He saw her looking at him, and a large grin split his face in two. Even the thick full beard could not hide it. The man raised his hand and waved, approaching with big strides as Yana crossed her arms and adopted a more defiant pose and expression. “Hey! ” the burly man greeted, the battered leather armor and large warhammer on his person making many people turn heads. He stared past her with a quick glance, an eyebrow raised. “I thought it was you! Couldn’t really be sure without seeing your patch. Didn’t think I would run into you here.”
“Me neither. What are you doing here, Bertrand?” Yana asked, not too happy to see him here. The man from before was nowhere to be seen, though Yana doubted she had lost the man already. Perhaps she had just been paranoid. Maybe the staring guy had just been some creep ogling her –though as the Yludih didn’t exactly wear formfitting or feminine clothes she found that somewhat hard to believe.
“Me? Ah well, you know, just got paid for a job well done. Thought I’d search for a leather smith to patch up this old chestpiece.” There were some tears in the aforementioned item, looking as if someone had been hacking on the mercenary with a claymore. Many dried bloodstains were also littered all over the armor, some looking fresher than others. Bert noticed the female merc’s gaze and idly brushed at one of the fresher ones, getting blood on his hands also. He cussed. “Bah. That ratty thief ‘ave gotten his blood all over me.” A frown crinkled his brow and he rubbed his stained fingers on his pants to clean them of the blood.
“You should consider another method than cracking skulls then,” the Yludih remarked, finding that particular way of killing while brutally efficient, far too messy to her tastes. Bertrand seemed not to mind that too much though, his tone more slightly annoyed and jocular than actually pissed.
“Nah, it’s not from that. Just clobbered the guy in the face. Thought it be the most effective and cleanest way to scare them off. But y’know what? He was way too fragile. I didn’t even hit him that hard and he starts screaming like a pig, nose crooked and spraying blood everywhere.” He shook his head in what seemed to be disappointment. “But the client was pleased, so I guess that’s alright.” He went silent for a brief moment, stroking his beard. “And you? Doing some shopping, yea? Looking for a nice dress to wear? You should find one that matches your hair.” He was poking fun at her, it being the most prominent reason Yana hadn’t been wanting to run into him. While she did have thick skin, his attempts at teasing were annoying to say the least. He seemed to be doing it because of her gender, or rather because she seemed intent on proving she was not like other women, but still had acted bashful when it came to her eyepatch and the scar underneath it. “So you do care about your looks!” Bert had called out in triumph when she’d refused to remove her patch, having responded that “it was hideous” to the question of why she wouldn’t let him see. It had been a major slip-up on her part, and she hated Bert for it. Though, the man was handy to have around, and the Yludih was not stupid enough to cross someone two heads taller and many times wider than she was. He could probably break her in half like a twig if he so desired. But on the other hand that meant that he could be of use. From time to time.
“You know I don’t wear dresses,” Yana frowned, arms crossed still. “They’re flimsy, impractical and I can’t have my blade at my hip.” Bert only laughed, eyes twinkling in delight.
“Poor girl, growing up in a band of mercs really did a number on you, didn’t it? No women around to teach you how to be a one yourself…” he tutted slowly, mock-pity in his words. Yana only sighed. “I mean look at you! You wear men’s clothes, you refuse to wear dresses… hell, you even became a merc yourself!”
“Better than having become whore like those that were invited into our camp every so often.”
“For you, perhaps. But I can only weep when I think of all those disappointed men… myself included.” He laughed again, winking. “Cause you know what they say: ‘when her hair is red, she’s good in bed!’”
“That’s not how the saying goes.”
“It’s the gist of it. It doesn’t matter.” He shrugged, grin not leaving his bearded mug.
“If you want a redheaded whore, go to the House of Roses. They have one there. I’m sure that she’d even take you.”
“Ohoh! Yes she has! Wait… did you just-?” he frowned, now only processing the insult.
“Now. Are you done? I thought you needed to have your armor repaired?” Yana interrupted, having had quite enough of the other mercenary’s “jokes”.
“Hm. Yes, I suppose I do.”
“Off you go then,” she gestured with her thumb, knowing for a fact there was a leatherworker in that direction. “And maybe if you’re quick about it you can get to your redheaded whore while she’s still available.”
“You do make a valid point,” the man conceded, stroking his beard as he considered. “Alright, I’ll leave you alone. See you around.” He took off with those words, leaving Yana free to release a deep sigh. Goddamn she disliked dealing with him.
The Yludih turned around then, her eye still searching the area for a sign of the man from before, but she couldn't find anything. There weren't enough people around to hide in, however, for her to be within line of sight, the man would have to be in specific places. Still, he was not there, and even when she pretended to be looking elsewhere he did not show up. He wasn't around. Perhaps she had been mistaken after all. The female mercenary started walking, taking detours and confusing routes while keeping an eye out for the man to make another appearance, though he did not show up.
In fact, that time in Ye Olde Inn was the first time she'd noticed him, and it was the last time she saw him that trial. Her mind told her she had been mistaken, but another part denied it. She did not trust it. Caution was important, especially for a Yludih. Perhaps it was paranoia showing its ugly face, or perhaps it was an instinct, but Yana was on the lookout for him ever since. True, she did not see him again that trial, however, one trial did not span an individual's life. Many a time Yana spotted him, at first by coincidence, seeing his reflection in a glass window. Sometimes by turning her head in the direction of her blind eye, and he would be there, quickly slipping away. She never caught him. She never could confront him, he always vanished before she could. But he was there. And after the first few times, Yana was on guard, paying attention to her surroundings. When she spotted him she made efforts to lose him. From time to time, if he'd been laying low for a while, she forgot about him, only to notice him by coincidence again.
After a while she started to assume that even if she had not spotted him yet, he was always watching.
And even if he truly was not there, if she was all alone, she still felt his prying eyes burning on her skin.