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Chapter 8 A Tryst with Destiny!

  • It had the caricature of a pig standing on its hind legs, blowing a whistle with its forelegs. A part of Damon felt like laughing out loud.
  • A walk-up bar faced both the street and the inner salon. It was an open tavern under a single roof with no walls. They served hot wine with honey or saltwater. Meat and flatbread were available too.
  • Damon slapped some bronze coins on the bar and entered the salon with wine and bread. He took a seat in a dark corner to survey the place before he started asking questions.
  • The tavern was a middling establishment that attracted a good crowd from the plebe class. If any peculiars visited, they kept their abilities secret. Of course, no patricians were present.
  • The plebes chattered away, some at the top of their voices, in different stages of intoxication. Some cliques also hummed songs. The loudest were the ones talking about politics.
  • “Oh, down with Petromax,” growled one particular drunk, “I’d like Anaximander to be God-King! Hic! Petromax goes around on his voyages while the Magistrates and Patricians suck our blood dry!”
  • “Keep it down, Pythus,” his drinking buddy warned. “The magistrate has spies everywhere. You will be arrested, tarred, and feathered!”
  • “Then I would die a martyr!”
  • “You would die a drunken fool.”
  • The duo laughed flagrantly and drank some more. 
  • The tavern was also the ideal place to spread news, both true and false.
  • “Did you hear about the attack in the outlands? They say a god was killed!”
  • “Nonsense! Gods cannot be killed.”
  • Damon listened to the banter until he spotted someone his instinct told him was a sleuth. The sleuth realizing the attention from the stranger, came over and sat opposite him.
  • “Young man, looking for something?” he asked in a slurred voice. Damon took a measure of the sleuth- a disheveled middle-aged man in a dirty tunic, nursing a mug of beer. Beer was the cheapest liquor there was.
  • “A runaway patrician kid.” Damon slid a parchment towards him with a portrait of the boy.”
  • The sleuth glanced at the sketch and nodded.
  • “How much?” he asked.
  • “Depends on how close you can get me.”
  • “I can find out where the boy is if you pay me two silver coins.”
  • Damon nodded. The sleuth left with a promise that he would be back with information within an hour.
  • “You seem to have deep pockets, young man,” the sleuth advised before leaving. “Why don’t you go to the inner salon and wait? Pay a silver to get in. No cause to hang with the rowdy folk here.”
  • Damon took his drink and food and entered the inner sanctum, which was an underground cellar. The young mercenary took a seat at a table and looked around.
  • The crowd there was more distinguished—a few well-to-do traders, vigils, peons of the magistrate, and so on. The wine served seemed to be fancier as well.
  • A hooded figure sat in a corner, studying a parchment. Damon could tell from the silhouette that it was a young woman. His task was near completion. Perhaps he could share a bed with a lady that night? He approached the table with a slight flourish.
  • “My dear lady-”
  • “Please be seated, Damon,” the lady said from under the hood.
  • Damon, startled, took a seat opposite her.
  • “How do you-”
  • “We will have another guest if you do not mind.”
  • “Of course-”
  • Just then, a burly young man walked into the inner salon, drinking from a large mug. He looked for a place to perch. Incidentally, all the seats were taken except the table where Damon and the mysterious lady were resting. The hulk walked over and asked politely if the place was vacant.
  • Damon recognized him as the peculiar carrying a bison carcass on the main path.
  • Small world!
  • “Ave, Tarsus! Please join us.” the lady replied.
  • “How do you know my name?” Tarsus enquired but took a stool nonetheless.
  • The young lady removed her cowl to reveal long golden hair and a countenance so beautiful that both men felt jostled back to sobriety. Pearly ice-blue eyes set close on the fairest face they had ever seen.
  • “I am Felicity. And I have been waiting for you,” she said from honeyed, pillowy lips.
  • For a moment, both men forgot who they were.
  • “Marry me!” Tarsus blurted out.
  • “I love you!” Damon echoed.