This is from….a project I really shouldn’t be working on.
The voices of the patrons of the One Winged Angel created a mildly comforting din as they cheered the pit fighters on. Velvet leaned against the bar watching, amused, as her customers yelled, laughed and cheered. She couldn’t see the fighters, but could tell by the cheers, who was dueling. A slim brunette, curls bouncing around her shoulders, wove her way through the crowd, a tray of empty dishes held overhead. She nodded at Velvet and glanced over her shoulder.
“They’re actually fighting rather well tonight.” She said as she slid the tray on the counter and turned around. “The bets are getting ridiculous!”
“Who’s winning?” Velvet leaned closer. She brushed a kiss against the brunette’s shoulder. Emm glanced at her with a grin.
“I couldn’t tell, they’re both fairly bloody.”
“Great, we’ll have patching up to do.” Vel chuckled.
“You’ll have patching up to do.” Emm laughed, moving around to the back of the counter. “I just work here.”
The door to the tavern opened, and Vel got a glimpse of swirling snow outside before the view was blocked by a tall figure. Her smile faded and she pushed herself upright watching the tall man and his two companions step into the taproom.
“Shut the gods be damned door, fool, unless you want to pay to heat this place!” Emm yelled.
The man looked her way and smirked. The door shut behind him, cutting off the howling wind. His companions looked at him in surprise. He’d not touched the door with his hand. He strode forward, aware that most eyes were on him. Pale hair, albino skin, and brilliant green eyes that laughed at her. Velvet shook her head. Trouble. Pure trouble.
“Kale, I’d be careful were I you, I’ve seen your tab here.” Emm pointed the cudgel she kept under the counter. “I’ll make you go wash my dishes!”
“You don’t want me to do that.” Kale said with a laugh, leaning against the counter. “Just ask the staff at the caves, I break more than I clean.”
“On purpose, I’d wager.” Vel snorted and glanced at the two silently following Kale and back at him with a frown.
“They were set to follow me.” He turned, gripped the shoulder of the nearest man, hauling him to the counter. “But I caught them, so I invited them along for a drink.” He smiled.
“Poor fools.” Emm said. She leaned towards the man at the counter. “You might just want to give up the commission, my friend. Really not worth it.”
“I figure they’ll be kind enough to pay my tab, after trying to chase me through this gods-forsaken city.” Kale looked down at the men and held out his hand. “Your purses, please, if you’ll be so kind.”
The men looked at each other and slowly reached for their belts.
“Nothing funny gentlemen,” Vel said softly. “Neither of you will walk out alive.”
They gulped and nodded, handing over some very heavy looking money pouches. Kale bounced them in his hand and nodded, glancing at them. “Go away.”
The men vanished.
“Where did you port them?” Emm asked, eyes wide.
“Creshna, near the Sable mountains.” Kale grinned.
“Evil.” Vel snickered. “What are you doing here, Kale? I thought the Goddess Avari frowned down on her pets consorting with us uncouth unbounds.”
“She does. Except when she’s given orders to hunt you out.” He rested elbows on the counter. “And I have specific instructions to ask you to kindly come for a visit to the caves.”
“What does she want?” Vel asked, heart pounding in her ears.
“Father has been asked to host a meeting of immortals, namely unbound, to discuss the current Slayer situation.” Kale leaned towards Vel. “Rumor has it you’d be the best one to ask about the Slayer.”
“Ooo an invitation from the Shaderunner.” Emm said leaning against Vel’s shoulder. “Sounds exciting.”
“A meeting?” Vel looked at her. “Sounding exciting?”
“The Staff of the Caves make the absolute best pastries and I know several back passages to get them.” Emm grinned impishly at her, then turned towards Kale. “When does his grumpyness want us there?”
“Us?” Vel eyed Emm.
“Grumpyness?” Kale snickered. “In two days. I’ll port you…”
“Kale, I’ve been porting since before your mother’s people were a clan. I think I can handle it.” Emm said. “Just tell us when we need to be there.”
Kale snorted. “One of these days Emm, I’m going to get you to tell me a tale or two. Loren say’s you’ve got a lot of them.”
She laughed. “Not today, Kale.”
Vel stewed, leaning against the counter. “Great. Just what I need to deal with.”
“Aww come on red, it’ll be fun.” Emm said. She kissed Vel’s cheek. “You’ve never seen funny until you’ve seen a startled centaur on marble.”
“I’d rather not have to deal with Shaderunner.” Vel said, voice low. The idea made her blood run cold. There were some beings in the world far too powerful for their own good.
“Why? Father’s not that bad, Vel, not really.” Kale looked confused.
“God-like powers, not that bad?” Vel snorted.
“Just hand him some ancient tome or book and he’ll be happy.” Kale winked. “Besides, I heard he likes redheads, kind of a weakness thing!” He vanished, leaving a money bag on the counter.
Vel stared at the bag and glanced at Emm. “I really didn’t want to hear that.”