woensdag 11 september 2013

The Tavern

Triskele really disliked Windhelm.

With a stiffly set jaw she took a sip of her mead, ignoring the brawls, the yelling and the boasting which could be heard so loudly all around her in the tavern. It was a cold night, the fires were roaring and her people were doing what they did best: making noise. She sighed deeply and put her tin mug down, as another flew past her head, smashing against the wall behind her. I have not missed this place... 
Across the table, her company filled her mug to the brim once more, not forgetting himself in the process. It made sense. Triskele was paying, after all.
“It's been too long, indeed.”
“You're saying that because this evening is on me, Sigurd.”
Sigurd, a citizen of Windhelm with a ginger beard that was his pride and joy, sniggered into his mug as he took a large gulp. “Perhaps. You should make it a habit, lass.”
“Not a chance. You know what I think of the city.”
“You never gave it a fair shot 'round here.”
“I do not give shots to a hellhole with foul streets, covered in muddy snow, and fouler people walking them.”
“You flatter us, Triskele the Cold.”
She looked past his broad shoulder, where two brawling Nords were having a go at one another. The stronger one managed to gain the upper hand, and shoved, without needless grace, the loser's head into a bowl of stew. “Indeed.”
A low growl, from an animal on edge, came from under the table. Sigurd winced and peeked.
“You had to bring that beast in here?”
Triskele reached a hand down, and managed to crack a faint grin as her palm felt the soft fur of Fenrir's head. “Beast? Look around you.”
Her acquaintance groaned and placed his muddy boots on the table. Triskele refrained from a comment she would truly love to make, and decided to get down to business. The sooner, the better.

“Remember what we talked about during my last visit?”
“Last spring?”
She instantly noticed how Sigurd averted his gaze, looking around himself like a child who got caught stealing a treat. “I was hopin' you'd forget about that whole matter.”
“You know me better than that.”
“Ha.” He took a large swig of mead. “Well err, what do ye want to know?”
“If you know more about it now than you used to.”
“I do, lass, but it's honestly best to leave it.”
Triskele leaned back in her chair, giving a slight push with her feet to make it balance on two legs, and placed her legs on the table as well. Casually, she unsheathed her dagger and started to run the tip under her nails, one by one. “I'm not leaving it. Don't be an idiot.”
“Rumour has it that anybody who has gone down this chase ended up mad, Tris. Some daedric curse. Even if you find that barrow, you won't leave it again.”
She tilted the blade of her dagger in front of her face, the warm light of the tavern reflected upon the Nordic steel. In a blurred flash she caught a glimpse of her face. The cold eyes with the blue facepaint around them, her unevenly cut locks, some smudges on her cheeks.
“Give me a place, Sigurd.”
He sighed loudly and smacked his mug down. “Kynesgrove. Tha's all I know. Kynesgrove. There be some fanatics 'round there lately, looking for the same thing. You're not the only one.”
With a thump she let her chair rest on four legs again, and she slid her boots off the oaken table.
“I like Kynesgrove a lot better than this frozen heap of dung. Thanks for the lead.”
She tossed a few coins on the table and stood up. Fenrir jumped up as well, as eager to leave as she was.
She walked out.

Mere moments later, she had walked through the city's gates. She took a deep breath, glad to feel the honest cold fill her lungs, instead of the smokey air that seemed to cling to the city like flees to a stray. Fenrir padded at her heels, his tongue dangling out of his maw. As she walked towards the stables, where she left Creidne, she heard her name being called. She had to roll her eyes, and she raised her voice without as much as a glance over her shoulder.
“Your warning is noted, Sigurd. Good eve to you.”
“Hang on, lass.”
She gritted her teeth and turned around, crossing her arms across her chest. Sigurd walked up to her, panting slightly from his jog to catch up with her.
“I didn't tell ye everything.”
She stared at him coldly, and remained silent. He cleared his throat and continued.
“You aren't the first one to ask, Tris.”
“Yes, you told me. Some fanatics in Kynesgrove. I'll see it soon enough.”
“Not what I meant, eh...” Sigurd scratched through the ginger forest that grew from his chin and took a deep breath. “The other day, Bjorn was here. Bjorn and his fellows.”
It would normally not be possible, but Triskele's stare grew even colder. She pursed her lips.
“He asked about the same thing, eh. The barrow, the artifact. Those things.”
“I didn't want trouble, Tris. I just told him about Kynesgrove, is all.”
The ginger Nord winced as her fist knocked him in the shoulder. Despite his height – and her lack of height – he staggered back. “Ow!”
Sigurd rubbed his shoulder and looked as the short, dark-haired huntress stomped off. When she neared the stable, he called for her. “Tris! You'll never catch up with him! Just leave it!”

The look she shot him would have frozen a flame.

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