_____ Medieval ; Fantasy; Adventure ; MxM ; Drama ♚}}
Meretricious laughter and arguments rang inside the presently crowded tavern, as it always was come evenfall. Men who either sold their sword or stole with their sword, scarred and battered with openly worn swords and armor, filled their tankards with ale, gruit and mead and barked about their adventures as the bard rid them of their dirty coin with songs of beautiful women and their rescuers. A small group had drug heavy oaken tables and chairs toward a rear corner beneath the blind gaze of a wolf’s skull, gambling away their valuables in a drunken stupor by rolling dice.
Arhan was one of them. He had no heavy axe or onerous longsword strapped to his back or a suit of armor to stay the sharp tip of a seasoned sword. He donned light leather clothing, half finger gloves, a threadbare hooded tunic, and hide boots with fronted rivets. A layer of dirt covered his face. He was grinning ear to ear as many of his companions, stout axe- and sword- wielding free-lances hawked and bellowed at him,
“Arhan, you arse,” one slammed his tankard onto the table, spilling half the ale.
“Yer’ cheatin’, we knows it,” one spoke with a lisp, giving his knee a hard slap. The others nodded in agreement.
Arhan shook his head ardently, seemingly offended by their senseless accusations. He had rolled the hazard chance for the third time in a row now and the men weren’t pleased.
“That hurts, ye know.” He said in a high-pitched voice, shamming offence. He too stank of ale, bright-eyed and swaying sideways as though he were about to collapse. “I’d never…” he gasped as he prepared to roll the dice again. “Honest—work, Ualdir smite me,” he hiccoughed and threw the dice on the makeshift pile of coin, daggers, herbs, liquids and other sundries. His bright, hazel-hued and green-tinted eyes flickered as the dice rolled another chance and he fashioned a white-toothed grin and threw his arms in the air in triumph.
The men were up in arms, cursing and throwing away their loot. Some stood up and made for the door, stumbling over their own feet and pushing through the crowd as others looked for a refill. Two stayed, laughing and patting Arhan on the shoulders as he gulped down on his drink to celebrate.
“Ye think he’s good for it?” One asked. He was a tall, burly man with a receding hairline, half a brow and a battered lowered lip. The other was a shorter, bearded fellow with a strong paunch and fewer teeth. They were both seasoned warriors, abound in stories and coin. They had just arrived to Agras, they’d said, weary from their travels and looking to unwind with a game of dice. Arhan was not one to refuse to unburden their purses. Alas, he’d never suspected they’d had plans of their own.
“Aye, let’s do it,” the other replied and stood up, inching closer to the incognisant, intoxicated thief.
In a matter of moments, a sharp, sudden pain rendered Arhan’s senses numb and he passed out unknowingly. The last thing he’d seen was the coin, the last thing he’d heard was the sound of laughter ringing in his ears.
He awoke in a dark, stale cell with a throbbing pain in his head, a pungent smell of muck and piss wafting in the air and arousing sickness. A single strip of sunlight fell on the stone and dirt floor through a barred crack in the wall as Arhan groaned and hissed. To stand up was no easy task. Blood rushed to his brain and his vision doubled before he took in the sight of his surroundings. It wasn’t the first time he had got blindly drunk and awoken in strange places, but it was always a nuisance coming to inside a jail cell.
“Look at ‘em. Crasmere lumps, those are. Don’t think I coulda fetch’ a better price for ‘em,” a familiar, gruff sounding voice startled him as heavy footsteps closed in at the door, the sound of metal grinding the stone quieting.
“Liana’s gon’ knee ye in the balls, Twins,” another one said in a scratchy tone of voice that shook with laughter.
“You two,” Arhan gasped, wide-eyed at the sight of the lot of them. He pointed a scarred finger with a cracked nail toward them before spitting on the floor. “I knew it!” he asserted, pulling his brows into a frown. He, truth be told, had not known it, but he was not going to give them less pride than he deserved and allow himself to glance over them with a worried expression.
“You did not!” one of them huffed in a dismissive tone of voice, crossing his bulky arms on his armored chest and clicking his tongue. The two men, donning city guard armor, were the same two ruffians from last night – one battered lip and a paunch. Gods be damned, Arhan cursed inwardly. They had pulled a fast one on him.
“Never would’a guessed the city guard were mummers too,” a smirk graced the edge of his full, chapped lips.
“Glad ye liked it, thief,” Arhan’s attempt to provoke them fell on deaf ears. The battered lip started up and opened the jail cell. Arhan cautiously took a few steps back, unsure of what they were planning to do with him. Escaping had already crossed his mind, but it wouldn’t be breezy. The men had already come to study his face long enough for him not to be able to disappear easily and avoid recapture. But how had they known he was cheating? And had he earned a few nights in lockup just for that? His mind was abuzz with questions as the paunch exited his line of sight for a moment and came back holding a bucketful of water.
“Wait,” Arhan exclaimed but it was to no avail. The paunch casually sauntered in and drenched him. The water was ice cold and the chill that shot through him worsened his headache. He shivered and cursed, shooting daggers out of his eyes as the paunch burst into laughter and the battered lip joined in merrily.
"Can't go before the Lord smellin' like horse shit," one of them said, as the other grabbed him by the arm and yanked him to unwillfully follow.
"Ou, can't ye be more gentle... and what ar'ye sayin'? What Lord? I thought you'd cuffed me in, ye brutes," Arhan protested trying to squirm his way out of the man's tight grip.
"The Lord of Islesbury, ye lil' prick." The paunch slapped the back of his head, "he's got a job for ye."
It had dawned on him then that he was many a stone's throw away from Agras, the heart of Olitaea. Yet, instead of wondering what might happen to him next, as one thief should, all he could think about was whether or not Gavin had even noticed he had gone without saying farewell.