The New Strangers!
It was a hot day, one of the first ones of the New Year. The war is still raging on. Four years of war and death. It is quite depressing if you ask anyone in our country. We however are winning. No one is quite sure how it started. Rumors say it is due to: A kidnapping of our princess, a murder of their prince, and bastard son. But the truth of fact, no one really knows.
I was working my usual shift. It was late, the tavern was going to close soon and I was due to get off in an hour. That was when the strangers walked in. It was a small group of only three men. They looked like they had been walking for ages. They were covered in dust, and mud. One man had a sword, one had a bow, and the other had what looked like a spear. My first reaction was these men meant to do some harm. Before I could back away, the one with the bow approached me.
“Hello miss, we have been traveling for days, and are need of food, drink, and board. Is this the place where we can find those things?” He asked with a weary expression.
“Yes, you are at the right place and at the right time. We are due to close soon. I can get you gentlemen some food, drink, and room if you will wait a few minuets. However I must ask that you leave your weapons with me. We do not welcome trouble. You can retrieve them when you leave.” I made sure he understood I meant what I said about no trouble here. I only hoped he took me at my word. We really did not need any trouble.
The man went back to his group and they talked for a while. It seemed the others agreed to giving up their weapons but the man with the sword
was the most reluctant to give his weapon up. He seemed to have anger in his eyes towards the other and not just towards the other two gentlemen. When he had all the weapons the hooded man retuned to me and handed them to me.
“We agree to your terms, now please the food and drink. We have not eaten much in four days.” He was quick to explain.
There was something about his eyes, he looked sad, as if he had suffered a great loss. I wondered what could have been behind those eyes. But I know how it is to be hungry, and I know how hungry men can do horrid things in desperation. I was not willing to test their limits tonight.
I hurried to prepare the last of the stew we had for them, and I gave them a picture of ale. . While they ate I talked to the manger arranging some rooms. I found a boy to carry their sacks up to their rooms. After I had stored their weapons in the safe of course..
It wasn’t long before Becky heard the news of the new men in town. She made her way to their table and sat between the one who had the spear and the one who had the sword. She completely ignored the hooded man, who had the Bow. I sat behind the bar and waited till they would need more ale or food. . I preferred to watch people before I talked to them. Becky on the other hand always jumps in right away. I wish I had her boldness. But I lean more by observing then asking.
Becky has definitely become the center of attention, and it was easy to see why. She had worn her tightest bustier with a low cut puffy sleeved blouse, and a ruffled skirt. She looked like a common bar wench like me. She looked nothing like her usually self, of the rich background that she came from. I wondered if she was getting desperate for a man.
Honestly I am surprised she has not caught one yet. She was a nice and fun person.
The man with the sad eyes was very quiet and I would have thought asleep if he was not still picking at his food. When he finished the stew he got up and before I could walk to him, he came to me.
“Thank you miss for the food, it seems your village is full of kind people though we have only had the pleasure of meeting a few of you. Would you mind showing me to my room, unlike my fellow comrades, I am in need of some serious sleep!” The man asked with a kind smile.
“It would be my pleasure sir. I hope you found the food filling, and thank you for the compliment. If you don’t mind my asking, but you have not given us your names yet.” I didn’t want to be rude but I really was tired of thinking of them by their weapons.
“Oh please forgive me it has been a long week. You may call me Able; my comrades are Eric, the one who had the spear; and James, the one who had the sword. I think your friend Miss Becky has captivated their attention for the night.”
“Oh, has she not caught yours as well?” I asked truly surprised she had not.
“No, I am afraid she is not my type, I prefer a woman of knowledge and class. I am not looking for an easy wench.”
I couldn’t help but giggle at the thought of Becky who had class was now missing out on some one who she could probably settle down with, by trying hard to gain attention. It is sad and odd how that happens more often than not. I have learned from experience it is best to just be yourself.
”Well here we are. I hope you find the room cozy and comfortable. If you need me I will be down the hall. Just call for me and I will hear you.”
“Thank You, you are so kind! I am sure I will be fine. I will show the guys where their rooms are. If they will rest with a lady present, they may stay up all night.”
