Friday 31 October 2014

Scent: Part 7

Gertie seated Reven at a table in the middle of the common room before disappearing into the kitchen to get his food. Reven’s stomach grumbled at the prospect of food and he took his mind off his hunger by looking around the room. The table of men that were seated by the fire were now playing a game of cards. A pile of copper and silver coins sat in the middle of the table and they shred sidelong glances at each other hardly sharing a word as they concentrated on the game. The four of them all had long hair that was pulled back into ponytails and they each wore a sword at their side. Reven had no doubt looking at them that they would know how to use those swords too. The leather jerkins they wore all looked like they had seen some action judging by the scratches and patched up puncture holes. Reven continued looking round. There was a man eating a plate of meat and cheese who was accompanied by two companions. They didn’t speak. The man who ate was dressed like a gentleman, his suit was a deep purple and cut very close to his slim body. His fingers were adorned with gold rings and he wore a black neckerchief that was peeking through his bright white shirt. His companions didn’t eat or drink or even speak. Reven imagined them to be guards of some sort as again they didn’t look to be the sorts you would mess with. They were armed and dark leather armour covered their bodies. One of them caught Reven looking and he glared at him making him a little uncomfortable. Reven moved his eyes away from the table and continued scanning around the room. A couple of men propped up the bar, staring into their beer and already looking like they were deep in their cups. At the far end of the room; the opposite end to the fireplace sat a man and a woman. They were at a corner table and had chosen to extinguish the lantern. They were only lit from a sconce on the wall and Reven hadn’t noticed them at all when he first walked in. They were both staring at him from beneath the cowls of their cloaks and their features were completely indistinguishable in the gloom that surrounded their table. A chill ran down Reven’s spine and yet again he turned his gaze away from the inn’s patrons and fixed them on the table before him. He didn’t like this place much. Of the few patrons that were here most of them seemed to be quite surly. He stole a glance across to the couple in the corner and they were still looking at him whilst exchanging words in hushed tones. 

Gertie appeared through the kitchen door with a cheery smile on her face. She laid a bowl of hot stew before Reven and a chunk of bread. As she went to the bar to fetch him a drink he ripped a piece of bread off and dipped it into the stew before stuffing into his mouth hungrily. Gertie returned and took a seat at the table with him. She put a cup of water before him and set a goblet of wine on the table in front of her. “So” she said taking a sip of wine, “how is it that a young boy finds himself alone at The Warhorse?” Reven continued eating as he told the tale of the attack on Rosholt, his escape and how he and Fang had come to be at the inn. Gertie listened in silence gasping and nodding at appropriate moments in his story. She had heard from a merchant earlier in the day that there was trouble at Rosholt but she hadn’t imagined the horror that was revealed to her through Reven’s story. After Reven wiped the last of his stew from the bowl with his final piece of bread he opened up his purse to see what he had in the way of money. Almost as soon as he had placed it on the table Gertie pushed it away. “It’s alright, keep your money, you’re our guest tonight”, “Thank you Miss” came Reven’s reply. He started to put the purse back on to his belt and then stopped and put it back on the table. Gertie flashed another smile and him and went to push the purse away, “Not for me Miss. Fang’s hungry and he’s all I’ve got”. Gertie chuckled and rose from her seat, “I’ll see what scraps we have out back and take them out to him”, “Thank you again Miss” Reven smiled appreciatively.

Gertie disappeared off into the kitchen and Reven moved over to the window so he could watch her go out to Fang. It had started raining and Fang looked like he was asleep but Reven found it hard to see clearly. He pressed his face against the glass but still couldn’t see clearly. He pulled his jacket up over his head and moved outside looking for Gertie. As he moved toward the stables he could here Gertie’s voice from the back of the building. He couldn’t make out her words but could tell she wasn’t happy. The rain was coming down hard and Reven splashed through puddles as he made his way to the back of the tavern to find out what was wrong with Gertie. As he rounded the corner at the back of the inn he could see Gertie was pressed against a wall by one of the men that had been playing cards in the inn. One of his companions stood leering at them, egging the man on as he pinned her wrists to the wall with one hand and fumbled to pull her corset free with the other. Both men were laughing and the man who had her pinned was trying to kiss her as he continued to pull at her clothes. Gertie was trying to wriggle free and shouting for them to get off but they weren’t listening. Reven rushed forward, angling toward the man that had immobilised Gertie. Reven’s splashing feet got his friends attention and he lashed out with a boot before Reven got near. Reven was sent sprawling on the floor landing heavily. “What you got there Jack?” asked the man who had Gertie. “Little spy, think he might want a go after you Roche”, both men boomed with laughter. “Get off her” Reven snapped as he pushed himself to his feet. “Think you should leave now boy before you make me do something I may regret” Jack slipped a dagger out a sheath on his belt and toyed with the point to emphasise his words. Reven reached to his side and pulled the short sword he’d been carrying free and held it in front of him in a two handed grip. At that moment Jack and Roche’s other two companions appeared around the same corner that Reven had come round. Drawing their own swords they moved up to stand at Reven’s side, opposite to where Roche still held Gertie. “Leave him be” shouted Gertie, Roche slapped her hard across the face, blooding her lip. “Shut up whore” Roche growled, “Get rid of him” he motioned to the other men and as one they advanced on Reven. Jack smiled evilly as he came at Reven, he didn’t notice the soft padding footfalls behind him until Fang bite into his ankle, tearing free a chunk of flesh. Jack cried and fell forward. It happened so quickly that Reven didn’t have time to react, Jacks body slammed into him and they both fell to the floor. Reven took Jacks full weight as they landed, his body was limp. As Reven looked up he could see a foot of steel sticking out of Jacks back. Time seemed to slow as events unfolded. Roche shoved Gertie to the floor and turned drawing his blade. Fang continued to savage Jack and Reven pushed the body off him rolling to his left with the dead man. Roche had moved toward him and was raising his sword to strike when a look of abject terror crossed his face. Reven completed his roll and looked back toward Roche’s companions to see what the man was looking at. As Roche screamed Reven saw that his companions were in pieces; literally. One of the bodies was falling to the floor headless, spouting blood high into the air. The other man was missing his left leg just above the knee and was toppling to the side. Reven stared agog, the man that had been seated in the gloom with the woman was stooping down to finish off the toppling man. His cowl was still up obscuring his face as his double bladed axe flashed through the toppled man’s throat sending a crimson arc splattering against the wall of the inn. Reven tried to move away from him but found that Roche was bent over next to him. When Reven had rolled the body of Jack off of him and rolled with it he had unwittingly skewered Roche’s foot with the sword that was still sticking out of the dead man’s back pinning him in place. Roche pulled the short sword free of his foot and its dead host with a scream. His face was contorted in anger and he raised his arm to strike down at Reven but as he did so a silver blade point slid through the front of his jerkin were his heart would have been. Roche fell to the ground in a crumpled heap to reveal the hooded man’s companion. She wiped her blade on Roche’s dead body before returning it to its scabbard. The man and woman both stood over Reven, Fang sat at Reven’s feet staring at the ground submissively. Reven’s heart was beating so fast he thought it was going to burst out of his chest. Reven scrambled backwards until his back hit the wall. The man slowly dropped into a crouch and looked into Reven’s eyes. The woman moved forward and pulled his shirt aside revealing the scar on his shoulder. She looked back at the man and nodded. The man placed a hand on Fangs head and stroked him gently never taking his eyes off Reven. “You died today” said the man grinning as he pulled a long curved dagger from his back and held it to Fangs throat.

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