came to Rynmere. Pala urged west, and the Norn echoed her demands. He had been here since early Ymiden. Living off of scraps and odd jobs, unable to leave and unwilling to stay. There was something he needed to do. Faith. Jamal. Pyrim. Rynmere was sick. The fog of war looming like a mist of swords over the heads of every man woman and child of this city of Fools. “Why am I here.”
Maddy stepped closer now her lily white hand reaching to the naked mans shoulder. “You rented a room over twenty trial ago. Don't you remember? What happened? Why are you so.... ”
“I...I had a nightmare.”
“Must of been some dream.” One of the gamblers said.
“Where is Cassiopeia?”
“My sword. Where is my sword.” Paladin walked past the girl, only narrowly avoiding her touch as he made his way towards the bar. “Let me see her!” The warrior looked over his shoulder as he watched the servant girl. Her name was Maddy. An Innocent. Friendly. A bit of a flirt. She liked to sing. On a slow nights she and Paladin would sing a duet. 'Lorien's Grave.' Sad. Lonely. She was better than he, but did not enjoy it as much. She was saving money for an education, hardly scraping by but happy none the less. A blissful Innocence.
“Where we left her... here.” Maddy slowly moved behind the counter again, wary of the brutal cestus bound to Paladins left hand. Taking a thick iron key from behind the counter, the girl quickly made her way towards a half hidden door. Disappearing for only a moment, she returned with the warriors most prized thing. She set the blade before him as she saw the tears slide down his clean shaven face.
Paladin payed no mind to the gambler that retrieved the discarded club, nor the other two that inched closer towards the bar, ready to defend themselves and the girl should the madman attack. Paladin did not though. Instead he set his hands upon Cassiopeia's hips and exhaled a deep sigh. Slowly he drew the sword a few inches from her scabbard. “By your side always. Forever. -Cassiopeia.” he read the engraved dedication as his rough fingers slide along the smooth depressions at the base of the blade.
“Who is she?”
“A dream.” Paladin turned away from his sword. He was cold.
“Yes. I need to...”
“Put some damned pants on!” One the younger of the three gamblers gave a nervous chuckle as he pointed to the mans shame.
"Paladin." "Norn." ~Pala~