“That is very kind of you, but I hope they do go rest soon. I must stay up till the customers are retired for the night. Rest well” she replied as she started to walk away.
“Oh, I see, well in that case would you care to join me in a game of cards. It is a new game I leaned. I would enjoy repaying the hostility you have shared with us.”
“But Able did you not just say you were sleepy? I do not want you to stay up just for my sake.”
“It would not be a problem my lady. I can sleep more latter, and longer. I don’t know how trusts worthy my comrades are; I can not really call them my friends. Since we have barley acquainted ourselves a few days ago. I would hate to have them take advantage of you. And if you do not mind my asking, what pray tell is your name my lady?”
“Oh forgive me, I did it again. You may call me Anita and shall we go back down then?”
It seemed we played cards for hours. It was an interesting game, as Able had said very addicting. We ended up staying up much latter then the others. I was ashamed of myself. I had no idea if Becky went with anyone or went home and it was to late to go see. I now have to wait till morning.
“Able, I want to thank you for the game. I really must close up now. I had no idea it was so late. Sleep well Sir.”
“Oh please forgive me. I was not paying attention to the time either. Do get some rest.” Able replied. What was wrong with him? He never gets carried away like he just did. Anita was not anything special. She had to be at least ten years younger then him. But she was nice. Something about her made him able to be at ease, able to relax. Even though he was not physically attracted to her in anyway, he was drawn to her. “Thank you again for the food and Ale, I will excuse myself to bed now.” He added as he ascended the stairs.
Morning comes fast when you have little sleep. Lazily Anita awoke and crawled out of bed. She could smell fresh bacon on the stove, along with eggs and fresh coffee. Was it her imagination? She was the only one that cooked at the Tavern.
She staggered as she crawled out of bed and dressed quickly. Her curiosity was moving her faster than would have moved before. Following the delicious smell she tiptoed past the inn rooms, where many guests were still sleeping. How they ignored the smell was beyond her, it smelled better than her own cooking.
Once inside the kitchen she found Able over the stove turning the bacon and eggs while Becky and him carried on a conversation. Becky was still in the cloths she wore the night before, but that did not prove anything. Around here cloths were limited now days. “Good morning” Anita said after listening a for a few minutes. She had not heard anything of value, but was sure Beck was now hooked on Able, by the way she was leaning in close and touching his arm. That or she was including him in the possibilities. Anita could not help but feel a little bit jealous, even though Able was very nice, she knew nothing about him still. How could he or she have any attraction towards one another?
“Good Morrin’ Anita. Did you sleep well? I thought I would cook the breakfast since it was my fault you were up so late last night.” Able greeted her with a smile.
Becky glared in return. “Oh you two stayed up late huh, what were you up to?” Becky asked hoping to make them uncomfortable. Maybe she would finally be able to prove that Anita was the whore everyone knew she was.
“We were playing cards; it is a fun new game I leaned. Maybe I could teach it to you later and we could all play it together.” Able replied before I could speak.
“Oh! That would most definitely be enjoyable Able; I am looking forward to playing again. I am lucky today is my half day so maybe we could play this evening?” I added before Becky could speak. I too can play the flirt if I wanted to. be Yet I didn’t really know if I wanted to one..
Becky sneered at me while Able had his back turned to us as he continued to cook for us. “I would not pass up such a chance as that, I look forward to this evening. Able can I help you set the tables or something?” she added in her sweetest voice.
“Yes, thank you Becky. The food is almost done.”
“Well I must bet back to cleaning the quarters, and the bar. Please save me some and I will see you both tonight. Oh Able, would you be so kind to invite your comrades to join us too? The more the merrier.”
“Oi, Not again!!” Becky yelled in frustration. She has lost the fourth game in a row. She was the only person yet to win a hand.
“Becky, enough, this is already more then I wished to play tonight. We should call it a night. At least I will. I must get up with the sun and the moon is high in the sky already. If I do not rest you will see my hidden monster and no one likes her.”
“Aw, Able don’t let her go. We are having a great deal of enjoyment.” Becky pleased. She wanted Anita to show her monster, and maybe that would give her a chance at Able. They already seem to becoming friends. She was jealous, that she herself has had no time with just him.
