Prelude - A Barmaids Roguery

Prelude - A Barmaids Roguery

It was like any other day. A few travelers had settled down on a table in the corner. Three man of smaller stature and worn faces had their attention primed on the cards and dice on the bar. Fate would decide which poor soul would pay for the next round.

The last faint glows of the sunset creeped through the small windows and illuminated the smokey air in the tavern. Dant, the tavern keeper, had always been a poised man. An ever-present smile was on his face this evening as he poured another ale from the keg, knowing this evening was already proving to be quite profitable.

She could still hear the words of her father echo in her head. The once fierce Waerd man had passed away a few years ago, leaving her to care for her brothers. "The end of merit is the beginning of greed" he used to say. "Greed leads leads to envy".

This was not envy. This was unfair! The last two weeks her pay was cut due to a self-proclaimed 'crisis' by Dant. "The rain is keeping travelers from coming, and you've been sitting there staring out the window for most of the day". Balderdash! While her little brothers were digging the abandoned field up north for potatoes with their bare hands, Dant bought himself a new saddle this very week. "Finest leather in the kingdom. An investment", he said.

She shook her head, as to clear her mind of thoughts about her father. The Two-Folded Queen would agree that things needed to be balanced. And with balance, she meant more coin for her family.

As she peered around the room, she noticed an old man she had not seen before. In her mind she lived all possible scenarios. It would be childs' play to cut the stitch of his bag and take his purse. She started walking in a circle through the crowd, with full intent to execute her plan, but halted in her tracks. His head tiled ever so slightly to pick up conversations while looking into an endless void. The careful, searching movement of the hands - this old man was probably blind.

For a moment, the task at hand felt even less daunting because of this discovery. But she quickly recollected herself. It would not be a balancing act to take from those who were already disfavoured. A moment passed and Dant waved her over. "Lass, get to work! Ale for the Belly!", he cackled with twinkling eyes as he held up a big mug filled to the brim with beer.

The sudden clarity felt like opening a book on the right page. If she could take the days pay from Dants' most promising customer, it would set things right. Dant would lose out on a good portion of his income and she and her brothers would eat well for weeks to come. Hardrick - The Belly - had been harassing her all evening. The tall Neran commoner had been drinking since the gates closed. It wouldn't be a bad thing for him to wake up sober tomorrow. Sober, as in less drunk than usual.

She walked over to the bar, picking up the large mug with her left hand. Her arm slightly shaking under the weight of the mug, she walked towards the far row of tables, past the gambling dockworkers and the table with the blind man, up to Hardrick. She took calculated steps, balancing the mug with her wrist. When she got close enough to see the drops of sweat on Hardricks' forehead, she placed her left feet in front of a floorboard with a small corder sticking out of the floor.

As she tripped over the corner of the plank, she let loose the mug of beer at just the right moment. The mug hit the edge of a stool, splashing a wave of foamy, brown ale all over the table. Hardrick and his friends jumped up, kicking back their chair as she fell forward. She veered into Hardrick shoulder as she grabbed the chair with Hardrick leather overcoat on it and tumbled to the ground, quickly slipping her right hand in one of the the pockets. With a fluid motion, she took the small bag of coins she had seen him reach for a few times too often this evening. Before her head hit the ground, the bag of coins was stashed safely under the sash of her dress.

The floor hit her hard. Dazed and confused, she stood up as Hardrick exploded with rage. "Come here lass and let me teach you as your father should have done", he shouted as the tavern sank into silence. She staggered back as tears from both the fall and the unexpected explosion of fury welled up in her eyes. This went beyond her control way too fast. She looked to Dant, whose smile had faded. He looked more nervous with every second - fearing the night of profit was coming to an end early. He would not be of any help.

"Come here, I said!", Hardrick shouted again as his neck turned red. She wasn't sure whether the inevitable bruises worried her more than the possible discovery of the stolen coin. But while the Belly clenched his fist, something unexpected happened.

The blind man had snuck up behind Hadrick during the tumult and tapped him on his shoulder...

Continue reading: Tales of the Blind Bard "Sam'uel" - The First Riddles

Written as part of the Owl Library - Writing Competition

Happiness is reality minus expectation

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