“I am afraid I must say I agree with Miss Anita, I am quite fatigued. It has been a long day for us.” Able replied.
“What is it that you warriors are doing here exactly?” Becky took the chance to ask. However non of the men were eager to explain.
After the room was silent for quite a few minuets one of the men spoke. “We are under strict orders from the King to uphold secrecy on the task at hand.” Eric said in a formal tone.
“Should we the townsmen be apprehensive?” Becky asked which surprised Anita. She had not seen this serious side of Becky before.
“Not at present, I can not say for sure for later though. It all depends on some things, and what we find.”
“So you’re looking for something or someone?” Becky asked.
“That is enough Eric!” James said, speaking for the first time, and shocked every one in the room.
Not knowing what to do Anita stood up and left. It was clear there would be no more talk of their assignment. “Good Night everyone, do not let the bed bugs bite.” She said, closing the door behind her. Anita was not sure what to think all of a sudden. Were the men people to be fearful of? Was their task something to do with the war? Of not what could it possibly be about? Was she wrong to be wary? Has she left Beth alone with dangers men?
Beth sat there still at the table with the men. She was unsure what to do. Anita had left and now she was not sure she wanted to stay herself. No one had spoken for a while. It seemed as if every one was thinking, considering what to do or say next as she was. She had originally seen the three men as possible husbands however now she was unsure just how dangerous then men were. They had come in with armor on and weapons at hand. What would have happened if they had come to cause harm right away?What am I to do? She asked herself.
“Well Miss Becky, it has been a pleasure, but we must go rest as well.” Eric finally said breaking the silence. It was hard to tell who of the three, was the one in charge. All three men seemed to have some control.
Becky smiled in return, “Yes it has been a pleasure, my pleasure. Thank you for the games even though I lost all of them. I still enjoyed my time with you men.” She replied not wanting to ruin her chance in a math incase they were not to be trouble. “Pleasant dreams.” She added as she walked away. She decided that she must lean more about the men before she made up her mind and went to find the innkeeper and tavern owner Rosco Deglum.
Becky begged him for a job, explaining to him the truth. She needed some extra money to care for her family. And though she would work there she would still live at home. (That way her reputation may stay intact.)
Rsoco thought it over, he really did not need more help. However it would, for the most part, possibility be of use to Anita. Moreover, with two lovely ladies working there the patronage number was sure to increase, so it would be well worth the chance. Thus he conceded to her request.
` Anita awoke with the sun as she had hoped. She did not dare be late to work on any occasion. She dressed quickly and made her way to the kitchen. It was her duty to cook before she cleaned. She also had to serve the meals. It would be much easier if Rosco would allow her to set it all out on a table and let the guests help themselves. But he insisted the system she already had saved food and made the guests feel special, so he refused her time after time. She had never thought to ask for help. She had a pleased surprise when she had found Able cooking the day before. However that was nothing compared to the bewilderment she was now in. As she entered the kitchen she found Becky cooking. Furthermore the food smelled delicious, just as it should. “Becky why are you here?” Anita asked not sure what she expected as a response. “Do you not fear you will get the same label you gave me?” she added.
“No I am not concerned with that, I am staying at my home just working here unlike you. There are some things I am unable to stop thinking about and so I decided they needed to be further examined. There is something strange about those men, and I can not shake the feeling that something bad is coming. Do not tell me you have not sensed the same thing.”
“I guess I have to take back my thoughts of you. You can cook and think at the same time. I guess you are not brainless after all.”
“HEY! That was mean…. I guess I deserved it but can we not call a truce. For now at least, there is much more at stake right now. “ Becky replied as her anger grew.
“Enough gossip, more work. We have hungry customers and no food being served.” Rosco Deglum interrupted before Anita could reply. He wasn’t named Deglum for nothing; he was by far, the most discontented man Anita had ever met. She was not upset at the interruption she wanted time to consider what a truce with Becky really meant. However Becky did have a point about the men. Also did Rosco hear any of the discussion? He would not have let it go, nor would he have?